BENEVOLENTIA (Latin, benevolence)—an act of the will expressed in the desire to do good for someone, in wishing someone the good; benevolence.
We find the content of the concept of benevolence in Aristotle’s doctrine on friendship. To wish someone well is the beginning and an important component of the most perfect form of friendship, friendship guided not toward pleasure or benefit, but with respect to the very person of the friend. The two remaining components, mutuality and cooperation, do not necessarily accompany benevolentia. This is the reason why benevolentia and friendship cannot be regarded as identical.
St. Thomas Aquinas discussed the problem of benevolentia only in his analyses concerning love. According to Aquinas, in harmony with Aristotelian interpretation, benevolentia has a place in the concept of love (amor benevolentiae or amor amicitiae), but it does not exhaust the concept of love. The factor that clearly divides love from benevolentia is the experience of the mutual completion of subject and object, an affective unity (unio secundum coaptationem affectus), which makes to subject refer to what he loves as to another “I”. This moment does not occur in the act of benevolentia alone.
S. Wierzbicki, Uczucie miłości według Tomasza z Akwinu [The feeling of love according to Thomas Aquinas], RF 7 (1959) n. 4, 51–60; A. Andrzejuk, Słownik terminów [Dictionary of terms] (St. Thomas Aqinas, Summa Theologica, XXXV, Wwa-Lo 1998.