Aquinas on the Passion of Despair



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.