AbstractThe traditional distinction between carnal and spiritual vices testifies the capacity that the structure of the capital vices had of adapting to the changes of the moral doctrines. Both the "spiritual fathers" of the structure use this classification for underlying the different role of soul and body in the generative process of the vices. In Cassiano's monastic programme of perfection the contraposition between concupiscence of the flesh and concupiscence of the soul determines a clear line of demarcation between two different types of proliferation of vices. On the other side Gregory the Great, who universalises the scheme, outlines an unidirectional path: pride, spiritual root of evil, triggers a process of exteriorisation which has its acme in the two carnal vices (gluttony and lust), in which the body is directly involved. As it was in Adam's case, every sin is a sin of pride which causes a fall in carnality. This, however, weakens the contraposition between the two categories and indeed it can very often be found in stereotyped forms. If in the monastic culture the tendency is to identify all sins as faults of the flesh, in Abelard's reflection, starting point for a fresh formulation of the problem, the "interior" is totally responsible for the individual's morality: for the Scholastic theology it becomes not possible to conceive a sin which has origin in the body. However, throughout the pastoral literature of the 13th century the distinction between carnal and spiritual vices remains, but it is transferred within each vice, which can be analysed in its interior nature or in its external manifestations. The body, involved in all the seven vices, serves the function of instrument and at the same time is the place in which the visible signs of a sin are inscribed: this vision is a sign of a radically mutated intellectual climate, in which the newly acquired medical and psychological knowledge offer the possibility of analysing the problem within a different definition of the relations between soul and body.
Silvana Vecchio, "Vizi "carnali" e vizi "spirituali": il peccato tra anima e corpo", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, IV (2002) 2