I wrote that little work to defend Aristotle and St. Thomas when they say that, within a given genus, the common good is always more divine than the proper or personal good. This proposition had been under attack for some time. The reasoning behind this open attack even by well-known Thomists assumed that "common good" is a univocal expression, i.e. with one single meaning, and that one can therefore pass from one genus to the other. Yet in fact the common good of the family (namely, the offspring) and that of the political community (the well-being of the citizens, which, in the end, consists in virtuous activity) are one only in proportion.
[The children are a common good; but family life, the domestic good is also a common good.] The common good of the political community is "the well-being of the citizens, which, in the end, consists in virtuous activity."
He also writes:
It is one thing to compare the member of a society to the society as a whole. The society is for the sake of the common good of its members who are individual persons. Hence society is for man, not man for society. But it does not follow from this that the common good of society must be broken down into individual goods, the way a loaf of bread is shared at the table.It is much easier to ask questions and obtain clarification from a living person than it is from a "dead" book. Is society separate from its members? Is it the same as the modern "state"? (Is this the identification that CDK is making here?) Is "society" different in meaning from "community"?
A community is made up of its members, but these members are not taken in isolation from one another. Rather, these individuals have ordered relations to one another. Living in society is for the sake of man--because men by their nature are social, living with one another is a true good.
(Being in) Society (or community) is for the sake of its members' living together (well).
One of these days I'll try to find some proof texts from On the Primacy of the Common Good Against the Personalists to confirm this interpretation. I think the rest of the letter supports it, though, if one is able to make the comparison between the political community and the Church.
Michael A. Smith's Human Dignity and the Common Good in the Aristotelian-Thomistic Tradition. An ok introduction, but not without its problems when directly addressing the philosophical questions.