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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF NEGLIGENCE (THREE ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF NEGLIGENCE (THREE ARTICLES)

We must now consider negligence, under which head there are three points
of inquiry:

(1) Whether negligence is a special sin?

(2) To which virtue is it opposed?

(3) Whether negligence is a mortal sin?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether negligence is a special sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that negligence is not a special sin. For
negligence is opposed to diligence. But diligence is required in every
virtue. Therefore negligence is not a special sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, that which is common to every sin is not a special sin.
Now negligence is common to every sin, because he who sins neglects that
which withdraws him from sin, and he who perseveres in sin neglects to be
contrite for his sin. Therefore negligence is not a special sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, every special sin had a determinate matter. But
negligence seems to have no determinate matter: since it is neither about
evil or indifferent things (for no man is accused of negligence if he
omit them), nor about good things, for if these be done negligently, they
are no longer good. Therefore it seems that negligence is not a special
vice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Sins committed through negligence, are distinguished
from those which are committed through contempt.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Negligence denotes lack of due solicitude. Now every lack
of a due act is sinful: wherefore it is evident that negligence is a sin,
and that it must needs have the character of a special sin according as
solicitude is the act of a special virtue. For certain sins are special
through being about a special matter, as lust is about sexual matters,
while some vices are special on account of their having a special kind of
act which extends to all kinds of matter, and such are all vices
affecting an act of reason, since every act of reason extends to any kind
of moral matter. Since then solicitude is a special act of reason, as
stated above (Q[47], A[9]), it follows that negligence, which denotes
lack of solicitude, is a special sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Diligence seems to be the same as solicitude, because the
more we love [diligimus] a thing the more solicitous are we about it.
Hence diligence, no less than solicitude, is required for every virtue,
in so far as due acts of reason are requisite for every virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: In every sin there must needs be a defect affecting an act
of reason, for instance a defect in counsel or the like. Hence just as
precipitation is a special sin on account of a special act of reason
which is omitted, namely counsel, although it may be found in any kind of
sin; so negligence is a special sin on account of the lack of a special
act of reason, namely solicitude, although it is found more or less in
all sins.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Properly speaking the matter of negligence is a good that
one ought to do, not that it is a good when it is done negligently, but
because on account of negligence it incurs a lack of goodness, whether a
due act be entirely omitted through lack of solicitude, or some due
circumstance be omitted.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether negligence is opposed to prudence?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that negligence is not opposed to prudence. For
negligence seems to be the same as idleness or laziness, which belongs to
sloth, according to Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 45). Now sloth is not opposed
to prudence, but to charity, as stated above (Q[35], A[3]). Therefore
negligence is not opposed to prudence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, every sin of omission seems to be due to negligence. But
sins of omission are not opposed to prudence, but to the executive moral
virtues. Therefore negligence is not opposed to prudence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, imprudence relates to some act of reason. But negligence
does not imply a defect of counsel, for that is "precipitation," nor a
defect of judgment, since that is "thoughtlessness," nor a defect of
command, because that is "inconstancy." Therefore negligence does not
pertain to imprudence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, it is written (Eccles. 7:19): "He that feareth God,
neglecteth nothing." But every sin is excluded by the opposite virtue.
Therefore negligence is opposed to fear rather than to prudence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 20:7): "A babbler and a fool
[imprudens] will regard no time." Now this is due to negligence.
Therefore negligence is opposed to prudence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Negligence is directly opposed to solicitude. Now
solicitude pertains to the reason, and rectitude of solicitude to
prudence. Hence, on the other hand, negligence pertains to imprudence.
This appears from its very name, because, as Isidore observes (Etym. x)
"a negligent man is one who fails to choose [nec eligens]": and the right
choice of the means belongs to prudence. Therefore negligence pertains to
imprudence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Negligence is a defect in the internal act, to which choice
also belongs: whereas idleness and laziness denote slowness of execution,
yet so that idleness denotes slowness in setting about the execution,
while laziness denotes remissness in the execution itself. Hence it is
becoming that laziness should arise from sloth, which is "an oppressive
sorrow," i.e. hindering, the mind from action [*Cf. Q[35], A[1]; FS,
Q[35], A[8]].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Omission regards the external act, for it consists in
failing to perform an act which is due. Hence it is opposed to justice,
and is an effect of negligence, even as the execution of a just deed is
the effect of right reason.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Negligence regards the act of command, which solicitude
also regards. Yet the negligent man fails in regard to this act otherwise
than the inconstant man: for the inconstant man fails in commanding,
being hindered as it were, by something, whereas the negligent man fails
through lack of a prompt will.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[2] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: The fear of God helps us to avoid all sins, because
according to Prov. 15:27, "by the fear of the Lord everyone declineth
from evil." Hence fear makes us avoid negligence, yet not as though
negligence were directly opposed to fear, but because fear incites man to
acts of reason. Wherefore also it has been stated above (FS, Q[44], A[2])
when we were treating of the passions, that "fear makes us take counsel."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether negligence can be a mortal sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that negligence cannot be a mortal sin. For a gloss
of Gregory [*Moral. ix. 34] on Job 9:28, "I feared all my works," etc.
says that "too little love of God aggravates the former," viz.
negligence. But wherever there is mortal sin, the love of God is done
away with altogether. Therefore negligence is not a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, a gloss on Ecclus. 7:34, "For thy negligences purify
thyself with a few," says: "Though the offering be small it cleanses the
negligences of many sins." Now this would not be, if negligence were a
mortal sin. Therefore negligence is not a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, under the law certain sacrifices were prescribed for
mortal sins, as appears from the book of Leviticus. Yet no sacrifice was
prescribed for negligence. Therefore negligence is not a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Prov. 19:16): "He that neglecteth his
own life [Vulg.: 'way'] shall die."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (A[2], ad 3), negligence arises out of a
certain remissness of the will, the result being a lack of solicitude on
the part of the reason in commanding what it should command, or as it
should command. Accordingly negligence may happen to be a mortal sin in
two ways. First on the part of that which is omitted through negligence.
If this be either an act or a circumstance necessary for salvation, it
will be a mortal sin. Secondly on the part of the cause: for if the will
be so remiss about Divine things, as to fall away altogether from the
charity of God, such negligence is a mortal sin, and this is the case
chiefly when negligence is due to contempt.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

But if negligence consists in the omission of an act or circumstance
that is not necessary for salvation, it is not a mortal but a venial sin,
provided the negligence arise, not from contempt, but from some lack of
fervor, to which venial sin is an occasional obstacle.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Man may be said to love God less in two ways. First through
lack of the fervor of charity, and this causes the negligence that is a
venial sin: secondly through lack of charity itself, in which sense we
say that a man loves God less when he loves Him with a merely natural
love; and this causes the negligence that is a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: According to the same authority (gloss), a small offering
made with a humble mind and out of pure love, cleanses man not only from
venial but also from mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[54] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: When negligence consists in the omission of that which is
necessary for salvation, it is drawn to the other more manifest genus of
sin. Because those sins that consist of inward actions, are more hidden,
wherefore no special sacrifices were prescribed for them in the Law,
since the offering of sacrifices was a kind of public confession of sin,
whereas hidden sins should not be confessed in public.






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