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"How you are now may be your parents fault, but if you stay that way its your fault." - Plaildloniart

The Good "Thoughts".

  • Date Submitted: 12/13/2011 04:52 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.3 
  • Words: 1965
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If there's one thing that really gets philosophers going, it is the idea of "the Good". We probably owe this problem to Plato, since although people had probably been arguing about what was good and what wasn't since the dawn of time, it was Plato who decided that there had to be a thing (or Form, or Idea) which could act as a kind of super benchmark to determine whether any one thing, action or state is "good". Almost certainly the English on their own would never have come up with such an idea, since English is not particularly amenable to making philosophical concepts out of adjectives (unlike German; as Ellis points out in Language, Thought and Logic, this is one reason why English and German philosophers have such a hard time understanding each other).
Is it possible that "the Good" is simply one of those tricks that language plays on us, convincing us that if we can make a word, then something must exist for that word to refer to? Personally I reject the very idea that words "refer to" things (that is, to the view of meaning put forward by Ayer, Russell and the early Wittgenstein). If you adopt this idea, then most language becomes meaningless, and since we obviously do mean something by the word "good", we would be better off trying to clarify what it is that we mean, rather than what it is that we "refer to".
It is commonly held that the word "good" has several different meanings, as evidenced by the following sentences:
It's a good screwdriver.
It was a good film.
She had a good life.
She led a good life.
The first appears to be a practical judgement, the second aesthetic, the third (maybe) hedonistic and the last one moral. Does this mean, then, that we have four different "goods", which just happen to have the same word attached (homonyms, in other words)? On the other hand, should we follow (the later) Wittgenstein's dictum that "the meaning of a word is its use" and say that they all mean the same thing (expressing approval), but in different...

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