'Christianity and Democracy, and The Rights of Man and Natural Law'
By Jacques Maritain (Author)
Few political philosophers have laid such stress upon the organic and dynamic characters of human rights, rooted as they are in natural law, as did the great 20th century philosopher, Jacques Maritain. Few Christian scholars have placed such emphasis upon the influence of evangelical inspiration, or of the Gospel message, upon the temporal order as has Maritain.As this important work reveals, the philosophy of Jacques Maritain on natural law and human rights is complemented by and can only be properly understood in the light of his teaching on Christianity and democracy and their relationship. Maritain shows that Christianity cannot be made subservient to any political form or regime, that democracy is linked to Christianity, and that in order for democracy to thrive, it must reflect certain values historically derived from the Gospel.
At the same time he argues his distinctive thesis that personalist or organic democracy provides a fuller measure of freedom and fulfillment and that it emerges or begins to take shape under the inspiration of the Gospel. Even the modern democracies we do in fact have, with all their weaknesses, represent an historic gain for the person and they spring, he urges, from the very Gospel they so wantonly repudiate!
This has been one of my all-time favorite "Samson books" - those little books that take down Goliaths. Almost single-handedly, Maritain launched an hypothesis on the Christian (and Jewish) origins of the foundational axioms of democracy, of which many atheists are now coming to admit the truth. The sheer power of his hypothesis is more evident with every passing year. The republication of this classic is therefore bound to kindle longing for a deeper, more just reevaluation.
(Michael Novak, American Enterprise Institute)
Maritain was the most well-known Catholic philosopher who sought to reconcile the "rights" and "democracy" principles of the modern state with classic western philosophical traditions. He was a man of true wisdom. -
(James V. Schall, S. J., Georgetown University)
Maritain was one of the pioneers of the Catholic human rights revolution, which changed the course of 20th century politics. While helping the Church through a genuine development of social doctrine, Maritain helped forge some of the tools that eventually broke through the Berlin Wall.
(George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center)
Jacques Maritain (18 November 1882 – 28 April 1973) was a French Catholic philosopher. Raised as a Protestant, he became an agnostic before converting to Catholicism in 1906. An author of more than 60 books, he helped to revive St. Thomas Aquinas for modern times, and was influential in the development and drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pope Paul VI presented his "Message to Men of Thought and of Science" at the close of Vatican II to Maritain, his long-time friend and mentor. Maritain's interest and works spanned many aspects of philosophy, including aesthetics, political theory, philosophy of science, metaphysics, the nature of education, liturgy and ecclesiology.