Glittering Vices: The Misguided Pursuit of Happiness
In Glittering Vices, Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung (pp. 38-39) theorizes, with Thomas Aquinas, that the capital vices represent our attempts to provide happiness for ourselves through possession of temporal goods.
"Why count these seven as the main sources and most fruitful of the vices? Aquinas's explanation is that they aim at the things that most attract human beings, the goods which we most long to possess (ST IaIIae 84.3-4). Because each good on the list above holds a close affinity to human fulfillment, we are tempted to substitute them for true fulfillment as the goal of our lives. The vices offer subtle and deceptive imitations of the fullness of the human good, what we often simply call 'happiness'" (pg. 38).
"The vices have such attractive power because they promise a good that seems like true human perfection and complete happiness [...] They promise us a shortcut and a recipe for self-made satisfaction. In their own twisted way the vices are our attempts to attain goods like love and friendship, provision and security, recognition and approval, comfort and pleasure, status and worth, all by ourselves" (pg. 38).
"When our character is distorted by vice, we seek these goods—and they are genuinely good things—in a misguided or even idolatrous manner: in the wrong way, at the wrong times and wrong places, too intensely, or at the expense of other things of greater value. That's what makes the vices evil. Our values are out of whack—or in Aquinas's Augustinian terms, our loves are 'disordered'. Our desire for and pursuit of these goods does not respect the right ordering of values" (pg. 39).
The Capital Vices and Pride
Irrational Strategies for Obtaining Happiness
Rebecca DeYoung (2009). Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.
Glittering Vices: Introduction - Rebecca DeYoung.