September 5, 2012

Good: Not as Simple as It Seems

At the very least, I admire Aristotle for taking the time to think about and dissect the things he did. Thinking like this could only have occurred in a time before electricity. I applaud Aristotle for thinking overly deeply into matters of good, choice, and such things. It is much more productive than my attempts to understand the logistics of Pixar’s Cars universe. Aristotle starts out his lecture with a seemingly simple definition of good as that which any art or science works to achieve, be it the act of the art itself, or a product the art results in. In medicine, the good is health. In strategy, the good is victory. Several other examples are given before he complicates the concept by discussing politics, where the good is that which is best for a nation or state and all the people in it. However, even before he complicates things himself, things aren’t quite as simple as he hopes to make them out to be.

In the case of strategy, the good is victory. That is what the art of strategy works to achieve. The problem is that in any case where victory is a result, there is another party that results in defeat. That party also employed strategy. Each side went into its given form of competition, but one found victory through strategy, and the other didn’t. Are we to gather that the victor’s goal is the good? In cases of war, each is working for victory, which is the good by this definition, but each party has an opposing idea of what that victory is and what it represents. Therefore, good is in some cases, arguably most, subjective.

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