Aquinas on the Passion of Despair
Article first published online: 18 AUG 2011
© 2011 The Author. New Blackfriars © 2011 The Dominican Council.
Volume 93, Issue 1046, pages 387–396, July 2012
How to Cite
Miller, M. R. (2012), Aquinas on the Passion of Despair. New Blackfriars, 93: 387–396. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-2005.2010.01395.x
- Issue published online: 8 JUN 2012
- Article first published online: 18 AUG 2011
St. Thomas Aquinas argues that all of the passions, including hatred, anger, sorrow and despair, are morally neutral. That is, Thomas Aquinas argues that the manner in which a person responds to a particular passion determines the morality of the passion, and not the passion itself. Hatred, for example, can lead one to a good end, as when one comes to hate his sin. Likewise, Aquinas notes that even the passion of despair is not necessarily evil, since when felt rightly it can move one to some good end. Aquinas, however, fails to recognize that according to his own account despair so stupefies the soul that it cannot lead to any good end. Unlike hope or love, or any of the other passions, despair paralyzes the soul and thus must always be avoided.