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Thread: What makes a good person?

  1. #1

    What makes a good person?

    I've been wondering, what is it that makes a person good? How do you judge whether or not you can consider someone to be good or not? I'm not really talking about the black and white. It is widely accepted that killing is bad, and that people who are killers are not generally considered good people. I'm asking more about that fuzzy area. The area between the paragon, who will be put up for sainthood, and the evil, muderers and such. Can you consider someone who never harms anyone, but also never gives to another a good person?

  2. #2
    Metamorphosing Pensive's Avatar
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    Good question. I also find myself wondering about it a lot. Haven't found an answer quite satisfactory yet. 'Good' and 'terms' are some terms when used for people are just like the words 'perfection', 'sincerity', 'selfishness', 'love' and 'silence.' These are complex words and I think we should only use them when much needed and refrain from putting people into such categories.
    I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew.

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    Registered User cactus's Avatar
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    For me, a good person is someone who stops to question his/her deeds and on occasion is tormented by guilt for minor things such as hurting someone's feelings... you get the jist of it. A good person would have a certain set of principles and morals and strives to live by those principles and morals.

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    deus ex machina Shalot's Avatar
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    I think cactus sums it up for me. Also, I'd like to add that people go through stages in their lives and while some person or teenager may seem like a bad apple, that doesn't necessarily mean that person is bad through and through. and of course, there are some things we do that can never be undone or taken back.
    "If you weren't smart enough to get a pedophile in a dress to put a small amount of water on your child’s head, then what the eff did you think was going to happen?

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    quite like george NikolaiI's Avatar
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    I am sort of glad to see this thread, as I'd like to share my opinion on this topic. To explain might be a little difficult. I think it's too easy to call someone "good" or "bad" and it misses the mark. The reasons we do what we do isn't because we are good or bad- it isn't because we have a strong or weak-willed character, it's because of the skills and tools we have learned, been taught, and been indoctrinated with. In this sense I agree with cactus about morality, but it's not that simple, as there are more things involved: I don't know precisely all the functions which go into having the ability to make a good choice, but it'd be something like reasoning, discernment, knowledge of good and bad, judgment, but even "judgment" includes a lot of other smaller skills. Dunno if I'm making any sense yet but consider this; is a "good" person good all the time? Not very likely; and is a "bad" person bad all the time?

    To go back to my first point with an example; take the criminal for instance- rather, just someone who makes bad choices, which mess up their life. Let's say they are unable to keep a job or something. Well, we might simply say that they need more willpower, if they had it, they would have kept their job. But in reality, they might not have the skills to keep the job, which doesn't have anything to do with will-power. Or perhaps they have all the right skills, they just need to be in a different job. But the skills or tools required in keeping a job are more complex than any one-word descriptions of character.


    (actually I realize that the skills I listed are sort of the same...*blah* I'm tired, but does anyone get my point?)

    Okay, how about this skill set: knowledge, concentration, working memory, and decision making...these are the skills which influence both how we do on a math test, and most other situations. It's not our willfulness, or our character.
    Last edited by NikolaiI; 10-30-2007 at 06:28 AM.

  6. #6
    Nikolai, I don't think that our abilities have much to do with how 'good' we are, or perhaps I am missing your point completely. In your example, you said that it is more about the skills that an individual has (or lack thereof) rather than their willpower that determines their capability to stay in a particular job. But I think that, essentially, a good person has the willpower to refrain from commiting criminal offences and the like, no matter what annoying impediment gets in the way of their dreams. Even if I find math tests extremely difficult and tedious, I do not need to peer over an intelligent person's shoulder (although this can sometimes seem very tempting).
    Our characters are shaped, not by our skills, but by our decisions and social surroundings and our choices ultimately depend on this.

    But I agree with you on the point that complete morality does not exist; unless being a 'good' person means that we are just more than 50% good. Even if we act on what we believe is right, our beliefs may be flawed. I'd like to think that I am a pretty 'good' person, though sometimes I want to plot armageddon against some people. Do iniquitous thoughts have a role in determine our integrity, or is it only our actions?

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    loquacious cat mrawr
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    How odd, I've never used good or bad as a classification for people.

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    Metamorphosing Pensive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chava
    How odd, I've never used good or bad as a classification for people
    This I believe is a really good thing. Whenever I had this urge to call someone bad, I thought why not look at myself first and frankly I have never been able to understand myself fully, to grasp what I really am. To put myself into any such category seems to be impossible to me. I don't think I should be able to do that for other people so surely in such a case as well.

    Or probably a good answer to this question can be taking 'goodness' as an opinion (for example George Eliot is the best writer I have ever read or I don't think Dan Brown's works are good at all) but when taking it as an opinion, we should remember that it's not a fact. And also remember that giving opinions about people is very different from those about some 'things'....and we should take in consideration that we can be wrong too.....and there is no hard or fast rule...and why we shouldn't too sure about human-beings either being good or bad? I think the answer to this can be that we are changing in every moment. It's like we can serve as the best thing yet the worst, and we can even make up for our display of bad (at least to most of the extent)...we are not things.
    Last edited by Pensive; 10-30-2007 at 09:20 AM.
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  9. #9
    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    How odd, I've never used good or bad as a classification for people.
    I'm with Chava. I really never think of people in categories of "good" or "bad." After thinking about the question on this thread a little, I'm not at all comfortable with judging others as good or bad people. I think I do have my own idea of what an ideal good person would be, which I strive to live up to (and certainly fail at in many ways), but I don't think I have some sort of ideal standard in my mind that other people have to live up to for me to deem them good (that is if, as the OP said, we are mainly considering people who do not maliciously and willfully do harm to others, since that really is a pretty basic standard).

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    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Define "good."
    Define "person."

  11. #11
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petrarch's Love View Post
    I'm with Chava. I really never think of people in categories of "good" or "bad." After thinking about the question on this thread a little, I'm not at all comfortable with judging others as good or bad people. I think I do have my own idea of what an ideal good person would be, which I strive to live up to (and certainly fail at in many ways), but I don't think I have some sort of ideal standard in my mind that other people have to live up to for me to deem them good (that is if, as the OP said, we are mainly considering people who do not maliciously and willfully do harm to others, since that really is a pretty basic standard).
    Don't you think there are some standards of a good and bad person. True it may be somewhat subjective, but I think we can agree that Mother Theresa is a good person. I got your bottom standard on someone who doesn't do anything malicious as a bad person, but what about someone so self centered he uses people (not in any harmful way) for his own purposes without consideration for their feelings or time.

    Under no standards, why should anyone attempt to be good?
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  12. #12
    loquacious cat mrawr
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    Well frankly i think that good or bad is a very imprecise description. As for the no standards, i don't think my life standards relate to being good.
    I try to be nice, because people willl appreciate it.
    I just think it's too general both as a description, and as a standard for behaviour.
    It occurs to me actually, that keeping the abstractness of "good" in mind, it's odd that some people tell their kids to "be good" how are they meant to interpret that?

  13. #13
    Registered User Granny5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkhockenberry View Post
    I've been wondering, what is it that makes a person good? How do you judge whether or not you can consider someone to be good or not? I'm not really talking about the black and white. It is widely accepted that killing is bad, and that people who are killers are not generally considered good people. I'm asking more about that fuzzy area. The area between the paragon, who will be put up for sainthood, and the evil, muderers and such. Can you consider someone who never harms anyone, but also never gives to another a good person?
    "Good" is subjective, I think. But we all know the general standards of society that are accepted as good. For me, a good person is one who does not do things to hurt others with malice. They do not cheat or lie in order to better their lot in life at the expense of others. Before making a decision, they consider how their decision will affect will effect others. They TRY to do no harm. A lot of our decisions and acts have a negative affect on others, but a good person will try their best not to do harm. And they truly care about others.
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  14. #14
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chava View Post
    I try to be nice, because people willl appreciate it.
    As they say in New York, that and $1.50 gets you on the subway. Again, why should anyone be good?

    There is a great line from the movie Good Fellows. I can't remember the actual words but the mafia guy says something to the effect that "being good is for suckers." I don't think they used the word "good" but something to that effect. Is he right? Is being good for suckers?
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  15. #15
    Registered User Granny5's Avatar
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    Being good is for the person trying to be a good person. I don't care really if anyone appreciates it or not. I just like to treat people kindly. It is for me because it makes me feel "good".
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