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The Person and the Common Good

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Person and the Common Good.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Jacques Maritain(Author),John J. Fitzgerald(Translator)

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Presenting with moving insight the relations between man, as a person and as an individual, and the society of which he is a part, Maritain's treatment of a lasting topic speaks to this generation as well as those to come. Maritain employs the personalism rooted in Aquinas's doctrine to distinguish between social philosophy centered in the dignity of the human person and that centered in the primacy of the individual and the private good.

Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) was one of the twentieth century's greatest Christian philosophers. He is the author of, among other books, The Degrees of Knowledge (Notre Dame Press, 1995), Untrammeled Approaches (Notre Dame Press, 1996), and Integral Humanism, Freedom in the Modern World, and A Letter on Independence (Notre Dame Press, 1996).

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Review Text

  • By Transcendental Thomist on April 23, 2014

    Jacques Maritain, the French Catholic Thomist whose concept of human rights made him the architect of the UN's 1948 Declaration on Human Rights, is the author of this startlingly lucid philosophy of human nature treatise. Based on the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, this razor thin (about 100 pages) paperback packs an extraordinary amount of wisdom into a very short space. Maritain's useful distinction between the individual (who acts in isolation from society) and the person (whose dependence on community shapes the common good) is the jumping-off point here. A professor once told me that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. read Maritain in jail. You'll understand why if you read this book. While much of Maritain's writings are unclear, this little treatise is an outburst of pure genius, reminding the reader that Maritain was a very good philosopher in addition to an effective political advisor to the United Nations its early years.

  • By Tom Uytterhoeven on March 3, 2017

    Although this text stems from another context - the eve of WW II, as the author states - it remains relevant.The good: this book gives you a sound reflection on the subtle relation between individual human beings and society, based on the notion 'person'.The bad: for some, the reference to Thomistic philosophy in the first part of the book might be a hindrance to read through to the end. Because of its context, the book also does not take into account current religious diversity.Conclusion: read this book if you are looking for a starting point for your own critical reflections on current Western society. Personalism still has a lot to say about that. Do look for other readings too (evolutionary psychology, e.g.), but take a look at this one. You won't regret it, I'm sure.

  • By A customer on March 28, 1997

    No one should blame Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. forborrowing heavily from this profound philosopher and french immigrant.I believe that King borrowed heavily from Maritain for several excellent reasons. If, in fact, King did make use of Maritain's "The Person and the Common Good," he did so because it was as close as humanly possible to Truth.It is no grave matter that Maritain's wisdom had strongly inspired King's argument in his historic essay, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Rather, it is a fitting and enduring tribute to Maritain's penetrating insight into the human person and the vital relationship between the person and society. On pages 72 and 73, Maritain explains that the "human person is engaged in its entirety as part of political society, but not by reason of everything that is in it and everything that belongs to it. By reason of other things which are in the person, it is also in its entirety above political society. For in the person there are some things- and they are the most important and sacred ones- which transcend political society and draw man in his entirety above political society- the very same whole man who, by reason of another category of things, is part of political society."Certainly, our knowing of King's excellent borrowings from Maritain facilitates our own understanding of King. For example, how else would we know deeply his feelings that there could be no waiting in the struggle for African- American liberation? Indeed, such reference is helpful when we attempt to grasp the urgency of the Birmingham situation. In King's opinion, the personality of the black American in Birmingham was so disabled and "perverted" by the discriminatory laws, that their spiritual pilgrimage had been seriously endangered. Therefore, he could not wait for Kennedy or anyone else to make good on long-delayed promises. Again, "The Person and the Common Good," well illuminates (1) the primacy of the transcendental destiny shared by all persons and (2) the necessity of civilization to guarantee the opportunity of every person to find their complete fulfillment in God . With intensely philosophical precision and a rare passion for Truth, Maritain made an exciting and energetic argument that forcefully affirms the uniquely transcendental character of the human personality. On pages 15 and 16, Maritain writes: "The most essential and the dearest aim... is to make sure that the personal contact of all intellectual creatures with God, as well as their personal subordination to God, be in no way interrupted. Everything else- the whole universe and every social institution- must ultimately minister to this purpose; everything must foster, strengthen, and protect the conversation of the soul, every soul, with God." This is the same powerful insight that compelled King to protest the discriminatory laws of then-Birmingham.-Stan Faryna, Black and Right (Praeger Trade, 1997)

  • By Special Agent Dale Cooper on May 26, 2006

    A modern French philosopher, Maritain uses his Catholic background to make progress in the field of ethics. Contrary to Kantian Duty Ethics or Mill's Utilitarianism, Maritain makes strives by contrasting two aspects of humanity: individualism and personalism. According to Maritain, if all actions sought the good of one's "personal" side, rather than promoting his/her "individual" side, it would support the common good. Examinig both aspects of faith and reason, JM's essay is a triumph of humanity and an inspiration to modern and ethical philosophers.

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