Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CXIII.: OF SELF-DEPRECIATION. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
Return to Title Page for Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
QUESTION CXIII.: OF SELF-DEPRECIATION. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
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.
Article I.—Is the self-depreciation by which a person feigns to possess lower endowments than he really has, a sin?
R. It may happen in two ways that men in speaking attribute to themselves lower endowments than are really theirs. In one way without infringement of truth, by reticence of the higher endowments that are in them, and unfolding and bringing out as their own certain lesser endowments, which however they recognize to be in their possession. This way of attributing to oneself less than one possesses is not a piece of self-depreciation, nor is it sinful of its kind, unless by some circumstance it come to be not what it should be. The other way of attributing to oneself less endowments than one has, contains a departure from truth, as when a person avers of himself some meanness, which he does not recognize in himself, or denies of himself some greatness, which at the same time he perceives to be in himself: this is a piece of self-depreciation which is always sinful.
§ 1. Wisdom is twofold, and folly also; for there is a certain wisdom according to God, that has annexed to it folly in the eyes of the world, according to the text: “If any man among you seem to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise.”1 There is another, a worldly wisdom, which, as is added there, “is foolishness with God.” He then who is strengthened by God, confesses that he is an utter fool according to human notions, because he despises the human things that the wisdom of men seeks after.
§ 2. To what Gregory writes in his letter to Augustine, Bishop of the English, “It is the part of good souls to recognize fault of their own where there is no fault,” it is to be said that it belongs to goodness of soul to tend to the perfection of justice. And therefore a good soul reckons it a fault, not only to fall short of common justice, which is really a fault, but also to fall short of the perfection of justice, which sometimes is not a fault. But such a soul does not call that a fault, which it does not recognize for a fault, which would be a lie of self-depreciation.
§ 3. A man ought not to commit one sin to avoid another; and therefore he ought not in any way to lie to avoid pride.
[1 ]1 Cor. iii. 18.