Ratio Practica and The Intellectualistic Fallacy
Format of Original
The Journal of Religious Ethics
The epistemology of ethics in both philosophical and theological quarters is broadly guilty of what can be called the intellectualistic fallacy. This fallacy ignores the animating affective mold of moral knowing and so wreaks reductionism on ethical epistemology and method. Specifically, the neglect of affect as a dimension of moral cognition leads to a failure to see the relationship of all moral awareness to mysticism, contemplation, faith, and religious experience. It also leads to the adoption of false paradigms for moral knowing drawn from science, mathematics, or linguistics. This essay studies ratio practica in Thomas Aquinas and the derivative theory of affective knowledge in John of St. Thomas. Then the author proceeds to develop his own theory on the place of affectivity in the overall epistemology of ethics.