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key insights of Part Two

In Part One of the Summa, Aquinas takes in the broad sweep of the known universe: the mystery of why there is not nothing, the inherent desire of life to flourish, our ability to use our reason to understand and further this destiny, the revelation of the Trinity as God's delighted and loving self-knowledge, and our ultimate purpose of growing into an enjoyment of this graced state of happiness ourselves.

In Part Two, moving beyond philosophy and theology, Aquinas becomes a psychologist and a social thinker and delves into the particulars of practical human behavior, showing us how to reason our way to happiness by figuring out the actions that move us closer, day by day, to our own flourishing. Declaring that the whole point of morality is to support this unfolding, he shows how love reacts to goodness, drawing us like a magnet to seek it, and how to be truly happy, we have to be vulnerable enough to let this happen. He shows how the practice of virtue moves us closer to our ultimate happiness and how sin blocks the road. Laws and grace also keep us on the straight and narrow and heal us when we stray.

It's key insights are as follows:

The point of morals is to make us happy! Our primary moral imperative is to recognize what we are—seekers of a happy self-awareness via possession of truth and goodness—and act accordingly. And to become happy, we must act, so the entire structure of morality, including behaviors considered virtuous or sinful, the idea of grace, and the purpose of law, is meant to identify which of our actions advance happiness and which block the road.

Charity, the act of letting our hearts be drawn by love to goodness, is essential to happiness. When we allow ourselves to be aware of and open to the goodness in the world, we we are drawn to it and want to cherish it, and in this knowing and loving we are happy. Charity is the natural response to the wonder of the universe and all its life forms (especially the human ones). Without being vulnerable enough to love something, it is impossible to be happy; we love in order to have the insight and perception of the world that leads to beatitudo.

Law is an act of reason planning action based on the fact that lifeforms seek their own good (i.e., to grow into their own potential). So the primary law, upon which all other laws must be based, is that good be done (i.e., fourishing occur) and evil avoided. This is what Aquinas calls natural law.

Grace is the mysterious means by which we are healed, recharged, and recommited to the right path to our own flourishing.

When God plays in space-time, what we get is the known universe, including us, growing in complexity and consciousness, thinking our way back to the happy self-awareness of the Trinity, carried along by what Aquinas describes in the Summa's Part Three.

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