Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!


  1. Nov 27, 2004 #1
    I'm going to finish an essay on Richard III tommorow and it focuses on ambition. I decided to start a topic to get some thoughts on ambition in general.

    My theory is that there are no discernable rules for negative ambition at this time. You could say that all ambition that results someone being negatively affected is bad, but that could be argued.

    I would say you can discern a type of safe ambition:

    Ambition that does not / will not negatively affect others including the one with the pursuit in mind. Arguements? Thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2004 #2
    ambition = desire/action. That's always going to upset some balance. I wouldn't choose the term "safe ambition." Would you say Jesus' ambition was a safe one? Because he did proclaimed:
    Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world; no, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers. ... a man's worst enemy will be the members of his own family. ...

    I'd say the only safe action/ambition is Buffy the vampire slayer's. Yes, I am obsessed, but that's what comes to mind.
  4. Nov 28, 2004 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Aristotle (I use Aristotle because of his influence), in Nicomachean Ethics, applies his golden mean to ambition (connecting it with honor and pride- a connection I never really understood, but anyway):
    the deficiency = unambitiousness,
    the excess = ambition,
    the mean = proper ambition.
    So a nonnegative kind of ambition has long been recognized.
    How you judge an ambition can depend on several factors:
    1) it's motivation (desire, greed, love, reason, etc.)
    2) it's performance (morally, ruthlessly)
    3) it's goal (power, revenge, peace, happiness)
    And perhaps others I can't think of now.

    In Shakespeare, ambition is usually negative, or excessive, especially in the tragedies. To make the distinction, people often use the phrase "ruthless ambition" to denote the negative kind.
    It also usually happens that the more specific the desired object, the more negative the ambition. For instance, the desire to be king vs. the desire to be powerful. The thinking behind this is that as the object becomes more specifc, a person's focus becomes more narrow. And as you focus more narrowly on one thing, everything else gets blurred, including the effects of you actions, your morality, and better judgement.

    I share 0TheSwerve0's hesitation in categorizing ambitions by safeness. It doesn't really fit. It seems, by your definition, that you mean "neutral." Is that accurate?

    If you want some help on the paper, post it. There was a post just last week, in the homework help forum, from someone doing a Macbeth paper.

    Happy thoughts,
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Ambition