QUESTION 127: OF DARING
We must now consider daring; and under this head there are two points of
(1) Whether daring is a sin?
(2) Whether it is opposed to fortitude?
Article 1: Whether daring is a sin?
Objection 1: It seems that daring is not a sin. For it is written (Job 39:21)
concerning the horse, by which according to Gregory (Moral. xxxi) the
godly preacher is denoted, that "he goeth forth boldly to meet armed men
[*Vulg.: 'he pranceth boldly, he goeth forth to meet armed men']." But no
vice redounds to a man's praise. Therefore it is not a sin to be daring.
Objection 2: Further, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 9), "one should
take counsel in thought, and do quickly what has been counseled." But
daring helps this quickness in doing. Therefore daring is not sinful but
Objection 3: Further, daring is a passion caused by hope, as stated above (FS,
Question , Article ) when we were treating of the passions. But hope is accounted
not a sin but a virtue. Neither therefore should daring be accounted a
On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 8:18): "Go not on the way with a
bold man, lest he burden thee with his evils." Now no man's fellowship is
to be avoided save on account of sin. Therefore daring is a sin.
I answer that, Daring, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ; Question ), is a
passion. Now a passion is sometimes moderated according to reason, and
sometimes it lacks moderation, either by excess or by deficiency, and on
this account the passion is sinful. Again, the names of the passions are
sometimes employed in the sense of excess, thus we speak of anger meaning
not any but excessive anger, in which case it is sinful, and in the same
way daring as implying excess is accounted a sin.
Reply to Objection 1: The daring spoken of there is that which is moderated by
reason, for in that sense it belongs to the virtue of fortitude.
Reply to Objection 2: It is praiseworthy to act quickly after taking counsel,
which is an act of reason. But to wish to act quickly before taking
counsel is not praiseworthy but sinful; for this would be to act rashly,
which is a vice contrary to prudence, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Wherefore daring which leads one to act quickly is so far praiseworthy as
it is directed by reason.
Reply to Objection 3: Some vices are unnamed, and so also are some virtues, as
the Philosopher remarks (Ethic. ii, 7; iv, 4,5,6). Hence the names of
certain passions have to be applied to certain vices and virtues: and in
order to designate vices we employ especially the names of those passions
the object of which is an evil, as in the case of hatred, fear, anger and
daring. But hope and love have a good for this object, and so we use them
rather to designate virtues.
Article 2: Whether daring is opposed to fortitude?
Objection 1: It seems that daring is not opposed to fortitude. For excess of
daring seems to result from presumption of mind. But presumption pertains
to pride which is opposed to humility. Therefore daring is opposed to
humility rather than to fortitude.
Objection 2: Further, daring does not seem to call for blame, except in so far
as it results in harm either to the daring person who puts himself in
danger inordinately, or to others whom he attacks with daring, or exposes
to danger. But this seemingly pertains to injustice. Therefore daring, as
designating a sin, is opposed, not to fortitude but to justice.
Objection 3: Further, fortitude is concerned about fear and daring, as stated
above (Question , Article ). Now since timidity is opposed to fortitude in
respect of an excess of fear, there is another vice opposed to timidity
in respect of a lack of fear. If then, daring is opposed to fortitude, in
the point of excessive daring, there will likewise be a vice opposed to
it in the point of deficient daring. But there is no such vice. Therefore
neither should daring be accounted a vice in opposition to fortitude.
On the contrary, The Philosopher in both the Second and Third Books of
Ethics accounts daring to be opposed to fortitude.
I answer that, As stated above (Question , Article ), it belongs to a moral
virtue to observe the rational mean in the matter about which it is
concerned. Wherefore every vice that denotes lack of moderation in the
matter of a moral virtue is opposed to that virtue, as immoderate to
moderate. Now daring, in so far as it denotes a vice, implies excess of
passion, and this excess goes by the name of daring. Wherefore it is
evident that it is opposed to the virtue of fortitude which is concerned
about fear and daring, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection 1: Opposition between vice and virtue does not depend chiefly
on the cause of the vice but on the vice's very species. Wherefore it is
not necessary that daring be opposed to the same virtue as presumption
which is its cause.
Reply to Objection 2: Just as the direct opposition of a vice does not depend on
its cause, so neither does it depend on its effect. Now the harm done by
daring is its effect. Wherefore neither does the opposition of daring
depend on this.
Reply to Objection 3: The movement of daring consists in a man taking the
offensive against that which is in opposition to him: and nature inclines
him to do this except in so far as such inclination is hindered by the
fear of receiving harm from that source. Hence the vice which exceeds in
daring has no contrary deficiency, save only timidity. Yet daring does
not always accompany so great a lack of timidity, for as the Philosopher
says (Ethic. iii, 7), "the daring are precipitate and eager to meet
danger, yet fail when the danger is present," namely through fear.