Paul Hoyt-O'Connor Since Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Rerum novarum (1891), Catholic social thought has struggled to take stock of the transformations of modern economic and political conditions and to formulate a faithful response to them. In doing so, Catholic social philosophers and theologians have often framed their criticisms of individualist and collectivist conceptions of society in terms of the notion of "the common good." Thus, they conceived society as neither an artifice manufactured by preexisting, formerly independent individuals, nor as an entity that stands over and against them and to which they must submit. Rather, society was understood to be "natural" since it constitutes that context in which the good life may be enjoyed and human nature perfected. As such, the good of society as a whole does not exist independently of the good of its parts, and the lives of its members are thought to be all the richer since they partake of a good that transcends themselves. In this way, the common good conditions the concrete realization of human dignity, a dignity that is, to be sure, both personal and social. After the Second Vatican Council, however, the notion of the common good fell into disuse
Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture – Logos: Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture
Published: Apr 18, 2009
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