What Is Good?


Philosophers have differing views about the nature of good. One tradition traces its origins back to Aristotle and extends to the pragmatic naturalism of John Dewey. The other argues that good is an abstract notion that transcends categorization. One major difference between these two traditions is that one stresses the importance of achieving a specific end, whereas the other stresses the importance of maximizing a number of goods.

The words good and well are often confused. A simple explanation is to note that good is an adjective, and well is an adverb. When used together, they mean the same thing: “well, well, good, very well, and perfect.” However, the first term is generally used to express the quality of a physical or emotional state.

The philosopher Aristotle discussed the concept of good in an ethical context. According to him, good is what a man ought to do and should seek. This could be anything that is useful or pleasurable. Ultimately, good is a virtue of the soul. Good knowledge is one example of this virtue. Knowledge of good counsel is another. Knowledge of the just and unjust is also part of being good.

There are many examples of good in the Bible. For instance, Matthew 18:8 translates “good” as “better,” while Luke 5:39 uses the term “good” in its context. In Acts 13:32 and 6:3, “good” is a synonym for “happy.” In Hebrews 13:9, “good” can mean “a good thing.”

According to Aristotle, moral goodness is a norm determined by man’s nature. In his view, whoever acts in accordance with his nature is doing what is right and good. By contrast, St. Thomas regarded the eternal law as the supreme law for good conduct. The provident Creator guides his creatures to their destiny in ways appropriate to their natures.

According to the Christian tradition, man’s ultimate good is divine. The ultimate good consists of God and all the things in creation. These creatures have a nature that is inherently good. But the supreme Good is out of man’s reach, so it must be found in the supernatural realm. By understanding the ultimate good, a man can reach the ultimate goal of his life: achieving a harmonious life.

While many things in life are derived from nature, there are still several types of goods that people depend on. Some are common and some are club goods, while others are exclusive. The problem with these goods is that they are easily overused, sacrificing long-term sustainability for short-term use. A club good is a non-rivalrous good that is not subject to competition.