QUESTION 162: OF PRIDE
We must next consider pride, and (1) pride in general; (2) the first
man's sin, which we hold to have been pride. Under the first head there
are eight points of inquiry:
(1) Whether pride is a sin?
(2) Whether it is a special vice?
(3) Wherein does it reside as in its subject?
(4) Of its species;
(5) Whether it is a mortal sin?
(6) Whether it is the most grievous of all sins?
(7) Of its relation to other sins;
(8) Whether it should be reckoned a capital vice?
Article 1: Whether pride is a sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that pride is not a sin. For no sin is the object
of God's promise. For God's promises refer to what He will do; and He is
not the author of sin. Now pride is numbered among the Divine promises:
for it is written (Is. 60:15): "I will make thee to be an everlasting
pride [Douay: 'glory'], a joy unto generation and generation." Therefore
pride is not a sin.
Objection 2: Further, it is not a sin to wish to be like unto God: for every
creature has a natural desire for this; and especially does this become
the rational creature which is made to God's image and likeness. Now it
is said in Prosper's Lib. Sent. 294, that "pride is love of one's own
excellence, whereby one is likened to God who is supremely excellent."
Hence Augustine says (Confess. ii, 6): "Pride imitates exaltedness;
whereas Thou alone art God exalted over all." Therefore pride is not a
Objection 3: Further, a sin is opposed not only to a virtue but also to a
contrary vice, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. ii, 8). But no vice is
found to be opposed to pride. Therefore pride is not a sin.
On the contrary, It is written (Tobias 4:14): "Never suffer pride to
reign in thy mind or in thy words."
I answer that, Pride [superbia] is so called because a man thereby aims
higher [supra] than he is; wherefore Isidore says (Etym. x): "A man is
said to be proud, because he wishes to appear above (super) what he
really is"; for he who wishes to overstep beyond what he is, is proud.
Now right reason requires that every man's will should tend to that which
is proportionate to him. Therefore it is evident that pride denotes
something opposed to right reason, and this shows it to have the
character of sin, because according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv, 4), "the
soul's evil is to be opposed to reason." Therefore it is evident that
pride is a sin.
Reply to Objection 1: Pride [superbia] may be understood in two ways. First, as
overpassing [supergreditur] the rule of reason, and in this sense we say
that it is a sin. Secondly, it may simply denominate "super-abundance";
in which sense any super-abundant thing may be called pride: and it is
thus that God promises pride as significant of super-abundant good. Hence
a gloss of Jerome on the same passage (Is. 61:6) says that "there is a
good and an evil pride"; or "a sinful pride which God resists, and a
pride that denotes the glory which He bestows."
It may also be replied that pride there signifies abundance of those
things in which men may take pride.
Reply to Objection 2: Reason has the direction of those things for which man has
a natural appetite; so that if the appetite wander from the rule of
reason, whether by excess or by default, it will be sinful, as is the
case with the appetite for food which man desires naturally. Now pride is
the appetite for excellence in excess of right reason. Wherefore
Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 13) that pride is the "desire for
inordinate exaltation": and hence it is that, as he asserts (De Civ. Dei
xiv, 13; xix, 12), "pride imitates God inordinately: for it hath equality
of fellowship under Him, and wishes to usurp Hi. dominion over our
Reply to Objection 3: Pride is directly opposed to the virtue of humility, which,
in a way, is concerned about the same matter as magnanimity, as stated
above (Question , Article , ad 3). Hence the vice opposed to pride by default is
akin to the vice of pusillanimity, which is opposed by default to
magnanimity. For just as it belongs to magnanimity to urge the mind to
great things against despair, so it belongs to humility to withdraw the
mind from the inordinate desire of great things against presumption. Now
pusillanimity, if we take it for a deficiency in pursuing great things,
is properly opposed to magnanimity by default; but if we take it for the
mind's attachment to things beneath what is becoming to a man, it is
opposed to humility by default; since each proceeds from a smallness of
mind. In the same way, on the other hand, pride may be opposed by excess,
both to magnanimity and humility, from different points of view: to
humility, inasmuch as it scorns subjection, to magnanimity, inasmuch as
it tends to great things inordinately. Since, however, pride implies a
certain elation, it is more directly opposed to humility, even as
pusillanimity, which denotes littleness of soul in tending towards great
things, is more directly opposed to magnanimity.
Article 2: Whether pride is a special sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that pride is not a special sin. For Augustine says
(De Nat. et Grat. xxix) that "you will find no sin that is not labelled
pride"; and Prosper says (De Vita Contempl. iii, 2) that "without pride
no sin is, or was, or ever will be possible." Therefore pride is a
Objection 2: Further, a gloss on Job 33:17, "That He may withdraw man from
wickedness [*Vulg.: 'From the things that he is doing, and may deliver
him from pride']," says that "a man prides himself when he transgresses
His commandments by sin." Now according to Ambrose [*De Parad. viii],
"every sin is a transgression of the Divine law, and a disobedience of
the heavenly commandments." Therefore every sin is pride.
Objection 3: Further, every special sin is opposed to a special virtue. But
pride is opposed to all the virtues, for Gregory says (Moral. xxxiv, 23):
"Pride is by no means content with the destruction of one virtue; it
raises itself up against all the powers of the soul, and like an
all-pervading and poisonous disease corrupts the whole body"; and Isidore
says (Etym. [*De Summo Bono ii, 38]) that it is "the downfall of all
virtues." Therefore pride is not a special sin.
Objection 4: Further, every special sin has a special matter. Now pride has a
general matter, for Gregory says (Moral. xxxiv, 23) that "one man is
proud of his gold, another of his eloquence: one is elated by mean and
earthly things, another by sublime and heavenly virtues." Therefore pride
is not a special but a general sin.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Nat. et Grat. xxix): "If he look
into the question carefully, he will find that, according to God's law,
pride is a very different sin from other vices." Now the genus is not
different from its species. Therefore pride is not a general but a
I answer that, The sin of pride may be considered in two ways. First
with regard to its proper species, which it has under the aspect of its
proper object. In this way pride is a special sin, because it has a
special object: for it is inordinate desire of one's own excellence, as
stated (Article , ad 2). Secondly, it may be considered as having a certain
influence towards other sins. In this way it has somewhat of a generic
character, inasmuch as all sins may arise from pride, in two ways. First
directly, through other sins being directed to the end of pride which is
one's own excellence, to which may be directed anything that is
inordinately desired. Secondly, indirectly and accidentally as it were,
that is by removing an obstacle, since pride makes a man despise the
Divine law which hinders him from sinning, according to Jer. 2:20, "Thou
hast broken My yoke, thou hast burst My bands, and thou saidst: I will
It must, however, be observed that this generic character of pride
admits of the possibility of all vices arising from pride sometimes, but
it does not imply that all vices originate from pride always. For though
one may break the commandments of the Law by any kind of sin, through
contempt which pertains to pride, yet one does not always break the
Divine commandments through contempt, but sometimes through ignorance.
and sometimes through weakness: and for this reason Augustine says (De
Nat. et Grat. xxix) that "many things are done amiss which are not done
Reply to Objection 1: These words are introduced by Augustine into his book De
Nat. et Grat., not as being his own, but as those of someone with whom he
is arguing. Hence he subsequently disproves the assertion, and shows that
not all sins are committed through pride. We might, however, reply that
these authorities must be understood as referring to the outward effect
of pride, namely the breaking of the commandments, which applies to every
sin, and not to the inward act of pride, namely contempt of the
commandment. For sin is committed, not always through contempt, but
sometimes through ignorance, sometimes through weakness, as stated above.
Reply to Objection 2: A man may sometimes commit a sin effectively, but not
affectively; thus he who, in ignorance, slays his father, is a parricide
effectively, but not affectively, since he did not intend it. Accordingly
he who breaks God's commandment is said to pride himself against God,
effectively always, but not always affectively.
Reply to Objection 3: A sin may destroy a virtue in two ways. In one way by
direct contrariety to a virtue, and thus pride does not corrupt every
virtue, but only humility; even as every special sin destroys the special
virtue opposed to it, by acting counter thereto. In another way a sin
destroys a virtue, by making ill use of that virtue: and thus pride
destroys every virtue, in so far as it finds an occasion of pride in
every virtue, just as in everything else pertaining to excellence. Hence
it does not follow that it is a general sin.
Reply to Objection 4: Pride regards a special aspect in its object, which aspect
may be found in various matters: for it is inordinate love of one's
excellence, and excellence may be found in various things.
Article 3: Whether the subject of pride is the irascible faculty?
Objection 1: It would seem that the subject of pride is not the irascible
faculty. For Gregory says (Moral. xxiii, 17): "A swollen mind is an
obstacle to truth, for the swelling shuts out the light." Now the
knowledge of truth pertains, not to the irascible but to the rational
faculty. Therefore pride is not in the irascible.
Objection 2: Further, Gregory says (Moral. xxiv, 8) that "the proud observe
other people's conduct not so as to set themselves beneath them with
humility, but so as to set themselves above them with pride": wherefore
it would seem that pride originates in undue observation. Now observation
pertains not to the irascible but to the rational faculty.
Objection 3: Further. pride seeks pre-eminence not only in sensible things,
but also in spiritual and intelligible things: while it consists
essentially in the contempt of God, according to Ecclus. 10:14, "The
beginning of the pride of man is to fall off from God." Now the
irascible, since it is a part of the sensitive appetite, cannot extend to
God and things intelligible. Therefore pride cannot be in the irascible.
Objection 4: Further, as stated in Prosper's Liber Sententiarum, sent. 294,
"Pride is love of one's own excellence." But love is not in the
irascible, but in the concupiscible. Therefore pride is not in the
On the contrary, Gregory (Moral. ii, 49) opposes pride to the gift of
fear. Now fear belongs to the irascible. Therefore pride is in the
I answer that, The subject of any virtue or vice is to be ascertained
from its proper object: for the object of a habit or act cannot be other
than the object of the power, which is the subject of both. Now the
proper object of pride is something difficult, for pride is the desire of
one's own excellence, as stated above (Articles ,2). Wherefore pride must
needs pertain in some way to the irascible faculty. Now the irascible may
be taken in two ways. First in a strict sense, and thus it is a part of
the sensitive appetite, even as anger, strictly speaking, is a passion of
the sensitive appetite. Secondly, the irascible may be taken in a broader
sense, so as to belong also to the intellective appetite, to which also
anger is sometimes ascribed. It is thus that we attribute anger to God
and the angels, not as a passion, but as denoting the sentence of justice
pronouncing judgment. Nevertheless the irascible understood in this broad
sense is not distinct from the concupiscible power, as stated above in
the FP, Question , Article ; FS, Question , Article , ad 1 and 2.
Consequently if the difficult thing which is the object of pride, were
merely some sensible object, whereto the sensitive appetite might tend,
pride would have to be in the irascible which is part of the sensitive
appetite. But since the difficult thing which pride has in view is common
both to sensible and to spiritual things, we must needs say that the
subject of pride is the irascible not only strictly so called, as a part
of the sensitive appetite, but also in its wider acceptation, as
applicable to the intellective appetite. Wherefore pride is ascribed also
to the demons.
Reply to Objection 1: Knowledge of truth is twofold. One is purely speculative,
and pride hinders this indirectly by removing its cause. For the proud
man subjects not his intellect to God, that he may receive the knowledge
of truth from Him, according to Mt. 11:25, "Thou hast hid these things
from the wise and the prudent," i.e. from the proud, who are wise and
prudent in their own eyes, "and hast revealed them to little ones," i.e.
to the humble.
Nor does he deign to learn anything from man, whereas it is written (Ecclus. 6:34): "If thou wilt incline thy ear, thou shalt receive instruction." The other knowledge of truth is affective, and this is directly hindered by pride, because the proud, through delighting in their own excellence, disdain the excellence of truth; thus Gregory says (Moral. xxiii, 17) that "the proud, although certain hidden truths be conveyed to their understanding, cannot realize their sweetness: and if they know of them they cannot relish them." Hence it is written (Prov. 11:2): "Where humility is there also is wisdom."
Reply to Objection 2: As stated above (Question , Articles , 6), humility observes the
rule of right reason whereby a man has true self-esteem. Now pride does
not observe this rule of right reason, for he esteems himself greater
than he is: and this is the outcome of an inordinate desire for his own
excellence, since a man is ready to believe what he desires very much,
the result being that his appetite is borne towards things higher than
what become him. Consequently whatsoever things lead a man to inordinate
self-esteem lead him to pride: and one of those is the observing of other
people's failings, just as, on the other hand, in the words of Gregory
(Moral. xxiii, 17), "holy men, by a like observation of other people's
virtues, set others above themselves." Accordingly the conclusion is not
that pride is in the rational faculty, but that one of its causes is in
Reply to Objection 3: Pride is in the irascible, not only as a part of the
sensitive appetite, but also as having a more general signification, as
Reply to Objection 4: According to Augustine (De Civ. Dei xiv, 7,9), "love
precedes all other emotions of the soul, and is their cause," wherefore
it may be employed to denote any of the other emotions. It is in this
sense that pride is said to be "love of one's own excellence," inasmuch
as love makes a man presume inordinately on his superiority over others,
and this belongs properly to pride.
Article 4: Whether the four species of pride are fittingly assigned by Gregory?
Objection 1: It seems that the four species of pride are unfittingly assigned
by Gregory, who says (Moral. xxiii, 6): "There are four marks by which
every kind of pride of the arrogant betrays itself; either when they
think that their good is from themselves, or if they believe it to be
from above, yet they think that it is due to their own merits; or when
they boast of having what they have not, or despise others and wish to
appear the exclusive possessors of what they have." For pride is a vice
distinct from unbelief, just as humility is a distinct virtue from faith.
Now it pertains to unbelief, if a man deem that he has not received his
good from God, or that he has the good of grace through his own merits.
Therefore this should not be reckoned a species of pride.
Objection 2: Further, the same thing should not be reckoned a species of
different genera. Now boasting is reckoned a species of lying, as stated
above (Question , Article ; Question ). Therefore it should not be accounted a
species of pride.
Objection 3: Further, some other things apparently pertain to pride, which are
not mentioned here. For Jerome [*Reference unknown] says that "nothing is
so indicative of pride as to show oneself ungrateful": and Augustine says
(De Civ. Dei xiv, 14) that "it belongs to pride to excuse oneself of a
sin one has committed." Again, presumption whereby one aims at having
what is above one, would seem to have much to do with pride. Therefore
the aforesaid division does not sufficiently account for the different
species of pride.
Objection 4: Further, we find other divisions of pride. For Anselm [*Eadmer,
De Similit. xxii, seqq.] divides the uplifting of pride, saying that
there is "pride of will, pride of speech, end pride of deed." Bernard
[*De Grad. Humil. et Superb. x, seqq.] also reckons twelve degrees of
pride, namely "curiosity, frivolity of mind, senseless mirth, boasting,
singularity, arrogance, presumption, defense of one's sins, deceitful
confession, rebelliousness, license, sinful habit." Now these apparently
are not comprised under the species mentioned by Gregory. Therefore the
latter would seem to be assigned unfittingly.
On the contrary, The authority of Gregory suffices.
I answer that, As stated above (Articles ,2,3), pride denotes immoderate
desire of one's own excellence, a desire, to wit, that is not in accord
with right reason. Now it must be observed that all excellence results
from a good possessed. Such a good may be considered in three ways.
First, in itself. For it is evident that the greater the good that one
has, the greater the excellence that one derives from it. Hence when a
man ascribes to himself a good greater than what he has, it follows that
his appetite tends to his own excellence in a measure exceeding his
competency: and thus we have the third species of pride, namely "boasting
of having what one has not."
Secondly, it may be considered with regard to its cause, in so far as to
have a thing of oneself is more excellent than to have it of another.
Hence when a man esteems the good he has received of another as though he
had it of himself, the result is that his appetite is borne towards his
own excellence immoderately. Now one is cause of one's own good in two
ways, efficiently and meritoriously: and thus we have the first two
species of pride, namely "when a man thinks he has from himself that
which he has from God," or "when he believes that which he has received
from above to be due to his own merits."
Thirdly, it may be considered with regard to the manner of having it, in
so far as a man obtains greater excellence through possessing some good
more excellently than other men; the result again being that his appetite
is borne inordinately towards his own excellence: and thus we have the
fourth species of pride, which is "when a man despises others and wishes
to be singularly conspicuous."
Reply to Objection 1: A true judgment may be destroyed in two ways. First,
universally: and thus in matters of faith, a true judgment is destroyed
by unbelief. Secondly, in some particular matter of choice, and unbelief
does not do this. Thus a man who commits fornication, judges that for the
time being it is good for him to commit fornication; yet he is not an
unbeliever, as he would be, were he to say that universally fornication
is good. It is thus in the question in point: for it pertains to unbelief
to assert universally that there is a good which is not from God, or that
grace is given to men for their merits, whereas, properly speaking, it
belongs to pride and not to unbelief, through inordinate desire of one's
own excellence, to boast of one's goods as though one had them of
oneself, or of one's own merits.
Reply to Objection 2: Boasting is reckoned a species of lying, as regards the
outward act whereby a man falsely ascribes to himself what he has not:
but as regards the inward arrogance of the heart it is reckoned by
Gregory to be a species of pride.
Reply to Objection 3: The ungrateful man ascribes to himself what he has from
another: wherefore the first two species of pride pertain to ingratitude.
To excuse oneself of a sin one has committed, belongs to the third
species, since by so doing a man ascribes to himself the good of
innocence which he has not. To aim presumptuously at what is above one,
would seem to belong chiefly to the fourth species, which consists in
wishing to be preferred to others.
Reply to Objection 4: The three mentioned by Anselm correspond to the progress of
any particular sin: for it begins by being conceived in thought, then is
uttered in word, and thirdly is accomplished in deed.
The twelve degrees mentioned by Bernard are reckoned by way of
opposition to the twelve degrees of humility, of which we have spoken
above (Question , Article ). For the first degree of humility is to "be humble
in heart, and to show it in one's very person, one's eyes fixed on the
ground": and to this is opposed "curiosity," which consists in looking
around in all directions curiously and inordinately. The second degree of
humility is "to speak few and sensible words, and not to be loud of
voice": to this is opposed "frivolity of mind," by which a man is proud
of speech. The third degree of humility is "not to be easily moved and
disposed to laughter," to which is opposed "senseless mirth." The fourth
degree of humility is "to maintain silence until one is asked," to which
is opposed "boasting". The fifth degree of humility is "to do nothing but
to what one is exhorted by the common rule of the monastery," to which is
opposed "singularity," whereby a man wishes to seem more holy than
others. The sixth degree of humility is "to believe and acknowledge
oneself viler than all," to which is opposed "arrogance," whereby a man
sets himself above others. The seventh degree of humility is "to think
oneself worthless and unprofitable for all purposes," to which is opposed
"presumption," whereby a man thinks himself capable of things that are
above him. The eighth degree of humility is "to confess one's sins," to
which is opposed "defense of one's sins." The ninth degree is "to embrace
patience by obeying under difficult and contrary circumstances," to which
is opposed "deceitful confession," whereby a man being unwilling to be
punished for his sins confesses them deceitfully. The tenth degree of
humility is "obedience," to which is opposed "rebelliousness." The
eleventh degree of humility is "not to delight in fulfilling one's own
desires"; to this is opposed "license," whereby a man delights in doing
freely whatever he will. The last degree of humility is "fear of God": to
this is opposed "the habit of sinning," which implies contempt of God.
In these twelve degrees not only are the species of pride indicated, but
also certain things that precede and follow them, as we have stated above
with regard to humility (Question , Article ).
Article 5: Whether pride is a mortal sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that pride is not a mortal sin. For a gloss on Ps. 7:4, "O Lord my God, if I have done this thing," says: "Namely, the universal sin which is pride." Therefore if pride were a mortal sin, so would every sin be.
Objection 2: Further, every mortal sin is contrary to charity. But pride is
apparently not contrary to charity, neither as to the love of God, nor as
to the love of one's neighbor, because the excellence which, by pride,
one desires inordinately, is not always opposed to God's honor, or our
neighbor's good. Therefore pride is not a mortal sin.
Objection 3: Further, every mortal sin is opposed to virtue. But pride is not
opposed to virtue; on the contrary, it arises therefrom, for as Gregory
says (Moral. xxxiv, 23), "sometimes a man is elated by sublime and
heavenly virtues." Therefore pride is not a mortal sin.
On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. xxxiv, 23) that "pride is a most
evident sign of the reprobate, and contrariwise, humility of the elect."
But men do not become reprobate on account of venial sins. Therefore
pride is not a venial but a mortal sin.
I answer that, Pride is opposed to humility. Now humility properly
regards the subjection of man to God, as stated above (Question , Article , ad 5). Hence pride properly regards lack of this subjection, in so far as a
man raises himself above that which is appointed to him according to the
Divine rule or measure, against the saying of the Apostle (2 Cor. 10:13),
"But we will not glory beyond our measure; but according to the measure
of the rule which God hath measured to us." Wherefore it is written
(Ecclus. 10:14): "The beginning of the pride of man is to fall off from
God" because, to wit, the root of pride is found to consist in man not
being, in some way, subject to God and His rule. Now it is evident that
not to be subject to God is of its very nature a mortal sin, for this
consists in turning away from God: and consequently pride is, of its
genus, a mortal sin. Nevertheless just as in other sins which are mortal
by their genus (for instance fornication and adultery) there are certain
motions that are venial by reason of their imperfection (through
forestalling the judgment of reason, and being without its consent), so
too in the matter of pride it happens that certain motions of pride are
venial sins, when reason does not consent to them.
Reply to Objection 1: As stated above (Article ) pride is a general sin, not by its
essence but by a kind of influence, in so far as all sins may have their
origin in pride. Hence it does not follow that all sins are mortal, but
only such as arise from perfect pride, which we have stated to be a
Reply to Objection 2: Pride is always contrary to the love of God, inasmuch as
the proud man does not subject himself to the Divine rule as he ought.
Sometimes it is also contrary to the love of our neighbor; when, namely,
a man sets himself inordinately above his neighbor: and this again is a
transgression of the Divine rule, which has established order among men,
so that one ought to be subject to another.
Reply to Objection 3: Pride arises from virtue, not as from its direct cause, but
as from an accidental cause, in so far as a man makes a virtue an
occasion for pride. And nothing prevents one contrary from being the
accidental cause of another, as stated in Phys. viii, 1. Hence some are
even proud of their humility.
Article 6: Whether pride is the most grievous of sins?
Objection 1: It would seem that pride is not the most grievous of sins. For
the more difficult a sin is to avoid, the less grievous it would seem to
be. Now pride is most difficult to avoid; for Augustine says in his Rule
(Ep. ccxi), "Other sins find their vent in the accomplishment of evil
deeds, whereas pride lies in wait for good deeds to destroy them."
Therefore pride is not the most grievous of sins.
Objection 2: Further, "The greater evil is opposed to the greater good," as
the Philosopher asserts (Ethic. viii, 10). Now humility to which pride is
opposed is not the greatest of virtues, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Therefore the vices that are opposed to greater virtues, such as
unbelief, despair, hatred of God, murder, and so forth, are more grievous
sins than pride.
Objection 3: Further, the greater evil is not punished by a lesser evil. But
pride is sometimes punished by other sins according to Rm. 1:28, where it
is stated that on account of their pride of heart, men of science were
delivered "to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not
convenient." Therefore pride is not the most grievous of sins.
On the contrary, A gloss on Ps. 118:51, "The proud did iniquitously,"
says: "The greatest sin in man is pride."
I answer that, Two things are to be observed in sin, conversion to a
mutable good, and this is the material part of sin; and aversion from the
immutable good, and this gives sin its formal aspect and complement. Now
on the part of the conversion, there is no reason for pride being the
greatest of sins, because uplifting which pride covets inordinately, is
not essentially most incompatible with the good of virtue. But on the
part of the aversion, pride has extreme gravity, because in other sins
man turns away from God, either through ignorance or through weakness, or
through desire for any other good whatever; whereas pride denotes
aversion from God simply through being unwilling to be subject to God and
His rule. Hence Boethius [*Cf. Cassian, de Caenob. Inst. xii, 7] says
that "while all vices flee from God, pride alone withstands God"; for
which reason it is specially stated (James 4:6) that "God resisteth the
proud." Wherefore aversion from God and His commandments, which is a
consequence as it were in other sins, belongs to pride by its very
nature, for its act is the contempt of God. And since that which belongs
to a thing by its nature is always of greater weight than that which
belongs to it through something else, it follows that pride is the most
grievous of sins by its genus, because it exceeds in aversion which is
the formal complement of sin.
Reply to Objection 1: A sin is difficult to avoid in two ways. First, on account
of the violence of its onslaught; thus anger is violent in its onslaught
on account of its impetuosity; and "still more difficult is it to resist
concupiscence, on account of its connaturality," as stated in Ethic. ii,
3,9. A difficulty of this kind in avoiding sin diminishes the gravity of
the sin; because a man sins the more grievously, according as he yields
to a less impetuous temptation, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv,
Secondly, it is difficult to avoid a sin, on account of its being
hidden. In this way it is difficult to avoid pride, since it takes
occasion even from good deeds, as stated (Article , ad 3). Hence Augustine
says pointedly that it "lies in wait for good deeds"; and it is written
(Ps. 141:4): "In the way wherein I walked, the proud [*Cf. Ps. 139:6,
'The proud have hidden a net for me.'] [Vulg.: 'they'] have hidden a
snare for me." Hence no very great gravity attaches to the movement of
pride while creeping in secretly, and before it is discovered by the
judgment of reason: but once discovered by reason, it is easily avoided,
both by considering one's own infirmity, according to Ecclus. 10:9, "Why
is earth and ashes proud?" and by considering God's greatness, according
to Job 15:13, "Why doth thy spirit swell against God?" as well as by
considering the imperfection of the goods on which man prides himself,
according to Is. 40:6, "All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as
the flower of the field"; and farther on (Is. 64:6), "all our justices"
are become "like the rag of a menstruous woman."
Reply to Objection 2: Opposition between a vice and a virtue is inferred from the
object, which is considered on the part of conversion. In this way pride
has no claim to be the greatest of sins, as neither has humility to be
the greatest of virtues. But it is the greatest on the part of aversion,
since it brings greatness upon other sins. For unbelief, by the very fact
of its arising out of proud contempt, is rendered more grievous than if
it be the outcome of ignorance or weakness. The same applies to despair
and the like.
Reply to Objection 3: Just as in syllogisms that lead to an impossible conclusion
one is sometimes convinced by being faced with a more evident absurdity,
so too, in order to overcome their pride, God punishes certain men by
allowing them to fall into sins of the flesh, which though they be less
grievous are more evidently shameful. Hence Isidore says (De Summo Bono
ii, 38) that "pride is the worst of all vices; whether because it is
appropriate to those who are of highest and foremost rank, or because it
originates from just and virtuous deeds, so that its guilt is less
perceptible. on the other hand, carnal lust is apparent to all, because
from the outset it is of a shameful nature: and yet, under God's
dispensation, it is less grievous than pride. For he who is in the
clutches of pride and feels it not, falls into the lusts of the flesh,
that being thus humbled he may rise from his abasement."
From this indeed the gravity of pride is made manifest. For just as a
wise physician, in order to cure a worse disease, allows the patient to
contract one that is less dangerous, so the sin of pride is shown to be
more grievous by the very fact that, as a remedy, God allows men to fall
into other sins.
Article 7: Whether pride is the first sin of all?
Objection 1: It would seem that pride is not the first sin of all. For the
first is maintained in all that follows. Now pride does not accompany all
sins, nor is it the origin of all: for Augustine says (De Nat. et Grat.
xx) that many things are done "amiss which are not done with pride."
Therefore pride is not the first sin of all.
Objection 2: Further, it is written (Ecclus. 10:14) that the "beginning of . .
. pride is to fall off from God." Therefore falling away from God
Objection 3: Further, the order of sins would seem to be according to the
order of virtues. Now, not humility but faith is the first of all
virtues. Therefore pride is not the first sin of all.
Objection 4: Further, it is written (2 Tim. 3:13): "Evil men and seducers
shall grow worse and worse"; so that apparently man's beginning of
wickedness is not the greatest of sins. But pride is the greatest of sins
as stated in the foregoing Article. Therefore pride is not the first sin.
Objection 5: Further, resemblance and pretense come after the reality. Now the
Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 7) that "pride apes fortitude and daring."
Therefore the vice of daring precedes the vice of pride.
On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 10:15): "Pride is the beginning
of all sin."
I answer that, The first thing in every genus is that which is
essential. Now it has been stated above (Article ) that aversion from God,
which is the formal complement of sin, belongs to pride essentially, and
to other sins, consequently. Hence it is that pride fulfils the
conditions of a first thing, and is "the beginning of all sins," as
stated above (FS, Question , Article ), when we were treating of the causes of
sin on the part of the aversion which is the chief part of sin.
Reply to Objection 1: Pride is said to be "the beginning of all sin," not as
though every sin originated from pride, but because any kind of sin is
naturally liable to arise from pride.
Reply to Objection 2: To fall off from God is said to be the beginning of pride,
not as though it were a distinct sin from pride, but as being the first
part of pride. For it has been said above (Article ) that pride regards
chiefly subjection to God which it scorns, and in consequence it scorns
to be subject to a creature for God's sake.
Reply to Objection 3: There is no need for the order of virtues to be the same as
that of vices. For vice is corruptive of virtue. Now that which is first
to be generated is the last to be corrupted. Wherefore as faith is the
first of virtues, so unbelief is the last of sins, to which sometimes man
is led by other sins. Hence a gloss on Ps. 136:7, "Rase it, rase it, even
to the foundation thereof," says that "by heaping vice upon vice a man
will lapse into unbelief," and the Apostle says (1 Tim. 1:19) that "some
rejecting a good conscience have made shipwreck concerning the faith."
Reply to Objection 4: Pride is said to be the most grievous of sins because that
which gives sin its gravity is essential to pride. Hence pride is the
cause of gravity in other sins. Accordingly previous to pride there may
be certain less grievous sins that are committed through ignorance or
weakness. But among the grievous sins the first is pride, as the cause
whereby other sins are rendered more grievous. And as that which is the
first in causing sins is the last in the withdrawal from sin, a gloss on
Ps. 18:13, "I shall be cleansed from the greatest sin," says: "Namely
from the sin of pride, which is the last in those who return to God, and
the first in those who withdraw from God."
Reply to Objection 5: The Philosopher associates pride with feigned fortitude,
not that it consists precisely in this, but because man thinks he is more
likely to be uplifted before men, if he seem to be daring or brave.
Article 8: Whether pride should be reckoned a capital vice?
Objection 1: It would seem that pride should be reckoned a capital vice, since
Isidore [*Comment. in Deut. xvi] and Cassian [*De Inst. Caenob. v, 1:
Collat. v, 2] number pride among the capital vices.
Objection 2: Further, pride is apparently the same as vainglory, since both
covet excellence. Now vainglory is reckoned a capital vice. Therefore
pride also should be reckoned a capital vice.
Objection 3: Further, Augustine says (De Virginit. xxxi) that "pride begets
envy, nor is it ever without this companion." Now envy is reckoned a
capital vice, as stated above (Question , Article ). Much more therefore is pride
a capital vice.
On the contrary, Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 45) does not include pride among
the capital vices.
I answer that, As stated above (Articles ,5, ad 1) pride may be considered
in two ways; first in itself, as being a special sin; secondly, as having
a general influence towards all sins. Now the capital vices are said to
be certain special sins from which many kinds of sin arise. Wherefore
some, considering pride in the light of a special sin, numbered it
together with the other capital vices. But Gregory, taking into
consideration its general influence towards all vices, as explained above
(Article , Objection ), did not place it among the capital vices, but held it to
be the "queen and mother of all the vices." Hence he says (Moral. xxxi,
45): "Pride, the queen of vices, when it has vanquished and captured the
heart, forthwith delivers it into the hands of its lieutenants the seven
principal vices, that they may despoil it and produce vices of all kinds."
This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.
Reply to Objection 2: Pride is not the same as vainglory, but is the cause
thereof: for pride covets excellence inordinately: while vainglory covets
the outward show of excellence.
Reply to Objection 3: The fact that envy, which is a capital vice, arises from
pride, does not prove that pride is a capital vice, but that it is still
more principal than the capital vices themselves.