Despite the diversity of its meanings, good is difficult to define. Aristotle notes that the term “good” is a concept that transcends categories and has many different definitions. The definition of good can only be achieved by understanding the origins of the concept. One example of an extrinsic good is a sunset. An extrinsic good is grounded in our aesthetic responses and modes of perception. It is not a goal or end itself.
Good was first defined by Aristotle as the ability to make rational judgments in pursuit of happiness. Other philosophers posited that the word refers to the fulfillment of one’s desires or needs, and that it is the goal of human activity. Others, such as the Stoics, identified good as an internal or immanent object.
For utilitarians, good is defined as an act that adds to the agent’s being. Acts of good are generally preferred over non-goods, because they give the agent a higher degree of human luster. As a result, the more noble an object is, the more desirable the act that accompanies it.
For the perfectionist, good is the realization of an individual’s highest qualities, talents, and skills. The perfectionist conception of good upholds the importance of individuality and stands in contrast to the communitarian perspective of contemporary political philosophy. The concept of good, however, has its critics. Nevertheless, it is worth exploring the various strands of the concept of good.
For the Christian theologian, good is the supreme ontological principle. In Revelation, God reveals the existence of a transcendent good. According to St. Augustine, God creates all created things, and in the process of doing so, it imbues them with their nature. Because God is good, being itself is also good. Furthermore, it is the ultimate source of all things.
Contemporary philosophy emphasizes the existence of ontological and moral good. Moral good expresses the original character of being. It is embodied in the life of a model person. Ultimately, it is the ultimate expression of the goodness of man. This is the norm in human nature. There are a variety of philosophical traditions, and each is unique in its own way.
Goodness has a privileged justificatory status in practical reasoning. Consequently, all good practical arguments rest on claims about what is good for another. If P is good for someone, then it must be good for them. The privileged status of good in practical reasoning is defended by Kraut. So, if you’re considering whether P is good for someone else, he can give you a good reason for it.
The supreme good is the state of perfect happiness. This is the state of bliss that results from unflawed use of a human’s faculties. Man cannot achieve this state of happiness without the blessings of God, or the gifts of fortune.