I intend to expose the indepth meaning of reason and morality using man as the major point on this discussion, due to the higher rational faculty he possess over other creatures. We shall also answer the question as: has reason any influence or party to play in morality? Or put simply, is reason necessarily required for man to be moral? If yes, should reason be the sole facts for morality? But if no, what then? This work is going to be base mostly on reason and morality in Thomas Aquinas Philosophy. To unfold this, this work will be based on four chapters. We are going to see how morality should be guided by reason. In Chapter One, thought of the introductory aspect and in chapter two, we shall examine firstly, the life and works of Aquinas, in the second part of Chapter Two, we shall examine the meaning and notion of morality by giving it’s definition and several conception of it. In the third part of chapter two, we shall sketch the nature of morality. Chapter three unfolds a devotion of reason in a bid to give it’s meaning, we shall define it and then examine it’s nature. Also, we shall consider the role of reason as a guide in other aspects of man’s behaviour and the role of reason as a guide in morality. In chapter four, we shall be concerned with “the good of man”. We shall discuss life according to the dictate of reason, prudence and right reason as Aquinas would call it. The last in chapter four aimed at evaluation and conclusion.
- BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Man has been identified and defined as a rational animal, apart from rationality, which distinguishes him from other animals, he would just be a beast in behaviour and man in physical structure. In this regard, G. Buffen, said that there is an infinite distance between man and animals, and the essential cause of this is that man is one without reason.
In the same vain, Aristotle maintained that reason, which is the highest faculty of the soul, is what sets man apart from sub-human nature. The question now is, why and how is man rational and in what aspects of his life is he different from other animals and what factor is behind these? It has been noticed that man is exclusively marked out from other animals as regard social, cultural and intellectual forms of behaviour. It is only man that has an articulated speech, inventive capability, knowledge of arts, beauty, politics, religion, morality and other forms of knowledge that can be associated with reason.
So man is, as a result of this rationality marked out from other animals, it is not contestable then to associate or attribute the above enumerated characteristics to his rationality.
As this work centers on morality and reason as that which assures us of the best moral life, we shall answer such questions as: has reason any influence or part to play in morality? Or put simply, is reason necessarily required for man to be moral? If yes, should reason be the sole factor for morality? But if no, what then? It is undebatable that man solely has the knowledge of good and evil (morality) and this type of knowledge can be possessed only by rational beings. In fact, God made man rational enough to see that he (man) should do what is right.
Having known that man surpasses all the other animals by the possession of reason, and the only animal that has knowledge of morality, the question now is, is man moral because of reason or because of some other physiological factors? If it is because of the latter, one can rightly pose this question: Why is it that other animals are ignorant of morality or are not moral?
Aquinas, on whom this work is based, has propounded a popular dictum regarding man and reason. It is “Bonum omins est, Secundum rationem esse”, that is, (The good of man in life according to reason). As we shall see, this statement does not rule out the fact that human life can be controlled by other factors like the will, habit, passions, emotion etc, but it affirms that man has a good life according to reason. One outstanding feature about Aquinas moral theory is it’s intellectualism. This will be gradually unfolding as we penetrate into this work.
In this four chapter work, we are going to see how morality should be guided by reason.
- STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
There are certain actions which all of us will individually or collectively condemn as morally wrong and ought not to be done or performed by anybody. For instance, murder, robbery, embezzlement of public funds, bribery and corruption, and so on. On the other hand, there are certain actions like kindness, hospitality, honesty and so on, which are considered as morally good. Again, there are certain kinds of action that do not enjoy universal consensus on their goodness or badness, rightness or wrongness because of difference in opinion, for instance, abortion, contraception euthanasia, nuclear warfare etc.
The need now arises for us to know why in Aquinas philosophy, certain actions are considered good while others are considered bad. What in Aquinas view, is the yardstick for determining good and bad actions and what is the paradigm for measuring such actions. What, within the assumptions of Aquinas, does it ever mean to say that an action is good or bad in itself? Or, is it our thinking that makes any action good or bad?
Some people, like Hume, opined that reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. They opined that morality is determined by sentiments.
Also, some philosophers like Aquinas, the stoic Duns Scotus and so on, postulated that right reason is the moral standard. Consequently, what ever is in line with right reason is morally wrong. But how does one known whether abortion, euthanasia, contraception etc, conforms to right reason, especially when there are many intelligent and cogent argument for or against the morality of these conditions?
- PURPOSE OF STUDY
The main purpose of this research/work study is to critically analyze the various notion of morality and reason, also, see how morality is been guided by reason, in respect to “Thomas Aquinas.” It is also intended towards serving as an impetus for improving the level of understanding of morality and reason by upcoming students of Nigeria University and tertiary institutions alike.
This work-study is also intended to throw more light on reason and moral ideas, principles and benefits.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
One of the significance of this work study is that it exposes the beautification of morality and reason in general. This study will also enable us to critically differentiate between the ancient and modern concepts of morality and reason.
It will be of great benefit, if man observed, and make good use of his rationality and moral values in order to create and dwell in a better society. If this is done, man and his society will enhance thereby checkmating immorality and irrational attitude.
Another significance of this project/work study is that it seeks to expose some of the lapses that are inherent in man’s approach to morality and reason.
- SCOPE OF STUDY
Aquinas interpretation of morality vis-à-vis reason, which is in line with the precept of human endeavour and his environment from the basic line of concentration in this research/work study. The different notion of morality and reason will also be given pre-eminence and special attention with a view of critically assessing them.
- METHODOLOGY OF STUDY
The methodology of a work determines it’s specialty says Aristotle. The method shows how a thing is done. It is in the light of this fact that i have decided to adopt the massive use of historical and critical methods of philosophical enquiry, other methodologies to be used in this research/work study include the elaborate consultation of other relevant philosophical, religious books, literature, articles and authorities.