Summa Th. I-II EN Qu.37 a.2
Objection: 1. It would seem that it is not an effect of sorrow to burden the soul. For the Apostle says (2Co 7,11): "Behold this self-same thing, that you were made sorrowful according to God, how great carefulness it worketh in you: yea, defence, yea indignation," etc. Now carefulness and indignation imply that the soul is uplifted, which is contrary to being depressed. Therefore depression is not an effect of sorrow.
2. Further, sorrow is contrary to pleasure. But the effect of pleasure is expansion: the opposite of which is not depression but contraction. Therefore depression should not be reckoned as an effect of sorrow.
3. Further, sorrow consumes those who are inflicted therewith, as may be gathered from the words of the Apostle (2Co 2,7): "Lest perhaps such an one be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." But that which is depressed is not consumed; nay, it is weighed down by something heavy, whereas that which is consumed enters within the consumer. Therefore depression should not be reckoned an effect of sorrow.
On the contrary Gregory of Nyssa [*Nemesius, De Nat. Hom. xix.] and Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 14) speak of "depressing sorrow."
I answer that The effects of the soul's passions are sometimes named metaphorically, from a likeness to sensible bodies: for the reason that the movements of the animal appetite are like the inclinations of the natural appetite. And in this way fervor is ascribed to love, expansion to pleasure, and depression to sorrow. For a man is said to be depressed, through being hindered in his own movement by some weight. Now it is evident from what has been said above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ; Question , Article ) that sorrow is caused by a present evil: and this evil, from the very fact that it is repugnant to the movement of the will, depresses the soul, inasmuch as it hinders it from enjoying that which it wishes to enjoy. And if the evil which is the cause of sorrow be not so strong as to deprive one of the hope of avoiding it, although the soul be depressed in so far as, for the present, it fails to grasp that which it craves for; yet it retains the movement whereby to repulse that evil. If, on the other hand, the strength of the evil be such as to exclude the hope of evasion, then even the interior movement of the afflicted soul is absolutely hindered, so that it cannot turn aside either this way or that. Sometimes even the external movement of the body is paralyzed, so that a man becomes completely stupefied.
Reply to Objection: 1. That uplifting of the soul ensues from the sorrow which is according to God, because it brings with it the hope of the forgiveness of sin.
2. As far as the movement of the appetite is concerned, contraction and depression amount to the same: because the soul, through being depressed so as to be unable to attend freely to outward things, withdraws to itself, closing itself up as it were.
3. Sorrow is said to consume man, when the force of the afflicting evil is such as to shut out all hope of evasion: and thus also it both depresses and consumes at the same time. For certain things, taken metaphorically, imply one another, which taken literally, appear to exclude one another.
Objection: 1. It would seem that sorrow does not weaken all activity. Because carefulness is caused by sorrow, as is clear from the passage of the Apostle quoted above (Article , Objection ). But carefulness conduces to good work: wherefore the Apostle says (2Tm 2,15): "Carefully study to present thyself . . . a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." Therefore sorrow is not a hindrance to work, but helps one to work well.
2. Further, sorrow causes desire in many cases, as stated in Ethic. vii, 14. But desire causes intensity of action. Therefore sorrow does too.
3. Further, as some actions are proper to the joyful, so are others proper to the sorrowful; for instance, to mourn. Now a thing is improved by that which is suitable to it. Therefore certain actions are not hindered but improved by reason of sorrow.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. x, 4) that "pleasure perfects action," whereas on the other hand, "sorrow hinders it" (Ethic. x, 5).
I answer that As stated above (Article ), sorrow at times does not depress or consume the soul, so as to shut out all movement, internal or external; but certain movements are sometimes caused by sorrow itself. Accordingly action stands in a twofold relation to sorrow. First, as being the object of sorrow: and thus sorrow hinders any action: for we never do that which we do with sorrow, so well as that which we do with pleasure, or without sorrow. The reason for this is that the will is the cause of human actions: and consequently when we do something that gives pain, the action must of necessity be weakened in consequence. Secondly, action stands in relation to sorrow, as to its principle and cause: and such action must needs be improved by sorrow: thus the more one sorrows on account of a certain thing, the more one strives to shake off sorrow, provided there is a hope of shaking it off: otherwise no movement or action would result from that sorrow.
From what has been said the replies to the objections are evident.
Objection: 1. It would seem that sorrow is not most harmful to the body. For sorrow has a spiritual existence in the soul. But those things which have only a spiritual existence do not cause a transmutation in the body: as is evident with regard to the images of colors, which images are in the air and do not give color to bodies. Therefore sorrow is not harmful to the body.
2. Further if it be harmful to the body, this can only be due to its having a bodily transmutation in conjunction with it. But bodily transmutation takes place in all the passions of the soul, as stated above (Question , Articles ,3). Therefore sorrow is not more harmful to the body than the other passions of the soul.
3. Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 3) that "anger and desire drive some to madness": which seems to be a very great harm, since reason is the most excellent thing in man. Moreover, despair seems to be more harmful than sorrow; for it is the cause of sorrow. Therefore sorrow is not more harmful to the body than the other passions of the soul.
On the contrary It is written (Pr 17,22): "A joyful mind maketh age flourishing: a sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones": and (Pr 25,20): "As a moth doth by a garment, and a worm by the wood: so the sadness of a man consumeth the heart": and (Si 38,19): "Of sadness cometh death."
I answer that Of all the soul's passions, sorrow is most harmful to the body. The reason of this is because sorrow is repugnant to man's life in respect of the species of its movement, and not merely in respect of its measure or quantity, as is the case with the other passions of the soul. For man's life consists in a certain movement, which flows from the heart to the other parts of the body: and this movement is befitting to human nature according to a certain fixed measure. Consequently if this movement goes beyond the right measure, it will be repugnant to man's life in respect of the measure of quantity; but not in respect of its specific character: whereas if this movement be hindered in its progress, it will be repugnant to life in respect of its species.Now it must be noted that, in all the passions of the soul, the bodily transmutation which is their material element, is in conformity with and in proportion to the appetitive movement, which is the formal element: just as in everything matter is proportionate to form. Consequently those passions that imply a movement of the appetite in pursuit of something, are not repugnant to the vital movement as regards its species, but they may be repugnant thereto as regards its measure: such are love, joy, desire and the like; wherefore these passions conduce to the well-being of the body; though, if they be excessive, they may be harmful to it. On the other hand, those passions which denote in the appetite a movement of flight or contraction, are repugnant to the vital movement, not only as regards its measure, but also as regards its species; wherefore they are simply harmful: such are fear and despair, and above all sorrow which depresses the soul by reason of a present evil, which makes a stronger impression than future evil.
Reply to Objection: 1. Since the soul naturally moves the body, the spiritual movement of the soul is naturally the cause of bodily transmutation. Nor is there any parallel with spiritual images, because they are not naturally ordained to move such other bodies as are not naturally moved by the soul.
2. Other passions imply a bodily transmutation which is specifically in conformity with the vital movement: whereas sorrow implies a transmutation that is repugnant thereto, as stated above.
3. A lesser cause suffices to hinder the use of reason, than to destroy life: since we observe that many ailments deprive one of the use of reason, before depriving one of life. Nevertheless fear and anger cause very great harm to the body, by reason of the sorrow which they imply, and which arises from the absence of the thing desired. Moreover sorrow too sometimes deprives man of the use of reason: as may be seen in those who through sorrow become a prey to melancholy or madness.
We must now consider the remedies of pain or sorrow: under which head there are five points of inquiry:
(1) Whether pain or sorrow is assuaged by every pleasure?
(2) Whether it is assuaged by weeping?
(3) Whether it is assuaged by the sympathy of friends?
(4) Whether it is assuaged by contemplating the truth?
(5) Whether it is assuaged by sleep and baths?
Objection: 1. It would seem that not every pleasure assuages every pain or sorrow. For pleasure does not assuage sorrow, save in so far as it is contrary to it: for "remedies work by contraries" (Ethic. ii, 3). But not every pleasure is contrary to every sorrow; as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore not every pleasure assuages every sorrow.
2. Further, that which causes sorrow does not assuage it. But some pleasures cause sorrow; since, as stated in Ethic. ix, 4, "the wicked man feels pain at having been pleased." Therefore not every pleasure assuages sorrow.
3. Further, Augustine says (Confess. iv, 7) that he fled from his country, where he had been wont to associate with his friend, now dead: "for so should his eyes look for him less, where they were not wont to see him." Hence we may gather that those things which united us to our dead or absent friends, become burdensome to us when we mourn their death or absence. But nothing united us more than the pleasures we enjoyed in common. Therefore these very pleasures become burdensome to us when we mourn. Therefore not every pleasure assuages every sorrow.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 14) that "sorrow is driven forth by pleasure, both by a contrary pleasure and by any other, provided it be intense."
I answer that As is evident from what has been said above (Question , Article ), pleasure is a kind of repose of the appetite in a suitable good; while sorrow arises from something unsuited to the appetite. Consequently in movements of the appetite pleasure is to sorrow, what, in bodies, repose is to weariness, which is due to a non-natural transmutation; for sorrow itself implies a certain weariness or ailing of the appetitive faculty. Therefore just as all repose of the body brings relief to any kind of weariness, ensuing from any non-natural cause; so every pleasure brings relief by assuaging any kind of sorrow, due to any cause whatever.
Reply to Objection: 1. Although not every pleasure is specifically contrary to every sorrow, yet it is generically, as stated above (Question , Article ). And consequently, on the part of the disposition of the subject, any sorrow can be assuaged by any pleasure.
2. The pleasures of wicked men are not a cause of sorrow while they are enjoyed, but afterwards: that is to say, in so far as wicked men repent of those things in which they took pleasure. This sorrow is healed by contrary pleasures.
3. When there are two causes inclining to contrary movements, each hinders the other; yet the one which is stronger and more persistent, prevails in the end. Now when a man is made sorrowful by those things in which he took pleasure in common with a deceased or absent friend, there are two causes producing contrary movements. For the thought of the friend's death or absence, inclines him to sorrow: whereas the present good inclines him to pleasure. Consequently each is modified by the other. And yet, since the perception of the present moves more strongly than the memory of the past, and since love of self is more persistent than love of another; hence it is that, in the end, the pleasure drives out the sorrow. Wherefore a little further on (Confess. iv, 8) Augustine says that his "sorrow gave way to his former pleasures."
Objection: 1. It would seem that tears do not assuage sorrow. Because no effect diminishes its cause. But tears or groans are an effect of sorrow. Therefore they do not diminish sorrow.
2. Further, just as tears or groans are an effect of sorrow, so laughter is an effect of joy. But laughter does not lessen joy. Therefore tears do not lessen sorrow.
3. Further, when we weep, the evil that saddens us is present to the imagination. But the image of that which saddens us increases sorrow, just as the image of a pleasant thing adds to joy. Therefore it seems that tears do not assuage sorrow.
On the contrary Augustine says (Confess. iv, 7) that when he mourned the death of his friend, "in groans and in tears alone did he find some little refreshment."
I answer that Tears and groans naturally assuage sorrow: and this for two reasons. First, because a hurtful thing hurts yet more if we keep it shut up, because the soul is more intent on it: whereas if it be allowed to escape, the soul's intention is dispersed as it were on outward things, so that the inward sorrow is lessened. This is why men, burdened with sorrow, make outward show of their sorrow, by tears or groans or even by words, their sorrow is assuaged. Secondly, because an action, that befits a man according to his actual disposition, is always pleasant to him. Now tears and groans are actions befitting a man who is in sorrow or pain; and consequently they become pleasant to him. Since then, as stated above (Article ), every pleasure assuages sorrow or pain somewhat, it follows that sorrow is assuaged by weeping and groans.
Reply to Objection: 1. This relation of the cause to effect is opposed to the relation existing between the cause of sorrow and the sorrowing man. For every effect is suited to its cause, and consequently is pleasant to it; but the cause of sorrow is disagreeable to him that sorrows. Hence the effect of sorrow is not related to him that sorrows in the same way as the cause of sorrow is. For this reason sorrow is assuaged by its effect, on account of the aforesaid contrariety.
2. The relation of effect to cause is like the relation of the object of pleasure to him that takes pleasure in it: because in each case the one agrees with the other. Now every like thing increases its like. Therefore joy is increased by laughter and the other effects of joy: except they be excessive, in which case, accidentally, they lessen it.
3. The image of that which saddens us, considered in itself, has a natural tendency to increase sorrow: yet from the very fact that a man imagines himself to be doing that which is fitting according to his actual state, he feels a certain amount of pleasure. For the same reason if laughter escapes a man when he is so disposed that he thinks he ought to weep, he is sorry for it, as having done something unbecoming to him, as Cicero says (De Tusc. Quaest. iii, 27).
Objection: 1. It would seem that the sorrow of sympathizing friends does not assuage our own sorrow. For contraries have contrary effects. Now as Augustine says (Confess. viii, 4), "when many rejoice together, each one has more exuberant joy, for they are kindled and inflamed one by the other." Therefore, in like manner, when many are sorrowful, it seems that their sorrow is greater.
2. Further, friendship demands mutual love, as Augustine declares (Confess. iv, 9). But a sympathizing friend is pained at the sorrow of his friend with whom he sympathizes. Consequently the pain of a sympathizing friend becomes, to the friend in sorrow, a further cause of sorrow: so that, his pain being doubled his sorrow seems to increase.
3. Further, sorrow arises from every evil affecting a friend, as though it affected oneself: since "a friend is one's other self" (Ethic. ix, 4,9). But sorrow is an evil. Therefore the sorrow of the sympathizing friend increases the sorrow of the friend with whom he sympathizes.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. ix, 11) that those who are in pain are consoled when their friends sympathize with them.
I answer that When one is in pain, it is natural that the sympathy of a friend should afford consolation: whereof the Philosopher indicates a twofold reason (Ethic. ix, 11). The first is because, since sorrow has a depressing effect, it is like a weight whereof we strive to unburden ourselves: so that when a man sees others saddened by his own sorrow, it seems as though others were bearing the burden with him, striving, as it were, to lessen its weight; wherefore the load of sorrow becomes lighter for him: something like what occurs in the carrying of bodily burdens. The second and better reason is because when a man's friends condole with him, he sees that he is loved by them, and this affords him pleasure, as stated above (Question , Article ). Consequently, since every pleasure assuages sorrow, as stated above (Article ), it follows that sorrow is mitigated by a sympathizing friend.
Reply to Objection: 1. In either case there is a proof of friendship, viz. when a man rejoices with the joyful, and when he sorrows with the sorrowful. Consequently each becomes an object of pleasure by reason of its cause.
2. The friend's sorrow itself would be a cause of sorrow: but consideration of its cause, viz. his love, gives rise rather to pleasure.
3. And this suffices for the reply to the Third Objection.
Objection: 1. It would seem that the contemplation of truth does not assuage sorrow. For it is written (Qo 1,18): "He that addeth knowledge addeth also sorrow" [Vulg.: 'labor']. But knowledge pertains to the contemplation of truth. Therefore the contemplation of truth does not assuage sorrow.
2. Further, the contemplation of truth belongs to the speculative intellect. But "the speculative intellect is not a principle of movement"; as stated in De Anima iii, 11. Therefore, since joy and sorrow are movements of the soul, it seems that the contemplation of truth does not help to assuage sorrow.
3. Further, the remedy for an ailment should be applied to the part which ails. But contemplation of truth is in the intellect. Therefore it does not assuage bodily pain, which is in the senses.
On the contrary Augustine says (Soliloq. i, 12): "It seemed to me that if the light of that truth were to dawn on our minds, either I should not feel that pain, or at least that pain would seem nothing to me."
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article ), the greatest of all pleasures consists in the contemplation of truth. Now every pleasure assuages pain as stated above (Article ): hence the contemplation of truth assuages pain or sorrow, and the more so, the more perfectly one is a lover of wisdom. And therefore in the midst of tribulations men rejoice in the contemplation of Divine things and of future Happiness, according to Jc 1,2: "My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations": and, what is more, even in the midst of bodily tortures this joy is found; as the "martyr Tiburtius, when he was walking barefoot on the burning coals, said: Methinks, I walk on roses, in the name of Jesus Christ." [*Cf. Dominican Breviary, August 11th, commemoration of St. Tiburtius.]
Reply to Objection: 1. "He that addeth knowledge, addeth sorrow," either on account of the difficulty and disappointment in the search for truth; or because knowledge makes man acquainted with many things that are contrary to his will. Accordingly, on the part of the things known, knowledge causes sorrow: but on the part of the contemplation of truth, it causes pleasure.
2. The speculative intellect does not move the mind on the part of the thing contemplated: but on the part of contemplation itself, which is man's good and naturally pleasant to him.
3. In the powers of the soul there is an overflow from the higher to the lower powers: and accordingly, the pleasure of contemplation, which is in the higher part, overflows so as to mitigate even that pain which is in the senses.
Objection: 1. It would seem that sleep and baths do not assuage sorrow. For sorrow is in the soul: whereas sleep and baths regard the body. Therefore they do not conduce to the assuaging of sorrow.
2. Further, the same effect does not seem to ensue from contrary causes. But these, being bodily things, are incompatible with the contemplation of truth which is a cause of the assuaging of sorrow, as stated above (Article ). Therefore sorrow is not mitigated by the like.
3. Further, sorrow and pain, in so far as they affect the body, denote a certain transmutation of the heart. But such remedies as these seem to pertain to the outward senses and limbs, rather than to the interior disposition of the heart. Therefore they do not assuage sorrow.
On the contrary Augustine says (Confess. ix, 12): "I had heard that the bath had its name [*Balneum, from the Greek (balaneion)] . . . from the fact of its driving sadness from the mind." And further on, he says: "I slept, and woke up again, and found my grief not a little assuaged": and quotes the words from the hymn of Ambrose [*Cf. Sarum Breviary: First Sunday after the octave of the Epiphany, Hymn for first Vespers], in which it is said that "Sleep restores the tired limbs to labor, refreshes the weary mind, and banishes sorrow."
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article ), sorrow, by reason of its specific nature, is repugnant to the vital movement of the body; and consequently whatever restores the bodily nature to its due state of vital movement, is opposed to sorrow and assuages it. Moreover such remedies, from the very fact that they bring nature back to its normal state, are causes of pleasure; for this is precisely in what pleasure consists, as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore, since every pleasure assuages sorrow, sorrow is assuaged by such like bodily remedies.
Reply to Objection: 1. The normal disposition of the body, so far as it is felt, is itself a cause of pleasure, and consequently assuages sorrow.
2. As stated above (Question , Article ), one pleasure hinders another; and yet every pleasure assuages sorrow. Consequently it is not unreasonable that sorrow should be assuaged by causes which hinder one another.
3. Every good disposition of the body reacts somewhat on the heart, which is the beginning and end of bodily movements, as stated in De Causa Mot. Animal. xi.
We must now consider the goodness and malice of pain or sorrow: under which head there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether all sorrow is evil?
(2) Whether sorrow can be a virtuous good?
(3) Whether it can be a useful good?
(4) Whether bodily pain is the greatest evil?
Objection: 1. It would seem that all sorrow is evil. For Gregory of Nyssa [*Nemesius, De Nat. Hom. xix.] says: "All sorrow is evil, from its very nature." Now what is naturally evil, is evil always and everywhere. Therefore, all sorrow is evil.
2. Further, that which all, even the virtuous, avoid, is evil. But all avoid sorrow, even the virtuous, since as stated in Ethic. vii, 11, "though the prudent man does not aim at pleasure, yet he aims at avoiding sorrow." Therefore sorrow is evil.
3. Further, just as bodily evil is the object and cause of bodily pain, so spiritual evil is the object and cause of sorrow in the soul. But every bodily pain is a bodily evil. Therefore every spiritual sorrow is an evil of the soul.
On the contrary Sorrow for evil is contrary to pleasure in evil. But pleasure in evil is evil: wherefore in condemnation of certain men, it is written (Pr 2,14), that "they were glad when they had done evil." Therefore sorrow for evil is good.
I answer that A thing may be good or evil in two ways: first considered simply and in itself; and thus all sorrow is an evil, because the mere fact of a man's appetite being uneasy about a present evil, is itself an evil, because it hinders the response of the appetite in good. Secondly, a thing is said to be good or evil, on the supposition of something else: thus shame is said to be good, on the supposition of a shameful deed done, as stated in Ethic. iv, 9. Accordingly, supposing the presence of something saddening or painful, it is a sign of goodness if a man is in sorrow or pain on account of this present evil. For if he were not to be in sorrow or pain, this could only be either because he feels it not, or because he does not reckon it as something unbecoming, both of which are manifest evils. Consequently it is a condition of goodness, that, supposing an evil to be present, sorrow or pain should ensue. Wherefore Augustine says (Gn ad lit. viii, 14): "It is also a good thing that he sorrows for the good he has lost: for had not some good remained in his nature, he could not be punished by the loss of good." Because, however, in the science of Morals, we consider things individually---for actions are concerned about individuals---that which is good on some supposition, should be considered as good: just as that which is voluntary on some supposition, is judged to be voluntary, as stated in Ethic. iii, 1, and likewise above (Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection: 1. Gregory of Nyssa [*Nemesius] is speaking of sorrow on the part of the evil that causes it, but not on the part of the subject that feels and rejects the evil. And from this point of view, all shun sorrow, inasmuch as they shun evil: but they do not shun the perception and rejection of evil. The same also applies to bodily pain: because the perception and rejection of bodily evil is the proof of the goodness of nature.
3. This suffices for the Replies to the Second and Third Objections.
Objection: 1. It would seem that sorrow is not a virtuous good. For that which leads to hell is not a virtuous good. But, as Augustine says (Gn ad lit. xii, 33), "Jacob seems to have feared lest he should be troubled overmuch by sorrow, and so, instead of entering into the rest of the blessed, be consigned to the hell of sinners." Therefore sorrow is not a virtuous good.
2. Further, the virtuous good is praiseworthy and meritorious. But sorrow lessens praise or merit: for the Apostle says (2Co 9,7): "Everyone, as he hath determined in his heart, not with sadness, or of necessity." Therefore sorrow is not a virtuous good.
3. Further, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 15), "sorrow is concerned about those things which happen against our will." But not to will those things which are actually taking place, is to have a will opposed to the decree of God, to Whose providence whatever is done is subject. Since, then, conformity of the human to the Divine will is a condition of the rectitude of the will, as stated above (Question , Article ), it seems that sorrow is incompatible with rectitude of the will, and that consequently it is not virtuous.
On the contrary Whatever merits the reward of eternal life is virtuous. But such is sorrow; as is evident from Mt 5,5: "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Therefore sorrow is a virtuous good.
I answer that In so far as sorrow is good, it can be a virtuous good. For it has been said above (Article ) that sorrow is a good inasmuch as it denotes perception and rejection of evil. These two things, as regards bodily pain, are a proof of the goodness of nature, to which it is due that the senses perceive, and that nature shuns, the harmful thing that causes pain. As regards interior sorrow, perception of the evil is sometimes due to a right judgment of reason; while the rejection of the evil is the act of the will, well disposed and detesting that evil. Now every virtuous good results from these two things, the rectitude of the reason and the will. Wherefore it is evident that sorrow may be a virtuous good.
Reply to Objection: 1. All the passions of the soul should be regulated according to the rule of reason, which is the root of the virtuous good; but excessive sorrow, of which Augustine is speaking, oversteps this rule, and therefore it fails to be a virtuous good.
2. Just as sorrow for an evil arises from a right will and reason, which detest the evil, so sorrow for a good is due to a perverse reason and will, which detest the good. Consequently such sorrow is an obstacle to the praise and merit of the virtuous good; for instance, when a man gives an alms sorrowfully.
3. Some things do actually happen, not because God wills, but because He permits them to happen---such as sins. Consequently a will that is opposed to sin, whether in oneself or in another, is not discordant from the Divine will. Penal evils happen actually, even by God's will. But it is not necessary for the rectitude of his will, that man should will them in themselves: but only that he should not revolt against the order of Divine justice, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Objection: 1. It would seem that sorrow cannot be a useful good. For it is written (Si 30,25): "Sadness hath killed many, and there is no profit in it."
2. Further, choice is of that which is useful to an end. But sorrow is not an object of choice; in fact, "a thing without sorrow is to be chosen rather than the same thing with sorrow" (Topic. iii, 2). Therefore sorrow is not a useful good.
3. Further, "Everything is for the sake of its own operation," as stated in De Coel. ii, 3. But "sorrow hinders operation," as stated in Ethic. x, 5. Therefore sorrow is not a useful good.
On the contrary The wise man seeks only that which is useful. But according to Qo 7,5, "the heart of the wise is where there is mourning, and the heart of fools where there is mirth." Therefore sorrow is useful.
I answer that A twofold movement of the appetite ensues from a present evil. One is that whereby the appetite is opposed to the present evil; and, in this respect, sorrow is of no use; because that which is present, cannot be not present. The other movement arises in the appetite to the effect of avoiding or expelling the saddening evil: and, in this respect, sorrow is of use, if it be for something which ought to be avoided. Because there are two reasons for which it may be right to avoid a thing. First, because it should be avoided in itself, on account of its being contrary to good; for instance, sin. Wherefore sorrow for sin is useful as inducing a man to avoid sin: hence the Apostle says (2Co 7,9): "I am glad: not because you were made sorrowful, but because you were made sorrowful unto penance." Secondly, a thing is to be avoided, not as though it were evil in itself, but because it is an occasion of evil; either through one's being attached to it, and loving it too much, or through one's being thrown headlong thereby into an evil, as is evident in the case of temporal goods. And, in this respect, sorrow for temporal goods may be useful; according to Qo 7,3: "It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting: for in that we are put in mind of the end of all."Moreover, sorrow for that which ought to be avoided is always useful, since it adds another motive for avoiding it. Because the very evil is in itself a thing to be avoided: while everyone avoids sorrow for its own sake, just as everyone seeks the good, and pleasure in the good. Therefore just as pleasure in the good makes one seek the good more earnestly, so sorrow for evil makes one avoid evil more eagerly.
Reply to Objection: 1. This passage is to be taken as referring to excessive sorrow, which consumes the soul: for such sorrow paralyzes the soul, and hinders it from shunning evil, as stated above (Question , Article ).
2. Just as any object of choice becomes less eligible by reason of sorrow, so that which ought to be shunned is still more to be shunned by reason of sorrow: and, in this respect, sorrow is useful.
3. Sorrow caused by an action hinders that action: but sorrow for the cessation of an action, makes one do it more earnestly.
Summa Th. I-II EN Qu.37 a.2