William De Witt Hyde

William De Witt Hyde's outline of practical ethics is an unusually methodical categorization of the virtues.

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
dress comeliness neatness respectability vanity slovenliness fastidiousness contempt
exercise recreation cheerfulness energy excitement morbidness frivolity debility
work self-support industry wealth ease laziness overwork poverty
property provision economy prosperity indulgence wastefulness miserliness want
exchange equivalence honesty self-respect gain dishonesty compliance degradation
sex reproduction purity sweetness lust prudery sensuality bitterness
knowledge truth veracity confidence ignorance falsehood gossip distrust
time coordination prudence harmony dissipation procrastination anxiety discord
space system orderliness efficiency disorder carelessness red tape obstruction
fortune superiority courage honor risk cowardice gambling shame
nature appreciation sensitiveness inspiration utility obtuseness affectation stagnation
art beauty simplicity refinement luxury ugliness ostentation vulgarity
animals consideration kindness tenderness neglect cruelty subjection brutality
fellow-men fellowship love unity indifference selfishness sentimentality strife
the poor help benevolence sympathy alienation niggardliness indulgence antipathy
wrong-doers justice forgiveness reformation vengeance severity lenity perversity
friends devotion fidelity affection betrayal exclusiveness effusiveness isolation
family membership loyalty home independence self-sufficiency self-obliteration loneliness
state organization patriotism civilization spoils treason ambition anarchy
society cooperation public spirit freedom self-interest meanness officiousness constraint
self realization conscientiousness character pleasure unscrupulousness formalism corruption
god obedience holiness life self-will sin hypocrisy death

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.”