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File:The worship of Mammon.jpg

1909 painting The Worship of Mammon by Evelyn De Morgan.

Greed is the self-serving desire for the pursuit of money, wealth, power, food, or other possessions, especially when this denies the same goods to others. It is generally considered a vice, and is one of the seven deadly sins in Catholicism.


Greed typically denotes the excessive urge to possess as a goal bringing satisfaction in itself, the desire to acquire material wealth and possessions beyond the need of the individual, especially when this accumulation of possession denies others legitimate needs or access to those or other resources. For example, amassing a large collection of coins would not in itself be considered greed, unless the needs of others were jeopardized in the process. Essential to the concept of greed is the awareness that the needs of others are denied, thus rivalrous goods exemplify greed while non-rivalrous goods may not. Greed also often involves using wealth to gain power over others, sometimes by denying others wealth or power.

Some desire to increase or maintain one's wealth is more or less universal and acceptable in any culture, but this simple want is not enough to be considered greed. Greed is the far end of this desire, particularly where one desires things simply for the sake of owning them (such as the desire to have great amounts of money not to purchase objects, but where the possession of the money is an end unto itself). Greed typically entails acquiring material possessions at the expense of others' welfare; for example, a father buying himself a new car, rather than fixing the roof of the family home, or otherwise a case of morally wrong priorities.

Greed (by extended definition) for the consumption of food or drink for pleasure, combined with excessive indulgence in them, is called gluttony; similarly, excessive greed for and indulgence in sex may be called lust, although it is generally understood that the latter term often no longer carries such negative connotations as it once did.

Proponents of laissez-faire capitalism sometimes argue that greed should not be considered a negative trait and should instead be embraced, as they claim that greed is a profoundly benevolent force in human affairs, as well as a necessary foundation for the capitalist system. Critics have argued that this definition confuses greed with self-interest, which can be benign.

Greed versus happiness

Buddhists believe greed is based on incorrectly connecting material wealth with happiness. This is caused by a view that exaggerates the positive aspects of an object; that is, acquiring material objects has less impact than we imagine on our feelings of happiness. This view has been corroborated by studies in the field of happiness economics, which confirm that beyond the provision of a basic level of material comfort, more wealth does not create greater happiness.

Greed and idolatry

Greed is a form of idolatry, according to the Bible (Colossians 3:5). While someTemplate:Who? have had difficulty understanding this connection, the most common explanation is that the greedy person values money or possessions more than God. This may also be connected with worship of the golden calf. Another understanding is that greed serves to bring as many things that the greedy person considers valuables to that person, making him the center of his efforts, the one he aims to please, converting him into his own god, and creating pride with great concentration on the ego.



See also

  • Miser
  • Mammon
  • Gordon Gekko

External links

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