Exploration Seeking Reclamation: The Significant, Integrating Distinction of Hope as Irascible Passion and as Theological Virtue in St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 1-1-2007



Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

James P. Hanigan

Committee Member

Therese Bonin

Committee Member

William Thompson-Uberuaga


action, fortitude, Gabriel Marcel, Jürgen Moltmann, perseverance, receptivity


Thomas' treatments of the two kinds of hope experienced by humans--the irascible passion and the theological virtue--have received relatively little attention. By conducting a direct, detailed comparison of them, this dissertation exposes their relevance to his integral anthropology, thereby also indicating their value to contemporary theological discussions. While identifying important similarities and differences between the two kinds of hope, the first two chapters uncover recurring themes that reflect Thomas' anthropology, such as the primacy of receptivity in human acts, the interpenetrating relationship between subject and object, and the important role of rhetoric in both moral and graced living. Because the natural passions and theological virtues inhabit different "parts" of the human person and the acquired moral virtues lie "between" them, chapter three examines the virtues that interact with them both in important ways: the cardinal virtue of fortitude and its subjoined parts, especially magnanimity and perseverance. Thomas makes several pioneering moves there which support and further the ways his teaching on hope reflects his anthropology. Such moves include his constructing a taxonomy of unprecedented sophistication by which he analyzes virtues, his developing pagan magnanimity into a Christian virtue complementary with humility, his adopting and extending Augustine's anti-Pelagian teaching on perseverance, and his including the theme of help in ways significantly consonant with his treatment of the two kinds of hope. It becomes increasingly clear that a theology of help underlies Thomas' theology of hope. The fourth chapter begins by summarizing the deleterious effects of the fragmented manner in which the Summa, especially the Pars Secunda, has been passed down through the centuries. It then puts Thomas in dialogue with Gabriel Marcel and Jürgen Moltmann, two modern Christian thinkers who give sustained and explicit attention to hope. It sketches the outlines of two beneficial, but different, potential dialogues. The study concludes that Thomas' cogent exposition of the integral nature of the human being not only underlies his treatment of hope but also offers both complement and corrective to modern theological discourse that is too often marked by a fragmented notion of the human person and of authentic human action.





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