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Article One

Whether to be Loved is More Proper to Charity than to Love

We proceed to the first article thus:

1. It seems that to be loved is more proper to charity than to love. For better persons have better charity, and they ought also to be loved more. To be loved is therefore more proper to charity.

2. Again, what is found in the greater number would seem to be the more in accordance with nature, and consequently the better. Now as the philosopher says in 8 Ethics 8, “there are many who wish to be loved rather than to love, and those who love flattery are always many.” To be loved is therefore better than to love, and consequently more in accordance with charity.

3. Again, the philosopher says (1 Post. An., text 5): “that on account of which anything is of a certain kind is itself more so.”7474Aristotle meant simply that an essence is more truly itself than are the particulars wherein it is exhibited. Now men love on account of being loved, since “nothing evokes love so much as loving another first,” as Augustine says (De Catech. Rud., cap. 4). Charity therefore consists in being loved, more properly than in loving.

On the other hand: the philosopher says (8 Ethics 8): “friendship consists in loving rather than in being loved.” Now charity is a kind of friendship. It therefore consists in loving rather than in being loved.

I answer: to love belongs to charity as charity. For charity is a virtue, and therefore inclines to its proper act by its very essence. But to be loved is not the act of the charity of the loved one. The act of his charity is to love. He happens to be loved because another is moved by charity to seek his good, as one instance of the universal nature of good. This makes it clear that to love belongs to charity more properly than to be loved. For what belongs to a thing essentially and substantially belongs to it more properly than what belongs to it on account of something else. There are two signs of this. One is that friends are praised because they love, rather than because they are loved. If they are loved and do not love, they are indeed blamed. The other is that mothers, who love supremely, seek to love rather than to be loved. Some of them, as the philosopher says in 3578 Ethics 8, “give their sons to a nurse, and love them without expecting any affection in return, if this is impossible.”

On the first point: better persons are more lovable because they are better. But it is their own love that is greater because their charity is more perfect—although their love is proportionate to what they love. A better man does not love what is beneath him less than it deserves, whereas one who is not so good does not love a better man as he deserves to be loved.

On the second point: the philosopher says in the same passage that “men wish to be loved in so far as they wish to be honoured.” For just as honour is shown to a man as a testimony of the good that is in him, so the fact that he is loved shows that there is some good in him, since only what is good can be loved. Thus men wish to be honoured for the sake of something else. But those who have charity wish to love for the sake of love itself, since love itself is the good of charity, just as the act of any virtue is the good of that virtue. The wish to love therefore belongs to charity more properly than the wish to be loved.

On the third point: some men do love on account of being loved. But this does not mean that they love for the sake of being loved. It means that love is one way of inducing a man to love.


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