Relational Views of Humanness: The Reciprocity of Ontos and Telos

Relational Views of Humanness: The Reciprocity of Ontos and Telos

Studies in Christian Ethics (2019, May 3). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0953946819847958.

By Marcia Pally;  mp28@nyu.edu

Introduction                      

Neurobiologist Darcia Narvaez, in her award-winning Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality, suggests that, “To approach eudaimonia or human flourishing, one must have a concept of human nature, a realization of what constitutes a normal baseline, and an understanding of where humans are—embedded in a cooperating natural world.”[1] She makes a two-fold argument: first, that the telos of human flourishing is grounded in the nature of humanity, what humans beings are like and how they function. Second, that our nature, as embedded in cooperating structures, guides us to a certain telos, to care for the cooperating structures that are our baseline, enabling each of us to become who she is.

In short, Narvaez has observed from her work in biology that we are endowed with what I call a relational ontology and telos. Each person, while of singular value and talents, becomes who she is through networks of relationships (with God and with both nearby persons and persons throughout the paths of our global connectedness). This ontological condition means that our telos is to attend to and tend to those relationships—not just dyadic exchange but the infrastructure that makes them possible and the social fabric—the networks of networks–that they create. Or what may be called the common good.

I will explore this further in engagement with Edmund Waldstein review of my book, Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality,[2] in the August 2018 issue of this journal.[3] In a word, Waldstein was disappointed, wondering if we should develop societal policies and practices based on ontology (our nature, how we are created) or whether it is better to begin with teleology (the ends or higher Good towards which we are oriented and should aim)? He also asks: should we understand humanity as a collection of individuals or as groups, and thus, should societal policies and practices attend to the former or the latter? Waldstein holds to teleology (over ontology) and to the common good as its proper focus. He is concerned that I am twice mistaken: first, in a focus on ontology–“Pally puts it too much in terms of mere ontology rather than of teleology or agathology”[4]–and second, in maintaining an individualist understanding of humanity, thus perpetuating liberalism’s (and neo-liberalism’s) problems of self-absorption and neglect of the common good: “If one takes the ontology of persons and societies as the basic consideration…” Waldstein writes, “it can naturally appear” that there are only two conceptions of humanness, one liberal-individualist and one collectivist-totalitarian. “[T]he individualistic answer will include elements of situatedness only for the sake of the separable individuals, whereas the totalitarian answer will include separability only for the sake of strengthening the collective.”[5]

I concur and am an admirer of Waldstein’s approach. The individualist conception of humanity—indeed, the individualist-collectivist divide–is an inaccurate understanding of the human condition. The purpose of Commonwealth and Covenant, as reflected in the title, is to develop ideas about the higher Goods of commonwealth (one term for common good) and covenant, a bond “characterized by the gift of reciprocal consideration and commitment, giving for the flourishing of the other” (cf.  Commonwealth and Covenant 183; henceafter, pages in parentheses reference passages in the book with more detailed discussion). It is to these that we in our common life together are oriented so that we may organize our commonwealth, economics, and politics towards them. When SCE gave me the opportunity to set out my ideas, for which I am most grateful, I agreed to do so in academic friendship. So important is collegiality as a condition of my comments—indeed, exchange for the common good of our communities and our common scholarly project–that I’ll take a moment with it. It is my strong desire to avoid an agonistic structure, where it might appear that I’m challenging Waldstein in an academic “contest” and where he would quite naturally defend his position. Sadly, this happens all too frequently if only from the back-and-forth structure of such pieces.

Instead, my purpose is to broaden an understanding of shared issues, priorities, and values among thinkers who may begin from varying starting points, backgrounds, and disciplines. I take up this idea in Commonwealth and Covenant itself: “the differences among accounts of relationality suggest at least three things: that differences in approach do not expunge common ground; that the common ground amid differences supports relationality as ontology; and though it may be our ontology, none has complete knowledge of it, and so we must learn from the differences” (cf. 334-335). Waldstein and I have different training and discourse communities, and in our profession, even small differences in word usage bring along landscapes of connotations and histories of debates that need explication lest they get us into tangles. Yet it may also be the case that hearing an argument from a “strange” perspective— one that you yourself wouldn’t use—adds to our grasp of it. Waldstein’s comments have certainly added to mine.

The Reciprocal Embeddedness of Ontology and Telos

I’ll begin this “broadening” with a look at ontology and teleology. Waldstein notes that we must “not put the basic question of political ethics in terms of the being of persons and societies, but rather in terms of the private and common goods in which persons find their perfection.”[6] He cites Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas in support of this view. I quite agree. I would add only that, in my understanding of the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition, ontology and teleology are not a binary or even clearly distinguishable, as Waldstein too says. Rather, ontology is teleology, and telos informs us of ontology. “The nature of a thing,” Aristotle writes in Book 1 of Politics, “is its end.” To understand the nature of a thing (or person) is to understand its end, what counts as its specific form of flourishing and perfection.  And an understanding of its end informs us of its nature.

Thus in Aquinas, ontology and teleology are reciprocally constituted: the two are always already present in each other. It is not that one precedes the other or that the two must be kept in “balance”– as “balance” pre-supposes two separated points. Rather, the ontological investigation is pre-supposed in the discussion of “higher Good” and flourishing, while telos illuminates ontology, the nature of a thing. Jean Porter, in parsing Aquinas, writes, “our knowledge of what is good for a thing is of a piece with our knowledge of what that thing is… If we know what something is, we know what it ought to be. Indeed, knowing what something ought to be, in accordance with the ideal of its species, is the only way of knowing what it is.”[7] Porter’s insight has two reciprocally embedded aspects: “To the extent that we know what something is,” she writes, “we can judge how nearly it approaches to the ideal kind of its creature, and in which ways it falls short of that ideal… Aquinas holds that adequate knowledge of what a thing is necessarily includes some knowledge of what it ought to be.” That is, in looking at what something is, we know something of what it ought to be and can assess how closely it comes to its ideal, the best flourishing of its nature. At the same time, “Our knowledge of what we ought to be, which includes moral knowledge, is a necessary component of our knowledge of what we are.” We look to our telos, the best flourishing of our nature, to help discover what that nature is.

Similarly, one might say that, in knowing the human telos to be the flourishing of the common good, our networks of relations, we understand that such relational living as our nature–as it would make little sense to say that our higher Good is the common good if the common good had scant connection to the way we are and live. At the same time, in knowing that our nature is relational, we understand our telos as caring for those relations and we can assess how well we do. The power and grace of understanding ontology and telos as mutually constitutive is that telos is not an arbitrary add-on to things-in-themselves but inheres in the nature of a thing, which has its specific way of flourishing. Moreover, this inherence is a feature of the created world, which is not an arbitrary, inscrutable place, where things are oriented towards ends that have no connection to their nature (how would that work?). Rather, in the created world, the nature of a thing and its highest flourishing go together, and each helps us understand the other as we try to understand God’s creation.

The counter example of attempting teleology without reciprocal constitution in ontology would yield such misguided projects as pursuing the higher Good where fish have universal access to bicycles. An understanding of the nature of fish is always already present in discussion of the Good towards which it is created. To take an example from the human condition, were we not in God’s image—were this not our nature–and were we not in necessary relation to him and to each other, the type of living we would need to flourish, the higher Good to which we would be oriented, would be different from what is the case given that we are in God’s image and in necessary relation. Dion Forster gets at this reciprocal constitution in asking a double question, “The question is, of course, how do we conceive of the ontological nature of humanity? What does it mean to bear the image of God, but also to consider what this requires of us as we live with one another as human persons in the likeness of God?”[8]

As Commonwealth and Covenant draws substantially on a Thomist understanding, the purpose of the ontology described there is to illuminate the specific forms of flourishing and higher Good towards which humanity is oriented and the problems that emerge when we don’t orient ourselves that way. “Absent an understanding of our ontology, we have difficulty accounting for what we encounter, both the principles of the world and the problems that emerge when we ignore them” (cf. 332). Thinking ontology and teleology together helps avoid choosing goals only as they suit oneself (or one’s firm, stock portfolio, or party). Because ontology requires reckoning with the world and the way it flourishes, it guides us towards ends that account for precisely that flourishing. Authors whom Waldstein recommends, Alasdair MacIntyre and John Milbank, take this approach. I admiringly discuss MacIntyre’s work, which locates the higher Good in the common good because it is the nature (ontology) of persons to be in communities (cf. 111-113). Milbank, also multiply referenced in the book, has written a good deal of ontology in order to argue for a certain distribution of goods and a certain telos of higher Goods–which are “higher” for humanity because of our ontology.[9]

An Ontology-Telos of Relationality

From the reciprocal constitution of ontology and teleology, I’ll continue with the specific conception of ontology (and thus teleology) that I—with MacIntyre and I believe Waldstein—hold: that is, relationality. It is our foundational relation to God and others that allows for our existence (a more detailed discussion is found below in the section, Relationality and Its Theological Ground). Persons occur in relation and community. Thus, Waldstein’s wariness of the binary—should the individual or society have priority in political decisions?—is well founded. But it is pre-empted in a relational ontology-telos as there is no individual “outside” relation and society. There is no “ontology of persons” and another “ontology of societies” as Waldstein rightly holds there should not be.

Owing to our foundational relationality, the end towards which we are oriented, our higher Good, is the sustenance and flourishing of relationships, networks of relationships, and all who constitute them (God, nearby persons, and persons through the specific paths of our global connectedness). This end includes reciprocal giving to others and the implementation of policies and practices that bring flourishing and fulfillment to all in our common life and that build the networks and infrastructure that enables such fulfillment–or what’s called the common good. Indeed, as Mary Keys notes, the purpose of civil society “is to enable its citizens to attain their full development, and it deserves its name only to the extent to which it promotes the ends to which human nature is ordered.”[10]

A central aim of Commonwealth and Covenant is to propose this higher Good as the framework and standard for economics and politics. Such a Good and framework would generate an ontology-to-ethics program that sets the aims and practices of markets, civil society, and government within our foundational relationality. It would be a significant cultural shift, but cultures do shift (cf. Commonwealth and Covenant 7-8).

To explain the ontology (and thus telos) of relationality a bit more, I use the heuristic of a reciprocal constitution of human distinction and relation or (said more sociologically) separability and situatedness. This is not a balance between two things that exist separately but the existence of one thing, human nature, through the mutual constitution of a self of unique value and talents that becomes such a self in relation to others and milieu. There is no self that becomes other than through relation.

What are situatedness and separability? Situatedness refers to identity that emerges from one’s point in a nexus of relations. The person, John Zizioulas states, “cannot be conceived in itself as a static entity, but only as it relates to. . . . [I]t is not in its ‘self-existence’; but in communion that this being is itself and thus is at all.[11] Or, in Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel’s words, “Life begins as life together.”[12] By contrast, the separable person, while having been acculturated somewhere, has the physical and mental mobility to leave land, traditions, and obligations to follow the beliefs and opportunities of her choice — to develop her future in ways distinct from past and neighbors (cf. Commonwealth and Covenant 28, 29).

I discuss these concepts in order to make two points. First, were there such possibilities for human living—the separable or situated self–the living would not be good. For each alone yields profound difficulties. While separability or distinction is associated with freedom, autonomy, and change, separability alone—if not reciprocally constituted with situatedness—”yields abandonment, anomie, and self-absorption, with results in greed, an adversarial stance in politics, resource grabbing… It is a recipe for talent wasted by anomie and poverty and hobbles our ability to act together for the life we live in common” (cf. 4; see also 38-49, 52-60 for a discussion of the epistemological and ethical difficulties raised by notions of separability alone). Similarly, situatedness or relation is associated with “security, support, and affection, and enables cooperative projects that sustain our physical and socioeconomic infrastructures.” Yet, if not in reciprocal constitution with separability, it yields “oppressive control (situatedness top-down) and stultifying conformity riddled with snooping and prejudice (situatedness from the crowd)” (cf. 6, 49-52).

This raises the question of why separability and situatedness, if not reciprocally constituted, yield such problematic living. One might imagine a possible world where this was not the case or one might understand a sovereign God creating a world where separable or situated creatures lived wonderfully well. But this is not the world that is. Waldstein cautions: “I would urge that using these categories as the most basic consideration in fact presupposes the ‘partisan’ philosophical position of Enlightenment liberalism…”[13]

I concur: separability and situatedness are not “the most basic consideration” in thinking about humanity because no such humans occur. And thus, my second point: the reason why separability and situatedness are, when not mutually constituted, destructive is that we are not separable or situated. This is neither the ontology of the cosmos nor human nature. It might be possible to imagine the concepts of separability and situatedness, but given the world in which we have always existed, separable or situated persons no more roam the earth than do fish riding bicycles. Given the nature of fish, riding bicycles is not imaginable without altering that nature.

This is my understanding of humanity both ontologically and theologically: without altering our very nature, a separable person or a situated one is not imaginable. The binary of individual and society is not the human condition. Those who advocate practices and policies premised on one or the other lead us to the grave outcomes described above because they are going against the grain of our existence.

Rather, our nature (drawing on Aquinas) is one of separability-amid-situatedness or distinction-amid-relation. Waldstein refers to my “ontology of mutual dependence expressed in terms of separability and situatedness”[14] but there is no “and” but only the hyphenated “amid,” which runs throughout Commonwealth and Covenant. This is not a “third way”; it does not posit a first way (say, a separated person) and second way (a situated one) which dialectically undergo some variation of Aufhebung to yield a “third way.” Rather, there was not—be it ab initio or in human evolution–a first way and second way. There is always already, in the very nature of the cosmos and humanity, reciprocal constitution, where there is no thinking of the “human” without thinking of this mutual constitution.

Reciprocal constitution comes to this: while each person is uniquely in God’s image with singular talents—persons are not an agglomerated mass–each becomes the singular person she is in being of relations with God, others, and milieu. Absent this, there is no way to exist. No person occurs otherwise. Conception itself is a matter of “amid,” of one being in another, and already in the womb, we relate to a myriad of inputs. “Whom a person becomes,” Narvaez writes “is a co-construction of genes, gene expression from environmental effects… and the ecological and cultural surroundings… There is no being without shared social relations.”[15] Developmental psychology finds similar foundational relationality, explored trenchantly in the recent book by Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider.[16] “There is a sense,” psychologists Hobson and Hobson conclude “in which one ‘participates’ in the other person’s state, yet maintains awareness of ‘otherness’ in the persons with whom one is sharing.”[17]

As there are no “individuals” without relation to others and situatedness in our common life, there is no flourishing of “individuals” without attending and tending to those relations and common life—to the conditions that enable all-in-their-relations to flourish.

Persons and Society in Maritain and De Koninck[18]

In his emphasis on the common good, Waldstein insightfully mentions the debate between Jacques Maritain and Charles De Koninck, begun in De Koninck’s 1943 article “The Primacy of the Common Good against the Personalists” and helpfully reviewed by Jeffery Nicholas in 2015.[19] In the fraught, mid-century context of how we might protect the person from dictatorial regimes yet maintain a robust notion of the common good, De Koninck indirectly criticized Maritain and what he called “personalism” for a too-individualistic conception of the person and so for a misrepresentation of the Thomist understanding of person and common good. In the Thomist conception, Mary Keys trenchantly summarizes, one is a “part of a greater, more perfect whole” in which one may

use one’s intelligence to recognize that fact; to freely choose to assume one’s place in the order that constitutes the whole; and to work generously for the common good of that whole… What is of greatest value in our human constitution (the spiritual faculties of intellect and will) tends naturally towards the greater-than-self, toward those goods most common in the sense of being intrinsically communicable or sharable. ‘For this reason, we love naturally and preferentially the good of the whole.’[20] Through participating in the common good, and indeed building it together with others on the practical planes of family, intermediate associations and politics, the person achieves his end, i.e., attains perfection and finds happiness.[21]

This embeddedness in the “whole” does not mean the subsumption of the individual by the nation-state or a person’s subservience to it, as would collectivism or totalitarianism, as civil society of any stripe is obligated to promote the flourishing of its members. Rather, civil society “is to enable its citizens to attain their full development, and it deserves its name only to the extent to which it promotes the ends to which human nature is ordered.”[22]

With all this in mind, De Koninck maintained that Maritain’s view, wherein “each concrete person, not only in a privileged class, but throughout the whole mass, may truly reach that measure of independence which is proper to civilized life,”[23] does not properly ground the person in the whole (emphasis mine). Following the more classic reading of Aquinas, De Koninck argued that “the human being is a ‘part’ of society in the sense that his or her fulfillment requires participating in or partaking of goods that transcend the purely private sphere of individuality.”[24] Alasdair MacIntyre takes a similar view: “it is in achieving those common goods that they perfect themselves as human beings and so achieve their own individual goods… Maritain errs in supposing that we can give any account, let alone a Thomistic account, of the nature and worth of human individuals prior to and independently of a characterization of their relationships to common goods.”[25]

Two points of comparison may anchor and clarify the subtle debate between Maritain and De Koninck. The first pertains to the person’s relationship to God and to the created common good. Maritain writes, “The human person is ordained directly to God as to its absolute ultimate end. Its direct ordination to God transcends every created common good—the common good of the political society and the intrinsic common good of the universe.”[26] Though this was likely written with the violence of fascism much on Maritain’s mind, it is open to the interpretation that each person’s relationship with God is personal, that is, individual, before communal relations or participation in the common good. De Koninck certainly interpreted it that way and so thought Maritain had got off on a wrong metaphysics.

The second point of comparison pertains to a person’s dignity. Maritain held to a more personal-freedom notion of dignity, “understood as the spiritual capacity to act independently of and to transcend any given order (with one crucial exception).”[27] Though for Maritain, this freedom might have as a prime aim contributing to the common good, the emphasis was too much on the individual and her independence for De Koninck. He again held to the more classic Thomist view that dignity inheres in our rational nature, which grounds our ability to freely follow and participate in, through our intellect and love of others, orders of living greater than our own. Here, De Koninck holds, the emphasis is rather on the more participatory, communal side—that is, on the common good.

The issue is not, De Koninck argued, whether the person is more important than society but whether the proper good of the person is more important than the common good.[28] Because  he believed, as Nicholas writes, that “the common good is the final cause of the perfection of the human person; that is, the individual human being achieves her own good because of her achieving of the common good,” a notion of person that doesn’t hold to this relationship is ontologically inaccurate and societally unhelpful. It risks the view that “the primacy of the personal good entails a freedom of the individual in opposition to the community.”[29]

Did Maritain, in the shadow of World War Two, indeed over-emphasize the individual—did he understand identity, and thus the entity that must be honored/protected, as originating in each individual’s separate relationship to God? Or did De Koninck misunderstand Maritain and personalism’s view of persons and society, as Mary Keys and Deborah Wallace suggest? Wallace recognizes, for instance, that Maritain sees rights as owed by society to individuals, but she notes also that he grounded these rights in natural law, in our end with God, and understood them as contributing to the common good.[30] While Maritain may have held that each person is ordered to relationship with God prior to participation in common good, Milbank helpfully observes that this is not true of all personalism. “De Koninck misunderstood personalism, which does not, like liberalism, put the individual before the community but overcomes this opposition. The person is situated and so not an individual atom. The point is neither the individual nor totality if relating persons come first. For Aquinas, the common good is after all neither a collective mass nor an aggregate of private goods.”[31]

My purpose here is not to weigh in on the Maritain/De Koninck controversy but rather to suggest just the sort of “overcoming” that Milbank mentions: that the person finds her higher Good through participating in the common good in part because persons occur—in conception, in development, and in the first place–through relation and communities. Ontology is always already in the telos. The question of which is more important, individuals or society, doesn’t quite arise as one cannot be thought absent the other. My criticism of those who posit an individual separable from relation and community—and my concern about “the individual in opposition to the community”–is lodged in this impossibility (cf. Commonwealth and Covenant 38-49, 52-60).

Importantly, I find that any notion of human freedom is necessarily a teleological freedom. It brings obligations to distinct others, to the relational networks that form us, and to the common good (cf. 309). This is explored in Commonwealth and Covenant in engagement with many writers from the Christian and Judaic traditions, including Nicholas of Cusa (cf. 16, 37, 151-154), Eugene Borowitz (cf. 212-213), Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Gillian Rose, Thomas Torrance, and Stanley Hauerwas, who quips that the idea of a separate individual is “the story that you should have no story except the story that you chose when you had no story” (quoted at 15), among other expressions of the common good.

Concluding Remarks:

These matters and a fuller explication of the ontology and telos of relationality—separability-amid-situatedness–are developed in Commonwealth and Covenant. That explication looks at the Thomist and Maimonidean views of God and world along with Aquinas’s analogia entis as a way to understand our of-a-kindness with God amid radical difference. The expression of our relationality in the imago, perichoresis, Eucharist, covenant, and gift-exchange is also discussed. The book closes with suggestions of practices and policies that might emerge from a relational understanding of humanity; these are drawn from work by Joseph Stiglitz, John Milbank and Adrian Pabst, Luigino Bruni, Baron Robert Skidelsky, among others.[32]

In closing, I would like to return to relationality as the proper ground also for scholarship. I appreciate that while some of my discussion of relationality, ontology, and telos proceeds in ways familiar to Waldstein, some doesn’t. I suggest it runs “alongside,” and I hope my remarks too shed some light on how we understand ourselves, our higher Good, and flourishing, as Waldstein’s work has contributed to my understanding. As we continue to think on these things, may peace and grace rest with all.

Marcia Pally, Christmas 2018.

#

[1] Darcia Narvaez, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2014), pp. 429, 438.

[2] Marcia Pally, Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016). All page numbers in the body of this piece refer to this volume; other sources are footnoted.

[3] Edmund Waldstein, “Book Reviews: Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality,Studies in Christian Ethics, Vol. 31.3 (2018), pp. 354-357.

[4] Waldstein, “Book Review,” p. 355.

[5] Waldstein, “Book Review,” pp. 355-356.

[6] Waldstein, “Book Review,” p. 356.

[7] Jean Porter, The Recovery of Virtue: The Relevance of Aquinas for Christian Ethics (Louisville: Westminster John Know Press, 1990), pp. 43-44 (emphasis original).

[8] Dion Forster, “On the 250th Anniversary of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection: A Historical Review of Wesleyan Theological Hybridity and its Implications for Contemporary Discourses on Christian Humanism,” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, Vol. 44.1 (2018), pp. 1-19, p. 15.

[9] Milbank generously read my book in manuscript and is thanked in the Acknowledgements

[10] Mary Keys, “Personal Dignity and the Common Good: A Twentieth-Century Thomistic Dialogue,” in K. Grasso, G. Bradley and R. Hunt (eds.), Catholicism, Liberalism, and Communitarianism: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition and the Moral Foundations of Democracy (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995), p. 179.

[11] John Zizioulas, “Human Capacity and Incapacity: A Theological Exploration of Personhood,” Scottish Journal of Theology 28 (1975), p. 409.

[12] Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, I Am My Body: A Theology of Embodiment (New York: Continuum, 1995), p. 43.

[13] Waldstein, “Book Review,” p. 356.

[14] Waldstein, “Book Review,” p. 355.

[15] Darcia Narvaez, Neurobiology, pp. 15, 103.

[16] Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider, Why Does Patriarchy Persist? (Cambridge, UK/Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2018).

[17] Peter Hobson and Jessica Hobson, “Joint attention or joint engagement?” in A. Seemann (ed.), Joint Attention, 115-136 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012), pp. 120-121.

[18] I am grateful to my editor, Nicholas Townsend, for his generous review and insights on this section.

[19] Jeffery Nicholas, “The Common Good, Rights, and Catholic Social Thought: Prolegomena to Any Future Account of Common Goods,” Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics: Vol. 5.1, Article 4 (2015), pp. 1-15. Available online at: http://researchonline.nd.edu.au/solidarity/vol5/iss1/4 (accessed Dec. 27, 2018).

[20] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I, 60, 5.

[21] Mary Keys, “Personal Dignity and the Common Good,” p. 178.

[22] Ibid., p. 179.

[23] Jacques Maritain, The Rights of Man and Natural Law (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947), p. 65.

[24] Mary Keys, “Personal Dignity and the Common Good,” p. 179.

[25] Alasdair MacIntyre, “Common Goods, Modern States, Rights, and Maritain,” unpublished paper, p. 14, cited in Jeffery Nicholas, “The Common Good,” (2015), p. 12.

[26] Jacques Maritain, The Person and the Common Good (trans. J. Fitzgerald; Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), p. 15.

[27] Mary Keys, “Personal Dignity and the Common Good,” p. 177.

[28] Charles De Koninck, “In Defense of St. Thomas: A Reply to Fr. Eschmann’s Attack on the Primacy of the Common Good,” Laval Théologique et Philosophique, Vol. 1, no. 2, p. 9-109 (1945), p. 93-94; cf. 18-20.

[29] Jeffrey Nicholas, “The Common Good,” (2015), p. 5.

[30] Deborah Wallace, “Jacques Maritain and Alasdair MacIntyre: The Person, the Common Good and Human

Rights,” In B. Sweetman (ed.), The Failure of Modernism: The Cartesian Legacy and Contemporary Pluralism, (Washington, DC: Catholic University Press of America, 1999), pp. 130-132.

[31] John Milbank, personal communication, December 11, 2018.

[32] Pabst and I have co-authored an article, “A ‘social imaginary’ of the commons: Its ontology and politics.” Radical Orthodoxy (2019, forthcoming).

 

Introduction                      

Neurobiologist Darcia Narvaez, in her award-winning Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality, suggests that, “To approach eudaimonia or human flourishing, one must have a concept of human nature, a realization of what constitutes a normal baseline, and an understanding of where humans are—embedded in a cooperating natural world.”[1] She makes a two-fold argument: first, that the telos of human flourishing is grounded in the nature of humanity, what humans beings are like and how they function. Second, that our nature, as embedded in cooperating structures, guides us to a certain telos, to care for the cooperating structures that are our baseline, enabling each of us to become who she is.

In short, Narvaez has observed from her work in biology that we are endowed with what I call a relational ontology and telos. Each person, while of singular value and talents, becomes who she is through networks of relationships (with God and with both nearby persons and persons throughout the paths of our global connectedness). This ontological condition means that our telos is to attend to and tend to those relationships—not just dyadic exchange but the infrastructure that makes them possible and the social fabric—the networks of networks–that they create. Or what may be called the common good.

I will explore this further in engagement with Edmund Waldstein review of my book, Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality,[2] in the August 2018 issue of this journal.[3] In a word, Waldstein was disappointed, wondering if we should develop societal policies and practices based on ontology (our nature, how we are created) or whether it is better to begin with teleology (the ends or higher Good towards which we are oriented and should aim)? He also asks: should we understand humanity as a collection of individuals or as groups, and thus, should societal policies and practices attend to the former or the latter? Waldstein holds to teleology (over ontology) and to the common good as its proper focus. He is concerned that I am twice mistaken: first, in a focus on ontology–“Pally puts it too much in terms of mere ontology rather than of teleology or agathology”[4]–and second, in maintaining an individualist understanding of humanity, thus perpetuating liberalism’s (and neo-liberalism’s) problems of self-absorption and neglect of the common good: “If one takes the ontology of persons and societies as the basic consideration…” Waldstein writes, “it can naturally appear” that there are only two conceptions of humanness, one liberal-individualist and one collectivist-totalitarian. “[T]he individualistic answer will include elements of situatedness only for the sake of the separable individuals, whereas the totalitarian answer will include separability only for the sake of strengthening the collective.”[5]

I concur and am an admirer of Waldstein’s approach. The individualist conception of humanity—indeed, the individualist-collectivist divide–is an inaccurate understanding of the human condition. The purpose of Commonwealth and Covenant, as reflected in the title, is to develop ideas about the higher Goods of commonwealth (one term for common good) and covenant, a bond “characterized by the gift of reciprocal consideration and commitment, giving for the flourishing of the other” (cf.  Commonwealth and Covenant 183; henceafter, pages in parentheses reference passages in the book with more detailed discussion). It is to these that we in our common life together are oriented so that we may organize our commonwealth, economics, and politics towards them. When SCE gave me the opportunity to set out my ideas, for which I am most grateful, I agreed to do so in academic friendship. So important is collegiality as a condition of my comments—indeed, exchange for the common good of our communities and our common scholarly project–that I’ll take a moment with it. It is my strong desire to avoid an agonistic structure, where it might appear that I’m challenging Waldstein in an academic “contest” and where he would quite naturally defend his position. Sadly, this happens all too frequently if only from the back-and-forth structure of such pieces.

Instead, my purpose is to broaden an understanding of shared issues, priorities, and values among thinkers who may begin from varying starting points, backgrounds, and disciplines. I take up this idea in Commonwealth and Covenant itself: “the differences among accounts of relationality suggest at least three things: that differences in approach do not expunge common ground; that the common ground amid differences supports relationality as ontology; and though it may be our ontology, none has complete knowledge of it, and so we must learn from the differences” (cf. 334-335). Waldstein and I have different training and discourse communities, and in our profession, even small differences in word usage bring along landscapes of connotations and histories of debates that need explication lest they get us into tangles. Yet it may also be the case that hearing an argument from a “strange” perspective— one that you yourself wouldn’t use—adds to our grasp of it. Waldstein’s comments have certainly added to mine.

*

The Reciprocal Embeddedness of Ontology and Telos

I’ll begin this “broadening” with a look at ontology and teleology. Waldstein notes that we must “not put the basic question of political ethics in terms of the being of persons and societies, but rather in terms of the private and common goods in which persons find their perfection.”[6] He cites Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas in support of this view. I quite agree. I would add only that, in my understanding of the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition, ontology and teleology are not a binary or even clearly distinguishable, as Waldstein too says. Rather, ontology is teleology, and telos informs us of ontology. “The nature of a thing,” Aristotle writes in Book 1 of Politics, “is its end.” To understand the nature of a thing (or person) is to understand its end, what counts as its specific form of flourishing and perfection.  And an understanding of its end informs us of its nature.

Thus in Aquinas, ontology and teleology are reciprocally constituted: the two are always already present in each other. It is not that one precedes the other or that the two must be kept in “balance”– as “balance” pre-supposes two separated points. Rather, the ontological investigation is pre-supposed in the discussion of “higher Good” and flourishing, while telos illuminates ontology, the nature of a thing. Jean Porter, in parsing Aquinas, writes, “our knowledge of what is good for a thing is of a piece with our knowledge of what that thing is… If we know what something is, we know what it ought to be. Indeed, knowing what something ought to be, in accordance with the ideal of its species, is the only way of knowing what it is.”[7] Porter’s insight has two reciprocally embedded aspects: “To the extent that we know what something is,” she writes, “we can judge how nearly it approaches to the ideal kind of its creature, and in which ways it falls short of that ideal… Aquinas holds that adequate knowledge of what a thing is necessarily includes some knowledge of what it ought to be.” That is, in looking at what something is, we know something of what it ought to be and can assess how closely it comes to its ideal, the best flourishing of its nature. At the same time, “Our knowledge of what we ought to be, which includes moral knowledge, is a necessary component of our knowledge of what we are.” We look to our telos, the best flourishing of our nature, to help discover what that nature is.

Similarly, one might say that, in knowing the human telos to be the flourishing of the common good, our networks of relations, we understand that such relational living as our nature–as it would make little sense to say that our higher Good is the common good if the common good had scant connection to the way we are and live. At the same time, in knowing that our nature is relational, we understand our telos as caring for those relations and we can assess how well we do. The power and grace of understanding ontology and telos as mutually constitutive is that telos is not an arbitrary add-on to things-in-themselves but inheres in the nature of a thing, which has its specific way of flourishing. Moreover, this inherence is a feature of the created world, which is not an arbitrary, inscrutable place, where things are oriented towards ends that have no connection to their nature (how would that work?). Rather, in the created world, the nature of a thing and its highest flourishing go together, and each helps us understand the other as we try to understand God’s creation.

The counter example of attempting teleology without reciprocal constitution in ontology would yield such misguided projects as pursuing the higher Good where fish have universal access to bicycles. An understanding of the nature of fish is always already present in discussion of the Good towards which it is created. To take an example from the human condition, were we not in God’s image—were this not our nature–and were we not in necessary relation to him and to each other, the type of living we would need to flourish, the higher Good to which we would be oriented, would be different from what is the case given that we are in God’s image and in necessary relation. Dion Forster gets at this reciprocal constitution in asking a double question, “The question is, of course, how do we conceive of the ontological nature of humanity? What does it mean to bear the image of God, but also to consider what this requires of us as we live with one another as human persons in the likeness of God?”[8]

As Commonwealth and Covenant draws substantially on a Thomist understanding, the purpose of the ontology described there is to illuminate the specific forms of flourishing and higher Good towards which humanity is oriented and the problems that emerge when we don’t orient ourselves that way. “Absent an understanding of our ontology, we have difficulty accounting for what we encounter, both the principles of the world and the problems that emerge when we ignore them” (cf. 332). Thinking ontology and teleology together helps avoid choosing goals only as they suit oneself (or one’s firm, stock portfolio, or party). Because ontology requires reckoning with the world and the way it flourishes, it guides us towards ends that account for precisely that flourishing. Authors whom Waldstein recommends, Alasdair MacIntyre and John Milbank, take this approach. I admiringly discuss MacIntyre’s work, which locates the higher Good in the common good because it is the nature (ontology) of persons to be in communities (cf. 111-113). Milbank, also multiply referenced in the book, has written a good deal of ontology in order to argue for a certain distribution of goods and a certain telos of higher Goods–which are “higher” for humanity because of our ontology.[9]

*

An Ontology-Telos of Relationality

From the reciprocal constitution of ontology and teleology, I’ll continue with the specific conception of ontology (and thus teleology) that I—with MacIntyre and I believe Waldstein—hold: that is, relationality. It is our foundational relation to God and others that allows for our existence (a more detailed discussion is found below in the section, Relationality and Its Theological Ground). Persons occur in relation and community. Thus, Waldstein’s wariness of the binary—should the individual or society have priority in political decisions?—is well founded. But it is pre-empted in a relational ontology-telos as there is no individual “outside” relation and society. There is no “ontology of persons” and another “ontology of societies” as Waldstein rightly holds there should not be.

Owing to our foundational relationality, the end towards which we are oriented, our higher Good, is the sustenance and flourishing of relationships, networks of relationships, and all who constitute them (God, nearby persons, and persons through the specific paths of our global connectedness). This end includes reciprocal giving to others and the implementation of policies and practices that bring flourishing and fulfillment to all in our common life and that build the networks and infrastructure that enables such fulfillment–or what’s called the common good. Indeed, as Mary Keys notes, the purpose of civil society “is to enable its citizens to attain their full development, and it deserves its name only to the extent to which it promotes the ends to which human nature is ordered.”[10]

A central aim of Commonwealth and Covenant is to propose this higher Good as the framework and standard for economics and politics. Such a Good and framework would generate an ontology-to-ethics program that sets the aims and practices of markets, civil society, and government within our foundational relationality. It would be a significant cultural shift, but cultures do shift (cf. Commonwealth and Covenant 7-8).

To explain the ontology (and thus telos) of relationality a bit more, I use the heuristic of a reciprocal constitution of human distinction and relation or (said more sociologically) separability and situatedness. This is not a balance between two things that exist separately but the existence of one thing, human nature, through the mutual constitution of a self of unique value and talents that becomes such a self in relation to others and milieu. There is no self that becomes other than through relation.

What are situatedness and separability? Situatedness refers to identity that emerges from one’s point in a nexus of relations. The person, John Zizioulas states, “cannot be conceived in itself as a static entity, but only as it relates to. . . . [I]t is not in its ‘self-existence’; but in communion that this being is itself and thus is at all.[11] Or, in Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel’s words, “Life begins as life together.”[12] By contrast, the separable person, while having been acculturated somewhere, has the physical and mental mobility to leave land, traditions, and obligations to follow the beliefs and opportunities of her choice — to develop her future in ways distinct from past and neighbors (cf. Commonwealth and Covenant 28, 29).

I discuss these concepts in order to make two points. First, were there such possibilities for human living—the separable or situated self–the living would not be good. For each alone yields profound difficulties. While separability or distinction is associated with freedom, autonomy, and change, separability alone—if not reciprocally constituted with situatedness—”yields abandonment, anomie, and self-absorption, with results in greed, an adversarial stance in politics, resource grabbing… It is a recipe for talent wasted by anomie and poverty and hobbles our ability to act together for the life we live in common” (cf. 4; see also 38-49, 52-60 for a discussion of the epistemological and ethical difficulties raised by notions of separability alone). Similarly, situatedness or relation is associated with “security, support, and affection, and enables cooperative projects that sustain our physical and socioeconomic infrastructures.” Yet, if not in reciprocal constitution with separability, it yields “oppressive control (situatedness top-down) and stultifying conformity riddled with snooping and prejudice (situatedness from the crowd)” (cf. 6, 49-52).

This raises the question of why separability and situatedness, if not reciprocally constituted, yield such problematic living. One might imagine a possible world where this was not the case or one might understand a sovereign God creating a world where separable or situated creatures lived wonderfully well. But this is not the world that is. Waldstein cautions: “I would urge that using these categories as the most basic consideration in fact presupposes the ‘partisan’ philosophical position of Enlightenment liberalism…”[13]

I concur: separability and situatedness are not “the most basic consideration” in thinking about humanity because no such humans occur. And thus, my second point: the reason why separability and situatedness are, when not mutually constituted, destructive is that we are not separable or situated. This is neither the ontology of the cosmos nor human nature. It might be possible to imagine the concepts of separability and situatedness, but given the world in which we have always existed, separable or situated persons no more roam the earth than do fish riding bicycles. Given the nature of fish, riding bicycles is not imaginable without altering that nature.

This is my understanding of humanity both ontologically and theologically: without altering our very nature, a separable person or a situated one is not imaginable. The binary of individual and society is not the human condition. Those who advocate practices and policies premised on one or the other lead us to the grave outcomes described above because they are going against the grain of our existence.

Rather, our nature (drawing on Aquinas) is one of separability-amid-situatedness or distinction-amid-relation. Waldstein refers to my “ontology of mutual dependence expressed in terms of separability and situatedness”[14] but there is no “and” but only the hyphenated “amid,” which runs throughout Commonwealth and Covenant. This is not a “third way”; it does not posit a first way (say, a separated person) and second way (a situated one) which dialectically undergo some variation of Aufhebung to yield a “third way.” Rather, there was not—be it ab initio or in human evolution–a first way and second way. There is always already, in the very nature of the cosmos and humanity, reciprocal constitution, where there is no thinking of the “human” without thinking of this mutual constitution.

Reciprocal constitution comes to this: while each person is uniquely in God’s image with singular talents—persons are not an agglomerated mass–each becomes the singular person she is in being of relations with God, others, and milieu. Absent this, there is no way to exist. No person occurs otherwise. Conception itself is a matter of “amid,” of one being in another, and already in the womb, we relate to a myriad of inputs. “Whom a person becomes,” Narvaez writes “is a co-construction of genes, gene expression from environmental effects… and the ecological and cultural surroundings… There is no being without shared social relations.”[15] Developmental psychology finds similar foundational relationality, explored trenchantly in the recent book by Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider.[16] “There is a sense,” psychologists Hobson and Hobson conclude “in which one ‘participates’ in the other person’s state, yet maintains awareness of ‘otherness’ in the persons with whom one is sharing.”[17]

As there are no “individuals” without relation to others and situatedness in our common life, there is no flourishing of “individuals” without attending and tending to those relations and common life—to the conditions that enable all-in-their-relations to flourish.

*

Persons and Society in Maritain and De Koninck[18]

In his emphasis on the common good, Waldstein insightfully mentions the debate between Jacques Maritain and Charles De Koninck, begun in De Koninck’s 1943 article “The Primacy of the Common Good against the Personalists” and helpfully reviewed by Jeffery Nicholas in 2015.[19] In the fraught, mid-century context of how we might protect the person from dictatorial regimes yet maintain a robust notion of the common good, De Koninck indirectly criticized Maritain and what he called “personalism” for a too-individualistic conception of the person and so for a misrepresentation of the Thomist understanding of person and common good. In the Thomist conception, Mary Keys trenchantly summarizes, one is a “part of a greater, more perfect whole” in which one may

use one’s intelligence to recognize that fact; to freely choose to assume one’s place in the order that constitutes the whole; and to work generously for the common good of that whole… What is of greatest value in our human constitution (the spiritual faculties of intellect and will) tends naturally towards the greater-than-self, toward those goods most common in the sense of being intrinsically communicable or sharable. ‘For this reason, we love naturally and preferentially the good of the whole.’[20] Through participating in the common good, and indeed building it together with others on the practical planes of family, intermediate associations and politics, the person achieves his end, i.e., attains perfection and finds happiness.[21]

This embeddedness in the “whole” does not mean the subsumption of the individual by the nation-state or a person’s subservience to it, as would collectivism or totalitarianism, as civil society of any stripe is obligated to promote the flourishing of its members. Rather, civil society “is to enable its citizens to attain their full development, and it deserves its name only to the extent to which it promotes the ends to which human nature is ordered.”[22]

With all this in mind, De Koninck maintained that Maritain’s view, wherein “each concrete person, not only in a privileged class, but throughout the whole mass, may truly reach that measure of independence which is proper to civilized life,”[23] does not properly ground the person in the whole (emphasis mine). Following the more classic reading of Aquinas, De Koninck argued that “the human being is a ‘part’ of society in the sense that his or her fulfillment requires participating in or partaking of goods that transcend the purely private sphere of individuality.”[24] Alasdair MacIntyre takes a similar view: “it is in achieving those common goods that they perfect themselves as human beings and so achieve their own individual goods… Maritain errs in supposing that we can give any account, let alone a Thomistic account, of the nature and worth of human individuals prior to and independently of a characterization of their relationships to common goods.”[25]

Two points of comparison may anchor and clarify the subtle debate between Maritain and De Koninck. The first pertains to the person’s relationship to God and to the created common good. Maritain writes, “The human person is ordained directly to God as to its absolute ultimate end. Its direct ordination to God transcends every created common good—the common good of the political society and the intrinsic common good of the universe.”[26] Though this was likely written with the violence of fascism much on Maritain’s mind, it is open to the interpretation that each person’s relationship with God is personal, that is, individual, before communal relations or participation in the common good. De Koninck certainly interpreted it that way and so thought Maritain had got off on a wrong metaphysics.

The second point of comparison pertains to a person’s dignity. Maritain held to a more personal-freedom notion of dignity, “understood as the spiritual capacity to act independently of and to transcend any given order (with one crucial exception).”[27] Though for Maritain, this freedom might have as a prime aim contributing to the common good, the emphasis was too much on the individual and her independence for De Koninck. He again held to the more classic Thomist view that dignity inheres in our rational nature, which grounds our ability to freely follow and participate in, through our intellect and love of others, orders of living greater than our own. Here, De Koninck holds, the emphasis is rather on the more participatory, communal side—that is, on the common good.

The issue is not, De Koninck argued, whether the person is more important than society but whether the proper good of the person is more important than the common good.[28] Because  he believed, as Nicholas writes, that “the common good is the final cause of the perfection of the human person; that is, the individual human being achieves her own good because of her achieving of the common good,” a notion of person that doesn’t hold to this relationship is ontologically inaccurate and societally unhelpful. It risks the view that “the primacy of the personal good entails a freedom of the individual in opposition to the community.”[29]

Did Maritain, in the shadow of World War Two, indeed over-emphasize the individual—did he understand identity, and thus the entity that must be honored/protected, as originating in each individual’s separate relationship to God? Or did De Koninck misunderstand Maritain and personalism’s view of persons and society, as Mary Keys and Deborah Wallace suggest? Wallace recognizes, for instance, that Maritain sees rights as owed by society to individuals, but she notes also that he grounded these rights in natural law, in our end with God, and understood them as contributing to the common good.[30] While Maritain may have held that each person is ordered to relationship with God prior to participation in common good, Milbank helpfully observes that this is not true of all personalism. “De Koninck misunderstood personalism, which does not, like liberalism, put the individual before the community but overcomes this opposition. The person is situated and so not an individual atom. The point is neither the individual nor totality if relating persons come first. For Aquinas, the common good is after all neither a collective mass nor an aggregate of private goods.”[31]

My purpose here is not to weigh in on the Maritain/De Koninck controversy but rather to suggest just the sort of “overcoming” that Milbank mentions: that the person finds her higher Good through participating in the common good in part because persons occur—in conception, in development, and in the first place–through relation and communities. Ontology is always already in the telos. The question of which is more important, individuals or society, doesn’t quite arise as one cannot be thought absent the other. My criticism of those who posit an individual separable from relation and community—and my concern about “the individual in opposition to the community”–is lodged in this impossibility (cf. Commonwealth and Covenant 38-49, 52-60).

Importantly, I find that any notion of human freedom is necessarily a teleological freedom. It brings obligations to distinct others, to the relational networks that form us, and to the common good (cf. 309). This is explored in Commonwealth and Covenant in engagement with many writers from the Christian and Judaic traditions, including Nicholas of Cusa (cf. 16, 37, 151-154), Eugene Borowitz (cf. 212-213), Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Gillian Rose, Thomas Torrance, and Stanley Hauerwas, who quips that the idea of a separate individual is “the story that you should have no story except the story that you chose when you had no story” (quoted at 15), among other expressions of the common good.

*

Concluding Remarks:

These matters and a fuller explication of the ontology and telos of relationality—separability-amid-situatedness–are developed in Commonwealth and Covenant. That explication looks at the Thomist and Maimonidean views of God and world along with Aquinas’s analogia entis as a way to understand our of-a-kindness with God amid radical difference. The expression of our relationality in the imago, perichoresis, Eucharist, covenant, and gift-exchange is also discussed. The book closes with suggestions of practices and policies that might emerge from a relational understanding of humanity; these are drawn from work by Joseph Stiglitz, John Milbank and Adrian Pabst, Luigino Bruni, Baron Robert Skidelsky, among others.[32]

In closing, I would like to return to relationality as the proper ground also for scholarship. I appreciate that while some of my discussion of relationality, ontology, and telos proceeds in ways familiar to Waldstein, some doesn’t. I suggest it runs “alongside,” and I hope my remarks too shed some light on how we understand ourselves, our higher Good, and flourishing, as Waldstein’s work has contributed to my understanding. As we continue to think on these things, may peace and grace rest with all.

Marcia Pally, Christmas 2018.

#

[1] Darcia Narvaez, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2014), pp. 429, 438.

[2] Marcia Pally, Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016). All page numbers in the body of this piece refer to this volume; other sources are footnoted.

[3] Edmund Waldstein, “Book Reviews: Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality,Studies in Christian Ethics, Vol. 31.3 (2018), pp. 354-357.

[4] Waldstein, “Book Review,” p. 355.

[5] Waldstein, “Book Review,” pp. 355-356.

[6] Waldstein, “Book Review,” p. 356.

[7] Jean Porter, The Recovery of Virtue: The Relevance of Aquinas for Christian Ethics (Louisville: Westminster John Know Press, 1990), pp. 43-44 (emphasis original).

[8] Dion Forster, “On the 250th Anniversary of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection: A Historical Review of Wesleyan Theological Hybridity and its Implications for Contemporary Discourses on Christian Humanism,” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, Vol. 44.1 (2018), pp. 1-19, p. 15.

[9] Milbank generously read my book in manuscript and is thanked in the Acknowledgements

[10] Mary Keys, “Personal Dignity and the Common Good: A Twentieth-Century Thomistic Dialogue,” in K. Grasso, G. Bradley and R. Hunt (eds.), Catholicism, Liberalism, and Communitarianism: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition and the Moral Foundations of Democracy (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995), p. 179.

[11] John Zizioulas, “Human Capacity and Incapacity: A Theological Exploration of Personhood,” Scottish Journal of Theology 28 (1975), p. 409.

[12] Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, I Am My Body: A Theology of Embodiment (New York: Continuum, 1995), p. 43.

[13] Waldstein, “Book Review,” p. 356.

[14] Waldstein, “Book Review,” p. 355.

[15] Darcia Narvaez, Neurobiology, pp. 15, 103.

[16] Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider, Why Does Patriarchy Persist? (Cambridge, UK/Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2018).

[17] Peter Hobson and Jessica Hobson, “Joint attention or joint engagement?” in A. Seemann (ed.), Joint Attention, 115-136 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012), pp. 120-121.

[18] I am grateful to my editor, Nicholas Townsend, for his generous review and insights on this section.

[19] Jeffery Nicholas, “The Common Good, Rights, and Catholic Social Thought: Prolegomena to Any Future Account of Common Goods,” Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics: Vol. 5.1, Article 4 (2015), pp. 1-15. Available online at: http://researchonline.nd.edu.au/solidarity/vol5/iss1/4 (accessed Dec. 27, 2018).

[20] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I, 60, 5.

[21] Mary Keys, “Personal Dignity and the Common Good,” p. 178.

[22] Ibid., p. 179.

[23] Jacques Maritain, The Rights of Man and Natural Law (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947), p. 65.

[24] Mary Keys, “Personal Dignity and the Common Good,” p. 179.

[25] Alasdair MacIntyre, “Common Goods, Modern States, Rights, and Maritain,” unpublished paper, p. 14, cited in Jeffery Nicholas, “The Common Good,” (2015), p. 12.

[26] Jacques Maritain, The Person and the Common Good (trans. J. Fitzgerald; Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), p. 15.

[27] Mary Keys, “Personal Dignity and the Common Good,” p. 177.

[28] Charles De Koninck, “In Defense of St. Thomas: A Reply to Fr. Eschmann’s Attack on the Primacy of the Common Good,” Laval Théologique et Philosophique, Vol. 1, no. 2, p. 9-109 (1945), p. 93-94; cf. 18-20.

[29] Jeffrey Nicholas, “The Common Good,” (2015), p. 5.

[30] Deborah Wallace, “Jacques Maritain and Alasdair MacIntyre: The Person, the Common Good and Human

Rights,” In B. Sweetman (ed.), The Failure of Modernism: The Cartesian Legacy and Contemporary Pluralism, (Washington, DC: Catholic University Press of America, 1999), pp. 130-132.

[31] John Milbank, personal communication, December 11, 2018.

[32] Pabst and I have co-authored an article, “A ‘social imaginary’ of the commons: Its ontology and politics.” Radical Orthodoxy (2019, forthcoming).

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Marcia Pally

Professor Marcia Pally

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Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality

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