Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Good is Good Because it's Good
Many holy books were originally written centuries ago, and for some they take its contents into their mind as unedited as possible for the most divine experience they can manage. Many others have elaborated, edited, revised, and rewritten their holy books, scriptures, and/or teachings to accommodate their modern viewpoints, their certain interpretations, and their social malleability. The entire discussion is usually intense, controversial, and often leads to the passion of argument that only politics, religion, and the fifth drink of the night can get one to (get ready for my final report!). But regardless of the book you read, the teachings you integrate, or the absence of which you accept, most peoples across the world have developed to agree upon what is fundamentally good and bad, right and wrong, pure and tainted.
I am the type of person who wants to understand why things evolved to the way they are now and how consistently, not how they evolved and whether or not it aligns with my beliefs. My opinion and guts are no better than any other person's. I often use science to back up my points of view, though I am often reduced to my gut feelings. This what I am keenly interested in, because it seems that many people begin from their gut and never go anywhere else. Spinoza, Plato, and many others recognized this phenomena; some tried to correct it and others gave up after the realization. I would like to work with the condition instead.
‘Is something good because God demands it, or does God command it because it’s good?’ is the main theme for today’s reading and lecture. I do not care which god or gods commanded it nor whether it was commanded at all; instead, I am more intrigued that it is good regardless of the other variables. In order to humor the question, one must accept that the event is good in the first place. Is it good because God commanded it to be so, or did we define it as good because that was our instinct? Our culture? Our gut feeling? And why is it good to us, good to some across the globe, and bad to others across the globe? Plato may argue that it is good because that is its true form outside the cave, whereas our interpretations, cultural influences, and gut feelings all cast shadows of what is truly good upon the wall.
Everyone has their own definitions of good and bad, each influenced by everything within that person’s life up to that point. Their actions are dictated by this internal court, deciding what constitutes theft, murder, J-walking, and so on. One of the justices on this court is development itself; many will define the exact same choice differently not because of life events or their environment because of the complexity of their brains and the stage at which they have developed. But regardless of all factors, the majority would all act in very similar ways thanks to the human condition, the true form of good lurking right outside Plato’s cave.
It is our role as humans to bridge these variables and hunt for the true good and the true bad so that we can then assess our actions and decide which category into which it most accurately falls. Only then can we strive for a better society and a better sense of morality for ourselves.