ABULIA [αβουλια], from: α- — not, βουλη [boulé] — will, decision, intention, counsel — a weakness of the will in some area, inability of the will to do good (the good known by the reason as the true good), esp. in moral life as a whole.
If we lead to the side pathological cases involving psychological disturbances, in every moral vice there is a weakness of the will with respect to a certain kind of good, a lack of ability to perform certain kinds of morally good acts, and in extreme cases there is a contrary ability to perform morally evil acts (not only a lack of will to perform good acts, but even a desire not to do them). Classical areteology (the science of virtue — areté), there is a distinction between a personal vice, a weakness that enters into moral life as a whole, and in an extreme case the unwillingness to perform morally good deeds. This vice is called discouragement (Latin acidia or acedia), or less properly, sloth in the service of God. Thomas opposes discouragement (as a feeling or as the vice that is related to this feeling) to "rejoicing in the Divine good" (S. Th., II-II, q. 35, a. 4, resp.), and it is characterized as "a weariness with respect to work", and "a sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good". According to Thomas, the vice of discouragement concerns the spiritual good as it is related and ordered to the Divine good. Hence the vice of "discouragement" is defined as it is related to the spiritual good as the Divine good (this is "sorrow about spiritual good in as much as it is a Divine good"). Classical areteology associates the vice of discouragement with the difficulty of the moral good (bonum arduum) which demands effort on the part of man. The result of weakness of the will is that the operation of the reason is disturbed (sometimes this is called resentment), in that some type of good is placed lower on the scale of values, and in extreme cases there is even a "transvaluation of good and evil", that is, the good is regarded as evil and vice versa.
The feeling of discouragement and the corresponding vice of discouragement should be overcome not by flight, but by actively undertaking the work of the reason and fortifying the spiritual values: "the more we think about spiritual goods, the more pleasing they become to us, and forthwith discouragement dies away" (St. Thomas).
S. Thomae Aquinatis, Summa Theologiae, I-II q. 35 in: Opera omnia Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, Tn-R 1948-1967; Woroniecki KEW II 1 (Katolicka Etyka Wychowawcza [Catholic Didactic Ethics]) (passim); K. Wojtyła, Milość i odpowiedzialność [Love and Responsibility], Lb 1960, 19823.