Authors/Thomas Aquinas/Summa Theologiae/Part IIb/Q113

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Q112 Q114



Latin English
IIª-IIae q. 113 pr. Deinde considerandum est de ironia. Circa quam quaeruntur duo. Primo, utrum ironia sit peccatum. Secundo, de comparatione eius ad iactantiam. Question 113. Irony 1. Is irony a sin? 2. Its comparison with boasting
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 1 arg. 1 Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod ironia, per quam aliquis minora de se fingit, non sit peccatum. Nullum enim peccatum procedit ex divina confortatione. Ex qua procedit quod aliquis de se minora dicat, secundum illud Prov. XXX, visio quam locutus est vir cum quo est Deus, et qui, Deo secum morante confortatus, ait, stultissimus sum virorum. Et Amos VII dicitur, respondit Amos, non sum propheta. Ergo ironia, per quam aliquis minora de se dicit, non est peccatum. Objection 1. It seems that irony, which consists in belittling oneself, is not a sin. For no sin arises from one's being strengthened by God: and yet this leads one to belittle oneself, according to Proverbs 30:1-2: "The vision which the man spoke, with whom is God, and who being strengthened by God, abiding with him, said, I am the most foolish of men." Also it is written (Amos 7:14): "Amos answered . . . I am not a prophet." Therefore irony, whereby a man belittles himself in words, is not a sin.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 1 arg. 2 Praeterea, Gregorius dicit, in epistola ad Augustinum Anglorum episcopum, bonarum mentium est ibi suas culpas agnoscere ubi culpa non est. Sed omne peccatum repugnat bonitati mentis. Ergo ironia non est peccatum. Objection 2. Further, Gregory says in a letter to Augustine, bishop of the English (Regist. xii): "It is the mark of a well-disposed mind to acknowledge one's fault when one is not guilty." But all sin is inconsistent with a well-disposed mind. Therefore irony is not a sin.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 1 arg. 3 Praeterea, fugere superbiam non est peccatum. Sed aliqui minora de seipsis dicunt fugientes tumidum, ut philosophus dicit, IV Ethic. Ergo ironia non est peccatum. Objection 3. Further, it is not a sin to shun pride. But "some belittle themselves in words, so as to avoid pride," according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 7). Therefore irony is not a sin.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 1 s. c. Sed contra est quod Augustinus dicit, in libro de verbis Apost., cum humilitatis causa mentiris, si non eras peccator antequam mentireris, mentiendo efficeris. On the contrary, Augustine says (De Verb. Apost., Serm. xxix): "If thou liest on account of humility, if thou wert not a sinner before lying, thou hast become one by lying."
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 1 co. Respondeo dicendum quod hoc quod aliqui minora de se dicant, potest contingere dupliciter. Uno modo, salva veritate, dum scilicet maiora quae sunt in seipsis, reticent; quaedam vero minora detegunt et de se proferunt, quae tamen in se esse recognoscunt. Et sic minora de se dicere non pertinet ad ironiam, nec est peccatum secundum genus suum, nisi per alicuius circumstantiae corruptionem. Alio modo aliquis dicit minora a veritate declinans, puta cum asserit de se aliquid vile quod in se non recognoscit; aut cum negat de se aliquid magnum quod tamen percipit in seipso esse. Et sic pertinet ad ironiam, et est semper peccatum. I answer that, To speak so as to belittle oneself may occur in two ways. First so as to safeguard truth, as when a man conceals the greater things in himself, but discovers and asserts lesser things of himself the presence of which in himself he perceives. To belittle oneself in this way does not belong to irony, nor is it a sin in respect of its genus, except through corruption of one of its circumstances. Secondly, a person belittles himself by forsaking the truth, for instance by ascribing to himself something mean the existence of which in himself he does not perceive, or by denying something great of himself, which nevertheless he perceives himself to possess: this pertains to irony, and is always a sin.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 1 ad 1 Ad primum ergo dicendum quod duplex est sapientia, et duplex stultitia. Est enim quaedam sapientia secundum Deum, quae humanam vel mundanam stultitiam habet adiunctam, secundum illud I ad Cor. III, si quis inter vos sapiens videtur esse in hoc saeculo, stultus fiat, ut sit sapiens. Alia vero est sapientia mundana, quae, ut ibidem subditur. Stultitia est apud Deum. Ille ergo qui a Deo confortatur. Confitetur se esse stultissimum secundum reputationem humanam, quia scilicet mundana contemnit, quae hominum sapientia quaerit. Unde et ibidem subditur, et sapientia hominum non est mecum, et postea subdit, et novi sanctorum scientiam. Vel potest dici sapientia hominum esse quae humana ratione acquiritur, sapientia vero sanctorum quae ex divina inspiratione habetur. Amos autem negavit se esse prophetam origine, quia scilicet non erat de genere prophetarum. Unde et ibidem subdit, nec filius prophetae. Reply to Objection 1. There is a twofold wisdom and a twofold folly. For there is a wisdom according to God, which has human or worldly folly annexed to it, according to 1 Corinthians 3:18, "If any man among you seem to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise." But there is another wisdom that is worldly, which as the same text goes on to say, "is foolishness with God." Accordingly, he that is strengthened by God acknowledges himself to be most foolish in the estimation of men, because, to wit, he despises human things, which human wisdom seeks. Hence the text quoted continues, "and the wisdom of men is not with me," and farther on, "and I have known the science of the saints" [Vulgate: 'and I have not known the science of the saints']. It may also be replied that "the wisdom of men" is that which is acquired by human reason, while the "wisdom of the saints" is that which is received by divine inspiration. Amos denied that he was a prophet by birth, since, to wit, he was not of the race of prophets: hence the text goes on, "nor am I the son of a prophet."
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 1 ad 2 Ad secundum dicendum quod ad bonitatem mentis pertinet ut homo ad iustitiae perfectionem tendat. Et ideo in culpam reputat non solum si deficiat a communi iustitia, quod vere culpa est, sed etiam si deficiat a iustitiae perfectione, quod quandoque culpa non est. Non autem culpam dicit quod pro culpa non recognoscit, quod ad ironiae mendacium pertineret. Reply to Objection 2. It belongs to a well-disposed mind that a man tend to perfect righteousness, and consequently deem himself guilty, not only if he fall short of common righteousness, which is truly a sin, but also if he fall short of perfect righteousness, which sometimes is not a sin. But he does not call sinful that which he does not acknowledge to be sinful: which would be a lie of irony.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 1 ad 3 Ad tertium dicendum quod homo non debet unum peccatum facere ut aliud vitet. Et ideo non debet mentiri qualitercumque ut vitet superbiam. Unde Augustinus dicit, super Ioan., non ita caveatur arrogantia ut veritas relinquatur. Et Gregorius dicit quod incaute sunt humiles qui se mentiendo illaqueant. Reply to Objection 3. A man should not commit one sin in order to avoid another: and so he ought not to lie in any way at all in order to avoid pride. Hence Augustine says (Tract. xliii in Joan.): "Shun not arrogance so as to forsake truth": and Gregory says (Moral. xxvi, 3) that "it is a reckless humility that entangles itself with lies."
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 2 arg. 1 Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod ironia non sit minus peccatum quam iactantia. Utrumque enim est peccatum inquantum declinat a veritate, quae est aequalitas quaedam. Sed ab aequalitate non magis declinat qui excedit quam qui diminuit. Ergo ironia non est minus peccatum quam iactantia. Objection 1. It seems that irony is not a less grievous sin than boasting. For each of them is a sin through forsaking truth, which is a kind of equality. But one does not forsake truth by exceeding it any more than by diminishing it. Therefore irony is not a less grievous sin than boasting.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 2 arg. 2 Praeterea, secundum philosophum, ironia quandoque iactantia est. Iactantia autem non est ironia. Ergo ironia est gravius peccatum quam iactantia. Objection 2. Further, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 7), irony sometimes is boasting. But boasting is not irony. Therefore irony is not a less grievous sin than boasting.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 2 arg. 3 Praeterea, Prov. XXVI dicitur, quando submiserit vocem suam, ne credideris ei, quoniam septem nequitiae sunt in corde illius. Sed submittere vocem pertinet ad ironiam. Ergo in ea est multiplex nequitia. Objection 3. Further, it is written (Proverbs 26:25): "When he shall speak low, trust him not: because there are seven mischiefs in his heart." Now it belongs to irony to speak low. Therefore it contains a manifold wickedness.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 2 s. c. Sed contra est quod philosophus dicit, in IV Ethic., quod irones et minus dicentes gratiores secundum mores videntur. On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 7): "Those who speak with irony and belittle themselves are more gracious, seemingly, in their manners."
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 2 co. Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, unum mendacium est gravius altero, quandoque quidem ex materia de qua est, sicut mendacium quod fit in doctrina religionis est gravissimum, quandoque autem ex motivo ad peccandum, sicut mendacium perniciosum est gravius quam officiosum vel iocosum. Ironia autem et iactantia circa idem mentiuntur, vel verbis vel quibuscumque exterioribus signis, scilicet circa conditionem personae. Unde quantum ad hoc aequalia sunt. Sed ut plurimum iactantia ex turpiori motivo procedit, scilicet ex appetitu lucri vel honoris, ironia vero ex hoc quod fugit, licet inordinate, per elationem aliis gravis esse. Et secundum hoc philosophus dicit quod iactantia est gravius peccatum quam ironia. Contingit tamen quandoque quod aliquis minora de se fingit ex aliquo alio motivo, puta ad dolose decipiendum. Et tunc ironia est gravior. I answer that, As stated above (110, 2,4), one lie is more grievous than another, sometimes on account of the matter which it is about--thus a lie about a matter of religious doctrine is most grievous--and sometimes on account of the motive for sinning; thus a mischievous lie is more grievous than an officious or jocose lie. Now irony and boasting lie about the same matter, either by words, or by any other outward signs, namely, about matters affecting the person: so that in this respect they are equal. But for the most part boasting proceeds from a viler motive, namely, the desire of gain or honor: whereas irony arises from a man's averseness, albeit inordinate, to be disagreeable to others by uplifting himself: and in this respect the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 7) that "boasting is a more grievous sin than irony." Sometimes, however, it happens that a man belittles himself for some other motive, for instance that he may deceive cunningly: and then irony is more grievous.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 2 ad 1 Ad primum ergo dicendum quod ratio illa procedit de ironia et iactantia secundum quod mendacii gravitas consideratur ex seipso, vel ex materia eius. Sic enim dictum est quod aequalitatem habent. Reply to Objection 1. This argument applies to irony and boasting, according as a lie is considered to be grievous in itself or on account of its matter: for it has been said that in this way they are equal.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 2 ad 2 Ad secundum dicendum quod duplex est excellentia, una quidem in temporalibus rebus; alia vero in spiritualibus. Contingit autem quandoque quod aliquis per exteriora signa vel per verba praetendit quidem defectum in exterioribus rebus, puta per aliquam vestem abiectam aut per aliquid huiusmodi, et per hoc ipsum intendit ostentare aliquam excellentiam spiritualem, sicut dominus de quibusdam dicit, Matth. VI, quod exterminant facies suas ut appareant hominibus ieiunantes. Unde isti simul incurrunt vitium ironiae et iactantiae (tamen secundum diversa), et propter hoc gravius peccant. Unde et philosophus dicit, in IV Ethic., quod et superabundantia et valde defectus iactantium est. Propter quod et de Augustino legitur quod neque vestes nimis pretiosas, neque nimis abiectas habere volebat, quia in utroque homines suam gloriam quaerunt. Reply to Objection 2. Excellence is twofold: one is in temporal, the other in spiritual things. Now it happens at times that a person, by outward words or signs, pretends to be lacking in external things, for instance by wearing shabby clothes, or by doing something of the kind, and that he intends by so doing to make a show of some spiritual excellence. Thus our Lord said of certain men (Matthew 6:16) that "they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast." Wherefore such persons are guilty of both vices, irony and boasting, although in different respects, and for this reason they sin more grievously. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 7) that it is "the practice of boasters both to make overmuch of themselves, and to make very little of themselves": and for the same reason it is related of Augustine that he was unwilling to possess clothes that were either too costly or too shabby, because by both do men seek glory.
IIª-IIae q. 113 a. 2 ad 3 Ad tertium dicendum quod, sicut dicitur Eccli. XIX, est qui nequiter se humiliat, et interiora eius plena sunt dolo. Et secundum hoc, Salomon loquitur de eo qui ex dolosa humilitate vocem suam submittit. Reply to Objection 3. According to the words of Sirach 19:23, "There is one that humbleth himself wickedly, and his interior is full of deceit," and it is in this sense that Solomon speaks of the man who, through deceitful humility, "speaks low" wickedly.

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