Saturday, 8 May 2010

Whether Original Sin Is A Habit?

S.T. Part I-II. Question 82. Article 1:

In order to answer this problem, it is imperative that we actually understand the question at hand. What exactly do we mean by 'habit'?
A dictionary translates it thus: 'an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary' or 'customary practice or use' or 'a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality'. What is outlined in these particular definitions is that of something lasting, enduring, not a mere occasional occurrence. Out of which arise certain acts formed by this predisposition, a good habit will bring forth good fruit, a bad, the opposite. This will seem 'natural' to man.

Initially the objection is raised by the Angelic Doctor that original sin can not be a habit, simply as it is the 'absence of original justice' which Saint Anselm expounds. This absence therefore requires that original sin is given the appellation of 'privation', the lack of some perfection which is supposed to be within and completes the nature.
The second objection states that actual sin (that which we voluntary commit through our own deliberation, as opposed to being received from our first parents, has the greater essence of a fault. Otherwise 'it would follow that a man while asleep, would be guilty of sin', as original sin is received involuntarily, it is simply transmitted through human nature.
Next a challenge is advanced which relates that in evil an 'act always precedes habit'.
On a side note, the Servant of God, Archbishop Sheen stated rightly that each addiction is preceded by the initial will (to pick up an alcoholic drink), then through being repeated, this becomes a habit, and if it remain unchecked , it careers out of control and brings about destruction. The poor soul is chained by his own will and excuses his pernicious behaviour as an 'illness'.

Saint Thomas answers, on the contrary that original sin is a habit, and utilises the authority of Saint Augustine who wrote that, infants as a result of receiving original sin have the 'aptitude' of concupiscence though they are incapable of willing freely.
The Angelic Doctor then describes how habit has two aspects:

1) 'Power is inclined (meaning led towards) to an act: thus science (to truth) and virtue (to the Good) are called habits.
However, with such an aspect, original sin is not a habit.
2) 'The disposition of a complex nature (such as the dual nature of man, composite of body and soul, yet one substance) whereby that nature is well or ill disposed (as in the case of concupiscence) to something when such a disposition has become like a second nature, as in the case of sickness'.

It must be affirmed that all of God's creation is of its nature good, as the Good Lord 'made not death, neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living.' (Wisdom 1:13) and 'He he created all things that they might be: and he made the nations of the earth for health: and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor kingdom of hell upon the earth.' (1.14). It was not according to the plan of God (although He certainly foresaw the Fall of Adam) that His creatures destroy themselves through sin and suffer greatly in the process. It is proper to the justice of God that man suffers for disobedience, which is intended to bring about a realisation of the deadly nature of sin.
The Angelic Doctor continues by saying that original sin is an 'inordinate disposition', which means that the end of human nature is to cling to God, who alone fulfills our created substance, and as a result of this contracted 'disease', we lose the initial 'harmony' which orders all things correctly to God. Sickness is the absence of health, where a certain 'element' attacks the beauty and the perfect and ordered functioning of the body. This therefore comprises two facets, one positive, 'the very humors that are inordinately disposed', and privation (a negative), 'as it denotes the destruction of the equilibrium of health'.
A propensity to a disordered (evil) act occurs in an indirect manner which is through the deficiency of 'original justice'. This initial ordered state, made it difficult for man to fall, as the human person had no knowledge of sin, no concupiscence, and God's presence was felt strongly.
Now as a result of original sin, man easily becomes confused and shamed, grasps and loves something above its worth, extracts all this is good from it, and departs a slave and still unsatisfied. The original arrangement found comfort and delight in God and was true to the very nature and truth of man, who only finds his uniqueness in relation to the Lord who created and called Him to love.

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