Michael Novak – Catholic Scholar and “celestial philosopher”

 

“Capitalism forms morally better people than socialism does,” Mr. Novak said in a 2007 interview with Crisis, a magazine he and the scholar Ralph McInerny founded in 1982. “Capitalism teaches people to show initiative and imagination, to work cooperatively in teams, to love and to cherish the law; what is more, it forces persons not only to rely on themselves and their own moral qualities, but also to recognize those moral qualities in others and to cooperate with others freely.”- Michael Novak, Catholic Scholar Who Championed Capitalism, Dies at 83

“At the heart of the Novakian vision is freedom—free people, free markets, free institutions. But Novak’s vision of freedom, like [Irving] Kristol’s, is not the doctrinaire libertarianism that the word evokes for many today. Much less is it the “me generation” liberal counterfeit of freedom that licenses people to do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want, with whomever they want, so long as there is no immediate palpable harm to others.

Rather, it is the idea of unleashing the human spirit for the creative pursuit of excellence.”

” –Michael Novak, 1933–2017, by Robert P. George, On the life and influence of the prolific Catholic philosopher

 

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On February 17, 2017, we lost a great Catholic intellectual and “celestial philosopher.”

This Acton Institute video introduces Ambassador Novak and offers a conversational look at his life and work. Novak’s valuable experience and his wealth of wisdom makes this video well worth viewing.

Novak’s masterpiece:  The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Pope John Paul II was one of many admirers of Michael Novak. It would be worth your while to read this entire encyclical written in 1991. It addresses social issues, Marxism, socialism and capitalism.

CENTESIMUS ANNUS, JOHN PAUL II

42. Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”. But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.

 

“New Things”:

43.…Man fulfils himself by using his intelligence and freedom. In so doing he utilizes the things of this world as objects and instruments and makes them his own. The foundation of the right to private initiative and ownership is to be found in this activity. By means of his work man commits himself, not only for his own sake but also for others and with others. Each person collaborates in the work of others and for their good. Man works in order to provide for the needs of his family, his community, his nation, and ultimately all humanity.

 

Centesimus annus

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