Democracy on Purpose: Justice and the Reality of God

Democracy on Purpose: Justice and the Reality of God

Democracy on Purpose: Justice and the Reality of God

Democracy on Purpose: Justice and the Reality of God

Excerpt

Morality and politics depend on a purpose in the nature of things. I seek here to redeem this assertion and to articulate the moral and political principles it implies. In the West prior to the modern age, a work so designed would have represented the prevailing view. Summarily speaking, both medieval culture and its principal intellectual traditions were controlled by the conviction that human life relates to an all-inclusive context of importance. Virtually all differences in thought or opinion were contained within the common affirmation that all human purposes are properly directed to a comprehensive telos for which all of the world exists or was created. In marked contrast, the development of modern moral thought as a whole has fashioned a dominant consensus in moral and political theory on which moral and political activity are independent of any comprehensive purpose. I am convinced that this consensus is mistaken. This work argues that human life is constituted by an attachment to the divine good that we either embrace without evasion or corrupt by loving something else as if it, too, were God, and seeks to specify the divine good to politics through the democratic principle of justice as general emancipation.

I will use the term “comprehensive teleology” to name the view that human life is properly directed to a telos defined by reality as such. The most systematic premodern statement of this view is found in the massive achievement of Thomas Aquinas. “Every thing is directed to good as its end,” he wrote, and “God is supremely the end of all . . .

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