Friday, June 15, 2012

Nothing Is As Good As It Seems?

What makes a good thing good?

If I love my wife and kids, is this love simply due to chemicals in my brain? If I show compassion to someone in need, is this kindness merely the chance result of an evolutionary trait which helped our species to survive? If we answer the questions affirmatively, we must be prepared to say that there is nothing inherently good about loving our families and showing compassion to those in need. It's not that scientific explanations are necessarily wrong; it's that they are in themselves insufficient to account for goodness. At best then, all acts of love and compassion are neutral, being simply cause and effect, actions no different than a soda fizzing over when shaken. At worst, phenomena such as love and compassion are "good" if they help us personally and "bad" if they don't, a definition which prompts the question of whether we're even still talking about true love and true compassion. If you react against this kind of utilitarian use of "love" and "compassion" for one's own personal ends, perhaps it would be helpful to consider what your negative feelings are based upon.