Summa Theologica: Part I of Second Part Q. 84 Art. 2
Whether pride is the beginning of every sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that pride is not the beginning of every sin. For
the root is a beginning of a tree, so that the beginning of a sin seems to
be the same as the root of sin. Now covetousness is the root of every sin,
as stated above (A). Therefore it is also the beginning of every
sin, and not pride.
Objection 2: Further, it is written (Ecclus. 10:14): "The beginning of the
pride of man is apostasy [Douay: 'to fall off'] from God." But apostasy from
God is a sin. Therefore another sin is the beginning of pride, so that the
latter is not the beginning of every sin.
Objection 3: Further, the beginning of every sin would seem to be that which
causes all sins. Now this is inordinate self-love, which, according to
Augustine (De Civ. Dei xiv), "builds up the city of Babylon." Therefore
self-love and not pride, is the beginning of every sin.
On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 10:15): "Pride is the beginning of
I answer that, Some say pride is to be taken in three ways. First, as
denoting inordinate desire to excel; and thus it is a special sin. Secondly,
as denoting actual contempt of God, to the effect of not being subject to
His commandment; and thus, they say, it is a generic sin. Thirdly, as
denoting an inclination to this contempt, owing to the corruption of nature;
and in this sense they say that it is the beginning of every sin, and that
it differs from covetousness, because covetousness regards sin as turning
towards the mutable good by which sin is, as it were, nourished and
fostered, for which reason covetousness is called the "root"; whereas pride
regards sin as turning away from God, to Whose commandment man refuses to be
subject, for which reason it is called the "beginning," because the
beginning of evil consists in turning away from God.
Now though all this is true, nevertheless it does not explain the mind of
the wise man who said (Ecclus. 10:15): "Pride is the beginning of all sin."
For it is evident that he is speaking of pride as denoting inordinate desire
to excel, as is clear from what follows (verse 17): "God hath overturned the
thrones of proud princes"; indeed this is the point of nearly the whole
chapter. We must therefore say that pride, even as denoting a special sin,
is the beginning of every sin. For we must take note that, in voluntary
actions, such as sins, there is a twofold order, of intention, and of
execution. In the former order, the principle is the end, as we have stated
many times before (Q, A, ad 1; Q, A, ad 2; Q, A, ad 2;
Q, A). Now man's end in acquiring all temporal goods is that, through
their means, he may have some perfection and excellence. Therefore, from
this point of view, pride, which is the desire to excel, is said to be the
"beginning" of every sin. On the other hand, in the order of execution, the
first place belongs to that which by furnishing the opportunity of
fulfilling all desires of sin, has the character of a root, and such are
riches; so that, from this point of view, covetousness is said to be the
"root" of all evils, as stated above (A).
This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.
Reply to Objection 2: Apostasy from God is stated to be the beginning of
pride, in so far as it denotes a turning away from God, because from the
fact that man wishes not to be subject to God, it follows that he desires
inordinately his own excellence in temporal things. Wherefore, in the
passage quoted, apostasy from God does not denote the special sin, but
rather that general condition of every sin, consisting in its turning away
from God. It may also be said that apostasy from God is said to be the
beginning of pride, because it is the first species of pride. For it is
characteristic of pride to be unwilling to be subject to any superior, and
especially to God; the result being that a man is unduly lifted up, in
respect of the other species of pride.
Reply to Objection 3: In desiring to excel, man loves himself, for to love
oneself is the same as to desire some good for oneself. Consequently it
amounts to the same whether we reckon pride or self-love as the beginning of
Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas
Whether pride is a sin?
Whether pride is a mortal sin?
Whether pride is the most grievous of sins?
Whether pride is the beginning of every sin?
Whether pride was the first man's first sin?
Whether the first man's pride consisted in his coveting God's likeness?