What is Avarice?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2019
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Many people have heard the expression "money is the root of all evil," but the actual Biblical translation is "the love of money is the root of all evil." Avarice, often used synonymously with greed, is a morally questionable and all-consuming love for material wealth, even at the expense of personal relationships and spiritual growth. Avarice is considered to be one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Catholic doctrine.

The idea of amassing a personal fortune through hard work or judicious investing is not generally considered a mortal sin, but if that financial success arrives as the result of an unbridled lust for wealth, then it could be properly described as avarice. Money can be a powerfully motivating force for many people, but there is usually an internal moral compass which allows a person to accept a certain level of material security or comfort. A person caught in the grip of avarice often ignores this inner moral compass in favor of amassing more and more wealth.


There are those who argue that a moderate amount of avarice or greed is necessary in order for a capitalist economic system to work as designed. Certain participants in a capitalistic economy should be driven by personal greed or avarice to acquire as much material wealth and power as possible. In this way, others benefit from the need for goods and services created by the uber-wealthy classes. Essentially, a certain level of greed or avarice may not make a real estate mogul or high-power investment banker a great human being, but it can make him or her an important driving force in a purely capitalistic economy.

Avarice is not to be confused with other sins such as envy or jealousy. People may become jealous or envious of the material success of others, but avarice comes from within one's own desires and priorities. Someone truly controlled by avarice is not particularly concerned with the relative success or failure of others, as long as those people's misfortunes have little to no bearing on his or her own "bottom line." Certain high-powered real estate developers or venture capitalists may be seen by their critics as avaricious, since their sole motivation for creating new projects is acquiring additional personal wealth, not a philanthropic interest in their fellow man.


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the actual Biblical translation is "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

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