Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CXXXII.: OF VAINGLORY. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CXXXII.: OF VAINGLORY. - 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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Article I.—Is the seeking after glory a sin?
R. Properly by the name glory is denoted the coming of somebody’s good qualities to the knowledge and approbation of many. In the larger sense of the word however glory consists in being known, not necessarily to many, but to a few, to one, even to oneself alone, where one regards one’s own good qualities as worthy of praise. Now it is no sin to recognize and approve of your own good qualities, for it is said: “We have received the spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are given us from God.”1 In like manner it is not a sin to wish your own good works to meet with approval, for it is said: “Let your light shine before men.”2 And therefore the seeking after glory does not of itself imply anything vicious; but the seeking after empty or vainglory means vice. Now glory may be called vain in three ways. In one way, on the part of the endowment for which one seeks to receive glory, if it be something not worthy of glory, but frail and perishable; in another way, on the part of the man of whom one seeks glory, if he be a man whose judgment is not to be depended upon; in a third way, on the part of the person seeking the glory, if he directs not the seeking of it to the due end, that is, to the honour of God or his neighbour’s salvation.
§ 1. God seeks His glory, not for His own sake, but for ours; and in like manner man also may commendably seek his own glory for the advantage of others.
§ 2. Some men are incited to works of virtue by the desire of human glory, as are others by the desire of other earthly goods. Still he is not truly virtuous, who does the works of virtue for the sake of human glory.
§ 3. It is a point of the perfection of man that he should know himself; but that he should be known by others is no point of his perfection, and therefore not a thing to be of itself desired. It may however be desired for the utility of it, either as a means to God being glorified by men, or as a means to men making progress in consequence of the good that they observe in another, or to the end that the man himself, moved by the good qualities that he recognizes in himself by the testimony of another’s praise, may endeavour to persevere in them and to advance to better things. And under these conditions it is praiseworthy to “take care of a good name,”1 and to “provide good things in the sight of God and of men;”2 not however to take idle delight in the praise of men.
Article II.—Is vainglory opposed to magnanimity?
R. Because magnanimity is about honour, it is also about glory,1 that one should make moderate use both of the one and of the other; and therefore the inordinate seeking after glory is directly opposed to magnanimity.
§ 1. It is precisely this that is opposed to magnanimity, that one should have such a care of trifles as to glory in them. Hence it is said of the magnanimous man, that “honour is a small thing to him.”2 In like manner also other things that are sought after for the honour they bring, as high station and wealth, are accounted small by the magnanimous man. Again, it is opposed to magnanimity that one should glory in what is not: hence it is said of the magnanimous man that “he cares more for truth than for opinion.” Again, it is opposed to magnanimity that one should glory in the testimony of human praise, counting that anything great: hence it is said of the magnanimous man that “he has no care to be praised.” Thus weaknesses that are opposed to other virtues may be opposed to magnanimity in this, that they take small things for great.
Article III.—Is vainglory a mortal sin?
R. In a case where the love of human glory, though vain, still is not inconsistent with charity, neither in respect of the matter gloried in nor in respect of the intention of him who seeks the glory, then the sin is not mortal but venial.
§ 2. It is not every one vainly desirous of glory that seeks after the pre-eminence which belongs to God alone; for the glory due to God alone is different from that due to a virtuous or wealthy man.
§ 3. Vainglory is said to be a dangerous sin, not so much for its own grievousness, as because it predisposes people to grievous sins, making them presumptuous and too confident in themselves, and thus on the way gradually to be deprived of interior goods.
Article IV.—Is vainglory a capital vice?
R. Gregory makes pride the queen of all vices; and vainglory, that immediately arises from pride, he makes a capital sin. And reasonably so: for pride means an inordinate seeking to stand high. Now from everything that a man seeks he attains a certain perfection and high standing; and therefore the ends of all vices are directed to the end of pride; and therefore pride seems to exercise a general causality over the other vices, and not to hold a place among the special heads of vice, which are the capital vices. And because many vices arise from the inordinate seeking after glory, therefore vainglory is a capital vice.
§ 3. It is not requisite for a capital vice to be always a mortal sin: because even from venial sin mortal sin may arise, the former predisposing to the latter.
Article V.—Are the daughters of vainglory properly stated to be disobedience, boasting, hypocrisy, contention, obstinacy, discord, and presumption of novelties?
R. Those vices that have a connatural bearing on the end of any capital vice, are said to be its daughters. Now the end of vainglory is the showing forth of one’s own excellence. To this a man may bend his efforts in two ways: in one way directly, whether by words, and that is boasting, or by deeds; and that, if the deeds are real, having something about them to admire, is presumption of novelties, which men are wont the rather to admire; but if the deeds are fictitious, it is hypocrisy. The other way of trying to show forth one’s excellence is indirectly, by showing that you are not inferior to any one else, which may be done in four several departments. First, in point of intellect, and that is obstinacy, whereby a man clings too much to his own opinion, refusing to accept a better. Secondly, in point of will, and that is discord, when one will not give up his own will, to live at peace with others. Thirdly, in speech, and that is contention, when one wrangles in words clamorously with another. Fourthly, in deed, and that is disobedience, when one refuses to fulfil a superior’s command.
[1 ]1 Cor. ii. 12.
[2 ]St. Matt. v. 16.
[1 ]Ecclus. xli. 15.
[2 ]Romans xii. 17.
[1 ]Honour is paid to a man to his face, where he is present either in person or by his representative. Glory is the good opinion and talk that is held of a man, his celebrity in fact, even where he is not present. Cf. II-II. q. 73. (Trl.)
[2 ]The reference is to Aristotle, Ethics, IV. 3. 18.: “He is not even so disposed to honour as to count it a very great thing; . . . and he to whom even honour is a little thing, holds all other things cheap.” (Trl.)