Volume 90, Issue 3, Summer 2016
Kevin E. O’Reilly, OP
The Temporality of Prudence in Thomas Aquinas
Towards a Participatory Construal of Heidegger’s Sorge
According to Heidegger’s interpretation, while Aristotle’s treatment of practical wisdom cannot be divorced from his account of theoretical wisdom, there has nevertheless been a tendency in Western thought to separate what he terms the theoretical and practical modes of concern and to afford a certain priority to the theoretical mode. This article argues that one thinker in the tradition with which Heidegger engaged, namely Thomas Aquinas, constitutes an exception to this analysis. Thomas’s treatment of prudence (prudentia), rooted in Aristotle’s discussion of phronēsis, furnishes an initial point of contact with Heidegger. Turning to Thomas’s account of the precepts of the natural law, I show that implicit therein is an understanding of care that corresponds to Heidegger’s notion of Sorge, albeit an understanding that is imbued with a strikingly different character—namely, a theistic one. Central to this argument is the claim that Thomas escapes Heidegger’s dismissal of ontotheology thanks to his analogical construal of being.