St. Thomas Aquinas

The Summa Theologica

(Benziger Bros. edition, 1947)
Translated by
Fathers of the English Dominican Province

 

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OF THE MEAN OF VIRTUE (FOUR ARTICLES)

Deinde considerandum est de proprietatibus virtutum. Et primo quidem, de medio virtutum; secundo, de connexione virtutum; tertio, de aequalitate earum; quarto, de ipsarum duratione.    We must now consider the properties of virtues: and (1) the mean of virtue, (2) the connection between virtues, (3) equality of virtues, (4) the duration of virtues.
Circa primum quaeruntur quatuor. Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:
Primo, utrum virtutes morales sint in medio.     (1) Whether moral virtue observes the mean?
Secundo, utrum medium virtutis moralis sit medium rei, vel rationis.     (2) Whether the mean of moral virtue is the real mean or the rational mean?
Tertio, utrum intellectuales virtutes consistant in medio.     (3) Whether the intellectual virtues observe the mean?
Quarto, utrum virtutes theologicae.     (4) Whether the theological virtues do?

 

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Whether moral virtues observe the mean?

Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod virtus moralis non consistat in medio. Ultimum enim repugnat rationi medii. Sed de ratione virtutis est ultimum, dicitur enim in I de caelo, quod virtus est ultimum potentiae. Ergo virtus moralis non consistit in medio.   Objection 1: It would seem that moral virtue does not observe the mean. For the nature of a mean is incompatible with that which is extreme. Now the nature of virtue is to be something extreme; for it is stated in De Coelo i that "virtue is the limit of power." Therefore moral virtue does not observe the mean.
Praeterea, illud quod est maximum, non est medium. Sed quaedam virtutes morales tendunt in aliquod maximum, sicut magnanimitas est circa maximos honores, et magnificentia circa maximos sumptus, ut dicitur in IV Ethic. Ergo non omnis virtus moralis est in medio.   Objection 2: Further, the maximum is not a mean. Now some moral virtues tend to a maximum: for instance, magnanimity to very great honors, and magnificence to very large expenditure, as stated in Ethic. iv, 2,3. Therefore not every moral virtue observes the mean.
Praeterea, si de ratione virtutis moralis sit in medio esse, oportet quod virtus moralis non perficiatur, sed magis corrumpatur, per hoc quod tendit ad extremum. Sed quaedam virtutes morales perficiuntur per hoc quod tendunt ad extremum, sicut virginitas, quae abstinet ab omni delectabili venereo, et sic tenet extremum, et est perfectissima castitas. Et dare omnia pauperibus est perfectissima misericordia vel liberalitas. Ergo videtur quod non sit de ratione virtutis moralis esse in medio.   Objection 3: Further, if it is essential to a moral virtue to observe the mean, it follows that a moral virtue is not perfected, but the contrary corrupted, through tending to something extreme. Now some moral virtues are perfected by tending to something extreme; thus virginity, which abstains from all sexual pleasure, observes the extreme, and is the most perfect chastity: and to give all to the poor is the most perfect mercy or liberality. Therefore it seems that it is not essential to moral virtue that it should observe the mean.
Sed contra est quod philosophus dicit, in II Ethic., quod virtus moralis est habitus electivus in medietate existens.   On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 6) that "moral virtue is a habit of choosing the mean."
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut ex supradictis patet, virtus de sui ratione ordinat hominem ad bonum. Moralis autem virtus proprie est perfectiva appetitivae partis animae circa aliquam determinatam materiam. Mensura autem et regula appetitivi motus circa appetibilia, est ipsa ratio. Bonum autem cuiuslibet mensurati et regulati consistit in hoc quod conformetur suae regulae, sicut bonum in artificiatis est ut consequantur regulam artis. Malum autem per consequens in huiusmodi est per hoc quod aliquid discordat a sua regula vel mensura. Quod quidem contingit vel per hoc quod superexcedit mensuram, vel per hoc quod deficit ab ea, sicut manifeste apparet in omnibus regulatis et mensuratis. Et ideo patet quod bonum virtutis moralis consistit in adaequatione ad mensuram rationis. Manifestum est autem quod inter excessum et defectum medium est aequalitas sive conformitas. Unde manifeste apparet quod virtus moralis in medio consistit.   I answer that, As already explained (Question [55], Article [3]), the nature of virtue is that it should direct man to good. Now moral virtue is properly a perfection of the appetitive part of the soul in regard to some determinate matter: and the measure or rule of the appetitive movement in respect of appetible objects is the reason. But the good of that which is measured or ruled consists in its conformity with its rule: thus the good things made by art is that they follow the rule of art. Consequently, in things of this sort, evil consists in discordance from their rule or measure. Now this may happen either by their exceeding the measure or by their falling short of it; as is clearly the case in all things ruled or measured. Hence it is evident that the good of moral virtue consists in conformity with the rule of reason. Now it is clear that between excess and deficiency the mean is equality or conformity. Therefore it is evident that moral virtue observes the mean.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod virtus moralis bonitatem habet ex regula rationis, pro materia autem habet passiones vel operationes. Si ergo comparetur virtus moralis ad rationem, sic, secundum id quod rationis est, habet rationem extremi unius, quod est conformitas, excessus vero et defectus habet rationem alterius extremi, quod est difformitas. Si vero consideretur virtus moralis secundum suam materiam, sic habet rationem medii, inquantum passionem reducit ad regulam rationis. Unde philosophus dicit, in II Ethic., quod virtus secundum substantiam medietas est, inquantum regula virtutis ponitur circa propriam materiam, secundum optimum autem et bene, est extremitas, scilicet secundum conformitatem rationis.   Reply to Objection 1: Moral virtue derives goodness from the rule of reason, while its matter consists in passions or operations. If therefore we compare moral virtue to reason, then, if we look at that which is has of reason, it holds the position of one extreme, viz. conformity; while excess and defect take the position of the other extreme, viz. deformity. But if we consider moral virtue in respect of its matter, then it holds the position of mean, in so far as it makes the passion conform to the rule of reason. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 6) that "virtue, as to its essence, is a mean state," in so far as the rule of virtue is imposed on its proper matter: "but it is an extreme in reference to the 'best' and the 'excellent,'" viz. as to its conformity with reason.
Ad secundum dicendum quod medium et extrema considerantur in actionibus et passionibus secundum diversas circumstantias, unde nihil prohibet in aliqua virtute esse extremum secundum unam circumstantiam, quod tamen est medium secundum alias circumstantias, per conformitatem ad rationem. Et sic est in magnificentia et magnanimitate. Nam si consideretur quantitas absoluta eius in quod tendit magnificus et magnanimus, dicetur extremum et maximum, sed si consideretur hoc ipsum per comparationem ad alias circumstantias, sic habet rationem medii; quia in hoc tendunt huiusmodi virtutes secundum regulam rationis, idest ubi oportet, et quando oportet, et propter quod oportet. Excessus autem, si in hoc maximum tendatur quando non oportet, vel ubi non oportet, vel propter quod non oportet; defectus autem est, si non tendatur in hoc maximum ubi oportet, et quando oportet. Et hoc est quod philosophus dicit, in IV Ethic., quod magnanimus est quidem magnitudine extremus; eo autem quod ut oportet, medius.   Reply to Objection 2: In actions and passions the mean and the extremes depend on various circumstances: hence nothing hinders something from being extreme in a particular virtue as to one circumstance, while the same thing is a mean in respect of other circumstances, through being in conformity with reason. This is the case with magnanimity and magnificence. For if we look at the absolute quantity of the respective objects of these virtues, we shall call it an extreme and a maximum: but if we consider the quantity in relation to other circumstances, then it has the character of a mean: since these virtues tend to this maximum in accordance with the rule of reason, i.e. "where" it is right, "when" it is right, and for an "end" that is right. There will be excess, if one tends to this maximum "when" it is not right, or "where" it is not right, or for an undue "end"; and there will be deficiency if one fails to tend thereto "where" one ought, and "when" one aught. This agrees with the saying of the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 3) that the "magnanimous man observes the extreme in quantity, but the mean in the right mode of his action."
Ad tertium dicendum quod eadem ratio est de virginitate et paupertate, quae est de magnanimitate. Abstinet enim virginitas ab omnibus venereis, et paupertas ab omnibus divitiis, propter quod oportet, et secundum quod oportet; idest secundum mandatum Dei, et propter vitam aeternam. Si autem hoc fiat secundum quod non oportet, idest secundum aliquam superstitionem illicitam, vel etiam propter inanem gloriam; erit superfluum. Si autem non fiat quando oportet, vel secundum quod oportet, est vitium per defectum, ut patet in transgredientibus votum virginitatis vel paupertatis.   Reply to Objection 3: The same is to be said of virginity and poverty as of magnanimity. For virginity abstains from all sexual matters, and poverty from all wealth, for a right end, and in a right manner, i.e. according to God's word, and for the sake of eternal life. But if this be done in an undue manner, i.e. out of unlawful superstition, or again for vainglory, it will be in excess. And if it be not done when it ought to be done, or as it ought to be done, it is a vice by deficiency: for instance, in those who break their vows of virginity or poverty.

 

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Whether the mean of moral virtue is the real mean, or the rational mean?

Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod medium virtutis moralis non sit medium rationis, sed medium rei. Bonum enim virtutis moralis consistit in hoc quod est in medio. Bonum autem, ut dicitur in VI Metaphys., est in rebus ipsis. Ergo medium virtutis moralis est medium rei.   Objection 1: It would seem that the mean of moral virtue is not the rational mean, but the real mean. For the good of moral virtue consists in its observing the mean. Now, good, as stated in Metaph. ii, text. 8, is in things themselves. Therefore the mean of moral virtue is a real mean.
Praeterea, ratio est vis apprehensiva. Sed virtus moralis non consistit in medio apprehensionum; sed magis in medio operationum et passionum. Ergo medium virtutis moralis non est medium rationis, sed medium rei.   Objection 2: Further, the reason is a power of apprehension. But moral virtue does not observe a mean between apprehensions, but rather a mean between operations or passions. Therefore the mean of moral virtue is not the rational, but the real mean.
Praeterea, medium quod accipitur secundum proportionem arithmeticam vel geometricam, est medium rei. Sed tale est medium iustitiae, ut dicitur in V Ethic. Ergo medium virtutis moralis non est medium rationis, sed rei.   Objection 3: Further, a mean that is observed according to arithmetical or geometrical proportion is a real mean. Now such is the mean of justice, as stated in Ethic. v, 3. Therefore the mean of moral virtue is not the rational, but the real mean.
Sed contra est quod philosophus dicit, in II Ethic., quod virtus moralis in medio consistit quoad nos, determinata ratione.   On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 6) that "moral virtue observes the mean fixed, in our regard, by reason."
Respondeo dicendum quod medium rationis dupliciter potest intelligi. Uno modo, secundum quod medium in ipso actu rationis existit, quasi ipse actus rationis ad medium reducatur. Et sic, quia virtus moralis non perficit actum rationis, sed actum virtutis appetitivae; medium virtutis moralis non est medium rationis. Alio modo potest dici medium rationis id quod a ratione ponitur in aliqua materia. Et sic omne medium virtutis moralis est medium rationis, quia, sicut dictum est, virtus moralis dicitur consistere in medio, per conformitatem ad rationem rectam.   I answer that, The rational mean can be understood in two ways. First, according as the mean is observed in the act itself of reason, as though the very act of reason were made to observe the mean: in this sense, since moral virtue perfects not the act of reason, but the act of the appetitive power, the mean of moral virtue is not the rational mean. Secondly, the mean of reason may be considered as that which the reason puts into some particular matter. In this sense every mean of moral virtue is a rational mean, since, as above stated (Article [1]), moral virtue is said to observe the mean, through conformity with right reason.
Sed quandoque contingit quod medium rationis est etiam medium rei, et tunc oportet quod virtutis moralis medium sit medium rei; sicut est in iustitia. Quandoque autem medium rationis non est medium rei, sed accipitur per comparationem ad nos, et sic est medium in omnibus aliis virtutibus moralibus. Cuius ratio est quia iustitia est circa operationes, quae consistunt in rebus exterioribus, in quibus rectum institui debet simpliciter et secundum se, ut supra dictum est, et ideo medium rationis in iustitia est idem cum medio rei, inquantum scilicet iustitia dat unicuique quod debet, et non plus nec minus. Aliae vero virtutes morales consistunt circa passiones interiores, in quibus non potest rectum constitui eodem modo, propter hoc quod homines diversimode se habent ad passiones, et ideo oportet quod rectitudo rationis in passionibus instituatur per respectum ad nos, qui afficimur secundum passiones.    But it happens sometimes that the rational mean is also the real mean: in which case the mean of moral virtue is the real mean, for instance, in justice. On the other hand, sometimes the rational mean is not the real mean, but is considered in relation to us: and such is the mean in all the other moral virtues. The reason for this is that justice is about operations, which deal with external things, wherein the right has to be established simply and absolutely, as stated above (Question [60], Article [2]): wherefore the rational mean in justice is the same as the real mean, in so far, to wit as justice gives to each one his due, neither more nor less. But the other moral virtues deal with interior passions wherein the right cannot be established in the same way, since men are variously situated in relation to their passions; hence the rectitude of reason has to be established in the passions, with due regard to us, who are moved in respect of the passions.
Et per hoc patet responsio ad obiecta. Nam, primae duae rationes procedunt de medio rationis quod scilicet invenitur in ipso actu rationis. Tertia vero ratio procedit de medio iustitiae.    This suffices for the Replies to the Objections. For the first two arguments take the rational mean as being in the very act of reason, while the third argues from the mean of justice.

 

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Whether the intellectual virtues observe the mean?

Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod virtutes intellectuales non consistant in medio. Virtutes enim morales consistunt in medio, inquantum conformantur regulae rationis. Sed virtutes intellectuales sunt in ipsa ratione; et sic non videntur habere superiorem regulam. Ergo virtutes intellectuales non consistunt in medio.   Objection 1: It would seem that the intellectual virtues do not observe the mean. Because moral virtue observes the mean by conforming to the rule of reason. But the intellectual virtues are in reason itself, so that they seem to have no higher rule. Therefore the intellectual virtues do not observe the mean.
Praeterea, medium virtutis moralis determinatur a virtute intellectuali, dicitur enim in II Ethic., quod virtus consistit in medietate determinata ratione, prout sapiens determinabit. Si igitur virtus intellectualis iterum consistat in medio, oportet quod determinetur sibi medium per aliquam aliam virtutem. Et sic procedetur in infinitum in virtutibus.   Objection 2: Further, the mean of moral virtue is fixed by an intellectual virtue: for it is stated in Ethic. ii, 6, that "virtue observes the mean appointed by reason, as a prudent man would appoint it." If therefore intellectual virtue also observe the mean, this mean will have to be appointed for them by another virtue, so that there would be an indefinite series of virtues.
Praeterea, medium proprie est inter contraria; ut patet per philosophum, in X Metaphys. Sed in intellectu non videtur esse aliqua contrarietas, cum etiam ipsa contraria, secundum quod sunt in intellectu, non sint contraria, sed simul intelligantur, ut album et nigrum, sanum et aegrum. Ergo in intellectualibus virtutibus non est medium.   Objection 3: Further, a mean is, properly speaking, between contraries, as the Philosopher explains (Metaph. x, text. 22,23). But there seems to be no contrariety in the intellect; since contraries themselves, as they are in the intellect, are not in opposition to one another, but are understood together, as white and black, healthy and sick. Therefore there is no mean in the intellectual virtues.
Sed contra est quod ars est virtus intellectualis, ut dicitur in VI Ethic.; et tamen artis est aliquod medium, ut dicitur in II Ethic. Ergo etiam virtus intellectualis consistit in medio.   On the contrary, Art is an intellectual virtue; and yet there is a mean in art (Ethic. ii, 6). Therefore also intellectual virtue observes the mean.
Respondeo dicendum quod bonum alicuius rei consistit in medio, secundum quod conformatur regulae vel mensurae quam contingit transcendere et ab ea deficere, sicut dictum est. Virtus autem intellectualis ordinatur ad bonum, sicut et moralis, ut supra dictum est. Unde secundum quod bonum virtutis intellectualis se habet ad mensuram, sic se habet ad rationem medii. Bonum autem virtutis intellectualis est verum, speculativae quidem virtutis, verum absolute, ut in VI Ethic. dicitur; practicae autem virtutis, verum secundum conformitatem ad appetitum rectum.   I answer that, The good of anything consists in its observing the mean, by conforming with a rule or measure in respect of which it may happen to be excessive or deficient, as stated above (Article [1]). Now intellectual virtue, like moral virtue, is directed to the good, as stated above (Question [56], Article [3]). Hence the good of an intellectual virtue consists in observing the mean, in so far as it is subject to a measure. Now the good of intellectual virtue is the true; in the case of contemplative virtue, it is the true taken absolutely (Ethic. vi, 2); in the case of practical virtue, it is the true in conformity with a right appetite.
Verum autem intellectus nostri absolute consideratum, est sicut mensuratum a re, res enim est mensura intellectus nostri, ut dicitur in X Metaphys.; ex eo enim quod res est vel non est, veritas est in opinione et in oratione. Sic igitur bonum virtutis intellectualis speculativae consistit in quodam medio, per conformitatem ad ipsam rem, secundum quod dicit esse quod est, vel non esse quod non est; in quo ratio veri consistit. Excessus autem est secundum affirmationem falsam, per quam dicitur esse quod non est, defectus autem accipitur secundum negationem falsam, per quam dicitur non esse quod est.    Now truth apprehended by our intellect, if we consider it absolutely, is measured by things; since things are the measure of our intellect, as stated in Metaph. x, text. 5; because there is truth in what we think or say, according as the thing is so or not. Accordingly the good of speculative intellectual virtue consists in a certain mean, by way of conformity with things themselves, in so far as the intellect expresses them as being what they are, or as not being what they are not: and it is in this that the nature of truth consists. There will be excess if something false is affirmed, as though something were, which in reality it is not: and there will be deficiency if something is falsely denied, and declared not to be, whereas in reality it is.
Verum autem virtutis intellectualis practicae, comparatum quidem ad rem, habet rationem mensurati. Et sic eodem modo accipitur medium per conformitatem ad rem, in virtutibus intellectualibus practicis, sicut in speculativis. Sed respectu appetitus, habet rationem regulae et mensurae. Unde idem medium, quod est virtutis moralis, etiam est ipsius prudentiae, scilicet rectitudo rationis, sed prudentiae quidem est istud medium ut regulantis et mensurantis; virtutis autem moralis, ut mensuratae et regulatae. Similiter excessus et defectus accipitur diversimode utrobique.    The truth of practical intellectual virtue, if we consider it in relation to things, is by way of that which is measured; so that both in practical and in speculative intellectual virtues, the mean consists in conformity with things. But if we consider it in relation to the appetite, it has the character of a rule and measure. Consequently the rectitude of reason is the mean of moral virtue, and also the mean of prudence—of prudence as ruling and measuring, of moral virtue, as ruled and measured by that mean. In like manner the difference between excess and deficiency is to be applied in both cases.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod etiam virtus intellectualis habet suam mensuram, ut dictum est, et per conformitatem ad ipsam, accipitur in ipsa medium.   Reply to Objection 1: Intellectual virtues also have their measure, as stated, and they observe the mean according as they conform to that measure.
Ad secundum dicendum quod non est necesse in infinitum procedere in virtutibus, quia mensura et regula intellectualis virtutis non est aliquod aliud genus virtutis, sed ipsa res.   Reply to Objection 2: There is no need for an indefinite series of virtues: because the measure and rule of intellectual virtue is not another kind of virtue, but things themselves.
Ad tertium dicendum quod ipsae res contrariae non habent contrarietatem in anima, quia unum est ratio cognoscendi alterum, et tamen in intellectu est contrarietas affirmationis et negationis, quae sunt contraria, ut dicitur in fine peri hermeneias. Quamvis enim esse et non esse non sint contraria, sed contradictorie opposita, si considerentur ipsa significata prout sunt in rebus, quia alterum est ens, et alterum est pure non ens, tamen si referantur ad actum animae, utrumque ponit aliquid. Unde esse et non esse sunt contradictoria, sed opinio qua opinamur quod bonum est bonum, est contraria opinioni qua opinamur quod bonum non est bonum. Et inter huiusmodi contraria medium est virtus intellectualis.   Reply to Objection 3: The things themselves that are contrary have no contrariety in the mind, because one is the reason for knowing the other: nevertheless there is in the intellect contrariety of affirmation and negation, which are contraries, as stated at the end of Peri Hermenias. For though "to be" and "not to be" are not in contrary, but in contradictory opposition to one another, so long as we consider their signification in things themselves, for on the one hand we have "being" and on the other we have simply "non-being"; yet if we refer them to the act of the mind, there is something positive in both cases. Hence "to be" and "not to be" are contradictory: but the opinion stating that "good is good" is contrary to the opinion stating that "good is not good": and between two such contraries intellectual virtue observes the mean.

 

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Whether the theological virtues observe the mean?

Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod virtus theologica consistat in medio. Bonum enim aliarum virtutum consistit in medio. Sed virtus theologica excedit in bonitate alias virtutes. Ergo virtus theologica multo magis est in medio.   Objection 1: It would seem that theological virtue observes the mean. For the good of other virtues consists in their observing the mean. Now the theological virtues surpass the others in goodness. Therefore much more does theological virtue observe the mean.
Praeterea, medium virtutis accipitur, moralis quidem secundum quod appetitus regulatur per rationem; intellectualis vero secundum quod intellectus noster mensuratur a re. Sed virtus theologica et perficit intellectum, et appetitum, ut supra dictum est. Ergo etiam virtus theologica consistit in medio.   Objection 2: Further, the mean of moral virtue depends on the appetite being ruled by reason; while the mean of intellectual virtue consists in the intellect being measured by things. Now theological virtue perfects both intellect and appetite, as stated above (Question [62], Article [3]). Therefore theological virtue also observes the mean.
Praeterea, spes quae est virtus theologica, medium est inter desperationem et praesumptionem. Similiter etiam fides incedit media inter contrarias haereses, ut Boetius dicit, in libro de duabus naturis, quod enim confitemur in Christo unam personam et duas naturas, medium est inter haeresim Nestorii, qui dicit duas personas et duas naturas; et haeresim Eutychis, qui dicit unam personam et unam naturam. Ergo virtus theologica consistit in medio.   Objection 3: Further, hope, which is a theological virtue, is a mean between despair and presumption. Likewise faith holds a middle course between contrary heresies, as Boethius states (De Duab. Natur. vii): thus, by confessing one Person and two natures in Christ, we observe the mean between the heresy of Nestorius, who maintained the existence of two persons and two natures, and the heresy of Eutyches, who held to one person and one nature. Therefore theological virtue observes the mean.
Sed contra, in omnibus in quibus consistit virtus in medio, contingit peccare per excessum, sicut et per defectum. Sed circa Deum, qui est obiectum virtutis theologicae, non contingit peccare per excessum, dicitur enim Eccli. XLIII, benedicentes Deum, exaltate illum quantum potestis, maior enim est omni laude. Ergo virtus theologica non consistit in medio.   On the contrary, Wherever virtue observes the mean it is possible to sin by excess as well as by deficiency. But there is no sinning by excess against God, Who is the object of theological virtue: for it is written (Ecclus. 43:33): "Blessing the Lord, exalt Him as much as you can: for He is above all praise." Therefore theological virtue does not observe the mean.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, medium virtutis accipitur per conformitatem ad suam regulam vel mensuram, secundum quod contingit ipsam transcendere vel ab ea deficere. Virtutis autem theologicae duplex potest accipi mensura. Una quidem secundum ipsam rationem virtutis. Et sic mensura et regula virtutis theologicae est ipse Deus, fides enim nostra regulatur secundum veritatem divinam, caritas autem secundum bonitatem eius, spes autem secundum magnitudinem omnipotentiae et pietatis eius. Et ista est mensura excellens omnem humanam facultatem, unde nunquam potest homo tantum diligere Deum quantum diligi debet, nec tantum credere aut sperare in ipsum, quantum debet. Unde multo minus potest ibi esse excessus. Et sic bonum talis virtutis non consistit in medio, sed tanto est melius, quanto magis acceditur ad summum.   I answer that, As stated above (Article [1]), the mean of virtue depends on conformity with virtue's rule or measure, in so far as one may exceed or fall short of that rule. Now the measure of theological virtue may be twofold. One is taken from the very nature of virtue, and thus the measure and rule of theological virtue is God Himself: because our faith is ruled according to Divine truth; charity, according to His goodness; hope, according to the immensity of His omnipotence and loving kindness. This measure surpasses all human power: so that never can we love God as much as He ought to be loved, nor believe and hope in Him as much as we should. Much less therefore can there be excess in such things. Accordingly the good of such virtues does not consist in a mean, but increases the more we approach to the summit.
Alia vero regula vel mensura virtutis theologicae est ex parte nostra, quia etsi non possumus ferri in Deum quantum debemus, debemus tamen ferri in ipsum credendo, sperando et amando, secundum mensuram nostrae conditionis. Unde per accidens potest in virtute theologica considerari medium et extrema, ex parte nostra.    The other rule or measure of theological virtue is by comparison with us: for although we cannot be borne towards God as much as we ought, yet we should approach to Him by believing, hoping and loving, according to the measure of our condition. Consequently it is possible to find a mean and extremes in theological virtue, accidentally and in reference to us.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod bonum virtutum intellectualium et moralium consistit in medio per conformitatem ad regulam vel mensuram quam transcendere contingit. Quod non est in virtutibus theologicis, per se loquendo, ut dictum est.   Reply to Objection 1: The good of intellectual and moral virtues consists in a mean of reason by conformity with a measure that may be exceeded: whereas this is not so in the case of theological virtue, considered in itself, as stated above.
Ad secundum dicendum quod virtutes morales et intellectuales perficiunt intellectum et appetitum nostrum in ordine ad mensuram et regulam creatam, virtutes autem theologicae in ordine ad mensuram et regulam increatam. Unde non est similis ratio.   Reply to Objection 2: Moral and intellectual virtues perfect our intellect and appetite in relation to a created measure and rule; whereas the theological virtues perfect them in relation to an uncreated rule and measure. Wherefore the comparison fails.
Ad tertium dicendum quod spes est media inter praesumptionem et desperationem, ex parte nostra, inquantum scilicet aliquis praesumere dicitur ex eo quod sperat a Deo bonum quod excedit suam conditionem; vel non sperat quod secundum suam conditionem sperare posset. Non autem potest esse superabundantia spei ex parte Dei, cuius bonitas est infinita. Similiter etiam fides est media inter contrarias haereses, non per comparationem ad obiectum, quod est Deus, cui non potest aliquis nimis credere, sed inquantum ipsa opinio humana est media inter contrarias opiniones, ut ex supradictis patet.   Reply to Objection 3: Hope observes the mean between presumption and despair, in relation to us, in so far, to wit, as a man is said to be presumptuous, through hoping to receive from God a good in excess of his condition; or to despair through failing to hope for that which according to his condition he might hope for. But there can be no excess of hope in comparison with God, Whose goodness is infinite. In like manner faith holds a middle course between contrary heresies, not by comparison with its object, which is God, in Whom we cannot believe too much; but in so far as human opinion itself takes a middle position between contrary opinions, as was explained above.

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