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The Good, The Bad, Or The Ugly?

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A man is searching to get into trouble; he simply wants to be punished. Although some may agree with that statement, Socrates would disagree and would argue that no one wants what is bad. I agree with him in that no one wants to be harmed and what is harmful is bad. I believe no one wants what is bad intentionally. They want the good regardless of the consequences because they want to have a virtuous life. The man searching to get into trouble is an alcoholic and will be discussed later on throughout the paper.


I. Socrates argues that bad things are harmful to those who posses them. People do not want what is bad because it would harm them. They desire what is good, or what they think is good, and sometimes that is actually something that is harmful, or bad. They want this because they are striving to have a virtuous life and no one can have a virtuous life while seeking bad. Socrates also argues that harmful things make people miserable. However, they are only miserable to the extent in which they have been harmed. No one wants to be miserable or unhappy. Therefore no one wants what is bad. He says, "those who do not know things to be bad do not desire what is bad, but they desire those things that they believe to be good but are in fact bad."(10) People who may appear to desire bad things actually desire the good that they perceive to come out of it, instead of looking at the whole picture and realizing the overall bad. For instance the man who is an alcoholic may be seeing the instant pleasure or ease in which the alcohol puts his mind. What he fails to see, however, is the long term effect the alcohol has on his body and the negative consequences that arise from being intoxicated.

II. In objection to Socrates' argument, people who supposedly do not wanting what is bad may be looking at the whole picture and choosing those negative things over the positive alternatives. Back to the example of the drunk, let's add that he has been in a bad accident, killed someone due to his alcoholism, and as a result has terrible health. One cannot state matter-of-factly that he does not want what is bad because we can only speak for ourselves. In this sense we will never know if he is only looking at the good because all we can do is observe and ask questions. He is obviously aware of the consequences but may not be willing to stop drinking because he enjoys the thrill of driving drunk and scaring people although it may ultimately bring death upon him, he prefers what is bad to what is good. This person believes the bad things benefit him and that is why some want what is bad. Therefore the argument that no one wants what is bad can not be guaranteed.

III. Socrates has taken this



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