Saint Thomas Aquinas

Summa Theologiae

First Part of the Second Part
Question 25

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Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Summa Theologiae

Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province

First Part of the Second Part

Treatise on Passions (Questions 22-48)

Of the Order of the Passions to One Another
(In Four Articles)

We must now consider the order of the passions to one another: and under this head there are four points of inquiry: (1) The relation of the irascible passions to the concupiscible passions; (2) The relation of the concupiscible passions to one another; (3) The relation of the irascible passions to one another; (4) The four principal passions.

Whether the Irascible Passions Precede the Concupiscible Passions, or Vice Versa?

We proceed thus to the First Article:—

Objection  1. It would seem that the irascible passions precede the concupiscible passions. For the order of the passions is that of their objects. But the object of the irascible faculty is the difficult good, which seems to be the highest good. Therefore the irascible passions seem to precede the concupiscible passions.

Obj. 2. Further, the mover precedes that which is moved. But the irascible faculty is compared to the concupiscible, as mover to that which is moved: since it is given to animals, for the purposed of removing the obstacles that hinder the concupiscible faculty from enjoying its object, as stated above (Q. 23, A. 1 ad 1; P. 1, Q. 81, A. 2). Now that which removes an obstacle, is a kind of mover (Phys. viii. 4). Therefore the irascible passions precede the concupiscible passions.

Obj. 3. Further, joy and sadness are concupiscible passions. But joy and sadness succeed to the irascible passions: for the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv. 5) that retaliation causes anger to cease, because it produces pleasure instead of the previous pain. Therefore the concupiscible passions follow the irascible passions.

On the contrary, The concupiscible passions regard the absolute good, while the irascible passions regard a restricted, viz., the difficult, good. Since, therefore, the absolute good precedes the restricted good, it seems that the concupiscible passions precede the irascible.

I answer that, In the concupiscible passions there is more diversity than in the passions of the irascible faculty. For in the former we find something relating to movement—e.g., desire; and something belonging to repose, e.g., joy and sadness. But in the irascible passions there is nothing pertaining to repose, and only that which belongs to movement. The reason of this is that when we find rest in a thing, we no longer look upon it as something difficult or arduous; whereas such is the object of the irascible faculty.

Now since rest is the end of movement, it is first in the order of intention, but last in the order of execution. If, therefore, we compare the passions of the irascible faculty with those concupiscible passions that denote rest in good, it is evident that in the order of execution, the irascible passions take precedence of such like passions of the concupiscible faculty: thus hope precedes joy, and hence causes it, according to the Apostle (Rom. xii. 12): Rejoicing in hope. But the concupiscible passion which denotes rest in evil, viz., sadness, comes between two irascible passions: because it follows fear; since we become sad when we are confronted by the evil that we feared: while it precedes the movement of anger; since the movement of self-vindication, that results from sadness, is the movement of anger. And because it is looked upon as a good thing to pay back the evil done to us; when the angry man has achieved this he rejoices. Thus it is evident that every passion of the irascible faculty terminates in a concupiscible passion denoting rest, viz., either in joy or in sadness.

But if we compare the irascible passions to those concupiscible passions that denote movement, then it is clear that the latter take precedence: because the passions of the irascible faculty add something to those of the concupiscible faculty; just as the object of the irascible adds the aspect of arduousness or difficulty to the object of the concupiscible faculty. Thus hope adds to desire a certain effort, and a certain raising of the spirits to the realization of the arduous good. In like manner fear adds to aversion or detestation a certain lowness of spirits, on account of difficulty in shunning the evil.

Accordingly the passions of the irascible faculty stand between those concupiscible passions that denote movement towards good or evil, and those concupiscible passions that denote rest in good or evil. And it is therefore evident that the irascible passions both arise from and terminate in the passions of the concupiscible faculty.

Reply Obj. 1. This argument would prove, if the formal object of the concupiscible faculty were something contrary to the arduous, just as the formal object of the irascible faculty is that which is arduous. But because the object of the concupiscible faculty is good absolutely, it naturally precedes the object of the irascible, as the common precedes the proper.

Reply Obj. 2. The remover of an obstacle is not a direct but an accidental mover: and here we are speaking of passions as directly related to one another.—Moreover, the irascible passion removes the obstacle that hinders the concupiscible from resting in its object. Wherefore it only follows that the irascible passions precede those concupiscible passions that connote rest.—The third objection leads to the same conclusion.

Whether Love Is the First of the Concupiscible Passions?

We proceed thus to the Second Article:—

Objection  1. It would seem that love is not the first of the concupiscible passions. For the concupiscible faculty is so called from concupiscence, which is the same passion as desire. But things are named from their chief characteristic (De Anima ii. 4). Therefore desire takes precedence of love.

Obj. 2. Further, love implies a certain union; since it is a uniting and binding force, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv). But concupiscence or desire is a movement towards union with the thing coveted or desired. Therefore desire precedes love.

Obj. 3. Further, the cause precedes its effect. But pleasure is sometimes the cause of love: since some love on account of pleasure (Ethic. viii. 3, 4). Therefore pleasure precedes love; and consequently love is not the first of the concupiscible passions.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv. 7, 9) that all the passions are caused by love: since love yearning for the beloved object, is desire; and, having and enjoying it, is joy. Therefore love is the first of the concupiscible passions.

I answer that, Good and evil are the object of the concupiscible faculty. Now good naturally precedes evil; since evil is privation of good. Wherefore all the passions, the object of which is good, are naturally before those, the object of which is evil—that is to say, each precedes its contrary passion: because the quest of a good is the reason for shunning the opposite evil.

Now good has the aspect of an end, and the end is indeed first in the order of intention, but last in the order of execution. Consequently the order of the concupiscible passions can be considered either in the order of intention or in the order of execution. In the order of execution, the first place belongs to that which takes place first in the thing that tends to the end. Now it is evident that whatever tends to an end, has, in the first place, an aptitude or proportion to that end, for nothing tends to a disproportionate end; secondly, it is moved to that end; thirdly, it rests in the end, after having attained it. And this very aptitude or proportion of the appetite to good is love, which is complacency in good; while movement towards good is desire or concupiscence; and rest in good is joy or pleasure. Accordingly in this order, love precedes desire, and desire precedes pleasure. But in the order of intention, it is the reverse: because the pleasure intended causes desire and love. For pleasure is the enjoyment of the good, which enjoyment is, in a way, the end, just as the good itself is, as stated above (Q. 11, A. 3 ad 3).

Reply Obj. 1. We name a thing as we understand it, for words are signs of thoughts, as the Philosopher states (Peri Herm. i. 1). Now in most cases we know a cause by its effect. But the effect of love, when the beloved object is possessed, is pleasure: when it is not possessed, it is desire or concupiscence: and, as Augustine says (De Trin. x. 12), we are more sensible to love, when we lack that which we love. Consequently of all the concupiscible passions, concupiscence is felt most; and for this reason the power is named after it.

Reply Obj. 2. The union of lover and beloved is twofold. There is real union, consisting in the conjunction of one with the other. This union belongs to joy or pleasure, which follows desire. There is also an affective union, consisting in an aptitude or proportion, in so far as one thing, from the very fact of its having an aptitude for and an inclination to another, partakes of it: and love betokens such a union. This union precedes the movement of desire.

Reply Obj. 3. Pleasure causes love, in so far as it precedes love in the order of intention.

Whether Hope Is the First of the Irascible Passions?

We proceed thus to the Third Article:—

Objection  1. It would seem that hope is not the first of the irascible passions. Because the irascible faculty is denominated from anger. Since, therefore, things are names from their chief characteristic (cf. A. 2, Obj. 1), it seems that anger precedes and surpasses hope.

Obj. 2. Further, the object of the irascible faculty is something arduous. Now it seems more arduous to strive to overcome a contrary evil that threatens soon to overtake us, which pertains to daring; or an evil actually present, which pertains to anger; than to strive simply to obtain some good. Again, it seems more arduous to strive to overcome a present evil, than a future evil. Therefore anger seems to be a stronger passion than daring, and daring, than hope. And consequently it seems that hope does not precede them.

Obj. 3. Further, when a thing is moved towards an end, the movement of withdrawal precedes the movement of approach. But fear and despair imply withdrawal from something; while daring and hope imply approach towards something. Therefore fear and despair precede hope and daring.

On the contrary, The nearer a thing is to the first, the more it precedes others. But hope is nearer to love, which is the first of the passions. Therefore hope is the first of the passions in the irascible faculty.

I answer that, As stated above (A. 1) all irascible passions imply movement towards something. Now this movement of the irascible faculty towards something may be due to two causes: one is the mere aptitude or proportion to the end; and this pertains to love or hatred, those whose object is good, or evil; and this belongs to sadness or joy. As a matter of fact, the presence of good produces no passion in the irascible, as stated above (Q. 23, AA. 3, 4); but the presence of evil gives rise to the passion of anger.

Since then in order of generation or execution, proportion or aptitude to the end precedes the achievement of the end; it follows that, of all the irascible passions, anger is the last in the order of generation. And among the other passions of the irascible faculty, which imply a movement arising from love of good or hatred of evil, those whose object is good, viz., hope and despair, must naturally precede those whose object is evil, viz., daring and fear: yet so that hope precedes despair; since hope is a movement towards good as such, which is essentially attractive, so that hope tends to good directly; whereas despair is a movement away from good, a movement which is consistent with good, not as such, but in respect of something else, wherefore its tendency from good is accidental, as it were. In like manner fear, through being a movement from evil, precedes daring. And that hope and despair naturally precede fear and daring is evident from this—that as the desire of good is the reason for avoiding evil, so hope and despair are the reason for fear and daring: because daring arises from the hope of victory, and fear arises from the despair of overcoming. Lastly, anger arises from daring: for no one is angry while seeking vengeance, unless he dare to avenge himself, as Avicenna observes in the sixth book of his Physics. Accordingly, it is evident that hope is the first of all the irascible passions.

And if we wish to know the order of all the passions in the way of generation, love and hatred are first; desire and aversion, second; hope and despair, third; fear and daring, fourth; anger, fifth; sixth and last, joy and sadness, which follow from all the passions, as stated in Ethic. ii. 5: yet so that love precedes hatred; desire precedes aversion; hope precedes despair; fear precedes daring; and joy precedes sadness, as may be gathered from what has been stated above.

Reply Obj. 1. Because anger arises from the other passions, as an effect from the causes that precede it, it is from anger, as being more manifest than the other passions, that the power takes its name.

Reply Obj. 2. It is not the arduousness but the good that is the reason for approach or desire. Consequently hope, which regards good more directly, takes precedence: although at times daring or even anger regards something more arduous.

Reply Obj. 3. The movement of the appetite is essentially and directly towards the good as towards its proper object; its movement from evil results from this. For the movement of the appetitive part is in proportion, not to natural movement, but to the intention of nature, which intends the end before intending the removal of a contrary, which removal is desired only for the sake of obtaining the end.

Whether These Are the Four Principal Passions: Joy, Sadness, Hope and Fear?

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article:—

Objection  1. It would seem that joy, sadness, hope and fear are not the four principal passions. For Augustine (De Civ. Dei xiv. 3, 7 sqq.) omits hope and puts desire in its place.

Obj. 2. Further, there is a twofold order in the passions of the soul: the order of intention, and the order of execution or generation. The principal passions should therefore be taken, either in the order of intention; and thus joy and sadness, which are the final passions, will be the principal passions; or in the order of execution or generation, and thus love will be the principal passion. Therefore joy and sadness, hope and fear should in no way be called the four principal passions.

Obj. 3. Further, just as daring is caused by hope, so fear is caused by despair. Either, therefore, hope and despair should be reckoned as principal passions, since they cause others: or hope and daring, from being akin to one another.

On the contrary, Boethius (De Consol. i) in enumerating the four principal passions, says:

Banish joys: banish fears:
Away with hope: away with tears.

I answer that, These four are commonly called the principal passions. Two of them, viz., joy and sadness, are said to be principal because in them all the other passions have their completion and end; wherefore they arise from all the other passions, as is stated in Ethic. ii. 5. Fear and hope are principal passions, not because they complete the others simply, but because they complete them as regards the movement of the appetite towards something: for in respect of good, movement begins in love, goes forward to desire, and ends in hope; while in respect of evil, it begins in hatred, goes on to aversion, and ends in fear. Hence it is customary to distinguish these four passions in relation to the present and the future: for movement regards the future, while rest is in something present: so that joy relates to present good, sadness relates to present evil; hope regards future good, and fear, future evil.

As to the other passions that regard good or evil, present or future, they all culminate in these four. For this reason some have said that these four are the principal passions, because they are general passions; and this is true, provided that by hope and fear we understand the appetite’s common tendency to desire or shun something.

Reply Obj. 1. Augustine puts desire or covetousness in place of hope, in so far as they seem to regard the same object, viz., some future good.

Reply Obj. 2. These are called principal passions, in the order of intention and completion. And though fear and hope are not the last passions simply, yet they are the last of those passions that tend towards something as future. Nor can the argument be pressed any further except in the case of anger: yet neither can anger be reckoned a principal passion, because it is an effect of daring, which cannot be a principal passion, as we shall state further on (Reply Obj. 3).

Reply Obj. 3. Despair implies movement away from good; and this is, as it were, accidental: and daring implies movement towards evil; and this too is accidental. Consequently these cannot be principal passions; because that which is accidental cannot be said to be principal. And so neither can anger be called a principal passion, because it arises from daring.

First Part of the Second Part
Question 24

First Part of the Second Part
Question 26