Aquinas, On Kingship Essay, Research Paper
In this chapter, Aquinas focused on the duties and responsibilities of a king. He thinks that, nature shows us how to act with reason; and the best way to learn the duties of a king is focusing on the examples of government that can be found in nature. He means, to learn something, first its substance that is nature, should be observed. According to Aquinas, nature consists both a universal and particular form of government. God is the ruler of the universal government and he governs everything by his divine providence. The particular rule is like God s rule; however it is found in man. Aquinas says that every creature and all spiritual powers come together under the rule of God; the parts of body and other powers of the soul unite under the rule of reason. Thus, we can conclude that God is a kind of divine reason which governs the world; human mind and reason govern the man himself. And an important responsibility of a king is using his reason in the light of virtue to direct his community for their own sake. That means; in accordance with his duty, a king should act as the mind in the body and God in the world.
The framework of this chapter is, the way that the king should take as a ruler to provide the welfare in society and to direct them to their ultimate end. Aquinas says that governing, is directing the governed to its particular end. To better explain his claim, he gives an example; we can say that a ship is governed when the sailor directs it and guides it safely to the port. This claim may not be stranger to us, since at the beginning of the book (chapter 2), Aquinas argues that the end of the archer is the end of the arrow as well. Hence, we may say that both the arrow and the ship are the instruments used for that the archer and the sailor reach to their ends.
As Aquinas mentioned before, everything has an end but also everything has a task which must be applied before the end s achievement. This task is a sort of natural inclination; the thing which is directed to an end by someone should be kept unharmed and in good condition and even it should be improved. Then, Aquinas extracts the end of a government from this claim; the end of the government of society is to keep and secure the common good for the society. Hence, the ruler must contain the requirements which would be necessary in providing the common good. For example, if a long and healthy life has a priority for the sake of society, then the doctors would rule. But ;Aquinas says that the end of an organized society is to live in the virtue. So, the common good for the society is to spread out the virtue. Therefore, the king whose one of the tasks is to enable the common good, should be virtuous and wise. Furthermore, the societies who live the life of virtue are directed to a higher end since men tend to want more and more. Hence, those who achieved their common goods search for the divine pleasure as their ultimate end, we can say that the life of virtue is a step to attain the enjoyment of God. Here, the main duty of the king occurs: The main task of a king is to direct his society to reach to their final ends. However, it is not possible to attain the enjoyment of God by human power, this is only the divine law which can lead people to their final ends. Thus, kings must be in collaboration with priests to carry their societies to their ultimate ends.
In this final chapter, Aquinas claims that the direction of societies to the life of virtue is not merely enough to achieve the final end but some intermediate ends are needed as well. The most important one among these ends is having a good life. Since the end of the good life is the happiness of heaven, the task of the king is to promote good life of the society and to improve their life conditions. So, we can conclude that a good life on earth is a requirement for reaching to the happiness of heaven. Moreover, the king has the right to command the things which ought to be done and he has the right to forbid the evil things which take people away from heavenly bliss. Therefore, the king must be instructed in the divine law and he should be guided by priests. It is necessary for the king to complete his duties, that are to establish the prosperity in the society, to preserve it and then to improve it.