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 vitio intimiditatis. Et circa hoc quaeruntur duo.    We must now consider the vice of fearlessness: under which head there are two points of inquiry:
Primo, utrum intimidum esse sit peccatum.     (1) Whether it is a sin to be fearless?
Secundo, utrum opponatur fortitudini.     (2) Whether it is opposed to fortitude?


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Question: 126  [<< | >>]
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Whether fearlessness is a sin?

Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod intimiditas non sit peccatum. Quod enim ponitur pro commendatione viri iusti, non est peccatum. Sed in commendationem viri iusti dicitur, Prov. XXVIII, iustus, quasi leo confidens, absque terrore erit. Ergo esse impavidum non est peccatum.   Objection 1: It seems that fearlessness is not a sin. For that which is reckoned to the praise of a just man is not a sin. Now it is written in praise of the just man (Prov. 28:1): "The just, bold as a lion, shall be without dread." Therefore it is not a sin to be without fear.
Praeterea, maxime terribilis est mors, secundum philosophum, in III Ethic. Sed nec mortem oportet timere, secundum illud Matth. X, nolite timere eos qui occidunt corpus, nec etiam aliquid quod ab homine possit inferri, secundum illud Isaiae li, quis tu, ut timeas ab homine mortali? Ergo impavidum esse non est peccatum.   Objection 2: Further, nothing is so fearful as death, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 6). Yet one ought not to fear even death, according to Mt. 10:28, "Fear ye not them that kill the body," etc., nor anything that can be inflicted by man, according to Is. 51:12, "Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man?" Therefore it is not a sin to be fearless.
Praeterea, timor ex amore nascitur, ut supra dictum est. Sed nihil mundanum amare pertinet ad perfectionem virtutis, quia, ut Augustinus dicit, in XIV de Civ. Dei, amor Dei usque ad contemptum sui, facit cives civitatis caelestis. Ergo nihil humanum formidare videtur non esse peccatum.   Objection 3: Further, fear is born of love, as stated above (Question [125], Article [2]). Now it belongs to the perfection of virtue to love nothing earthly, since according to Augustine (De Civ. Dei xiv), "the love of God to the abasement of self makes us citizens of the heavenly city." Therefore it is seemingly not a sin to fear nothing earthly.
Sed contra est quod de iudice iniquo dicitur, Luc. XVIII, quod nec Deum timebat, nec hominem reverebatur.   On the contrary, It is said of the unjust judge (Lk. 18:2) that "he feared not God nor regarded man."
Respondeo dicendum quod, quia timor ex amore nascitur, idem iudicium videtur esse de amore et de timore. Agitur autem nunc de timore quo mala temporalia timentur, qui provenit ex temporalium bonorum amore. Inditum autem est unicuique naturaliter ut propriam vitam amet, et ea quae ad ipsam ordinantur, tamen debito modo, ut scilicet amentur huiusmodi non quasi finis constituatur in eis, sed secundum quod eis utendum est propter ultimum finem. Unde quod aliquis deficiat a debito modo amoris ipsorum, est contra naturalem inclinationem, et per consequens est peccatum. Nunquam tamen a tali amore totaliter aliquis decidit, quia id quod est naturae totaliter perdi non potest. Propter quod apostolus dicit, ad Ephes. V, quod nemo unquam carnem suam odio habuit. Unde etiam illi qui seipsos interimunt, ex amore carnis suae hoc faciunt, quam volunt a praesentibus angustiis liberari. Unde contingere potest quod aliquis minus quam debeat timeat, mortem et alia temporalia mala, propter hoc quod minus debito amet ea. Sed quod nihil horum timeat, non potest ex totali defectu amoris contingere, sed ex eo quod aestimat mala opposita bonis quae amat, sibi supervenire non posse. Quod quandoque contingit ex superbia animi de se praesumentis et alios contemnentis, secundum quod dicitur Iob XLI, factus est ut nullum timeret, omne sublime videt. Quandoque autem contingit ex defectu rationis, sicut philosophus dicit, in III Ethic., quod Celtae propter stultitiam nihil timent. Unde patet quod esse impavidum est vitiosum, sive causetur ex defectu amoris, sive causetur ex elatione animi, sive causetur ex stoliditate; quae tamen excusat a peccato si sit invincibilis.   I answer that, Since fear is born of love, we must seemingly judge alike of love and fear. Now it is here a question of that fear whereby one dreads temporal evils, and which results from the love of temporal goods. And every man has it instilled in him by nature to love his own life and whatever is directed thereto; and to do so in due measure, that is, to love these things not as placing his end therein, but as things to be used for the sake of his last end. Hence it is contrary to the natural inclination, and therefore a sin, to fall short of loving them in due measure. Nevertheless, one never lapses entirely from this love: since what is natural cannot be wholly lost: for which reason the Apostle says (Eph. 5:29): "No man ever hated his own flesh." Wherefore even those that slay themselves do so from love of their own flesh, which they desire to free from present stress. Hence it may happen that a man fears death and other temporal evils less than he ought, for the reason that he loves them* less than he ought. [*Viz. the contrary goods. One would expect 'se' instead of 'ea.' We should then read: For the reason that he loves himself less than he ought.] But that he fear none of these things cannot result from an entire lack of love, but only from the fact that he thinks it impossible for him to be afflicted by the evils contrary to the goods he loves. This is sometimes the result of pride of soul presuming on self and despising others, according to the saying of Job 41:24,25: "He [Vulg.: 'who'] was made to fear no one, he beholdeth every high thing": and sometimes it happens through a defect in the reason; thus the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 7) that the "Celts, through lack of intelligence, fear nothing." [*"A man would deserve to be called insane and senseless if there were nothing that he feared, not even an earthquake nor a storm at sea, as is said to be the case with the Celts."] It is therefore evident that fearlessness is a vice, whether it result from lack of love, pride of soul, or dullness of understanding: yet the latter is excused from sin if it be invincible.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod iustus commendatur a timore retrahente eum a bono, non quod sit absque omni timore. Dicitur enim Eccli. I, qui sine timore est, non poterit iustificari.   Reply to Objection 1: The just man is praised for being without fear that withdraws him from good; not that he is altogether fearless, for it is written (Ecclus. 1:28): "He that is without fear cannot be justified."
Ad secundum dicendum quod mors, vel quidquid aliud ab homine mortali potest inferri, non est ea ratione timendum ut a iustitia recedatur. Est tamen timendum inquantum per hoc homo potest impediri ab operibus virtuosis, vel quantum ad se, vel quantum ad profectum quem in aliis facit. Unde dicitur Prov. XIV, sapiens timet, et declinat a malo.   Reply to Objection 2: Death and whatever else can be inflicted by mortal man are not to be feared so that they make us forsake justice: but they are to be feared as hindering man in acts of virtue, either as regards himself, or as regards the progress he may cause in others. Hence it is written (Prov. 14:16): "A wise man feareth and declineth from evil."
Ad tertium dicendum quod bona temporalia debent contemni quantum nos impediunt ab amore et timore Dei. Et secundum hoc etiam non debent timeri, unde dicitur Eccli. XXXIV, qui timet Deum nihil trepidabit. Non autem debent contemni bona temporalia inquantum instrumentaliter nos iuvant ad ea quae sunt divini amoris et timoris.   Reply to Objection 3: Temporal goods are to be despised as hindering us from loving and serving God, and on the same score they are not to be feared; wherefore it is written (Ecclus. 34:16): "He that feareth the Lord shall tremble at nothing." But temporal goods are not to be despised, in so far as they are helping us instrumentally to attain those things that pertain to Divine fear and love.


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Question: 126  [<< | >>]
Article: 2  [<< | >>]

Whether fearlessness is opposed to fortitude?

Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod esse impavidum non opponatur fortitudini. De habitibus enim iudicamus per actus. Sed nullus actus fortitudinis impeditur per hoc quod aliquis est impavidus, remoto enim timore, aliquis et fortiter sustinet et audacter aggreditur. Ergo esse impavidum non opponitur fortitudini.   Objection 1: It seems that fearlessness is not opposed to fortitude. For we judge of habits by their acts. Now no act of fortitude is hindered by a man being fearless: since if fear be removed, one is both brave to endure, and daring to attack. Therefore fearlessness is not opposed to fortitude.
Praeterea, esse impavidum est vitiosum vel propter defectum debiti amoris, vel propter superbiam, vel propter stultitiam. Sed defectus debiti amoris opponitur caritati; superbia autem humilitati; stultitia autem prudentiae, sive sapientiae. Ergo vitium impaviditatis non opponitur fortitudini.   Objection 2: Further, fearlessness is a vice, either through lack of due love, or on account of pride, or by reason of folly. Now lack of due love is opposed to charity, pride is contrary to humility, and folly to prudence or wisdom. Therefore the vice of fearlessness is not opposed to fortitude.
Praeterea, virtuti opponuntur vitia sicut extrema medio. Sed unum medium ex una parte non habet nisi unum extremum. Cum ergo fortitudini ex una parte opponatur timor, ex alia vero parte opponatur ei audacia, videtur quod impaviditas ei non opponatur.   Objection 3: Further, vices are opposed to virtue and extremes to the mean. But one mean has only one extreme on the one side. Since then fortitude has fear opposed to it on the one side and daring on the other, it seems that fearlessness is not opposed thereto.
Sed contra est quod philosophus, in III Ethic., ponit impaviditatem fortitudini oppositam.   On the contrary, The Philosopher (Ethic. iii) reckons fearlessness to be opposed to fortitude.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, fortitudo est circa timores et audacias. Omnis autem virtus moralis ponit modum rationis in materia circa quam est. Unde ad fortitudinem pertinet timor moderatus secundum rationem, ut scilicet homo timeat quod oportet, et quando oportet, et similiter de aliis. Hic autem modus rationis corrumpi potest, sicut per excessum, ita et per defectum. Unde sicut timiditas opponitur fortitudini per excessum timoris, inquantum scilicet homo timet quod non oportet, vel secundum quod non oportet; ita etiam impaviditas opponitur ei per defectum timoris, inquantum scilicet non timet aliquis quod oportet timere.   I answer that, As stated above (Question [123], Article [3]), fortitude is concerned about fear and daring. Now every moral virtue observes the rational mean in the matter about which it is concerned. Hence it belongs to fortitude that man should moderate his fear according to reason, namely that he should fear what he ought, and when he ought, and so forth. Now this mode of reason may be corrupted either by excess or by deficiency. Wherefore just as timidity is opposed to fortitude by excess of fear, in so far as a man fears what he ought not, and as he ought not, so too fearlessness is opposed thereto by deficiency of fear, in so far as a man fears not what he ought to fear.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod actus fortitudinis est timorem sustinere et aggredi non qualitercumque, sed secundum rationem. Quod non facit impavidus.   Reply to Objection 1: The act of fortitude is to endure death without fear, and to be aggressive, not anyhow, but according to reason: this the fearless man does not do.
Ad secundum dicendum quod impaviditas ex sua specie corrumpit medium fortitudinis, et ideo directe fortitudini opponitur. Sed secundum suas causas, nihil prohibet quin opponatur aliis virtutibus.   Reply to Objection 2: Fearlessness by its specific nature corrupts the mean of fortitude, wherefore it is opposed to fortitude directly. But in respect of its causes nothing hinders it from being opposed to other virtues.
Ad tertium dicendum quod vitium audaciae opponitur fortitudini secundum excessum audaciae, impaviditas autem secundum defectum timoris. Fortitudo autem in utraque passione medium ponit. Unde non est inconveniens quod secundum diversa habeat diversa extrema.   Reply to Objection 3: The vice of daring is opposed to fortitude by excess of daring, and fearlessness by deficiency of fear. Fortitude imposes the mean on each passion. Hence there is nothing unreasonable in its having different extremes in different respects.

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