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Article Three

Whether Presumption is Opposed to Fear rather than to Hope

We proceed to the third article thus:

1. It seems that presumption is more opposed to fear than to hope. For inordinate fear is opposed to fear, and presumption seems to pertain to inordinate fear, since it is said in Wisdom 17:11: “a troubled conscience always presumes harsh things,” and in the same passage “fear is the aid to presumption.” Hence presumption is opposed to fear rather than to hope.

2. Again, those things are contrary which are farthest removed from each other. Now presumption is farther removed from fear than from hope. For presumption implies a movement towards something, as does hope also, whereas fear implies a movement away from something. Hence presumption is contrary to fear rather than to hope.

3. Again, presumption excludes fear entirely. It does not exclude hope entirely, but only the Tightness of hope. Now things are opposed when they mutually exclude each other. Hence it seems that presumption is opposed to fear rather than to hope.

On the other hand: two contrary vices are opposed to the same virtue. Timidity and audacity, for example, are opposed to fortitude. Now the sin of presumption is the contrary of the sin of despair, and despair is directly opposed to hope. Hence it appears that presumption is also opposed to hope, more directly than to fear.

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I answer: as Augustine says (4 Cont. Julian. 3): “with all virtues, there are not only vices which are clearly opposed to them, as temerity is clearly opposed to prudence. There are also vices which are akin to them, not truly, but with a false kind of similarity, such as astuteness bears to prudence.” This is what the philosopher means when he says that a virtue seems to have more in common with one contrary vice than with another, as temperance seems to have the greater kinship with insensibility, and fortitude with audacity.

Presumption seems obviously opposed to fear, especially to servile fear, since servile fear is afraid of the punishment which comes from God’s justice, while presumption hopes that this will be remitted. It is nevertheless more opposed to hope, by reason of the false similarity which it bears as a kind of inordinate hope in God. Things which belong to the same genus are more opposed than things which belong to different genera (since contraries belong to the same genus), and for this reason presumption is more opposed to hope than it is to fear. For presumption and hope look to the same object, in which they both trust. Hope trusts ordinately, and presumption inordinately.

On the first point: just as we speak of hope loosely in reference to what is evil, although rightly only in reference to what is good, so is it with presumption. It is in this loose way that inordinate fear is called presumption.

On the second point: things are contrary when they are farthest removed within the same genus. Now presumption and hope imply movements which belong to the same genus, and which may be either ordinate or inordinate. Presumption is therefore more directly contrary to hope than to fear. For it is contrary to hope by reason of its specific difference, as the inordinate is contrary to the ordinate, while it is contrary to fear by reason of the difference which distinguishes its genus (namely, by the anxiety which is of hope).6969Added in some editions.

On the third point: presumption is opposed to fear by reason of the difference which distinguishes its genus. But it is opposed to hope by reason of its own specific difference. Hence it is owing to the genus to which it belongs that presumption excludes fear entirely, while it excludes hope only to the extent to which its own specific difference excludes the ordinateness of hope.

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