Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Minimizing with Aquinas

I’m reading a book based on the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas called “Practical Theology” by Peter Kreeft.  It is set up with 350+ short chapters so I should be able to go through it in about a year reading one chapter a day, usually it’s just one or two pages and doesn’t take long.  Of course sometimes the sitting and pondering what I’ve read takes a while but the actual reading is pretty quick.  
Today’s reading was titled “Only Three Kinds of Goods” and went in a direction I would not have expected.  From Thomas Aquinas himself we have “Goodness is rightly divided into the virtuous, the useful, and the pleasant… Goodness is not divided into these three as something univocal to be predicated equally of them all, but as something analogical to be predicated of them according to priority and posteriority.  Hence it is predicated chiefly of the virtuous, then of the pleasant and lastly of the useful. (I,5,6)
So, what is virtuous is the highest good of all, these things are good in and of themselves.  I’ve seen several different versions of lists of virtues but the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a comprehensive listing of them in paragraphs 1803 - 1845 
The direction this went was unexpected in that Kreeft used it, in part, as a reason for minimalism in our lives.  Things we have in our life that are not useful or do not give us pleasure and do not increase our virtue, should be eliminated. 
This is similar to criteria I’ve used in the past to sort through my things, if it is not necessary (useful) or beautiful or does not make me happy, I don’t need it and it is just in my way and should be removed.
Is Facebook useful?  Maybe, but I’m not convinced really.  Does it give me pleasure?  Well, yes but… it gives me pleasure on occasion but mostly it leads me away from virtuous attitudes and into… well the nastiness of politics, pretty much the opposite of virtue in my opinion.  
Is my rubber and plastic Viking hat useful?  Nope.  But it does give me great pleasure! 

And so the sorting of my life resumes.  Facebook, not out but restricted... Vikings, in! Looking at the news, that's right on out of here.  Clothes I have not worn in the last five years or so, out.  

Crappy books I never finished because they were boring and that are not classics I may try again someday?  Out.

These guys?  In obviously :-)

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm! Well, we'll see. I keep going through my 'stuff' eliminate but then acquire more. Where does it all end? Guess when I die and oh how I hate of the thought of anyone having to sort it all out to decide what they should keep or get rid of. Its all too complicated and obviously shouldn't be. HELP! I've been opening about half or more of my boxes to find something I think I need. Now they are just a big mess out in Kari's garage. Hopefully once I move into my apartment I will see more clearly what to weed out. Just thinking.