What Is "Good" and Must We Be Good?

Essay by samgracesmomUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2005

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What is good? According to most dictionaries, being good is "...That which is righteous or virtuous; having or showing an upright virtuous character..." But what is "upright and virtuous"? Is it possible to give one crystal-clear definition to such complex concepts? Being "good" cannot easily be explained because there are as many different ways of being good as there are individuals

The western culture considers many things to be "good" traits in a person, but all of them are circumstantial. How they are perceived by the individual is a large dynamic. For one person, not inflicting pain or injury on others would make someone "good". For another person, leading a moral life and trying to follow the teachings of the Bible is the only way to achieve goodness. Psychologists often struggle with the question of whether humans have inherently good characteristics, or negative characteristics that have been suppressed by the rules of society.

What motivates a person's behavior? Is it nature, hormone imbalances, or the environment in which they were raised? Most people would like to believe that they are good. Most people are brought up to strive for goodness. For example, because a child knows he will be rewarded with something he values for bringing home good grades or for cleaning his room, he will work to achieve that goal. When a man matures and takes on the responsibility of working to support his family, he shows that his instincts are positive. He may not succeed, but his conscience tells him that he must follow certain behavior for the benefit of the people he loves.

Some people believe that a person's inborn characteristics are good, but others believe they are basically bad. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, tried to prove that man's inherent nature is negative. Dr. Freud...