Dr. Thomas Osborne Receives the Aquinas Center's Annual Book Prize

Dr. Thomas M. Osborne has been awarded the Charles Cardinal Journet Prize by the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal for his book Human Action in Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham (CUA Press, 2014). The Journet Prize honors the scholarly monograph published in any language during the past calendar year that best exemplifies the task of drawing upon the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas to engage constructively in contemporary theology, philosophy, and/or biblical studies. The Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal is located at Ave Maria University.

Human Action in Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham lays out a thematic presentation of human action, especially as it relates to morality, in the three most significant figures in Medieval Scholastic thought: Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. Thomas, along with his teacher Albert the Great, was instrumental in the medieval reception of the action theory of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Scotus and Ockham were part of a later Franciscan theological tradition. Thomas, Scotus, and Ockham worked in the context of a new moral theology that focused on the description and evaluation of human acts. Organized thematically, discussing the causes of human action, the role of practical reasoning, the stages of action, the specification of moral action, and an act’s supernatural and natural worth. Each chapter compares the three main figures on the same set of issues.

The book shows that although the different philosophies of action cannot be explained in terms of any one major difference or principle, there are some common themes that deserve attention. The most notable themes are 1) a developing separation between nature and the will, 2) an increased emphasis on the will’s activity, and 3) a changing view of mental causation. The book is important for those who are interested in medieval philosophy, the philosophy of action, and the intellectual background to Reformation and early modern thought.

Dr. Thomas M. Osborne, Jr., is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Thomistic Studies, University of St. Thomas (Houston).  He is the author of Love of Self and Love of God in Thirteenth-Century Ethics (2005) as well as many articles in medieval and late-scholastic ethics, political philosophy, metaphysics, psychology, and the philosophy of action.  Two recent articles are “Continuity and Innovation in Dominic Banez’s Understanding of Esse:  Banez’s relationship to John Capreolus, Paul Soncinas, and Thomas de Vio Cajetan.” The Thomist 77 (2013): 367-394 and “Giles of Rome, Henry of Ghent, and Godfrey of Fontaines on Whether to See God Is to Love Him.”   Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales 80 (2013): 57-76. In 2009-2010, he received an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers for research at the Thomas-Institut University of Cologne, and in 2001-2002 he received a Gilson Fellowship for study at the Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies.