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The Thomist 70 (2006): 103-23 AQUINAS ON THE NATURE OF TRUST MARIEL GEORGE St. John's University Jamaica, New York THOMAS AQUINAS NEVER devotes an article or discussion specifically to trust, This is not an oversight on his part. It is due to the fact that trust is an integral part of faith and of hope, relating to their formal objects. While trust cannot be treated as if it exists independently of faith and hope, nonetheless since the objects of the latter are twofold, and trust has immediate reference to one of these objects, it can be examined in itself. The importance of trust in interpersonal relations provides ample reason for systematically examining what Aquinas says about it. I. WHAT Is TRUST? Aquinas speaks at greatest length about trust when he is discussing the theological virtues of faith and hope. However, it is not hard to see the fundamental similarities between trust in God and trust in another human being. Supernatural faith and hope have a twofold object: a material object, namely, the things believed or hoped for; and a formal object, that in virtue of which things are rendered believable or able to be hoped for. Since the material object of faith is truth, this virtue lies in the intellect, whereas hope, the material object of which is the difficult good, lies in the will. As to their formal object, however, the two differ less radically. A sign of this is that Aquinas uses the same words, inniti and inhaerere, when discussing the formal object of belief and that of hope: 103 104 MARIE I. GEORGE In faith is found a twofold unity: for from the fact that the one on whom one's faith relies [innititur] is one and simple, the habitus of faith in the one having it is not divided into several habitus.1 Faith, however, does not rely [innititur] on the word of man, but on God himself.2 [H]ope tends towards something good, as to that which is possible to obtain: for it implies in its notion a certain security as to obtaining. It is, however, possible that something is had by someone in two ways: in one way through one's own power; in another way through the help of another: for things which are possible through friends we say are in some manner possible, as is clear from the Philosopher in III Ethic. Thus, therefore, sometimes a man hopes something to be obtained through his own power, sometimes, indeed, through the help of another; and such hope has expectation, insofar as a man expects help from another. And thus the motion of hope is necessarily borne into two objects: namely, the good to be obtained, and in the person upon whom one relies [innititur] for help; just as faith has two objects.... Faith, however, does not have the notion of virtue except insofar as it adheres to [inhaeret] the testimony of the first truth, so that it believes those things which are manifested by it ... whence also hope has the notion of virtue from this itself that man adheres to [inhaeret] the assistance of divine power for the obtaining of eternal life.3 Inniti means to lean on, to rely on. Inhaerere means to fix something in one place in a stable manner or to attach.4 Both words indicate a thing's drawing support or being supported by another. Implied in the relation is stability and security-one does not lean on or attach something to what one does not regard as solid.5 The trust of faith and of hope then are both an assured reliance on someone (or something).6 The passages quoted above indicate that 1 III Sent., d. 23, q. 2, a. 4, sol. 2 (Thomas Aquinas, Scriptum super Sententiis, ed. R. P. Maria Fabianus Moos, 0.P. [Paris: Lethielleux, 1956]). 2 Super Joan. 5, lect. 4 (Thomas Aquinas, Super Evangelium S. Ioannis, ed. P. Raphaelis Cai, O.P. [Rome: Marietti, 1952], no. 771). 3 Quaestio Disputata de Spe, a. 1 (in Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones Disputatae, vol. 2, ed. P. Bazzi et al. [Turin: Marietti, 1965]). 4 "To cling to" comes close to being an...


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