In a programmatic post on the new encyclical, John Brungardt argues that Charles De Koninck’s philosophy of nature and his anti-personalist account of the common good, both rooted in his rich understanding of the order of the whole universe as the final cause of creation, make De Koninck a particularly suitable instrument for pursuing the concerns of Laudato Si’.
A few snips from the post, which is very much worth reading in full:
The first theme of interest is natural philosophy in the broad sense (broad enough to include metaphysics, physics, cosmology; see St. Thomas prooemium to the Ethics, n. 2). Pope Francis’ argument hinges upon an understanding of the cosmos as perfected by the good of order (the rest or tranquility of which is peace). This rich understanding of the universe can only be defended by a Thomistic-Aristotelian philosophy of nature and metaphysics. For this reason the Pope’s encyclical is a clarion call for scientists, philosophers, and theologians to step up their game to provide an intelligent explication to and education of others that defends this foundation of the Pope’s teaching. […]
While it would take more discussion to distinguish between the various notions of “common good” at work [in Laudato Si’], the overall concern of Pope Francis’ ecological conversion (only the first stage in an ascending hierarchy) requires the notion that there is a common good proper to the created order as such.
Now, the common good of the universe is twofold: intrinsically, it consists in its completion or rest as a unity of order (multiplicity in one), and extrinsically, it is ordered to God, the common good of the entire created order (including the physical and spiritual—angelic—orders). De Koninck famously defends the primacy of the political common good using the Thomistic metaphysics of the cosmos as his guide, and penned an unfinished renovation of Thomistic cosmology incorporating the possibility of cosmic and biological evolution in The Cosmos. Since the good of order of the cosmos is the means by which God manifests His glory, it is not inconceivable that the intensively infinite perfections of God be manifested not merely in a multiplicity of creatures in kind or through space, but also over time.
The difficulty with this conception of the cosmos and its intrinsic common good is related to the first theme. There is a “common good skepticism” which clouds modern thought. The common good is little more than a mutual contract between individuals stipulating what benefits are derivable from the alien power of the State as dispensator of a common source of resources and power. Here again, Catholic political scientists, philosophers, and theologians must contribute to a healthier understanding of the common good to use Laudato Si’ as an entry-point to evangelize modern man, lost in a wasteland-cosmos of Baconian-Cartesian-Nietzschean dystopia.