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Aristotle and Aquinas walk along the streets of the Liberty Classroom Forum, with questions abounding as their conversation reduces itself to the terms “production”, “power”, “end”, and yes, “act”; similar terms which they are contemplating will be seen below. The philosopher and the Dr. of Angles seem to have mastered these terms when considering the subject’s ( here Aquinas ) productive powers, and related to the soul as its accidents. Both of these immortal thinkers have also stressed the fact that the subject ( Aquinas ) must be in act and distinguished from his own accidental productions, or operative powers, so to speak. Let us notice the latter as operations of “intellect” and “will”. Hence voluntary action between individuals and the ends they pursue are implied.
We interlocutors are now witnessing Aquinas’s and Aristotle’s noble presentation of a very real metaphysic of human action. Yes, this is a very cursory overview which doesn’t do justice to their fuller treatment of the issue, but nevertheless points us into the realm of what they were thinking. At this point Aristotle and Aquinas ask one another “We both see the use of the terms “productive” or “production”, “power(s)”, “act”, “actuality”, “voluntary” or “free-will”, “end(s)” or “teleology”, all being employed within modern economics. We confess, the two exclaim, this science (economics) is one interesting system of thought, yet one which we unfortunately don’t posses at the moment. Our questions are simple:
1) In everyday language, please relate how the common terms mentioned above are different, if in fact they are different, from the way we understand them. Are they being used equivocally, univocally, or analogically in comparison to our doctrine?
2) Does your system of economics impact, or influence, our own ways of looking at human productive activities, which are voluntarily chosen interpersonal acts (activities) stemming from intellection, and presupposing the primary act of the human soul?
Aquinas and Aristotle ask the economists to “please let us learn the differences between us, thus enabling our two lines of thought to gain a most profitable return from these interactions.” Aristotle “wishes”, while Aquinas “prays”, that any future collaboration may bring prosperity and truth to all interested parties.