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By Peter J. Leithart, First Things, Nov. 22, 2019

Dante’s Commedia draws on the tradition of the seven virtues, four “natural” (justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude) and three “theological” (faith, hope, love). This distinction provides the structure of Paradiso, in which Dante ascends through spheres of defective virtue and the four spheres of the natural virtues into the sphere of the fixed stars, where Peter, James, and John catechize him in the theological virtues. Exceptional pagans can achieve natural virtue, but, with very few exceptions, the habits of faith, hope, and love are beyond their capacity. Dante’s use of this scheme can leave the impression that theological virtues and knowledge are supernatural frosting on the cake of nature and reason.

One of the arresting achievements of Stephen R. L. Clark’s 1982 Gifford Lectures, republished earlier this year in From Athens to Jerusalem (Angelico Press), is to show the theological is natural. Clark inverts the common picture to demonstrate how reason, knowledge, and virtue are founded on faith, hope, and love.

Reason, Clark insists, is rooted in faith. He argues as follows: Relativists, skeptics, and pragmatists claim we can’t reach “Truth-in-fact.” We can never know what is actually the case. Some say we don’t need to. Such denials are self-refuting. Is “truth is relative” a relative truth? Can we know that “we cannot know”? Should we accept “truth is what works” only because it works? We cannot avoid the question, “Are these claims truth-in-fact?” Insofar as they dodge that question, relativism, skepticism, and pragmatism don’t solve the problem of knowledge. On the contrary, they abandon the quest for knowledge. They’re epistemologies of despair. ….


Read more here https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/11/hope-as-a-natural-virtue