Virtues and Vices: The Lists

By Burgan, Mary | Academe, January/February 2001 | Go to article overview

Virtues and Vices: The Lists


Burgan, Mary, Academe


ONE OF THE PERVERSE talents I had in childhood was an ability to memorize the multifarious lists of virtues and vices from my catechism. The fact that every realm of human action had its grade gave me some sense of order in a world where messy behavior was ornamented with sentimental regret or melodramatic resolution to do better. Even now, my consciousness is a pot in which words like faith, hope, fortitude, justice, temperance, prudence, long suffering, and fear-of-the-Lord simmer along with temperamental attributes like charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, and kindness.

My tradition was wise to season such virtues with an equal selection of vices. I go over these to give teeth to my anger in times of stress. I'm writing the day before the national elections, in which claims to too much virtue have made me feel "sick and wicked," emotions Jane Austen feared as reactions to one of her most virtuous heroines. The cardinal sins are good, everyday vices-pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. But I reserve the grittier gradations of other, more specialized lists for politicians. The Sins That Cry to Heaven for Vengeance play well in my internal negative campaigning. Robbing the laborer of his wages, and robbing the widow and orphan truly identify political wickedness. As a child, I didn't have the power to commit the "vengeance" sins, and so I felt free to be outraged by them. There were parallel corporal works of mercy, however, and I liked to imagine myself doing them all-visiting the sick, comforting the prisoner, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and burying the dead.

I've looked for vices and virtues on the Web, and I've found that the responses thrown up by search engines can yield wonderful combinations of the uplifting and the nasty. You can buy a Seven Deadly Sins T-shirt for $12.95. Or you can download a presentation by an entrepreneurial lecturer on the Cardinal Virtues of Business. The "Seven Deadly Sins of Web Pages" are outlined (one is "under construction"). There is a wonderful bibliography on Aristotle's ethics from a professor at the University of San Diego, and an annotated list of National Public Radio interviews on a variety of modern virtues-all with an air-brushed softness of definition. They include respect, civility, parental responsibility, forgiveness, and modesty. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Virtues and Vices: The Lists
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.