Sunday, September 02, 2007

Spero: Question 3

What is Good?

Every definition of good that I can think of at the moment is circular. The imperfection of the universe points towards ways that it could be more perfect. Ways that the beings in it could know more truth and create more beauty, could operate with fewer restrictions and become more truly what they are. That direction is, generally, the direction toward 'good'.

There are two possible interpretations of what is “good” in the universe. Good may be related to:
(i) The potential for each living being to reach their fullest capacity to be what they are, in this world.
(ii) The fitting of each being into a “thing fit for eternity” like the pots of the poem Rabbi-ben-Ezra.

For both of these cases, many things remain the same: Hence, the prohibitions against killing, against taking what is not ours, against activities that disfigure the soul, are required in both. Food, shelter, education, clean water and clean air, true freedom of thought and expression; these all work towards them both. There are a few practical differences between the two definitions of good; merely removing a source of temptation will work towards (i), by minimising the hazards that must be avoided in a finite time, but will not help towards (ii). We do not really know which ‘good’ is more important. But we should imagine the best good we can, and work towards that. If we cannot imagine what is good, how can we ever achieve it?

Axiom : Optimism is the first duty of Mankind

As I said before, the importance of God is that God is good. It is not important that God is powerful, or that God has done great things for us, or will do great things for us, or that God created the universe. Worshipping God for any of those reasons is idolatry.

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