Social Pathologies and the Catholic Political Imagination

In: International Journal of Public Theology
Author: Clemens Sedmak1
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The article uses early Christian sources to identify three main features of a theological conception of ‘Hell’ (effacement, toxic silence, pointlessness); these three features can be reconstructed in Axel Honneth’s influential writings on Social Pathologies as key characteristics of pathological social conditions that undermine the possibility of a good life—Honneth can be understood to distinguish between pathologies of identity (effacement), pathologies of the social (toxic silence), and pathologies of reason (pointlessness). Catholic social teaching (cst) is presented as a response to these pathologies making use of a ‘therapeutic reading’ of cst documents. Catholic social teaching is presented as an exercise in political imagination developing a deep concept of the human person (against effacement and the pathology of identity), an understanding of the permeability between micro structured and macrostructures (against toxic silence and pathologies of the social), and the recognition of a normative order (against pathologies of reason).

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