The Enduring Wisdom of Emmanuel Mounier

Millennial editor Robert Christian has a new article in Church Life. He writes:

Mounier articulated a clear, powerful, and accurate defense of the human person, one that remains relevant today. Mounier became a principal architect of the philosophy of personalism and the personalist communitarian approach to politics. These contributions remain valuable as we live in an age in which hyperindividualism remains a serious obstacle to progress toward the common good….

Mounier recognized that the person does not reach their potential as an impersonal cog in the machinery of the state or in some imagined splendid isolation from society, but by living freely and virtuously, by choosing to freely participate in the building of the Kingdom of God. The meaning of life is rooted in this participation to which each person is called, as children of the same personal God, made in God’s own image. Each person is entirely unique; he or she is irreplaceable in the position they occupy in the world of persons. It is for this reason that everyday lives can have extraordinary meaning and value….

If freedom and justice, as well as human flourishing and joy, are to gain ground, we must regain our commitment to virtue. The very word seems antiquated to contemporary ears, just as the word duty often elicits giggles rather than a sense of purpose.

But perhaps Pope Francis can change this. His worldview is deeply rooted in personalism and a profound commitment to community and solidarity. In many ways, he lives what Mounier encouraged in his writing. Perhaps his model will inspire a new generation of Catholics and religious humanists to turn from lives and values infected by individualism toward a personalist commitment to virtue, solidarity, and the common good.

The full article can be read here.