Monday, April 25, 2022

Fr. Gregory Pine on prudence

Modern moral philosophers typically have much to say about abstract principles, but are not of much help for the average person seeking concrete moral advice.  Self-help books, meanwhile, have practical relevance but are philosophically superficial.  One of the strengths of Aquinas’s ethics is that it is philosophically sophisticated while at the same time offering practical guidance to non-philosophers.  This is especially true of his treatment of the virtues.  But even Aquinas sometimes needs a bit of exposition to make him accessible to modern readers.

For this reason, works like Fr. Gregory Pine’s new book Prudence: Choose Confidently, Live Boldly are most needed and welcome.  It is philosophically and theologically well-informed, while at the same time written with admirable clarity and relevance to real-world problems.  And its subject matter is of special importance, since prudence is that cardinal virtue most crucial to the successful pursuit of the moral life.

Fr. Gregory is interviewed about the book at Word on Fire, has given a brief overview of it on Pints with Aquinas and discussed it in greater depth on The Catholic Man Show.  Take a look!

21 comments:

  1. "Modern moral philosophers typically have much to say about abstract principles, but are not of much help for the average person seeking concrete moral advice. Self-help books, meanwhile, have practical relevance but are philosophically superficial. "

    Spot on, Ed. It's either abstract books full of theory, or shallow self help books, with no philosophical background/a very wrong one...

    I haven't read Fr Pine's book - I definitely will now that I found about it- but I would like to recommend Fr Ezra Sullivan's one as well! Namely his "Heroic Habits: Discovering the Soul’s Potential for Greatness" which I'm halfway through. It combines insights from the behavoriost model of habit, modern epigenetics and all that situated in the more complete framework of Aquinas'analysis of human action and habit formation. That's on the theoretical side, while also delving into practical advice as well.

    Fr Pine's book is definitely going to be another example of such, so much needed, work!

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  2. Oh, I know this guy from Aquinas 101 series! Thanks for sharing, Ed!

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  3. "The devil may be in the details, but God surely isn't. " Good point from Fr. Pine. This is an attitude that can creep up on us.

    I am enjoying the book so far.

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    1. Just curious, what is the point he’s making about God not being in the details?

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    2. Also would like to understand the quote. Does it mean that the prudent way of doing things is not being THAT obsessed with details?

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    3. I agree: offhand, "God is not in the details" is pretty obscure.

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    4. Well, what it means to say that the Devil is in the details?

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    5. Although a stated goal may seem desirable, and perhaps from a superficial perspective appear easily achieved, the actual means of achieving the goal is fraught with difficulties.

      “The devil is in the details,” i.e. the project will go completely off-track if the thing is not done right.

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    6. His point is that we think of prudence as calculating the perfect decision, which is paralyzing. Rather, we should use the knowledge that we have, and the virtues we have built up to act confidently and surely, knowing we don't have perfect certainty.

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    7. Thanks, Anon.

      Truly a important advice, at least for the more hesitant. When you think too much it is easy to create more and more potential problems until you do nothing.

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  4. Well that's all the endorsement I need. Ordered now.

    Thanks Dr Feser :)

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  5. Reading it now!

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  6. He's a friend of mine from college and a stand-up guy. Also, extremely bright and a hoot to be with. I'm sure I'll have to pick it up and read!

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  7. From some things I recall Aristotle saying in the Ethics, combined with some later material, I have gotten an idea that at least in some cases, the act of prudential judgment is more like CRAFTING a good action than it is identifying "the" right action. Does that sound at all like it fits in with what Fr. Pines says? Or am I just out to lunch?

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    1. Fr Pine was on the Classical Theism podcast and describe prudence as exactly that kind of thing: crafting a good action.

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  8. I see Fr Pine is a Dominican friar. More than any other order of Catholic priests, the Dominicans are, in my opinion, the more orthodox and devout. Many of them are also highly educated. Blackfriars Hall in Oxford, the Anglelicum in Rome, the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. and the Aquinas Institute in St Louis are renowned Dominican institutions of higher learning. Dr. Feser lectured at Blackfriars Hall some years ago.

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    1. There's an old quip about how every Dominican is alike but each Jesuit is ungeneralizable.

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  9. Oh my ol classmate, now being reviewed by Ed Feser.. favorably! Would I have pegged Greg Pine to be a future Dominican scholar… nah probably not. Bravo Fr Greg.

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  10. Gregory Pine is always a delight to read and listen to, especially since he's the opposite of boring and writes so that the everyman can understand him

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  11. Today's moral philosophies may be very subtle, but they are also helpful to those who take moral counsel seriously. The moral strength of Thomas Aquinas is that he is a complex philosopher and at the same time a practical philosophical guide. His published works are practical but philosophical. This is especially true of good manners.

    But modern readers can visit Thomas Aquinas. To do this, check out Gregory Payne's new book, Warning: Safe Options, Healthy Living, Needs, and Acceptance. His words are important because knowledge is essential to a good moral life.

    About the book - he gave a brief overview of Gregory, Akina, and Pentecost, which he described in detail in the Catholic Scriptures.

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  12. People here might be interested in this FishEaters guide to acquiring the moral virtues; it's pretty practical, and rooted in Scholastic thought: https://www.fisheaters.com/becomingvirtuous.html

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