BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF THE SUMMA OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
FOR THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD, BY
FRS. WALTER FARRELL AND MARTIN HEALY, 1952
CHAPTER 4, HAPPINESS AND THE PASSIONS: PART 2
THE CONTRARY of love is hatred. Love is the initial movement of the appetite toward the good. Hatred is the movement of the appetite away from evil. When a hostess sets a cup of coffee before a man at the end of a meal he considers it good and loves it. Were she to set before him a glass of iodine he would recognize it as harmful and he would hate it. Good is the object of love. Evil is the object of hatred.
BUT EVEN though evil is the object of hatred, still love is the cause of hate. A man hates evil only because the evil object threatens to deprive him of some good. A man hates the glass of iodine because the drinking of it would deprive him of his life which he loves. All hatred is based on some previous love.
HATRED SOMETIMES makes a strong impression on a man's life and gives such a distinctive coloring to his actions that men often regard hatred as a stronger force than love. But a little reflection will show that love is always the stronger. For as we said above every hate supposes some previous love. A strong hate means a strong love. A man has a strong hate for poison only because he has a strong love for life.
SINCE HATRED is based on love it follows that hatred is also a great power for good in man's life. Hatred enables man to avoid the evils that would destroy him. But like all the passions it must be under the control of right reason and will if it is to benefit man.
DESIRE, OR CONCUPISCENCE, is a power flowing from love in the pursuit of good. When a man loves a cup of coffee, he desires to enjoy the pleasure it will give him. Desire occupies a place midway between the love of something good and the actual enjoyment of that good thing. Desire is love in actual pursuit of the pleasure or joy that good will bring.
DESIRE is distinct from love. Love is simply a complacency in the good. Desire is a tendency toward a good which is not yet present to the appetite, not yet enjoyed. When a man has what he loves, he no longer desires it; he only enjoys it.
DESIRE IS THE ENERGIZING FORCE behind human actions. It is the desire for good that sets men in action pursuing the goods they do not yet possess. But when we examine the multitude of things that men pursue in the course of a lifetime, we can see that some of their desires are natural and others are acquired. Men have natural desires for whatever is required by nature itself for their well-being. So all men desire food and shelter. But men also possess reason and through reason they can see good in many things which nature does not absolutely require for man's well-being. In this way men seek, for example, the pleasure to be derived from smoking tobacco. Reason has discovered some good in tobacco for man.
Since the power of reason to discover truth and goodness is universal, reaching out to everything in existence, desires acquired through reason can be limitless. So the man who thinks wealth is good, can desire not just a limited wealth, but as much wealth as is possible. Natural desires, on the other hand, are satisfied with what nature requires. A man naturally desires only enough food at anyone meal. He does not desire naturally a mountain of food at each meal.
THE CONTRARY OF DESIRE is dislike or aversion. This is the weakest of all the passions. Simple dislike is never very productive. For that reason dislike is sometimes not very admirable. No one admires the person who never does anything simply because he dislikes everything. Hate shows a capacity for great love. Dislike seems to indicate an inability to love anything strongly.
DESIRE MOVES MEN TO ACTION. Because men desire things they work to attain them. Desire is always aimed at the enjoyment of the things we love. The end of desire is always pleasure or joy. Pleasure is the movement of the appetite in the presence of good. We call it a movement because the appetite possessing the desired good, is in action. Actually we could say also that the appetite is at rest. It is resting in the possession of the good it formerly desired. So a man rests or is at ease in the possession of a good when he relaxes in the refreshing coolness of the ocean after a hot day at the office in the city.
THE REPOSE OF THE APPETITE in good can be either pleasure or joy. When the sense appetite reposes in the possession of something that appears good to the senses, then the repose is called pleasure. A man takes pleasure in smoking a good cigar. When the rational appetite, the will, reposes in the possession of a good approved by reason as leading to perfect happiness, then the repose of the will is called joy. A man is joyful at the discovery of truth. Pleasure is always accompanied by some change in the body. But joy is simply a movement in the will of man, although sometimes a great spiritual joy can, as it were, seep over into the body and give pleasure.
STRICTLY SPEAKING the spiritual pleasures reached by the will and the intellect are better in themselves than the sensible pleasures of the body. A man takes delight in driving an automobile. But he takes more delight in understanding what an automobile is.
BUT THE PLEASURES of the body seem stronger to men than intellectual pleasures. This is due to the fact that the pleasures of sense are better known to men and produce a feeling of well-being in the body which intellectual pleasures may not give. Again, the pleasures of the body frequently offset the pains of the body and so men seek them as an antidote to pain.
SINCE LOVE SEEKS UNION with the thing that is loved, pleasure is found in any union with the loved object. The greatest pleasure or joy is found in real union. But it is possible to take pleasure in a past remembered union or in a future anticipated union. The husband separated from his family takes delight in remembering the times he was with them or in anticipating the time when he will be reunited to them.
THIS UNION effected by love can make even the actions of others a pleasure for us. Our friends may do good things for us, or make us conscious of our own goodness by admiring us or paying us compliments.
ON THE OTHER HAND when we do good to those we love, we enjoy it because we look on our friends as ourselves. Or we expect them to return the favor by doing good to us. Or when we are generous we are pleased because our generosity makes us aware that we have so much good ourselves that we can afford to share it with others.
LIKENESS OR SIMILARITY is also a cause of pleasure. We are happy when we are in the company of friends who have the same interests, tastes and virtues.
THE SENSES OF SIGHT and touch are the greatest sources of sensible pleasure. Sight gives us pleasure because it enables us to know the many good and delightful things in the world. Touch gives pleasure because it is by touching and holding things that we put them to our own uses. As long as we are concerned only with the pleasures of the body, touch is more important than sight. But when we seek the pleasures of the mind, then sight is better than touch for it leads more immediately to knowledge.
THE OBJECTS OF PLEASURE are as many and varied as the things which bring delight or joy to the soul. But the general causes of pleasure are few in number.
SINCE PLEASURE requires the attainment of a suitable good and the knowledge of this attainment, activity is a cause of pleasure. Men must act to attain their desires. Every pleasure is the result of some action. Change or movement is also a cause of pleasure. Man is by nature changeable and what is pleasant to him at one time, later is not.
EVEN WONDER OR CURIOSITY can give pleasure. For when we desire to know something and have a chance of gaining the desired knowledge, then we are pleased in anticipation. A woman can be pleased in the thought that a friend will bring her all the latest news or gossip.
IN ALL CASES it is clear that love is the cause of pleasure or joy. Consequently the greater the love for something, the greater is the pleasure or joy in its attainment.
WHEN LOVE HAS LED A MAN through desire and hope to pleasure or joy, the first result of delight is a feeling or a consciousness of growth. We are, as it were, enlarged or enriched by the enjoyment of the good we desired but did not possess before. In this we can see the expansive force of love. Love makes men grow. If their loves are right, they grow rightly and strongly, like a tall evergreen. If their loves are wrong, they grow, but in a distorted way, like a tree that has been blighted by poor soil, dry climate, fire and lightning.
BUT PLEASURE OR JOY also results in exciting a desire for more pleasure. Since sense pleasures are not always perfectly possessed, it is possible to seek more. A man enjoys a steak. But if there is not enough, he will desire more. As for intellectual joy, since human reason is made for all truth and the human will for all good, man seeks joy without limit. Only the vision of God, the Supreme Truth and the Supreme Good, can fully satisfy man's appetite for
PLEASURE CAN PREVENT the proper working of the human mind. The feeling of pleasure can be so intense that it distracts the mind and hinders its proper functioning. Sometimes pleasure can bring about such violent changes in the body that it completely prevents the mind from functioning. Excessive drinking of alcohol can take away reason altogether.
LASTLY, pleasure can make human action more perfect. We do well the things in which we take pleasure.
SINCE PLEASURE OR JOY is the goal that man aims at in his loves and desires, the morality of our pleasures is of great consequence in our lives. Their morality is to be judged by the standard of right reason. If they lead to man's final goal, the vision of God, they are in accord with right reason and therefore good. If they turn man away from his final goal, then they are not in accord with right reason and so are evil. The highest pleasure possible to man is the enjoyment of God in the beatific vision of God. All other pleasures are subordinate to this final pleasure or joy. The good things of this world are only a fore- taste of the joy of Heaven. It is the task of reason to determine whether or not earthly pleasures lead to the joy of the vision of God. If reason judges that they do not, then man pursues them at the peril of losing his greatest joy. If reason judges that an earthly pleasure or joy can lead a man to God, then man can act to secure that pleasure with a confident hope that it will lead him ultimately to the greatest joy of all.
THE CONTRARIES of pleasure and joy are pain and sorrow. Pain is the movement of the sense appetite in relation to evil. Sorrow is the movement of the will in relation to evil. As always in the case of the passions, pain and sorrow come only through the knowledge or apprehension of the presence of evil.
PAIN AND SORROW have a depressing effect on man. They prevent him from enjoying the good, things he possesses. The man who is plunged in grief at the death of his wife cannot find pleasure in his children or friends or possessions. If his grief is profound it may even prevent him from working.
THE BEST REMEDY for pain is pleasure or joy. When a man can take pleasure in something, then he is at least beginning to rouse himself from the depression caused by pain. Tears, as everyone knows, are a natural relief from depression. The sympathy of friends or a new interest can also drive out sorrow.
MEN USUALLY REGARD pain and sorrow as evil. In part they are right. In so far as they are concerned with the presence of an evil, pain and sorrow are evil. But sometimes they are the means of safeguarding or attaining real good. A pain in the abdomen is an evil thing in itself. But it may warn a man that he has acute appendicitis and so lead him to take the steps necessary to save his life. Remorse for a sinful act is not pleasant. But it may lead a man to repentance and spiritual good health.
THIS CONCLUDES our consideration of the simple passions. As we have seen, they are concerned with good and evil simply as objects to be sought or avoided. But in life most good things cannot be attained easily. Nor can all evils be easily avoided. God has given us the emergency passions to cope with the difficulties we meet in the pursuit of good and the avoidance of evil.
THE VALUE OF THE EMERGENCY PASSIONS should not be underestimated. We all think poorly of the man who can never attain the good he loves or avoid the evil he hates, because he lacks the energy to overcome the obstacles in his path. It is the emergency passions which enable men to meet difficulty successfully.
THE FIRST of the emergency passions is hope. Hope is a tendency to a future good which can be attained, but with difficulty. A man who has been shipwrecked will cling to a piece of driftwood for hours because he hopes to be rescued.
DESPAIR IS THE CONTRARY of hope. A man runs away from a future good because he regards it as unattainable. The timid man never asks his employer for the raise in salary which he deserves because he feels sure that his employer would never grant it.
HOPE IS BASED ON EXPERIENCE and, strangely enough, on the lack of it. The young are full of hope because the experience of failure has not yet shown them their own limitations. A young girl with no singing voice at all will still hope to be some day a prima donna at the Metropolitan Opera. But hope is at its best when based on successful experiences. The lawyer hopes to win a difficult case because he has often won such cases in the past. Hope is a help to action because it arouses effort and leads through success to pleasure or joy. Despair on the other hand tends to paralyze action and kill effort.
AFTER HOPE AND DESPAIR come daring and fear. Daring springs from hope. When a man hopes to attain good, he dares to face difficulty and danger in the pursuit of good. The fireman dares to rescue the child trapped in a burning building. When daring is based on reason and experience it is more constant than when it is reckless. The daring of a mature man whose hope of victory is based on successful experience is a stronger and more lasting force than the daring of inexperienced youth.
OPPOSED TO DARING is fear. Fear is the movement of flight in the appetite in the face of an impending evil that seems irresistible. Fear arises when danger is right at hand. Men seldom fear dangers that are far in the future. When death seems far away men seldom fear death or God's anger. But when danger is just around the comer, then fear seeks to escape it.
FEAR WEARS MANY FACES in human life. In a man who fears work it is laziness. In the man who fears future disgrace it is shamefacedness. In the man who fears present disgrace it is shame. In the man who faces an evil whose extent and magnitude seem immeasurable, fear appears as amazement. In the man faced with a sudden and unlooked for danger we find stupor---a paralysis of his whole being. When a man fears a future misfortune which he cannot foresee, his fear is called anxiety.
THE BASIC CAUSE of fear is love of good. A man fears something because it will deprive him of some good. The second cause of fear is a man's feeling or conviction that he is unable to cope with the danger.
THE FIRST EFFECT of fear is a paralysis of man's power to act. A woman confronted by an angry rattlesnake is frozen with fear. She is powerless to attack or run away. This is the great evil of fear---that it prevents man from acting for his own good.
SOMETIMES, when danger is still far off, fear will move a man to seek the advice of others. When the advice is sought from prudent and courageous men, this effect of fear is good. But fearful men are not good advisers for other fearful men. The timid will usually counsel either timidity or reckless daring.
THE LAST Of the emergency passions is anger. Anger is a mixed passion. It is concerned with both good and evil. When a man strikes an enemy who has been spreading lies about him, his anger has two objectives. He seeks revenge, which he regards as something good---a recompense or satisfaction for the damage done to him. And he hates the man who has lied about him as something harmful to him.
SINCE ANGER seeks vengeance for some damage that has been done, it implies a comparison between the damage done and the vengeance sought. Anger deals then with questions of justice. We are angry when we think that some injustice has been done to us, and, in anger, we seek revenge on the evildoer.
IN LIFE MANY THINGS can cause anger. But they all involve some real injury or fancied injury to ourselves. We regard the injury as a symbol of contempt on the part of the one who has injured us.
ANGER often produces pleasure. We are pleased when we have secured a recompense for the harm done to us. It also impels men to action. The angry man is energetic in the pursuit of justice. But anger can destroy the reasonableness and prudence of our actions. Frequently angry men exact a greater vengeance than the injury done to them merits.
ALL THE PASSIONS OF MAN, from love to anger, are powers given to man to enable him to seek what is good and to avoid what is evil. Under the control of reason and will their action can be morally good or bad. The man of many desires can forget God in the pursuit of pleasure. This is what the drunkard or the libertine does. The fearful man can desert God in his desire to avoid all difficulty or pain. The passions must be brought under the control of right reason and will. Their powers must be directed to what is morally good. The passions are like the power in an automobile. As long as the driver is in command of the automobile, the driving power of the car will take him safely where he wishes to go. But if he loses control of the car, both the driver and the car come to grief. When properly directed by right reason the passions move man to accomplishment. They help man to dominate the world for his own happiness and God's glory. When a man loses control and allows himself to be ruled by his passions they lead him to destruction---to the ruin of his human personality.
IF WE THINK OF THE ROLE of the passions in the present world in which we are living, it appears that we have emphasized the simple passion of pleasure and neglected the emergency passions, especially hope and daring. People are too interested in pleasure. Our great technical inventions and natural resources have made life too easy for us and our moral fiber is in danger of disintegration. Laziness prevents us from making sufficient effort to achieve our real happiness. But great goals are achieved only through great effort. The vision of God is not brought to us on a serving platter. The kingdom of Heaven is won by violence---that is, by effort.
LOVE OF GOOD, of the real good, must be the motive of all human activity. Through love man grows, and society grows with him. Love, under the control of right reason, is the force that will make the world fit for man and man fit for God.
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