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Autor: anton • October 16, 2010 • 968 Words (4 Pages) • 956 Views
Topic: G.E. Moore: The Indefinability of Good.
In all the ethical philosophy we have been taught until this point, it has been commonly accepted that Ethics was indefinitely an examination of human conduct and how we react to each situation that arises. G. E. Moore, a philosopher from Cambridge University, begins his discussion of ethics otherwise, rejecting this concept and instead offering up his own concept that states that ethics is "the general enquiry into what is good."
Many philosophers are to quick to accept the definition of Ethics as a study of what is good or bad in human conduct when Moore points out that Ethics is much more than that of human conduct, going on to include many other realms of thought. In order to explain this, Moore asks the question, "What is good?" He goes on to give examples of different things in life that he deems "good," such as books or pleasure, but decides that these answers to the question are not the solution he is looking for. He wants to find out what is good in another, more meaningful sense.
He does this again by asking another question, "What is the definition of Ð''good'?" As he says, "this is an enquiry which belongs only to Ethics." In asking this question, Moore comes to the conclusion that the definition of good is in its most simple form, the most essential point in the definition of Ethics. He explains that there is no way to put a verbal or written definition to the word because it is in its most simple form. There are no simpler groupings of words which could make someone who does not understand or have any idea to its concept, understand what is meant by Ð''good'.
When explaining the concept of a tree, there are many distinct characteristics that make up a tree that a blind man who has never seen one before could understand based on other simpler concepts he already understands. But once that tree's description has been broken down to its simplest characteristics, it is impossible to explain those characteristics without having some kind of higher understanding of the words. This is to say that these simple characteristics cannot be defined with words or on paper thus being indefinable.
Since he concludes that the word Ð''good' is indefinable, there is a need to make a distinction about the good, or something which has goodness or is good and the definition of Ð''good' itself. Moore says that the difference is in the fact that Ð''good' is a simple notion that cannot be broken down, and the good is complex and made up of many simple notions that include goodness.
He goes on to explain that many philosophers make falsely define the word Ð''good' by using other qualities or simple notions to describe it. He says that these assumptions of what Ð''good' are, are false because they only attempt to explain the word superficially and not it's true meaning. He uses an example of the word Ð''yellow', where the color is impossible to define because anyone who has never experienced it before could not understand what it means to actually see Ð''yellow' just from hearing a definition of the word. He says that most philosophers, in their explanation of Ð''good', explain