“Like-minded people do not fight.”

“Like-mindedness (homonoia) occurs among good people; base people, at any rate, both decide on and have an appetite for the same things but still harm each other. And it seems that like-mindedness is not univocal any more than friendship is. Rather, the primary and natural kind is excellent, which is why it is not possible for base people to be like-minded; but there is another kind according to which even base people can be like-minded whenever they both decide on and have an appetite for the same things. They have to desire the same things in such a way that it is possible for both to get what they desire; if they desire the sort of thing which both cannot have, then they fight.  But like-minded people do not fight.” — Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 1241a

Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of like-mindedness (homonoia) in this passage, one version among the virtuous and one among the base, although really only the former type is like-mindedness in the fullest sense. The passage ends with the astonishing claim that “like-minded people do not fight.”

Is this so? Or better, assume that it is so, and ask what could Aristotle mean by “like-mindedness” such that it precludes fighting. Any thoughts?


See this link to an earlier discussion of the importance of commonality.

Some thoughts on goodness

1. Let’s distinguish between intentional goodness and effective goodness. Any of us can intend something good without that intention being effective, either because: (1) we don’t know or understand what we need in order to accomplish a good end; (2) we lack the power or resources to bring about the good end.

2. By intentional goodness, I mean something that intends concrete performance, and thus intends effectiveness. An intention unconcerned with effect is no intention at all — it is merely a sentiment.

3. Sentimental goodness is a state of feeling approving of some (apparent) good. Such sentiment is not in itself a bad thing; it is even a good thing if it leads to the intentional good. Sentimental goodness is blameworthy when it mistakes the pleasant feelings of the apparent, prospective good with the satisfaction that ought to attend the achievement of an actual good. Sentimental goodness is the good-felt-in-prospect stripped of the difficulties of actually being effectively good. It confuses itself with good intention, when it is nothing of the sort. Sentimental goodness is usually (and prematurely) self-congratulatory.

4. Intentional goodness is still a very good thing, but not as good as effective goodness, since an ineffective intentional goodness would include as one of its aims the cultivation of effectiveness and would consider itself defective until the effective good is achieved. Intentional goodness is a dynamic mean between sentiment and right action.

5. One cannot be effectively good without intelligence and good judgment. It is a duty of intentional goodness to recognize that fact and to act upon it. Intentional goodness that does not concern itself with an education that would make it effectively good is not sufficiently intentional — in fact it is merely sentimental.

6. An intentional goodness that has not reached a level of knowledge or power sufficient to be effective is not blameworthy; in fact it is praiseworthy, provided: (1) it is willing to strive for the requisite intelligence, good judgment, etc. that it lacks, and (2) it defers from acting carelessly outside the sphere of its own competence. If it must act, it should act very carefully, conscious of its ignorance and alert for the means of correcting it.

7. An effectively good person is the only adequate rule of right action. Against such there can be no valid law.