The Concept Of Good And Bad
Since the beginning of the world, human beings have been introduced to the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ We all must have administered a habit of associating these words with almost every activity that we do in our lives. We generally recognize good and bad habits depending on our approach towards the idea of good and bad.
Similarly, we associate these two words with; our feelings, our intentions, our decisions, our grades, our lives, our surroundings, our lifestyle and so on. Our mood, our profession, our choice, our learning skills, our trips and our days, are all rated as either good or bad.
The broadcasting or media related stuff such as a serial or a movie that entertains us is also termed using these two words. At times, we even use these terms to describe a person’s dressing sense or sense of humor.
To rank an institution or an organization, to talk about someone’s linguistic capabilities or to grade a restaurant or the taste of its food, we also use either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Defining A Good Person
Just as we differ from each other in all terms, we all have got a different idea of ‘good’ in our mind, depending upon some factors that govern us in our daily lives. If we roam around and have a survey in which we ask about the idea of a good person from people belonging to different cultures, religions, nationalities, financial status or even to the ones belonging to different educational institutes, we will collect a set of information so diverse that we would hardly be able to drive to a stable conclusion.
Philosophical Approach To Goodness
To settle this ambiguity, Philosophy gives us a generalized idea of a good person that is in correspondence to the mindset of every human being. Different philosophers have presented their thoughts about the idea of a good person in their mind, and not surprisingly, all of them have agreed to the point that a good person is the one who does as little harm as much as possible to his surroundings and his environment.
A famous philosopher, Socrates has given his idea of a good person in a simpler yet understandable way; he says that:
“[A man] has only one thing to consider in performing any action; that is whether he is acting justly or unjustly, like a good man or a bad one” (Apology, 28 b-c)
It means that (for Socrates), a good person is the one who keeps in mind the idea of just and unjust; and the one who acts justly in all matters that involve him is worthy of being termed as a good man. Thus, you may say that Socrates has concluded that being just is the ultimate humanly virtue one should possess.
Aristotle’s words further stress upon Socrates idea of goodness in a person by saying that:
“… The good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life.” ― The Nicomachean Ethics
By these words, he implies that, for a man, his goodness is all about the goodness and purity of his soul. He, who has got no bad intentions about others, respect others, tries to help the needy, is sincere with whosoever and whatsoever he is associated to in any terms, by any means, is in a true sense able to be called a good person. He is the one who is bestowed with the best of the souls and lives a complete life.
What Does Plato Think?
Another famous philosopher, Plato presented a major idea of goodness by saying that:
“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
Here goodness of a person is described as his inner sense of discriminating the right from the wrong. Plato says that a person who is genuinely good will always do good to others even if he has been obligated by any laws or not, his sense of the good and the bad will never lead him astray. It means that he, who is good, stays good, no matter what. Even if he has been treated harshly or has faced quite a lot of hardships, there is nothing in this word that can cause hindrances on his way to do well to others. What makes him good is the purity of his soul.
In this context, you may say that goodness of a person is not just a virtue that he possesses; it is in actual an unbreakable chain of positivity and good will that revolves around us. This further stresses upon the charm of being good; after all, he, who does good gets good in turn.
Image By: Jose Aragones