Saturday, September 13, 2008

Philosophy of St. Thomas - Meaning of 'Passion'

In ST Supp. Q82 A1, St. Thomas speaks of a passion in two senses.
First in a broad sense, and thus every reception is called a passion, whether the thing received be fitting to the receiver and perfect it, or contrary to it and corrupt it.
In this broad sense we can understand better perhaps the etymology of the English word 'patient' (in reference to one subject to medical treatment) as being one who receives something. So too the man who is patient (in the sense of longsuffering): he receives things, and bears them. The same goes also for the "Passion of the Lord," which refers to his suffering and death for our salvation.

There is another sense of the word as well, when we refer to the "passions of the soul:
In another way we use the word "passive" properly, and thus the Damascene defines passion (De Fide Orth. ii, 22) as being "a movement contrary to nature." Hence an immoderate movement of the heart is called its passion, but a moderate movement is called its operation.
Now in this sense, for example, one may be justly angry in accord with a moderate movement of the heart, or may fly off the handle in a passion of rage, according to an immoderate movement of his heart.


And this wraps up my posts based upon notes I took while reading the Summa Theologica a year or two ago. My main purpose in doing them was to get them into a more permanent and hopefully useful form than the 3x5 cards where they first wound up, but I hope that you, my reader, have perhaps found them to be useful or interesting as well.

Next up will be a (much shorter) series of posts based upon similar notes taken while reading the Summa Contra Gentiles. I'm pretty fond of SCG because it struck me as more accessible than ST did, for whatever reason. I think that SCG is a valuable book because in it Aquinas presents what seems to my small brain to be a solid argument for the reasonableness of the Christian Faith. This is not to say that the Faith is rationalistic, but it is to say that nothing in it is contrary to reason. Anyway, I hope my notes will be fruitful for some interesting posts.

On a completely different front, I've been slogging through the first volume of Previte-Orton's Medieval History for what seems like an eternity. Shoo. It's fairly interesting, but for some reason I have a more difficult time keeping my attention focused on it.

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