I have finally come around to start reading the Summa Theologica again, starting now with the Prima Secundae. I try to read a questio per day more or less, which is rather a slow tempo but doable.
The second questio deals with various candidates for what happiness is that must all be rejected: Money, Power, Honor, Glory, Pleasure. This is good stuff, this could well be a text to use to start a discussion on why we are here. In particular the discussion about how happiness differs from pleasure is interesting – of course pleasure is a consequence of happiness, but I suppose these are often confused. Thomas is asking about what happiness as the true goal of human life is, so naturally pleasure is problematic as we derive pleasure from things that are only partially good or good to a lesser degree.
Those that have read my book Om kristet motstånd knows I slam ambition pretty throughly there, and I was delighted to see I follow in Thomas footsteps (Q2,2):
As the Philosopher says, honor is not that reward of virtue, for which the virtous work; but they receive honor from men by way of reward, as from those who have nothing greater to offer. But virtue’s true rewardis happiness itself, for which the virtuous work: wheras if they worked for honor, it would no longer be a virtue, but ambition.
So ambition for Thomas is to work for honor, rather than for happiness. This is pretty close to my point in my book, that ambition confuses our priorities.