16 October 2008

Hierarchical Organization of Society

Bishop George Speltz, former bishop of St. Cloud Minnesota wrote his doctoral thesis on the importance of rural life based on the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. He brings to bear these philosophical principles on the socio-economic problems of today.

According to St. Thomas this cooperation of men as social beings is not carried on in strict equality, i.e., men do not cooperate on one horizontal plane to achieve a common good. His teaching on this question is clear. Nature doe not incline men to cooperate on one horizontal level; rather it incline them to cooperate on many diverse functional levels to form an ordered hierarchy. Men are not equal in all things, though they do possess in common a rational nature a common origin, and destiny. They differ accidentally in power of intellect, will, and of body. Consequently, they differ in their contribution to and participation in the benefits of the common good. These differences among men, St. Thomas regards as one of the necessary conditions of true order within any social or economic group having autonomous existence within the state. Thus the functional and hierarchical organization of the manor is according to man's nature. It provided for the opportunity of socio-economic cooperation on a local basis, and it provided for individual differences. As a consequence of this fact of individual differences in men, there will classes in society. But it need not be that the membership within these classes should be static. Thomistic philosophy with much reason insists that the classes which naturally form in society be subordinated one to another, is a true inner unity within a hierarchy. The absence of this ordering is a cause of many contemporary socio-economic evils.

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