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Being Good

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 08 July 2012

Some recent studies have shown that modern obituaries are unlikely to comment on a person's goodness. The phrase, "she or he was a good man or a good woman" is found less often than it used to be. In an edition of Something Understood called 'Being Good', Mark Tully considers why this should be so. Does it mean that we are no longer concerned about personal goodness and, if so, what are we concerned about when we judge a person's achievements in life? Do we undervalue the idea of being good? And is goodness enough on its own? Nelson Mandela has said, "A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special." This programme explores the values of a moral approach to life and the importance of valuing the good in others.

Mark draws on the expertise of Professor Simon Blackburn, Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, and author of the ethical study "Being Good". The programme is also illustrated by readings from the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, E.V. Lucas and Yi Fu Tuan with music ranging from Edward Elgar and Wladislaw Szpilman to the Canadian band Emerson Drive.

The Readers are Philip Franks and Grainne Keenan.

Producer: Frank Stirling
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Played

6 items
  • Image for Franz Schubert

    Franz Schubert 'Bei Dem Grabe meines Vaters'- By My Father's Grave

    Performer: Matthias Claudius

    Lieder Vol 1, Polydor, 437 223-2

  • Image for Victoria Shaw, Adrienne Follesé, Keith Follesé

    Victoria Shaw, Adrienne Follesé, Keith Follesé A Good Man

    Performer: Emerson Drive

    Countrified, Midas Records, B000H5VF4S

  • Image for Sir Edward Elgar

    Sir Edward Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor

    Performer: Pablo Casals

    Dvorak/Elgar: Cello Concertos/Cellokonzerte. Bruch: Kol Nidrei Casals, EMI Records, CDH 7634982

  • Image for [traditional]

    [traditional] Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram

    Performer: Nandu Honap

    Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Venus Worldwide Entertainments Private Limited, B00533PNXI

  • Image for Frédéric Chopin

    Frédéric Chopin Mazurka

    Performer: Wladislaw Szpilman

    Legendary Recordings, Sony Classical, B006NVKY9W

  • Image for Roxanna Panufnik

    Roxanna Panufnik Spirit of the Saints

    Performer: Roxanna Panufnik

    Spirit of the Saints, Regent records, B002ZXZJAQ

  • Readings and Music

    Title: ‘A Funeral’ in The Writing of Informal Essays by Mary Ellen Chase
    Author: E.V. Lucas
    Publisher: Books for Libraries; Facsimile edition
    ISBN-10: 0836915569

    Title: The Art of Being Kind
    Author: Stefan Einhorn
    Publisher: Sphere
    ISBN-10: 0751540188

    Title: ‘Care for Thy Soul’ in William Byrd’s Psalms, Sonnetts and Song
    Author: William Byrd
    Publisher: Out of print
    ISBN-10: n/a

    Title: Human Goodness
    Author: Yi Fu Tuan
    Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
    ISBN-10: 0299226700

    Title: ‘The Good, Great Man’ in The Complete Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Author: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Publisher: Penguin Classics
    ISBN-10: 0140423532


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