Resistance to the demands of love: Aquinas on the vice of Acedia

The Thomist 68 (2):173-204 (2004)
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The list of the seven capital vices include sloth, envy, avarice, vainglory, gluttony, lust, and anger. While many of the seven vices are more complex than they appear at first glance, one stands out as more obscure and out of place than all the others, at least for a contemporary audience: the vice of sloth. Our puzzlement over sloth is heightened by sloth's inclusion on the traditional lists of the seven capital vices and the seven deadly sins from the fourth century onward. For hundreds of years, these seven vices were distinguished as moral and spiritual failings of serious and perennial importance. By contrast, recent studies, as well as the popular imagination, typically associate sloth with, or even define it as, laziness. But is laziness in fact a moral failing?

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Rebecca DeYoung
Calvin University


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