Monday, March 19, 2007

What is the Summum Bonum? What is the Greatest Good in Life?

Dear Survey Takers,

On a piece of paper and in a scrawled, running off the paper, jerky handwriting that I recognize as my own. . . that writing, on scraps pulled from the floor of my car signifying something that must be written NOW, highway or no highway. . . I read this today.

"The summum bonum is the tonic to which we return, not just to find an elixer for health or happiness, but the tonic that is the tonal harmonic center of our existence, that tone where we find harmonic rest. It is our home.

"Certainly we can choose to leave this home. That choice is as human as opposable thumbs, but it is nonetheless our home."

So, that was my definition one day, while driving to work. What is your definition of the greatest good, the summum bonum of existence?



cadh 8 said...

What the...???

Mom, you are too smart for me. My internal harmonic is sent into cacophany (sp?) just reading this.

Ashok had a very dad like comment when I read it to him. It involved changing Bonum to Bunum....I'll share by phone later...

OH, and I will think about the real question and make a post later. I just need more time on this one.

Anonymous said...

AF said,

"The Summum Bonum is love."

When I asked him to define love, he said that he couldn't define it. However, earlier in the conversation he had said that he was an impatient person whenever it concerned himself. He couldn't wait for five minutes in a line for something he wanted for himself. However, if his wife wanted something, he would willingly wait for two hours and not think a thing about it. Somehow, I think this sheds a definitive light on AF and love.

Anne G G said...

I'm bound to cause a ruckus.

The summum bonum is happiness. The greatest good is for the most people to be the most happy.

I've said this to people in the past and it's led to an elaborate parsing out of the difference between "happiness" and "joy." I make no distinction. I do distinguish between shallow happiness ("mmm, a chocolate bar") and deep happiness ("mmm, I am in harmony with creation and the people around me"), but these are just points on a continuum.

Anonymous said...

EA says the summum bonum. . .

. . . is to be of some use or benefit to someone else. It's only through that, that you can find contentment. To remain self centered in actions and deeds limits your world. Only in moving outside yourself can you expand your world. Good is perpetuated when we put others' interests above our own. Philippians 2:3 and 4 says, "In humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Posted by Betsy

D. W. Proctor said...

Hey Betsy, you left a comment on my blog a few weeks ago just wanted to say thanks and to let you know the newbie appreciated your comment.

While you are out and about, if you see women bloggers on topics related to my blog please email me at or leave a comment.

Again, thanks it was pretty exciting to see someone had been there!

Anonymous said...

MPC says:

The summum bonum of life is a roller coaster! Well metaphorically anyway, with the struggles to reach the top and the thrill of the descent.

It is to give of yourself fully to others.

Posted by Betsy

Anonymous said...

JR said,

The summum bonum is love. And love implies action. . . stopping when you see a stranded motorist, joining a movement for justice. It doesn't just have to be sacrifice, zero-sum, but it is active.

Posted by Betsy

Anonymous said...

Kant's first formulation of the Categorical Imperative states that you are to “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” (G 4:421)

Does this apply?

Posted by Betsy

brd said...

Common decency.

--Albert Camus