Friday, January 01, 2010

What Is Good?

What is Good? - The Search for the Best Way to Live is not a bad book to finish on a December 31. Or a bad thing to write about on a January 1. A.C.Grayling, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, reviews the answers to this quite profound question that various Western philosophers tried to come up with.

Grayling starts with the classical Greeks - Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. The Cynics, Epicureans and Stoics are considered and the "religions of the book" are (rightly) dismissed. The train stops next at the Renaissance, addresses the Enlightenment, and so onto the age of Darwin, Bentham and Mill. He ends with today's headaches (terrorism, medical ethics, free speech) and concludes like so:
To the question 'What is good?', then, the answer can only be: 'The considered life - free, creative, informed and chosen, a life of achievement and fulfillment, of pleasure and understanding, of love and friendship; in short, the best human life in a human world, humanely lived.'
That's quite enough, for 2010. Good night.


Kalyan said...


The question will be how to trickle down to the masses "understanding and compromise" which will be key to harmonious living as espoused.

Sheetal said...

Nice, re.


weighty words, and I could argue against some of them, but it's not a bad assortment at all :)

Ludwig said...

[Nathan] :) For now I'll settle for a non-trickling personal version. If the masses will let me, that is!

[Sheetal] The words are all eminently debatable, of course. And Grayling does list the debates over the course of the book and deals with most of the terms in some detail, one way or the other. I was too tipsy to copy-paste the whole book, however :P

Nevertheless, it's a decent assortment, no? I quite liked the summing up.