Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 19, 2014

Brian Jones
Pages 145-167

Aristotelian Political Philosophy, the Wise Many, and Catholic Social Teaching

In order for individual Catholics to be able to properly comprehend, articulate, and prudentially apply certain foundational components of Catholic social teaching, they need to have a sound grasp of classical political philosophy, particularly as it has come to us through Aristotle. Aristotle’s political thought helps to provide a strong foundation for understanding man’s life as a political animal while simultaneously acknowledging that man’s ultimate destiny is apolitical. Specifically, the convergence of Aristotle’s thought and Catholic social teaching can be seen in, but is not limited to, the following areas: the goodness of political society and authority, choice of regime, and the transpolitical character of the faith. These points of Aristotelian political philosophy, often misunderstood in light of modern liberalism, can assist Catholics in bearing public witness to the essential relationship between faith and political life, since the goodness of political life must be aligned with the truth of who man is, something that both Aristotle and Catholic social teaching rightly affirm.