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Virtues and vices

 Jealousy is not only inbred in human nature, but
it is the most basic, all-pervasive emotion which
touches . . . all aspects of every human relationship.
Boris Sokoloff

seven-deadly-sins - devil and Jesus arm wrestleCultures, since ancient times, have identified virtues to aspire to and attitudes and behaviors to try to avoid. These point to a balance between emotions and a calm and reasoning mind – in areas that may contribute to, or detract from, social and personal ideals. They try to limit things we may later regret or that others may resent.

One example, from the Catholic Church shows seven deadly sins, with corresponding (opposite) virtues:

freud iceberg metaphor

……….Freud’s view of the mind (iceberg metaphor)

Vice                                         Virtue
Lust                                         Chastity
Gluttony                                 Temperance
Greed                                     Charity
Sloth                                       Diligence
Wrath                                     Patience
Envy                                        Kindness
Pride                                       Humility

Christian imagery presents the devil as a symbol of temptation toward vice. In psychology, Freud pointed to subconscious desires and to conflict among the id, ego, and superego. Genetics are now thought to be an important part of the picture, where qualities that can be undesirable in some settings may be present because, in the past, they had benefits that caused them to persist through natural selection.

brain-heart-and-DNAWhatever the origins and imagery, naturalist perspectives are in agreement with traditional wisdom – that it can be helpful, personally and socially, to identify and encourage virtues, and to recognize that we often have conflicting desires and learn ways of managing passions that may cause regrets.