Saturday, October 18, 2008

Person as "Esse" - Gift: The Philosophical Keystone

While reading Fergus Kerr on Karol Wojtyla, Kerr remarked: “In 1980, on his return to the Angelicum as by then its most eminent alumnus, Pope John Paul II hailed Jacques Maritain as interpreter of Thomas Aquinas, going on to insist that the ‘philosophical patrimony which is forever valid” can have all modern schools of philosophy as “natural allies” and “partners” – provided that they share an interest in the metaphysics of the act us essendi or esse ut actus…”[1]

The observation is large and points to the deep truth that must be made more and more evident. What embraces both object and subject as "the real" in modern thought is the experience of being, but Wojtyla adds, the being of the person as unique, singular and irreducible “I.” Both sides of the “San Andreas Fault” of modern thought – subjective idealism and objective empiricism - from Descartes to the present moment, are resolved once we are able to discover “experience” in the senses and in the free moral act of the self as an experience of “Being.” And I quickly add, that the experience of the “I” is discoverable - with Wojtyla’s brand of phenomenology – in Judeo-Christian faith as act of self transcending.

Cutting closer to the chase: since relativism has been the necessary consequence of the turn to the subject as pure consciousness from Descartes on, and if the subject were found to be being, and therefore objectively real, and even more so than the sensibly experienced, the turn to the subject as "to be" through the medium of the experience of the moral act as "being" could spring philosophy loose from the skeptical cloud it is in.

[1] Fergus Kerr, “Twentieth Century Catholic Theologians,” Blackwell Publishing (2007) 168.

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