Tuesday, August 10, 2010

short essay "the unlimited goods"

Another of my old essays, tweaked and tightened for your reading pleasure: this one on the unlimited goods in relation to the needs.




The unlimited goods


Raffaello - The Three Graces.jpg

            Life seeks goods. As some goods are limited, and some are not, it follows that we ought to seek the limited goods only insofar as they open and allow the unlimited goods.

            An unlimited good is primary. We do not value it in order to fulfill something else, as we might value a tasteless diet for the sake of health, or drudgery for the sake of bread. Nor do we value it for the sake of self-esteem, like those who work charities merely because society says charity work is noble. In that sense, they are seeking their worth in other’s approval, and so deny themselves the place of arbiter.

            The unlimited goods can be derived in many ways. First, look at the untaught desires in children. Second, look at the values of noble examples. Third, look at the practice of happy people. The subsequent list of goods falls into six groups: Truth, Justice, Kindness, Beauty, Industry, and Politics.

            Man needs to pursue truth. Children naturally seek truth through incessant questioning. Truth is a quality, not an entity; there is no truth “out there" as if the mind merely needed to get at the truth, for truth is what happens to an identified fact when we build a conceptual “so-what?” from it. Since we do not automatically know which concepts are true, this need is felt as the need to honestly regard one's beliefs to be true, whether or not we always can. Aristotelian astronomy fulfilled many generations in ways it no longer can. We need truth for practical reasons: so we can feel, think, say, and act effectively. Therefore, "theoretical" truth is also practical. A child wants to know if a cat dreams or not, or why the sky is blue. These may have no "practical" value to the child, but he needs to know, because it shows him the general way to think. Knowledge itself fulfills.

            Man needs to practice justice. Children question after what is fair and unfair as soon as others criticize them. Justice is giving each person what he deserves, in part through the establishing and enforcement of laws. Justice allows for self protection: we serve justice so it will serve us. Yet we need to serve justice even if it imprisons us, as in a criminal who confesses. Basic justice in our society is the recognition and respect for human rights. Rights are derived from needs. Man needs life, liberty, and property; man needs to respect the needs of others; therefore, man ought to respect the life, liberty and property of others. Justice allows this.

            Man needs to act kindly. Children early on recognize first the incredible pleasure of being treated kindly, and next, the pleasure in treating others so. Kindness is the improving of those we value (those of our kind), bringing out their best. This implies one has already brought out the best in himself and so is reproducing his own values in others. Though we make and maintain friends that way, it is pleasant to do in itself, even for strangers. Kindness gives what is just: it gives happiness to these we are pleased to see happy. Since we are happy people, it is due to ourselves to amplify that happiness through pleasing others.

            Man needs to enjoy beauty. Children enjoy lullabies, cartoons, stories, pictures, and dance. Beauty energizes you through your recognition of the sensual presentation of your values. Therefore, beauty is self-love, is the recognition of our own self-worth, and our own self-potential. This is why art grants a feeling of peace, hope, and pleasure. Every man needs to practice art, or at least the art of criticism.

            Man needs to work. Children seek to help their parents, to make useful artifacts, to do useful chores. Work is the production of goods, that though fulfilling in itself, is for consumption or trade. There is boredom and depression in a man who does not create something important, who does not work for his bread, who watches television, drinks, or sleeps his life away. Self-esteem comes only from achievement.

            Man needs to practice politics. Children enjoy participating in the family mode of politics, learning how people as a group cooperate their efforts. Families establish practices that allow right relationships between their members. A child may in fact rebel against the rules, and still accords to her need for political involvement. Government is the establishment for executing public interest.

            The needs for these goods complement and support each other. A man may choose to concentrate on one, but this is good only insofar as he honors the others. These goods are more than a means to self-respect, they also fulfill in themselves.

            The essence of all the goods is creativity. The creative lives of scientists, philosophers, artists, judges, freedom-fighters, and such others best exhibit the joy possible to man.


No comments: