Incontinence.

What does this mean?

I am not talking about bowel movements.

I read this in Summa Theologica but was not sure what was meant by it.

Something about doing something wrong that you cannot stop? :confused:

Thanks.

newadvent.org/cathen/04330b.htm

catholiceducation.org/articles/philosophy/ph0139.htm

Briefly,

Aristotle, and Aquinas after him, distinguishes a variety of states we can be in regarding a particular virtue or vice. Most of us fall into one of four categories:

VIRTUOUS: you don’t want to sin and you don’t sin. There is no struggle.

CONTINENT: you don’t want to sin and you don’t sin, but struggle. You feel a desire to commit some vice, but you successfully resist it.

INCONTINENT: you don’t want to sin and you sin. You feel a desire to commit some vice, struggle against it, but fall.

VICIOUS: you want to sin and sin. You call “good, evil and evil, good”

Maybe examples will clarify:

VIRTUOUS: think of a heterosexual man vis-à-vis homosexual sodomy. He isn’t even tempted by the thought of doing it.

CONTINENT: think of a heterosexual man vis-à-vis pornography. He might want to look, but he successfully prevents himself from doing so after an internal struggle.

INCONTINENT: think of the same man who, after struggling not to look, looks anyway.

VICIOUS: think of the same man who declares “porn doesn’t hurt anyone” and gleefully, without resisting or struggling in any way, looks at porn every day.

The trick is that we never really stay still on the “ladder.” If we are continent, but happen to give in once or twice, our wills will be weakened and we will fall into incontinence. Likewise, the incontinent person will risk the danger, over time, of giving up the struggle and becoming vicious. Obviously, viciousness is the worst state, as the likelihood of repenting decreases significantly.

Hope that helps a little.

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