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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[78] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THAT CAUSE OF SIN WHICH IS MALICE (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THAT CAUSE OF SIN WHICH IS MALICE (FOUR ARTICLES)

We must now consider the cause of sin on the part of the will, viz.
malice: and under this head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether it is possible for anyone to sin through certain malice,
i.e. purposely?

(2) Whether everyone that sins through habit, sins through certain
malice?

(3) Whether every one that sins through certain malice, sins through
habit?

(4) Whether it is more grievous to sin through certain malice, than
through passion?


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether anyone sins through certain malice?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that no one sins purposely, or through certain
malice. Because ignorance is opposed to purpose or certain malice. Now
"every evil man is ignorant," according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii,
1); and it is written (Prov. 14:22): "They err that work evil." Therefore
no one sins through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that "no one works
intending evil." Now to sin through malice seems to denote the intention
of doing evil [*Alluding to the derivation of "malitia" (malice) from
"malum" (evil)] in sinning, because an act is not denominated from that
which is unintentional and accidental. Therefore no one sins through
malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, malice itself is a sin. If therefore malice is a cause
of sin, it follows that sin goes on causing sin indefinitely, which is
absurd. Therefore no one sins through malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Job 34:27): "[Who] as it were on purpose
have revolted from God [Vulg.: 'Him'], and would not understand all His
ways." Now to revolt from God is to sin. Therefore some sin purposely or
through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Man like any other being has naturally an appetite for
the good; and so if his appetite incline away to evil, this is due to
corruption or disorder in some one of the principles of man: for it is
thus that sin occurs in the actions of natural things. Now the principles
of human acts are the intellect, and the appetite, both rational (i.e.
the will) and sensitive. Therefore even as sin occurs in human acts,
sometimes through a defect of the intellect, as when anyone sins through
ignorance, and sometimes through a defect in the sensitive appetite, as
when anyone sins through passion, so too does it occur through a defect
consisting in a disorder of the will. Now the will is out of order when
it loves more the lesser good. Again, the consequence of loving a thing
less is that one chooses to suffer some hurt in its regard, in order to
obtain a good that one loves more: as when a man, even knowingly, suffers
the loss of a limb, that he may save his life which he loves more.
Accordingly when an inordinate will loves some temporal good, e.g. riches
or pleasure, more than the order of reason or Divine law, or Divine charity, or some such thing, it follows that it is willing to suffer the
loss of some spiritual good, so that it may obtain possession of some
temporal good. Now evil is merely the privation of some good; and so a
man wishes knowingly a spiritual evil, which is evil simply, whereby he
is deprived of a spiritual good, in order to possess a temporal good:
wherefore he is said to sin through certain malice or on purpose, because
he chooses evil knowingly.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Ignorance sometimes excludes the simple knowledge that a
particular action is evil, and then man is said to sin through ignorance:
sometimes it excludes the knowledge that a particular action is evil at
this particular moment, as when he sins through passion: and sometimes it
excludes the knowledge that a particular evil is not to be suffered for
the sake of possessing a particular good, but not the simple knowledge
that it is an evil: it is thus that a man is ignorant, when he sins
through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Evil cannot be intended by anyone for its own sake; but it
can be intended for the sake of avoiding another evil, or obtaining
another good, as stated above: and in this case anyone would choose to
obtain a good intended for its own sake, without suffering loss of the
other good; even as a lustful man would wish to enjoy a pleasure without
offending God; but with the two set before him to choose from, he prefers
sinning and thereby incurring God's anger, to being deprived of the
pleasure.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The malice through which anyone sins, may be taken to
denote habitual malice, in the sense in which the Philosopher (Ethic. v,
1) calls an evil habit by the name of malice, just as a good habit is
called virtue: and in this way anyone is said to sin through malice when
he sins through the inclination of a habit. It may also denote actual
malice, whether by malice we mean the choice itself of evil (and thus
anyone is said to sin through malice, in so far as he sins through making
a choice of evil), or whether by malice we mean some previous fault that
gives rise to a subsequent fault, as when anyone impugns the grace of his
brother through envy. Nor does this imply that a thing is its own cause:
for the interior act is the cause of the exterior act, and one sin is the
cause of another; not indefinitely, however, since we can trace it back
to some previous sin, which is not caused by any previous sin, as was
explained above (Q[75], A[4], ad 3).

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether everyone that sins through habit, sins through certain malice?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that not every one who sins through habit, sins
through certain malice. Because sin committed through certain malice,
seems to be most grievous. Now it happens sometimes that a man commits a
slight sin through habit, as when he utters an idle word. Therefore sin
committed from habit is not always committed through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, "Acts proceeding from habits are like the acts by which
those habits were formed" (Ethic. ii, 1,2). But the acts which precede a
vicious habit are not committed through certain malice. Therefore the
sins that arise from habit are not committed through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, when a man commits a sin through certain malice, he is
glad after having done it, according to Prov. 2:14: "Who are glad when
they have done evil, and rejoice in most wicked things": and this,
because it is pleasant to obtain what we desire, and to do those actions
which are connatural to us by reason of habit. But those who sin through
habit, are sorrowful after committing a sin: because "bad men," i.e.
those who have a vicious habit, "are full of remorse" (Ethic. ix, 4).
Therefore sins that arise from habit are not committed through certain
malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, A sin committed through certain malice is one that is
done through choice of evil. Now we make choice of those things to which
we are inclined by habit, as stated in Ethic. vi, 2 with regard to
virtuous habits. Therefore a sin that arises from habit is committed
through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, There is a difference between a sin committed by one who
has the habit, and a sin committed by habit: for it is not necessary to
use a habit, since it is subject to the will of the person who has that
habit. Hence habit is defined as being "something we use when we will,"
as stated above (Q[50], A[1]). And thus, even as it may happen that one
who has a vicious habit may break forth into a virtuous act, because a
bad habit does not corrupt reason altogether, something of which remains
unimpaired, the result being that a sinner does some works which are
generically good; so too it may happen sometimes that one who has a
vicious habit, acts, not from that habit, but through the uprising of a
passion, or again through ignorance. But whenever he uses the vicious
habit he must needs sin through certain malice: because to anyone that
has a habit, whatever is befitting to him in respect of that habit, has
the aspect of something lovable, since it thereby becomes, in a way,
connatural to him, according as custom and habit are a second nature. Now
the very thing which befits a man in respect of a vicious habit, is
something that excludes a spiritual good: the result being that a man
chooses a spiritual evil, that he may obtain possession of what befits
him in respect of that habit: and this is to sin through certain malice.
Wherefore it is evident that whoever sins through habit, sins through
certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Venial sin does not exclude spiritual good, consisting in
the grace of God or charity. Wherefore it is an evil, not simply, but in
a relative sense: and for that reason the habit thereof is not a simple
but a relative evil.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Acts proceeding from habits are of like species as the acts
from which those habits were formed: but they differ from them as perfect
from imperfect. Such is the difference between sin committed through
certain malice and sin committed through passion.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: He that sins through habit is always glad for what he does
through habit, as long as he uses the habit. But since he is able not to
use the habit, and to think of something else, by means of his reason,
which is not altogether corrupted, it may happen that while not using the
habit he is sorry for what he has done through the habit. And so it often
happens that such a man is sorry for his sin not because sin in itself is
displeasing to him, but on account of his reaping some disadvantage from
the sin.

(tm)Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether one who sins through certain malice, sins through habit?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that whoever sins through certain malice, sins
through habit. For the Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 9) that "an unjust
action is not done as an unjust man does it," i.e. through choice,
"unless it be done through habit." Now to sin through certain malice is
to sin through making a choice of evil, as stated above (A[1]). Therefore
no one sins through certain malice, unless he has the habit of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Origen says (Peri Archon iii) that "a man is not
suddenly ruined and lost, but must needs fall away little by little." But
the greatest fall seems to be that of the man who sins through certain
malice. Therefore a man comes to sin through certain malice, not from the
outset, but from inveterate custom, which may engender a habit.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, whenever a man sins through certain malice, his will
must needs be inclined of itself to the evil he chooses. But by the
nature of that power man is inclined, not to evil but to good. Therefore
if he chooses evil, this must be due to something supervening, which is
passion or habit. Now when a man sins through passion, he sins not
through certain malice, but through weakness, as stated (Q[77], A[3]).
Therefore whenever anyone sins through certain malice, he sins through
habit.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The good habit stands in the same relation to the
choice of something good, as the bad habit to the choice of something
evil. But it happens sometimes that a man, without having the habit of a
virtue, chooses that which is good according to that virtue. Therefore
sometimes also a man, without having the habit of a vice, may choose
evil, which is to sin through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, The will is related differently to good and to evil.
Because from the very nature of the power, it is inclined to the rational
good, as its proper object; wherefore every sin is said to be contrary to
nature. Hence, if a will be inclined, by its choice, to some evil, this
must be occasioned by something else. Sometimes, in fact, this is
occasioned through some defect in the reason, as when anyone sins through
ignorance; and sometimes this arises through the impulse of the sensitive
appetite, as when anyone sins through passion. Yet neither of these
amounts to a sin through certain malice; for then alone does anyone sin
through certain malice, when his will is moved to evil of its own accord.
This may happen in two ways. First, through his having a corrupt
disposition inclining him to evil, so that, in respect of that
disposition, some evil is, as it were, suitable and similar to him; and
to this thing, by reason of its suitableness, the will tends, as to
something good, because everything tends, of its own accord, to that
which is suitable to it. Moreover this corrupt disposition is either a
habit acquired by custom, or a sickly condition on the part of the body,
as in the case of a man who is naturally inclined to certain sins, by
reason of some natural corruption in himself. Secondly, the will, of its
own accord, may tend to an evil, through the removal of some obstacle:
for instance, if a man be prevented from sinning, not through sin being
in itself displeasing to him, but through hope of eternal life, or fear
of hell, if hope give place to despair, or fear to presumption, he will
end in sinning through certain malice, being freed from the bridle, as it
were.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

It is evident, therefore, that sin committed through certain malice,
always presupposes some inordinateness in man, which, however, is not
always a habit: so that it does not follow of necessity, if a man sins
through certain malice, that he sins through habit.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: To do an action as an unjust man does, may be not only to
do unjust things through certain malice, but also to do them with
pleasure, and without any notable resistance on the part of reason, and
this occurs only in one who has a habit.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: It is true that a man does not fall suddenly into sin from
certain malice, and that something is presupposed; but this something is
not always a habit, as stated above.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: That which inclines the will to evil, is not always a habit
or a passion, but at times is something else. Moreover, there is no
comparison between choosing good and choosing evil: because evil is never
without some good of nature, whereas good can be perfect without the evil
of fault.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is more grievous to sin through certain malice than through
passion?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it is not more grievous to sin through certain
malice than through passion. Because ignorance excuses from sin either
altogether or in part. Now ignorance is greater in one who sins through
certain malice, than in one who sins through passion; since he that sins
through certain malice suffers from the worst form of ignorance, which
according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 8) is ignorance of principle,
for he has a false estimation of the end, which is the principle in
matters of action. Therefore there is more excuse for one who sins
through certain malice, than for one who sins through passion.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the more a man is impelled to sin, the less grievous his
sin, as is clear with regard to a man who is thrown headlong into sin by
a more impetuous passion. Now he that sins through certain malice, is
impelled by habit, the impulse of which is stronger than that of passion.
Therefore to sin through habit is less grievous than to sin through
passion.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, to sin through certain malice is to sin through choosing
evil. Now he that sins through passion, also chooses evil. Therefore he
does not sin less than the man who sins through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, A sin that is committed on purpose, for this very
reason deserves heavier punishment, according to Job 34:26: "He hath
struck them as being wicked, in open sight, who, as it were, on purpose,
have revolted from Him." Now punishment is not increased except for a
graver fault. Therefore a sin is aggravated through being done on
purpose, i.e. through certain malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, A sin committed through malice is more grievous than a
sin committed through passion, for three reasons. First, because, as sin
consists chiefly in an act of the will, it follows that, other things
being equal, a sin is all the more grievous, according as the movement of
the sin belongs more to the will. Now when a sin is committed through
malice, the movement of sin belongs more to the will, which is then moved
to evil of its own accord, than when a sin is committed through passion,
when the will is impelled to sin by something extrinsic, as it were.
Wherefore a sin is aggravated by the very fact that it is committed
through certain malice, and so much the more, as the malice is greater;
whereas it is diminished by being committed through passion, and so much
the more, as the passion is stronger. Secondly, because the passion which
incites the will to sin, soon passes away, so that man repents of his
sin, and soon returns to his good intentions; whereas the habit, through
which a man sins, is a permanent quality, so that he who sins through
malice, abides longer in his sin. For this reason the Philosopher (Ethic.
vii, 8) compares the intemperate man, who sins through malice, to a sick
man who suffers from a chronic disease, while he compares the incontinent
man, who sins through passion, to one who suffers intermittently.
Thirdly, because he who sins through certain malice is ill-disposed in
respect of the end itself, which is the principle in matters of action;
and so the defect is more dangerous than in the case of the man who sins
through passion, whose purpose tends to a good end, although this purpose
is interrupted on account of the passion, for the time being. Now the
worst of all defects is defect of principle. Therefore it is evident that
a sin committed through malice is more grievous than one committed
through passion.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Ignorance of choice, to which the objection refers, neither
excuses nor diminishes a sin, as stated above (Q[76], A[4]). Therefore
neither does a greater ignorance of the kind make a sin to be less grave.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The impulse due to passion, is, as it were, due to a defect which is outside the will: whereas, by a habit, the will is inclined from
within. Hence the comparison fails.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[78] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: It is one thing to sin while choosing, and another to sin
through choosing. For he that sins through passion, sins while choosing,
but not through choosing, because his choosing is not for him the first
principle of his sin; for he is induced through the passion, to choose
what he would not choose, were it not for the passion. On the other hand,
he that sins through certain malice, chooses evil of his own accord, in
the way already explained (AA[2],3), so that his choosing, of which he
has full control, is the principle of his sin: and for this reason he is
said to sin "through" choosing.





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