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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[168] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF MODESTY AS CONSISTING IN THE OUTWARD MOVEMENTS OF THE BODY (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF MODESTY AS CONSISTING IN THE OUTWARD MOVEMENTS OF THE BODY (FOUR ARTICLES)

We must next consider modesty as consisting in the outward movements of
the body, and under this head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether there can be virtue and vice in the outward movements of the
body that are done seriously?

(2) Whether there can be a virtue about playful actions?

(3) Of the sin consisting in excess of play;

(4) Of the sin consisting in lack of play.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether any virtue regards the outward movements of the body?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that no virtue regards the outward movements of the
body. For every virtue pertains to the spiritual beauty of the soul,
according to Ps. 44:14, "All the glory of the king's daughter is within,"
and a gloss adds, "namely, in the conscience." Now the movements of the
body are not within, but without. Therefore there can be no virtue about
them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, "Virtues are not in us by nature," as the Philosopher
states (Ethic. ii, 1). But outward bodily movements are in man by nature,
since it is by nature that some are quick, and some slow of movement, and
the same applies to other differences of outward movements. Therefore
there is no virtue about movements of this kind.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, every moral virtue is either about actions directed to
another person, as justice, or about passions, as temperance and
fortitude. Now outward bodily movements are not directed to another
person, nor are they passions. Therefore no virtue is connected with
them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, study should be applied to all works of virtue, as
stated above (Q[166], A[1], OBJ[1]; A[2], ad 1). Now it is censurable to
apply study to the ordering of one's outward movements: for Ambrose says
(De Offic. i, 18): "A becoming gait is one that reflects the carriage of
authority, has the tread of gravity, and the foot-print of tranquillity:
yet so that there be neither study nor affectation, but natural and
artless movement." Therefore seemingly there is no virtue about the style
of outward movements.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The beauty of honesty [*Cf. Q[145], A[1]] pertains to
virtue. Now the style of outward movements pertains to the beauty of
honesty. For Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 18): "The sound of the voice and
the gesture of the body are distasteful to me, whether they be unduly
soft and nerveless, or coarse and boorish. Let nature be our model; her
reflection is gracefulness of conduct and beauty of honesty." Therefore
there is a virtue about the style of outward movement.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, Moral virtue consists in the things pertaining to man
being directed by his reason. Now it is manifest that the outward
movements of man are dirigible by reason, since the outward members are
set in motion at the command of reason. Hence it is evident that there is
a moral virtue concerned with the direction of these movements.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] Body Para. 2/3

Now the direction of these movements may be considered from a twofold
standpoint. First, in respect of fittingness to the person; secondly, in
respect of fittingness to externals, whether persons, business, or place.
Hence Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 18): "Beauty of conduct consists in
becoming behavior towards others, according to their sex and person," and
this regards the first. As to the second, he adds: "This is the best way
to order our behavior, this is the polish becoming to every action."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] Body Para. 3/3

Hence Andronicus [*De Affectibus] ascribes two things to these outward
movements: namely "taste" [ornatus] which regards what is becoming to the
person, wherefore he says that it is the knowledge of what is becoming in
movement and behavior; and "methodicalness" [bona ordinatio] which
regards what is becoming to the business in hand, and to one's
surroundings, wherefore he calls it "the practical knowledge of
separation," i.e. of the distinction of "acts."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Outward movements are signs of the inward disposition,
according to Ecclus. 19:27, "The attire of the body, and the laughter of
the teeth, and the gait of the man, show what he is"; and Ambrose says
(De Offic. i, 18) that "the habit of mind is seen in the gesture of the
body," and that "the body's movement is an index of the soul."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Although it is from natural disposition that a man is
inclined to this or that style of outward movement, nevertheless what is
lacking to nature can be supplied by the efforts of reason. Hence Ambrose
says (De Offic. i, 18): "Let nature guide the movement: and if nature
fail in any respect, surely effort will supply the defect."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As stated (ad 1) outward movements are indications of the
inward disposition, and this regards chiefly the passions of the soul.
Wherefore Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 18) that "from these things," i.e.
the outward movements, "the man that lies hidden in our hearts is
esteemed to be either frivolous, or boastful, or impure, or on the other
hand sedate, steady, pure, and free from blemish." It is moreover from
our outward movements that other men form their judgment about us,
according to Ecclus. 19:26, "A man is known by his look, and a wise man,
when thou meetest him, is known by his countenance." Hence moderation of
outward movements is directed somewhat to other persons, according to the
saying of Augustine in his Rule (Ep. ccxi), "In all your movements, let
nothing be done to offend the eye of another, but only that which is
becoming to the holiness of your state." Wherefore the moderation of
outward movements may be reduced to two virtues, which the Philosopher
mentions in Ethic. iv, 6,7. For, in so far as by outward movements we are
directed to other persons, the moderation of our outward movements
belongs to "friendliness or affability" [*Cf. Q[114], A[1]]. This regards
pleasure or pain which may arise from words or deeds in reference to
others with whom a man comes in contact. And, in so far as outward
movements are signs of our inward disposition, their moderation belongs
to the virtue of truthfulness [*Cf. Q[9]], whereby a man, by word and
deed, shows himself to be such as he is inwardly.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: It is censurable to study the style of one's outward
movements, by having recourse to pretense in them, so that they do not
agree with one's inward disposition. Nevertheless it behooves one to
study them, so that if they be in any way inordinate, this may be
corrected. Hence Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 18): "Let them be without
artifice, but not without correction."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether there can be a virtue about games?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that there cannot be a virtue about games. For
Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 23): "Our Lord said: 'Woe to you who laugh,
for you shall weep.' Wherefore I consider that all, and not only
excessive, games should be avoided." Now that which can be done
virtuously is not to be avoided altogether. Therefore there cannot be a
virtue about games.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, "Virtue is that which God forms in us, without us," as
stated above (FS, Q[55], A[4]). Now Chrysostom says [*Hom. vi in Matth.]:
"It is not God, but the devil, that is the author of fun. Listen to what
happened to those who played: 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and
they rose up to play.'" Therefore there can be no virtue about games.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. x, 6) that "playful actions
are not directed to something else." But it is a requisite of virtue that
the agent in choosing should "direct his action to something else," as
the Philosopher states (Ethic. ii, 4). Therefore there can be no virtue
about games.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (Music. ii, 15): "I pray thee, spare
thyself at times: for it becomes a wise man sometimes to relax the high
pressure of his attention to work." Now this relaxation of the mind from
work consists in playful words or deeds. Therefore it becomes a wise and
virtuous man to have recourse to such things at times. Moreover the
Philosopher [*Ethic. ii, 7; iv, 8] assigns to games the virtue of
{eutrapelia}, which we may call "pleasantness."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] Body Para. 1/4

I answer that, Just as man needs bodily rest for the body's refreshment,
because he cannot always be at work, since his power is finite and equal
to a certain fixed amount of labor, so too is it with his soul, whose
power is also finite and equal to a fixed amount of work. Consequently
when he goes beyond his measure in a certain work, he is oppressed and
becomes weary, and all the more since when the soul works, the body is at
work likewise, in so far as the intellective soul employs forces that
operate through bodily organs. Now sensible goods are connatural to man,
and therefore, when the soul arises above sensibles, through being intent
on the operations of reason, there results in consequence a certain
weariness of soul, whether the operations with which it is occupied be
those of the practical or of the speculative reason. Yet this weariness
is greater if the soul be occupied with the work of contemplation, since
thereby it is raised higher above sensible things; although perhaps
certain outward works of the practical reason entail a greater bodily
labor. In either case, however, one man is more soul-wearied than
another, according as he is more intensely occupied with works of reason.
Now just as weariness of the body is dispelled by resting the body, so
weariness of the soul must needs be remedied by resting the soul: and the
soul's rest is pleasure, as stated above (FS, Q[25], A[2]; FS, Q[31],
A[1], ad 2). Consequently, the remedy for weariness of soul must needs
consist in the application of some pleasure, by slackening the tension of
the reason's study. Thus in the Conferences of the Fathers xxiv, 21, it
is related of Blessed John the Evangelist, that when some people were
scandalized on finding him playing together with his disciples, he is
said to have told one of them who carried a bow to shoot an arrow. And
when the latter had done this several times, he asked him whether he
could do it indefinitely, and the man answered that if he continued doing
it, the bow would break. Whence the Blessed John drew the inference that
in like manner man's mind would break if its tension were never relaxed.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] Body Para. 2/4

Now such like words or deeds wherein nothing further is sought than the
soul's delight, are called playful or humorous. Hence it is necessary at
times to make use of them, in order to give rest, as it were, to the
soul. This is in agreement with the statement of the Philosopher (Ethic.
iv, 8) that "in the intercourse of this life there is a kind of rest that
is associated with games": and consequently it is sometimes necessary to
make use of such things.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] Body Para. 3/4

Nevertheless it would seem that in this matter there are three points
which require especial caution. The first and chief is that the pleasure
in question should not be sought in indecent or injurious deeds or words.
Wherefore Tully says (De Offic. i, 29) that "one kind of joke is
discourteous, insolent, scandalous, obscene." Another thing to be
observed is that one lose not the balance of one's mind altogether. Hence
Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 20): "We should beware lest, when we seek
relaxation of mind, we destroy all that harmony which is the concord of
good works": and Tully says (De Offic. i, 29), that, "just as we do not
allow children to enjoy absolute freedom in their games, but only that
which is consistent with good behavior, so our very fun should reflect
something of an upright mind." Thirdly, we must be careful, as in all
other human actions, to conform ourselves to persons, time, and place,
and take due account of other circumstances, so that our fun "befit the
hour and the man," as Tully says (De Offic. i, 29).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] Body Para. 4/4

Now these things are directed according to the rule of reason: and a
habit that operates according to reason is virtue. Therefore there can be
a virtue about games. The Philosopher gives it the name of wittiness
({eutrapelia}), and a man is said to be pleasant through having a happy
turn* of mind, whereby he gives his words and deeds a cheerful turn: and
inasmuch as this virtue restrains a man from immoderate fun, it is
comprised under modesty. [*{Eutrapelia} is derived from {trepein} = 'to
turn'].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As stated above, fun should fit with business and persons;
wherefore Tully says (De Invent. Rhet. i, 17) that "when the audience is
weary, it will be useful for the speaker to try something novel or
amusing, provided that joking be not incompatible with the gravity of the
subject." Now the sacred doctrine is concerned with things of the
greatest moment, according to Prov. 8:6, "Hear, for I will speak of great
things." Wherefore Ambrose does not altogether exclude fun from human
speech, but from the sacred doctrine; hence he begins by saying:
"Although jokes are at times fitting and pleasant, nevertheless they are
incompatible with the ecclesiastical rule; since how can we have recourse
to things which are not to be found in Holy Writ?"

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: This saying of Chrysostom refers to the inordinate use of
fun, especially by those who make the pleasure of games their end; of
whom it is written (Wis. 15:12): "They have accounted our life a
pastime." Against these Tully says (De Offic. i, 29): "We are so begotten
by nature that we appear to be made not for play and fun, but rather for
hardships, and for occupations of greater gravity and moment."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Playful actions themselves considered in their species are
not directed to an end: but the pleasure derived from such actions is
directed to the recreation and rest of the soul, and accordingly if this
be done with moderation, it is lawful to make use of fun. Hence Tully
says (De Offic. i, 29): "It is indeed lawful to make use of play and fun,
but in the same way as we have recourse to sleep and other kinds of rest,
then only when we have done our duty by grave and serious matters."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether there can be sin in the excess of play?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that there cannot be sin in the excess of play. For
that which is an excuse for sin is not held to be sinful. Now play is
sometimes an excuse for sin, for many things would be grave sins if they
were done seriously, whereas if they be done in fun, are either no sin or
but slightly sinful. Therefore it seems that there is no sin in excessive
play.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, all other vices are reducible to the seven capital
vices, as Gregory states (Moral. xxxi, 17). But excess of play does not
seem reducible to any of the capital vices. Therefore it would seem not
to be a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, comedians especially would seem to exceed in play, since
they direct their whole life to playing. Therefore if excess of play were
a sin, all actors would be in a state of sin; moreover all those who
employ them, as well as those who make them any payment, would sin as
accomplices of their sin. But this would seem untrue; for it is related
in the Lives of the Fathers (ii. 16; viii. 63) that is was revealed to
the Blessed Paphnutius that a certain jester would be with him in the
life to come.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, A gloss on Prov. 14:13, "Laughter shall be mingled with
sorrow and mourning taketh hold of the end of joy," remarks: "A mourning
that will last for ever." Now there is inordinate laughter and inordinate
joy in excessive play. Therefore there is mortal sin therein, since
mortal sin alone is deserving of everlasting mourning.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, In all things dirigible according to reason, the
excessive is that which goes beyond, and the deficient is that which
falls short of the rule of reason. Now it has been stated (A[2]) that
playful or jesting words or deeds are dirigible according to reason.
Wherefore excessive play is that which goes beyond the rule of reason:
and this happens in two ways. First, on account of the very species of
the acts employed for the purpose of fun, and this kind of jesting,
according to Tully (De Offic. i, 29), is stated to be "discourteous,
insolent, scandalous, and obscene," when to wit a man, for the purpose of
jesting, employs indecent words or deeds, or such as are injurious to his
neighbor, these being of themselves mortal sins. And thus it is evident
that excessive play is a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

Secondly, there may be excess in play, through lack of due
circumstances: for instance when people make use of fun at undue times
or places, or out of keeping with the matter in hand, or persons. This
may be sometimes a mortal sin on account of the strong attachment to
play, when a man prefers the pleasure he derives therefrom to the love of
God, so as to be willing to disobey a commandment of God or of the Church
rather than forego, such like amusements. Sometimes, however, it is a
venial sin, for instance where a man is not so attached to amusement as
to be willing for its sake to do anything in disobedience to God.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Certain things are sinful on account of the intention
alone, because they are done in order to injure someone. Such an
intention is excluded by their being done in fun, the intention of which
is to please, not to injure: in these cases fun excuses from sin, or
diminishes it. Other things, however, are sins according to their
species, such as murder, fornication, and the like: and fun is no excuse
for these; in fact they make fun scandalous and obscene.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Excessive play pertains to senseless mirth, which Gregory
(Moral. xxxi, 17) calls a daughter of gluttony. Wherefore it is written
(Ex. 32:6): "The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to
play."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As stated (A[2]), play is necessary for the intercourse of
human life. Now whatever is useful to human intercourse may have a lawful
employment ascribed to it. Wherefore the occupation of play-actors, the
object of which is to cheer the heart of man, is not unlawful in itself;
nor are they in a state of sin provided that their playing be moderated,
namely that they use no unlawful words or deeds in order to amuse, and
that they do not introduce play into undue matters and seasons. And
although in human affairs, they have no other occupation in reference to
other men, nevertheless in reference to themselves, and to God, they
perform other actions both serious and virtuous, such as prayer and the
moderation of their own passions and operations, while sometimes they
give alms to the poor. Wherefore those who maintain them in moderation do
not sin but act justly, by rewarding them for their services. on the
other hand, if a man spends too much on such persons, or maintains those
comedians who practice unlawful mirth, he sins as encouraging them in
their sin. Hence Augustine says (Tract. c. in Joan.) that "to give one's
property to comedians is a great sin, not a virtue"; unless by chance
some play-actor were in extreme need, in which case one would have to
assist him, for Ambrose says (De Offic. [*Quoted in Canon Pasce, dist.
86]): "Feed him that dies of hunger; for whenever thou canst save a man
by feeding him, if thou hast not fed him, thou hast slain him."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether there is a sin in lack of mirth?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that there is no sin in lack of mirth. For no sin
is prescribed to a penitent. But Augustine speaking of a penitent says
(De Vera et Falsa Poenit. 15) [*Spurious]: "Let him refrain from games
and the sights of the world, if he wishes to obtain the grace of a full
pardon." Therefore there is no sin in lack of mirth.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, no sin is included in the praise given to holy men. But
some persons are praised for having refrained from mirth; for it is
written (Jer. 15:17): "I sat not in the assembly of jesters," and (Tobias
3:17): "Never have I joined myself with them that play; neither have I
made myself partaker with them that walk in lightness." Therefore there
can be no sin in the lack of mirth.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Andronicus counts austerity to be one of the virtues,
and he describes it as a habit whereby a man neither gives nor receives
the pleasures of conversation. Now this pertains to the lack of mirth.
Therefore the lack of mirth is virtuous rather than sinful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 7; iv, 8) reckons the lack
of mirth to be a vice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, In human affairs whatever is against reason is a sin. Now
it is against reason for a man to be burdensome to others, by offering no
pleasure to others, and by hindering their enjoyment. Wherefore Seneca
[*Martin of Braga, Formula Vitae Honestae: cap. De Continentia] says (De
Quat. Virt., cap. De Continentia): "Let your conduct be guided by wisdom
so that no one will think you rude, or despise you as a cad." Now a man
who is without mirth, not only is lacking in playful speech, but is also
burdensome to others, since he is deaf to the moderate mirth of others.
Consequently they are vicious, and are said to be boorish or rude, as the
Philosopher states (Ethic. iv, 8).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] Body Para. 2/2

Since, however, mirth is useful for the sake of the rest and pleasures
it affords; and since, in human life, pleasure and rest are not in quest
for their own sake, but for the sake of operation, as stated in Ethic. x,
6, it follows that "lack of mirth is less sinful than excess thereof."
Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix, 10): "We should make few friends
for the sake of pleasure, since but little sweetness suffices to season
life, just as little salt suffices for our meat."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Mirth is forbidden the penitent because he is called upon
to mourn for his sins. Nor does this imply a vice in default, because
this very diminishment of mirth in them is in accordance with reason.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Jeremias speaks there in accordance with the times, the
state of which required that man should mourn; wherefore he adds: "I sat
alone, because Thou hast filled me with threats." The words of Tobias 3
refer to excessive mirth; and this is evident from his adding: "Neither
have I made myself partaker with them that walk in lightness."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[168] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Austerity, as a virtue, does not exclude all pleasures, but
only such as are excessive and inordinate; wherefore it would seem to
pertain to affability, which the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 6) calls
"friendliness," or {eutrapelia}, otherwise wittiness. Nevertheless he
names and defines it thus in respect of its agreement with temperance, to
which it belongs to restrain pleasure.





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