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Whether there are various species of superstition?

Objection 1: It would seem that there are not various species of superstition. According to the Philosopher (Topic. i, 13), "if one contrary includes many kinds, so does the other." Now religion, to which superstition is contrary, does not include various species; but all its acts belong to the one species. Therefore neither has superstition various species.

Objection 2: Further, opposites relate to one same thing. But religion, to which superstition is opposed, relates to those things whereby we are directed to God, as stated above (Q[81], A[1]). Therefore superstition, which is opposed to religion, is not specified according to divinations of human occurrences, or by the observances of certain human actions.

Objection 3: Further, a gloss on Col. 2:23, "Which things have . . . a show of wisdom in superstition," adds: "that is to say in a hypocritical religion." Therefore hypocrisy should be reckoned a species of superstition.

On the contrary, Augustine assigns the various species of superstition (De Doctr. Christ. ii, 20).

I answer that, As stated above, sins against religion consist in going beyond the mean of virtue in respect of certain circumstances (A[1]). For as we have stated (FS, Q[72], A[9]), not every diversity of corrupt circumstances differentiates the species of a sin, but only that which is referred to diverse objects, for diverse ends: since it is in this respect that moral acts are diversified specifically, as stated above (FS, Q[1], A[3]; FS, Q[18], AA[2],6).

Accordingly the species of superstition are differentiated, first on the part of the mode, secondly on the part of the object. For the divine worship may be given either to whom it ought to be given, namely, to the true God, but "in an undue mode," and this is the first species of superstition; or to whom it ought not to be given, namely, to any creature whatsoever, and this is another genus of superstition, divided into many species in respect of the various ends of divine worship. For the end of divine worship is in the first place to give reverence to God, and in this respect the first species of this genus is "idolatry," which unduly gives divine honor to a creature. The second end of religion is that man may be taught by God Whom he worships; and to this must be referred "divinatory" superstition, which consults the demons through compacts made with them, whether tacit or explicit. Thirdly, the end of divine worship is a certain direction of human acts according to the precepts of God the object of that worship: and to this must be referred the superstition of certain "observances."

Augustine alludes to these three (De Doctr. Christ. ii, 20), where he says that "anything invented by man for making and worshipping idols is superstitious," and this refers to the first species. Then he goes on to say, "or any agreement or covenant made with the demons for the purpose of consultation and of compact by tokens," which refers to the second species; and a little further on he adds: "To this kind belong all sorts of amulets and such like," and this refers to the third species.

Reply to Objection 1: As Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv), "good results from a cause that is one and entire, whereas evil arises from each single defect." Wherefore several vices are opposed to one virtue, as stated above (A[1]; Q[10], A[5]). The saying of the Philosopher is true of opposites wherein there is the same reason of multiplicity.

Reply to Objection 2: Divinations and certain observances come under the head of superstition, in so far as they depend on certain actions of the demons: and thus they pertain to compacts made with them.

Reply to Objection 3: Hypocritical religion is taken here for "religion as applied to human observances," as the gloss goes on to explain. Wherefore this hypocritical religion is nothing else than worship given to God in an undue mode: as, for instance, if a man were, in the time of grace, to wish to worship God according to the rite of the Old Law. It is of religion taken in this sense that the gloss speaks literally.

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