Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION XLII.: OF THE OBJECT OF FEAR. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION XLII.: OF THE OBJECT OF FEAR. - 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 OBJECT OF FEAR.
Article II.—Is the evil that comes by nature an object of fear?
R. Whereas fear arises from the imagination of evil to come, what removes the imagination of evil to come excludes also fear. Now it may be brought about in two ways that an evil loses the appearance of a thing to come: in one way from its being remote and distant: for on account of the distance we imagine it as not coming at all. So the Philosopher says: “Things a great way off are not feared; for all know that they shall die, but because death is not near, they do not care.” In another way an evil ceases to count as a thing to come, by reason of its inevitableness, which makes us reckon it as already present. Hence the Philosopher says: “Persons undergoing execution are not afraid, seeing the inevitable nature of the death that is close upon them.”1 But for a man to be afraid, there must be at hand some hope of safety. Therefore the evil that comes by nature is not feared, in so far as it is not apprehended as a thing to come. But if it is apprehended as near, and yet with some hope of escape, then it will be feared.
Article III.—Is it possible to have fear of moral evil?
R. As the object of hope is future good, arduous, but possible, so fear is of future evil, arduous, and hardly avoidable. Hence it may be gathered that what is entirely subject to our power and will has not the character of being terrible; but that alone is terrible which has an exterior cause. But moral evil has for its proper cause the human will, and therefore has not properly the character of being terrible. However, since the will may be inclined to sin by an exterior cause, and by the power of a strong inclination, in that respect there may be fear of moral evil, as proceeding from an exterior cause; as when one fears to dwell in the company of the wicked, lest by them he be led to sin. But, properly speaking, a man in such a disposition rather fears seductive influence than moral guilt in its own proper essence, that is, as a voluntary act: for as a voluntary act, it is not matter of fear to the doer.
§ 2. Sorrow and fear agree in one point, that they are both about evil; but they differ in two points. First in this, that sorrow is about present evil, but fear about evil to come. Then again in this, that sorrow, being in the concupiscible faculty, regards evil absolutely: hence it can be about any evil, great or small; whereas fear, being in the irascible faculty, regards evil as attended with a certain arduousness or difficulty, which difficulty disappears in so far as a thing is subject to the will. And therefore it is not all things at which we grieve when they are present, that we fear when they are to come, but only some things, namely, things that are fraught with difficulty.
§ 3. Hope is of attainable good, attainable that is either of oneself or through another. And therefore hope may be of an act of virtue which lies in our own power; but fear is of an evil that is not subject to our power. And therefore the evil that is feared is always from an external cause, but the good that is hoped for may be as well from an internal as from an external cause.
Article VI.—Are those evils more feared, against which there is no remedy?
R. The object of fear is evil. Hence whatever makes for the increase of evil, makes for the increase of fear. Now evil is increased, not only in the species of evil itself, but also in point of circumstances. But among other circumstances length or perpetuity of time seems particularly to make for the increase of evil. For the things that are in time are measured in a manner by the duration of time. Hence if to suffer a thing for such a time is an evil, to suffer it for twice that time is twice the evil; and at that rate to suffer the same thing for infinite time, which is to suffer perpetually, involves in a manner an increase to infinity. But evils which, after they have come, can have no remedy, or no easy remedy, are counted as perpetual or long enduring; and therefore they are chief objects of fear.
[1 ]The Greek ἀνήκεστον κακόν, the “bootless bale,” for which the Countess in the old Yorkshire legend replied that the only remedy was “endless sorrow.” (Trl.)