Pierre Nicole: The Psychology of the Virtues
Typically for a Jansenist, Nicole takes a negative view of the virtues of the pagans. He also condemns the Pharisees for a purely external righteousness. But similar temptations beset Christians. Certain apparent virtues are merely natural qualities, and true virtue must be based on the love of God. Nicole’s analysis makes full use of the concepts of intention and motive, but stresses that our intentions and motives are often unknown to us. Moreover, bad intentions tend to disguise themselves as good ones, thus producing a false virtue that mimics the true sort; and good and bad motives can combine to impel us towards one and the same course of action. Yet this predicament has its good side: awareness of one’s potential bad motives fosters humility, and God can use human motives to support the workings of grace.
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