A collection of personal reflections. Copyright © 2005-2011 K. Gurries

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Integral Human Development



The central idea that Pope Benedict XVI unfolds in Caritas in Veritate has to do with the concept of authentic human development that is based upon an authentic humanism.  Therefore, it seems worthwhile to reflect on some of its key points in order to try to grasp the essence of the matter.  The various "practical proposals" that can be found in the document presuppose a basic understanding of this fundamental concept.  
Man and Society
Integral human development is founded on Christian or integral humanism that has a correct understanding of the true nature of man and the true nature of society.  (CV, 16, 18, 78)  In the first place, integral human development presupposes a proper understanding of the nature of man composed of body and soul.  This authentic or integral humanism necessarily involves a transcendent vision of the human personFurthermore, true development presupposes a proper understanding of the nature of human society conceived as a single human family united under God the Father of all.  In light of this, social institutions exist not for their own sake but for the integral development of man.  The good of institutions, therefore, is oriented towards the good of man:  “Another important consideration is the common good.  To love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it.  Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good.  It is the good of ‘all of us’, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.  It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it.  To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity”. (CV, 7)  The “relation between individual and community is a relation between one totality and another” (CV, 53) and must be guided, therefore, by the twin principles of subsidiarity (in view of each individual person) and solidarity (in view of “all of us” together).  While subsidiarity can often be attained by a sense of natural justice, solidarity is not possible by human effort alone insofar as it is the fruit of supernatural faith and fraternal charity.  In this sense, the perfection of solidarity is “unity in the charity of Christ, who calls us all to share as sons in the life of the living God, the Father of all”. (CV, 19)       

The Whole Man and Every Man

Integral human development involves the advancement and good of “every man and of the whole man”; in other words, the “truth of development consists in its completeness”.  (CV, 18)  Additionally, integral human development involves the whole man in “every single dimension” – including the transcendent dimension from the perspective of “eternal life” (CV, 11) and therefore it is “open to the Absolute”. (CV, 16)  What this means is that there “cannot be holistic development and universal common good unless people's spiritual and moral welfare is taken into account, considered in their totality as body and soul”. (CV, 76)  True development is not limited to the material order but must be oriented towards the transcendent and the supernatural goal of man:  “Integral human development on the natural plane, as a response to a vocation from God the Creator, demands self-fulfillment in a transcendent humanism which gives to man his greatest possible perfection: this is the highest goal of personal development.”  Authentic human development, therefore, applies to “both the natural plane and the supernatural plane”. (CV, 18)  Originating in God, charity in truth is the principle driving force for authentic human development (CV, 1) and is only made possible when charity is illumined by the light of faith and reason together. (CV, 9)

Of Man and God
Integral human development stands in contrast to a purely naturalistic and positivistic conception of "humanity"; a one-sided anthropocentric conception that is closed in on itself and cut off from the transcendent and the supernatural (i.e., secular humanism).  In other words, there is no authentic human development that invloves a "turn" away from God.  On the contrary, integral human development rests on a theocentric and transcendent conception of humanity1 that is simultaneously “of man” and “of God”: “All this is of man, because man is the subject of his own existence; and at the same time it is of God, because God is at the beginning and end of all that is good, all that leads to salvation: ‘the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's’ (1 Cor 3:22-23)”. (CV, 79)


1 Jacques Maritain comments on this critical distinction: "We are thus led to distinguish two kinds of humanism: a theocentric or truly Christian humanism; and an anthropocentric humanism, for which the spirit of the Renaissance and that of the Reformation are primarily responsible...The first kind of humanism recognizes that God is the center of man; it implies the Christian conception of man, sinner and redeemed, and the Christian conception of grace and freedom...The second kind of humanism believes that man himself is the center of man, and therefore of all things.  It implies a naturalistic conception of man and of freedom." (Cf. Mariatin, Integral Humanism, UND Press,1996, p. 169)


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Karim - Positive thinking

October 19, 2009 3:38 AM  
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