Human Goodness: Pragmatic Variations on Platonic Themes

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Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Human Goodness, first published in , presents an original, pragmatic moral theory that successfully revives and revitalizes the classical Greek concept of happiness. It also includes in-depth discussions of our freedoms, our obligations, and our virtues, as well as adroit comparisons with the moral theories of Kant and Hume. Paul Schollmeier explains that the Greeks define happiness as an activity that we may perform for its own sake.

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Obvious examples might include telling stories, making music, or dancing. He then demonstrates that we may use the pragmatic method to discover and to define innumerable activities of this kind. Schollmeier's demonstration rests on the modest assumption that our happiness takes not one ideal form, but many empirical forms.

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My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review. His ideas have had a massive impact on the West, including on Christian thinkers, and continue to do so even today. But how indebted is Christianity to Plato? Historically speaking, Christianity is a form of early Jewish messianism—it was birthed in a 1 st century AD Palestinian Jewish milieu in which there was a lot of messianic speculation.


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Many Jews of the period hoped that the Messiah would come and overthrow the Romans, and establish universal Israelite rule. Jesus came into that context claiming to be the Jewish Messiah, though with a very different agenda than what many Jews were expecting. Of course, to understand any of this, one needs to be familiar with the Old Testament—the creative and sovereign supremacy of the God of Israel, His promise to Israel to make them a nation of priests and a light to the world, and the historical dealings God had with Adam, Noah, and Abraham before that, and David and his royal line after that.

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Nonetheless, in terms of philosophy, Christianity does share some important features with Plato. The New Testament writers believed that we remain conscious after physical death e. Philippians , as Plato did. The Bible rejects atheism and materialism, as Plato did.

Pragmatism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Both believed in a supreme beneficent reality. Both believed that the physical universe was designed.

However, there are also important differences. For instance, Christianity is a form of monotheism—the belief that there is one supreme being who is the beneficent source and sovereign of all things. He had two notions that he never really systematized into a single coherent worldview—his Form of the Good, and his Demiurge. The Form of the Good was the ultimate form for Plato, from which every other form derived its goodness, but it was impersonal. Moreover, Plato believed that souls are indestructible, which the New Testament rejects. For Plato, being disembodied was the desirable final destination.

In the New Testament, being disembodied is a form of nakedness and thus shame , so the dead await to be re-embodied at the final resurrection 2 Corinthians — This is why the disembodied state of a dead person is called the intermediate state. And since Plato thought disembodiment was the best, he certainly would not have liked the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body!

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For more on this, please see Soulless humans? However, Platonism was one of those philosophies that competed with Christianity in the early centuries of the church. As such, the early church fathers almost always modified Platonic ideas in light of the data of Scripture.

But this also provided Christianity with several advantages. This does away with the need for eternal matter, so that time, space, matter, and the forms are all ultimately dependent on God, whether as His thoughts the forms or His creations space, time, and matter. Christianity has a long and interesting interaction with platonic ideas; sometimes fruitful, many times detrimental. But the true ideological grounds for Christianity are not to be found in Plato; they are found in the Old Testament.

Answering the Euthyphro Dilemma. Thank you so much for your great reply. I needed this information to discuss it with my philosophy teacher in Spain. Schollmeier's demonstration rests on the modest assumption that our happiness takes not one ideal form, but many empirical forms.

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Thank you. Your review has been submitted and will appear here shortly. Extra Content. Table of Contents Acknowledgments; Preface; Schema; 1. An apology; 2. The method in question; 3. Human happiness; 4. Moral freedoms; 5.



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