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The Cardinal Virtues In Medieval Commentaries On The Nicomachean Ethics, 1250-1350

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the role of the cardinal virtues in medieval commentaries on Aristotle?s Ethics written until the mid-fourteenth century. It argues that the efforts of Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas to retain the scheme failed to convince the majority of commentators active around 1300, and that Gerald of Odo and especially John Buridan provided more successful solutions. Commentaries on the first, incomplete translations of the Nicomachean Ethics were written from the early thirteenth century. Although Kilwardby apparently thinks the cardinal virtues compatible with Aristotle?s system, he admits in his commentary on Peter Lombard?s Sententiae that Aristotle had a much narrower understanding of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance than is implied by their conception as cardinal virtues. Buridan extends Aristotle?s definitions of the specific cardinal virtues in such a way as to include aspects of morality that are fundamental from a medieval Christian perspective.

Keywords: Albert the Great; Aristotle; cardinal virtue; Gerald of Odo; John Buridan; medieval commentary; Nicomachean Ethics; Sententiae; Thomas Aquinas



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