Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION XXXI.: OF DELIGHT, OR PLEASURE. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION XXXI.: OF DELIGHT, OR PLEASURE. - 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 DELIGHT, OR PLEASURE.
§ 2. In an animal a twofold movement may be considered: one in point of the intention of the end, which belongs to the appetite; the other in point of execution, which belongs to the exterior working. Though, therefore, in him who has already gained the good in which he delights, there ceases the movement of execution, whereby he tends to the end, still there ceases not the movement of the appetitive part, which, as it previously desired the end when it had it not, so afterwards delights in having it. For though pleasure be a certain repose of the appetite in consideration of the presence of a pleasurable good which satisfies the appetite, yet there still remains an impression wrought upon the appetite by its object, by reason whereof pleasure is a sort of movement.
Article III.—Does pleasure differ from joy?
R. Joy is a species of pleasure. As there are some desires which are physical, and others which are not physical, but follow upon an exercise of reason; so of pleasures, some are physical, and some not physical, being accompanied by an exercise of reason: or, as Damascene and Gregory of Nyssa say, “these are pleasures of the soul, those of the body:” which comes to the same thing. For we take pleasure in gaining as well the objects of physical desire as the objects of rational desire: but the name of joy has place only as applied to that delight which follows upon reason. Hence we do not attribute joy to dumb animals, but only pleasure. All that we physically desire, we may desire also with the guidance of reason: but not conversely. Hence for all things that give pleasure, there may be joy felt by creatures that have reason, though it is not always that joy is felt for them all; for sometimes one feels some pleasure in his body, for which nevertheless he rejoices not in his rational soul. And by this it is clear that pleasure is of wider extension than joy.
Article IV.—Does pleasure find place in the intellectual appetite?
R. There is one sort of pleasure that follows the apprehension of reason. Now at the apprehension of reason there is stirred, not only the sensitive appetite by application to some particular object, but also the intellectual appetite, which is called the will. And in this way there is in the intellectual appetite, or will, a pleasure which is called joy, but not a bodily pleasure. There is, however, this difference between the pleasure of the one appetite and that of the other, that the pleasure of the sensitive appetite is attended by a certain bodily alteration, while the pleasure of the intellectual appetite is nothing else than a simple movement of the will.
§ 3. In us there is not only a pleasure which we share with the brutes, but also one which we share with the angels.1
Article V.—Are bodily and sensible pleasures greater than spiritual and intellectual pleasures?
R. Pleasures arise from union with a suitable object, when that is felt and known. Now in the operations of the soul, particularly of the sensitive and intellectual soul, there is this to be considered, that, not passing on to any exterior matter, they are mere acts or perfections of the agent; whereas the actions which pass on to exterior matter are rather actions and perfections of the matter that is transformed.2 So therefore the aforesaid actions of the sensitive and intellectual soul are themselves a certain good of the agent, and are also known by sense and intellect: hence even from them in themselves pleasure arises, and not only from their objects. If therefore the comparison of intellectual pleasures with sensible pleasures is made in point of the pleasure that we take in the actions themselves, say, in the knowledge of sense and in the knowledge of intellect, there is no doubt that intellectual pleasures are much greater than those of sense. For a man is much more pleased at knowing a thing by understanding it, than at knowing it by feeling it;1 because the intellectual knowledge is both more perfect and better known, inasmuch as intellect reflects on its own act more than sense. Intellectual knowledge is also more loved; for there is none that would not rather forego his bodily sight than his mental vision.
But if intellectual and spiritual pleasures are compared with sensible and bodily pleasures, in that comparison spiritual pleasures are in themselves and absolutely the greater. And this appears from consideration of the three requisites of pleasure, namely, the good that is conjoined, the being to whom it is conjoined, and the conjunction itself. For spiritual good is both greater than bodily good and is more loved: a sign whereof is the fact that men abstain from the greatest bodily pleasures that they may not lose honour, which is an intellectual good. In like manner also the intellectual faculty is much nobler and more knowing than the sensitive faculty. The conjunction also of the good with the faculty is more intimate, and more perfect, and more firm. More intimate, because while sense rests on the exterior accidents of a thing, intellect penetrates to the thing’s essence. More perfect, because sensible pleasures are not all realized at once, but some portion of them is passing away, while another portion is looked forward to as coming on; but objects of intellect are without motion: hence the pleasures of intellect are all realized together.1 More firm, because the objects of bodily pleasure are corruptible and quickly fail; but spiritual goods are incorruptible.
But in relation to us bodily pleasures are the more vehement, and that for three reasons. First, because things of sense are more known to us than things of intellect. Secondly, because sensible pleasures, being passions of the sensitive appetite, are attended with a certain bodily alteration, which does not occur in spiritual pleasures except by a sort of overflow from the higher appetite to the lower. Thirdly, because bodily pleasures are sought after as medicines against bodily defects or annoyances, whence sundry griefs ensue: hence bodily pleasures, supervening upon such griefs, are more sensible, and consequently more welcome, than spiritual pleasures which have no contrary griefs.
§ 1. Therefore do more people follow bodily pleasures, because sensible goods are known better and more widely than spiritual goods. Another reason is because men need pleasures as medicines against manifold griefs and sorrows; and whereas the greater number of men are not able to attain to spiritual pleasures, which are proper to the virtuous, the consequence is that they turn aside to those of the body.
Article VII.—Is there any pleasure that is not natural?
That is called natural which is according to nature. Now nature in man may be taken in two ways. In one way, considering that intellect and reason is the principal part of man’s nature, and the specific mark of man among animals, we may call those pleasures natural to human kind, which belong to man in point of his having reason. Such are the pleasures of contemplating truth and doing acts of virtue. In another way nature in man may be considered as something marked off from reason, namely, that element which is common to man and other animals, especially that which is not subject to reason; and in this way what appertains to the preservation of the body, either in the individual, as food, drink, sleep, and the like, or in the species, as the intercourse of the sexes, is said to be naturally pleasant to man.
Under each of these heads of pleasure there are found some pleasures which are unnatural, absolutely speaking, but connatural in a limited sense. For it happens occasionally in an individual that some of the principles of the species are corrupted; and thus what is against the nature of the species becomes accidentally natural to this individual. Thus then it happens that what is against the nature of man, either as regards his reason or as regards the preservation of his body, becomes connatural to this man on account of some corruption of nature found in him. This corruption of nature may be either on the part of the body, from some sickness, as to fever-patients sweet things seem bitter; or from an evil temperament, as some find pleasure in eating earth or coals;1 or again on the part of the soul, as from custom some delight in cannibalism, or in unnatural lusts, things which are not according to human nature.
[1 ]At the same time it must be admitted that there are pleasures in the intellectual appetite or will, the pleasure of malevolence, for instance, which we do not share with any good angels. (Trl.)
[2 ]See q. 3. art. 2. § 3. for this distinction of immanent and transient acts. (Trl.)
[1 ]Carlyle’s “pig philosophy,” as “Ginger is hot.” (Trl.)
[1 ]St. Thomas (see art. 1. of this question, not translated) got the notion of pleasure being “all realized together,” from the celebrated definition of pleasure in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, i. 11: “A sensible settling down all at once to one’s natural equilibrium;” where for κατάστασιν ἀθρόαν his version gave the not very intelligible constitution simul tota. (Trl.)
[1 ]In comestione terræ vel carbonum.