Nouns (0)

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Verbs (0)

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Adverbs (0)

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Adjectives (11)

open-hearted, good-hearted, kindly, kind
adj. having or showing a tender and considerate and helpful nature; used especially of persons and their behavior; "kind to sick patients"; "a kind master"; "kind words showing understanding and sympathy"; "thanked her for her kind letter"
large-hearted, good-hearted, openhearted, sympathetic, kindly, benevolent, charitable
adj. showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding and generosity; "was charitable in his opinions of others"; "kindly criticism"; "a kindly act"; "sympathetic words"; "a large-hearted mentor"

Fuzzynyms (26)

benevolent, good
adj. showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding and generosity; "was charitable in his opinions of others"; "kindly criticism"; "a kindly act"; "sympathetic words"; "a large-hearted mentor"
lenient
adj. not strict; "an easy teacher"; "easy standards"; "lenient rules"; "an easy penalty"
supporting, encouraging
adj. furnishing support and encouragement; "the anxious child needs supporting and accepting treatment from the teacher"
neighbourly, neighborly
adj. exhibiting the qualities expected in a friendly neighbor
humane
adj. marked or motivated by concern with the alleviation of suffering
warm, tender, lovesome, fond, affectionate
adj. having or displaying warmth or affection; "affectionate children"; "a fond embrace"; "fond of his nephew"; "a tender glance"; "a warm embrace"
merciful
adj. showing or giving mercy; "sought merciful treatment for the captives"; "a merciful god"
rosy-colored, rose-colored
adj. having a rose color
tender, sore, sensitive, raw
adj. hurting; "the tender spot on his jaw"
gregarious
adj. instinctively or temperamentally seeking and enjoying the company of others; "he is a gregarious person who avoids solitude"
gregarious
adj. (of plants) growing in groups that are close together
sociable
adj. inclined to or conducive to companionship with others; "a sociable occasion"; "enjoyed a sociable chat"; "a sociable conversation"; "Americans are sociable and gregarious"
sympathetic
adj. expressing or feeling or resulting from sympathy or compassion or friendly fellow feelings; disposed toward; "sympathetic to the students' cause"; "a sympathetic observer"; "a sympathetic gesture"
tender
adj. given to sympathy or gentleness or sentimentality; "a tender heart"; "a tender smile"; "tender loving care"; "tender memories"; "a tender mother"
kindly
adj. pleasant and agreeable; "a kindly climate"; "kindly breeze"

Synonyms (5)

benignant, gracious
adj. characterized by kindness and warm courtesy especially of a king to his subjects; "our benignant king"
benign
adj. kindness of disposition or manner; "the benign ruler of millions"; "benign intentions"
kind-hearted, kindhearted
adj. having or proceeding from an innately kind disposition; "a generous and kindhearted teacher"

Antonyms (1)

malevolent
adj. wishing or appearing to wish evil to others; arising from intense ill will or hatred; "a gossipy malevolent old woman"; "failure made him malevolent toward those who were successful"

Research

In many religions, angelsare considered good beings. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God —being the creator of all life —is seen as the personification of good.

In its most general context, the concept of good denotes that conduct which is to be preferred and prescribed by society and its social constituents as beneficial and useful to the social needs of society and its preferred conventions. Good is generally considered to be the opposite of evil. The concept is of interest in the study of morality, ethics, religion and philosophy, and the specific meaning and etiology of the term and its associated translations among ancient and contemporary languages has varied substantially in its inflected meaning depending on circumstances of place, history, religious context and philosophical context.

History of ideas on the topic

Every language has a word expressing good in the sense of "having the right or desirable quality" (ἀρετή) and bad in the sense "undesirable". A sense of moral judgment and a distinction "right and wrong, good and bad" are cultural universals.[1]

Plato and Aristotle

Bust of Socrates in the Vatican Museum

Although the history of the origin of the use of the concept and meaning of 'good' are diverse, the notable discussions of Plato and Aristotle on this subject have been of significant historical effect. The first references that are seen in Plato's The Republic to the Form of the Good are within the conversation between Glaucon and Socrates (454 c–d). When trying to answer such difficult questions pertaining to the definition of justice, Plato identifies that we should not “introduce every form of difference and sameness in nature” instead we must focus on "the one form of sameness and difference that was relevant to the particular ways of life themselves” which is the form of the Good. This form is the basis for understanding all other forms, it is what allows us to understand everything else. Through the conversation between Socrates and Glaucon (508 a–c) Plato analogizes the form of the Good with the sun as it is what allows us to see things. Here, Plato describes how the sun allows for sight. But he makes a very important distinction, “sun is not sight” but it is “the cause of sight itself.” As the sun is in the visible realm, the form of Good is in the intelligible realm. It is “what gives truth to the things known and the power to know to the knower”. It is not only the “cause of knowledge and truth, it is also an object of knowledge”.

Plato identifies how the form of the Good allows for the cognizance to understand such difficult concepts as justice. He identifies knowledge and truth as important, but through Socrates (508d–e) says, “good is yet more prized”. He then proceeds to explain “although the good is not being” it is “superior to it in rank and power”, it is what “provides for knowledge and truth” (508e).[2]

In contrast to Plato, Aristotle discusses the Forms of Good in critical terms several times in both of his major surviving ethical works, the Eudemian and Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle argues that Plato’s Form of the Good does not apply to the physical world, for Plato does not assign “goodness” to anything in the existing world. Because Plato’s Form of the Good does not explain events in the physical world, humans have no reason to believe that the Form of the Good exists and the Form of the Good is thereby irrelevant to human ethics.[3]

Plato and Aristotle were not the first contributors in ancient Greece to the study of the 'good' and discussion preceding them can be found among the pre-Socratic philosophers. In Western civilisation, the basic meanings of κακός and ἀγαθός are "bad, cowardly" and "good, brave, capable", and their absolute sense emerges only around 400 BC, with Pre-Socratic philosophy, in particular Democritus.[4] Morality in this absolute sense solidifies in the dialogues of Plato, together with the emergence of monotheistic thought (notably in Euthyphro, which ponders the concept of piety (τὸ ὅσιον) as a moral absolute). The idea is further developed in Late Antiquity by Neoplatonists, Gnostics, and Church Fathers.

Ancient religions

Faravahar (or Ferohar), one of the primary symbols of Zoroastrianism, believed to be the depiction of a Fravashi (guardian spirit)

Aside from ancient Greek studies of the 'good', the eastern part of ancient Persia almost five thousand years ago a religious philosopher called Zoroaster simplified the pantheon of early Iranian gods[5] into two opposing forces: Ahura Mazda (Illuminating Wisdom) and Angra Mainyu (Destructive Spirit) which were in conflict.

For the western world, this idea developed into a religion which spawned many sects, some of which embraced an extreme dualistic belief that the material world should be shunned and the spiritual world should be embraced. Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions[6]which teach that gnosis (variously interpreted as enlightenment, salvation, emancipation or 'oneness with God') may be reached by practising philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence (as far as possible for hearers, total for initiates) and diligently searching for wisdom by helping others.[7]

This development from the relative or habitual to the absolute is also evident in the terms ethics and morality both being derived from terms for "regional custom", Greek ήθος and Latin mores, respectively (see also siðr).

Medieval period

A stained glass window of Thomas Aquinas in St. Joseph's Catholic Church (Central City, Kentucky)

Medieval Christian philosophy was founded on the work of the Bishop Augustine of Hippo and theologian Thomas Aquinas who understood evil in terms of Biblical infallibility and Biblical inerrancy, as well as the influences of Plato and Aristotle in their appreciation of the concept of the Summum bonum. Silent contemplation was the route to appreciation of the Idea of the Good.[8]

Many medieval Christian theologians both broadened and narrowed the basic concept of Good and evil until it came to have several, sometimes complex definitions[9] such as:

Modern ideas

Kant

A significant enlightenment context for studying the 'good' has been its significance in the study of "the good, the true and the beautiful" as found in Kant and other Enlightenment and Renaissance philosophers and religious thinkers. These discussion were undertaken by Kant particularly in the context of his second Critique of Practical Reason within his Three Critiques.

Rawls

A visual depiction of philosopher John Rawls' hypothetical veil of ignorance. Citizens making choices about their society are asked to make them from an "original position" of equality (left) behind a "veil of ignorance" (wall, center), without knowing what gender, race, abilities, tastes, wealth, or position in society they will have (right). Rawls claims this will cause them to choose "fair" policies.

John Rawls' book A Theory of Justice prioritized social arrangements and goods based on their contribution to justice. Rawls defined justice as fairness, especially in distributing social goods, defined fairness in terms of procedures, and attempted to prove that just institutions and lives are good, if rational individuals' goods are considered fairly. Rawls's crucial invention was the original position, a procedure in which one tries to make objective moral decisions by refusing to let personal facts about oneself enter one's moral calculations.

One problem with the thinkings of Rawls is that it is overly procedural as found in defenders of natural law. Procedurally fair processes of the type used by Rawls may not leave enough room for judgment, and therefore, reduce the totality of goodness. For example, if two people are found to own an orange, the standard fair procedure is to cut it in two and give half to each. However, if one wants to eat it while the other wants the rind to flavor a cake, cutting it in two is clearly less good than giving the peel to the baker and feeding the core to the eater.

Applying procedural fairness to an entire society therefore seems certain to create recognizable inefficiencies, and therefore be unfair, and (by the equivalence of justice with fairness) unjust.

However, procedural processes are not always necessarily damning in this way. Immanuel Kant, a great influence for Rawls, similarly applies a lot of procedural practice within the practical application of The Categorical Imperative, however, this is indeed not based solely on 'fairness'. Even though an example like the one above regarding the orange would not be something that required the practical application of The Categorical Imperative, it is important to draw distinction between Kant and Rawls, and note that Kant's Theory would not necessarily lead to the same problems Rawls' does — i.e., the cutting in half of the orange. Kant's Theory promotes acting out of Duty — acting for the Summum Bonum for him, The Good Will - and in fact encourages Judgement, too. What this would mean is that the outcome of the Orange's distribution would not be such a simple process for Kant as the reason why it would be wanted by both parties would necessarily have to be a part of the Judgement process, thus eliminating the problem that Rawls' account suffers here.

Good and evil

One of the five paintings of Extermination of Evil portrays Sendan Kendatsuba, one of the eight guardians of Buddhist law, banishing evil.

In religion, ethics, and philosophy, "good and evil" is a very common dichotomy. In cultures with Manichaean and Abrahamicreligious influence, evil is usually perceived as the antagonistic opposite of good. Good is that which should prevail and evil should be defeated.[10] In cultures with Buddhist spiritual influence, this antagonistic duality itself must be overcome through achieving Śūnyatā, or emptiness. This is the recognition of good and evil not being unrelated, but two parts of a greater whole; unity, oneness, a Monism.[10]

As a religious concept, basic ideas of a dichotomy between good and evil has developed so that today:

  • Good is a broad concept but it typically deals with an association with life, charity, continuity, happiness, love and justice.
  • Evil is typically associated with conscious and deliberate wrongdoing, discrimination designed to harm others, humiliation of people designed to diminish their psychological needs and dignity, destructiveness, and acts of unnecessary and/or indiscriminate violence.[11]
  • the dilemma of the human condition and humans' and their capacity to perform both good and evil activities.[12]

Goodness and morality in biology

The issue of good and evil in the human visuality, often associated with morality, is regarded by some biologists (notably Edward O. Wilson, Jeremy Griffith, David Sloan Wilson and Frans de Waal) as an important question to be addressed by the field of biology.[13][14][15][16]

See also

References

  1. ^ Donald Brown (1991) Human Universals. Philadelphia, Temple University Press (online summary).
  2. ^ Reeve, Plato ; revised by C.D.C. (1992). Republic ([2nd ed.]. ed.). Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett Publ. Co. ISBN 978-0-87220-136-1.
  3. ^ Fine, Gail (2003). Plato on Knowledge and Forms. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 350. ISBN 0-19-924559-2.
  4. ^ Charles H. Kahn, Democritus and the Origins of Moral Psychology, The American Journal of Philology (1985)
  5. ^ Boyce 1979, pp. 6–12.
  6. ^ John Hinnel (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Religion. Penguin Books UK.
  7. ^ Churton, Tobias (2005). Gnostic Philosophy: From Ancient Persia to Modern Times. Inner Traditions – Bear & Company. ISBN 978-159477-035-7.
  8. ^ A. Kojeve, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (1980) p. 108
  9. ^ Farley, E (1990). Good and Evil: Interpreting a Human Condition. Fortress Press / Vanderbilt University. ISBN 978-0800624477.
  10. a b Paul O. Ingram, Frederick John Streng. Buddhist-Christian Dialogue: Mutual Renewal and Transformation. University of Hawaii Press, 1986. P. 148-149.
  11. ^ Ervin Staub. Overcoming evil: genocide, violent conflict, and terrorism. New York, New York, USA: Oxford University Press, Pp. 32.
  12. ^ Griffith, Jeremy (2011). "The Human Condition". The Book of Real Answers to Everything!. ISBN 9781741290073.
  13. ^ Wilson, Edward Osborne (2012). The Social Conquest of Earth. ISBN 9780871404138.
  14. ^ Griffith, Jeremy (2011). Good vs EvilThe Book of Real Answers to Everything!. ISBN 9781741290073.
  15. ^ Wilson, Edward Osborne (2007). Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives. ISBN 9780385340922.
  16. ^ de Waal, Frans (2012). Moral behavior in animals.

Further reading

  • Aristotle. "Nicomachean Ethics". 1998. USA: Oxford University Press. (1177a15)
  • Bentham, Jeremy. The Principles of Morals and Legislation. 1988. Prometheus Books.
  • Dewey, John. Theory of Valuation. 1948. University of Chicago Press.
  • Griffin, James. Well-Being: Its Meaning, Measurement and Moral Importance. 1986. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. 2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hurka, Thomas. Perfectionism. 1993. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Third section, [446]-[447].
  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Either/Or. 1992. Penguin Classics.
  • Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. 1999. Belknap Press.
  • Ross, W. D. The Right and the Good. 1930. Oxford University Press.
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