The deepest moral justification for a capitalist system is not solely that, poor system that it is, it serves liberty better than any other known system; not even that is raises up the living standards of the poor higher than any other system has; nor that it better improves the state of human health and the balance between humans and the environment that either real existing socialism or the traditional Third World society has. All these things, however difficult for one (...) to admit, are empirically true. The true moral strength of capitalism, however, lies in its promotion of human creativity.New wealth can be created. Human beings themselves are the primary cause of the wealth of nations. Human creativity is nature''s primary resource. Removing the institutional repression that now stifles that creativity is the large task ahead of us. (shrink)
This article originally appeared in The Commonweal (October 5, 1962): 31–3. Michael Novak, a graduate student at the time, met Marcel while he was at Harvard University to deliver the William James lectures in the fall of 1961. Those lectures were subsequently printed in the volume, The Existential Background ofHuman Dignity (1963). The article is reprinted here with the kind permission of Michael Novak and the Commonweal magazine.
To be human is to humanize; a radically empirical aesthetic, by J. J. McDermott.--Dream and nightmare; the future as revolution, by R. C. Pollock.--William James and metaphysical risk, by P. M. Van Buren.--Knowing as a passionate and personal quest; C. S. Peirce, by D. B. Burrell.--The fox alone is death; Whitehead and speculative philosophy, by A. J. Reck.--A man and a city; George Herbert Mead in Chicago, by R. M. Barry.--Royce; analyst of religion as community, by J. Collins.--Human experience and (...) God; Brightman's personalistic theism, by D. Callahan.--William James and the phenomenology of religious experience, by J. M. Edie.--Pragmatism, religion, and experienceable difference, by R. W. Sleeper.--How is religious talk justifiable, by J. W. McClendon, Jr. (shrink)
As in the nineteenth century so in the twentieth, a number of laymen and women have appeared in the firmament of intellect and the arts to place the entire body of Christians in their debt. Of these, no one has been more influential in different spheres than Jacques Maritain. In political and social thought, no Christian has ever written a more profound defense of the democratic idea and its component parts, such as the dignity of the person; the sharp distinction (...) between society and the state; the role of practical wisdom; the common good; the transcendent anchoring of human rights; transcendent judgment upon societies; and the interplay of goodness and evil in human individuals and institutions. To read him is to be forced to look, through such distinctions, from many angles of vision at once. And all for the sake of unity: To distinguish in order to unite," is a most suitable motto for his life's work. Maritain focused on the real content of democracy understood as all those common experiences, ways of looking at things, forms of consciousness, habits, and convictions that entire peoples acquire slowly, underlining the importance of Christian renewal for the transcendent grounding of human dignity and human rights as "the soul of democracy.". (shrink)
Writing as a philosopher, not as a social scientist, the author takes a radically different approach to the study of criminality, asking not 'what are the causes of crime?' but 'what are the causes of virtue?' Novak concentrates on what builds character and why there is a serious lack of character in our culture and society today.
This essay explores “the metaphysics of American ideas” and the strengths and weaknesses of Murray’s argument in We Hold These Truths. The philosophical principles that animate the American founding, it argues, presuppose a particular understanding of the structure of being whose roots are biblical in inspiration. Murray’s account, it continues, calls our attention to the many links between the American founding and the Catholic tradition, suggests ways in which Catholic thought can give us a deeper understanding of the “truths” informing (...) the Founding, and illuminates the gulf between contemporary America’s secular “superculture” and the many cultures of local America. Expressing some concerns about the conceptions of reason, nature, and grace that inform Murray’s thought, and of Murray’s engagement with the thought of the American founders, it concludes by attempting to extend We Hold These Truths’ argument by identifying three truths, over and above those identified by Murray, that are essential to a proper understanding of the American democratic experiment. (shrink)
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