Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 S - Summum bonum


Summum bonum: The greatest good.

Many systems of ethics or morals have some summum bonum - happiness, satori, enlightenment, pleasure, justice, self-control, serving The Lord, serving The Party - and quite a few more, and in quite a few forms this is used in a totalitarian way, in practice if not in theory, and is the practical greatest good of most groups conformism or loyalty.

One logically appropriate question is whether there really is, practically or theoretically, such a thing for human beings as THE greatest good. If there is, it seems to coincide most easily with doing as one likes -

  • what most human beings seem to like best is to do as they please.

In any case, what human beings strive for or against will depend much on circumstances, their own beliefs, and their own physical and mental conditions, and will tend to vary with these.


See also: Aristotle's Ethics

Literature: Aristotle, Broad, Burtt, Marx, Nietzsche

 Original: Aug 25, 2007                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top