Suppose I am very generous and forgiving then can I call myself good? Is this goodness absolute in time(past ,present and future)and space( east , west , north , south) ?

Generally, is there any goodness which is absolute ? If yes , then what should I do to become good in the eyes of everybody? If no , then how do you define goodness?

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    >Is this goodness absolute in time(past ,present and future)and space( east , west , north , south) ? ..as long "human live" and "words have meaning" (in past? Yes!, in future? Who knows??...today!?->up to you, me, us!!)
    – xerx593
    Nov 17, 2023 at 11:36
  • Can we pick apart the “absoluteness” at work a little? It seems like you’re asking for a standard that should always be applied (you are good, because that’s an absolute standard), but another take is a standard that is independent of context (according to the standard in question, nothing about your situatedness in time or space is specifically implicated in valuing you as good). These two concepts of “absolute” or “objective” do come apart!
    – Paul Ross
    Nov 18, 2023 at 14:49

5 Answers 5


In the context of European philosophy the first answer which comes to mind is Plato’s concept of the Form of the Good. In his work “The Republic (politeia)”, Plato does not give a definion but presents a metaphor (Book 6, 508e):

Now, that which imparts truth to the known and the power of knowing to the knower is what I would have you term the idea of good, and this you will deem to be the cause of science, and of truth in so far as the latter becomes the subject of knowledge; […]

Plato compares the good to the sun which gives birth to all living beings and makes them visible for us.


Goodness is a quality ascribed by humans, so what one person considers good another might not. Lenient treatment of slaves, for example, with only token thrashings, might have been considered good at one time, but is no longer considered good in polite circles today. That said, I would feel reasonably confident that were you to canvass the views of every living human you would find that we share some common ideas of good, which would include generosity, fairness, treating others as you would hope to be treated yourself, helping people in need, empathy, protecting the vulnerable, and so on. Humans who do not hold any of those values would, I suspect, form a small minority.


The answer you are looking for could be merit.

Merit (Sanskrit: puṇya; Pali: puñña) is a concept considered fundamental to Buddhist ethics. It is a beneficial and protective force which accumulates as a result of good deeds, acts, or thoughts.

It is true that some people e.g. resent the rich and beautiful, are jealous of the gods, etc., but in general merit as merit is universally admired. If you are skeptical of this ethical claim - real or not - you could find out about merit transference to hell-beings, e.g..

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    The concept of punya (= merit) in Buddhist ethics is often used to motivate the lay Buddhists to support the members of the Buddhist order. A simple example: Regularly preparing food for the monks on their daily alm rounds, a kind of dana (= giving), is claimed to be a merit which improves the karma of the lay supporter. IMO that’s a misuse of the term merit on the part of the Buddhist order.
    – Jo Wehler
    Nov 16, 2023 at 10:43
  • in what way @JoWehler ? idt focusing on good results rather than good intention is a "misuse" of anything, not if it's what happens
    – user67675
    Nov 16, 2023 at 11:37
  • I consider both, karma and merit as a means to improve karma, to be fictitious.
    – Jo Wehler
    Nov 16, 2023 at 11:40
  • congratulations @JoWehler i included the idea that it could be a moral fiction
    – user67675
    Nov 16, 2023 at 11:41
  • sorry for being snappy (should cut that out), and thanks for the reply
    – user67675
    Nov 16, 2023 at 14:50

Let's observe the question properly.

What does it mean to be "good"? The concept is subjective, varying across individuals and cultures. Generally, it involves positive qualities, ethical behavior, and morality, encompassing kindness, honesty, empathy, and consideration for others.

"Good" takes on different meanings in various contexts; being a good human may involve kindness and empathy, while excelling in cricket requires skill and sportsmanship. Different aspects of life may demand distinct criteria for what is deemed "good."

While the definition of "good" isn't universal, "goodness" as a noun holds a universal essence. Though challenging to articulate, we can sense "goodness" across various contexts, with the quality remaining constant.

In short definition of "Good" is as such not canonical. But "Goodness" being a quality can be assumed to be universal and we have a natural ability to sense "Goodness"

If the question is how to be seen as good by everybody, the answer is to embody "goodness." However, the actions to achieve this vary subjectively and contextually.

Implicitly, the inquiry touches on the concept of ultimate good or supreme goodness.

In Indian philosophy, there is a discussion about this in Bhagvat Geeta. What is said hereafter is not a universal truth nor I proclaim it to be. It's just one of many gems of Indian Philosophy.

A excerpt of one of OSHO's discourse can be a good introduction

It is like this. We can see the sky through the window. The window looks like a frame around the sky, but the sky itself has no frame around it. It is infinite. Only the window gives it a frame. In the same way, beauty, truth and goodness are the windows through which we can glance into the divine. Human personality is divided into three layers. If intellect is predominant, then the divine takes the shape of truth. The intellectual approach creates the window of truth, the frame of truth. If the mind is emotional, if one comes to reality not through the head but through the heart, then the divine becomes beauty. The poetic quality is given by you. It is only the frame. Intellect gives it the frame of truth; emotion gives it the frame of beauty. And if the personality is neither emotional nor intellectual if action is predominant - then - the frame becomes goodness. So here in India we use these three terms for the divine. Bhakti yoga means the way of devotion and is for the emotional type. Godliness is seen as beauty. Gyan yoga is the way of knowledge. Godliness is seen as truth. And karma yoga is the way of action. Godliness is goodness. The very word god comes from the word good. This word has had the greatest influence because most of humanity is predominantly active, not intellectual or emotional. This does not mean that there is no intellect or emotion, but they are not predominant factors. Very few are intellectual and very few are emotional. The majority of humanity is predominantly active. Through action the "God" becomes the good.

In the Indian tradition, there are three ways to experience the divine, and goodness is one of them.

Quoting the Bhagavad Gita, it emphasizes detachment from results and the performance of duty for its own sake. Goodness is portrayed as a way of action, requiring a connection with "Godliness." The term "God" originates from "Good," paralleling "Devil" with "evil." Attaining "Godliness" leads to inherent "Goodness,".

Your work is your responsibility, not its result. Never let the fruits of your actions be your motive. Nor give in to inaction. Set firmly in yourself, do your work, not attached to anything. Remain evenminded in success, and in failure. Evenmindedness is true yoga. —Bhagavad Gita, 2.47-49

"tasmad asaktah satatam karyam karma samacara asakto hy acaran karma param apnoti purushah" Therefore, without being attached to the results of activities, one should act as a matter of duty, for by working without attachment one attains the Supreme.

The connection between Karma Yoga and goodness lies in the emphasis on selfless action, detachment from personal desires, and the pursuit of virtuous conduct. Here's how Karma Yoga is linked to goodness:

  1. Selfless Service: In Karma Yoga, individuals engage in selfless service and actions without expecting personal gain. The focus is on contributing to the well-being of others and the world at large. This selflessness is inherently aligned with the principles of goodness, which involve kindness, compassion, and a genuine concern for others.

  2. Detachment from Results: Practitioners of Karma Yoga perform their duties without being attached to the outcomes. This detachment from results helps cultivate a mindset focused on the intrinsic goodness of the action itself, rather than being driven by personal desires or ambitions.

  3. Alignment with Virtues: Goodness is often associated with virtuous qualities such as honesty, integrity, compassion, and generosity. In Karma Yoga, individuals strive to embody these virtues in their actions. By acting in accordance with moral principles and ethical values, practitioners contribute to the cultivation of goodness.

  4. Fulfilling Duties and Dharma: Karma Yoga emphasizes the importance of fulfilling one's duties and adhering to dharma (righteousness). Acting in accordance with one's responsibilities and moral obligations contributes to a harmonious and morally grounded society, reflecting the essence of goodness.

  5. Mindful and Conscious Action: Karma Yoga encourages mindful and conscious action. By being fully present in the moment and approaching actions with awareness, individuals can make choices that are in line with goodness. Mindfulness allows for a more intentional and positive impact on oneself and others.

  6. Unity with the Divine: The ultimate goal of Karma Yoga is spiritual growth and unity with the divine. This connection with the divine implies aligning one's actions with a higher, transcendent purpose, which is often associated with the concept of goodness in various philosophical and religious traditions.

In summary, the practice of Karma Yoga involves performing selfless, virtuous actions with a sense of duty and detachment. This alignment with selflessness, virtues, and a higher purpose establishes a profound connection between Karma Yoga and the pursuit of goodness.

  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Meanach
    Nov 17, 2023 at 12:38
  • Thanks for this answer; you have made a serious attempt to answer the question but statements such as 'Goodness is a way of action' are not entirely clear. Meanach has a point. Try the help center and also, to get a better idea of what standard to aim for, take a look at answers which have attracted high approval ratings. All the best - Geoffrey.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Nov 18, 2023 at 11:26
  • @GeoffreyThomas Thanks, I am new here and still learning the etiquettes. I have added additional information for more clarity.
    – user68850
    Nov 18, 2023 at 14:13
  • @Qwerty. I see that your answer has already attracted a + point. You're learning - and welcome to the site. Geoffrey
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Nov 19, 2023 at 11:14

If by absolute, you mean universal, I think that is possible. I like the comparison of goodness with value or meaning. Evil is disvalue or meaninglessness. I am pulling this moral conception into a panpsychist view of the universe. Just my own musings at this stage.

  • I mean unchangeable in time and space , as explained in the question… Nov 16, 2023 at 10:37
  • If there is a form of goodness that exists throughout spacetime then that would be universal and unchangeable. I suggest editing your question.
    – Meanach
    Nov 16, 2023 at 10:45
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    I also mean independent when I say absolute, like absolute 0 K temperature. Nov 16, 2023 at 15:18

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