Friday, January 13, 2012

"The Good"

This blog has been formed in order to bring to bear ancient philosophical wisdom to tackle the complex social issues of the day. It will not be concerned with politics or economics except tangentially as they may reflect deep social trends affecting humanity in the present day.

I will concern myself primarily with what “the good” is in a general sense. I understand that in the contemporary context, such seeking is either forbidden or severely looked down upon as na├»ve or simplistic, yet I firmly hold to the belief that while our interpretations of the good may change and evolve over time, we are still in fact still searching for some sort of moral axis in the human experience, a guiding trajectory of virtue that at least in an ideal world, can improve us both individually and as a species.

I therefore also adhere to the idea that society is man written large and not the converse; that whatever systems we erect in our long slow march to the stars will always reflect the internal constitution and moral outlook of the individuals comprising them.

This is the wisdom of the ancients, individuals who attained, if not exceeded, the same level of understanding of the human psyche that our modern psychological and cognitive disciplines have reached in the modern world. Indeed, as this blog will show over time, whether the topic is morality, sexuality, or happiness, many studies are confirming what the ancient philosophers wrote about so many centuries ago.

Getting back to the point at hand however, I will put forth a concept of “the good” which will guide the discussions contained within this blog over time. Essentially, “the good” as it will be understood here, is nothing more than the search for those essential principles of life which if followed, would lead to the greatest possible flourishing for the greatest number of human beings.  I refer to the greatest number because I believe there will always be exceptions, or individual circumstances in which alternative principles could be followed and still lead to flourishing for that particular human being. This allows us to have tolerance for different life principles while still seeking general principles which could apply to the large bulk of our species.

Some may argue that the existence of alternative principles would invalidate the very notion of essential principles, but this objection can be overcome if we simply see these alternative principles as akin to outliers in a statistical analysis. Just as the existence of outliers does not invalidate the rest of the data, the existence of alternative principles which may work for some people in some contexts, does not affect the more general principles for the rest of us. Furthermore, we can imagine principles which can never lead to flourishing, principles which are so far outside the wide river of moral thought that they are no longer on the path to any improvement in the human condition but rather actively run against such improvement and produce ruin in those who adhere to them.  This is how we can discern the good even in the complex and dynamic social reality of today.

This blog will seek out the good, understanding perhaps that a complete knowledge of what is good can never really be attained by mere mortal minds. Yet with a rediscovery of timeless principles, and a critical analysis of today’s social issues in light of those principles, the hope is help others find their own journey towards the good in their own existence, even if that only amounts to some singular solitary soul which stumbles upon this blog.

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