Virtues and Vices: The Book

My latest book, Virtues and Vices, will be released tomorrow. Let me introduce you to what the book is all about. I have a good chance with this and I think that all of you will enjoy it too.

What are virtues and what are vices? What is listed as virtues and vices?

Virtue (LatinvirtusAncient Greek: ἀρετή “arete“) is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation ofprinciple and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. The opposite of virtue is vice.

Vice is a practice, behavior, or habit generally considered immoral, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a negative character trait, a defect, an infirmity, or a bad or unhealthy habit (such as an addiction to smoking). Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness, and corruption.

The vices and virtues that I use are the ones that are mainly found in the tradition of Christianity and the Catholic Church:

The poet Dante Alighieri listed the following seven deadly vices, associating them structurally[10] as flaws in the soul’s inherent capacity for goodness as made in the Divine Image yet perverted by the Fall:

  1. Pride or vanity: an excessive love of the self (holding the self outside of its proper position regarding God or fellows; Dante’s definition was “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbor”). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, pride is referred to as superbia.
  2. Envy or jealousy: resentment of others for their possessions (Dante: “love of one’s own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs”). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, envy is referred to as invidia.
  3. Wrath or anger: feelings of hatred, revenge or denial, as well as punitive desires outside of justice (Dante’s description was “love of justice perverted to revenge and spite”). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, wrath is referred to as ira, which primitive vices tempt astray by increasingly perverting the proper purpose of charity, directing it inwards, leading to a disorded navel-gazing preoccupation with personal goods in isolation absent proper harmonious relations leading to violent disruption of balance with others.
  4. Sloth or laziness: idleness and wastefulness of time or other allotted resources. Laziness is condemned because it results in others having to work harder; also, useful work will not be done. Sloth is referred to in Latin as accidie or acedia, which vice tempts a self-aware soul to be too easily satisfied, thwarting charity’s purpose as insufficiently perceptible within the soul itself or abjectly indifferent in relationship with the needs of others and their satisfaction, an escalation in evil, more odious than the passion of hate
  5. Avarice (covetousness, greed): a desire to possess more than one has need or use for (or according to Dante, “excessive love of money and power”). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, avarice is referred to as avaritia.
  6. Gluttony: overindulgence in food, drink or intoxicants, or misplaced desire of food as a pleasure for its sensuality (“excessive love of pleasure” was Dante’s rendering). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, gluttony is referred to as gula.
  7. Lust: excessive sexual desire. Dante’s criterion was that “lust detracts from true love”. In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, lust is referred to as luxuria, which vices tempt cultivated souls in their ability to direct charity’s proper purpose to good things or actions, by indulging excess. Thus in Dante’s estimation the soul’s detachment from sensual appetites become the vices most difficult to tame, urges not as easily curbed by mere good manners since inflamed via appropriate use rather than inappropriate misuse. Hence conventional respect for the ninth and tenth commandments against coveting and social customs that encourage custody of the eyes and ears become prudent adjuncts to training against vice.

A list of the seven heavenly virtues – to oppose the seven deadly sins – appeared later, in an epic poem entitled Psychomachia, or Battle/Contest of the Soul. Written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, a Christian governor, who died around 410 A.D., it entails the battle between good virtues and evil vices. The enormous popularity of this work in the Middle Ages helped to spread the concept of holy virtue throughoutEurope. The virtues are identified as chastity, temperance, charity, diligencepatiencekindness, and humility. Practicing them is said to protect one against temptation from the seven deadly sins, each one having its counterpart. Due to this, they are sometimes referred to as the “contrary virtues”.

 

Virtue Latin Gloss (Sin) (Latin) Virtue’s Meaning
Chastity Castitas Purity,knowledge,honesty,wisdom Lust Luxuria Abstaining from sexual conduct according to one’s state in life; the practice of courtly love and romantic friendship. Cleanliness through cultivated good health and hygiene, and maintained by refraining from intoxicants. To be honest with oneself, one’s family, one’s friends, and to all of humanity. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought-through education and betterment. The ability to refrain from being distracted and influenced by hostility, temptation or corruption.[2]
Temperance Temperantia Self control,justice,honour,abstention Gluttony Gula Restraint, temperance, justice. Constant mindfulness of others and one’s surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, moderation anddeferred gratification. Prudence to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time. Proper moderation between self-interest, versus public-interest, and against the rights and needs of others.
Charity Caritas Will,benevolence,generosity,sacrifice Greed Avaritia Generosity, charity, self-sacrifice; the term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving. In Christian theology, charity—or love (agäpé) — is the greatest of the three theological virtues.Love, in the sense of an unlimited loving kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God. Such love is self-sacrificial. Confusion can arise from the multiple meanings of the English word “love”. The love that is “caritas” is distinguished by its origin – being divinely infused into the soul – and by its residing in the will rather than emotions, regardless of what emotions it stirs up. This love is necessary for salvation, and with it no one can be lost.
Diligence Industria Persistence,effortethics,rectitude Sloth Acedia zealous and careful nature in one’s actions and work; decisive work ethic, steadfastness in belief, fortitude, and the capability of not giving up. Budgeting one’s time; monitoring one’s own activities to guard against laziness. Upholding one’s convictions at all times, especially when no one else is watching (integrity).(The vice “acedia” is more commonly known as “sloth”.)
Patience Patientia Peace,mercy,ahimsa,sufferance Wrath Ira Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts and injustice peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. Accepting the grace to forgive;[3] to show mercy to sinners. Creating a sense of peaceful stability and community rather than suffering, hostility, and antagonism.
Kindness Humanitas Satisfaction,loyalty,compassion, integrity Envy Invidia Charity, compassion and friendship for its own sake. Empathy and trust without prejudice or resentment. Unselfish love and voluntary kindness without bias or spite. Having positive outlooks and cheerful demeanor; to inspire kindness in others.
Humility Humilitas Bravery,modesty,reverence,altruism Pride Superbia Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. It is a spirit of self-examination; a hermeneutic of suspicion toward yourself and charity toward people you disagree with. The courage of the heart necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved. Reverence for those who have wisdom and those who selflessly teach in love. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one’s own self. Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be. Refraining from despair and the ability to confront fear and uncertainty, or intimidation.[4]

I put this into the context of my own life in the hopes that all of you can do the same.