Monday, December 12, 2005

Berdyaev and the Catholic Third Way

I found this interesting article concerning the influence of Russian emigre philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev on many Catholic political and intellectual movements of the early 20th century. In particular it emphasizes his relations with the Personalist movement headed by Emmanuel Mounier.

Nikolai Berdyaev has long been one of my favorite philosophers and his teachings have been a strong influence on my intellectual development. Emmanuel Mounier, on the other hand, I have only recently been aware of. I first heard of him when reading John Hellman's wonderful account of the Ordre Nouveau, which was a movement of European Catholic intellectuals in the early 20th century. Nevertheless, I'm hoping to learn more about Mounier and his theories of Personalism in the near future(possibly even reading Hellman's own biography of him).

The political and social teachings of Personalism truly are remarkable. It stresses the full development of the person in not only his individual strengths but also his social associations(after all, man is a social animal). It rejects both Capitalist individualism(which borders on narcissism) and Communist collectivism(which denies the individual dignity of the person). Instead, as noted in the article at the top, Personalism advocates a "Third Way" that involves "the development of organic, communal societies to encourage the creation of true persons, and to replace urban isolation."

So this is very much an interesting read about the relationship between of two truly great Christian intellectual geniuses of the 20th century.


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