||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the German Wikipedia. (September 2012)|
Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice, cupidity or covetousness, is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one’s self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort. It is applied to a markedly high desire for and pursuit of wealth,status, and power.
As a secular psychological concept, greed is, similarly, an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs. The degree of inordinance is related to the inability to control the reformulation of “wants” once desired “needs” are eliminated. Erich Fromm described greed as “a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” It is typically used to criticize those who seek excessive material wealth, although it may apply to the need to feel more excessively moral, social, or otherwise better than someone else.
The purpose for greed, and any actions associated with it, is possibly to deprive others of potential means (perhaps, of basic survival and comfort) or future opportunities accordingly, or to obstruct them therefrom, as a measure of enhanced discretion via majority belongings-having and majority competitive advantage, thus insidious and tyrannical or otherwise having negative connotation. Alternately, the purpose could be defense or counteraction from such dangerous, potential leverage in matters of questionable agreeability. A consequence of greedy activity may be inability to sustain any of the costs or burdens associated with that which has been or is being accumulated, leading to a backfire or destruction, whether of self or more generally. So, the level of “inordinance” of greed pertains to the amount of vanity, malice or burden associated with it.
Thomas Aquinas wrote “Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.”. In Dante’s Purgatory, the avaracious penitents were bound and laid face down on the ground for having concentrated too much on earthly thoughts.
From Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, greed means “greedy for base gains.” Gain itself is not a sin, but the gain of base things. Also, “given to greed” means literally, “given to filth.” Thus, a moral concern, not a subjective economic one for which there is no equal. A very wealthy man, for example, may be considered “greedy” in error, if such wealth was planned for some great achievement or building project.
Ivan Boesky famously defended greed in a May 18, 1986, commencement address at the UC Berkeley‘s School of Business Administration, in which he said, “Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself”. This speech inspired the 1987 film Wall Street, which features the famous Gordon Gekko line “greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”
Scavenging and hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are all actions that may be inspired by greed. Such misdeeds can include simony, where one profits from soliciting goods within the actual confines of a church. A well-known example of greed is the pirate Hendrick Lucifer, who fought for hours to acquire Cuban gold, becoming mortally wounded in the process. He died of his wounds hours after having transferred the booty to his ship.
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- Gabriel, Satya J (November 21, 2001). “Oliver Stone’s Wall Street and the Market for Corporate Control”. Economics in Popular Film (Mount Holyoke). Retrieved 2008-12-10.
- Ross, Brian (November 11, 2005). “Greed on Wall Street”. ABC News. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Dreamtheimpossible (September 14, 2011). “Examples of greed”. Retrieved October 4, 2011.