Nature as a model for political prudence

This article tries to show the link between political prudence and nature from an aristotelian-thomistic approach. Different ways in which political prudence finds in nature a master, guide or model, are developed. In order to underline the originality of aristotelian-thomistic position, some maquiavelian and kantiant passages are selected and commented in which it is shown how modern political thought not just forgot the classical concept of prudence but also devirtuated the concept of nature in its relationship with politics. On the other hand, the aristotelian and thomistic tradition allows setting various connections between the natural and the political-prudential orders. Three of them are here underlined: the consideration on the familiar, social, and political life; the application to the political reflection of the principle ‘art imitates nature’; the principle of political realism according to which politics does not create the men but brings them from nature. Lastly, several passages from De Regno confirm the sense in which nature can be qualified as an indirect master of political prudence.

Leo Strauss’s critique of positivism Weberian

Does moral blindness, unavoidable according to positivist scientist analysis, lead to nihilism? When Max Weber tries to defend, for instance, the per se value of intellectual honesty, he is falling in an inconsistency: he tangles himself in the critical moment that led Thrasymachus to his fall, knocked down by Socrates, in the first book of Plato’s Republic. Leo Strauss warned about this danger of falling into nihilism as the underlying fate of the modern social sciences. Does the principle of value-neutrality lead in practice to a vague indifference? Were this true, social science would actually turn into a mere instrument of domination serving to a certain established social order, unable to call, for instance, tyranny by its own name.

The remote background: prÒswpon in Greek Literature

The word person and its derivatives in romance languages, comes from the Latin persōna, which, in turn, came from the Etruscan Persu. On the other hand, the Greek word prÒswpon evolved in such a way that, although originally meaning face, it also ended up including the meaning of the Latin word persōna. Moreover it included lately the sense of mask, which was just the meaning of the Etruscan
Persu. This article succinctly shows the evolution of the term prÒswpon from its use in the most ancient Greek Literature texts until the time when it became available to the early medieval theologists. Throughout its evolution a whole range of potential meanings were covered by the term prÒswpon. In spite of not having specific philosophical connotations at the beginning of its use, it ended up encompassing several meanings which were later used to define the metaphysics of the person

Jaime Balmes: Knowledge and action

Jaime Balmes (1810-1848) was a person who knew how to joint practical action with an intellectual life. In a very short life he achieved a deep understanding of main theoretical and practical philosophical problems and how to present them clear to the public in general. Moreover, he saw the necessity of a political intervention in an era of Spanish institutional instability. His proposals were known through a newspaper directed by himself while some politicians like Marqués de Viluma defended them at Parliament. Finally, political evolution of Spain was too far and different from Balmes political thought and he gave up. Balmes’ view of politics included indeed not only a deep understanding of man and society but also a personal knowledge of virtues and vices of real political life

Current relevance of Saint Augustine’s critique to paganism in De Civitate Dei

The arguments used by Saint Augustine in his theoretical and practical discourse, against ancient paganism (especially against those arguments put forward by Celsus and Porphyry) are useful in part for the challenges nowadays embodied in the so-called neopaganism (and its leading intellectuals such as De Benoist or Augé). In this article a distinction is made in the Augustinian reaction between aspects relating to pagan cult and those relating to ‘dogmatic’ content. In the latter case, the multiform, inconsistent and unsystematic theology of ancient paganism reappears today as a pluralistic, sacralizing and superstitious attitude, tinged in some author’s writings as politically correct multiculturalism. In the former case, the pagan cult reappears in the form of cultural policies that are tolerant towards any apparently religious phenomena such as Satanism and Halloween. Saint Augustine’s message for the man of today and yesterday is clear: the syncretism which is latent in every pagan attitude or idea is wholly incompatible with the due reverence for faith in God the Creator.

Extent and limits of prudence as an intellectual virtue

According to Aquinas prudence is an extremely necessary virtue for human life. Due to its subject, it is one of the intellectual virtues and makes its possessor good in a moral sense. Aquinas also includes it among cardinal virtues and thoroughly considers supernatural infused prudence. Furthermore, prudence requires a right appetite, the perception of the singular, a higher wisdom, is different from moral science, synderesis, and from the act of conscience. The overall consideration of these matters allows to state that -clearly unlike relativist and essentialist approaches-, as far as Aquinas is concerned, prudence reaches its full extent precisely in the ascertainment of its limits