What is good ?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

What is "good"?

How would you define good? Even some of the good things you do impact others in a bad way. How about this... If you do something "good" to someone just for personal gain, is it still a good deed? Is good perhaps just something that if you were in the recievers shoes would appriciate?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Positive experiences (aka pleasure) are good.
 
  • #3
loseyourname
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I think you may want to qualify that. I know you don't believe that when Ted Bundy derives pleasure from slicing up his date, that it is good.
 
  • #4
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Hedonism (physical and intellectual) is the only thing that gives life meaning. Anything else is a lie.
 
  • #5
loseyourname said:
I think you may want to qualify that. I know you don't believe that when Ted Bundy derives pleasure from slicing up his date, that it is good.
Any pleasure he had, in and of itself, was good, yet the desire for the pleasure yet led to very negative (bad) events that outweighed the pleasure, so actions that led to the pleasure were net negative (bad), and the fact that he gained pleasure from these acts was net negative.

Any pleasure, in and of itself, is good. Any pain, in and of itself, is bad. When judging occurences, we must consider both.
 
  • #6
loseyourname
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How far into the future do you extend your considerations? If someone derives a great deal of pleasure from smoking cigarettes, but dies a slow and painful death because of the side effects, should he smoke?

I guess I'm just trying to get a step beyond you. Presumably we can all agree that a good sensation is that which is pleasurable. But what is a good action? Pleasure produced by a certain action has to be parcelled out, and can come at the expense of pain to others or even pain to yourself down the line. How do you judge these actions?
 
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  • #7
You can never be completely sure. If it's something that seems as though it may have strong effects, you should consider all likely possibilities that would of high positive or negative value.
 
  • #8
What good is and what right is are different. Your guys deviated from the original thread question.
Rom 3:10 As it is written, "Not even one person is righteous.
Rom 3:11 No one understands. No one searches for God.
Rom 3:12 All have turned away. Together they have become worthless. No one shows kindness, not even one person!
 
  • #9
jammieg
If good can mean so many different things then what do all the individual experiences have in common? To me music and art are good and they are forms of stimulation, but then there are other kinds of good, maybe in order to have a one general word to cover so much ground we would have to see the word as being an accumulation of many specific meanings and contextually dependent meanings and physiological meanings,coloured by personal experience meaings, etc, but then typically one word is associated with a few basic set ideas like once the word "penis" is used by everyone and not just the lab coat wearer it will be the dirty word and a new word will be made to conceal and keep thoughts under control, and control is important. I think this is the basic idea of objective positivism that most of the problem is in the way we think of words and the limitations of communicating with words, and the hidden meanings behind words.
Rom3;11 -Do you think the search for God could be more about aspiring to an ideal and impossible goal than actually finding God?
 
  • #10
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Good, the opposite of evil.

A thing that is good for one is the worst thing possible for another: You marry the girls of you dreams, yet some other guy see the love of his life getting married to the guy he can't stand.
Good for you, bad for him, Evil/bad works exactly the same yet the other way around.

Then ofcourse there is the universal good/bad.
The earth being missed by a astroid is a universal good, it being hit is ofcourse bad.

To a certain extend i believe you can't call things good or bad.

Save to say is: good is what benefits you, makes you happy or in any other way improves things for you.

Good is tricky
 
  • #11
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I wouldn't count that as a universal good. Suppose some one doesn't have the strenth to kill themselves and hopes that the astroid hit the earth. Bad for him/her. Good for most.
 
  • #12
One person's good is another person's okay is another person's downright monstrous evil.

One of those things I can't even begin to put into words, but a smile says it all :)
 
  • #13
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sharing bread is a good thing
sharing ideas is a good thing
living is a good thing!!!
 
  • #14
The Final Authority

Ecc 1:15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

The reason Solomon says that what is crooked cannot be made straight is that we have neglected the Bible as the answer to what is GOOD. Thus we have no straight by which to measure crooked. Also, to those who argue that truth (or good, for that matter) is relative are in disagreement with this age-old wisdom. Solomon is saying that if nothing were straight, nothing could be considered crooked. Makes sense, huh? Read the Bible. If you are open-minded, you will find the answer to what is good and what is not.
By the way, Solomon answers a lot of the questions he himself raised in this book in the last few verses of chapter 12. Check it out:

Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
 
  • #15
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The real answer here is that the meaning of 'good' is relative to the individual, despite what Solomon and the Bible say. The same is true for most other words of the sort like 'right/wrong,' 'beautiful/ugly,' etc. To you, the meaning of good and what qualifies as good is whatever you truly believe to be good. To me, good is what i consider good. To the God fearing nation, good is whatever God says is good. It's a relative word with no real universal definition. One could say that which is good is what benefits mankind to the greatest degree in the long run, or short run, or whatever, but whose to say mankind and his survival are good?

I do not intend to start a religious debate here...I didn't realize that the Value Theory topic area has a sore spot from past battles :biggrin: This is, of course, only my humble opinion and not an attack on anyone or their beliefs.
 
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  • #16
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There's no such thing as right and wrong, right? :approve:
 
  • #17
Iacchus32 said:
There's no such thing as right and wrong, right? :approve:
That theory contradicts itself. If there is no such things as right and wrong then the theory itself cannot be right either.

I believe right and wrong exist. Right: Something that increases the pleasure of a person or group of people. This can require the use of negative pleasure elsewhere if the amount is justifiable.

Wrong: Something that weakens the ratio between negative and positive things within the world.

Based on my beliefs if you hit someone and it doesn't make you feel very good but makes them feel really bad then it's wrong.
 
  • #18
selfAdjoint
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Dooga Blackrazor said:
That theory contradicts itself. If there is no such things as right and wrong then the theory itself cannot be right either.
This statement confuses two meanings of 'right'. A theory is right or not in the sense of 'correct'. A moral position is right or not in the sense of 'morally justified'. So there isn't really any contradiction.
 
  • #19
Whoops, thanks. :) I still stand by the rest of my post though.
 
  • #20
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right - wrong, good - evil, are man made ideas. within the scheme of the universe, all, just IS.

IMHO, what we are trying to do in the physical world is to learn to use our energy to manipulate our reality.

if we are attending to our goal properly, we have a pleasant or good experience. if we are off course, we have an unpleasant or bad experience.

let's not get lost in the rewards of the mean, nasty, greedy people of the world. those 'rewards' are temporal. if we want to move on in our quest for fulfillment we establish our individual standards of right,wrong & good, bad. Hitler is obviously the best example of a 'bad' individual. unfortunately, he accepted a definition of good (pre-birth or otherwise) so that he could be the person he was to learn about the power of his energy. saddly, others agreed to participate in the holocaust so that they could awaken their need to reach out and grasp their energy.

we now have a slightly better world. better is relative, but we are talking about this world. sooner or later we will wake up and realize that oppression, regardless of why, and war, regardless of why, are poor tools for the advancement of mankind.

this is a quick reply, hope i didn't have too many typos.

love&peace,
olde drunk
 
  • #21
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theamazingTWOeyedman said:
How would you define good? Even some of the good things you do impact others in a bad way. How about this... If you do something "good" to someone just for personal gain, is it still a good deed? Is good perhaps just something that if you were in the recievers shoes would appriciate?
I saw husband and wife fighing the other day, almost knocking each other dazed. When I intervened and tried to stop the fight, they both turned on me for a free-for-all, yelling at me and complaining that I had interrupted their play. They said they were playing and that I had robbed them of their pleasure. After bashing and knocking me silly on the floor, it was then I stood up and ran for my life, confused, and wondering whether pain and pleasure were the same thing, or good and bad alike.......I just wonder!
 
  • #22
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olde drunk said:
sooner or later we will wake up and realize that oppression, regardless of why, and war, regardless of why, are poor tools for the advancement of mankind.
Well put olde drunk. I think that if we (mankind) ever assign an absolute definition to "good" it should be that which assists the advancement of mankind, directly or indirectly, in the long term sense.

Philocrat said:
When I intervened and tried to stop the fight, they both turned on me for a free-for-all, yelling at me and complaining that I had interrupted their play. They said they were playing and that I had robbed them of their pleasure. After bashing and knocking me silly on the floor, it was then I stood up and ran for my life
:rofl: Did they actually violently beat you to the ground?!?
 
  • #23
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HerrSchlauberger said:
Well put olde drunk. I think that if we (mankind) ever assign an absolute definition to "good" it should be that which assists the advancement of mankind, directly or indirectly, in the long term sense.


:rofl: Did they actually violently beat you to the ground?!?
Don't mind me....I was only philosophising. Yes, admittedly, good is very difficult to define, yet this is no excuse for us not to try to be good or do good. Philosophers, amongst others, have always known this problem and it is usually traced in time back to Socrates, the philosopher who first made a detailed examination of it. His whole aim was to show by a process of clear thinking that both the term 'good' and its opposite 'bad' are by their casual usages fundamntally vague. In one of Plato's plays, Protagoras, Socrates demonstated that some of the things that we consider virtuous by the nature of their presumed goodness may also have bad consequences and vice versa. This resulted in good things parading in the realm of meaning as bad and bad ones parading likewise as good. This left all the things we previously thought we knew about good and bad in a limbo.

So what then is really good and what then is really bad? Where does good lies between the boundary of good and bad? Is it the mean?

Answer: Well, the way things are in the laws of nature and in the laws of the society tends to suggest that what is good may be the mean itself. Opposite extremes are cleverly avoided or set aside by these two classes of laws, not unless an intelligent designer of some kind intervenes to prove otherwise.
 
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  • #24
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The Problem Of Defining Good

UTILITARIANISM AS AN OUTCOME

My own investigation of this problem in the last 25 years suggests that Utilitarianism is a resutling consequence of the problem of deriving goodness from chaos, or should I say from the problem of establishing the exact nature of what is good. Unfortunately, and even more problematicaly so, we are currently labouring under the mistaken or naive belief that the Utilitarian laws or principles operate only at the human functional level. Well, my investigation suggest the contrary: utilitarian laws operate both at the casual human operational level and the underlying natural level. Our everyday decsions are nearly 100% utilitarain in scope and in substance, and very often (a huge percentage of the time) many of us are unaware of doing so. But this utilitarian behaviour is not limited to us alone....nature at the structural underlying level also behave likewise. Nature and man equally labour under utilitarian laws.

When we fail to establish the exact measure of what is good or bad, we naturaly and almost unconsciously turn to utilitarian measures. What Utilitarianism does is that instead of claiming the UNIVERSALITY of goodness, it quantifies things in discrete unites of the highest good. That is, a thing or an action is good if it produces the highest happiness or the highest of what is in its 'overallity' or sum totality progressive. This definition is contrary to what universalism demands which is the principle that a thing or action is good if it benefits everyone (such as the one found in scriptures and Kant's Categorical Imparatives, his universal moral principle).

This distinction is very important because often they are usually mixed up and confused. That is, the fact that Utilitarianism takes the highest good or happiness as its fundamental moral code or principle, the resutling consequence by measure is not necessarily universal in scope and in substance. For if a higher percentage of a given population benefit from a given thing or an action a utilitarian may conclude and hold this firm as good. And the question you must ask is: what about the small percentage of the population that is often left out from the utilitarian calculus? Are those in this population valueless Amazingly, nature, at the underlying structural and functional level, has a huge part to play in this fix or nightmare....that is why I sound the warning below.

IMPORTANT WARNING: Untilitarianism is like a creature with double-sided face, one side ugly and repellant and the other side beautifully smilling and tempting you to accept better days. What I mean is that Utilitarianism is more a survival principle than a moral principle. My best bet is that if it has any moral element to it at all, it is because it has a built-in capacity to preserve in the presence of chaos. Since philosophers have wrestled with it for thousands of years, it has become by far the most intellectually tested phenominon in the branch of philosophy called ethics. In my own philosophy, I had no choice but to class it under a class of laws called 'Unncessary Necessities'. These are laws that, although ephemerally useful in the causal and relational process of helping things to contine, nevertheless have no place in the final states of things that they govern and drive. They are unnecessarily necessary because they are ephemerally preserving causally and relationally. In my opinion, universalim, though currently hard to achieve in practice, has always been humanly desirable and necessary from outset. That is why I have classed it under a class of laws called 'necessary necessities': that is, laws that have always been desirable and necessary that, through structural and functional progress of things, would find their ways to and form part of the final states of things.
 
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  • #25
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the origins of 'good'?

I would think that the most commonly 'good' things are derived from utilitarian definitions. Most human beings try to be a 'good' person, do a 'good' deed, aim for the 'good' things in life, etc. This need or drive to be god is something that is instilled into us by society. Starting from toddlers and up, parents give all smiles and hugs to children for 'good', teachers compliment students for 'good', and eventually society hails a person as a respectable hero for 'good'. The only reason society rewards 'goodness' is because it's beneficial for society, and eventually for the propogation of mankind. That's what morality is all about, it's a series of undefined regulations that govern individuals at a subconscious level to maintain this gigantic organism that consists of billions of human beings.

Of course like all things in nature there are variations to the individual definitions of morality(the idea of good & bad). So a couple, freaks of nature we call them, will escape the normal confines and will end up associating evil, as agknowledged generally by the populace, as good. These people must play some role in the entire system. Maybe like in the Matrix, it's a way to ween the bad seeds from the crop??

okay i think i'm getting too caught up trying to make this all sound logical and scientific...... I'm also thinking of the difference between 'good' and 'pleasure'. 'Pleasure' is good, But does 'goodness' lead to pleasure? hehe i think not.

I'm having trouble defining the good things in my life anyway, cause for me good and bad are the opposite sides of the same coin...... So maybe this is an ongoing question for myself. ;D

Philosophers have hung on to this question forever, but each one of them have a different theory or support a different one so they're not much help. It all comes down to finding the right theory for you so that you can have some unshaken belief to hold on to in a struggle to live life.
 
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