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Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 14, 2009

Su Li Lee
Pages 321-337

Persons as Gifts: Understanding Interdependence through Pope John Paul II’s Anthropology

Interdependence is a phenomenon prevalent in collectivist societies. Despite being a well-known concept, it is only recently that the interaction between interdependence and independence was studied as orthogonally varying constructs (Liu & Goto, 2007). A primary finding is that individuals high on both interdependence and independence have better mental health and higher family cohesion. This article attempts to understand these findings in light of Pope John Paul II’s understanding of persons as gifts. From Trinitarian theology to its philosophical underpinnings, it will be shown that it is precisely in this gift character that interdependence finds its roots and fundamental meaning. Furthermore, this gift structure also accounts more fully and coherently for the independence-interdependence interaction.

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