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Rediscovering a Personalist Economy

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Part of the Virtues and Economics book series (VIEC,volume 1)


The paper suggests that we can rediscover the personalist philosophy in searching for new models for business and economic actions. At the core of Jacques Maritain ’s “Humanisme intégral” (1936) is the idea that man is a person who is spiritual in nature, endowed with free will, and thus autonomous in relation to the world. For Maritain the community is central: the true goal of the temporal order is thus more than the mere tallying up of individual needs. It concerns the good life of the entire community—the common good or bonum commune. But the temporal bonum commune is not the ultimate goal, as it is subordinated to what transcends temporal welfare —the attainment of freedom and spiritual perfection of the human person .

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  1. 1.

    Not until 1972 did Maritain elaborate extensively on this in an article “A Society without Money” in 1982, Cahiers Jacques Maritain, Vols. 4–5. The latter publication also appeared in Review of Social Economy (1985).

  2. 2.

    In A Society without Money (1985, p.80) Maritain points out that “the business world made up a world apart, having an absolute value of its own, independent of those superior values and norms that give life its human dignity, and which furnish the measure of human life in its wholeness”.

  3. 3.

    At the end of his life, Maritain reformulates this pluralistic call in A Society without money (1985, p.79): “And it is precisely because this revolution would have as its final end not at all to “change man”, but solely to bring about the most fundamental changes in his social structures that Christians and non-Christians alike (...) could work together for that truly radical revolution, which for me has become an obsession.”


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Correspondence to Hendrik Opdebeeck .

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Opdebeeck, H. (2017). Rediscovering a Personalist Economy. In: Rona, P., Zsolnai, L. (eds) Economics as a Moral Science. Virtues and Economics, vol 1. Springer, Cham.

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