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 humanity's 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.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.
Besides the volume listed here, two others are already published: Sloth by Sergio Benvenuto and Pride by Laura Bazzicalupo. Greed by Stefano Zamagni, Lust by Giulio Giorello, Wrath by Remo Bodei, Envy by Elena Pulcini are in preparation.
Gluttony is the vice that involves not only the soul but the flesh as well. What else can be said about gluttony, a sin so widespread that the worldwide epidemic of excess weight has spawned a new word: global obesity = "globesity"? Besides the traits that are traditionally associated with this sin, one can focus on more modern features the fast food glut and McDonaldization of consumer culture, on the one hand, to, on the other, a new quest for "slow food" and genuine, natural, organic products which have changed its meaning. Philosopher Francesca Rigotti expertly relates food to thought in this erudite and polished text, which reviews the history of gluttony from the tragic, extravagant banquets of ancient Greece to the insatiable hunger of Pantagruel, from the abuses perpetrated on imperial tables to the eating habits of characters in contemporary literature. Throughout the ages humankind's relationship to food has always been complicated, and it has always been difficult to strike a balance between indulgence and prohibition. So is gluttony a sin or a sickness, a voluntary vice or a genetic predisposition, as today's diet experts and physicians wonder?
Francesca Rigotti teaches in the Universities of Lugano and Zurich.