Virtue, Vice, and Western Identities: A Thomistic Approach to the Sins of White Power
How did our world’s wealth become so unevenly distributed? How did a small group of Europeans and Americans manage to acquire and retain so much wealth while so many others struggled to acquire enough to sustain their basic life functions? Why did some individuals desire to accumulate massive amounts of wealth? In answering those questions, this dissertation first examines the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social forces that inhibited wealth acquisition and the technologies that overcame those forces. The primary technologies under consideration are not of the mechanical type, like guns and steel. This dissertation primarily examines social technologies that relate to practical human action: patterns of buying and selling, rhythms of speaking, and structured systems of ideas about truth, goodness, and beauty. I call these action and idea patterns “technologies” because they were, like all technologies, intentionally constructed over an extended period of time, and they served a critical function. They executed valuable work and facilitated wealth accumulation. After examining the essential forces working against and the technologies working for wealth accumulation, this dissertation uses slave narratives and the theology of Thomas Aquinas to explore how distorted human passion, in the form of greed, served as a principal motive force in unjust wealth accumulation. Finally, this dissertation attempts to construct a Christian anthropology that redefines human life and purpose in order to heal greed distorted passions.
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