Thomas (IIa IIae, 19, 3) argues that “worldly fear” (e.g., the fear of worldly powers or events) is always evil: “Timor autem ex amore nascitur, illud enim homo timet amittere quod amat; ut patet per Augustinum, in libro octogintatrium quaest. Et ideo timor mundanus est qui procedit ab amore mundano tanquam a mala radice. Et propter hoc et ipse timor mundanus semper est malus.”
“Fear is born from love”: we are afraid to lose what we love, so it must follow that for an act of fear to be evil, the love from which it is born is a bad love, “an evil root,” says Thomas.
But can that be right? Isn’t a man’s fear of losing his wife to cancer or his children to fortune borne out of a good love? Thomas doesn’t seem particularly careful about distinguishing between worldly fears: could we construct a more credible taxonomy?