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Philosophy Of Good - Self-development
Philosophy Of Good - Self-development

Video: Philosophy Of Good - Self-development

Video: Philosophy Of Good - Self-development
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Each of us has to face good and evil. We evaluate our own and others' thoughts and deeds, assigning them one or another category of morality. Both scientists (biologists, psychologists, culturologists, sociologists) and ordinary people - all have their own views on the concept of good. But what is good in the most general, philosophical sense? We asked Ruben Apresyan, Doctor of Philosophy and a recognized expert in the field of ethics, to speculate on this topic.



Ruben APRESYAN - Russian philosopher, Doctor of Philosophy (thesis topic - "The idea of morality and basic normative and ethical programs"), professor. Head of the Ethics Sector at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences from 1994 to the present. Honorary Doctor of Uppsala University. An expert in the field of history and theory of moral philosophy, the origin of morality, normative and applied ethics, philosophical problems of war, education, non-violence, tolerance, love.

What is kindness, goodness?

Probably, you did not accidentally put these words next to each other: they are perceived as close in meaning, and grammatically they are related. It seems that kindness is a trait of a person's character, expressed in the fact that he does good deeds, "does good." True, the closeness of these words is not as unambiguous as it might seem at first glance. Where do we see kindness? In courtesy, sincerity, benevolence, willingness to help, show concern, and so on. That is, we are talking about a certain kind of actions that are aimed at the benefit of another person. Good is a more general, if not abstract word in meaning. It contains a number of meanings. In ordinary speech, the word "good" is often synonymous with the word "good." Historically and etymologically, good also meant good, that is, a positive value in general. In a stricter sense, the word "good" indicates the positive conformity of something in relation to the standard, as well as the standard itself.

How, then, should we relate to the widespread opinion that everyone has their own understanding of good and evil?

At best, as a sad misunderstanding, and good, if only mental, and not motivational and behavioral. Everyone can have their own understanding of the good, including the good of someone else. However, with regard to understanding someone else's good, it is already necessary to explain with the one about whose good we are talking about. You also need to explain to others what you see as your benefit. So that the natural striving of another for his own good does not conflict with your natural striving for his own good. In society, there are many mechanisms designed to prevent a collision of different and even more so competing private interests, to mitigate such a collision, if it is inevitable, to harmonize the interests of various persons (it does not matter, private or public, physical or legal). One of such mechanisms is morality, in the arsenal of which there are, along with others,such thought instruments as the concepts of "good" and "evil".

You say, "There are mechanisms in society." But do we not see that in different societies and even in the same society at different periods of its development there are different ideas about good and evil?

This is partly true. But good is a fairly general concept in its content, through this concept we check, evaluate people and their actions, events in individual and social life, policies carried out by various social forces and the state, correlating them with a moral ideal …

What do you mean by speaking about the moral ideal - the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus, the Farewell Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad, or, say, the "Moral Code of the Builder of Communism"?

The "Moral Code" contained bright ideas, but in general it is an ideological document. As for the above sermons, they undoubtedly contain lofty moral values and principles. However, I mean a more concise expression of the moral ideal: do not harm, help, be merciful (caring). I doubt that you can name at least one society in which these principles would not be affirmed or anything contrary was affirmed.

Perhaps not to name. But these rather general principles can be understood differently in different societies

Indeed, the principles are quite general, they do not seem to say what exactly should be done, but they are elementary, and in this sense they are quite specific. A person is corporeal, he experiences needs, without the satisfaction of which his life is impossible, he has relatives and loved ones, he has some kind of property, he has an image of his I. It is already clear what the requirement “do not harm ". To begin with, at least not to inflict pain, not to harm health, and so on, not to hinder another in meeting the needs on which his survival depends, not to harm his family and friends, his property, not to humiliate him in his own eyes and in the eyes of family and friends. I emphasize that this is elementary. And these requirements are valid in all societies, in all segments of the population. Moreover, as shown by ethological observations,restrictions of this kind in one way or another apply to animal populations, especially social animals …

Is it possible to say that morality is rooted in biological evolution, and in humans it is only voiced that in wordless animals really at the level of instinct?

It can be said that at this elementary level, moral values and requirements in their content partly coincide with what works at the zoological level thanks to instinct, as well as thanks to learning and discipline supported by a social organization, as a rule, strictly hierarchical. But if it were that simple, there would be no need for morality. Morality - and in this it differs from the mechanisms of behavior regulation developed by evolution - embodies the values and principles that are imputed to man as a being capable of self-will. Through morality, man is affirmed as a free being.

Since the discoveries of Darwin, we have seen periodic bursts of interest in the so-called evolutionary, genetic, neuropsychological premises of morality. And since it is mainly scientists, including psychologists, who speak up on this topic, they set the tone for these discussions. Intra-discursive tension arises here: scientists think that thanks to science they know enough about morality to explain it without philosophers who "hover in empyrean", and philosophers regretfully observe how scientists, be they evolutionary geneticists or ethologists, rarely make judgments about morality are chosen outside their ordinary concepts or simplified schemes. The most common is the schema of morality as altruistic behavior. In this case, "altruism" will mean actionsaimed at increasing the reproductive abilities of another individual at the expense of oneself.

Requirements of "non-injury", help and care, elementary in their meaning, do not exist on their own. They are included in interpersonal and social relations, actualized in the context of communicative and social interaction. Interaction develops for pragmatic purposes: to satisfy each of his needs and interests. Whatever the evolutionary prerequisites of morality, the content they assume is imputed to man by cultural means. It is articulated, woven into the processes of upbringing, enshrined in a variety of texts (starting with catchphrases, proverbs, sanctioned by the repetition of aphorisms and continuing with sacred, artistic, normative texts). Moreover, a person is prescribed not just the fulfillment of basic values and principles. He should be like thatso that he can understand these values and implement these principles. Man is imputed to be good in the meaning of virtuous.

Go and know

An old Chinese parable tells about a young man who turned to a sage with a request to take him to his disciple in order to instruct him on the path of truth.

- Do you know how to lie? The sage asked.

- Of course not! - answered the young man.

- And steal?

- No.

- And kill?


” “So go,” the teacher exclaimed, “and know all this. And having learned, do not!

What did the sage want to say with his strange advice? After all, it is not that one must plunge into evil and vice in order to gain a true understanding of good and to comprehend wisdom. Probably, for the sake of gaining wisdom, the young man should not have learned to hypocrite, trick, or kill. The thought of the sage was different: whoever did not recognize and did not experience evil, he cannot be truly, actively good.

Can we conclude that a person is not born good, but becomes?

In the history of thought, this question has been formulated somewhat differently: is man by nature good or evil? Some thinkers said that man is by nature good, others that he is evil, and still others that man is neither good nor evil by nature. Those who said that man is good by nature saw only competition, conflicts, wars in society, and insidiousness in interpersonal relations; and if they saw love, they attributed it to the manifestations of nature, since there is no deceit, competition and war in “nature”. Those who insisted that man was evil by nature meant man as the bearer of individual interests, prompting him, in conditions of limited resources, to fight for his largest share and, as a result, to compete with other individuals striving for the same.

Noteworthy is the latest neuropsychological data showing that there are areas in the human brain that are responsible for receptivity to the emotions and states of other people. However, data of this kind are not yet sufficiently definite. Unfortunately, I am not aware of reliable experimental studies of man, built on the basis of philosophical ideas about morality. Often, parents see that babies seem to show character from birth: someone is smiling and complacent, someone is gloomy and cunning. But these observations are scattered and they are few for scientific study.

So, is man by nature - on the other side of good and evil?

I think that's the way it is. By nature or by birth, the individual is neither kind nor angry. It can be said with certainty that the initial stage of the moral development of the individual has a long latent stage. I proceed from the understanding of morality as a system of values that induce people to strive to contribute to the good of others and to do so, focusing on the ideal of perfection. This stage is remarkable in that the individual in a peculiar way masters the experience of satisfying his needs, receiving benefits. His needs are met by adults, primarily by his mother. At the same time, the child is relatively passive, receptive; he is just an object of someone else's activity. But this is an activity in which the moral values of non-harm, help, care are directly asserted, albeit in a reversible, from an ethical point of view, way.

The good, which is assumed by moral values, the child initially "egocentrically" associates with his own good. He “uses” the care of others, while experiencing moral values as “values for myself”: “not harming me”, “helping me”, “caring for me”. In the process of personal development, as a result of increasing the experience of communication and upbringing, the individual begins to "share" these values: non-harm - in relation to me, as in relation to another, help - to me, as well as to another, care - about me, as well as about another.

By the degree to which moral values are associated by an individual not only with himself and his own good, but also with other people and their good, one can judge his moral maturity. The transfer of the effectiveness of values from oneself to others is an indicator not only of a person's goodwill, but also of how much he has accepted the logic of moral values themselves. They affirm the good of the other, they are addressed to a person with an appeal not to harm another, to help another, to take care of another. To the extent that a person actively responds to this call, and his ability to do good is revealed.

More about this


Guseinov A. A., Apresyan R. G. Ethics: Textbook. M.: Gardariki, 2000.

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