Reality is Superior to the Idea

Gaetano Piccolo, SJ

 Gaetano Piccolo, SJ / Issue 1709 / 14 October 2017

Pope Francis and the primacy of reality

When speaking of evangelization in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG), Pope Francis addresses the topics of the common good and social peace (EG 217-237). He speaks of four principles in this regard: time is greater than space (222-225), unity prevails over conflict (226-230), realities are more important than ideas (231-233), and the whole is greater than the part (234-237).[1] He returns to the third principle in Laudato Si’ (LS), where he invites us to confront the ecological crisis by thinking about the common good and pursuing the path of dialogue (LS 201).

His insistence on the crucial importance of the real world in protecting us from isolation in the heady world of ideas is also extremely relevant to and present in contemporary philosophical debates. In various cultural contexts – not only in Europe but also in the United States and Australia – there is talk of a “new realism” and even of a return to metaphysics.[2]

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