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Faith Hope and Love. Thomas Aquinas on living by the infused virtues - Conference 2013

4th International Conference of the Thomas Instituut te Utrecht (Tilburg University).
11-14 December 2013, Utrecht / Netherlands
During the last two decades virtue ethics has become the focal point of renewed ethical and theological interest. To lead a good life, it proves useful to watch those who have mastered the art of living. The conviction that living is an art is at the heart of virtue ethics. Living a good life requires exercise, and is a question of acquiring a virtuous character rather than of complying with external ethical and legal rules.

This renaissance partly builds on Thomas Aquinas. He, in turn recovered Aristotelian, Ciceronian and Augustinian thought on virtue ethics. The interpretation and development of virtues and vices form the core of his authorship, as the secunda pars of his Summa Theologiae readily displays. And yet, the most important virtues for him are not the moral ones, such as Justice, Temperance, Prudence and Fortitude, but those virtues that are both infused by and aimed at God: Faith, Hope and Love. These are virtues that the philosophers of antiquity were not aware of. To account for them, Aquinas had to adapt the classical understanding of virtues. For him, the moral virtues come to full fruition only when they are embedded in a life before God, a life lived exercising the God given theological virtues. By ignoring Faith, Hope and Love, the present discussion of virtue ethics not only ignores those virtues that were for Aquinas of uppermost importance, but also fails to arrive at a complete understanding of his view of the moral virtues.

Keynote lectures will be given by:
    Eleonore Stump (Saint Louis University): True Virtue and the Role of Love in the Ethics of Aquinas

    Paul Wadell (St. Norberts College): Friendship with God: Embodying Charity as a Way of Life

    Bruno Niederbacher (University of Innsbruck): Virtue Epistemology and Aquinas' Account of Faith

    Michael Sherwin op (Université de Fribourg): Aquinas on love, human and divine

    Paul van Tongeren (Radboud University Nijmegen): How theological are the theological virtues?
Short lectures by (among others):
    Henk J.M. Schoot (Thomas Instituut te Utrecht)

    John OCallaghan (University of Notre Dame)

    Rudi te Velde (Thomas Instituut te Utrecht)

    Lambert Hendriks (Major Seminary Rolduc)

    Herwi Rikhof (Thomas Instituut te Utrecht)

    Harm Goris (Thomas Instituut te Utrecht)

    Marcel Sarot (Thomas Instituut te Utrecht)

    About 20 papers delivered by scholars from institutes from all parts of the world

    Questions to be discussed:
    How does Aquinas elaborate his thoughts on the theological virtues? To what extent can developments in his views on the theological virtues be traced? How do his views on the theological virtues compare to those on the moral ones? What do we learn here about the relationship between the philosophy of ethics and (moral) theology, between nature and grace, and between theology and spirituality? And also: why is it useful to think about Faith, Hope and Love as virtues, even though they are gifts of God, and man can easily lose them on account of sinful behavior? Can Christ serve as an example of virtuous life? Did he possess theological virtues? Why does Aquinas think that Justice is the prime moral virtue, and Love the greatest among the theological ones? And what does all this entail for modern theological anthropology?

    The congress will take place in the heart of Utrecht, an ancient and picturesque provincial capital that has transformed itself into an innovative city of knowledge and culture, right in the middle of the Netherlands. Participants will convene both in the newly redecorated buildings of the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, on one of Utrechts canals, and at the Ariënsinstituut of the Archdiocese of Utrecht.

    Friday 13 December:
    Holy Eucharist presided by His Eminence Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht,
    followed by a conference dinner.

    Wednesday, December 11, starting at 3.30 pm: an introductory lecture by the director of the Thomas Instituut te Utrecht, Henk J.M. Schoot. The keynote lectures by Eleonore Stump and Paul Waddell are scheduled next.

    Thursday, December 12, starting at 9.30 am: two keynote lectures by Anna Williams and Paul van Tongeren. 2.00 pm: paper presentations. 8.00 pm: two short lectures.

    Friday, December 13, starting at 9.30 am: a keynote lecture by Bruno Niederbacher, followed by two short lectures. 2.00 pm: paper presentations. 5.00 pm: Holy Mass, followed by the conference dinner.

    Saturday, December 14, starting at 9.30 am: short lectures and/or papers. 11.30 am: final plenary session. 1.00 pm: formal closing ceremony, followed by lunch and a free visit to Museum Catharijneconvent (adjacent to the School of Catholic Theology).

    For further information please contact prof.dr. Henk Schoot (Director Thomas Instituut te Utrecht).