The idea of good has been explored by philosophers throughout history. Aristotle defined good as “rational judgments that aim to produce happiness”. The Stoics viewed good as an objectless and passionless nature lived rationally. Ultimately, it is not possible to define good in simpler terms, and we need to explore the various interpretations of the concept to understand the depth of its meaning.
Some philosophers have argued that good is the absence of evil. However, this line of argument does not prove that good is desired. It simply shows that no proposition can produce consequences without good. This argument is problematic because it assumes that good is a necessary condition for happiness. It does not even consider the possibility that good exists in a vacuum.
Plato is aware of the difficulties involved in defining what is good and what is bad. He notes that while some actions are virtuous, they also come with a number of disadvantages. To overcome these obstacles, he explains that virtuous action requires a more comprehensive notion of good. In his Symposium, Plato says that good is an ideal principle. In the Republic, he specifies that good is the basis of all knowledge.
The Fathers approach the good question from both a hermeneutic and a philosophic standpoint. They conclude that God is the Supreme Good and that the goodness of creatures is dependent upon God. Furthermore, they affirm that there is no supreme independent evil principle. The Platonic and Christian tradition, however, considered the Supreme Good to be beyond the reach of natural powers. It is therefore essential for man to love God as The Good and all things as means to the end.
The British moralists also attempted to construct a concept of good on the basis of moral phenomena. Their goal was to find happiness. Happiness was, for them, a byproduct of respect for reasonable relationships. This is a useful end, but there must be an intrinsic good. In these cases, the good is the ultimate end.
In other words, good is not an object, but a process. It requires being in a particular situation. This process develops the human being. The primary principle of being is revealed in the way man develops and interacts with other beings. As a result, the ethical values of being are developed in man.
Ultimately, we can only know what is good when we take action. That means we need to take actions that are worthy of our time and energy. But, even if we are unable to do so, it is still good. The good is an expression of our unique originality. The only real thing that is not good is an imitation.
Aristotle’s definition of moral goodness is that the actions performed are motivated by a motive that is compatible with reason. For example, an action that is motivated by justice is a good act, but if the purpose is to murder an enemy, it is not good. But if we are acting out of kindness, or acting in benevolence, then it is good.