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.