The Logic of Desire

The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion

Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    The Logic of Desire
    Book Description:

    Focusing on the Summa theologiae, Nicholas Lombardo contributes to the recovery, reconstruction, and critique of Aquinas's account of emotion in dialogue with both the Thomist tradition and contemporary analytic philosophy

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1924-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Nicholas E. Lombardo
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    When Thomas Aquinas finished the Prima secundae of the Summa theologiae in 1271,¹ questions 22–48 probably constituted the longest sustained discussion of the passions ever written.² This Treatise on the Passions, as questions 22–48 of the Prima secundae have come to be known, is the culmination of a lifetime of reflection and the centerpiece of a much larger project. Aquinas’s attention to the passions spans his entire literary output, beginning with his commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, and permeates each part of the Summa theologiae.³ In the Summa, he thoroughly integrates his discussion of the passions...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Passions of the Soul
    (pp. 20-48)

    “Passion,” writes Aquinas, “is a movement of the sense appetite caused by imagining good or evil.”¹ This pithy definition, borrowed from John Damascene and replete with Aristotelian terminology, summarizes his understanding of the passions of the soul. A passion is a physiological and psychological response to the apprehension of a sensible good or a sensible evil, that is, an object that is known through the senses, and judged to be either good or evil.² There are two important moments in the structure of passion: the apprehension of an object, and then the passion itself, in which the object acts upon...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Structure of the Passions
    (pp. 49-74)

    In his treatment of the different types of elemental passions, the distinctions between them, and their inner relations, Aquinas relies on the work of many predecessors, but he also reaches a new height of sophistication. Susan James summarizes the historical achievement of Aquinas’s work and his influence on subsequent thinkers as follows:

    Aquinas’s analysis of the passions is far more thorough and meticulous than those of his predecessors, and is worked out with a fervent attention to detail to which none of them aspired. Rather than simply listing the principal passions, each one is examined and anatomized in best Scholastic...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Affections of the Will
    (pp. 75-93)

    For Aquinas, the category of affection denotes a class of psychological phenomena that includes both movements of the sense appetite and movements of the intellectual appetite, that is, the will. Unlike passion, affection does not necessarily imply either corporeality or passivity. Previous chapters have considered the passions, which are the affections of the sense appetite. This chapter will address the affections of the will and their interactions with the passions, a topic often neglected in studies of Aquinas’s account of human affectivity.

    Affection (in Latin, affectus and its synonym affectio) is never explicitly defined by Aquinas. In consequence, its meaning...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Passion, Reason, and Virtue
    (pp. 94-117)

    Aquinas maintains that the passions naturally obey reason and that over time reason’s guidance becomes embedded in the sense appetite, manifesting itself in either virtuous or vicious passions. This chapter will lay out his account of how the passions are specified by reason and will into character traits, with particular attention to virtue.

    “The movement of an appetitive power follows the act of an apprehensive power,”¹ and the passions follow the apprehension of intentional objects, as was discussed earlier.² This is the first way that cognition affects the passions. After the passions respond to intentional objects, reason can influence the...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Original Sin, Grace, and Human Affectivity
    (pp. 118-147)

    The aphorism “grace perfects nature” is a central theme of Aquinas’s anthropology.¹ It applies fully to his account of human affectivity, that is, of human affections and those habitus that constitute dispositions toward them. Just as grace does not alter or destroy nature but brings it to completion, so too grace perfects human affectivity while respecting its natural structure. The loss of grace in original sin leaves human nature wounded and incomplete but, according to Aquinas, still intact. Hope for restoration remains, including the restoration and rehabilitation of affectivity. This chapter will discuss Aquinas’s view of original sin, grace, and...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Flourishing of Human Affectivity
    (pp. 148-200)

    In the Prima secundae, Aquinas presents an overview of human psychology and its development through virtue and its deformation by sin. In the Secunda secundae, he builds on this foundation, and offers a detailed description of how specific virtues bring the human person to full flourishing. Along the way, he also discusses specific vices, but vice is a secondary focus, as indicated by the structural priority given to the virtues, and the disproportionate attention they receive. For Aquinas, the life of virtue is defined by what it is, not by what it is not, and the same applies to virtuous...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Affectivity of Christ
    (pp. 201-223)

    In the thirteenth century, the passions of Christ were a common topic of theological speculation. Among Aquinas’s contemporaries, Alexander of Hales gives the most attention to Christ’s passions, and in fact his work influences Aquinas, but none give the topic as much sustained attention as Aquinas.¹ Moreover, Aquinas’s account of Christ’s affectivity is not confined to his discussion of Christ’s passions, as becomes evident when his writings on Christ are examined with the category of affectivity in mind. As well as constituting an important element of his Christology, Aquinas’s exposition of Christ’s affectivity also constitutes an important element of his...

  12. CHAPTER 8 A Preliminary Evaluation of Aquinas on Emotion
    (pp. 224-249)

    The previous chapters have sought to present and analyze Aquinas’s account of the emotions and probe its internal coherence. This chapter will discuss how it might be deployed in contemporary conversation about the philosophy and theology of emotion. It will propose that Aquinas’s category of affection corresponds to the category of emotion, and therefore Aquinas’s account of affection should be seen as Aquinas’s account of emotion. Then it will offer a preliminary evaluation of Aquinas’s account of emotion.

    Aquinas classifies psychological phenomena such as desire, joy, sadness, fear, anger, and hope as affections, and, when he is more specific, as...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Toward a Contemporary Theology of Emotion
    (pp. 250-271)

    Aquinas’s theology of emotion is fundamentally open-ended. Although it is committed to a number of foundational principles, it also provides a platform from which to engage topics that he does not. This chapter will discuss some of its applications to various topics, in order to give a sense of the horizons that his work opens up, and the ways that it can be used to construct a contemporary theology of emotion.

    A perennial topic of Christian spirituality is discernment, that is, the task of determining through reflection and prayer where God might be leading. One of the classic models of...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 272-274)

    The inner logic of Aquinas’s account of emotion can be difficult to penetrate. He can be maddeningly discreet about his theological agenda.¹ He also incorporates so many previous authors in his writings that it is sometimes hard to figure out exactly what he thinks. As Bonnie Kent observes, in his attentiveness to innumerable authorities (Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and pagan), Aquinas is “very much like a host laboring to produce congenial, fruitful conversation among guests deeply at odds with each other.”² Furthermore, the range and complexity of his thought requires a grasp of his entire philosophy and theology—which is immense...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 275-300)
  16. Index of Citations
    (pp. 301-306)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 307-319)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 320-320)