Rafed English

The Various Types of Vice

We have already said that deviation from moderation and the mean causes vice. This deviation towards either of the two extremes on each side of the mean has infinite degrees. Here we will mention only the two extremes for every moral virtue.

Deficiency

stupidity
cowardice
lethargy
submissiveness

Moderation

wisdom
courage
chastity
justice

Excess

slyness
foolhardiness
rapaciousness
tyranny

There are, therefore, eight kinds of vices, for every one of which we shall give a brief description.

1. Stupidity is deficiency of wisdom; that is, not using the power of the intellect to understand the nature of things.

2. Slyness is the excessive use of the intellect; that is, using the power of the intellect in matters for which it is inappropriate, or using it too much in matters for which it is appropriate.

3. Cowardice is deficiency of courage; that is, fear and irresolution in cases where there is no cause for them.

4. Foolhardiness is the excess of courage; that is, reckless action in cases where it is inappropriate.

5. Lethargy is the deficient state for which the point of moderation is chastity; that is, failure to use things which the body needs.

6. Rapaciousness is the other extreme in opposition to lethargy; that is, excess in sexual activity, eating and drinking, and other sensual pleasures.

7. Submissiveness is the deficient state for which the point of moderation is justice; that is, accepting oppression and tyranny.

8. Tyranny is the other extreme in opposition to submissiveness; that is, oppressing either one's own self or others.

Every one of these eight vices possesses numerous branches and subdivisions, which are connected with the direction and degree of deviation from moderation represented by the four virtues. Since deviation can occur in a limitless number of degrees, it is not possible to enumerate all of them. We shall, however, mention some of the most well-known ones here, and later discuss the ways in which they can be fought against.

Vices are divided according to the powers they are related to, namely, Intellect, Anger and Passion.

Adapted from: "Jami' al-Sa'adat" by: "Muhammad Mahdi al-Naraqi"

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