The Passions of Love and Hate (ST 1-2, ques.  26-29)

Question 26:  Love (amor)

Question 27: The cause of love

Question 28: The effects of love

Question 29: Hate (odium)

Question 26: Love
  • 26,1:  Is love in the concupiscible part of the soul?

  • Differences in types of love correspond to differences in appetite (or striving or tending or desire):

    • natural love: This sort of love is had when appetite or desire does not follow upon an apprehension on the part of the very subject that has the appetite, but instead follows upon an apprehension on the part of another. The appetite in this case is called natural appetite, because "natural things seek what is suitable to (convenit) them by their natures--not through their own apprehension but through the apprehension of the one who institutes their nature." Love is "the principle [or source] of the movement of the thing that tends toward the loved end," and in natural appetite this principle is the "connaturality (connaturalitas) of the thing that has the appetite with respect to the end which is loved."

    • So the relation between what loves and what is loved is a certain connaturality or suitability (convenientia) or complementarity or kinship or match (coaptatio = perfect fit) between the subject of love and its object; St. Thomas's alternative way of putting this relation is complacentia boni, i.e., a certain "being pleased with" the good in question, which applies especially in the cases of sentient and intellective love to be discussed below. This is the core notion of love. (Note: Love underlies both (i) the tending toward (in cognitive beings, the desire for) the object loved when that object is not possessed and (ii) the resting in (in cognitive beings, the enjoyment of or taking pleasure in) the object loved when it is possessed.)

    • sentient love: This sort of love is had when the appetite or desire follows upon a (sentient) apprehension on the part of the very thing that has the desire, but follows of necessity and not through free choice. This sort of appetite is called sentient appetite, and is found in brute animals and human beings, "though in human beings it participates in freedom to the extent that it obeys reason".

    • intellective (rational) love: This sort of love is had when the appetite or desire follows upon an (intellective) apprehension on the part of the very thing that has the desire, but follows through free choice and not by necessity. This sort of appetite is called intellective appetite or will, and is found in human beings and intelligences (angels) and, by analogy, in God.

    Because love relates to the good simply or absolutely, and not to the good as arduous or difficult, it is found in the concupiscible, and not the irascible, part of the soul.

  • 26,2:  Is love a passion?

  • A passion is an agent's effect in a patient, and the agent's effect in the patient includes both (i) the form it induces and (ii) the motion that follows from this form. For instance, heaviness (gravitas), effected by the generating agent in a corporeal substance, is a itself both a form and a principle of the consequent motion toward the center of the earth. Likewise, the appetible object "introduces itself" formally into the sentient appetite by "a certain conformity (coaptatio) to itself," which includes a felt physiological change, and from this there follows a motion toward possessing the appetible thing. ("The appetible thing moves the appetite by coming to be in some way in its intention (intentio), and the appetite tends toward attaining the appetible thing in reality.") So the first change (immutatio) induced in the appetite by the appetible object is the love itself, "which is nothing other than its being pleased with the appetible thing." And from this pleasedness there follows a motion toward the appetible thing, which is desire (desiderium), and finally rest in the possession of the appetible object, which is joy (gaudium). So love is indeed a passion; in fact, amor is most properly a passion and only by extension is it attributed to the will. (See the next article.)

  • 26,3:  Is amor the same as dilectio?

  • There are four Latin words that can be translated as 'love'. Here St. Thomas distinguishes them as follows:

    • amor: the most common term, and a genus for the others. Amor is the only term that is appropriately used for the passion in question.

    • dilectio: adds to amor the notion of a preceding choosing to love, and so it is in the will alone and not in the concupiscible appetite. The term signifies an act or passion.

    • caritas: adds to amor the notion of a certain perfection of love, since it connotes that the object loved is highly esteemed or of very great value. The term can signify either an act or a habit.

    • amicitia: Friendship, or a certain habit of love.

    Note the reply to the sed contra: Some have thought that the term amor is more 'divine' than the term dilectio because the interior life is characterized by a certain attraction to God in which we are more passive than active. Even though free choice must be involved, the great saints tell us that increase in charity and love of God is more a negative matter of removing obstacles to God's action than an active choice. This is a deep and important insight, and it also serves as a background to what St. Thomas will later say about charity.

  • 26,4:  Is love appropriately divided into love of friendship (amor amicitiae) and love of concupiscence (amor concupiscentiae)?

  • (This is a very important article, but one which can also be misleading. So pay attention!!)

    The contrast here is not so much between different acts of love as between two aspects of every act of love. Every act of love involves willing some good to some person. That is, to love = to will good G to person P. So the movement of love tends toward two things: (i) the good which one wills to someone (amor concupiscentia) and (ii) the person to whom one wills that good (amor amicitiae). [It is true, however, that sometimes St. Thomas contrasts love of concupiscence with love of perfect friendship and says that love of concupiscence is, properly speaking, willing a good to oneself--see, e.g., 27,3. So we have to be sensitive to the context here.]

    Amor amicitiae is prior to amor concupiscentiae and provides the focal meaning of love, just as being is said primarily of substance and is said of an accident insofar as an accident is apt to be in a substance. Likewise, the one who is loved by amor amicitiae is loved per se and simply, whereas the object which is loved with amor concupiscentiae is loved not for itself but for something else. 

    Note the reply to objection 3: In friendships of pleasure and utility, we do indeed will some good to the friend, but this good is referred ultimately to our own pleasure and utility. Thus we have: I will G to my friend P for the sake of my own pleasure or utility. That is, my motive for willing G to P is my own utility. This raises the issue of how we should understand true friendship. Aristotle discusses this issue in the section of the Ethics on friendship. Is every love self-interested--at least to the extent that we desire our own happiness or perfection--and, if so, can it be in my self-interest to will others goods for their own sake? Is this even possible? Obviously, Hobbes thought not, and Kant reacted strenuously to what he took to be the denial of human dignity and transcendence. He held out instead for the possibility of an "altruistic" sort of motivation that is not at all tainted by self-love or self-interest but is simply a disinterested devotion to duty as spelled out by the categorial imperative. Kant is then faced with the question: What could possibly motivate someone to adhere to duty if his reasons for action make no connection with his desire for ultimate happiness or fulfillment?

    By contrast, Aristotle's answer seems to be: Yes, we are always motivated by self-love or self-interest, but we are capable of undergoing a psychological transformation by which we come to desire, out of self-interest, to be the sort of persons who can will the good to others for their own sake, and not for our own pleasure or utility. Thus, true friendship (and other forms of cooperative action) is both self-transcending and motivated by the right sort of self-love.

    This is deep stuff, and will get more attention later. The classical and Christian view, as enunciated by Aristotle and St. Thomas (as well as Plato, I would claim), has the advantage of bringing together "reasons for action" and "motivations," which are rendered asunder in early modern ethics.

Question 27: The cause of love
  • 27,1:  Is good the only cause of love?

  • Because love pertains to a passive power, viz., an appetitive power, its object is the cause of its act. So the cause of love = the object of love. But love connotes a certain "connaturality" or "pleasedness" of lover with respect to loved. But the good of a thing is just that which is connatural to it or proportioned to it. So good is the proper cause of love.

    Of course, sometimes we love what is not truly good for us, but even what is bad for us, absolutely speaking, we love as good for us in some way or other. Hence, we are capable of loving iniquity, but only insofar as we apprehend it as good in some way.

    Note the reply to obj. 3, where St. Thomas distinguishes the good from the beautiful. Something is good to the extent that when it is possessed, the appetite "comes to rest" in it itself (this is enjoyment or pleasure or joy). By contrast, something is beautiful to the extent that the appetite comes to rest in the perception or cognition of it. This is why the two senses that are "maximally cognitive," viz., sight and hearing, are especially sensitive to the beautiful. So, St. Thomas concludes, "it is clear that beautiful adds to good a certain relation to a cognitive power." (Interesting, eh?)

  • 27,2:  Is cognition a cause of love?

  • The object is a cause of love only if it is cognized. Thus, cognition is a cause of love. However, it is important to note that an object can be loved to a greater degree than it is known, and it need not be known well in order to be loved. This is certainly the case in our relationship with God, but it holds as well in our quest for scientia. (The first and second objections are redolent of the learner's paradox in the Meno.)

  • 27,3:  Is similarity a cause of love?

  • This question arises because there are apparently conflicting ideas in the traditions St. Thomas is working with. Especially interesting is the second objection, taken from St. Augustine's reflection in Confessions IV that even though he admires certain people, e.g., actors, he wouldn't want to have those qualities that he admires. On the other hand, it seems that like attracts like. Our friends are normally those who share similar interests and values, and these shared interests, etc., serve as the foundation of friendship or love. So what's the story? Must the object of our love be in some sense or other 'similar to' us?

    St. Thomas claims that, properly speaking, similarity is a cause of love. But we must distinguish here different sorts of similarity. Two things can be similar by virtue of the fact that (i) both actually possess the same quality; on the other hand, they can be similar by virtue of the fact that (ii) the one actually has a quality which the other lacks but is both capable of having and inclined toward acquiring. St. Thomas claims that the first type of similarity is a cause of the love of perfect friendship or benevolence. We love those who share something in common with us--whether it be very general, e.g., a common humanity, or something more specific, such as virtue or, in the case of charity, eternal beatitude or at least the capacity for eternal beatitude. On the other hand, the second sort of similarity is a cause of love of concupiscence or of friendship of pleasure or utility.

    Here St. Thomas notes, however, that we (naturally) love ourselves more than others, and so if the similarity impedes our attainment of a good that we will to ourselves (e.g., first place in a competition), then it becomes a source of friction or hatred, not precisely because it is a similarity but because it impedes our getting what we want.

    As for Augustine's point, St. Thomas points out that we can admire a person for his or her excellence at a particular undertaking without wanting to possess the very same skill, but not without wanting to be excellent in our own undertakings.

  • 27,4:  Can any of the other passions be a cause of love?

  • The first point here is that any other passion presupposes love, so that no passion can, absolutely speaking, precede love. However, I might come to love one thing because (ultimately) of my love for or desire for or enjoyment of something else. Likewise, the irascible passions, e.g., hope or anger, can induce love or increase love for certain objects.

Question 28: The effects of love 
  • 28,1:  Is union an effect of love?

  • Union seems to be an effect of love, but, after all, absence is compatible with love. Again, union, if anything, is, like similarity, a cause of love rather than an effect.

    St. Thomas distinguishes two ways in which the lover and the loved object are united, viz., union of presence and union of affection. The latter can be considered in the case of love of concupiscence or the case of love of friendship. When I desire something for myself, I apprehend it as pertinent to my well-being and hence am united to it in affection. When I desire something for my friend, I will it to him as I will things for myself, and so I am united to him in affection.

    Love has union of presence as an effect, since it effectively moves one to desire and seek the real presence of the object loved. The second sort of union--union of affection--is just, formally speaking, love itself.

    St. Thomas goes into this in more depth in the reply to the second objection. There are three sorts of union relevant to love:

    • substantial union, which causes love of self and love of others insofar as they are similar to oneself.

    • union of affection, which is essentially love itself.

    • real union, which is an effect of love.

  • 28,2:  Is mutual inherence (indwelling) an effect of love?

  • In general, the object loved dwells in the lover by entering into the lover's affections by its pleasingness, whereas the lover dwells in the object loved by affectively penetrating its inner nature or self. This mutual indwelling or inherence can be thought of with respect to either apprehension or appetite.

    As for apprehension, the thing loved inheres in the lover insofar as the lover dwells upon the thought of the loved object, whereas the lover is said to inhere in the thing loved insofar as lover tries to find out more and more about the object love and to cognitively penetrate its depths, as it were.

    As for appetite, the object loved dwells within the lover through the latter's being affectively pleased with the loved object (love of concupiscence) or its good (love of friendship)--either through delight when it or its good is present or desire when it or its good is absent. This "being pleased" is rooted in one's interior self, the "bowels of charity." On the other hand, the lover is said to dwell in the loved object in two ways. When we are speaking of the love of concupiscence, the lover dwells in the thing loved by seeking to have it perfectly and, as it were, entering into its depths. When we are speaking of the love of friendship, the lover dwells in the beloved by regarding the beloved's goods or evils as his own and by regarding the beloved's desires as his own. In this way, friends rejoice and are saddened by the same things. In summary, to the extent that one thinks of the friend's things as his own, the lover dwells in the beloved, whereas to the extent he wills and acts for his friend's sake as for his own, the beloved dwells in the him.

    There is yet a third way in which friends dwell in one another, and this is through the reciprocity of their love.

  • 28,3:  Is ecstasy an effect of love?

  • To undergo ecstacy is to be placed outside oneself or to go beyond oneself. This is an important effect of love, even as a passion, because it helps us to begin to see how love in general allows us (ultimately) to transcend narrow self-interest.

    This ecstasy occurs in both one's cognitive apprehension of and affection for the beloved.

    As for cognitive apprehension, one may go beyond the sort of cognition that is proper to oneself. This can occur in two ways, either (i) by one's being elevated to a sort of apprehension which goes beyond the natural apprehension characteristic of reason and sense (e.g., mystical union) or (ii) by one's being debased by anger or insanity ("He's crazy in love with her."). Love disposes us toward this kind of ecstacy, by inducing intense meditation upon the object loved so that one is drawn away from other things.

    As for affection or appetite, one experiences ecstacy when one's desire is carried beyond oneself to the object loved. Love directly causes this sort of ecstacy--(i) absolutely speaking, when the love in question is love of friendship, which carries us outside ourselves to exercise care and providence for our friend's own sake, or (ii) relatively speaking, when the love in question is love of concupisence, which carries us to the object but only in the end for our own sake.

  • 28,4:  Is zeal or jealousy (zelus) an effect of love?

  • Zelus, however it is understood, is proportionate to the intensity of love. For to the extent that a power or force is more intense, to that extent it repels everything that is contrary to it or that stands in its way. So, too, love seeks to exclude everything that stands in its way.

    St. Thomas notes here that zelus differs according to whether we are speaking of love of concupiscence or love of friendship.

    With regard to love of concupiscence, love tends toward the exclusion of everything that threatens the acquisition or enjoyment of the object. "It is in this way that husbands are said to be jealous of their wives." (St. Thomas doesn't endorse this way of relating to one's spouse; he simply points out that this is in fact the way husbands often relate to their wives. Of course, there are at least some cases when such an effect of love might be justified, even if there are many cases in which it is not.) In like manner, those who seek excellence are moved by "the zeal of envy" against those with whom they see themselves to be in competition.

    With regard to love of friendship, one is zealous for one's friend when one fights against threats to the friend's well-being. Thus, one is zealous for God when he tries as hard as he again to repel things that are against God's will or against His honor.

    The second objection had argued that zeal cannot be an effect of love, because zeal is hostile to sharing, whereas love is communicative of itself and hence tends to extend itself through sharing goods with others. St. Thomas's reply is that a good is loved to the extent that it is communicable to or shareable by the lover himself. Hence, whatever impedes this communication of the good to the lover is such that the lover finds it hateful. Likewise, sometimes the good desired is scarce and unshareable by many, and hence it becomes the object of competition. It is just such cases which give rise to zeal in the form of jealousy and envy. "But jealousy does not arise, properly speaking, in the case of those things which can be possessed in their entirety by many. For no one envies another the knowledge of a truth that can be known fully by many, though one might perhaps envy another his excellence of knowledge concerning it."

  • 28,5:  Is love a passion that wounds the lover?

  • Love seems to wound the lover, since it often leads to languor or to excessive ardor or to a sort of melting (liquefactio), each of which can be harmful to the lover.

    St. Thomas's reply is that, formally speaking, appropriate loving makes the lover better and inappropriate love makes him worse. By its very nature love is of that which the lover perceives to be pleasing and good for himself. Whether love is good or bad for him will thus depend on whether that perception is correct. "Love of an appropriate good is perfective of the lover and makes him better, whereas love of a good which is not appropriate for the lover wounds and harms him. Hence, a human being is especially perfected and made better by the loving God, whereas he is wounded and made worse by loving sin."

    But we can also consider what is material, rather than formal, in the passion of love, viz., the various bodily changes and feelings associated with it. And it sometimes happens that these changes (increased heartbeat, excessive heat around the heart, perhaps lack of appetite for food, etc.) are harmful to the lover.

    In the reply to the first objection, St. Thomas orders the physical effects of love as follows:

    • melting (liquefactio): a certain softening of the heart which makes one more receptive to the object.

    • enjoyment (fruitio): pleasure in the presence of the object loved

    • languor (languor): sadness in the absence of the object loved

    • ardor (fervor): intense desire to possess the object loved.

    The intensity of these effects is proportionate to the intensity of the physical changes.

  • 28,6:  Is love a cause of all the things which the lover does?

  • Every agent acts from love in everything it does, since the end, which is a principle of all action, must be loved in some way by the agent in order to be lead to action. Hence, love is principal quality by which the end is, as it were, internalized in the agent. All the other passions that enter into the proximate causal etiology of action do so through their various relations with love, which always serves at least as a remote cause.

Question 29: Hate
  • 29,1:  Is evil the cause and object of hate?

  • Just as love is our being pleased with and attracted to what we perceive as good for us, so hate is our being displeased with and repelled from what we perceive as bad for us. In each case, the object in question, however much goodness it has in itself, is apprehended as good for us or bad for us in some determinate respect or other.

    In the reply to the second objection, St. Thomas points out something that we are all aware of, viz., that not everything we apprehend as good for us is in fact good for us, and not everything we apprehend as bad for us is in fact bad for us. So both love and hate can be inappropriate.

  • 29,2:  Is hate caused by love?

  • Hate is indeed caused by loved, since everything that is hated is hated because it threatens to impede in some way the good that we love. This is not problematic, even though hate and love are contraries. For though they are on the same level (simul) conceptually (in ratione), they are related as prior and posterior in reality. So the love for one thing always underlies hate for another, i.e., "every hate is caused by love," though not vice versa. 

  • 29,3:  Is hate stronger than love?

  • It might sometimes seem that hate is stronger than love, especially in view of the fact that the corporeal manifestations of hate are more apparent to the senses than those of love, and also in view of the fact that some acts of hate are indeed stronger or more intense than some acts of love. Nonetheless, the intensity of any given act of hate cannot exceed the intensity of the act of love that underlies it. For what is hated is hated at most as intensely as the good threatened by the object of hate is loved.

  • 29,4:  Is it possible for someone to hate himself?

  • St. Thomas holds that it is impossible for anyone to hate himself per se and directly. To love someone is to will good to him, whereas to hate someone is to will evil for him. Yet we cannot will anything for ourselves except as a good. So we cannot hate ourselves directly.

    Still, there are two ways in which we can hate ourselves per accidens. In the one case, one wills as a good for himself what is in fact evil for him, and so he wills himself evil and so hates himself. In the second sort of case, a human being is more principally his mind (mens) than any other part of himself, and yet it often happens that people regard themselves as mainly that of themselves which is corporeal and sensible. So they can love that part of themselves and hate what is fact the principal part of themselves. In both types of cases, St. Thomas concludes, one who loves iniquity hates not only his own soul but his very self.

    In the reply to objection two, St. Thomas notes that even someone who kills himself thinks it a good for himself to die insofar as he believes that death will terminate his suffering or pain.

  • 29,5:  Is it possible for someone to hate the truth?

  • The next two articles have to do with the possible extent of hate. Article 5 deals with the transcendentals: good, being and true. The good as such cannot be hated--either in general or in particular--since by definition the good is what all things desire. Likewise, neither being nor truth can be hated in general, since they are common to all things. However, both of them can be hated insofar as they are instantiated in particular cases, since, unlike the case of the good, neither being nor truth is loved insofar as it is being or truth. Instead, each is loved insofar as it is good.

    In particular, there are three ways in which particular truths can be hated:

    1. A particular truth can be hated in itself, as it were, by someone who wishes that it were not a truth. For instance, I might hate the truth that my friend has betrayed me.

    3. A truth can be hated insofar as one hates the fact that he knows that truth. So, for instance, I might hate the fact that I know the truths of the faith because they interfere with my sins. (Notice, I can do this without wishing they were not true.)

    5. A particular truth might be hated insofar as one hates the fact that another knows that truth. For instance, someone who wants latitude in his sinning might hate the fact that someone else knows the truth about him.

  • 29,6:  Is it possible for something to be hated in general or in the abstract?

  • There are two ways in which something can be done in general or in the abstract: (i) by means of a general concept or (ii) with regard to the nature itself which that concept signifies. For it is one thing to consider the universal human being and another to consider this person insofar as he or she is a human being.

    In the first way, no sentient power--apprehensive or appetitive--can act with respect to what is general, since this requires a univeral concept, which cannot be found in a merely sentient power. So the passion of hate cannot have a universal object in this sense.

    However, if we consider just the nature signified by the universal concept insofar as that nature is found in particular individuals, then the passion of hate can indeed have a general object--e.g., we find that sheep hate wolves in general and flee from them. (Anger, though, can have only a particular object.)

    On the other hand, the hatred found in the intellective part of the soul can have a universal object in both ways. For instance, a professor might hate all students in general, or--to be sure--a student might hate all professors in general.