The Good Life: Truths That Last in Times of Need by Peter J. Gomes

By Peter J. Gomes

The writer of the ny instances bestseller the great booklet champions the restoration of the Western ethical culture.

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Goodness, they say, has become just another intellectual abstraction, and most of them do not see what is in it for them. In a recent conversation among some of my most able and articulate undergraduate students, one of them, complaining of the poor quality of community life at Harvard, observed at least half paradoxically, “The very qualities that I recognize as essential in getting me in here are those qualities I least like in others; and since we are all alike, at least at The Good Life / 43 the level of ambitious self-achievement, we do not know how to like one another or to live with one another.

In America, we call it the pursuit of happiness. Moral philosophers have called it the search for the good life, that which allows us each and all to fulfill our ultimate destiny, and such a pursuit is not random, accidental, or coincidental. Wisdom is not what we aspire to in the good life, for wisdom is merely one of the means by which good may be understood and pursued, yet without wisdom and the exercise of rational insight we are not free to pursue the good. ” The Good Life / 55 What Makes Us Happy?

It is like the word “meditation,” which to the uninitiated in the art and skill of meditation also suggests to the over-worked Western mind the absence of action, or doing nothing. Just as meditation properly practiced and understood is doing something quite profound but very different from ordinary activity, contemplation, as Aristotle uses the term, is an activity, a process of the highest order. Contemplation allows the use of the highest human resource, the rational part of the soul, to consider the highest object of human enterprise, the divine, and the highest element in us is life devoted to the contemplation of the divine.

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