A threefold vanity

vanity of the heart flows from vanity of exterior things, and from this arises vanity of exterior works (73). Bonaventure introduces a threefold distinction of vanities: vanity of heart, also called “guilt”; vanity of exterior things, also called “change” or “vanity of nature”; and vanity of exterior works, also referred to as “punishment,” “wretchedness,” and “misery.” He also points to a causal order between these three forms of vanity: just as the existence of temporal goods creates the possibility of the inordinate desire which seeks the temporal before the eternal good, so the “vanity of exterior things” or of “nature” (i.e., temporal goods) creates the possibility of disordered love, “guilt,” or the “vanity of the heart.” But like the sun which rises and sets and hastens to the place where it began, so the cycle of vanity which begins in external things, after manifesting itself in the human heart, returns to the world as the “punishment” of futile, misery-inducing “exterior works.”

 

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