Friday, August 30, 2013

Readers, discuss! Virtue the highest *and* only good?

Okay, so the post I wanted to do for this morning didn't pan out the way I thought it would, so I scraped that in favor of this one instead, so that's that.

I was thinking the other day about virtue, specifically that according to Stoicism it's the highest good. However, Stoics also say that the virtue is the only good. I realized that this is a bit of a problem.

It goes like this: if we say virtue is the highest good, it suggests that there are other lesser goods out there. But in Stoic philosophy, all the things we typically think of as “good” are actually indifferent. Also, Seneca argued in the Letters that there was no such thing as a lesser good. By saying there's a highest good, however, we're actually saying there's more than virtue as a good. Thus, there's a contradiction in our philosophy.

However, if we choose to say that virtue is the only good, we have a different – though less damaging – problem. Just by being the only good, virtue automatically becomes the highest good, so instead of there being a contradiction, there's only a redundancy.

Well, seeing as it's a lot easier to admit to redundancy than rework an entire philosophy, I settled on accepting that we don't need to say the virtue is the highest good. We only need to say the virtue is the only good.

Still, I feel like I might be missing something here, so I'm asking every one of you people out there to give me your input. Is there a contradiction? Is it only redundant? Or is something else afoot here? Let me know what you all think!

No comments:

On Personal Thoughts About Personal Epistemology

There are, to my mind, only two ways of understanding the world: the senses and our reasoning. About our senses, we know of our basic o...