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Plato's ideal of the Common Good

Anatomy of a concept of timeless significance

Harald Haarmann

This study documents various historical instances in the development of the concept «Common Good». The author reflects about Plato's theory of Forms, which is infused with the idea of good, as the first principle of being. Plato was not the first philosopher to address the theme of the Common Good although he was the first to construct a political theory around it. This theme has remained a central agenda for philosophers throughout the ages

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Introduction: The dream of social harmony


“We should never underestimate what a word can tell us, for language represents the previous accomplishment of thought”

(Hans Georg Gadamer)

In his seminal study Principia ethica which was published in 1903, the British philosopher George Edward Moore makes a case for the indefinability of the concept ‘good(ness)’:

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