St. Thomas Aquinas

The Summa Theologica

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

 

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OF THE CAUSES OF SIN, IN GENERAL (FOUR ARTICLES)

Deinde considerandum est de causis peccatorum.
  • Et primo, in generali;
  • secundo, in speciali.
   We must now consider the causes of sin:
  • (1) in general;
  • (2) in particular.
Circa primum quaeruntur quatuor. Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:
Primo, utrum peccatum habeat causam.     (1) Whether sin has a cause?
Secundo, utrum habeat causam interiorem.     (2) Whether it has an internal cause?
Tertio, utrum habeat causam exteriorem.     (3) Whether it has an external cause?
Quarto, utrum peccatum sit causa peccati.     (4) Whether one sin is the cause of another?

 

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Whether sin has a cause?

Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod peccatum non habeat causam. Peccatum enim habet rationem mali, ut dictum est. Sed malum non habet causam, ut Dionysius dicit, IV cap. de Div. Nom. Ergo peccatum non habet causam.   Objection 1: It would seem that sin has no cause. For sin has the nature of evil, as stated above (Question [71], Article [6]). But evil has no cause, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv). Therefore sin has no cause.
Praeterea, causa est ad quam de necessitate sequitur aliud. Sed quod est ex necessitate, non videtur esse peccatum, eo quod omne peccatum est voluntarium. Ergo peccatum non habet causam.   Objection 2: Further, a cause is that from which something follows of necessity. Now that which is of necessity, seems to be no sin, for every sin is voluntary. Therefore sin has no cause.
Praeterea, si peccatum habet causam, aut habet pro causa bonum, aut malum. Non autem bonum, quia bonum non facit nisi bonum; non enim potest arbor bona fructus malos facere, ut dicitur Matth. VII similiter autem nec malum potest esse causa peccati, quia malum poenae sequitur ad peccatum; malum autem culpae est idem quod peccatum. Peccatum igitur non habet causam.   Objection 3: Further, if sin has a cause, this cause is either good or evil. It is not a good, because good produces nothing but good, for "a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit" (Mt. 7:18). Likewise neither can evil be the cause of sin, because the evil of punishment is a sequel to sin, and the evil of guilt is the same as sin. Therefore sin has no cause.
Sed contra, omne quod fit, habet causam, quia, ut dicitur Iob V, nihil in terra sine causa fit. Sed peccatum fit, est enim dictum vel factum vel concupitum contra legem Dei. Ergo peccatum habet causam.   On the contrary, Whatever is done has a cause, for, according to Job 5:6, "nothing upon earth is done without a cause." But sin is something done; since it a "word, deed, or desire contrary to the law of God." Therefore sin has a cause.
Respondeo dicendum quod peccatum est quidam actus inordinatus. Ex parte igitur actus, potest habere per se causam, sicut et quilibet alius actus. Ex parte autem inordinationis, habet causam eo modo quo negatio vel privatio potest habere causam. Negationis autem alicuius potest duplex causa assignari. Primo quidem, defectus causae, idest ipsius causae negatio, est causa negationis secundum seipsam, ad remotionem enim causae sequitur remotio effectus; sicut obscuritatis causa est absentia solis. Alio modo, causa affirmationis ad quam sequitur negatio, est per accidens causa negationis consequentis, sicut ignis, causando calorem ex principali intentione, consequenter causat privationem frigiditatis. Quorum primum potest sufficere ad simplicem negationem. Sed cum inordinatio peccati, et quodlibet malum, non sit simplex negatio, sed privatio eius quod quid natum est et debet habere; necesse est quod talis inordinatio habeat causam agentem per accidens, quod enim natum est inesse et debet, nunquam abesset nisi propter causam aliquam impedientem. Et secundum hoc consuevit dici quod malum, quod in quadam privatione consistit, habet causam deficientem, vel agentem per accidens. Omnis autem causa per accidens reducitur ad causam per se. Cum igitur peccatum ex parte inordinationis habeat causam agentem per accidens, ex parte autem actus habeat causam agentem per se; sequitur quod inordinatio peccati consequatur ex ipsa causa actus. Sic igitur voluntas carens directione regulae rationis et legis divinae, intendens aliquod bonum commutabile, causat actum quidem peccati per se, sed inordinationem actus per accidens et praeter intentionem, provenit enim defectus ordinis in actu, ex defectu directionis in voluntate.   I answer that, A sin is an inordinate act. Accordingly, so far as it is an act, it can have a direct cause, even as any other act; but, so far as it is inordinate, it has a cause, in the same way as a negation or privation can have a cause. Now two causes may be assigned to a negation: in the first place, absence of the cause of affirmation; i.e. the negation of the cause itself, is the cause of the negation in itself; since the result of the removing the cause is the removal of the effect: thus the absence of the sun is the cause of darkness. In the second place, the cause of an affirmation, of which a negation is a sequel, is the accidental cause of the resulting negation: thus fire by causing heat in virtue of its principal tendency, consequently causes a privation of cold. The first of these suffices to cause a simple negation. But, since the inordinateness of sin and of every evil is not a simple negation, but the privation of that which something ought naturally to have, such an inordinateness must needs have an accidental efficient cause. For that which naturally is and ought to be in a thing, is never lacking except on account of some impeding cause. And accordingly we are wont to say that evil, which consists in a certain privation, has a deficient cause, or an accidental efficient cause. Now every accidental cause is reducible to the direct cause. Since then sin, on the part of its inordinateness, has an accidental efficient cause, and on the part of the act, a direct efficient cause, it follows that the inordinateness of sin is a result of the cause of the act. Accordingly then, the will lacking the direction of the rule of reason and of the Divine law, and intent on some mutable good, causes the act of sin directly, and the inordinateness of the act, indirectly, and beside the intention: for the lack of order in the act results from the lack of direction in the will.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod peccatum non solum significat ipsam privationem boni, quae est inordinatio; sed significat actum sub tali privatione, quae habet rationem mali. Quod quidem qualiter habeat causam, dictum est.   Reply to Objection 1: Sin signifies not only the privation of good, which privation is its inordinateness, but also the act which is the subject of that privation, which has the nature of evil: and how this evil has a cause, has been explained.
Ad secundum dicendum quod, si illa definitio causae universaliter debeat verificari, oportet ut intelligatur de causa sufficienti et non impedita. Contingit enim aliquid esse causam sufficientem alterius, et tamen non ex necessitate sequitur effectus, propter aliquod impedimentum superveniens, alioquin sequeretur quod omnia ex necessitate contingerent, ut patet in VI Metaphys. Sic igitur, etsi peccatum habeat causam, non tamen sequitur quod sit necessaria, quia effectus potest impediri.   Reply to Objection 2: If this definition is to be verified in all cases, it must be understood as applying to a cause which is sufficient and not impeded. For it happens that a thing is the sufficient cause of something else, and that the effect does not follow of necessity, on account of some supervening impediment: else it would follow that all things happen of necessity, as is proved in Metaph. vi, text. 5. Accordingly, though sin has a cause, it does not follow that this is a necessary cause, since its effect can be impeded.
Ad tertium dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, voluntas sine adhibitione regulae rationis vel legis divinae, est causa peccati. Hoc autem quod est non adhibere regulam rationis vel legis divinae, secundum se non habet rationem mali, nec poenae nec culpae, antequam applicetur ad actum. Unde secundum hoc, peccati primi non est causa aliquod malum, sed bonum aliquod cum absentia alicuius alterius boni.   Reply to Objection 3: As stated above, the will in failing to apply the rule of reason or of the Divine law, is the cause of sin. Now the fact of not applying the rule of reason or of the Divine law, has not in itself the nature of evil, whether of punishment or of guilt, before it is applied to the act. Wherefore accordingly, evil is not the cause of the first sin, but some good lacking some other good.

 

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Question: 75  [<< | >>]
Article: 2  [<< | >>]

Whether sin has an internal cause?

Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod peccatum non habeat causam interiorem. Id enim quod est interius alicui rei, semper adest ei. Si igitur peccatum habeat causam interiorem, semper homo peccaret, cum, posita causa, ponatur effectus.   Objection 1: It would seem that sin has no internal cause. For that which is within a thing is always in it. If therefore sin had an internal cause, man would always be sinning, since given the cause, the effect follows.
Praeterea, idem non est causa sui ipsius. Sed interiores motus hominis sunt peccatum. Ergo non sunt causa peccati.   Objection 2: Further, a thing is not its own cause. But the internal movements of a man are sins. Therefore they are not the cause of sin.
Praeterea, quidquid est intra hominem, aut est naturale, aut voluntarium. Sed id quod est naturale, non potest esse peccati causa, quia peccatum est contra naturam, ut dicit Damascenus. Quod autem est voluntarium, si sit inordinatum, iam est peccatum. Non ergo aliquid intrinsecum potest esse causa primi peccati.   Objection 3: Further, whatever is within man is either natural or voluntary. Now that which is natural cannot be the cause of sin, for sin is contrary to nature, as Damascene states (De Fide Orth. ii, 3; iv, 21); while that which is voluntary, if it be inordinate, is already a sin. Therefore nothing intrinsic can be the cause of the first sin.
Sed contra est quod Augustinus dicit, quod voluntas est causa peccati.   On the contrary, Augustine says (De Duabus Anim. x, 10,11; Retract. i, 9) that "the will is the cause of sin."
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut iam dictum est, per se causam peccati oportet accipere ex parte ipsius actus. Actus autem humani potest accipi causa interior et mediata, et immediata. Immediata quidem causa humani actus est ratio et voluntas, secundum quam homo est liber arbitrio. Causa autem remota est apprehensio sensitivae partis, et etiam appetitus sensitivus, sicut enim ex iudicio rationis voluntas movetur ad aliquid secundum rationem, ita etiam ex apprehensione sensus appetitus sensitivus in aliquid inclinatur. Quae quidem inclinatio interdum trahit voluntatem et rationem, sicut infra patebit. Sic igitur duplex causa peccati interior potest assignari, una proxima, ex parte rationis et voluntatis; alia vero remota, ex parte imaginationis vel appetitus sensitivi.   I answer that, As stated above (Article [1]), the direct cause of sin must be considered on the part of the act. Now we may distinguish a twofold internal cause of human acts, one remote, the other proximate. The proximate internal cause of the human act is the reason and will, in respect of which man has a free-will; while the remote cause is the apprehension of the sensitive part, and also the sensitive appetite. For just as it is due to the judgment of reason, that the will is moved to something in accord with reason, so it is due to an apprehension of the senses that the sensitive appetite is inclined to something; which inclination sometimes influences the will and reason, as we shall explain further on (Question [77], Article [1]). Accordingly a double interior cause of sin may be assigned; one proximate, on the part of the reason and will; and the other remote, on the part of the imagination or sensitive appetite.
Sed quia supra dictum est quod causa peccati est aliquod bonum apparens motivum cum defectu debiti motivi, scilicet regulae rationis vel legis divinae; ipsum motivum quod est apparens bonum, pertinet ad apprehensionem sensus et appetitum. Ipsa autem absentia debitae regulae pertinet ad rationem, quae nata est huiusmodi regulam considerare. Sed ipsa perfectio voluntarii actus peccati pertinet ad voluntatem, ita quod ipse voluntatis actus, praemissis suppositis, iam est quoddam peccatum.    But since we have said above (Article [1], ad 3) that the cause of sin is some apparent good as motive, yet lacking the due motive, viz. the rule of reason or the Divine law, this motive which is an apparent good, appertains to the apprehension of the senses and to the appetite; while the lack of the due rule appertains to the reason, whose nature it is to consider this rule; and the completeness of the voluntary sinful act appertains to the will, so that the act of the will, given the conditions we have just mentioned, is already a sin.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod id quod est intrinsecum sicut potentia naturalis, semper inest, id autem quod est intrinsecum sicut actus interior appetitivae vel apprehensivae virtutis, non semper inest. Ipsa autem potentia voluntatis est causa peccati in potentia, sed reducitur in actum per motus praecedentes et sensitivae partis primo, et rationis consequenter. Ex hoc enim quod aliquid proponitur ut appetibile secundum sensum et appetitus sensitivus inclinatur in illud, ratio interdum cessat a consideratione regulae debitae, et sic voluntas producit actum peccati. Quia igitur motus praecedentes non semper sunt in actu, neque peccatum semper est in actu.   Reply to Objection 1: That which is within a thing as its natural power, is always in it: but that which is within it, as the internal act of the appetitive or apprehensive power, is not always in it. Now the power of the will is the potential cause of sin, but is made actual by the preceding movements, both of the sensitive part, in the first place, and afterwards, of the reason. For it is because a thing is proposed as appetible to the senses, and because the appetite is inclined, that the reason sometimes fails to consider the due rule, so that the will produces the act of sin. Since therefore the movements that precede it are not always actual, neither is man always actually sinning.
Ad secundum dicendum quod non omnes motus interiores sunt de substantia peccati, quod consistit principaliter in actu voluntatis, sed quidam praecedunt, et quidam consequuntur ipsum peccatum.   Reply to Objection 2: It is not true that all the internal acts belong to the substance of sin, for this consists principally in the act of the will; but some precede and some follow the sin itself.
Ad tertium dicendum quod illud quod est causa peccati sicut potentia producens actum, est naturale. Motus etiam sensitivae partis, ex quo sequitur peccatum, interdum est naturalis, sicut cum propter appetitum cibi aliquis peccat. Sed efficitur peccatum innaturale ex hoc ipso quod deficit regula naturalis, quam homo secundum naturam suam debet attendere.   Reply to Objection 3: That which causes sin, as a power produces its act, is natural; and again, the movement of the sensitive part, from which sin follows, is natural sometimes, as, for instance, when anyone sins through appetite for food. Yet sin results in being unnatural from the very fact that the natural rule fails, which man, in accord with his nature, ought to observe.

 

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Whether sin has an external cause?

Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod peccatum non habeat causam exteriorem. Peccatum enim est actus voluntarius. Voluntaria autem sunt eorum quae sunt in nobis; et ita non habent exteriorem causam. Ergo peccatum non habet exteriorem causam.   Objection 1: It would seem that sin has no external cause. For sin is a voluntary act. Now voluntary acts belong to principles that are within us, so that they have no external cause. Therefore sin has no external cause.
Praeterea, sicut natura est principium interius, ita etiam voluntas. Sed peccatum in rebus naturalibus nunquam accidit nisi ex aliqua interiori causa, ut puta monstruosi partus proveniunt ex corruptione alicuius principii interioris. Ergo neque in moralibus potest contingere peccatum nisi ex interiori causa. Non ergo habet peccatum causam exteriorem.   Objection 2: Further, as nature is an internal principle, so is the will. Now in natural things sin can be due to no other than an internal cause; for instance, the birth of a monster is due to the corruption of some internal principle. Therefore in the moral order, sin can arise from no other than an internal cause. Therefore it has no external cause.
Praeterea, multiplicata causa, multiplicatur effectus. Sed quanto plura sunt et maiora exterius inducentia ad peccandum, tanto minus id quod quis inordinate agit, ei imputatur ad peccatum. Ergo nihil exterius est causa peccati.   Objection 3: Further, if the cause is multiplied, the effect is multiplied. Now the more numerous and weighty the external inducements to sin are, the less is a man's inordinate act imputed to him as a sin. Therefore nothing external is a cause of sin.
Sed contra est quod dicitur Num. XXXI, nonne istae sunt quae deceperunt filios Israel, et praevaricari vos fecerunt in domino super peccato Phogor? Ergo aliquid exterius potest esse causa faciens peccare.   On the contrary, It is written (Num. 21:16): "Are not these they, that deceived the children of Israel by the counsel of Balaam, and made you transgress against the Lord by the sin of Phogor?" Therefore something external can be a cause of sin.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, causa interior peccati est et voluntas, ut perficiens actum peccati; et ratio, quantum ad carentiam debitae regulae; et appetitus sensitivus inclinans. Sic ergo aliquid extrinsecum tripliciter posset esse causa peccati, vel quia moveret immediate ipsam voluntatem; vel quia moveret rationem; vel quia moveret appetitum sensitivum. Voluntatem autem, ut supra dictum est, interius movere non potest nisi Deus; qui non potest esse causa peccati, ut infra ostendetur. Unde relinquitur quod nihil exterius potest esse causa peccati, nisi vel inquantum movet rationem, sicut homo vel Daemon persuadens peccatum; vel sicut movens appetitum sensitivum, sicut aliqua sensibilia exteriora movent appetitum sensitivum. Sed neque persuasio exterior in rebus agendis ex necessitate movet rationem; neque etiam res exterius propositae ex necessitate movent appetitum sensitivum, nisi forte aliquo modo dispositum; et tamen etiam appetitus sensitivus non ex necessitate movet rationem et voluntatem. Unde aliquid exterius potest esse aliqua causa movens ad peccandum, non tamen sufficienter ad peccatum inducens, sed causa sufficienter complens peccatum est sola voluntas.   I answer that, As stated above (Article [2]), the internal cause of sin is both the will, as completing the sinful act, and the reason, as lacking the due rule, and the appetite, as inclining to sin. Accordingly something external might be a cause of sin in three ways, either by moving the will itself immediately, or by moving the reason, or by moving the sensitive appetite. Now, as stated above (Question [9], Article [6]; Question [10], Article [4]), none can move the will inwardly save God alone, who cannot be a cause of sin, as we shall prove further on (Question [79], Article [1]). Hence it follows that nothing external can be a cause of sin, except by moving the reason, as a man or devil by enticing to sin; or by moving the sensitive appetite, as certain external sensibles move it. Yet neither does external enticement move the reason, of necessity, in matters of action, nor do things proposed externally, of necessity move the sensitive appetite, except perhaps it be disposed thereto in a certain way; and even the sensitive appetite does not, of necessity, move the reason and will. Therefore something external can be a cause moving to sin, but not so as to be a sufficient cause thereof: and the will alone is the sufficient completive cause of sin being accomplished.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod ex hoc ipso quod exteriora moventia ad peccandum non sufficienter et ex necessitate inducunt, sequitur quod remaneat in nobis peccare et non peccare.   Reply to Objection 1: From the very fact that the external motive causes of sin do not lead to sin sufficiently and necessarily, it follows that it remains in our power to sin or not to sin.
Ad secundum dicendum quod per hoc quod ponitur interior causa peccati, non excluditur exterior, non enim id quod est exterius est causa peccati, nisi mediante causa interiori, ut dictum est.   Reply to Objection 2: The fact that sin has an internal cause does not prevent its having an external cause; for nothing external is a cause of sin, except through the medium of the internal cause, as stated.
Ad tertium dicendum quod, multiplicatis exterioribus causis inclinantibus ad peccandum, multiplicantur actus peccati, quia plures ex illis causis, et pluries, inclinantur ad actus peccati. Sed tamen minuitur ratio culpae, quae consistit in hoc quod aliquid sit voluntarium et in nobis.   Reply to Objection 3: If the external causes inclining to sin be multiplied, the sinful acts are multiplied, because they incline to the sinful act in both greater numbers and greater frequency. Nevertheless the character of guilt is lessened, since this depends on the act being voluntary and in our power.

 

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Whether one sin is a cause of another?

Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod peccatum non sit causa peccati. Sunt enim quatuor genera causarum, quorum nullum potest ad hoc congruere quod peccatum sit causa peccati. Finis enim habet rationem boni, quod non competit peccato, quod de sua ratione est malum. Et eadem ratione nec peccatum potest esse causa efficiens, quia malum non est causa agens, sed est infirmum et impotens, ut Dionysius dicit, IV cap. de Div. Nom. Causa autem materialis et formalis videntur habere solum locum in naturalibus corporibus quae sunt composita ex materia et forma. Ergo peccatum non potest habere causam materialem et formalem.   Objection 1: It would seem that one sin cannot be the cause of another. For there are four kinds of cause, none of which will fit in with one sin causing another. Because the end has the character of good; which is inconsistent with sin, which has the character of evil. In like manner neither can a sin be an efficient cause, since "evil is not an efficient cause, but is weak and powerless," as Dionysius declares (Div. Nom. iv). The material and formal cause seems to have no place except in natural bodies, which are composed of matter and form. Therefore sin cannot have either a material or a formal cause.
Praeterea, agere sibi simile est rei perfectae, ut dicitur in IV Meteor. Sed peccatum de sui ratione est imperfectum. Ergo peccatum non potest esse causa peccati.   Objection 2: Further, "to produce its like belongs to a perfect thing," as stated in Meteor. iv, 2 [*Cf. De Anima ii.]. But sin is essentially something imperfect. Therefore one sin cannot be a cause of another.
Praeterea, si huius peccati sit causa aliud peccatum, eadem ratione et illius erit causa aliquod aliud peccatum, et sic procedetur in infinitum, quod est inconveniens. Non ergo peccatum est causa peccati.   Objection 3: Further, if one sin is the cause of a second sin, in the same way, yet another sin will be the cause of the first, and thus we go on indefinitely, which is absurd. Therefore one sin is not the cause of another.
Sed contra est quod Gregorius dicit, super Ezech., peccatum quod per poenitentiam citius non deletur, peccatum est et causa peccati.   On the contrary, Gregory says on Ezechiel (Hom. xi): "A sin is not quickly blotted out by repentance, is both a sin and a cause of sin."
Respondeo dicendum quod, cum peccatum habeat causam ex parte actus, hoc modo unum peccatum posset esse causa alterius, sicut unus actus humanus potest esse causa alterius. Contingit igitur unum peccatum esse causam alterius secundum quatuor genera causarum. Primo quidem, secundum modum causae efficientis vel moventis, et per se et per accidens. Per accidens quidem, sicut removens prohibens dicitur movens per accidens, cum enim per unum actum peccati homo amittit gratiam, vel caritatem, vel verecundiam, vel quodcumque aliud retrahens a peccato, incidit ex hoc in aliud peccatum; et sic primum peccatum est causa secundi per accidens. Per se autem, sicut cum ex uno actu peccati homo disponitur ad hoc quod alium actum consimilem facilius committit, ex actibus enim causantur dispositiones et habitus inclinantes ad similes actus. Secundum vero genus causae materialis, unum peccatum est causa alterius, inquantum praeparat ei materiam, sicut avaritia praeparat materiam litigio, quod plerumque est de divitiis congregatis. Secundum vero genus causae finalis, unum peccatum est causa alterius, inquantum propter finem unius peccati aliquis committit aliud peccatum, sicut cum aliquis committit simoniam propter finem ambitionis, vel fornicationem propter furtum. Et quia finis dat formam in moralibus, ut supra habitum est, ex hoc etiam sequitur quod unum peccatum sit formalis causa alterius, in actu enim fornicationis quae propter furtum committitur, est quidem fornicatio sicut materiale, furtum vero sicut formale.   I answer that, Forasmuch as a sin has a cause on the part of the act of sin, it is possible for one sin to be the cause of another, in the same way as one human act is the cause of another. Hence it happens that one sin may be the cause of another in respect of the four kinds of causes. First, after the manner of an efficient or moving cause, both directly and indirectly. Indirectly, as that which removes an impediment is called an indirect cause of movement: for when man, by one sinful act, loses grace, or charity, or shame, or anything else that withdraws him from sin, he thereby falls into another sin, so that the first sin is the accidental cause of the second. Directly, as when, by one sinful act, man is disposed to commit more readily another like act: because acts cause dispositions and habits inclining to like acts. Secondly, after the manner of a material cause, one sin is the cause of another, by preparing its matter: thus covetousness prepares the matter for strife, which is often about the wealth a man has amassed together. Thirdly, after the manner of a final cause, one sin causes another, in so far as a man commits one sin for the sake of another which is his end; as when a man is guilty of simony for the end of ambition, or fornication for the purpose of theft. And since the end gives the form to moral matters, as stated above (Question [1], Article [3]; Question [18], Articles [4],6), it follows that one sin is also the formal cause of another: because in the act of fornication committed for the purpose of theft, the former is material while the latter is formal.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod peccatum, inquantum est inordinatum, habet rationem mali, sed inquantum est actus quidam, habet aliquod bonum, saltem apparens, pro fine. Et ita ex parte actus potest esse causa et finalis et effectiva alterius peccati, licet non ex parte inordinationis. Materiam autem habet peccatum non ex qua, sed circa quam. Formam autem habet ex fine. Et ideo secundum quatuor genera causarum peccatum potest dici causa peccati, ut dictum est.   Reply to Objection 1: Sin, in so far as it is inordinate, has the character of evil; but, in so far as it is an act, it has some good, at least apparent, for its end: so that, as an act, but not as being inordinate, it can be the cause, both final and efficient, of another sin. A sin has matter, not "of which" but "about which" it is: and it has its form from its end. Consequently one sin can be the cause of another, in respect of the four kinds of cause, as stated above.
Ad secundum dicendum quod peccatum est imperfectum imperfectione morali ex parte inordinationis, sed ex parte actus potest habere perfectionem naturae. Et secundum hoc potest esse causa peccati.   Reply to Objection 2: Sin is something imperfect on account of its moral imperfection on the part of its inordinateness. Nevertheless, as an act it can have natural perfection: and thus it can be the cause of another sin.
Ad tertium dicendum quod non omnis causa peccati est peccatum. Unde non oportet quod procedatur in infinitum; sed potest perveniri ad aliquod primum peccatum, cuius causa non est aliud peccatum.   Reply to Objection 3: Not every cause of one sin is another sin; so there is no need to go on indefinitely: for one may come to one sin which is not caused by another sin.

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