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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[142] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE VICES OPPOSED TO TEMPERANCE (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE VICES OPPOSED TO TEMPERANCE (FOUR ARTICLES)

We must now consider the vices opposed to temperance. Under this head
there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether insensibility is a sin?

(2) Whether intemperance is a childish sin?

(3) Of the comparison between intemperance and timidity;

(4) Whether intemperance is the most disgraceful of vices?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether insensibility is a vice?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that insensibility is not a vice. For those are
called insensible who are deficient with regard to pleasures of touch.
Now seemingly it is praiseworthy and virtuous to be altogether deficient
in such matters: for it is written (Dan. 10:2,3): "In those days Daniel
mourned the days of three weeks, I ate no desirable bread, and neither
flesh nor wine entered my mouth, neither was I anointed with ointment."
Therefore insensibility is not a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, "man's good is to be in accord with reason," according
to Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv). Now abstinence from all pleasures of touch
is most conducive to man's progress in the good of reason: for it is
written (Dan. 1:17) that "to the children" who took pulse for their food
(Dan. 1:12), "God gave knowledge, and understanding in every book and
wisdom." Therefore insensibility, which rejects these pleasures
altogether, is not sinful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, that which is a very effective means of avoiding sin
would seem not to be sinful. Now the most effective remedy in avoiding
sin is to shun pleasures, and this pertains to insensibility. For the
Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 9) that "if we deny ourselves pleasures we
are less liable to sin." Therefore there is nothing vicious in
insensibility.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Nothing save vice is opposed to virtue. Now
insensibility is opposed to the virtue of temperance according to the
Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 7; iii, 11). Therefore insensibility is a vice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Whatever is contrary to the natural order is vicious. Now
nature has introduced pleasure into the operations that are necessary for
man's life. Wherefore the natural order requires that man should make use
of these pleasures, in so far as they are necessary for man's well-being,
as regards the preservation either of the individual or of the species.
Accordingly, if anyone were to reject pleasure to the extent of omitting
things that are necessary for nature's preservation, he would sin, as
acting counter to the order of nature. And this pertains to the vice of
insensibility.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] Body Para. 2/2

It must, however, be observed that it is sometimes praiseworthy, and
even necessary for the sake of an end, to abstain from such pleasures as
result from these operations. Thus, for the sake of the body's health,
certain persons refrain from pleasures of meat, drink, and sex; as also
for the fulfilment of certain engagements: thus athletes and soldiers
have to deny themselves many pleasures, in order to fulfil their
respective duties. In like manner penitents, in order to recover health
of soul, have recourse to abstinence from pleasures, as a kind of diet,
and those who are desirous of giving themselves up to contemplation and
Divine things need much to refrain from carnal things. Nor do any of
these things pertain to the vice of insensibility, because they are in
accord with right reason.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Daniel abstained thus from pleasures, not through any
horror of pleasure as though it were evil in itself, but for some
praiseworthy end, in order, namely, to adapt himself to the heights of
contemplation by abstaining from pleasures of the body. Hence the text
goes on to tell of the revelation that he received immediately afterwards.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Since man cannot use his reason without his sensitive
powers. which need a bodily organ. as stated in the FP, Q[84], AA[7],8,
man needs to sustain his body in order that he may use his reason. Now
the body is sustained by means of operations that afford pleasure:
wherefore the good of reason cannot be in a man if he abstain from all
pleasures. Yet this need for using pleasures of the body will be greater
or less, according as man needs more or less the powers of his body in
accomplishing the act of reason. Wherefore it is commendable for those
who undertake the duty of giving themselves to contemplation, and of
imparting to others a spiritual good, by a kind of spiritual procreation,
as it were, to abstain from many pleasures, but not for those who are in
duty bound to bodily occupations and carnal procreation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: In order to avoid sin, pleasure must be shunned, not
altogether, but so that it is not sought more than necessity requires.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether intemperance is a childish sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that intemperance is not a childish sin. For Jerome
in commenting on Mt. 18:3, "Unless you be converted, and become as little
children," says that "a child persists not in anger, is unmindful of
injuries, takes no pleasure in seeing a beautiful woman," all of which is
contrary to intemperance. Therefore intemperance is not a childish sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, children have none but natural desires. Now "in respect
of natural desires few sin by intemperance," according to the Philosopher
(Ethic. iii, 11). Therefore intemperance is not a childish sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, children should be fostered and nourished: whereas
concupiscence and pleasure, about which intemperance is concerned, are
always to be thwarted and uprooted, according to Col. 3:5, "Mortify . .
. your members upon the earth, which are . . . concupiscence" [*Vulg.:
'your members which are upon the earth, fornication . . .
concupiscence'], etc. Therefore intemperance is not a childish sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 12) that "we apply
the term intemperance* to childish faults." [*{Akolasia} which Aristotle
refers to {kolazo} to punish, so that its original sense would be
'impunity' or 'unrestraint.']

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, A thing is said to be childish for two reasons. First,
because it is becoming to children, and the Philosopher does not mean
that the sin of intemperance is childish in this sense. Secondly. by way
of likeness, and it is in this sense that sins of intemperance are said
to be childish. For the sin of intemperance is one of unchecked
concupiscence, which is likened to a child in three ways. First, as
rewards that which they both desire, for like a child concupiscence
desires something disgraceful. This is because in human affairs a thing
is beautiful according as it harmonizes with reason. Wherefore Tully says
(De Offic. i, 27) under the heading "Comeliness is twofold," that "the
beautiful is that which is in keeping with man's excellence in so far as
his nature differs from other animals." Now a child does not attend to
the order of reason; and in like manner "concupiscence does not listen to
reason," according to Ethic. vii, 6. Secondly, they are alike as to the
result. For a child, if left to his own will, becomes more self-willed:
hence it is written (Ecclus. 30:8): "A horse not broken becometh
stubborn, and a child left to himself will become headstrong." So, too,
concupiscence, if indulged, gathers strength: wherefore Augustine says
(Confess. viii, 5): "Lust served became a custom, and custom not resisted
became necessity." Thirdly, as to the remedy which is applied to both.
For a child is corrected by being restrained; hence it is written (Prov.
23:13,14): "Withhold not correction from a child . . . Thou shalt beat
him with a rod, and deliver his soul from Hell." In like manner by
resisting concupiscence we moderate it according to the demands of
virtue. Augustine indicates this when he says (Music. vi, 11) that if the
mind be lifted up to spiritual things, and remain fixed "thereon, the
impulse of custom," i.e. carnal concupiscence, "is broken, and being
suppressed is gradually weakened: for it was stronger when we followed
it, and though not wholly destroyed, it is certainly less strong when we
curb it." Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 12) that "as a child
ought to live according to the direction of his tutor, so ought the
concupiscible to accord with reason."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This argument takes the term "childish" as denoting what is
observed in children. It is not in this sense that the sin of
intemperance is said to be childish, but by way of likeness, as stated
above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: A desire may be said to be natural in two ways. First, with
regard to its genus, and thus temperance and intemperance are about
natural desires, since they are about desires of food and sex, which are
directed to the preservation of nature. Secondly, a desire may be called
natural with regard to the species of the thing that nature requires for
its own preservation; and in this way it does not happen often that one
sins in the matter of natural desires, for nature requires only that
which supplies its need, and there is no sin in desiring this, save only
where it is desired in excess as to quantity. This is the only way in
which sin can occur with regard to natural desires, according to the
Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 11).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

There are other things in respect of which sins frequently occur, and
these are certain incentives to desire devised by human curiosity [*Cf.
Q[167]], such as the nice [curiosa] preparation of food, or the adornment
of women. And though children do not affect these things much, yet
intemperance is called a childish sin for the reason given above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: That which regards nature should be nourished and fostered
in children, but that which pertains to the lack of reason in them should
not be fostered, but corrected, as stated above.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether cowardice* is a greater vice than intemperance? [*Cf. Q[125]]

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that cowardice is a greater vice than intemperance.
For a vice deserves reproach through being opposed to the good of virtue.
Now cowardice is opposed to fortitude, which is a more excellent virtue
than temperance, as stated above (A[2]; Q[141], A[8]). Therefore
cowardice is a greater vice than intemperance.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the greater the difficulty to be surmounted, the less is
a man to be reproached for failure, wherefore the Philosopher says
(Ethic. vii, 7) that "it is no wonder, in fact it is pardonable, if a man
is mastered by strong and overwhelming pleasures or pains." Now seemingly
it is more difficult to control pleasures than other passions; hence it
is stated in Ethic. ii, 3, that "it is more difficult to contend against
pleasure than against anger, which would seem to be stronger than fear."
Therefore intemperance, which is overcome by pleasure, is a less grievous
sin than cowardice, which is overcome by fear.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, it is essential to sin that it be voluntary. Now
cowardice is more voluntary than intemperance, since no man desires to be
intemperate, whereas some desire to avoid dangers of death, which
pertains to cowardice. Therefore cowardice is a more grievous sin than
intemperance.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 12) that
"intemperance seems more akin to voluntary action than cowardice."
Therefore it is more sinful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, one may be compared with another in two ways. First, with
regard to the matter or object; secondly, on the part of the man who
sins: and in both ways intemperance is a more grievous sin than
cowardice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] Body Para. 2/3

First, as regards the matter. For cowardice shuns dangers of death, to
avoid which the principal motive is the necessity of preserving life. On
the other hand, intemperance is about pleasures, the desire of which is
not so necessary for the preservation of life, because, as stated above
(A[2], ad 2), intemperance is more about certain annexed pleasures or
desires than about natural desires or pleasures. Now the more necessary
the motive of sin the less grievous the sin. Wherefore intemperance is a
more grievous vice than cowardice, on the part of the object or motive
matter.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] Body Para. 3/3

In like manner again, on the part of the man who sins, and this for
three reasons. First, because the more sound-minded a man is, the more
grievous his sin, wherefore sins are not imputed to those who are
demented. Now grave fear and sorrow, especially in dangers of death, stun
the human mind, but not so pleasure which is the motive of intemperance.
Secondly, because the more voluntary a sin the graver it is. Now
intemperance has more of the voluntary in it than cowardice has, and this
for two reasons. The first is because actions done through fear have
their origin in the compulsion of an external agent, so that they are not
simply voluntary but mixed, as stated in Ethic. iii, 1, whereas actions
done for the sake of pleasure are simply voluntary. The second reason is
because the actions of an intemperate man are more voluntary individually
and less voluntary generically. For no one would wish to be intemperate,
yet man is enticed by individual pleasures which make of him an
intemperate man. Hence the most effective remedy against intemperance is
not to dwell on the consideration of singulars. It is the other way about
in matters relating to cowardice: because the particular action that
imposes itself on a man is less voluntary, for instance to cast aside his
shield, and the like, whereas the general purpose is more voluntary, for
instance to save himself by flight. Now that which is more voluntary in
the particular circumstances in which the act takes place, is simply more
voluntary. Wherefore intemperance, being simply more voluntary than
cowardice, is a greater vice. Thirdly, because it is easier to find a
remedy for intemperance than for cowardice, since pleasures of food and
sex, which are the matter of intemperance, are of everyday occurrence,
and it is possible for man without danger by frequent practice in their
regard to become temperate; whereas dangers of death are of rare
occurrence, and it is more dangerous for man to encounter them frequently
in order to cease being a coward.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The excellence of fortitude in comparison with temperance
may be considered from two standpoints. First, with regard to the end,
which has the aspect of good: because fortitude is directed to the common
good more than temperance is. And from this point of view cowardice has a
certain precedence over intemperance, since by cowardice some people
forsake the defense of the common good. Secondly, with regard to the
difficulty, because it is more difficult to endure dangers of death than
to refrain from any pleasures whatever: and from this point of view
there is no need for cowardice to take precedence of intemperance. For
just as it is a greater strength that does not succumb to a stronger
force, so on the other hand to be overcome by a stronger force is proof
of a lesser vice, and to succumb to a weaker force, is the proof of a
greater vice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Love of self-preservation, for the sake of which one shuns
perils of death, is much more connatural than any pleasures whatever of
food and sex which are directed to the preservation of life. Hence it is
more difficult to overcome the fear of dangers of death, than the desire
of pleasure in matters of food and sex: although the latter is more
difficult to resist than anger, sorrow, and fear, occasioned by certain
other evils.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The voluntary, in cowardice, depends rather on a general
than on a particular consideration: wherefore in such cases we have the
voluntary not simply but in a restricted sense.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether intemperance is the most disgraceful of sins?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that intemperance is not the most disgraceful of
sins. As honor is due to virtue so is disgrace due to sin. Now some sins
are more grievous than intemperance: for instance murder, blasphemy, and
the like. Therefore intemperance is not the most disgraceful of sins.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, those sins which are the more common are seemingly less
disgraceful, since men are less ashamed of them. Now sins of intemperance
are most common, because they are about things connected with the common
use of human life, and in which many happen to sin. Therefore sins of
intemperance do not seem to be most disgraceful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 6) temperance and
intemperance are about human desires and pleasures. Now certain desires
and pleasures are more shameful than human desires and pleasures; such
are brutal pleasures and those caused by disease as the Philosopher
states (Ethic. vii, 5). Therefore intemperance is not the most
disgraceful of sins.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 10) that
"intemperance is justly more deserving of reproach than other vices."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Disgrace is seemingly opposed to honor and glory. Now
honor is due to excellence, as stated above (Q[103], A[1]), and glory
denotes clarity (Q[103], A[1], ad 3). Accordingly intemperance is most
disgraceful for two reasons. First, because it is most repugnant to human
excellence, since it is about pleasures common to us and the lower
animals, as stated above (Q[141], AA[2],3). Wherefore it is written (Ps.
48:21): "Man, when he was in honor, did not understand: he hath been
compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them." Secondly, because
it is most repugnant to man's clarity or beauty; inasmuch as the
pleasures which are the matter of intemperance dim the light of reason
from which all the clarity and beauty of virtue arises: wherefore these
pleasures are described as being most slavish.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As Gregory says [*Moral. xxxiii. 12], "the sins of the
flesh," which are comprised under the head of intemperance, although less
culpable, are more disgraceful. The reason is that culpability is
measured by inordinateness in respect of the end, while disgrace regards
shamefulness, which depends chiefly on the unbecomingness of the sin in
respect of the sinner.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The commonness of a sin diminishes the shamefulness and
disgrace of a sin in the opinion of men, but not as regards the nature of
the vices themselves.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[142] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: When we say that intemperance is most disgraceful, we mean
in comparison with human vices, those, namely, that are connected with
human passions which to a certain extent are in conformity with human
nature. But those vices which exceed the mode of human nature are still
more disgraceful. Nevertheless such vices are apparently reducible to the
genus of intemperance, by way of excess: for instance, if a man delight
in eating human flesh, or in committing the unnatural vice.





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