Pride / Greed / Lust / Wrath / Gluttony / Envy / Sloth These seven words sum up the universe of sin. They featured prominently in ancient Greek culture, where they defined the manifestation of evil, and are used in Judaic-Christian culture to map out immorality. What do these terms call to mind today? What remains of their former tragic and dangerous nature? Do they still play a role in contemporary society, or have they become obsolete in a world where anything goes, in which every boundary has been violated? Can they be re-interpreted and given new life, and perhaps incorporated into psychological and psychoanalytical therapy? One thing is certain: guilt and sin are again current topics. In this new series edited by Carlo Galli, seven scholars seek out new answers, attempt to examine the capital sins in a novel context that does away with the religious tradition in which they were originally developed, interpret them as enduring human passions, as expressions of humanitys ability to tell the difference between right and wrong.
Each of the seven books describe the social and historical evolution of one of the traditional sins, highlighting continuities between past and present and its shifting meanings over time.
She talks without listening, and is always right: she is presumptuous. Handsome and remote, focused in every gesture on his own body: he is vain. These are todays people guilty of pride: petty, haughty individuals, among whom it is difficult to recognize the traits of the beautiful Lucifer who rises up against God, the arrogant Prometheus who steals fire, Homers heroes whom the gods punish for their hunger for power and ambition. Pride deserves a special status among sins: it prevails over all the others because it is based on humanitys original condition as ambiguous evil; it reflects our desire for knowledge and to rise above it; it is a vice that imperils an individual from the inside. Adopting this viewpoint, the author examines the great proud characters of Western culture: Adam and Eve, tyrants constrained by their ideologies, scientists who manipulate life, and ordinary loathsome people we meet every day. These characters are brought to life in this passionate book. Courts that accused and convicted people of pride no longer exist and have been displaced by the imperative to be yourself and expand your egos. Has pride abdicated its heroic meaning to vanity and narcissism?
Laura Bazzicalupo teaches Political Philosophy at the University of Salerno.