St. Thomas Aquinas

The Summa Theologica

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


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Deinde considerandum est de iactantia et ironia, quae sunt partes mendacii, secundum philosophum, in IV Ethic. Primo autem circa iactantiam quaeruntur duo.    We must now consider boasting and irony, which are parts of lying according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 7). Under the first head, namely, boasting, there are two points of inquiry:
Primo, cui virtuti opponatur.     (1) To which virtue is it opposed?
Secundo, utrum sit peccatum mortale.     (2) Whether it is a mortal sin?


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Question: 112  [<< | >>]
Article: 1  [<< | >>]

Whether boasting is opposed to the virtue of truth?

Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod iactantia non opponatur virtuti veritatis. Veritati enim opponitur mendacium. Sed quandoque potest esse iactantia etiam sine mendacio, sicut cum aliquis excellentiam suam ostentat, dicitur enim Esther I, quod Assuerus fecit grande convivium, ut ostenderet divitias gloriae suae ac regni sui, ac magnitudinem atque iactantiam potentiae suae. Ergo iactantia non opponitur virtuti veritatis.   Objection 1: It seems that boasting is not opposed to the virtue of truth. For lying is opposed to truth. But it is possible to boast even without lying, as when a man makes a show of his own excellence. Thus it is written (Esther 1:3,4) that Assuerus "made a great feast . . . that he might show the riches of the glory" and "of his kingdom, and the greatness and boasting of his power." Therefore boasting is not opposed to the virtue of truth.
Praeterea, iactantia ponitur a Gregorio, XXIII Moral., una de quatuor speciebus superbiae, cum scilicet quis iactat se habere quod non habet. Unde dicitur Ierem. XLVIII, audivimus superbiam Moab, superbus est valde. Sublimitatem eius et arrogantiam et superbiam et altitudinem cordis illius ego scio, ait dominus, iactantiam eius, et quod non sit iuxta eam virtus eius. Et XXXI Moral., dicit Gregorius quod iactantia oritur ex inani gloria. Superbia autem et inanis gloria opponuntur virtuti humilitatis. Ergo iactantia non opponitur veritati, sed humilitati.   Objection 2: Further, boasting is reckoned by Gregory (Moral. xxiii, 4) to be one of the four species of pride, "when," to wit, "a man boasts of having what he has not." Hence it is written (Jer. 48:29,30): "We have heard the pride of Moab, he is exceeding proud: his haughtiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the loftiness of his heart. I know, saith the Lord, his boasting, and that the strength thereof is not according to it." Moreover, Gregory says (Moral. xxxi, 7) that boasting arises from vainglory. Now pride and vainglory are opposed to the virtue of humility. Therefore boasting is opposed, not to truth, but to humility.
Praeterea, iactantia ex divitiis causari videtur, unde dicitur Sap. V, quid nobis profuit superbia? Aut quid divitiarum iactantia contulit nobis? Sed superfluitas divitiarum videtur pertinere ad peccatum avaritiae, quod opponitur iustitiae vel liberalitati. Non ergo iactantia opponitur veritati.   Objection 3: Further, boasting seems to be occasioned by riches; wherefore it is written (Wis. 5:8): "What hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us?" Now excess of riches seems to belong to the sin of covetousness, which is opposed to justice or liberality. Therefore boasting is not opposed to truth.
Sed contra est quod philosophus, in II et IV Ethic., iactantiam opponit veritati.   On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 7; iv, 7), that boasting is opposed to truth.
Respondeo dicendum quod iactantia proprie importare videtur quod homo verbis se extollat, illa enim quae homo vult longe iactare, in altum elevat. Tunc autem proprie aliquis se extollit, quando de se supra se aliquid dicit. Quod quidem contingit dupliciter. Quandoque enim aliquis loquitur de se, non quidem supra id quod in se est, sed supra id quod de eo homines opinantur quod apostolus refugiens dicit, II ad Cor. XII, parco, ne quis me existimet supra id quod videt in me, aut audit aliquid ex me. Alio modo aliquis per verba se extollit loquens de se supra id quod in se est secundum rei veritatem. Et quia magis est aliquid iudicandum secundum quod in se est quam secundum quod est in opinione aliorum, inde est quod magis proprie dicitur iactantia quando aliquis effert se supra id quod in ipso est, quam quando effert se supra id quod est in opinione aliorum, quamvis utroque modo iactantia dici possit. Et ideo iactantia proprie dicta opponitur veritati per modum excessus.   I answer that, "Jactantia" [boasting] seems properly to denote the uplifting of self by words: since if a man wishes to throw [jactare] a thing far away, he lifts it up high. And to uplift oneself, properly speaking, is to talk of oneself above oneself [*Or 'tall-talking' as we should say in English]. This happens in two ways. For sometimes a man speaks of himself, not above what he is in himself, but above that which he is esteemed by men to be: and this the Apostle declines to do when he says (2 Cor. 12:6): "I forbear lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth of me." In another way a man uplifts himself in words, by speaking of himself above that which he is in reality. And since we should judge of things as they are in themselves, rather than as others deem them to be, it follows that boasting denotes more properly the uplifting of self above what one is in oneself, than the uplifting of self above what others think of one: although in either case it may be called boasting. Hence boasting properly so called is opposed to truth by way of excess.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod ratio illa procedit de iactantia secundum quod excedit opinionem.   Reply to Objection 1: This argument takes boasting as exceeding men's opinion.
Ad secundum dicendum quod peccatum iactantiae potest considerari dupliciter. Uno modo, secundum speciem actus. Et sic opponitur veritati, ut dictum est. Alio modo, secundum causam suam, ex qua, etsi non semper, tamen frequentius accidit. Et sic procedit quidem ex superbia sicut ex causa interius motiva et impellente, ex hoc enim quod aliquis interius per arrogantiam supra seipsum elevatur, sequitur plerumque quod exterius maiora quaedam de se iactet; licet quandoque non ex arrogantia, sed ex quadam vanitate aliquis ad iactantiam procedat, et in hoc delectetur quia talis est secundum habitum. Et ideo arrogantia, per quam aliquis supra seipsum extollitur, est superbiae species, non tamen est idem iactantiae, sed, ut frequentius, eius causa, et propter hoc Gregorius iactantiam ponit inter superbiae species. Tendit autem iactator plerumque ad hoc quod gloriam consequatur per suam iactantiam. Et ideo, secundum Gregorium, ex inani gloria oritur secundum rationem finis.   Reply to Objection 2: The sin of boasting may be considered in two ways. First, with regard to the species of the act, and thus it is opposed to truth; as stated (in the body of the article and Question [110], Article [2]). Secondly, with regard to its cause, from which more frequently though not always it arises: and thus it proceeds from pride as its inwardly moving and impelling cause. For when a man is uplifted inwardly by arrogance, it often results that outwardly he boasts of great things about himself; though sometimes a man takes to boasting, not from arrogance, but from some kind of vanity, and delights therein, because he is a boaster by habit. Hence arrogance, which is an uplifting of self above oneself, is a kind of pride; yet it is not the same as boasting, but is very often its cause. For this reason Gregory reckons boasting among the species of pride. Moreover, the boaster frequently aims at obtaining glory through his boasting, and so, according to Gregory, it arises from vainglory considered as its end.
Ad tertium dicendum quod opulentia etiam iactantiam causat dupliciter. Uno modo, occasionaliter, inquantum de divitiis aliquis superbit. Unde et signanter, Prov. VIII, opes dicuntur superbae. Alio modo, per modum finis, quia, ut dicitur in IV Ethic., aliqui seipsos iactant non solum propter gloriam, sed etiam propter lucrum, qui de seipsis fingunt ea ex quibus lucrari possint, puta quod sint medici, vel sapientes et divini.   Reply to Objection 3: Wealth also causes boasting, in two ways. First, as an occasional cause, inasmuch as a man prides himself on his riches. Hence (Prov. 8:18) "riches" are significantly described as "proud" [Douay: 'glorious']. Secondly, as being the end of boasting, since according to Ethic. iv, 7, some boast, not only for the sake of glory, but also for the sake of gain. Such people invent stories about themselves, so as to make profit thereby; for instance, they pretend to be skilled in medicine, wisdom, or divination.


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Whether boasting is a mortal sin?

Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod iactantia sit peccatum mortale. Dicitur enim Prov. XXVIII, qui se iactat et dilatat, iurgia concitat. Sed concitare iurgia est peccatum mortale, detestatur enim Deus eos qui seminant discordias, ut habetur Prov. VI. Ergo iactantia est peccatum mortale.   Objection 1: It seems that boasting is a mortal sin. For it is written (Prov. 28:25): "He that boasteth, and puffeth himself, stirreth up quarrels." Now it is a mortal sin to stir up quarrels, since God hates those that sow discord, according to Prov. 6:19. Therefore boasting is a mortal sin.
Praeterea, omne quod prohibetur in lege Dei est peccatum mortale. Sed super illud Eccli. VI, non te extollas in cogitatione tua, dicit Glossa, iactantiam et superbiam prohibet. Ergo iactantia est peccatum mortale.   Objection 2: Further, whatever is forbidden in God's law is a mortal sin. Now a gloss on Ecclus. 6:2, "Extol not thyself in the thoughts of thy soul," says: "This is a prohibition of boasting and pride." Therefore boasting is a mortal sin.
Praeterea, iactantia est mendacium quoddam. Non est autem mendacium officiosum vel iocosum. Quod patet ex fine mendacii. Quia, ut philosophus dicit, in IV Ethic., iactator fingit de se maiora existentibus, quandoque nullius gratia, quandoque autem gratia gloriae vel honoris, quandoque autem gratia argenti, et sic patet quod neque est mendacium iocosum, neque officiosum. Unde relinquitur quod semper sit perniciosum. Videtur ergo semper esse peccatum mortale.   Objection 3: Further, boasting is a kind of lie. But it is neither an officious nor a jocose lie. This is evident from the end of lying; for according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 7), "the boaster pretends to something greater than he is, sometimes for no further purpose, sometimes for the sake of glory or honor, sometimes for the sake of money." Thus it is evident that it is neither an officious nor a jocose lie, and consequently it must be a mischievous lie. Therefore seemingly it is always a mortal sin.
Sed contra est quod iactantia oritur ex inani gloria, secundum Gregorium, XXXI Moral. Sed inanis gloria non semper est peccatum mortale, sed quandoque veniale, quod vitare est valde perfectorum, dicit enim Gregorius quod valde perfectorum est sic ostenso opere auctoris gloriam quaerere ut de illata laude privata nesciant exultatione gaudere. Ergo iactantia non semper est peccatum mortale   On the contrary, Boasting arises from vainglory, according to Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 17). Now vainglory is not always a mortal sin, but is sometimes a venial sin which only the very perfect avoid. For Gregory says (Moral. viii, 30) that "it belongs to the very perfect, by outward deeds so to seek the glory of their author, that they are not inwardly uplifted by the praise awarded them." Therefore boasting is not always a mortal sin.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, peccatum mortale est quod caritati contrariatur. Dupliciter ergo iactantia considerari potest. Uno modo, secundum se, prout est mendacium quoddam. Et sic quandoque est peccatum mortale, quandoque veniale. Mortale quidem, quando aliquis iactanter de se profert quod est contra gloriam Dei, sicut ex persona regis Tyri dicitur Ezech. XXVIII, elevatum est cor tuum, et dixisti, Deus ego sum. Vel etiam contra caritatem proximi, sicut cum aliquis, iactando seipsum, prorumpit in contumelias aliorum; sicut habetur Luc. XVIII de Pharisaeo, qui dicebat, non sum sicut ceteri hominum, raptores, iniusti, adulteri, velut etiam hic publicanus. Quandoque vero est peccatum veniale, quando scilicet aliquis de se talia iactat quae neque sunt contra Deum, neque contra proximum. Alio modo potest considerari secundum suam causam, scilicet superbiam, vel appetitum lucri aut inanis gloriae. Et sic, si procedat ex superbia vel inani gloria quae sit peccatum mortale, etiam ipsa iactantia erit peccatum mortale. Alioquin erit peccatum veniale. Sed quando aliquis prorumpit in iactantiam propter appetitum lucri, hoc videtur iam pertinere ad proximi deceptionem et damnum. Et ideo talis iactantia magis est peccatum mortale. Unde et philosophus dicit, in IV Ethic., quod turpior est qui se iactat causa lucri quam qui se iactat causa gloriae vel honoris. Non tamen semper est peccatum mortale, quia potest esse tale lucrum ex quo alius non damnificatur.   I answer that, As stated above (Question [110], Article [4]), a mortal sin is one that is contrary to charity. Accordingly boasting may be considered in two ways. First, in itself, as a lie, and thus it is sometimes a mortal, and sometimes a venial sin. It will be a mortal sin when a man boasts of that which is contrary to God's glory—thus it is said in the person of the king of Tyre (Ezech. 28:2): "Thy heart is lifted up, and thou hast said: I am God"—or contrary to the love of our neighbor, as when a man while boasting of himself breaks out into invectives against others, as told of the Pharisee who said (Lk. 18:11): "I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican." Sometimes it is a venial sin, when, to wit, a man boasts of things that are against neither God nor his neighbor. Secondly, it may be considered with regard to its cause, namely, pride, or the desire of gain or of vainglory: and then if it proceeds from pride or from such vainglory as is a mortal sin, then the boasting will also be a mortal sin: otherwise it will be a venial sin. Sometimes, however, a man breaks out into boasting through desire of gain, and for this very reason he would seem to be aiming at the deception and injury of his neighbor: wherefore boasting of this kind is more likely to be a mortal sin. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 7) that "a man who boasts for the sake of gain, is viler than one who boasts for the sake of glory or honor." Yet it is not always a mortal sin because the gain may be such as not to injure another man.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod ille qui se iactat ad hoc quod iurgia concitet, peccat mortaliter. Sed quandoque contingit quod iactantia est causa iurgiorum non per se, sed per accidens. Unde ex hoc iactantia non est peccatum mortale.   Reply to Objection 1: To boast in order to stir quarrels is a mortal sin. But it happens sometimes that boasts are the cause of quarrels, not intentionally but accidentally: and consequently boasting will not be a mortal sin on that account.
Ad secundum dicendum quod Glossa illa loquitur de iactantia secundum quod procedit ex superbia prohibita, quae est peccatum mortale.   Reply to Objection 2: This gloss speaks of boasting as arising from pride that is a mortal sin.
Ad tertium dicendum quod non semper iactantia importat mendacium perniciosum, sed solum quando est contra caritatem Dei aut proximi, aut secundum se aut secundum causam suam. Quod autem aliquis se iactet quasi hoc ipso delectatus, est quiddam vanum, ut philosophus dicit. Unde reducitur ad mendacium iocosum, nisi forte hoc divinae dilectioni praeferret, ut propter hoc Dei praecepta contemneret; sic enim esset contra caritatem Dei, in quo solo mens nostra debet quiescere sicut in ultimo fine.   Reply to Objection 3: Boasting does not always involve a mischievous lie, but only where it is contrary to the love of God or our neighbor, either in itself or in its cause. That a man boast, through mere pleasure in boasting, is an inane thing to do, as the Philosopher remarks (Ethic. iv, 7): wherefore it amounts to a jocose lie. Unless perchance he were to prefer this to the love of God, so as to contemn God's commandments for the sake of boasting: for then it would be against the charity of God, in Whom alone ought our mind to rest as in its last end.
Videtur autem ad mendacium officiosum pertinere cum aliquis ad hoc se iactat ut gloriam vel lucrum acquirat, dummodo hoc sit sine damno aliorum; quia hoc iam pertineret ad mendacium perniciosum.    To boast for the sake of glory or gain seen to involve an officious lie: provided it be do without injury to others, for then it would once become a mischievous lie.

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