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Saturday, July 30, 2011

On the meaning of "Have a Great Summer"

I saw this on the signboard of Claremont High School today: "HAVE A GREAT SUMMER". If we were to take this seriously, what would it mean? Different people have different ideas of what it means to have a great time. For some, it could be watching lots of TV. For others, it could be visiting museums and studying great books. For others, it might be spending each day high on drugs.

What does it mean for something to be great? I think a good answer is to be found in Aristotle and Aquinas. I will be learning more about this later, but from the very little I have read on "natural law theory", what is good for a thing is anything that develops the thing toward its true nature. The nature of a human being is to be a rational animal. So anything that makes us more fully a rational animal will be good for us.

From our three examples above, (1) the visits to the museum and the reading of good books will develop our rationality. Good thing. (2) Watching TV? Depends on the programs, I guess. Could be good, could be not so good. (3) Getting high on drugs? This hampers the animal quality of human nature, so, not good. On the other hand, getting exercise and eating healthy food benefits the animal quality of human nature, so those would be good.

Have a great summer!


  • Don't forget that "getting high on drugs" encompasses many different activities. Teenagers getting stoned is not heroin addicts killing themselves is not the Beatles taking LSD and writing I Am The Walrus.

    There may even be things to be learnt in there.

    By Blogger Thomas David Baker, at 7/30/2011 2:57 p.m.  

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