On the tedium of the good

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (4):459 - 476 (2005)
It seems to be a phenomenon of contemporary life that we consider goodness embarrassing and rather dull. In contrast, the activities and inner lives of villains are deemed more complex and fascinating than those of good people. This paper attempts to understand the conception of goodness that underlies this phenomenon, and I suggest that informing it is the combination of two ideas, in tension with each other: firstly, a distorted understanding of the ancient conception of full virtue as the absence of all inner conflict; and secondly, the intuition that real goodness is only apparent and generated in inner conflict. In response, I offer an alternative picture of goodness as an ongoing, active and progressive relation to value, and conclude that in order to render goodness attractive again we need more adequate portraits of goodness from both philosophy and art.
Keywords goodness  wickedness  vices of tedium  passivity  activity  art
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