I’ve recently encountered one of the interesting things about studying philosophy: spontaneous discussions about things that are very idea-based.
Is there a universal good? It’s a great question, I understand why so many have thought about it, and so few have found an answer. Personally, I really like the idea of a universal good, but I just don’t think it can be more than that: an idea. And what is an idea that can never become more than that? Isn’t that just – ultimately – a waste?
If there were to be a universal good to be found by man, I think we would have found it by now. Of course, you can argue that since the world has only ‘recently’ entered the information age, breaking down the vast distances there once was from culture to culture, and it might eventually be through this technological progress that we will all come together on basis of the universal good. But doesn’t it seem like the information age has only created bigger differences religions and cultures in-between?
We are certainly finding out in what ways we’re not compatible with our fellow earthlings, but have we found some common ground on what is dear to us all? Life seems important, but life is apparently only important as long as it’s the lives of the people among us/the ones we are affiliated with through culture/religion. We have no problem seeing people from different backgrounds as our enemy – and certainly you and your enemy can’t share a universal good. If so, why would you be enemies? Wouldn’t you both be striving for the exact same thing, on a universal scale, thus eliminating all differences you might have?
You can argue that there are different ways of achieving the universal good. And you might even make a plausible case that this is why we see such hard-to-overcome differences and culture clashes. I say, though, if there is a universal good, it will have to be something so simple that we can’t possibly have trouble understanding other people’s pursuit of it; we would all be able to see that though someone takes an unorthodox road – their path eventually leads to the same goal as ours.
Let’s say the universal good is love. How hard is it really to spot other people showing love? If we all strive for love – and universal love, being a universal good – it seems ridiculous for people to show any kind of anger. I know, love can be frustrating, but if universally accepted, it would at least stop at frustration. Otherwise you have to let out anger on someone, which is hardly love, and thus breaking the universal good.
As long as I’m not presented to some killer-arguments, I’m afraid I will remain skeptic about the existence of a universal good. The idea is fantastic. I really hope that humanity will someday find something that unites it; something that breaks down country borders and makes this one big Earth. But until that day seems at least a bit more plausible than just possible the universal good is more like a universal ghost.