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Title: Every good path : wisdom and practical reason in Christian ethics and the Book of Proverbs
Author: Errington, Andrew Ross
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 2736
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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This study brings the biblical book of Proverbs into discussion with two significant accounts of the nature and foundation of practical reason in Christian ethics, one medieval—Thomas Aquinas—and one modern—Oliver O'Donovan. It begins with an outline of the complexities of practical reason in the thought of Aristotle, which leads to an extended discussion of Aquinas's moral theory. The centrality of Proverbs 8 in Aquinas's account of eternal law opens the way to a reading of Proverbs, in which the central constructive ideas of the thesis are developed. These are then sharpened through an engagement with the work of Oliver O'Donovan. The conclusions are consolidated and developed in a final, constructive chapter. The study's central thesis is that the way the Book of Proverbs thinks about wisdom presents an important challenge to the way practical reason has been understood in the Western theological and philosophical tradition. Rather than being a perfection of speculative knowledge, in the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is a practical knowledge of how to act well, grounded in the reality of the world God has made. God's wisdom is therefore better understood as a perfection of his action, which is why it ultimately relates to Jesus Christ crucified. This perspective reframes our understanding of certain aspects of Christian ethical theory. It shows that created, natural order is a crucial, unavoidable presupposition of Christian ethics, but not its only norm. It helps us understand why moral deliberation and discernment centres on the construal of actions as kinds. Finally, it clarifies the purpose of Christian ethics as a theoretical discipline that accompanies the practical wisdom of the Christian life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Universitiy of Aberdeen ; Latimer Trust ; Menzies Centre for Australian Studies ; Australian Research Theology Foundation ; Moore Theological College
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Christian ethics ; Wisdom ; Practical reason