Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CXXVI.: OF INSENSIBILITY TO FEAR. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CXXVI.: OF INSENSIBILITY TO FEAR. - 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).
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OF INSENSIBILITY TO FEAR.
Article I.—Is insensibility to fear a sin?
R. Because fear is born of love, the same judgment seems to hold of love and of fear. The question now is of the fear wherewith temporal ills are feared, which arises out of the love of temporal goods. Now it is natural to every one to love his own life, and aids to life, in due measure, which means that these things be not so loved as that a man should set up his rest in them finally, but they should be loved as things that have to be used for the last end. Hence for any one to fall short of the due measure of love of these things, is against the inclination of nature, and is consequently a sin.1 Never however does any one totally fall away from this love: for what is natural cannot be totally lost: wherefore the Apostle says: “No man ever hated his own flesh.”2 Hence even they who kill themselves do so from love of their flesh, which they wish to deliver from present hardship. Hence it may happen that a man fears death and other temporal ills less than he ought, for the reason that he loves the opposite goods less than is their due. But his fearing nothing of these ills cannot arise from a total want of love of those goods, but only from his reckoning that the evils opposite to the goods that he loves cannot possibly come upon him. And this arises sometimes from pride, self-assurance, and contempt of others, as it is said [of the leviathan], that he “was made to fear no one: he beholdeth every high thing.”3 Sometimes again it happens for want of reason, as the Philosopher says that “folly makes the Celts impervious to fear.”4 Hence it appears that insensibility to fear is a flaw in the character, caused it may be by want of love, or by elation of mind, or by stolidity, which last cause however excuses from sin, if it be invincible.
§ 1. To the text, “The just, bold as a lion, shall be without dread,”5 it is to be said that the just is commended for the fact that fear holds him not back from good, not as though he were without all fear: for it is said, “He that is without fear cannot be justified.”1
§ 2. To the texts, “Fear ye not them that kill the body,” and “Who art thou that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man?”2 —it is to be said that death, or aught else that can be inflicted by a mortal man, is not to be feared in such fashion as that justice should be departed from on that account: still it is to be feared inasmuch as man may thereby be hindered from doing virtuous works, either for his own person or for the improvement of others.
§ 3. To the saying of Augustine, that “the love of God even to the contempt of self makes citizens of the heavenly city,” it is to be said that temporal goods ought to be contemned inasmuch as they hinder us from the love and fear of God; and to this extent also no fear should be entertained about them: hence it is said, “He that feareth the Lord shall tremble at nothing.”3 But temporal goods are not to be despised as instruments to aid us to the exercises of the fear and love of God.
Article II.—Is insensibility to fear opposed to fortitude?
R. Fortitude regards fears and ventures. Now every moral virtue fixes the golden mean of reason in the matter which it regards. Hence to fortitude belongs fear, moderated according to reason, that man should fear what he ought and when he ought. This golden mean of reason may be spoilt by defect, as it may be spoilt by excess. Hence as timidity is opposed to fortitude by excess of fear, the man fearing what he ought not: so insensibility in the matter of fear is opposed to fortitude by defect, a man not fearing what he ought to fear.
[1 ]For this consequence, see Ethics and Natural Law, p. 112.
[2 ]Ephes. v. 29.
[3 ]Job xli. 24, 25.
[4 ]The Philosopher’s exact words are: “A man would be mad or insensate, if he feared nothing, neither earthquake nor waves, as they say of the Celts.” Aristotle, Ethics, III. 7. 7. (Trl.)
[5 ]Prov. xxviii. 1.
[1 ]Ecclus. i. 28.
[2 ]St. Matt. x. 28; Isaias li. 12.
[3 ]Ecclus. xxxiv. 16.