Summum bonum


Summum bonum

Summum bonum (Latin for the highest good) is an expression used in philosophy, particularly in medieval philosophy, to describe the ultimate importance, the singular and most ultimate end which human beings ought to pursue. The "summum bonum" is generally thought of as being an end in itself, and at the same time containing all other goods. In Christian philosophy, the highest good is usually defined as the life of the righteous, the life led in Communion with God and according to God's precepts.

The concept, as well as the philosophical and theological consequences drawn from the purported existence of a more or less clearly defined "summum bonum", could be traced back to the earliest forms of monotheism: for instance, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. In the Western world, the concept was introduced by the neoplatonic philosophers, and described as a feature of the Christian God by Saint Augustine in "De natura boni" ("On the Nature of Good", written "circa" 399). Augustine denies the positive existence of absolute evil, describing a world with God as the supreme good at the center, and defining different grades of evil as different stages of remoteness from that center.

Experience soon teaches that all desires cannot be satisfied, that they are conflicting, and that some goods must be foregone in order to secure others. Hence the necessity of weighing the relative value of goods, of classifying them, and of ascertaining which of them must be procured at the loss of others. The result is the division of goods into two great classes, the physical and the moral, happiness and virtue. Within either class it is comparatively easy to determine the relation of particular good things to one another, but it has proved far more difficult to fix the relative excellence of the two classes of virtue and happiness. If happiness and virtue are mutually exclusive, we have to choose between the two, and this choice is a momentous one. But their incompatibility may be only on the surface. Indeed the hope is ever recurring that the sovereign good includes both, and that there is some way of reconciling them.

ummum bonum and judgments

Judgments on the highest good have generally fallen into three categories:
* Eudaemonism or Utilitarianism, when the highest good is identified with happiness;
* Rational Deontologism, when the highest good is identified with virtue or duty;
* Rational Eudæmonism, or tempered Deontologism, when both virtue and happiness are combined in the highest good.

ee also

* Omnibenevolence
* Intrinsic value (ethics)
* Meaning of life

External links

* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06640a.htm "Catholic Encyclopedia" "The Highest Good"]


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  • Summum bonum — (en latín, el mayor bien ) es una expresión utilizada en la filosofía, sobre todo en la filosofía medieval y en la de Immanuel Kant, para describir la importancia definitiva, el fin último y lo más singular que los seres humanos deben seguir. El… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Summum bonum — (« souverain bien » en latin) est une locution latine utilisée en philosophie pour décrire l importance ultime (en), l objectif final recherché par tout être humain. La summum bonum est généralement considérée comme une fin en soi …   Wikipédia en Français

  • SUMMUM BONUM —         (лат.) высшее благо. Бог. Философский энциклопедический словарь. М.: Советская энциклопедия. Гл. редакция: Л. Ф. Ильичёв, П. Н. Федосеев, С. М. Ковалёв, В. Г. Панов. 1983. SUMMUM BONUM …   Философская энциклопедия

  • Summum bonum — (lat.), das höchste Gut. – Summum jus summa injurĭa, das strengste (auf die Spitze getriebene) Recht (ist oft) die größte Ungerechtigkeit …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Summum bonum — Summum bonum, lat., das höchste Gut; summum jus summa injuria, lat. Sprichwort, das größte Recht ist oft die größte Ungerechtigkeit …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Summum bonum — Sum mum bo num [L.] (Philos.) The supreme or highest good, referring to the object of human life. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Summum bonum — (lat.), höchstes Gut, vgl. Gut, S. 540 …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • summum bonum — [soom′əm bō′nəm] n. [L] the highest, or supreme, good …   English World dictionary

  • Summum Bonum — Sụm|mum Bo|num 〈n.; ; unz.; geh.〉 höchstes Gut [lat.] * * * Sụmmum Bọnum   [lateinisch] das, , Philosophie: höchster Wert, Gott (höchstes Gut). * * * Sụm|mum Bọ|num, das; [lat. summum bonum, zu: summus (↑Summa) u. bonum = Gut, zu: bonu …   Universal-Lexikon

  • summum bonum — noun /ˈsʌməm ˈbəʊnəm,ˈsʊməm ˈbɒnəm/ The greatest good; the ultimate importance, the singular and most ultimate end which human beings ought to pursue. Our summum bonum is commodity, and the goddess we adore Dea Moneta, Queen Money, to whom we… …   Wiktionary


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