Chapter 1 A Few Principles
Man is a person
is a person. He is not a mere animal.
people live in society. The more perfect people are, the more life in
society is perfect. The society of angels is more perfect than human
society. As for the three Divine Persons, They live in an infinitely
intimate society, however, without merging into one.
this Divine society is proposed to man as a model: That they all may
be one, as you, Father, in me, and I in you. (John 17:21.)
men are human persons, they also live in society. Association responds
to a need of man's nature.
is a social being
in society responds to man's nature for two reasons:
Because the human being is a universe, in God's image, and receives from
the model, of whom he is the image, the tendency to give of himself, to
communicate the wealth which he possesses;
Because he is also a universe of indigence, in the temporal as well as
in the spiritual world. The human being needs other human beings to come
out of his indigence. He needs others physically for his conception,
birth, growth. He needs others intellectually, too: without an acquired
education, what intellectual level would a being who is born ignorant
will not speak here of his spiritual indigence, nor of the need he has
for the society called the Church.
our studies, we will restrict ourselves to the temporal order, without,
however, losing sight of the subordination of the temporal order to the
spiritual order, because both the temporal and the spiritual orders
concern this same man, and because the final end of this man takes
precedence over all intermediary ends.
association exists for a goal. The goal of an association is a certain
common good, which varies with the type of association, but it is always
the good of each and every one of the members in the association.
is precisely because it is the good of each and every one that it is a
common good. It is not the particular good of only one of its members,
nor of a section, that is sought by the association, but the good of
each and every one of its members.
people join together for an enterprise. Peter contributes his muscle
power; John, his initiative and experience; Matthew, his money capital.
The common good is the success of the enterprise. But this success of
the enterprise is not sought only for the good of Peter, nor only for
the good of John, nor only for the good of Matthew. If one of the three
is excluded from the benefits of the enterprise, he will not join.
three form an association to achieve, for all and each of the three, a
result that each of the three wants, but that none of the three can
really derive alone. The money by itself would not give very much to
Matthew; the arms by themselves would bring very little to Peter; the
mind by itself would not be sufficient for John. But when the three
combine their resources, the enterprise succeeds, and each one benefits
from it. All three do not necessarily benefit to the same degree, but
each of the three derives more than if he were alone.
association that frustrates its associates, or a part of its associates,
weakens its bond. The associates are inclined to dissociate. When, in a
big society, the marks of discontent become more pronounced, it is
precisely because greater and greater numbers of associates are deprived
more and more of their share of the common good. At such a time,
legislators, if they are wise, seek and take the means to make each and
everyone of the members participants in the common good. Trying to
checkmate discontent by inflicting punishments on its victims is a very
inadequate way of making it disappear.
since human associations are made of men, thus of people, thus of free
intelligent beings, the common good of these associations has certainly
got to be in keeping with the spreading out of intelligence and freedom.
Otherwise, it is no longer a common good; it is no longer the good,
through the association, of each and every one of the free intelligent
beingss who compose the association
must distinguish between ends and means, and especially subordinate the
means to the end, and not the end to the means.
end is the goal aimed at, the objective pursued. The means is the
processes, the methods, the acts used to achieve the end.
want to manufacture a table. My end is the manufacturing of the table. I
get planks, I measure, I saw, I plane, I adjust, I nail the wood: so
many movements, actions, which are the means used to manufacture the
is the end that I have in sight, the manufacturing of the table, which
determines my movements, the use of tools, etc. The end controls the
means. The end exists first in my mind, even if the means have to be set
to work before achieving this end. The end exists before the means, but
it is reached once the means are used.
seems elementary. But it often happens, in the running of public
affairs, that one mistakes the means for the end, and one is all amazed
when chaos results. (Editor's
note: This reminds us of what Pope John Paul II said before the General
Assembly of the United Nations in New York, on October 2, 1979: I ask
you, ladies and gentlemen, to excuse me for speaking of questions that
are certainly self-evident for you. But it does not seem pointless to
speak of them, since the most frequent pitfall for human activities is
the possibility of losing sight, while performing them, of the clearest
truths, the most elementary principles.)
example of this subject, on which we will return, is employment. So many
legislators regard labour as an end of production, and are, by this,
driven to demolish or paralyze all labour-saving devices! If they
considered labour as a means of producing, they would be satisfied with
the amount of labour necessary to achieve the sum of production sought.
is the Government not a means to facilitate, for the Provinces, and for
the Nation, the pursuit of the common good: therefore to serve,
according to the common good, the people who compose the provincial
association, the nation? In practice though, does one believe that the
Government exists for the people, or the people for the Government?
could say the same thing about systems. The systems were invented and
established to serve man, not man created to serve systems. Then if a
system is harmful to the mass of men, do we have to let the multitude
suffer for the system, or alter the system so that it will serve the
matter which will be the subject of a long study in this volume: since
money was established to facilitate production and distribution, does
one have to limit production and distribution to money, or relate money
to production and distribution?
one sees that the error of taking the ends for the means, the means for
the ends, or of subordinating the ends to the means, is a stupid, very
widespread error, which causes much disorder.
end is therefore the objective, the goal sought. But there are far-off
ends and more immediate ends, final ends, and intermediate ends.
am in Montreal. A car company that I work for sends me to China to tie
up commercial relations. I begin by taking the train from Montreal to
Vancouver. There, I will embark upon a transoceanic liner which will
take me to Hong Kong, where I will have recourse to public
transportation for the rest of the tour.
I climb aboard the train in Montreal, it is to go to Vancouver. To go to
Vancouver is not the ultimate end of my journey, but it is the end of my
journey by railroad.
reach Vancouver is therefore an intermediate end. It is only an arranged
means to the ultimate end of my journey. But, if it is only a means to
the far-distant end, it is, in any case, an end as far as the journey by
railroad is concerned. And if this intermediate end is not carried out,
the ultimate end tying up commercial relations in China will not
intermediate ends have a determined field. I must not ask the railroad
to take me to Hong Kong. Neither must I ask the transoceanic liner to
carry me from Montreal to Vancouver.
I must focus all intermediate ends on the ultimate end. If I take the
railroad to Quebec City, I will undoubtedly be able to carry out this
special end to perfection: reach Quebec City. But this will certainly
not take me to my ultimate end: to tie up commercial relations in China.
will see shortly the reason for all these elementary distinctions. They
seem very simple in the present case: the business trip to China. One is
often unaware of them, and one falls into a mess when one comes to the
ends of economics.