14.08.2020 in Society

Are you a good Person


The conception of what is good and what makes up a good man seems quite simple yet a complicated topic which poses a lot of philosophical debates. While we agree today, that a good man in the society is one who practices virtues, follows the law, is just and cares about the needy in the society, the beginning of the thought of what makes a good man, posed a challenge to several philosophers in the ancient period. For example, the most known philosophers such as Aristotle, Socrates and Glaucon engage in the debate with totally differing opinions. Aristotle perceives a Goodman from the lens of the virtues he possesses. On the other hand, Socrates perceives a good man as one who concentrates on self-development more than concentrating on his material wealth and therefore, that must be a man of virtue. Glaucon however, differs with the ideas of Aristotle and Glaucon by stating the world rewards injustice more than justice and therefore according to him, a good man is one who appears to be just but commits injustice. The paper will compare and Contrast the Arguments of Aristotle, Socrates, and Glaucon on the idea of what makes up a good man.

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Aristotle Conception of A Good Man

Aristotle has engaged on several occasions in attempting to define who a good man is. On one instance, Aristotle defines a good man by engaging in the discussion about whether all men are equal. He concludes that all men are not equal and that to understand the same, emphasis ought to be put on the difference between a good man and a good citizen. He points out that the former refers to deep good while the latter refers to societal good. He, however, invites to look at the early works of the Ancient philosophers like Plato. Plato defines a good man as “one who persues things that appear to be fair and just to the society”. According to Plato therefore, a person who possesses justice in the society is by far regarded as a good man in the society as opposed to one who commits injustice to the society. Aristotle, therefore, adopts this definition of a good man. In his book known as the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle chooses to break up the finer details of what makes up a good man, by engaging in the human dispositions of men. He argues that a “just man is one who has virtue because justice derives from virtue”. A virtuous person is, therefore, a just man and subsequently a goodman.


According to Aristotle therefore, the concept of ethics and virtues is one which is central towards defining the goodness of men in the society, as it enables us to discern good actions from wrong actions. He further points out that it is only those mean who practice virtue with a bit of moderation or mean that end up being good because any action practiced in excess causes harm. “If an individual, therefore, practiced actions leading to virtue but in excess, ends up destroying the virtues he aimed at building”. He uses the example of fear, where he indicates that courage is an attribute of virtue but certainly not fear. He says, “a man who consistently practices fear in everything undertaken by him makes a coward while the man who never fears anything ends up building a foolhardy of himself”’. From the statement, therefore, both the two people do it in excess, and therefore none of them practices virtue. Aristotle, therefore, concludes that virtue in manifested in the actions of men and is responsible for making men good. Ideas such as justice, temperance, and courage among others are some of the actions that make up a good man. It’s against this backdrop that Aristotle rests his argument by indicating that, human beings must practice friendship with others, virtue, pleasure and other actions that make people exist in harmony with each other in the Society. These are the factors that lead to the common end of all the human beings, which is happiness. Whoever manages to make the society happy by engaging in actions of virtue, therefore, is regarded a good man by the society.

The Conception of a good man according to Socrates

To a great level, Socrates Concurs with Aristotle in what makes up a goo man, but also deviates a bit from the general conclusion of the same. Unlike Aristotle, who begins his subject about a good man from a political philosophy point of view, Socrates holds on to the view of self-development, though the two have something in common to share. Socrates, for example, argues that a good man is one who sacrifices his search and urge for material wealth for the sake of possessing the art of self-development. Self-development according to Socrates, is the accumulation of the actions of a human being leading to virtue. To this extent, therefore, Socrates and Aristotle agree about the concepts such as justice, courage, and friendship which make up a good man as they are a reflection of virtue. Socrates belief that, “ there is no way a man who possesses virtue within his heart may be tempted to do evil as his heart is full of goodness”. Whatever comes out of him, therefore, is good and necessary for the fulfillment of the common good of the whole society which is the common happiness. This topic was particularly unfolded by Plato after Socrates death, in which, he let people judge from Socrates actions, whether he was a good man or a bad one.

According to me, however, it is tough to find a good man in today’s society because most men are full of a mixture of goodness and badness in their hearts, though one may outweigh the other. To this extent, it becomes difficult to discern where an individual is to be categorized from the Goodman, badman debate. Jesus is the only person who may be said to have managed to exhibit these qualities thus making him the best man to have ever lived. That is why Socrates always emphasized that “human beings ought to concentrate on community building activities which arouse a real sense of friendship for the common growth of the whole society. To a near extent, therefore, “Socrates tried to be an example of whatever he taught by choosing not to run away from his nation as a sign of betrayal to his people but rather chose to die his death through a death sentence for the sake of his people”. To some extent therefore, Socrates is a good man. According to Socrates, A man who possesses virtue, possesses all. He, therefore, develops a concept of the divided line where he argues that real goodness is found at the top o the divided line, symbolizing that we must always embrace virtue to perform good deeds.

Glaucon Idea of a good Man

While Aristotle and Socrates use virtue in their argument of a good man, Glaucon deviates from it completely and focusses on the idea of justice. He puts forward, there propositions which depict good and ultimately a good man. First, “everyone likes a good just for the sake of it”. Secondly, he argues hat the reason why people like the sake of a good thing is because they wish to gain something out of it. Lastly, he “stresses that everyone must certainly line a good because there is something to reap from”. After this extrapolation, Glaucon, puts Socrates to the test of identifying where justice belongs. Surprisingly, Socrates identifies the second Category. From the above argument, Glaucon concludes that even though bing a good man has an association with justice, the truth is that, people only practice justice for reputation and avoidance of negative consequences as every person would wish only God things be done to him. He concludes that a just man will always die poor while the unjust man becomes a king. According to Glaucon therefore, a good man is one who appears to be just but not necessarily just. Glaucon idea, therefore, contradicts Aristotle and Socrates views.


In conclusion, the idea of a good man stems from moral philosophy, but there is o agreement ver the same. Aristotle, Socrates, and Glaucon engage on this matter, with Aristotle arguing from a political philosophy point of view, Socrates from an angle of self-development and Glaucon from the idea of justice. While the arguments by Socrates andAristole have a particular similarity in that they both speak of virtue, Glaucon deviates for the same by arguing that a good man is one who appears to be just but not just in reality.

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