Freedom of Excellence

In Weigel‭’‬s essay,‭ ‬‘Two Ideas of Freedom‭’‬,‭ ‬he first mentions freedom of excellence while referring to Servais Pinckaers‭’‬ opinion that St.‭ ‬Thomas Aquinas‭’‬ thinking about freedom is best captured in the phrase freedom for excellence.‭ ‬He goes on to identify freedom as St.‭ ‬Thomas saw it,‭ ‬a means to human excellence,‭ ‬happiness and fulfillment of‭ ‬destiny.‭ ‬Weigel‭ ‬further expounds ‬freedom as the‭ ‬capacity to choose‭ ‬wisely and act well as a matter of habit,‭ ‬the organizing principle of a moral life‭ ‬– and‭ ‬since this possibility of a moral life‭ (‬the‭ ‬capacity to think and chose‭) ‬is what distinguishes‭ ‬the human person from the rest of the natural world,‭ ‬freedom is therefore‭ ‬the organizing principle of‭ ‬a life lived in a truly human way‭;‬ The capacity that unifies all other capacities into an orderly whole,‭ ‬and‭ ‬directs our actions toward the pursuit of happiness and goodness.

In‭ ‬identifying‭ ‬freedom of excellence he refers to Aquinas‭’‬ awareness of‭ ‬our‭ ‬ability to do evil and yet in face of manifest evil he still insisted that we have within us,‭ ‬a freedom through which we can do things well,‭ ‬rightly,‭ ‬excellently,‭ ‬a philosophical anthropology‭ ‬with‭ ‬moral convictions about the inalienable‭ ‬dignity‭ ‬and value of every human life.‭ ‬We are‭ ‬made for excellence‭;‬ and‭ ‬freedom developed‭ ‬through prudence,‭ ‬justice,‭ ‬courage and temperance‭ ‬is the‭ ‬method by which we‭ ‬achieve‭ ‬‘human excellence‭’‬.

Freedom of excellence ‬relates to our human dignity‭ ‬in having‭ ‬an objective value,‭ ‬as‭ ‬explained above, and can‭ ‬therefore‭ ‬be described as the ‬inherently‭ ‬human‭ ‬ability‭ ‬to‭ ‬constantly‭ ‬achieve‭ ‬-‭ ‬to‭ ‬achieve‭ ‬human excellence,‭ ‬to‭ ‬achieve‭ ‬human‭ ‬happiness,‭ ‬to‭ ‬achieve‭ ‬fulfillment of destiny,‭ ‬to‭ ‬achieve‭ ‬growth in virtue‭ (‬and thus growth in freedom‭)‬,‭ ‬achieve‭ ‬free societies – and to create‭ ‬inexhaustible‭ ‬possibilities‭ ‬for the development of‭ ‬human development,‭ ‬through freedom,‭ ‬by living virtuously.


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