Thursday, August 25, 2011

How Do You Spell It?

I always thought that things like peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, the jingling of change in my pocket, finding that my favorite shirt didn't shrink in the dryer (and also didn't need ironing), and furry dogs that snuggled up to you on a cold night were good. Evidently I may have been mistaken.

Plato wrote that the idea of the Good is the ultimate object of knowledge, although it is not knowledge itself. Common man cannot see, understand or attain true good because it exists only as a concept. He also said things that are "just" gain their usefulness and value. According to Plato, humans are compelled to pursue the good, but no one can hope to do this successfully without philosophical reasoning.

Aristotle was critical of Plato's ideas of the Good. I guess he thought them bad. Sigh.

Today, Richard Kraut, one of Harvard's respected analytical philosophers, explores a good-centered moral philosophy, an "ethics of well-being" that requires all of our efforts to do some good. Kraut’s theory appears to come down to the fact that many common human pursuits – for riches, fame, domination – are in themselves worthless, while some of the familiar virtues – justice, honesty, and autonomy – are good.

Being a lowly common man I tend to think (when I do) that no matter how you spell it "good" is simply that which does no harm. That we can wish each other a good morning, or good luck without a fifteen page explanation about what exactly we mean...

I think I'll pick up some ice cream today. Simply because it's good, and not because it's useful or just. Call me a rebel.


  1. Good perhaps is just simply no more than the absence of bad. There are people out there, no matter their circumstances, who dwell solely in the land of good. There is always the good road to travel, the good answer to offer, the good action to take, the good to be found in misfortune, the good to be found in good!

    Perhaps Rand, the great philosophers miss the good point. Thinking too much on a good thing is not good. Good happens. You may not want it, but it offers itself up to us at every breath we take. Good is there for the taking with or without our urging. It is always there waiting for us to grab it. Good adapts to all things as it sees a need. I don’t question it, I do appreciate it.

    It would be wonderful to lay claim to it as a human condition, but I’m not sure that answer is good. It may not really be us. Good is just good. The one thing we can pretty much do is identify who or what around us is good. We don’t always know who or what is not.

    How do you spell it? Well there’s lots of ways. Generosity, kindness, courage, empathy, gentility, joy, gratitude, brotherhood, vanilla swirl ice cream, a new child, well heck, I could go on and on and on. All of those spellings are good.

    If what I have struggled to say here makes any sense, that would be a good thing.

  2. Total sense, Mike. In fact I'm tempted to get you to write the blog from now on. You're good!

  3. A good blog read by good people is good. Enjoying Mike's spelling of good. Enjoying our good friend Rand is good, too. Nothing's too good, that's the charm.

  4. Thanks Mike and Lynn Marie. I once got hives from eating too many raspberries... my mother told me to eat bread with them. I think it was raspberries. It could have been blueberries... they were good though...

  5. There are so many things that are good to you - good for you - unless they have unfortunate consequences like hives or adverse reactions ... how subjective is "good"?

    What course in ancient philosophy are you involved with? Good for you!

  6. I think some people think too much, and philosophers think more than that. Ask a kid what's good and they can tell you. Life's a lot easier to understand before we make such a point of trying to understand it.

  7. Great points mac and Linda. Thanks so much. Good stuff...