Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION LII.: OF THE INCREASE OF HABITS. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
Return to Title Page for Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
QUESTION LII.: OF THE INCREASE OF HABITS. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
OF THE INCREASE OF HABITS.
Article III.—Does every act increase the habit?
R. Like acts cause like habits. Now likeness and unlikeness may be considered not only in point of sameness or diversity of quality, but also in point of sameness or diversity of the degree in which the quality is shared. For not only is black unlike white, but also the less white is unlike the more white. But because the use of habits rests with the will of man, it may happen that one who has a habit uses it not, or even does the contrary act: it may also happen that he uses the habit unto an act not proportional to the intensity of the habit. If, therefore, the intensity of the act is proportionally equal to the intensity of the habit, or even goes beyond it, every act either increases the habit or disposes towards the increase of it—to speak of the increase of habits after the likeness of the increase of an animal. For it is not every morsel of food taken that actually increases the animal, as neither is it every drop that hollows the stone: but when food has been accumulated, at last there comes an increase; so also when acts have been multiplied, the habit grows. But if the intensity of the act falls short of the proportion of the intensity of the habit, such an act does not dispose towards the increase of the habit, but rather towards its diminution.1
[1 ]That is to say, by doing a thing carelessly and without heart, which you were wont at one time to put your heart into, you gradually undo the habit of diligence which you had in that matter. On habits, see Ethics and Natural Law, pp. 64—69. (Trl.)