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Summa Theologica by Aquinas

Whether fear makes one suitable for counsel?

Objection 1: It would seem that fear does not make one suitable for counsel. For the same thing cannot be conducive to counsel, and a hindrance thereto. But fear hinders counsel: because every passion disturbs repose, which is requisite for the good use of reason. Therefore fear does not make a man suitable for counsel.

Objection 2: Further, counsel is an act of reason, in thinking and deliberating about the future. But a certain fear |drives away all thought, and dislocates the mind,| as Cicero observes (De Quaest. Tusc. iv, 8). Therefore fear does not conduce to counsel, but hinders it.

Objection 3: Further, just as we have recourse to counsel in order to avoid evil, so do we, in order to attain good things. But whereas fear is of evil to be avoided, so is hope of good things to be obtained. Therefore fear is not more conducive to counsel, than hope is.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Rhet. ii, 5) that |fear makes men of counsel.|

I answer that, A man of counsel may be taken in two ways. First, from his being willing or anxious to take counsel. And thus fear makes men of counsel. Because, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 3), |we take counsel on great matters, because therein we distrust ourselves.| Now things which make us afraid, are not simply evil, but have a certain magnitude, both because they seem difficult to repel, and because they are apprehended as near to us, as stated above (Q, A). Wherefore men seek for counsel especially when they are afraid.

Secondly, a man of counsel means one who is apt for giving good counsel: and in this sense, neither fear nor any passion makes men of counsel. Because when a man is affected by a passion, things seem to him greater or smaller than they really are: thus to a lover, what he loves seems better; to him that fears, what he fears seems more dreadful. Consequently owing to the want of right judgment, every passion, considered in itself, hinders the faculty of giving good counsel.

This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.

Reply to Objection 2: The stronger a passion is, the greater the hindrance is it to the man who is swayed by it. Consequently, when fear is intense, man does indeed wish to take counsel, but his thoughts are so disturbed, that he can find no counsel. If, however, the fear be slight, so as to make a man wish to take counsel, without gravely disturbing the reason; it may even make it easier for him to take good counsel, by reason of his ensuing carefulness.

Reply to Objection 3: Hope also makes man a good counsellor: because, as the Philosopher says (Rhet. ii, 5), |no man takes counsel in matters he despairs of,| nor about impossible things, as he says in Ethic. iii, 3. But fear incites to counsel more than hope does. Because hope is of good things, as being possible of attainment; whereas fear is of evil things, as being difficult to repel, so that fear regards the aspect of difficulty more than hope does. And it is in matters of difficulty, especially when we distrust ourselves, that we take counsel, as stated above.

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