I don’t know what living a good life means - people say being honest, truthful, generous, or to possess and practice many of the most important virtues. But all these things depend upon the way we think.
Is there any standard answer for this question in philosophy?

  • 1
    See e.g. Aristotle's Ethics : Human Good. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jan 27 at 18:43
  • 2
    There may be different answers depending on the philosopher. Is there a philosopher you are reading at the moment that most interests you and is inspiring this question? Welcome to Philosophy! – Frank Hubeny Jan 27 at 18:47
  • This is what philosophy is for. Nobody can tell you difinitively what you should do with your life. – Richard Jan 27 at 21:03
  • English-speakers have "the golden rule": "do unto others what you would have them do unto you." This, from what I can tell, will propagate nicely into a pretty full ethical framework. – elliot svensson Jan 28 at 18:27
  • @elliot, does the golden rule apply to masochists too? – Ajagar Jan 30 at 10:49

Every human being aspires to live a good life. The problem is, we all define the phrase “good life” differently. Some are looking to live an honest life, full of integrity, joy and happiness. Others seek wealth, social status and fame, as they hope these aspects will help them to live the good life. In fact, they directly associate the good life with money and material belongings.


There is more to this question than meets the eye. Both ‘good’ and ‘life’ are abstract terms. You can only experience good and experience life. In an abstract form both ‘good’ and ‘life’ can be given any meaning depending on the philosopher and depending on the person. One person may think rain at this moment does his life good, while another may find this bad.

Basically good and bad are abstract forms from a more concrete form in which the meaning is palpable. Goods (things that have use to people) as in ‘to go’ have a purpose as if going somewhere while bad relates to static (not going somewhere) concrete terms like bath (in which you lie down) and bed (in which you lie down). Besides ethics ‘good’ found its way into health terminology as a metaphore too. When you are able to go, you are good, while when you ‘fell’ sick you feel bad. So it depends in which context you apply ‘good’ as a linguistic concept.

The word life has a similar relationship to walking (German laufen). Its antonym is a near anagram; fall. One of the methods before writing to easily distinguish between antonyms. Just turn the phonetic elements around. An easy mnemonic. So as long as you are alive (on your feet) and you act with purpose, that might be one way of interpreting the basic linguistic elements of ‘good life’. But mind this is philosofied from a comparative view and historical linguists would most probably disagree with this hypothesis on the fact that there is no written proof of the connections I give in this post. So applying meanings to words in philosophy is an experience. In essence you yourself decide what is a good life for you. Philosophy can not answer your question but encourages you to keep asking and searching for the answer that fits you most. Good life!

We can also look at ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ and compare them to ‘tred’ and ‘lying in bed. I remember from an etymology class that emotion contains motion which also shows the metaphore of purpose and going within the realm of names for feelings. Emotions ‘move’ you too.

  • Ahem, are beds bad? Seems weird. Or do I misunderstand your message? – rus9384 Jan 29 at 8:56
  • Yes you misunderstood. The sounds in both bed and bad and bath are not just coincidentally similar, but they express a general concept of being flat, lying down or a horizontal position. – Ajagar Jan 30 at 9:18
  • Bad (not good) is essentially created by using this general meaning metaphorically applying it to a state of feeling (like feeling sick or feeling regret) or a state of ethics (injustice). In justice terms it can be compared to the use of ‘right’ and ‘straight’ referring to the opposite vertical position. – Ajagar Jan 30 at 10:40
  • Etymologically, these words are of different sources. You can't say they are linked somehow, only because they sound similar. Like you can't say that two similar persons are siblings. But again: shower is good and bath is bad, no? Maybe I like your idea, but don't try to say it's someone else idea if it is yours. – rus9384 Jan 30 at 12:50
  • Hi rus9384, they are all my ideas. You are right if you look at it from a historical linguistic perspective. I look at it from a comparative linguistic perspective. You focus on meaning. I focus on essence, context, metaphorical use of words. You can’s say bad and bath were synonymous and say showerr and good relate. But you can say bad and bath express the same concept within different contexts and one of them is a metaphore or both are metaphores coming from an older source. So bath and bad do not relate in meaning but they are distant cousins by metaphoric use. – Ajagar Jan 30 at 12:57

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