2012 Student Research Conference:
25th Annual Student Research Conference

From Sensation to Choice: A Thomistic Approach to the Contemporary Temptation of Pornography
Benjamin P. Winter
Dr. Patricia Burton, Faculty Mentor

The advent of the internet has brought tremendous new possibilities and problems for contemporary society. Specifically, the church has struggled to confront the accessibility of pornography on the web. Because radical technological development has made this unique temptation possible, preexistent theological frameworks are difficult to utilize when making a case for its immorality. This paper focuses on the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose theory of the passions exposes the inner workings of lust. I systematically analyze the various faculties of the soul involved in the choice to click a link to pornography by tracing the origin of temptation from the passive potencies (sense powers) to its culmination in the sensitive appetite. I conclude that when reason alone cannot curb appetitive passions, moral virtue must be imbued in the sensitive appetite through the formation of ethical (virtuous) habits that direct one's soul towards the ultimate good of eternal life.

Keywords: Thomas Aquinas, Medieval Philosophy, Ethics, Pornography, Structure of the Soul, Temptation, Christianity, Lust

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion
Medieval Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 208-1
Location: MG 1000
Time: 9:30

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