So apparently, every time I state that something (or someone) is good, several people feel the need to ask me to define "good."

I understand the moral, philosophical, relative implications of the concept, but do we really need to define "good" every time? For a very common word that most people use on a daily basis, one would think we have a somewhat common general concept of what one means by "good," however this is one of those concepts that people think deserve a "personal" definition.

So, what does "good" mean anyway?


I cross-posted this question on Google Plus. Link bellow in case you are interested in reading the comments.

Views: 600

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


Bless cotton socks. 

I agree with you - and I think that many people do the "define X" thing whenever they want to assert their intellectual superiority. Unless you are speaking on an unknown or controversial topic, where the statement of something being "good" could be widely viewed as ambiguous, then it is silly to ask someone to define it. If you are using it in a normal way, then asking for a clarification is stupid.


At least that's my opinion; it may not be so good ;)

I like the phrase Good without God precisely for that reason--it's an intentional double entendre. Making it charming and witty, and as you demonstrated, a good conversation starter.

I usually ask people to say what they mean, when they say something is good.  Apparently it means, "I like that thing."  Why do you like it?  Please explain. 


If someone tells me that a person is good, then that's quite an astounding statement.  I will definitely be interested to know the concrete reasons why they said that. 


"Morally good" is a very vague concept I think - it means just that someone or something conforms well to a particular set of morals.  Again, we need more concrete specifics in order to say something useful. 

One cannot draw distinct boundaries around the term, just as one cannot clearly define unambiguous moral precepts (for an excellent treatment see "Justice What's the Right Thing to Do?" by Michael Sandel).  These days, given the prevalence of progressive, liberal (in the scholarly sense) ideals,  we should all be able agree on some broad generalities regarding the "good".


A friend of mine preferred the term "beneficent" and "malicious" to "good" and "evil".  In particular, "evil" seems to carry a lot of religious baggage for people.  Using these terms may help avoid some semantic pitfalls.  It reminds me of the archaic distinction between "weal" and "woe", but it would be pretentious and obfuscatory to use those terms in common parlance.


© 2020   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service