The Common Good

The Common Good. An Introduction to Personalism

By Jonas Norgaard Mortensen, 2012, 132 p., hardback.
The English edition of the original Danish book Det fælles bedste.
The english book has been completely edited and adapted to an international audience.

”The Common Good captures personalism’s core insight, interpersonal relations as the key to understanding God, Persons, and the world. This presentation of personalism is the first, as far as I know, to present personalism to a general audience. From that perspective, The Common Good, accomplishes an important goal: Personalism is central to daily grappling with our common lives together. Pulled to something greater than ourselves, we must embrace personalism with unrelenting passion.”

Thomas O. Buford, professor, Furman University, North Carolina, USA

”Jonas Norgaard has done a great job by exposing the personalist thought brilliantly adapted to the mentality and interests of the 21st century. Combining his skills as a communicator with precision in presenting the authors, he has been able to present the main anthropological and social keys of personalism in a format close to all readers.”

Juan Manuel Burgos, professor, San Pablo University, Spain


Our traditional ways of thinking about politics and society are becoming obsolete. We need some new points of reference in order to re-imagine the possible character, growth, and functioning of our private and common life. Such re-imagination would imply doing away with every-man-for-himself individualism as well as consumption-makes-me-happy materialism and the-state-will-take-care-of-it passivity.

There is an alternative: Personalism is a forgotten, yet golden perspective on humanity that seeks to describe what a human being is and to then draw the social consequences. Personalism builds upon the thinking of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas, among others, and has been a source of inspiration for Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, and other important personalities in recent history.

According to personalism, humans are relational and engaged and possess dignity. The person and the relationship amongst persons are the universal point of departure: Human beings have inherent dignity, and good relationships amongst humans are crucial for the good, engaged life and for a good society.

Personalism has been greatly neglected in Western political thought. In this book, Jonas Norgaard Mortensen attempts to introduce personalism while simultaneously demonstrating its historical origins, acquainting the reader with its thinkers and those who have practiced it, and showing that personalism has a highly relevant contribution to make in the debate about today’s social and political developments.

Jonas Norgaard Mortensen is an active opinion former and speaker in Danish civil society. He has been head of communications at the Danish Youth Council, secretary general of the Christian Democratic party, and has lived and worked in the Middle East during the Arab Spring, where he served as Regional Director, leading and developing projects concerned with dialogue, democracy, and development in Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria.

He has also been chief of communication in the Christian Trade Union Movement in Denmark besides running his own lecture and consulting business.

Jonas Norgaard Mortensen was born in 1976; he holds degrees in political science, literature, and leadership; he is married to Hanne Skovgaard and father to Johan, Selma and Oline.

Contact: Jonas Norgaard Mortensen,