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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT FS Prologue Para. 1/1 - FIRST PART OF THE SECOND PART (FS) (QQ[1]-114)
      • Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE GOODNESS AND MALICE OF SORROW OR PAIN (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE GOODNESS AND MALICE OF SORROW OR PAIN (FOUR ARTICLES)


We must now consider the goodness and malice of pain or sorrow: under
which head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether all sorrow is evil?

(2) Whether sorrow can be a virtuous good?

(3) Whether it can be a useful good?

(4) Whether bodily pain is the greatest evil?


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether all sorrow is evil?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that all sorrow is evil. For Gregory of Nyssa
[*Nemesius, De Nat. Hom. xix.] says: "All sorrow is evil, from its very
nature." Now what is naturally evil, is evil always and everywhere.
Therefore, all sorrow is evil.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, that which all, even the virtuous, avoid, is evil. But
all avoid sorrow, even the virtuous, since as stated in Ethic. vii, 11,
"though the prudent man does not aim at pleasure, yet he aims at avoiding
sorrow." Therefore sorrow is evil.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, just as bodily evil is the object and cause of bodily
pain, so spiritual evil is the object and cause of sorrow in the soul.
But every bodily pain is a bodily evil. Therefore every spiritual sorrow
is an evil of the soul.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Sorrow for evil is contrary to pleasure in evil. But
pleasure in evil is evil: wherefore in condemnation of certain men, it is
written (Prov. 2:14), that "they were glad when they had done evil."
Therefore sorrow for evil is good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, A thing may be good or evil in two ways: first considered
simply and in itself; and thus all sorrow is an evil, because the mere
fact of a man's appetite being uneasy about a present evil, is itself an
evil, because it hinders the response of the appetite in good. Secondly,
a thing is said to be good or evil, on the supposition of something else:
thus shame is said to be good, on the supposition of a shameful deed
done, as stated in Ethic. iv, 9. Accordingly, supposing the presence of
something saddening or painful, it is a sign of goodness if a man is in
sorrow or pain on account of this present evil. For if he were not to be
in sorrow or pain, this could only be either because he feels it not, or
because he does not reckon it as something unbecoming, both of which are
manifest evils. Consequently it is a condition of goodness, that,
supposing an evil to be present, sorrow or pain should ensue. Wherefore
Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. viii, 14): "It is also a good thing that he
sorrows for the good he has lost: for had not some good remained in his
nature, he could not be punished by the loss of good." Because, however,
in the science of Morals, we consider things individually - for actions
are concerned about individuals - that which is good on some supposition,
should be considered as good: just as that which is voluntary on some
supposition, is judged to be voluntary, as stated in Ethic. iii, 1, and
likewise above (Q[6], A[6]).

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 1: Gregory of Nyssa [*Nemesius] is speaking of sorrow on the
part of the evil that causes it, but not on the part of the subject that
feels and rejects the evil. And from this point of view, all shun sorrow,
inasmuch as they shun evil: but they do not shun the perception and
rejection of evil. The same also applies to bodily pain: because the
perception and rejection of bodily evil is the proof of the goodness of
nature.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 2/2

This suffices for the Replies to the Second and Third Objections.

(tm)Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether sorrow can be a virtuous good?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that sorrow is not a virtuous good. For that which
leads to hell is not a virtuous good. But, as Augustine says (Gen. ad
lit. xii, 33), "Jacob seems to have feared lest he should be troubled
overmuch by sorrow, and so, instead of entering into the rest of the
blessed, be consigned to the hell of sinners." Therefore sorrow is not a
virtuous good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the virtuous good is praiseworthy and meritorious. But
sorrow lessens praise or merit: for the Apostle says (2 Cor. 9:7):
"Everyone, as he hath determined in his heart, not with sadness, or of
necessity." Therefore sorrow is not a virtuous good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 15), "sorrow is
concerned about those things which happen against our will." But not to
will those things which are actually taking place, is to have a will
opposed to the decree of God, to Whose providence whatever is done is
subject. Since, then, conformity of the human to the Divine will is a
condition of the rectitude of the will, as stated above (Q[19], A[9]), it
seems that sorrow is incompatible with rectitude of the will, and that
consequently it is not virtuous.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Whatever merits the reward of eternal life is virtuous.
But such is sorrow; as is evident from Mt. 5:5: "Blessed are they that
mourn, for they shall be comforted." Therefore sorrow is a virtuous good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, In so far as sorrow is good, it can be a virtuous good.
For it has been said above (A[1]) that sorrow is a good inasmuch as it
denotes perception and rejection of evil. These two things, as regards
bodily pain, are a proof of the goodness of nature, to which it is due
that the senses perceive, and that nature shuns, the harmful thing that
causes pain. As regards interior sorrow, perception of the evil is
sometimes due to a right judgment of reason; while the rejection of the
evil is the act of the will, well disposed and detesting that evil. Now
every virtuous good results from these two things, the rectitude of the
reason and the will. Wherefore it is evident that sorrow may be a
virtuous good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: All the passions of the soul should be regulated according
to the rule of reason, which is the root of the virtuous good; but
excessive sorrow, of which Augustine is speaking, oversteps this rule,
and therefore it fails to be a virtuous good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Just as sorrow for an evil arises from a right will and
reason, which detest the evil, so sorrow for a good is due to a perverse
reason and will, which detest the good. Consequently such sorrow is an
obstacle to the praise and merit of the virtuous good; for instance, when
a man gives an alms sorrowfully.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Some things do actually happen, not because God wills, but
because He permits them to happen - such as sins. Consequently a will
that is opposed to sin, whether in oneself or in another, is not
discordant from the Divine will. Penal evils happen actually, even by
God's will. But it is not necessary for the rectitude of his will, that
man should will them in themselves: but only that he should not revolt
against the order of Divine justice, as stated above (Q[19], A[10]).


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether sorrow can be a useful good?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that sorrow cannot be a useful good. For it is
written (Ecclus. 30:25): "Sadness hath killed many, and there is no
profit in it."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, choice is of that which is useful to an end. But sorrow
is not an object of choice; in fact, "a thing without sorrow is to be
chosen rather than the same thing with sorrow" (Topic. iii, 2). Therefore sorrow is not a useful good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, "Everything is for the sake of its own operation," as
stated in De Coel. ii, 3. But "sorrow hinders operation," as stated in
Ethic. x, 5. Therefore sorrow is not a useful good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The wise man seeks only that which is useful. But
according to Eccles. 7:5, "the heart of the wise is where there is
mourning, and the heart of fools where there is mirth." Therefore sorrow
is useful.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, A twofold movement of the appetite ensues from a present
evil. One is that whereby the appetite is opposed to the present evil;
and, in this respect, sorrow is of no use; because that which is present,
cannot be not present. The other movement arises in the appetite to the
effect of avoiding or expelling the saddening evil: and, in this respect,
sorrow is of use, if it be for something which ought to be avoided.
Because there are two reasons for which it may be right to avoid a thing.
First, because it should be avoided in itself, on account of its being
contrary to good; for instance, sin. Wherefore sorrow for sin is useful
as inducing a man to avoid sin: hence the Apostle says (2 Cor. 7:9): "I
am glad: not because you were made sorrowful, but because you were made
sorrowful unto penance." Secondly, a thing is to be avoided, not as
though it were evil in itself, but because it is an occasion of evil;
either through one's being attached to it, and loving it too much, or
through one's being thrown headlong thereby into an evil, as is evident
in the case of temporal goods. And, in this respect, sorrow for temporal
goods may be useful; according to Eccles. 7:3: "It is better to go to the
house of mourning, than to the house of feasting: for in that we are put
in mind of the end of all."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

Moreover, sorrow for that which ought to be avoided is always useful,
since it adds another motive for avoiding it. Because the very evil is in
itself a thing to be avoided: while everyone avoids sorrow for its own
sake, just as everyone seeks the good, and pleasure in the good.
Therefore just as pleasure in the good makes one seek the good more
earnestly, so sorrow for evil makes one avoid evil more eagerly.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This passage is to be taken as referring to excessive
sorrow, which consumes the soul: for such sorrow paralyzes the soul, and
hinders it from shunning evil, as stated above (Q[37], A[2]).

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Just as any object of choice becomes less eligible by
reason of sorrow, so that which ought to be shunned is still more to be
shunned by reason of sorrow: and, in this respect, sorrow is useful.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Sorrow caused by an action hinders that action: but sorrow
for the cessation of an action, makes one do it more earnestly.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether bodily pain is the greatest evil?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that pain is the greatest evil. Because "the worst
is contrary to the best" (Ethic. viii, 10). But a certain pleasure is the
greatest good, viz. the pleasure of bliss. Therefore a certain pain is
the greatest evil.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, happiness is man's greatest good, because it is his last
end. But man's Happiness consists in his "having whatever he will, and in
willing naught amiss," as stated above (Q[3], A[4], OBJ[5]; Q[5], A[8],
OBJ[3]). Therefore man's greatest good consists in the fulfilment of his
will. Now pain consists in something happening contrary to the will, as
Augustine declares (De Civ. Dei xiv, 6,15). Therefore pain is man's
greatest evil.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Augustine argues thus (Soliloq. i, 12): "We are composed
of two parts, i.e. of a soul and a body, whereof the body is the
inferior. Now the sovereign good is the greatest good of the better part:
while the supreme evil is the greatest evil of the inferior part. But
wisdom is the greatest good of the soul; while the worst thing in the
body is pain. Therefore man's greatest good is to be wise: while his
greatest evil is to suffer pain."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Guilt is a greater evil than punishment, as was stated
in the FP, Q[48], A[6]. But sorrow or pain belongs to the punishment of
sin, just as the enjoyment of changeable things is an evil of guilt. For
Augustine says (De Vera Relig. xii): "What is pain of the soul, except
for the soul to be deprived of that which it was wont to enjoy, or had
hoped to enjoy? And this is all that is called evil, i.e. sin, and the
punishment of sin." Therefore sorrow or pain is not man's greatest evil.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, It is impossible for any sorrow or pain to be man's
greatest evil. For all sorrow or pain is either for something that is
truly evil, or for something that is apparently evil, but good in
reality. Now pain or sorrow for that which is truly evil cannot be the
greatest evil: for there is something worse, namely, either not to reckon
as evil that which is really evil, or not to reject it. Again, sorrow or
pain, for that which is apparently evil, but really good, cannot be the
greatest evil, for it would be worse to be altogether separated from that
which is truly good. Hence it is impossible for any sorrow or pain to be
man's greatest evil.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Pleasure and sorrow have two good points in common: namely,
a true judgment concerning good and evil; and the right order of the will
in approving of good and rejecting evil. Thus it is clear that in pain or
sorrow there is a good, by the removal of which they become worse: and
yet there is not an evil in every pleasure, by the removal of which the
pleasure is better. Consequently, a pleasure can be man's highest good,
in the way above stated (Q[34], A[3]): whereas sorrow cannot be man's
greatest evil.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The very fact of the will being opposed to evil is a good.
And for this reason, sorrow or pain cannot be the greatest evil; because
it has an admixture of good.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[39] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: That which harms the better thing is worse than that which
harms the worse. Now a thing is called evil "because it harms," as
Augustine says (Enchiridion xii). Therefore that which is an evil to the
soul is a greater evil than that which is an evil to the body. Therefore
this argument does not prove: nor does Augustine give it as his own, but
as taken from another [*Cornelius Celsus].





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