John Paul II on Substance
James V. Schall, S.J.
The human being is not a person, on the one hand, and
a member of society on the other. The human being as
a person is simultaneously a member of society. The
concept of person is neither opposed to this member-
ship nor places a human being beyond it. At most one
could say that what is opposed to society, understood as
a certain multiplicity of people, is the human individual.
But this is purely quantitative opposition. And so in
thinking of moral value as that through which the
human being as a person is good or bad, we do not in
the human being separate individuality and member-
ship in a society, but we think them both together.1
—Karol Wojtyla, “The Problem of the Theory of
By community I understand not the multiplicity of sub-
jects itself, but always the specific unity of this multiplic-
ity. This unity is accidental with respect to each subject
individually and to all of them together. It arises as the
relation or sum of relations existing between them.
These relations can be investigated as an objective real-
ity that qualifies everyone jointly and singly in a partic-
ular multiplicity of people. We then speak of a society.
… Only the individual people—the personal subjects—
who are the members of this society are substantial sub-
1 Karol Wojtyla, “The Problem of the Theory of Morality,” Person and Community: Selected Essays, translated by T. Sandok (New York: Peter Lang, 1993), 146.