Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Personalistic Norm

Guess what time it is? It's time for the personalistic norm! Yeah!!! But first . . . a few words from our Sponsor:

Deuteronomy 4:4-6 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts."

Leviticus 19:17-18 "‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."

Matthew 22:37-40 "Jesus said to him, ‘"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.'” (NKJV)

Okay, now . . .

The personalistic norm, as articulated by JPII, confirms that "the person is a good towards which the only proper and adequate attitude is love" (41). In the "negative" definition, the personalistic principle "states that the person is the kind of good which does not admit of use and cannot be treated as an object of use and as such the means to an end" (41). Wow!

JPII explains that the command to love persons is not the personalistic norm in and of itself, but rather, Christ's command to love is based on the personalistic norm. See, we have to be told these sorts of things or else we'll just go on acting selfishly and using people for our own personal gain either out of malice or ignorance. But now we know . . . and as "they" say, "Knowing is half the battle." (Hmmm . . . I think that might be relevent to the concept of faith AND works vs. faith alone. Knowing, accepting, and believing something is all nice and good . . . but you've gotta put it into action. That's how you know that you really know and believe something from the depths of your being.)

The commandment to love is not derived from a utilitarian value system that prioritizes pleasure over love for the person. Nope, indeed. The personalistic norm, however, is part of an entire system of values that JPII calls "a personalistic axiology" (41). Within the framework of a personalistic axiology "the value of the person is always greater than the value of pleasure (which is why a person cannot be subordinated to this lesser end, cannot be the means to an end, in this case to pleasure!)" (41).

Again, the command to love presupposes the personalistic norm, and the personalistic norm provides "a justification for" the command to love (41).

Ahhhh. I just love John Paul II. And that's why I'm now going to quote another beloved and lengthy passage from Love & Responsibility. ;-D

"This norm, as a commandment, defines and recommends a certain way of relating to God and to people, a certain attitue towards them. This way of relating, this attitude is in agreement with what the person is, with the value which the person represents, and therefore it is fair. Fairness takes precedence of mere utility (which is all the utilitarian principle has eyes for) - although it does not cancel it but only subordinates it: in dealings with another person everything that is at once of use to oneself and fair to that person falls within the limits set by the commandment to love."

". . . this attitude, will be not only fair but just. For to be just always means giving others what is rightly due to them. A person's rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object for use. In a sense it can be said that love is a requirement of justice, just as using a person as a means to an end would conflict with justice. In fact the order of justice is more fundamental than the order of love - and in a sense the first embraces the second inasmuch as love can be a requirement of justice. Surely it is just to love a human being or to love God, to hold a person dear. At the same time love - if we are to consider its very essence - is something beyond and above justice; the essence of love is simply different from the essence of justice. Justice concerns itself with things (material goods or moral goods, as for instance one's good name) in relation to persons, and hence with persons rather indirectly, whereas love is concerned with persons directly and immediately: affirmation of the value of the person as such is of its essence. Although we can correctly say that whoever loves a person is for that very reason just to that person, it would be quite untrue to assert that love for a person consists merely in being just" (42).

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