Being and Goodness

These is an attempt to evaluate Aquinas’s reasons for Being and Goodness as co-referring terms. (note: Being and Goodess are not claimed to be the same thing but instead a thing is Good to the Extent to which it is in being) In other words where ever you can put the word Being you can put the word Goodness because everything is Good insofar as it has being. Here are some of the claims made by Aquinas

1:
-A thing is perfect of its kind to the extent to which it is fully realized or developed, to the extent to which the potentialities definitive of its kind–its specifying potentialities–have been actualized
-A thing is perfect and hence desirable (good of its kind) to the extent to which it is in being.

  • Therefore, a things being is its goodness

2:

  • Everything resists its own corruption in accordance with its nature (its aiming naturally at being fully actual, not merely partially or defectively in being)
  • Therefore, since goodness is what all things aim at or desire, each thing’s goodness is its full actuality

3:

  • What is desired solely for its own sake is what the desirer perceives as the desirer’s final good, that for the sake of which it desires all the other things it desires, that in which the hierachy of its desires culminates
  • What each desirer desires in that way is the fulfillment of its nature: or at least that which the desirer percieves as the very best for the desirer to have or be
    -Each thing aims above all at being as complete, whole, and free from defect as it can
    -The state of its being complete and whole is that thing’s being fully actual, whether or not the desirer recognizes it as such
    -Therefore, actualization is equivalent to final goodness, aimed at or desired by everything

4
-Every action is ordered towards being, towards perserving or enhancing being in some respect either in the individual or in the species: in acting all things aim at being

  • Therefore, Being is what all desire: and being is goodness

Let the logicians figure out the cogency

No! Thomas Aquinas is wrong when he says that, “Therefore, a things being is its goodness.” “Being” refering to being perfect or self actualizing. That’s because it doesn’t matter how perfect a thing or being becomes, they will always co-exist with other things and so the perfection may not stand up to the test. For example: The Titanic was perfect in every way, but it hit ice or rock on it’s way and so went down under. Would you still say that it was perfect? No doubt. But it is also true that it could not exist alone, it existed with all the other forces and foes of nature and that’s what made it go down and take so many lives with it, no matter how perfect it was. And so we cannot say that the Titanic was good even though it was perfect. Therefore, Aquinas is wrong when he says that, “Therefore, a things being is its goodness.” A thing becoming perfect, is not goodness.

Goodness my dear is nothing in itself. I can be good to be bad, can’t I? Infact that’s what cons are, that’s what deviousness is, and it exists. Would you say I’m good in this case? No! On the other hand I can be bad, to be good! So, when I am bad to be good, would you not say that I was good? :wink:

Let me see if I can get through this.

violhence-

I’ll try to keep these as organized as possible, as Aquinas can be hard to understand if written in paragraph form. :slight_smile:

1

A thing is perfect of its kind to the extent to which it is fully realized or developed, to the extent to which the potentialities definitive of its kind–its specifying potentialities–have been actualized

This premise is the same as the conclusion. That would compare to me saying “The soul is bad in relation to its pure form of existence.” See what I have done? I have put forth a claim, without proof, but dressed it up in big words that are largely undefinable. For us to continue with this portion of Aquinas, I’ll need a few things.

  1. Some evidence, however vague, that this claim is true. As it stands, there is none.

  2. Define: Realized, developed, specifying potentialities, actualized. I’m sorry if Aquinas has already defined them, but I can’t continue when I don’t understand the words.

-A thing is perfect and hence desirable (good of its kind) to the extent to which it is in being.

This claim is missing a few steps. Since when does perfect nessecarily exlcude bad/evil/et al? Something can be perfectly evil, or perfectly bad (IE no good inside of it at all), and therefore effectively prove this claim wrong. So, if we actually believe Aquinas here, all we know is that something’s qualities (good or evil) are in proprtion to its being.

- Therefore, a things being is its goodness

Disregarded per the above claim.

- Everything resists its own corruption in accordance with its nature (its aiming naturally at being fully actual, not merely partially or defectively in being)

I would like some specific examples of this. Does he mean everything as in everything? Like humans, animals, nature, God, souls, squirzels, and the like? There is no right or wrong in animals and nature, at all. Animals have no concept of right and wrong. If they did, they would be across the logic barrier, and therefore we would all be vegetarians. As for humans, they might not be the best example of resisting their own corruption.

Defined: Fully actual, defectively in being, aiming naturally.

- Therefore, since goodness is what all things aim at or desire, each thing’s goodness is its full actuality

This now rests upon proving the other claim and defining it accordingly. But, even if it is defined and proved, I can still provide numerous examples of people we can plainly see do not care about becoming a good person. The only way to make that statement true is if we simply say that since “either goodness or badness is what all things desire, each thing’s goodness or badness is its full actuality.” But we haven’t gotten anywhere, have we?

- What is desired solely for its own sake is what the desirer perceives as the desirer’s final good, that for the sake of which it desires all the other things it desires, that in which the hierachy of its desires culminates

Wow. That was hard to get through my thick head. So, let me put a salient example here, for my own understanding: If I desire a Pop Tart for the sake of wanting a Pop Tart, the Pop Tart is my final good? I’m not sure how to respond to this one, to be honest with you, I don’t know if it is because I am missing the point, or the statement is too vague to have any meaning. Help.

Defined: Final good

- What each desirer desires in that way is the fulfillment of its nature: or at least that which the desirer percieves as the very best for the desirer to have or be

Any desire I have I perceive it to be the very best for me to have? If I am addicted to alcohol, and everyone wants me to stop drinking, I choose to do so because I feel it is the best route for me? Or is the stranglehold the addiction has on me? Addiction, murder, illicit sex, abuse, violence…do these sound like the fulfillment of nature Aquinas is talking about? Are these people evil, and therefore exist “less?”

-Each thing aims above all at being as complete, whole, and free from defect as it can

I think we can all agree that this claim is unwarranted.

-The state of its being complete and whole is that thing’s being fully actual

This is indeed a definition of “fully actual,” but doesn’t tell us any more than just simply saying “fully actual!”

-Therefore, actualization is equivalent to final goodness, aimed at or desired by everything

This claim depends on proving the previous ones, which have been shown to be not necessarily true. Actualization (whatever that means) seems to be correlated with either goodness or badness, IMO.

-Every action is ordered towards being, towards perserving or enhancing being in some respect either in the individual or in the species: in acting all things aim at being

Suicide. Murder.

- Therefore, Being is what all desire: and being is goodness

If we could have Aquinas see today’s death row, he might change his mind.

Violhence, thanks for posting that though, I have never reall sat down and gone through Aquinas before. Although I don’t agree with his thoughts one bit, iot was well worth it to understand it.

Sincerely,

Floyd