April 8, 2020

When Bad People Have Good Things

For the things that the mass of people say are good are not correctly so described. It is said that the the best thing is health, and the second is beauty, and third is wealth – and then are said to be ten thousand other goods: sharp sight, hearing, and good perception of all the objects of the senses; and then…to do whatever one desires; and finally the perfection of complete blessedness, which is to possess all these things and then to become immortal, as quickly as possible.

But…we say that these things, beginning with health, are all very good when possessed by just and pious men, but all very bad when possessed by unjust men. To see, to hear, to perceive, and, in general, to live as an immortal for the whole of time, while possessing all the things said to be good except for justice and the whole of virtue, is the greatest of evil. The evil gets less as the time such a man continues to live gets shorter. – (Plato, The Laws 661a-661c)