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Home > Summa Theologica > First Part of the Second Part > Question 40

Question 40. The irascible passions, and first, of hope and despair

  1. Is hope the same as desire or cupidity?
  2. Is hope in the apprehensive, or in the appetitive faculty?
  3. Is hope in dumb animals?
  4. Is despair contrary to hope?
  5. Is experience a cause of hope?
  6. Does hope abound in young men and drunkards?
  7. The order of hope to love
  8. Is love conducive to action?

Article 1. Whether hope is the same as desire of cupidity?

Objection 1. It would seem that hope is the same as desire or cupidity. Because hope is reckoned as one of the four principal passions. But Augustine in setting down the four principal passions puts cupidity in the place of hope (De Civ. Dei xiv, 3,7). Therefore hope is the same as cupidity or desire.

Objection 2. Further, passions differ according to their objects. But the object of hope is the same as the object of cupidity or desire, viz. the future good. Therefore hope is the same as cupidity or desire.

Objection 3. If it be said that hope, in addition to desire, denotes the possibility of obtaining the future good; on the contrary, whatever is accidental to the object does not make a different species of passion. But possibility of acquisition is accidental to a future good, which is the object of cupidity or desire, and of hope. Therefore hope does not differ specifically from desire or cupidity.

On the contrary, To different powers belong different species of passions. But hope is in the irascible power; whereas desire or cupidity is in the concupiscible. Therefore hope differs specifically from desire or cupidity.

I answer that, The species of a passion is taken from the object. Now, in the object of hope, we may note four conditions. First, that it is something good; since, properly speaking, hope regards only the good; in this respect, hope differs from fear, which regards evil. Secondly, that it is future; for hope does not regard that which is present and already possessed: in this respect, hope differs from joy which regards a present good. Thirdly, that it must be something arduous and difficult to obtain, for we do not speak of any one hoping for trifles, which are in one's power to have at any time: in this respect, hope differs from desire or cupidity, which regards the future good absolutely: wherefore it belongs to the concupiscible, while hope belongs to the irascible faculty. Fourthly, that this difficult thing is something possible to obtain: for one does not hope for that which one cannot get at all: and, in this respect, hope differs from despair. It is therefore evident that hope differs from desire, as the irascible passions differ from the concupiscible. For this reason, moreover, hope presupposes desire: just as all irascible passions presuppose the passions of the concupiscible faculty, as stated above (Question 25, Article 1).

Reply to Objection 1. Augustine mentions desire instead of hope, because each regards future good; and because the good which is not arduous is reckoned as nothing: thus implying that desire seems to tend chiefly to the arduous good, to which hope tends likewise.

Reply to Objection 1. The object of hope is the future good considered, not absolutely, but as arduous and difficult of attainment, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 3. The object of hope adds not only possibility to the object of desire, but also difficulty: and this makes hope belong to another power, viz. the irascible, which regards something difficult, as stated in the I, 81, 2. Moreover, possibility and impossibility are not altogether accidental to the object of the appetitive power: because the appetite is a principle of movement; and nothing is moved to anything except under the aspect of being possible; for no one is moved to that which he reckons impossible to get. Consequently hope differs from despair according to the difference of possible and impossible.

Article 2. Whether hope is in the apprehensive or in the appetitive power?

Objection 1. It would seem that hope belongs to the cognitive power. Because hope, seemingly, is a kind of awaiting; for the Apostle says (Romans 8:25): "If we hope for that which we see not; we wait for it with patience." But awaiting seems to belong to the cognitive power, which we exercise by "looking out." Therefore hope belongs to the cognitive power.

Objection 2. Further, apparently hope is the same as confidence; hence when a man hopes he is said to be confident, as though to hope and to be confident were the same thing. But confidence, like faith, seems to belong to the cognitive power. Therefore hope does too.

Objection 3. Further, certainty is a property of the cognitive power. But certainty is ascribed to hope. Therefore hope belongs to the cognitive power.

On the contrary, Hope regards good, as stated above (Article 1). Now good, as such, is not the object of the cognitive, but of the appetitive power. Therefore hope belongs, not to the cognitive, but to the appetitive power.

I answer that, Since hope denotes a certain stretching out of the appetite towards good, it evidently belongs to the appetitive power; since movement towards things belongs properly to the appetite: whereas the action of the cognitive power is accomplished not by the movement of the knower towards things, but rather according as the things known are in the knower. But since the cognitive power moves the appetite, by presenting its object to it; there arise in the appetite various movements according to various aspects of the apprehended object. For the apprehension of good gives rise to one kind of movement in the appetite, while the apprehension of evil gives rise to another: in like manner various movements arise from the apprehension of something present and of something future; of something considered absolutely, and of something considered as arduous; of something possible, and of something impossible. And accordingly hope is a movement of the appetitive power ensuing from the apprehension of a future good, difficult but possible to obtain; namely, a stretching forth of the appetite to such a good.

Reply to Objection 1. Since hope regards a possible good, there arises in man a twofold movement of hope; for a thing may be possible to him in two ways, viz. by his own power, or by another's. Accordingly when a man hopes to obtain something by his own power, he is not said to wait for it, but simply to hope for it. But, properly speaking, he is said to await that which he hopes to get by another's help as though to await [exspectare] implied keeping one's eyes on another [ex alio spectare], in so far as the apprehensive power, by going ahead, not only keeps its eye on the good which man intends to get, but also on the thing by whose power he hopes to get it; according to Sirach 51:10, "I looked for the succor of men." Wherefore the movement of hope is sometimes called expectation, on account of the preceding inspection of the cognitive power.

Reply to Objection 2. When a man desires a thing and reckons that he can get it, he believes that he can get it, he believes that he will get it; and from this belief which precedes in the cognitive power, the ensuing movement in the appetite is called confidence. Because the movement of the appetite takes its name from the knowledge that precedes it, as an effect from a cause which is better known; for the apprehensive power knows its own act better than that of the appetite.

Reply to Objection 3. Certainty is ascribed to the movement, not only of the sensitive, but also of the natural appetite; thus we say that a stone is certain to tend downwards. This is owing to the inerrancy which the movement of the sensitive or even natural appetite derives from the certainty of the knowledge that precedes it.

Article 3. Whether hope is in dumb animals?

Objection 1. It would seem that there is no hope in dumb animals. Because hope is for some future good, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 12). But knowledge of the future is not in the competency of dumb animals, whose knowledge is confined to the senses and does not extend to the future. Therefore there is no hope in dumb animals.

Objection 2. Further, the object of hope is a future good, possible of attainment. But possible and impossible are differences of the true and the false, which are only in the mind, as the Philosopher states (Metaph. vi, 4). Therefore there is no hope in dumb animals, since they have no mind.

Objection 3. Further, Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ix, 14) that "animals are moved by the things that they see." But hope is of things unseen: "for what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?" (Romans 8:24). Therefore there is no hope in dumb animals.

On the contrary, Hope is an irascible passion. But the irascible faculty is in dumb animals. Therefore hope is also.

I answer that, The internal passions of animals can be gathered from their outward movements: from which it is clear that hope is in dumb animals. For if a dog see a hare, or a hawk see a bird, too far off, it makes no movement towards it, as having no hope to catch it: whereas, if it be near, it makes a movement towards it, as being in hopes of catching it. Because as stated above (1, 2; 26, 1; 35, 1), the sensitive appetite of dumb animals, and likewise the natural appetite of insensible things, result from the apprehension of an intellect, just as the appetite of the intellectual nature, which is called the will. But there is a difference, in that the will is moved by an apprehension of the intellect in the same subject; whereas the movement of the natural appetite results from the apprehension of the separate Intellect, Who is the Author of nature; as does also the sensitive appetite of dumb animals, who act from a certain natural instinct. Consequently, in the actions of irrational animals and of other natural things, we observe a procedure which is similar to that which we observe in the actions of art: and in this way hope and despair are in dumb animals.

Reply to Objection 1. Although dumb animals do not know the future, yet an animal is moved by its natural instinct to something future, as though it foresaw the future. Because this instinct is planted in them by the Divine Intellect that foresees the future.

Reply to Objection 2. The object of hope is not the possible as differentiating the true, for thus the possible ensues from the relation of a predicate to a subject. The object of hope is the possible as compared to a power. For such is the division of the possible given in Metaph. v, 12, i.e. into the two kinds we have just mentioned.

Reply to Objection 3. Although the thing which is future does not come under the object of sight; nevertheless through seeing something present, an animal's appetite is moved to seek or avoid something future.

Article 4. Whether despair is contrary to hope?

Objection 1. It would seem that despair is not contrary to hope. Because "to one thing there is one contrary" (Metaph. x, 5). But fear is contrary to hope. Therefore despair is not contrary to hope.

Objection 2. Further, contraries seem to bear on the same thing. But hope and despair do not bear on the same thing: since hope regards the good, whereas despair arises from some evil that is in the way of obtaining good. Therefore hope is not contrary to despair.

Objection 3. Further, movement is contrary to movement: while repose is in opposition to movement as a privation thereof. But despair seems to imply immobility rather than movement. Therefore it is not contrary to hope, which implies movement of stretching out towards the hoped-for good.

On the contrary, The very name of despair [desperatio] implies that it is contrary to hope [spes].

I answer that, As stated above (Question 23, Article 2), there is a twofold contrariety of movements. One is in respect of approach to contrary terms: and this contrariety alone is to be found in the concupiscible passions, for instance between love and hatred. The other is according to approach and withdrawal with regard to the same term; and is to be found in the irascible passions, as stated above (Question 23, Article 2). Now the object of hope, which is the arduous good, has the character of a principle of attraction, if it be considered in the light of something attainable; and thus hope tends thereto, for it denotes a kind of approach. But in so far as it is considered as unobtainable, it has the character of a principle of repulsion, because, as stated in Ethic. iii, 3, "when men come to an impossibility they disperse." And this is how despair stands in regard to this object, wherefore it implies a movement of withdrawal: and consequently it is contrary to hope, as withdrawal is to approach.

Reply to Objection 1. Fear is contrary to hope, because their objects, i.e. good and evil, are contrary: for this contrariety is found in the irascible passions, according as they ensue from the passions of the concupiscible. But despair is contrary to hope, only by contrariety of approach and withdrawal.

Reply to Objection 2. Despair does not regard evil as such; sometimes however it regards evil accidentally, as making the difficult good impossible to obtain. But it can arise from the mere excess of good.

Reply to Objection 3. Despair implies not only privation of hope, but also a recoil from the thing desired, by reason of its being esteemed impossible to get. Hence despair, like hope, presupposes desire; because we neither hope for nor despair of that which we do not desire to have. For this reason, too, each of them regards the good, which is the object of desire.

Article 5. Whether experience is a cause of hope?

Objection 1. It would seem that experience is not a cause of hope. Because experience belongs to the cognitive power; wherefore the Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 1) that "intellectual virtue needs experience and time." But hope is not in the cognitive power, but in the appetite, as stated above (Article 2). Therefore experience is not a cause of hope.

Objection 2. Further, the Philosopher says (Rhet. ii, 13) that "the old are slow to hope, on account of their experience"; whence it seems to follow that experience causes want of hope. But the same cause is not productive of opposites. Therefore experience is not a cause of hope.

Objection 3. Further, the Philosopher says (De Coel. ii, 5) that "to have something to say about everything, without leaving anything out, is sometimes a proof of folly." But to attempt everything seems to point to great hopes; while folly arises from inexperience. Therefore inexperience, rather than experience, seems to be a cause of hope.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 8) "some are hopeful, through having been victorious often and over many opponents": which seems to pertain to experience. Therefore experience is a cause of hope.

I answer that, As stated above (Article 1), the object of hope is a future good, difficult but possible to obtain. Consequently a thing may be a cause of hope, either because it makes something possible to a man: or because it makes him think something possible. In the first way hope is caused by everything that increases a man's power; e.g. riches, strength, and, among others, experience: since by experience man acquires the faculty of doing something easily, and the result of this is hope. Wherefore Vegetius says (De Re Milit. i): "No one fears to do that which he is sure of having learned well."

In the second way, hope is caused by everything that makes man think that he can obtain something: and thus both teaching and persuasion may be a cause of hope. And then again experience is a cause of hope, in so far as it makes him reckon something possible, which before his experience he looked upon as impossible. However, in this way, experience can cause a lack of hope: because just as it makes a man think possible what he had previously thought impossible; so, conversely, experience makes a man consider as impossible that which hitherto he had thought possible. Accordingly experience causes hope in two ways, despair in one way: and for this reason we may say rather that it causes hope.

Reply to Objection 1. Experience in matters pertaining to action not only produces knowledge; it also causes a certain habit, by reason of custom, which renders the action easier. Moreover, the intellectual virtue itself adds to the power of acting with ease: because it shows something to be possible; and thus is a cause of hope.

Reply to Objection 2. The old are wanting in hope because of their experience, in so far as experience makes them think something impossible. Hence he adds (Rhet. ii, 13) that "many evils have befallen them."

Reply to Objection 3. Folly and inexperience can be a cause of hope accidentally as it were, by removing the knowledge which would help one to judge truly a thing to be impossible. Wherefore inexperience is a cause of hope, for the same reason as experience causes lack of hope.

Article 6. Whether hope abounds in young men and drunkards?

Objection 1. It would seem that youth and drunkenness are not causes of hope. Because hope implies certainty and steadiness; so much so that it is compared to an anchor (Hebrews 6:19). But young men and drunkards are wanting in steadiness; since their minds are easily changed. Therefore youth and drunkenness are not causes of hope.

Objection 2. Further, as stated above (Article 5), the cause of hope is chiefly whatever increases one's power. But youth and drunkenness are united to weakness. Therefore they are not causes of hope.

Objection 3. Further, experience is a cause of hope, as stated above (Article 5). But youth lacks experience. Therefore it is not a cause of hope.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 8) that "drunken men are hopeful": and (Rhet. ii, 12) that "the young are full of hope."

I answer that, Youth is a cause of hope for three reasons, as the Philosopher states in Rhet. ii, 12: and these three reasons may be gathered from the three conditions of the good which is the object of hope--namely, that it is future, arduous and possible, as stated above (Article 1). For youth has much of the future before it, and little of the past: and therefore since memory is of the past, and hope of the future, it has little to remember and lives very much in hope. Again, youths, on account of the heat of their nature, are full of spirit; so that their heart expands: and it is owing to the heart being expanded that one tends to that which is arduous; wherefore youths are spirited and hopeful. Likewise they who have not suffered defeat, nor had experience of obstacles to their efforts, are prone to count a thing possible to them. Wherefore youths, through inexperience of obstacles and of their own shortcomings, easily count a thing possible; and consequently are of good hope. Two of these causes are also in those who are in drink--viz. heat and high spirits, on account of wine, and heedlessness of dangers and shortcomings. For the same reason all foolish and thoughtless persons attempt everything and are full of hope.

Reply to Objection 1. Although youths and men in drink lack steadiness in reality, yet they are steady in their own estimation, for they think that they will steadily obtain that which they hope for.

In like manner, in reply to the Second Objection, we must observe that young people and men in drink are indeed unsteady in reality: but, in their own estimation, they are capable, for they know not their shortcomings.

Reply to Objection 3. Not only experience, but also lack of experience, is, in some way, a cause of hope, as explained above (05, ad 3).

Article 7. Whether hope is a cause of love?

Objection 1. It would seem that hope is not a cause of love. Because, according to Augustine (De Civ. Dei xiv, 7,9), love is the first of the soul's emotions. But hope is an emotion of the soul. Therefore love precedes hope, and consequently hope does not cause love.

Objection 2. Further, desire precedes hope. But desire is caused by love, as stated above (Question 25, Article 2). Therefore hope, too, follows love, and consequently is not its cause.

Objection 3. Further, hope causes pleasure, as stated above (Question 32, Article 3). But pleasure is only of the good that is loved. Therefore love precedes hope.

On the contrary, The gloss commenting on Matthew 1:2, "Abraham begot Isaac, and Isaac begot Jacob," says, i.e. "faith begets hope, and hope begets charity." But charity is love. Therefore love is caused by hope.

I answer that, Hope can regard two things. For it regards as its object, the good which one hopes for. But since the good we hope for is something difficult but possible to obtain; and since it happens sometimes that what is difficult becomes possible to us, not through ourselves but through others; hence it is that hope regards also that by which something becomes possible to us.

In so far, then, as hope regards the good we hope to get, it is caused by love: since we do not hope save for that which we desire and love. But in so far as hope regards one through whom something becomes possible to us, love is caused by hope, and not vice versa. Because by the very fact that we hope that good will accrue to us through someone, we are moved towards him as to our own good; and thus we begin to love him. Whereas from the fact that we love someone we do not hope in him, except accidentally, that is, in so far as we think that he returns our love. Wherefore the fact of being loved by another makes us hope in him; but our love for him is caused by the hope we have in him.

Wherefore the Replies to the Objections are evident.

Article 8. Whether hope is a help or a hindrance to action?

Objection 1. It would seem that hope is not a help but a hindrance to action. Because hope implies security. But security begets negligence which hinders action. Therefore hope is a hindrance to action.

Objection 2. Further, sorrow hinders action, as stated above (Question 37, Article 3). But hope sometimes causes sorrow: for it is written (Proverbs 13:12): "Hope that is deferred afflicteth the soul." Therefore hope hinders action.

Objection 3. Further, despair is contrary to hope, as stated above (Article 4). But despair, especially in matters of war, conduces to action; for it is written (2 Samuel 2:26), that "it is dangerous to drive people to despair." Therefore hope has a contrary effect, namely, by hindering action.

On the contrary, It is written (1 Corinthians 9:10) that "he that plougheth should plough in hope . . . to receive fruit": and the same applies to all other actions.

I answer that, Hope of its very nature is a help to action by making it more intense: and this for two reasons. First, by reason of its object, which is a good, difficult but possible. For the thought of its being difficult arouses our attention; while the thought that it is possible is no drag on our effort. Hence it follows that by reason of hope man is intent on his action. Secondly, on account of its effect. Because hope, as stated above (Question 32, Article 3), causes pleasure; which is a help to action, as stated above (Question 33, Article 4). Therefore hope is conducive to action.

Reply to Objection 1. Hope regards a good to be obtained; security regards an evil to be avoided. Wherefore security seems to be contrary to fear rather than to belong to hope. Yet security does not beget negligence, save in so far as it lessens the idea of difficulty: whereby it also lessens the character of hope: for the things in which a man fears no hindrance, are no longer looked upon as difficult.

Reply to Objection 2. Hope of itself causes pleasure; it is by accident that it causes sorrow, as stated above (32, 3, ad 2).

Reply to Objection 3. Despair threatens danger in war, on account of a certain hope that attaches to it. For they who despair of flight, strive less to fly, but hope to avenge their death: and therefore in this hope they fight the more bravely, and consequently prove dangerous to the foe.

The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
APPROBATIO ORDINIS
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ

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