William De Witt Hyde (1858–1917) was president of Bowdoin College and also the chair of mental and moral philosophy there. His first of several books was Practical Ethics (1892). It is remarkable, among other things, for the methodical way in which he attempts to categorize the virtues:
|Object||Duty||Virtue||Reward||Temptation||Vice of Defect||Vice of Excess||Penalty|
|food & drink||vigor||temperance||health||appetite||asceticism||intemperance||disease|
In his scheme, objects are the countless things which are external to us but that are the materials we use to build our lives: “materials to work with, stuff to build character out of, resistance to overcome, objects to confront.” Toward each object we have a single, particular “relation… which at the same time best promotes the development of ourselves and best preserves the object’s proper use and worth.” It is our duty to maintain that relation, and his book is designed to assist in the art of discerning that duty.
“If we do our duty repeatedly and perseveringly in any direction, we form the habit of doing it, learn to enjoy it, and acquire a preference for it. This habitual preference for a duty is the virtue corresponding to it.” This is in his words, but the idea is right out of Aristotle.
Virtues are not, in this scheme, their own reward, but they each have a particular reward, which correspond to the object on which they are practiced.
As was mentioned, between us and the various objects we encounter is one single correct relation; any other relation we might fall into instead is a temptation. The habitual yielding to temptation is vice. One might err on the side of neglect for the object, in which case this is a vice of defect, or one might err on the side of giving the object a disproportionate place in our life, in which case this is a vice of excess (this too, comes from Aristotle’s “golden mean” theory). Just as virtues have their rewards, each vice has its associated penalty by which it interferes with “that realization of ourselves through the object, or in the higher relations, that realization of the object through us, on which the harmony and completeness of our life depends.”