Religions (May 2021)

Moral Aspects of Imaginative Art in Thomas Aquinas

  • Piotr Roszak,
  • John Anthony Berry

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 5
p. 322


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For Thomas Aquinas, the imagination, being one of the “inner senses”, is a doorway to attain true knowledge. In this paper, we first analyze his lexicon in this regard (imaginatio and phantasia). Second, we discuss imagination as the subject matter of the intellectual virtues, which facilitate cognition and judgment. The development of imagination is the foundation of his vision of education not only on the natural but also on the supernatural level. Third, we explore Aquinas’ moral assessment of imaginative art and finally its influence on shaping the character. This influence occurs on two levels: it is assessed from the perspective of charity, justice, prudence and purity, namely to what extent the art serves these values, whereas the second criterion is beauty.