Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION VII.: OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HUMAN ACTS. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION VII.: OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HUMAN ACTS. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HUMAN ACTS.
Article I.—Is a circumstance an accident of a human act?
In local relations that is said to stand round about (circumstare), which, though extrinsic to the thing, yet touches it, or approaches it locally. And therefore whatever conditions are outside the substance of an act, and yet touch somehow the human act, are called circumstances. But that which is outside the substance of a thing, and yet is belonging to the thing, is called an accident of it. Hence the circumstances of human acts are to be called accidents of the same.
Article II.—Should the theologian take account of the circumstances of human acts?
R. The theologian considers human acts according as by them man is directed to happiness. Now all that is directed to an end must be proportioned to that end, but acts are proportioned to an end by a certain commensurateness, which depends on due circumstances. Hence the consideration of circumstances belongs to the theologian.
§ 3. The consideration of circumstances belongs to the moralist, to the politician, and to the rhetorician. To the moralist, inasmuch as the finding or the neglect of the golden mean of virtue in human acts and passions is a question of circumstances. To the politician and rhetorician, inasmuch as it is by circumstances that acts are rendered praiseworthy or blameworthy, excusable or criminal. Yet in different ways, for the persuasion of the rhetorician furnishes matter for the judgment of the politician. But to the theologian, to whom all other arts minister, this consideration belongs in all the aforesaid ways. For he has to consider virtuous and vicious acts with the moralist, and with the rhetorician and politician he considers acts according as they deserve punishment or reward.
Article III.—Is the received enumeration of circumstances a fit and proper one?
Tully, in his Rhetoric, enumerates seven circumstances, which are contained in this verse:
Quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxiliis, cur, quomodo, quando.
For we must consider in acts who did it, by what aids or instruments he did it, what he did, where he did it, why he did it, how he did it, and when he did it. But Aristotle, in his Third Book of Ethics, adds another circumstance about what, which by Tully is included under what. And the principle of this enumeration may be determined thus. A circumstance is so called as being outside the substance of the act and yet in some way touching it. There are three possible cases of this. The first is the case of its touching the act itself: the second, of its touching the cause of the act; the third, of its touching the effect. It may touch the act itself either by way of a measure, as time and place, or by way of a quality of the act, as the manner of doing it. It touches the effect, when we consider what one has done. Touching the cause of the act, for the final cause we have the circumstance why; touching the material cause, or object, we have about what; touching the cause that acts as principal agent, we have who; touching the cause that acts as an instrument, we have by what aids.1
[1 ]Of the following qq. viii.—xvii. the greater part is omitted as belonging rather to Psychology than to Moral Science (Trl.)