The Problem in Macbeth

Essay by dwarfshmfJunior High, 7th grade January 1997

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We have already seen that the focus is on Macbeth and his wife, furthermore, we have seen that the crucial problem is the decision and the act, especially in which sense you can consciously and freely choose to do evil, then do it and then be faced with the consequences. The problem is old. Socrates maintained that no one with full insight in what was evil, would of his own free will do it and that claim had been dominating for almost two millennia. The logical power of this claim was that it was a tautology or even better; a definition.

Any human activity, to think, to speak, to act, has to focus on a purpose. The definitive impulse to throw yourself into an activity is the urge towards selfpreservation that lies deep in any living creature. That is why man cannot want his selfdestruction; he only wants the Good, understood as that which promotes its own selfpreservation.

If, however, we exclusively define the Good as man's selfpreservation, man's different attempts to achieve this would lead to mutual destruction. If I - and everyone included - unhampered and in absolute selfishness only seek my own, the misfortune I could inflict on someone would naturally be limitless. So there has to be a further addition to the concept of Good.

The Good, we might add, is not only the instantaneous need for satisfaction - in a matter of time it will often turn out to be an evil - but it is in fact the absolute purpose for any human being (the highest Good), and it isn't just common for everyone, but, when you strive for it, you include the others in a true community.

But that means that the Good isn't just a subjective phenomenon;...