Monday, May 08, 2006

Remarks from Anonymous 2 and My Reponse: 5/8/06

From Anonymous 2: “Response to response: I didn't write the original response but I have two remarks: is it clear that Thomism and phenomenology can be wedded or is it simply and oil-water emulsion? The remark about the objectivism of received scholasticism is true to the extent that there was a decadent scholasticism but figures of Thomism like Gilson have rejected solutions to this problem by trying to wed Thomism with Kantianism. Maritain too tried to address the problems raised by Kantianism and Descartes without claiming to wed Thomism with these systems.”

Dear Anonymous 2,

Short response to your questions. As I recall, Maritain thought that phenomenology and metaphysics were oil-water. I am sure that he was right in view of the later Husserl. But notice that von Hildebrand, E. Stein, Ingarten and Scheler left him for that very reason. All were looking for realist phenomenology. I would dare say that Wojtyla did the master work of doing his own brand of Phenomenology of the moral act and showing how not only is the “I” not cartesian consciousness, but that consciousness is the key to how we form the experience of the “I” (and experience always means access to being) and the moral subject.

Maritain and Gilson were not part of decadent Thomism precisely because they both saw the centerpiece of his metaphysics in “esse” and not in essence or substance. They were absolute masters in this. However, they never went beyond the object - or better, they never reached the "I" as "I.". Even in his work on the person and "subsistence," Maritain always stayed within the horizon of the substance where subsistence was a mode of the substance limiting it in the order of essence making it capable of receiving and exercising “esse.” And Gilson really didn’t get into it. He was interested in the epistemology of “esse” and the (negative) judgment beyond the world of essences and abstraction, and did the history of it.

What Wojtyla has done is not Kantianism. Kant never discovered nor disclosed the experience of the “I” in the moral moment. I emphasize the word "experience." According to Josef Seifert, no one has outside of Wojtyla. Kant's a priori are of a subject that is consciousness. The “I” of Wojtyla is “Esse” (as in "Being") - experienced in the moment of free self-determination.

* * * * * *

I have been fascinated with St. Thomas's esse as act of all acts, perfection of all perfections. My Saul to Paul moment came while reading of Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity” (1970/1990 edition) pp. 131-132. where Ratzinger proposed the meaning of Being – and therefore “esse” – to be intrinsically and constitutively relational. I was astounded to see the seriousness with which he proposed it and immediately saw that this would be a veritable revolution.

The most obvious problem is what happens to conceptual thought and the world of being understood in terms of substance/accident. In order to know being that is relation as agape, one must be in act as agape. Like is known by like. My first attempts were to explore the consequences – whereupon I published a little thing called: “Person as Resonating Existential” – clearly a red flag to objectified conceptualism – which Robert Woods was kind enough to publish in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly (1992 I believe) after which I did “Relational Esse and the Person” which I have on the blog: look below in February 2005 and which appeared in American Catholic Philosophical Proceedings. I must say the topic fascinates me.

I more than understand “Anonymous 1” and his frustration with the use of words and terminology, but that is precisely the problem. The human intellect does not have a sensible experience from which it can abstract and form a category (concept), establish propositions, created syllogisms and return to sensible experience to verify. Categorical conceptual thought is objectifying and abstractive of real existential reality. The most profound and immediate access I have to the reality of esse comes in the experience of the self in the moment of free self-determination. This presupposes the experience of things through sensation, but, as Wojtyla says, "Man's experience of anything outside of himself is always associated with the experience of himself, and he never experiences anything external without having at the same time the experience of himself" (The Acting Person" 3). There is an element of unreality (as in distortion) in abstract knowing precisely because of the mediation of sense perception and abstract categories. The non-precision of consciousness that is not conceptual thought is not for that less real, but in fact, more so. It is a far greater realism since the being that is experienced is the very self – “esse” - if you will.


Methodius said...

Well, I guess I don't rate a direct response like Anonymous 2, although it is odd that you suggest that my "testy" remarks smack of Gnosticism, especially since I'm not "degreed" and therefore aren't really qualified to discuss these things. I decided to spend my priesthood in a parish saving souls rather than in school inflating my brain. I have a BA in philosophy because, in my day, you had to have one to go to the major seminary. And yet, in spite of all this over-intellecualized bloviating in an exponentially inflating number of mind-numbing journals, you could count on one hand the number of priests who understand the difference between matter and form in a sacrament--which is why we have Masses celebrated with rice cakes and blueberry schnapps. Am I a creton because I suggest that maybe--just maybe--all this over-intellectualize verbiage has contributed to this?

When you accuse me of rejecting the "new terminology" and wanting to put reality into catagories for the sake of catagories, you do me a disservice. My point is that all these terms are ambiguous and understandable only to people like you who have studied with this or that famous thinker in some other country. I would call that Gnosticism.

My initial point to all this remains unaddressed: Do we really need a professor pope who thinks great thoughts? I would prefer a pope with an eighth grade education who only reads books with pictures so long as he governs the Church.

I guess it makes sense that your blog is subtitled "Reflections on the Teaching of John Paul II and Benedict XVI." If you called it "Reflections on the Governance of John Paul II and Benedict XVI," there'd be nothing to blog about.

Just try to remember that, while you and the Holy Father are I-gifting to one another's existential singular selves, there are real priests out here trying to preach the Gospel to an indifferent world, instruct engaged couples as to why they souldn't contracept themselves into hell, and teach married people to stay in their own beds where they belong, while Cardinals and theologians are undermining our efforts by teaching heresy and confusing the faithful.

I just hope the Holy Father takes and break from his thinking once in a while to maybe give us a hand.

Rev. Robert A. Connor said...

Dear Anonymous 1,
I would suggest that the Church is the Body of Christ, and not a political association of individuals. The relation of Christ to the Church is as Bridegroom to Bride. They form the "Whole Christ" with the Bridegroom as Head, and Bride as Body with the Eucharist as the one flesh union. All activity is self-giving either as donation (Christ in the Word and the sacraments) or as reception (faith as obedience along the line of the Virgin).
When you explain not sleeping around, or the evil of contraception, or why no ivf, or no homosexuality activity, or no divorce - you are always using the the dynamic of self-gift. You can't make people good. They have to want to, and you have to help them want to. And besides, the goal is not just morality but holiness because without that - they simply don't want to.
If you make them, then you have a Church of Pharisees at best or zombies at worst.
The Cure of Ars moritified himself and prayed tons, sat in the confessional 16 hours per day. And the people came, and came, and came. Your doctrine sounds right. Preach it and sit in the confessional and they will come and change.

Methodius said...

OK. I'm not sure how that addresses my concerns; but at least we've established that, in addition to being stupid, I don't have an interior life and don't hear enough confessions.

Thanks for the lively debate.

Anonymous said...

Interesting website with a lot of resources and detailed explanations.

Anonymous said...

Nice idea with this site its better than most of the rubbish I come across.

Anonymous said...


Nice site, keep up the good work .

[url=][/url] BUY PHENTERMINE
BUY PHENTERMINE buy phentermine phentermine online order phentermine cheap phentermine buy phentermine online phentermine diet pill phentermine online pharmacy phentermine prescription what is phentermine free phentermine

Anonymous said...

Who can help me with .httpaccess ?
where i can fined full information about .httpaccess file syntaxis?

Anonymous said...

[url=]buy carisoprodol[/url]

[url=]buy fioricet online[/url]

[url=]cheap phentermine[/url]

[url=]phentermine diet pill[/url]

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

[url=]panasonic digital camera[/url]

[url=]panasonic digital camera[/url]

[url=]digital camera canon[/url]

[url=]olympus digital camera[/url]