the companions and peers of despair

“Though not the only offspring of acedia, despair is the most legitimate. Saint Thomas Aquinas has assembled the filiae acediae, the companions and peers of despair, in a demonic constellation that it will be rewarding to consider for a moment… In addition to despair, acedia gives birth to that uneasy restlessness of mind that Thomas calls evagatio mentis: “No one can remain in sadness”; but since it is precisely his most inward being that causes the sadness of one who has fallen prey to acedia, the result is that such a one struggles to break out of the peace at the center of his own being.

For its part, evagatio mentis reveals itself in loquaciousness (verbositas), in excessive curiosity (curiositas), in an irreverent urge “to pour oneself out from the peak of of the mind onto many things” (importunitas), in interior restlessness (inquietudo), and in instability of place or purpose (instabilitas loci vel propositi). All these concepts that are inseparably related to “uneasy restlessness of mind” (evagatio mentis) are to be met with again in Heidegger’s analysis of “everyday existence” (which, however, is not concerned with the religious significance of acedia): “being’s flight from itself”, “loquaciousness”, “curiosity” as concern about the “possibility of abandoning oneself to the world”, “importunity”, “distraction”, “instability”.

Evagatio mentis and despair are followed by a third offspring of acedia–a sluggish indifference (torpor) toward those things that are in truth necessary for man’s salvation; it is linked by an inner necessity to the denial of man’s higher self that springs from sadness and sloth. The fourth offspring is pusillanimity (pusillanimitas) toward all the mystical opportunities that are open to man. The fifth is irritable rebellion (rancor) against all who are charged with the responsibility of preventing man’s true and divinized self from falling prey to forgetfulness, to “self-forgetfulness”. The last offspring is malitita, malice par excellence, a conscious inner choice and decision in favor of evil as evil that has its source in hatred for the divine in man” (Faith, Hope, Love, p. 120-121).

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This entry was posted in accidie, acedia, bad curiosity, despair, Josef Pieper. Bookmark the permalink.

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