Concupiscence In Augustine and Aquinas


 Why are human beings evil? The Judaeo-Christian
explanation is in terms of original sin. The notion of
original sin comes from the biblical story in Genesis of
how Adam and Eve lived in paradise, yet how they freely
chose to disobey God, and how they were punished by God by
being cast out of paradise. This casting out was not the
only punishment, however. In the biblical story, the woman
is specifically punished by God in that her childbearing
will now be painful, and also in a loss of equality with
her mate, who will now "rule over" <1> her. In turn, the
man is also punished, in that now he must laboriously work
the soil in order to gain any food from it. Yet all of
these punishments from the biblical story give no inkling
of why it is human beings are inclined toward evil. Many
early commentators on the biblical story, however, began to
see how this first or original turning away from God, who
is good, is the first instance of evil. They then argued
that it must be on account of this first evil or original
sin that human beings are inclined towards evil. Yet few
ever attempted to explain how the punishment for original
sin affected this inclination.
 In the Christian tradition, the first thinker to attempt a
coherent explanation in this regard was Augustine of Hippo.
Augustine felt that the punishment for original sin was
visited first upon the will, by weakening it and thus
inclining it towards evil, since it was through this free
will that God had given them that Adam and Eve chose to
disobey and turn away from God. Through the will, the
effects of original sin are visited upon the mind and the
body as well, making the whole person inclined towards
evil. Together, the effects of original sin on the will,
mind and body are covered by modern theologians in the term
"concupiscence". The task of the chapter one, then, will be
to provide the background against which Augustine came to
these conclusions concerning concupiscence.
 In the second chapter, the Augustinian conception of
concupiscence will be more rigorously analyzed. The first
task will be to cut away all the religious entailments
underlying concupiscence since they are philosophically
problematic. In the end, concupiscence will be redefined as
the inclination toward evil. Yet, since Augustine's view of
evil as privation, which is presented in the first chapter,
is also problematic because of its religious entailments, a
more coherent view of evil to underlie this leaner
definition of concupiscence will be discussed. This view is
that evil is unjustified harm inflicted on human beings.
 Another problem with Augustine's view of concupiscence
that will be presented is that it conflicts in a major way
with his moral theory. Augustine believed that only chosen
actions were morally culpable. Yet his view that
concupiscence entails a radical weakening of the will seems
to point to a lack of free will, and thus, to a lack of
freely chosen actions. In choosing the view entailed by
concupiscence as the more plausible, it will be argued that
unchosen actions, and even the unchosen concupiscence from
which these unchosen actions flow, are morally culpable.
 In the third chapter, Aquinas subtle reinterpretation of
Augustine's notion of concupiscence will be presented and
analyzed. Aquinas thought, with Augustine, that human
beings were inclined toward evil after the Fall. Yet
Aquinas differed with Augustine as to the degree of damage
original sin inflicted on humanity. Aquinas felt that
concupiscence was compatible with human beings being
inclined also toward the good. Thus, for Aquinas
concupiscence, after once again cutting away all the
indefensible entailments, will be presented as the pool of
all human desires, which can be either good or evil. This
view of concupiscence is even more plausible than
Augustine's, in that it acknowledges the prevalence of evil
in the world, yet also recognizes the possibility for human
G.R. Evans points out, Augustine was preoccupied with the
problem of evil for most of his life <2>. Indeed, much of
the early chapters of the autobiographical Confessions is
concerned with cataloguing the stirrings of evil in the
young Augustine <3>. Yet, one might wonder, knowing
Augustine as one of the major Christian philosophers in
history, why it took him so long to turn to the Christian
faith he had been raised with in trying to grapple with
this problem. Part of the explanation is that he knew the
Christian faith through his mother Monica only
"superficially" and thus, when he left his native town of
Thagaste to study rhetoric in the big city of Carthage, he
did not feel strong loyalty to Christianity <4>.
 Instead, as a student, Augustine became enamored of the
philosophy of Cicero, of whom he says: "the one thing that
delighted me in Cicero's exhortation was the advice 'not to
study one particular sect but to ... seek and ... strongly
embrace wisdom itself, wherever found'" <5>. Thus started
Augustine's journey as a philosopher. One of the first
places Augustine thought to look for wisdom was in the
Scriptures of the religion which he had been brought up
with. Yet, the Bible disappointed Augustine's search for
pure philosophical wisdom, since "it seemed to me unworthy
in comparison with the dignity of Cicero" <6>. He thought
that the Bible was "a text lowly to the beginner" and
"Augustine disdained to be a little beginner" <7> since he
was now a man of letters. So, Augustine began to search for
an alternative to Christianity in the pantheon of Carthage
that would satisfy both his religious and his newly found
philosophical longings.
 Augustine soon found an answer to these longings in the
unorthodox Christian sect called the Manichees. As has been
said, one of the major stumbling blocks for Augustine
concerning Christianity was the "lowly" or crude nature of
the Scriptures. The crudity of expression is perhaps even
more evident in the colorful human stories of the Hebrew
Scriptures which also form the bulk of the Christian Bible.
One reason the Manichees were attractive to Augustine was
that they rejected the Hebrew Scriptures and only focused
on the "Christian" scriptures or New Testament <8>. Other
factors about the Manichees also attracted Augustine,
namely, the idea that God gives direct illumination to the
"enlightened" <9> which, of course, appealed to Augustine's
newly found enthusiasm in his search for "wisdom". The fact
that this wisdom could only be found by the enlightened, as
opposed to the "lowly", made Manicheism tantamount to an
intellectual elitism. This also appealed to Augustine, who,
as has been seen, did not wish to be counted among the
lowly, especially the intellectual lowly.
 These ideas are what drew Augustine to the Manichees. What
kept him with them, however, was their explanation of the
problem of evil, which was, as has been seen from his
memory of events in his early childhood, a nagging yet
perhaps, up until that time, subliminal problem. The
Manichees held what might be mockingly called a "dual
dualism". The first dualism was a dualism in reference to
God. For the Manichees, there were two primary entities,
one good (that is, God) and one evil <10>. This dualism
flows from the idea "that nothing but good could come from
God" <11>. It may be asked here whether the Manichees held
that God, in addition to being the cause of good, was
identical with the good, such that God was in everything
that is good. Yet there are no indications that the
Manichees were pantheists of this sort. Thus, in the
thinking of the Manichees, if only good can come from God,
then evil must have another origin, independent of God.
 Although this explanation preserves the goodness of God,
it poses a real problem for God's omnipotence. If evil is
independent of good, then it seems unlikely that the good
(God) could be totally unaffected by or be in total control
over the principle of evil. Yet omnipotence requires such
total control. Thus, it would seem that, for a dualist of
this sort, God cannot be omnipotent. Evans says as much
when she states that Augustine "came close to believing
that God could be affected by evil" <12>. Augustine recalls
that what attracted him most about this dualism was that it
was "more acceptable to say your [God's] substance suffers
evil than that their own [the Manichees, including himself]
substance actively does evil" <13>. In other words, rather
than taking responsibility for the evil he caused,
Augustine preferred to place the source of evil on the
cosmic level, away from himself. This cosmic dualism is
only one of the two dualisms the Manichees espoused. The
second concerns the constitution of human beings. It is the
classic philosophical dualism which holds that the human
being is constituted of both body and soul. Yet this
dualism flows from the aforementioned cosmic dualism, in
that the soul is identified with good, whereas the body is
identified with evil <14>. Furthermore, the soul, as
identified with the good, is "divine", and thus, the goal
for the Manichee is to transcend the evil passions of the
body and to focus instead on the direct illumination of the
soul by God <15>. One can see here why this type of theory
would be attractive for Augustine in its emphasis on the
intellectual, which can be here identified with the
spiritual. The best explanation of this identification is
that Greek philosophy was beginning to have an impact on
the Christian tradition, of which Manicheism was a part.
For Plato, the soul has three parts, one of which is the
"rational" part, which resembles the divine and is immortal
<16>. Many Christian thinkers in the intervening period
between Augustine and the writing of the New Testament
began to see similarities between the Platonic and the
Christian conceptions of an immortal soul. Thus, through a
process of syncretism, the Christian conception of the
soul, which previously saw no connection between the soul
and rationality, came to adopt this Greek identification of
the immortal soul with that which is rational or
intellectual <17>.
 Augustine remained a disciple of the Manichees for nine
years <18>. Yet, in that time, ever the philosopher, he did
not give up his search for wisdom <19>. Indeed, his
readings of philosophy while in Carthage raised many
questions in his mind concerning Manicheism, questions he
hoped would be answered by the leading Manichee bishop of
his time named Faustus <20>. Their long awaited meeting
proved to be a huge disappointment. As Augustine relates:
"When I put forward some problems which troubled me, I
quickly discovered him to be ignorant of the liberal arts",
and thus Faustus "modestly did not even venture to take up
the burden" of answering Augustine's questions <21>. Thus
began Augustine's disillusionment with the Manichees.
Shortly after this incident, he left Carthage, and with it,
his enthusiasm for Manicheism. This whole discussion of
Augustine's Manichee period may at first glance seem
pointless since it is a position that Augustine ultimately
abandoned. Yet, as shall be seen, although Augustine did
indeed abandon, vehemently, the first cosmic dualism that
the Manichees espoused, it is a matter of some debate in
Augustinian scholarship whether he ever lost his affinity
for the second dualism that the Manichees held. As an
example of this difficulty, Evans points out that much has
been written about the preoccupation Augustine seems to
have had even after his Manichee period with the evil he
felt was involved in the pleasure gained from human sexual
intercourse <22>. On the surface, one can interpret this as
an example of how Augustine still perhaps held to the
Manichee dualism that sees the body as evil and the soul as
good. Evans contends, however, against some critics, that
in Augustine's position here "there is no evidence that he
became obsessed with the matter" <23>. Augustine's opinion
about sex is the logical outcome of his overall thought it,
and it is balanced by his concession that the sexual act
had a proper place in marriage in that it is procreative
<24>. Yet, Evans is willing to grant that "there persisted,
however, a lingering association between matter and evil
which Augustine never quite severed" <25>. Thus, it would
seem that although there might be some evidence to support
the argument that Augustine never abandoned the anti-body
tendencies of Manicheism, his position is sufficiently
different from the Manichee's. In order to show this,
however, one must now turn to the positive post-Manichee
teaching of Augustine on evil. After the beginning of his
disillusionment with Manicheism, Augustine began to cast
about searching once again for wisdom and answers to
questions that Faustus could not provide. He seems to have
found answers in the Neo- Platonic philosophy of Plotinus,
from which he gained new insight into problem of evil <26>.
The major impact of this philosophy was to enable Augustine
to see an alternative to the cosmic dualism of the
Manichees. The foundation of this alternative is pointed
out by Henry Chadwick, who, in his translation of the
Confessions, notes that Augustine often uses the Platonic
dictum that "existence is a good" <27>. For Augustine, this
dictum is based on the biblical truth that "our God has
made 'all things very good'(Gen. 1:31)" <28>. Thus, to put
these two thoughts together, since God made everything
good, then everything that exists must be good.
 Yet, this emphasis on existence as good has further
implications as can be seen when Augustine states that
"whatever things exist are good, and the evil into whose
origins I was inquiring is not a substance, for if it were
a substance, it would be good" <29>. Therefore, to conclude
the line of argument "all things that are corrupted suffer
privation of some good" <30>. Thus, in contrast to
Manicheism, where good and evil were separate, independent
entities, in this new theory evil is a privation, a
negation of the good.
 To flesh out this argument more, everything that is
created by God and therefore exists is good. Further,
everything that exists is a substance, or a part of a
substance, or a relation between substances, and therefore,
every substance is good. Evil, then, in general terms, is a
turning away from or a falling short of the goodness which
inheres in substances. This turning away or falling short
is thus a privation or a negation of goodness. To put this
another way, when substances are good they are fully
substantial. Evil takes away from this substance in its
privation or falling short of full goodness. Further, the
opposite of existence in substance is nothingness. Thus, in
the end, evil, in its privation of substance, tends towards
nothingness. Finally, since normally evil negates the
goodness of existing substances, making them tend toward
nothingness by privation, evil, in and of itself, is
nothing. This view is not without its problems, though.
Does it mean that all such privations tend towards
nothingness and are thus, in and of themselves nothing? For
example, is insanity, as the privation of sanity, nothing?
If Augustine's line of reasoning is to remain consistent
here, then he would indeed have to say that insanity is
nothing. In other words, sanity exists and is good, and
therefore insanity, as privation of that sanity, is
nothing. Yet, this seems to be intuitively wrong, in that
insanity certainly seems to be something that does exist in
the insane person. Even so, this line of argument is not
essential to the defense of Augustine's view of
concupiscence to which this chapter has been leading, and
which the next chapter will focus on. What is essential is
that Augustine's view on evil as a privation is one of the
building blocks from which Augustine constructs his
treatment of concupiscence.
 One might also be able to detect here some evidence
relevant to the question of whether Augustine really
abandoned the anti-body tendencies of Manicheism. That is,
if all existing things are good, then human bodies can not
be evil in and of themselves since they were created by
God. Human bodies thus must be intrinsically good. However,
this evidence by no means settles the question at hand, in
that there is still plenty of evidence of Augustine's
propensity to see the body as evil. More will be said on
this subject shortly, but one should note that there is
another problem that crops up as a result of Augustine's
contention that evil is merely a privation.
 If God is the creator of all, then Augustine's teaching
concerning evil as a privation could also lead one to the
uncomfortable conclusion that God is also the creator of
evil. However, Augustine, in keeping with what has been
said, could say that if evil is nothing, then there is no
problem of evil. Yet Augustine was too painfully and
personally aware of the presence of evil in the world to
accept this conclusion. What this whole argument against
evil as a privation assumes is that only God can be
responsible for evil. However, to avoid the Scylla of
holding that God is responsible for evil, and the Charybdis
of holding that there is no evil, Augustine staked out a
middle ground, namely that human beings are themselves
responsible for the evil they commit. Evans calls this a
"man-centered" solution to the problem of evil as opposed
to the "God-centered" approaches that have been discussed
<31>. Yet, in order to make this view work, Augustine must
explain how it is that God is not responsible for evil and
human beings are.
 Augustine first attempts to flesh out this view concerning
human responsibility for evil in his treatise De Libero
Arbitrio, here translated as The Free Choice of the Will
<32>. The work starts out, in Platonic fashion, as a
dialogue between Augustine and his friend Evodius who asks
"Tell me please, whether God is not the cause of evil"
<33>. The answer to this is, of course, "no", for reasons
that have already been discussed. Instead, Augustine and
Evodius come to the conclusion "that nothing else can make
the mind the companion of evil except its own will and free
choice" <34>. The reason for this is, as Evans points out,
that it seems to Augustine and Evodius "that the common
factor in all evil acts is lust in some form ... or that
misapplication of the will which makes a man want what he
should not want" <35>. Thus, human beings are themselves
the cause of the evil they commit, not God, and the reason
they are the cause is their misuse of the freedom of their
will. Yet, if human free will is the source of evil, it
leads to the question, which Evodius asks at the end of
Book I of The Free Choice of the Will: whether he who
created us should have given us that very freedom of
choice ... For without this power, we apparently would
not have been capable of sinning, and there is thus
reason to fear that God will be adjudged the cause even
of our evil deeds. <36> In response, Augustine states in
Book II that "we must not suppose that because a man can
also sin by his free will that God gave it to him for that
purpose" <37>. He reasons that God gave human beings free
will because "if man were without free choice of the will,
what would become of the good called justice whereby sins
are punished and good deeds are honored?" <38>. As Evans
comments, if one "had made no contribution of his own to
his actions, both punishment and reward would be unjust"
<39>. Put more generally, God gave human beings free will
so that they could freely choose God and thus not be
predestined automatons. After the discussion of whether
God should have given human beings free will in The Free
Choice of the Will, Evodius still has several questions
concerning evil and free will. His questions concerning
free will revolve around resolving how God's omniscience
seems to entail some sort of determinism <40>, yet this
topic would take the discussion too far afield, and thus
the focus will be on the question concerning "the cause of
that movement by which the will itself turns from the
unchangeable good ... towards ... all kinds of transitory
goods" <41>. In the De Libero Arbitrio, Augustine tries to
answer this question by again emphasizing the freedom of
the will in turning towards evil <42>. This question is one
Augustine would return to again and again throughout his
life, partly because of the new heresy being propagated by
Pelagius. Pelagius took Augustine's own words from the De
Libero Arbitrio concerning how evil begins in the free
will, and extrapolated to make the claim that, since the
will is free, human beings can also make themselves good
 During the long period after completing De Libero
Arbitrio, Augustine had been made a Catholic priest and
then bishop <44>. It is as a teacher and pastor that he
again takes up the question of why the will is inclined
towards evil in the treatise De Natura et Gratia (On Nature
and Grace) <45>. The general question that Evodius had
posed before concerning why the will is inclined to evil is
secondary here, since the major question Augustine is
trying to answer is: "'How could that which lacks substance
[evil, which is nothing] weaken or change human nature?'"
<46> Augustine answers this Pelagian question with a
powerful analogy: "To abstain, then, from food is not a
substance; and yet the substance of our body, if it does
altogether abstain from food ... is ... impaired by broken
health .... In the same way sin is not a substance" <47>.
Thus, Augustine shows how it is that evil, which is a
privation, and therefore not a substance, can affect human
nature which is a substance, albeit spiritual. Yet, as has
been said, Augustine also returns in a roundabout way in On
Nature and Grace to this question of how the will is
inclined towards evil. He states: Man's nature, indeed,
was created at first faultless and without any sin; but
that nature of man in which every one is born from
Adam, now wants the Physician, because it is not sound.
All good qualities ... which it still 
possesses in its make ... it has of the Most High God, 
 its creator and maker. But the flaw, which darkens and 
 weakens all those natural goods ... it has not 
 contracted from its blameless Creator- but from that 
 original sin, which it committed by free will. <48> In
this statement one can see several facets of Augustine's
teaching that have been discussed: that human nature is
good as created by a good God, and that the source of human
evil is in the free will. Yet what is new in this
exposition is that the human will is inclined towards evil
on account of original sin.
 The notion of original sin comes from the biblical story
in Genesis of how Adam and Eve lived in paradise, yet
freely chose to disobey God, and were thus punished by God
by being cast out of paradise. Augustine thus goes on to
argue that the punishment visited upon Adam and Eve by God
has weakened human nature. In particular, the punishment
for original sin has weakened the very will by which it was
engendered. Yet, there is a problem here which Evans points
out concerning how the effects of original sin were passed
on from Adam and Eve to their descendants. By making the
will the locus of human evil, Augustine cannot explain the
transmission of the effects of original sin as happening
bodily by procreation, since the will is a faculty of the
mind or soul <49>. Unfortunately, Augustine never came to
any conclusion on this question preferring "to keep an open
mind" on the matter <50>. This, however, is only a minor
problem compared to several major ones that Augustine must
face concerning his teaching on original sin. The main
issue concerns clarifying the effects of original sin on
the will. Clearly, for Augustine, if human evil begins in
the will, then the effect of original sin is to weaken this
will. One should point out here that Augustine is making a
perhaps unwarranted assumption, which will be discussed
more fully in the next chapter. What needs to be emphasized
here is that there are other effects of the weakening of
the will, namely, that the body and the mind both become
subject to the whims of the will <51>. The mind becomes
"clouded" <52> and the body "is swept easily away by lusts"
<53>. With this nexus of effects visited upon the will,
mind and body as a result of original sin, the topic of
concupiscence is finally broached. According to modern
theologians, concupiscence is the effect of original sin on
human nature, including the will, mind and body <54>. In
other words, original sin is the crime, and concupiscence
is the punishment.
 One should immediately point out, however, that this
definition is broader than what Augustine meant by the word
"concupiscentia". As Gerald Bonner points out, As a very
general principle it may be said that when Augustine
wishes to speak of lust in the sense of sexual desire,
libido and concupiscentia are virtually 
 interchangeable; but when any other lust is mentioned 
 ... libido is the word used. <55> This quotation would
seem to indicate that the word concupiscentia is used by
Augustine to refer only to sexual lust. This hypothesis is
supported by the fact that Augustine often uses the word
concupiscentia in conjunction with the word carnalis, to
indicate that he is indeed speaking of fleshly or sexual
desire <56>. Thus, one must infer from this that it is only
after Augustine that this term took on a more general
meaning. To review the conclusions reached in this
chapter, one should first note that Augustine was
preoccupied with the problem of evil for much of his life.
He was attracted by the Manichees dualistic explanation,
which made evil an independent principle, and which saw the
body as evil and the soul as good. To the question of
whether Augustine ever really gave up the belief that the
body is evil, the answer is both yes and no. The answer is
yes, in that Augustine believed that human nature, as
created by a good God, is good. Yet, original sin spoiled
this nature, and thus the free will which enabled human
beings to become evil, became itself weakened as a
punishment for originally turning towards evil. Thus, the
will is weakened and thus the mind is clouded and the body
is lustful on account of the whims of the will. Therefore,
the answer to the question of whether Augustine ever gave
up his Manichee belief that the body is evil is also no, in
that after original sin the body also was inclined towards
evil. Yet, one should note that this teaching is different
from the Manichee teaching, in that Augustine felt that the
will, mind and body were all inclined towards evil, whereas
the Manichees saw the body as evil, and the soul as good.
The focus of this chapter has been thus to explain the
background concerning Augustine's teaching on evil, coming
in the end to an understanding of what is now called
concupiscence. The next chapter will begin by analyzing the
Augustinian conception of concupiscence in order to
discover what implications of it are defensible. After
this, further implications of its defensible elements will
CONCUPISCENCE To examine more rigorously the modern
conception of concupiscence which flows from Augustine, one
should begin with its underlying conception of evil. As was
shown in the previous chapter, Augustine's definition of
evil as privation is not without its problems. One major
problem is that this definition is, of itself, merely
formal, and it tells one nothing about what particular
actions are evil. Yet, if a definition of evil is to have
moral relevance, it must be able to identify particular
instances of evil, especially as it is caused by and
affects human beings.
 What such a definition might be will be discussed shortly.
In the meantime, one should note that the Augustinian
definition, implies that evil is a negation of that which
is good. Evil is thus a turning away from God, who is for
Augustine all-good <57>. This makes evil coextensive with
sin. Sin is a religious concept, however, and thus is not
very useful, unless one is willing to accept what religious
belief entails, namely that there is a God, and that there
is some standard by which one can determine what
constitutes a turning away from God. Of course, not
everyone is willing to accept these entailments because of
their obvious and often stated philosophical problems.
Therefore, a more inclusive definition of evil is needed in
place of the Augustinian one. Another problem is that if
one accepts Augustine's view in De Libero Arbitrio that the
effects of original sin are first felt in the will, one is
confronted with a major inconsistency. If the will has been
weakened as an effect of original sin, then the freedom of
the will is also weakened. In fact, according to the
Augustinian view, the will is radically weakened, and
therefore the extent to which the will is free must be
radically diminished. This is contrary to the whole spirit
of Augustine's work entitled The Free Choice of the Will.
Indeed, this fact leads to a major incoherence, since for
Augustine, as for most Christian moralists after him, only
freely chosen actions are morally culpable or praiseworthy
 Unfortunately, Augustine never fully appreciated this
inconsistency. He felt that, on account of these effects of
original sin, the only way one could perform good actions
was with the grace or help of God <59>. In his earlier
writings, particularly De Libero Arbitrio, he also allowed
for the cooperation of the will in this endeavor, yet by
the end of his life he was convinced that it was by the
grace of God alone that one could do good <60>, which by
his definition, would involve doing those things in
accordance with the good, God. What this amounts to is a
kind of religious occasionalism, in which God steps in at
the occasion of human beings doing a good deed and enables
them to carry their actions through. Putting this religious
occasionalism aside, however, he never realized the
inconsistency of holding, on the one hand, that only chosen
actions are properly praised and blamed, and on the other,
that concupiscence radically diminishes the capacity of the
will to choose any action freely. One must now take stock
of what remains of the Augustinian conception of
concupiscence. Concupiscence, as was stated in the first
chapter, is the effect of original sin on the will, mind
and body. As has been said, the underlying definition of
evil as privation must be left behind because it is not
sufficiently inclusive due to its religious implications.
One should point out here that the same is true of the part
of the definition that deals with original sin. Original
sin is another religious concept that carries with it a lot
of unneeded entailments. What is then left of the
Augustinian definition of concupiscence? Nothing, it would
seem, except possibly a very general claim that
concupiscence is an inclination toward evil. One might
object here that this definition is so denuded as to be
void of all content. This seemingly vapid claim, however,
is precisely what will be the base upon which one can start
to examine the entailments that flow from the
philosophically more plausible notion of Augustinian
concupiscence. Before beginning this examination, however,
it is obvious that the first task will be to try to come to
a better understanding of evil in itself, since the
negative task of clearing away the religious entailments of
Augustinian concupiscence has shown that Augustine's
definition of evil is inadequate. The aim of the
discussion, then, is to find a definition of evil which,
while not strictly Augustinian, remains faithful to the
spirit of Augustine, and at the same time does not openly
contradict his intentions. As a first step towards
providing such a definition of evil, one that will serve as
a base for seeing concupiscence as the inclination toward
evil, one might begin with the concept of harm <61>. If
evil can be seen as connected with harm, then the next
question to ask is, what harms what? And here one comes
back to a distinction that was alluded to earlier, namely
the distinction between what is often called human or moral
evil and "natural" evil. One obvious way to parse this
distinction is to see human evil as involving only human
beings, that is human beings harming human beings. >From
here, natural evil can be seen as involving natural forces
causing harm for human beings. Examples of natural evil,
then, would be a volcano erupting and killing everything in
its path, or cancer afflicting a human being. To relate
this distinction to the Augustinian definition of evil as
privation, one should note that, although, as has been
mentioned, this is a purely formal definition that has not
been made explicitly morally relevant, when one realizes
that implicitly this definition of evil is equivalent to a
human being turning away from God or sin, one can see that
the Augustinian definition of evil does not explicitly
account for natural evil. Evans says as much of Augustine
when she states that "animal pain, disruptions to the
natural order such as earthquakes, traffic accidents", that
is, natural evil, is seen by Augustine as a subset of his
belief that the "problem" of evil is "man-centered" <62>.
What is meant here is that Augustine, as has been seen,
really believed that evil came into the world as a result
of the Fall, brought about by human free choice. Before the
Fall, the world was paradise where there was neither
natural nor moral evil. After the Fall, the world itself
also became hostile to human beings as part of God's
punishment. Thus, for Augustine, natural evil must be the
result of human evil. Once again, this view is problematic
because of its religious entailments. That is, one must
accept that natural evil is the result of the punishment
meted out by God for human evil. If one does not accept
this, Augustine's explanation of natural evil is inadequate.
 In any case, to return to the issue at hand, one must ask
oneself whether the definition of evil that is under
construction here needs to take natural evil into account.
If one were giving a full account of evil, the answer to
this question would obviously be yes, but since the task
here is to give an account of evil in keeping with the
definition of concupiscence as the inclination toward evil,
the answer should be no. The reason for this is that for
Augustine concupiscence as an inclination toward evil
refers to human beings. With this stipulation, one can now
say that evil as harm means human beings harming human
beings. The next question one might ask, however, is: is it
possible to imagine a situation in which harm might be
justified, and thus, might not be considered evil? Causing
someone physical harm by throwing him out of the way of a
speeding car might be such a situation. It is clear in this
case that although physical harm was indeed caused by this
action, it is justified in that this person is better off
with the slight physical harm caused by being thrown out of
the way of the car than if he had been hit by the car, in
which case grave physical harm would have been the result.
Another example is that psychological therapy often
requires potentially painful or harmful realizations about
one's self. Yet, this psychological harm is justified in
that the ultimate goal is overall better psychological
health. Thus, since there are clearly cases in which
causing harm might be justified, one might adjust the
definition to include this distinction. Thus, evil is
unjustified harm inflicted on human beings by human beings.
 Before moving on, however, one must ask what does harm
mean? In answer, it should be noted that for harm to
constitute evil, the harm caused must be serious. Further,
harm is serious when it prevents its victim from normal
functioning for an extended period of time. Next, one might
say that this damage can be physical or psychological. In
other words, the definition of harm can not just include
physical harm, there must be a recognition that there is
also psychological harm, such as humiliation or
 A full acount of evil would require further analysis. The
task here, however, is not to give such an account, but to
provide an adequate and compatible basis on which the idea
that concupiscence is the inclination toward evil can be
considered. The next step in that direction is to consider
whether this notion of concupiscence has any plausibility
of itself. Are human beings inclined toward evil? As a
first attempt to answer this question, one might note the
prevalence of evil in the world as an indication that human
beings are inclined towards evil. The ruthless slaughter of
millions by Hitler's Nazi Germany, the cruel authoritarian
dictatorship of Stalin, the violent ethnic hatred in the
civil war in the former Yugoslavia, rampant crime in large
urban areas; these are all examples of how prevalent evil
is in the world.
 What Augustine's view of concupiscence also seems to
entail, however, is that human beings are fundamentally
evil. One can see how this might follow from the fact that
human beings are inclined toward evil, yet the two are not
synonymous. Being inclined toward evil seems to imply a
potentiality, whereas being fundamentally evil seems to
imply that this potentiality has been actualized. However,
it seems that, for Augustine to remain faithful to the
Christianity he had embraced, the only way for this
potentiality not to be actualized is for the human being to
have sufficient freedom to overcome this inclination toward
evil. Yet, as has been pointed out earlier, this is
precisely what is inconsistent in the Augustinian view. If
the inclination toward evil radically weakens the will,
then it would seem that concupiscence radically diminishes
one's freedom. Thus, it would seem that it is impossible
for one to overcome this potentiality for evil and in the
end, the inclination toward evil inexorably leads one to
become fundamentally evil. Yet the view that human beings
are fundamentally evil is problematic, as will be argued at
the end of this chapter. It is time now to examine more
closely this fundamental inconsistency in the Augustinian
treatment of concupiscence. If concupiscence radically
diminishes one's freedom, then why does Augustine ignore
this fact in his moral theory and believe that only actions
which are freely chosen are morally culpable? The most
likely reason for this is that he was not aware of this
inconsistency. Yet, if these views are inconsistent, then
one must choose one of them over the other. To do this
reasonably one must ask which is more plausible. In answer
to this question, it should be clear that since this whole
thesis is about concupiscence, and not about Augustine's
moral theory, the viewpoint that is entailed by
concupiscence will be chosen as the more plausible. In
trying to say why the view entailed by concupiscence is
more plausible, one might begin by examining the moral
import of both viewpoints. In the view entailed by
Augustine's moral theory, only chosen actions have moral
import. In the view entailed by concupiscence, on the other
hand, the inclination towards evil is itself unchosen, or,
put another way, it is part of human nature, and leads to
actions that are unchosen. Unfortunately, this fact seems
to tell one nothing about the moral import of these
unchosen actions. The fact, however, that concupiscence is
an inclination toward evil, indicates that the evil actions
which flow unchosen from this unchosen inclination do
indeed have moral import. Thus, if one follows the
implications of what concupiscence entails, then in this
view unchosen actions have moral import. In distinguishing
the two views in this way one is led to an interesting
question that runs parallel to the question of which view
is more plausible, that is, are only chosen actions alone
morally culpable, or are there grounds for including
unchosen actions within the domain of moral culpability? In
answer to this question, one might consider the example of
Oedipus <63>. On the surface it seems that Oedipus is
unjustified in condemning himself for the horrible crimes
of patricide and incest that he has committed, since he was
ignorant that the man he killed was his father, or that the
woman he married was his mother, and in fact, he made every
attempt to avoid these actions.
 Yet, if one goes deeper than the level of whether he
freely chose to commit these actions, one will see that
Oedipus was indeed right in condemning himself. Oedipus
must see these actions as morally culpable since they flow
from a defect in his own character, as a result of which he
habitually goes against his moral tradition by asserting
his individuality. In other words, Oedipus had at the core
of his personality an inordinately headstrong pride which
continuously made him go against the limits of his moral
tradition. This defect was partially unchosen in that his
character was formed to a certain extent by forces that
were beyond his control, like his upbringing, which gave
him a certain moral outlook. What should be noted in this
example is that the partially unchosen defect in Oedipus'
character has led him to unchosen actions that are
nonetheless morally culpable. At this point one might
distinguish between this unchosen defect which is part of
Oedipus' character as a moral agent, and the unchosen
actions which flow from this feature of his moral agency.
Oedipus is culpable for both his unchosen character and the
unchosen actions of killing his father and marrying his
mother which flow from it.
 Is this a defensible position? In answer to this question,
one might ask how is it that Oedipus can commit these
horrible crimes and still not be morally culpable? In one
sense it seems that the very nature of these crimes cries
out for some sort of culpability. In other words, Oedipus
because of these crimes is in a very different position
from those who have not committed such crimes. And indeed,
Oedipus himself felt culpable for the heinous nature of his
crimes and acted on it by gouging out his eyes. Oedipus saw
that there was something in the objective nature of what he
had done that was evil and morally culpable.
 To return to the definition of evil provided earlier,
Oedipus had caused unjustified harm to human beings, and on
that basis felt morally culpable for his actions, even
though they were unchosen. One should note that this answer
to the question of whether Oedipus should be held culpable
has up to this point dealt with his unchosen actions and
why it seems right that Oedipus was morally culpable for
these actions. Yet, as has been said, Oedipus is also
morally culpable for the partially unchosen character
defect from which these unchosen actions flowed. The reason
for this is precisely because these objectively evil and
therefore morally culpable acts flow from this defective
character. In the end, one must realize that if one is to
be a morally committed agent, then one must be committed to
the minimization of evil. People, like Oedipus, who
habitually cause evil are morally culpable, even if the
defective characters that they have are unchosen, and even
if the characteristically evil actions which flow from such
defective characters are unchosen. However, one must
realize that what is at issue here is the appropriateness
of moral culpability, not the degree of moral culpability.
In other words, it may very well be that those who choose
to have defective characters and those who choose to do
evil may be even more morally culpable than those who do
not so choose, yet that is not the issue being discussed
here. The issue here is that moral culpability is
appropriate, in some degree, for those who have unchosen
defective characters and who perform unchosen evil actions.
 How does this case relate to the issue at hand concerning
concupiscence? It would seem that, as in the Oedipus case,
concupiscence is an unchosen defect of the moral agent that
carries with it moral import. Here the defect is not in the
character of a certain individual, but is an overall defect
of human nature. This defect, namely the inclination toward
evil, leads to unchosen actions for which the moral agent
is culpable, precisely because they are objectively evil,
that is, causing unjustified harm to human beings.
Furthermore, to return to the larger issue raised earlier,
if the unchosen defect in human nature known as
concupiscence leads to unchosen actions that are morally
evil, then it is clear that this view flowing from
concupiscence is to be preferred over the view from
Augustine's moral theory that only chosen actions are
morally praiseworthy or culpable.
 What this treatment leaves out, however, is the question
of whether the view entailed by concupiscence rules out the
possibility that there are any freely chosen actions at all
<64>. This must be left as an open question precisely
because of the inconsistency of Augustine's views. If taken
to its logical conclusion, the fact that concupiscence
radically weakens the will entails that there are no freely
chosen actions. Yet the very fact that he has posited
another view which is inconsistent with this one leads one
to think that he was struggling with this issue in such a
way that he perhaps implicitly wanted to capture something
of value in both views, even though he may have been
unaware of their inconsistency. Thus, since Augustine left
this, perhaps unwittingly, an open question, this treatment
of the clear entailments of Augustine's treatment of
concupiscence must leave this question open as well. Yet
there is one major problem with Augustinian concupiscence
that remains. The problem is that the moral entailments
which flow from concupiscence as the inclination toward
evil necessarily focuses on the negative task of the
"minimization of evil" while ignoring the positive "good-
producing" task of morality <65>. In other words, such a
view of human nature leads to a morality which is focused
mainly on avoiding evil, but pays little attention to
trying to do good. For Augustine, one might point out that
his view that one can perform good actions only with the
grace of God is the good-producing aspect of his morality.
Yet these religious claims are not philosophically
defensible, and thus one is left with the view that human
beings are inclined toward evil, and thus with a view of
morality that focuses too heavily on the avoidance of evil.
The next chapter will consider a subtle reinterpretation of
concupiscence, based on a modern reading of Thomas Aquinas,
to see if the moral consequences that follow from it suffer
from the same defect as those that follow from the
Augustinian conception.
CONCUPISCENCE In examining Aquinas' conception of
concupiscence, the detail that was exhibited in putting
forth Augustine's view will not be duplicated here, since
Aquinas is largely
building on the work of Augustine. To begin with, then, it
wasn't until this century that anyone fully appreciated how
Aquinas "slightly shifts" Augustine's prior conception of
concupiscence <66>. What this slight difference entails is
succinctly explained by Karl Rahner, widely regarded as one
of the greatest Catholic theologians of this century,
although Rahner did not explicitly mention Aquinas as the
impetus for his new treatment of concupiscence. Rahner
feels that there are two distinct traditions in
Christianity concerning concupiscence. As he states it: On
the one hand concupiscentia must be seen as ... a power
weighing down on man, with all the shattering impetus
attested to by ... St. Augustine and Luther .... If
from this first point of view concupiscentia appears
as a power oppressing man in his very depths and driving
him on to moral transgression, from the second point of
view it presents itself as something immediately given
with human nature, and so really a matter of course ...
indeed almost necessary. <67> The first view spoken of
here, is the one dealt with in the first and second
chapters of this thesis, namely Augustine's view that
concupiscence is the inclination toward evil which drives
one to "moral transgression". Yet this second view of
concupiscence, as "immediately given" and somewhat
"necessary", is one which Conan Gallagher correctly links
originally to Aquinas <68>. In the Prima Secundae of
Aquinas' masterwork, the Summa Theologica, in the article
entitled "Whether Original Sin Is Concupiscence" he begins
by stating that: The whole order of original justice
consists in man's will being subject to God: which
subjection, first and chiefly, was in the will ... so
that the will being turned away from God, all the other
powers of the soul become inordinate. <69> Here,
Aquinas agrees with Augustine in that original sin first
affects the will and from there moves to the rest of the
faculties of the human soul. A discussion of what these
specific faculties are for Aquinas is unnecessary. It is
sufficient to note that what Aquinas means by the faculties
of the human soul is roughly equivalent to what Augustine
meant when he said that original sin first affects the will
and then through the will affects the mind and the body.
 Thus, Aquinas is in agreement with Augustine on this
point. As a next step Aquinas states that "the
inordinateness of the ... powers of the soul consists
chiefly in their turning inordinately to mutable good;
which inordinateness may be called by the general name of
concupiscence" <70>. Here Aquinas again seems to be
agreeing with Augustine, in that what Aquinas means by
"turning inordinately to mutable good" is roughly
equivalent to the stripped down conception of Augustinian
concupiscence as the inclination toward evil. To flesh out
Aquinas' meaning here a bit more, to say that these powers
of the soul are inordinate is to say that they are directed
to the wrong goal, in this case turning towards a mutable
good, which means a good that is fleeting, such as the
pleasure taken in eating, sex, or some other transitory
activity, as opposed to immutable goods that have lasting
value, such as learning, and are in keeping with the
immutable good, namely, God. This is not to say that these
mutable goods are not to be enjoyed. Mutable goods are
goods, when taken in the proper proportion. The problem
arises when they are turned to inordinately. One might
rightly suspect here that by turning inordinately to
mutable goods, one is turning away from God as the
immutable good. Turning away from God constitutes for
Aquinas, as it did for Augustine, sin. Sin, as has been
shown, in its turning away from the good, God, is a
privation of the good and is thus, for Aquinas, like
Augustine, evil. Thus, to say that concupiscence is turning
inordinately to mutable goods is to say in a basically
equivalent way that concupiscence is an inclination toward
evil. Up to this point then, Aquinas shares all the
weaknesses of the Augustinian view that were discussed in
the last chapter, as well as all the strengths of the
Augustinian view if cut free of all its religious
entailments. Once again, up to this point, Aquinas is in
agreement with Augustine. So where is the difference
between the two views? Shortly after the above quoted
definition of concupiscence Aquinas goes on to say: Since,
in man, the concupiscible power is naturally governed
by reason, the act of concupiscence is so far natural
to man, as it is in accord with the order of reason;
while, in so far as it trespasses beyond the bounds of
reason, it is, for a man, contrary to reason. Such is the
concupiscence of original sin. <71> With this mention of
how concupiscence is in one way "natural" to human beings,
one is confronted with the second view of concupiscence
that Rahner mentioned earlier. What this statement means is
that if concupiscence is in line with "reason" or
rationality, it is in this way natural, whereas if it is
not in line with reason it is thus inordinate and thus
inclined towards evil.
 Yet what does Aquinas mean by "concupiscible power" here?
In answering this question, one should note that earlier
on, in talking about appetites, Aquinas has distinguished
between the sensitive and intellectual appetites <72>. What
he means by appetite here is any "conative potency" <73>
or, more simply, desire. From here, then, the distinction
of the sensitive and intellectual appetites roughly
corresponds to the desires generated by the body
(sensitive) and the mind (intellectual). Aquinas then goes
on to divide the sensitive appetite into the irascible and
concupiscible powers <74>. The concupiscible power is what
is of interest here, which Aquinas defines as the power
"through which the soul is simply inclined to seek what is
suitable, according to the senses, and to fly from what is
hurtful" <75>. Thus, it would seem that generally speaking
this concupiscible power or appetite involves desires to
seek pleasure or avoid pain.
 To put the two thoughts together, then, any act of
concupiscence, that is, any act that flows from desires to
seek pleasure or avoid pain, is natural and good if it is
in accord with reason, and inordinate and evil if it is
not. At this point one must ask whether or not this new
view of concupiscence has any plausibility. There are two
major problems with this new view as Aquinas presents it.
The first is with the notion that the concupiscible power
is governed by reason, and the second is with the notion of
a concupiscible power in itself. In reference to the first
problem, one might ask, does not original sin also affect a
human being's rational powers?
Indeed, as has been shown, Aquinas says that original sin
first affects the will, and then it affects the other parts
of the soul, one of which is the rational part. Thus, why
should one think that reason should rule the other
faculties of the human being, when reason is itself
infected by original sin? It seems here, that Aquinas falls
into the same type of inconsistency that Augustine did,
except that Aquinas' weak point is his emphasis on reason,
whereas Augustine fell into inconsistency in his emphasis
on the will. To reiterate, the inconsistency here is that
Aquinas wants to give reason pride of place in ruling over
other human faculties such as the will or the emotions, yet
reason has been affected by original sin just as the will
and the rest of the human faculties have, and thus, there
seems to be no clear notion of why reason should have such
pride of place.
 Aquinas might try to counter this objection by saying that
the effect that original sin has on reason is not as
radical as the effect Augustine felt it had on the will,
and thus, there is room for seeing how on some occasions
reason might correctly guide the desires of the
concupiscible power. Yet, on what occasions? For Aquinas,
those occasions would be ones in which God's grace aids
human reason to help it discern what would be in accord
with God's will. Yet this religious occasionalism is once
again indefensible from a philosophical point of view, and
without it there seems to be no real reason to believe that
reason should have any real power over the concupiscible
power. If reason is in any way affected by original sin or,
non-religiously, inclined toward evil or inordinateness, it
is hard to see why it should take precedence over any other
human faculty. Any such precedence seems somewhat
arbitrary. To make this objection even clearer, one might
consider some possible counterexamples to the view that in
the normal state of affairs reason is to guide the desires
of the concupiscible appetite or power. For example, how
would this view deal with cold, calculating, rational
killers like professional "hit" men? One might suppose that
certain of these people do not kill for enjoyment, but, on
a rational level, kill because they have to, that is, it is
part of their job. In fact, on the level of their desires,
they may have some sort of compassion or wish that they did
not have to kill anyone. In these cases, the desires have
been controlled by reason. Yet, it would seem that in
instances such as these, the desires of such people are
more praiseworthy than their cold, calculating rationality
would dictate. Thus, in such cases, if one accepts Aquinas'
claim that reason should rule over one's desires, one would
be left in a morally more culpable position than if one had
allowed one's desires to dictate over one's reason. In
other words, "hit men" who suppress their compassionate
desires and kill people in a cold, calculated and rational
way because it is their job are more culpable than someone
who is paid to kill someone but who allows these
compassionate desires to overwhelm their cold, calculating,
reason. The second problem with Aquinas new view of
concupiscence concerns the nature of the concupiscible
power in itself. Why is it that only the desires of the
concupiscible power are mentioned in this revised notion of
concupiscence, when just shortly before this Aquinas has
pointed out that all powers of the soul are susceptible to
turning inordinately to mutable goods as a result of
original sin? To be consistent here, it would seem that any
desire, rational or sensitive, should be affected by
original sin and should thus come under the heading of
concupiscence. With these objections stated, what is left
of Aquinas' new interpretation of concupiscence? Once
again, not very much, except perhaps a very general claim
that concupiscence is the pool of all human desires, which
can be inclined towards either good or evil, and which
possesses the potential to be acted upon and thus become
morally praiseworthy or blameworthy. One might wonder at
this point, however, how Aquinas in the passages cited at
the beginning of this chapter was able to go from a
conception of concupiscence that was essentially
concomitant with Augustine's to a view of concupiscence
that was quite different than Augustine's.
 What one is faced with here is the use of the word
"concupiscence" by Aquinas in two different senses. The
first is a more general sense that accords with the
Augustinian conception as an inclination of the whole human
being toward evil, and the second is the pool of human
desires, good and evil, that flow from the concupiscible
power. Yet one should notice that these two senses seem
inconsistent, in that one sees concupiscence as an
inclination toward evil, whereas the other sees
concupiscence as desires which can be good or evil. The
only possible way to make the two usages consistent is to
hold the second usage as the more general one, which
includes all the cases entailed by the first.
In other words, one must see the second sense of
"concupiscence" as including all those cases where
concupiscence leads to evil actions, and, in addition, all
those cases where concupiscence leads to good actions. Yet,
by making the second sense of concupiscence more
restrictive, Aquinas has made any attempt at a
reconciliation of the two senses seemingly impossible. In
any case, it is clear that Aquinas probably meant for the
two senses to be consistent, if indeed he even realized
that he was using the word in two different ways. With this
in mind one must attempt to carve away the inconsistency
for him, which, in effect, has been done in that the two
objections raised to Aquinas' new reading of concupiscence
effectively remove the restrictive nature of the second
sense of concupiscence and broaden the claim to be in the
end that all human desires are inclined towards either good
or evil. Thus understood, concupiscence, as has been said,
includes all cases, and thus reconciles both usages. This
being said, one might next wonder where the real basis of
difference between the Augustinian and Thomistic views of
concupiscence lies. The difference on the surface seems to
be that, as has been stated, the Augustinian would state
that every desire, whether it comes from the mind
(rational) or body (sensitive), is inclined toward evil,
whereas the Thomist would say that some desires are
inclined towards good, and some are inclined toward evil or
inordinateness. Yet what is the basis of this difference?
The fundamental difference seems to be in the implied
degree to which Augustine and Aquinas feel that human
nature has been wounded by original sin.
 Augustine, it would seem, is more pessimistic in that
original sin radically affects all human faculties such
that the human being is fundamentally oriented toward evil.
This view of Augustine's is borne out by the fact that by
the end of his life, as has been said, he believed that one
could do good only if upheld in God's grace. No cooperation
of the will is admitted here because no free will is
 Aquinas, on the other hand seems to have a more optimistic
outlook on the effect of original sin. One must grant that
for him as a result of original sin all the human faculties
have become disordered, yet the degree to which they have
become so seems far less radical than in Augustine. This
leaves open the possibility that human beings can have
desires that are inclined toward good. And just as the
inclination toward evil is unchosen, the inclination toward
good is in this way also unchosen. Furthermore, just as was
stated in the last chapter, the unchosen actions that flow
from these inclinations are morally blameworthy or
praiseworthy. Thus, in the end, for Aquinas human beings
are more of a "mixed bag" <76>, with potentialities for
both good and evil. Now that the problems with Aquinas
view of concupiscence have been examined, and the basis of
his difference with Augustine probed, it must be asked next
what is right about this notion of concupiscence? First of
all, one should note that this Thomistic definition of
concupiscence, in its realization that human beings are
"mixed bags" capable of both good and evil, overcomes the
problem with Augustinian concupiscence stated at the end of
the last chapter. The problem with Augustinian
concupiscence is that one consequence of the view that
human beings are fundamentally evil is that the morality
thus entailed will focus too heavily on the minimization of
evil. For Aquinas, however, the moral consequences of his
admission of the possibility of human goodness, are that
they allow for the positive "good- producing" task of
morality, as well as the negative task of minimizing evil.
 Yet one might ask, is Aquinas right about there being
instances of human goodness. In the last chapter it was
pointed out that the presence of horrific evil in the
world, such as in Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia,
makes Augustine's view seem plausible. Yet the fact that
there still exists examples of heroic human goodness, as
well as horrific evil, in the world makes Aquinas' view
perhaps more plausible. People like Augustine and Thomas
Aquinas are acknowledged by their faith community as having
performed many good deeds during their lifetime, and as
having sterling characters, such that this faith community
has declared them "saints". Such saints are actualizations
of the potentiality of human goodness. In the beginning of
this chapter Rahner was quoted as saying that, in
opposition to the view of concupiscence advanced by
Augustine, there was the view that concupiscence was
"natural" and "necessary". The notion of concupiscence
being natural has already been discussed, but how is one to
understand the claim that it is necessary? In closing this
treatment of Thomistic concupiscence one might offer an
example of how seeing it as necessary can be taken in the
right and the wrong way. The example is taken from popular
culture, namely an episode of the original 1960's
futuristic science-fiction television series Star Trek. In
the episode entitled "The Enemy Within", the Captain of the
Starship Enterprise, James Kirk, is transported to an alien
planet by a process called "beaming down" in which every
molecule of the persons body is converted to energy on a
ships platform, and is then reassembled into matter at the
appointed place. Unfortunately, in the process of "beaming"
back to the ship from the planet, the transporting device
malfunctions and sends back two Captain Kirks, one good and
one evil. What is of interest here is that by the end of
the show, the good Kirk and his crewmates realize that he
cannot survive without being reunited with the bad Kirk.
The reason for this is that the bad Kirk has seemingly
taken all the desires from the original Kirk, so that the
good Kirk is losing all ability to make decisions,
decisions which as Captain he must make. Relating this to
the discussion of concupiscence as "necessary", one can see
that the wrong way to take this example is that one
necessarily needs one's evil desires in order to live.
Thus, without these evil desires, one would, like Kirk, not
be able to make any decisions at all. Yet, it should be
clear that this reading of Thomistic concupiscence is
faulty, in that Aquinas would say that one would be better
off without any evil desires. If a human being could reach
such a state, it would be like the state in which human
beings lived in harmony with God before original sin.
 One must admit, however, that there is a sense in which
this example is right, and that is if one was to be
stripped of all desires, good and bad, one would not be
able to make any decisions. One would be, as it were, a
lump, with no desire to move one way or the other. However,
even in this case Aquinas would stipulate that the only
desires that are natural are those which are in accord with
human nature before original sin, namely good desires.
These good desires, then, are all that is really valuable.
If then, some desires are necessary to live, it would seem
that the only desires that should fill this necessity are
good desires. Thus, it is only good desires which can
properly be understood as natural and necessary. CONCLUSION
 In conclusion, one might summarize what has been learned.
In the first chapter, Augustine's view of concupiscence and
how he came to it was presented. Augustine felt that the
punishment for original sin was visited first upon the
will, by weakening it and thus inclining it towards evil,
since it was through this free will that God had given them
that Adam and Eve chose to disobey and turn away from God.
Through the will, the effects of original sin are visited
upon the mind and the body as well, making the whole person
inclined towards evil. Together, the effects of original
sin on the will, mind and body are covered by modern
theologians in the term "concupiscence".
 In the second chapter, this Augustinian conception of
concupiscence was more rigorously analyzed. The first task
was to cut away all the religious entailments underlying
concupiscence since they were philosophically problematic.
In the end, concupiscence was redefined as the inclination
toward evil. Yet since Augustine's view of evil as
privation, which is presented in the first chapter, was
also problematic because of its religious entailments, a
more coherent view of evil to underlie this leaner
definition of concupiscence was discussed, namely, that
evil is unjustified harm inflicted involving human beings.
 Another problem with Augustine's view of concupiscence was
that it conflicts in a major way with his moral theory.
Augustine believed that only chosen actions were morally
culpable. Yet his view that concupiscence entails a radical
weakening of the will seems to point to a lack of free
will, and thus to a lack of freely chosen actions. In
choosing the view entailed by concupiscence as the more
plausible, it was argued that unchosen actions, and even
the unchosen concupiscence from which these unchosen
actions flow, are morally culpable.
 In the third chapter, Aquinas subtle reinterpretation of
Augustine's notion of concupiscence was presented and
analyzed. Aquinas thought, with Augustine, that human
beings after the Fall were inclined toward evil. Yet
Aquinas differed with Augustine as to the degree of damage
original sin inflicted on humanity. Aquinas felt that human
beings could also still be inclined toward doing good.
Thus, for Aquinas, concupiscence, after once again cutting
away all the indefensible entailments, was the pool of all
human desires, which can be either good or evil. 

In the end, then, the question raised at the beginning of
this thesis, namely, why are human beings evil, has been
answered. To be sure, one does not have to accept the
Judaeo-Christian view that human beings are inclined toward
evil as punishment for original sin. Yet the idea of
concupiscence, cut free of its religious entailments, and
seen as a part of human nature, is one that is
philosophically defensible. Thus, whether one is a theist
or an atheist, a theologian or a philosopher, an idea such
as concupiscence, which recognizes the prevalence of evil
in the world, as both Augustine and Aquinas did, yet at the
same time acknowledges that human goodness is possible, as
Aquinas did, is most plausible. 
<1> Genesis 3:16, "The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the
Apocrypha, Revised Standard Version" (RSV), (New York:
Oxford U. Press, 1973), 5.
<2> G.R. Evans, "Augustine on Evil", (Cambridge U. Press,
1982), viii.
<3> One of the primary cases involving a stolen pear, see

"Confessions", trans. Henry Chadwick, (Oxford U. Press,
1991), II. iv. (9) ff..
<4> Evans, 7.
<5> "Confessions", III. iv (8), 39.
<6> "Confessions", III. v (9), 40.
<7> "Confessions", III. v (9), 40.
<8> Evans, 11.
<9> Evans, 11.
<10> Evans, 14.
<11> Evans, 14.
<12> Evans, 13.
<13> "Confessions", VII. iii (4), 113, cited in Evans, 13.
<14> Evans, 12ff.
<15> Evans, 12ff.
<16> Frederick Copleston, S.J., "A History of Philosophy",
9 vols., Vol. 1
"Geece and Rome", (New York: Doubleday, 1946) 208-209.
<17> see the entry "soul" in John L. McKenzie, "Dictionary
of the Bible",
(New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1965) 836-839.
<18> Evans, 13.
<19> Evans, 13ff.
<20> Evans, 16.
<21> "Confessions", V. vi, vii (11, 12), 78, 79.
<22> Evans, 21. Augustine wrote a whole treatise on this
subject called
"De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia".
<23> Evans, 21.
<24> Evans, 21.
<25> Evans, 36.
<26> Evans, 17ff.
<27> Chadwick, "Confessions", VII, xii (18), n. 24, 124.
<28> "Confessions", VII, xii (18), 125.
<29> "Confessions", VII, xii (18), 124-125.
<30> "Confessions", VII, xii (18), 124. 
<31> Evans, x.
<32> Augustine, "The Free Choice of the Will", in "The
Fathers of the Church",
vol. 59: "Saint Augustine: The Teacher, The Free Choice of
the Will, Grace
and Free Will", trans. Robert P. Russell, O.S.A.,
(Washington: Catholic
University of America Press, 1968) 63-241.
<33> "The Free Choice of the Will", I, i, (1), 72.
<34> "The Free Choice of the Will", I, xi, (21), 93.
<35> Evans, 115.
<36> "The Free Choice of the Will", I, xvi, (35), 107.
<37> "The Free Choice of the Will", II, i, (3), 109.
<38> "The Free Choice of the Will", II, i, (3), 109.
<39> Evans, 117.
<40> "The Free Choice of the Will", III, ii, (4), 168.
<41> "The Free Choice of the Will", III, i, (1), 164.
<42> Evans, 117.
<43> Evans, 121.
<44> Evans, 26ff.
<45> Augustine, "On Nature and Grace", in "A Select Library
of the Nicene and
Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church", Vol. V:
"Saint Augustin: Anti-
Pelagian Writings", trans. Peter Holmes, Robert Ernest
Wallis & Benjamin B.
Warfield, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,
1980), 116-154.
<46> Pelagius, quoted in Evans, 120. Brackets hers.
<47> "On Nature and Grace", XX. (22), 128.
<48> "On Nature and Grace", III. (3), 122.
<49> Evans, 123-124.
<50> Evans, 124.
<51> Evans, 162ff.
<52> Evans, 36.
<53> Augustine, "Ennarationes in Psalmos", (142.18; 16.17)
paraphrased in 

Evans, 164.
<54> See for example, "The New Dictionary of Theology",
eds. Joseph A. 

Komonchak, Mary Collins, Dermot A. Lane, (Wilmington:
Michael Glazier, Inc.,
1987) under the heading "Concupiscence", 220.
<55> Gerald Bonner, "St. Augustine of Hippo: Life and
(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1963), 398.
<56> As in "De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia", chap. 1 and
<57> Evans, 6.
<58> Copleston, Vol. 2: 81ff.
<59> Evans, 117.
<60> Evans, 148-149.
<61> For example, John Kekes discusses harm in his book,
"Facing Evil",
(Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1990), 50-55.
<62> Evans, ix,x,xi.
<63> As John Kekes does in "Moral Tradition and
Individuality", (Princeton:
Princeton U. Press, 1989), 13ff.
<64> One should note in passing that the fact that unchosen
features of the 

moral agent and the unchosen actions which flow from them
are part of the 

moral domain makes the view which is entailed by
concupiscence compatible in
this one interesting way with a certain moral theory known
as "character"
<65> "Facing Evil", 144-145.
<66> Conan Gallagher, "Concupiscence", The Thomist,
30:1966, 228.
<67> Karl Rahner, "Theological Investigations", Vol. 1,
trans. Cornelius
Ernst (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1961) 347-348.
<68> Gallagher, 228.
<69> Thomas Aquinas, "The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas
Aquinas", (New York:
Benziger Brothers, 1947) 3 Vols., IaIIae, q. 82, a. 3.
<70> Aquinas, IaIIae, q. 82, a. 3. 1:958.
<71> Aquinas, IaIIae, q. 82, a. 3. 1:958.
<72> Aquinas, Prima Pars, q. 80, a. 2. 1:409.
<73> Rahner, 350.
<74> Aquinas, Prima Pars, q. 81, a. 2. 1:411.
<75> Aquinas, Prima Pars, q. 81, a. 2. 1:411.
<76> This phrase I picked up as a student of Michael
Scanlon, O.S.A., when I
took his classes on Foundational Theology and Christian
Anthropology at the
Washinton Theological Union in the 1989-1990 academic year.
Prof. Scanlon
implanted in me many of the seeds from which this paper
sprang forth. Prof.
Scanlon is now head of the Dept. of Theology at Villanova

Quotes: Search by Author