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What the Catholic Church Thinks About Individualism versus Collectivism

our school field trip to the Vatican

our school field trip to the Vatican

It’s impossible to determine what makes up a just economy without a worldview of life and existence to base it off of. What is fair to one person may not necessarily be fair to another. So how does one reconcile ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’ within society? To answer this, the source of morality and the social nature of man must be designated. For the past few hundred years, two opposing philosophies have sought to resolve the issue of morality. One emphasized the priority of the community over the individual and sought to establish a Humanistic, egalitarian society. That is to say, they wanted the equality of all people politically, economically, and socially. Conversely, the other approach, also Humanistic, promoted the subjective goals and values of each individual and had no obligation to be responsible to the community. These differing viewpoints are based upon the worldviews of collectivism and individualism.

Both views of man are dangerous and morally wrong, for nearly anything can be justified in both these philosophies. Contrary to these worldviews, the Catholic Church holds the proper view of man and his destiny. Catholic Social Teaching says that man should be treated as an individual, and yet he must do his best to contribute to the common good.[1] Income inequality is “necessary” because mankind has unequal condition.[2] Man’s purpose does not lie in this material world[3] and the poor, sick, and elderly are to be treated with charity.[4] The State should only intervene in economic or social matters on rare occasions.[5] “Man remains above all a being who seeks the truth and strives to live in that truth”.[6] Material wealth is simply a means to an end and Catholic Social Teaching is the approach that preserves human dignity.

John Locke

John Locke

John Locke