The Passions of Love and Hate (ST 1-2, ques. 26-29)
Question 27: The cause of love
Question 28: The effects of love
Question 29: Hate (odium)
Question 26: Love
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
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?)
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.
Question 28: The effects 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:
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.
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.
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."
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:
The intensity of these effects is proportionate to the intensity of
the physical changes.
Question 29: Hate
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.
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.
In particular, there are three ways in which particular truths can be
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.