3A1 The ‘What’ and the ‘Why’ of the Family

3rd Year, Semester A, 1st Module (3A1)        

Summary:  The family is a complex community to understand, comprised as it is of many different elements!  Yet, it is so important to do so given that it is the first experience man has of a natural (God-given) community in which to live.  Is the family not also and always the place of man’s first education in the school of life?

Do we not all in some way live a form of family life and so need address the question of what is the good of the concrete community that is my very own family?  Can’t we also add that we must take responsibility for this search, and this more than ever before, given that in today’s world there are new currents surging forward to redefine the very identity of the family.  Are not the many attacks on the family aimed at seeking to make the fundamental natural character of the family disappear?  Surely it will be only those families who are thoughtful before such confusion and disorder who will be able to safely navigate through the criss-crossing currents?

So, we are led to ask if there is a principle of understanding for man who seeks to know what it is to live in community?  What role(s) do the parents have in family life?  And the children, what is their role?  What is the true structure of a family and how can one go about talking about an end-good to which all members of a given family are expected to act towards?

Lastly, we could also ask what light does Divine Revelation shed onto the “what” and the “why” of a family?


Various themes to be looked at:

  • The Experience of a community
  • The notion of the Common Good
  • Nature and Culture, Nature and Nurture
  • The Integration of Conditioning into community life – Political Prudence
  • Cooperation in the family community: the place of Family Rules
  • Differences and Complimentary Factors between a Father and a Mother
  • The necessity of Authority in a community
  • Political Discernment: “to survive”, “to live” or “to live well”?


Aristotle, Politics

Fr MDP, Retracing Reality

Aletheia, Community of St John Journal,  Nos. 7 and 23

APA9, The Family and the Political Community