Thursday, July 09, 2015

Workshop on Metaphysics - Notes Accompanying Text

Workshop: Metaphysics 2015

These notes are my preface and accompaniment to the text that was offered by the Commission. I consider that normative and my notes accessory and hopeful helpful.
Me: The ultimate reason for the Greeks, at the time of the Babylonian Captivity, to seek Being as ultimate reality is the fact that they experienced this in the remainder of believing Jews in Bagdad, and also in themselves as culturally mixed with the Jews. Within the experience of Abrahamic faith as self-transcending obedience [leaving Ur for Egypt, returning on command, attempting the sacrifice of Isaac (Abraham’s very self)], the very meaning of faith is self-gift to death – which is the transformation of the person ontologically. Consider Benedict XVI’s remark: “Furthermore, the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our idea that matter, solid things, things we can touch, are the more solid, the more certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one's life: sand and rock. The one who builds on sand builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will pass away. We can see this now with the fall of large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. The one who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is the one who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is the one who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invite us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life.”[1]\

 This has ontological ramifications which becomes a metaphysic of person as the meaning of Being. JohnPaul II called for this in #84 of “Fides et Ratio:” “In a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being [actu essendi], and with metaphysical enquiry.” Therefore, without the experience of the self becoming alter Christus in the act of faith, one does not experience the full force of being.

See Syllabus[2]

Man saw and dealt with God face to face as image and likeness. He sinned and lost the likeness to God as obediential act of self-gift without losing the imaging. He forgot the Light of the Divine Face. Man continued to be called to likeness by self-giving. Faith is this act of self-gift which restores light. It is the remembering or an-amnesis as the Greek Fathers of the Church called it. Metaphysics is the rational account of this experiential entering into a likeness to
God which initiated in the Sixth Century B.C., the time of the Jewish Exile in Babylon.

The Historical Beginning of Metaphysics as the Experience of the Absolute: Explanation: Greek reason came in contact with the faith of Abraham (the Absolute of “Yahweh: “I AM WHO AM” and moved from naming “gods” immanent to the empirical cosmos to a search for the transcendent absolute.

No Faith, Weak Reason[3]

The Importance of Faith for the Development of Metaphysics: Sokolowski

Overview: The capacity of the mind to know depended on the relation to the Creator. In obedience, Adam achieved person hood by obedient work and naming the animals. That done, he experienced the excellence of personhood – “alone” – in a creation of “things” God declared this “not good” and recreated Adam into is and isha, male and female. They knew God, themselves and the world. They lived in a state of self-gift.
They sinned. Robert Barron: “(T)he fall had implications at all levels of a person’s being. Original sin affected not only the will but the body, the passions, the imagination, and the mind as well. Because of sin each of the powers within a person has become corrupt, and more to the point, they have fallen into disharmony with one another…. (T)he fallen mind, the mind in the shadows, has a tendency toward inattentiveness, stupidity, unreasonability, and irresponsibility; it is curvatus in se, self-absorbed, fearful, pusillanimous. The central paradox is this: only those who have been touched by the Christ-mind, the intellect in love, realize the limitation of the minds they have.”[4]
To the point: Simon was able to affirm from within himself: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16) only because he had prayed with Christ (Lk. 9, 18). Since Christ is total relation to the Father, His very Person is self gift, and as such is prayer. And since like is known by like, Simon experienced being “another Christ. He knew Christ ab intus (from within his own self). Hence, Jesus changes his name from Simon to Petros (rock) as Christ Himself is “cornerstone” (Act 4, 11). This is the foundational explanation of what took place in 6 c. B.C. And so, living faith enables the awakening of reason from sin to the sighting of Being. Hence, the true metaphysic works within the lived context of faith.

Thumbnail Sketch of the emergence of the mind to reality: the work of Fr. Robert Sokolowski in his book: “T he God of Faith and Reason” UNDP (1982).
1.      The Greek mind was searching for cause, working with sense perception and abstract thought. They arrive at asserting the existence of the gods but always within the sensible, empirical horizon. The issue of creation is not raised. “In Greek and Roman religions, and in Greek and roman philosophies, god or the gods are appreciated as the most powerful, more independent and self-sufficient. Most unchanging beings in the world, but they are accepted within the context of being. Although god or the gods are conceived as the steadiest and most complete beings, the possibility that they could be even though everything that is not divine were not, is not a possibility that occurs to anyone. The being of pagan gods is to be a part, thought the most important part, of what is; no matter how independent they are, the pagan gods must be with things that are not divine.
 It is clear that the Olympian gods are understood as particular beings in the world.  They are the expression of necessities that men encounter in the world, necessities that men must respect. Zeus, Poseidon, Ares and Aphrodite, the Muses, and Apollo are agents that rule over their particular domains, and they are the causes, the ones responsible, for what happens. Some of the gods rule over and in natural phenomena; others, the gods of the city, are involved in political events; still others are related to families. As far as human beings are concerned, the gods represent necessities that most be accepted and against which a man can pretend to act only at his peril…
The necessities became simply the way things were born to be; they became that which is ‘by nature’ as opposed to that which is because of human making or because of human choice. And the divine withdrew to those forms of being that were taken to be the independent, ruling substances in the world. The divine was part, the best and governing part, of nature, but its direct involvement with human affairs was no longer acknowledge hnor was it feared.
In talking about the highest, celestial substances, for example, Aristotle says that the ancient myths told us ‘that these are gods and that the divine encloses the whole of nature.’ He then says that many human features were added to the gods in order to pacify and guide the multitude, and he clearly rejects such accretions. However, he says that the first point, ‘that they thought the first substances to be gods,; ought to be taken as an ‘inspired (theos) statement’… That is, Aristotle finds in the myths something to be repeated and maintained, provided the divine is withdrawn from the lower substances we find in the world and placed in the highest and first substances that govern the world. This divine part of the world serves as the cause of motion and development in other things; by a kind of final causation it draws other beings to imitate, in their own appropriate ways, its permanence and independence… No matter how Aristotle’s god is to be described, as the prime mover or as the self-thinking thought, he is part  of the world, and it is obviously necessary that there be other things besides him, whether he is aware of them or not… Aristotle thus considers the divine to be the best part – but still only a part – of the cosmos; he sees human being as independent of the mythical gods, but still subordinated to necessities in many ways…
Plato’s appreciation of being, the divine, and the human, is not, in its fundamentals, very much different from what we have found in Aristotle… There is the same acknowledgment of human agency, the same withdrawal of the gods form immediate control over nature and human affairs, and the same recognition of the divine as the best that there is, the motive and the object of the exercise of reason…. Even the One or the Good is taken as ‘part’ of what is; it is the One only being a one over and for many, never alone by itself… the divine, even in its most ultimate for m, is never conceived as capable of being without the world. It is divine by being differentiated from what is not divine and by having an influence on what is not divine. The One of Plato is on the margin of, and in touch with, the many; it lets the many and the variegated be what they are. Even the One written about by Plotinus, which is placed s till further ‘beyond’ being than it is in Plato’s writings… cannot ‘be’ without there also being its reflections and its emanations in the other hypostases (the Mind and the Soul) and in the things of the world.
Sokolowski’s thesis: “It is natural for human reason to find itself within the context of the world, to come up against the world and its necessities as simply there, as the extreme margin of what can be thought. To think or to believe beyond the setting of the world and its necessities should be recognized for the unusual movement that it is:” Judeo-Christian Creation.

Judeo-Christian Revelation of Creation as Enabling the Mind to Make the Distinction Between God and the World.
Perhaps this is best understood by saying that if God created the world, His Being is not more after the creation; and If the world were not created, God would not be less – so different are their ways of being. The “Being” of God is not like the “being” of the world.
The revelation of Creation allows the mind to perceive Being beyond the context of the world, and this because it is able to perceive the sensible world as not having to be . This is a new distinction for the mind: “the distinction between the world understood as possibly not having existed and God understood as possibly being all that there is, with no diminution of goodness or greatness. It is not the case that God and the world are each separately understood in this new way, and only subsequently related to each other. The reality of God and the world is not a zero sum where the lessening of one is the increase of the other.
Chesterton suggests that the best way to imagine this truth of the existential  quality of the sensible world, is to stand on your head and see all things falling off. In a word, the real entry into Christian metaphysics is to put the ordinary world of sense perception into existential crisis. It need not be.

The key to the experience of transcendence is the experience of the subject in act of Abrahamic faith as revealed in Jesus Christ. And there the experience of the transcendent and absolute is achieved, and now, in the Magisterium, is found to be in the believing person: “In a special way, the person[going beyond self in the act of faith] constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical enquiry.”[5]

The Axial Age (6 c. B.C.): Benedict’s Regensburg: “The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and declares simply that he is, already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates' attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: "I am."

This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Psalm 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature.

Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria -- the Septuagint -- is more than a simple (and in that sense perhaps less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: It is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of Revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature.” [6]

Benedict XVI’s point at Regensburg (2006), his undelivered address to the Roman University “La Sapienza,” his Address to European Professors, June 24, 2007 and his address to The Sixth European Symposium of University Professors (June 7, 2008) are all directed to the same point: “Broaden Reason.” Reason has been narrowed by reducing the world to “facts.” The broad world is the self, believing. It is the ontological experience of self-transcendence in the act of Christian faith. The mind “sees” the being of the believer as illuminated in the very act of belief that is a moral, ontological act of the “I.” Reason is “broadened” by this new exposure to Being in a way unmediated by sensible perception or conceptual symbolizing. Access to Being broadens reason. It is a new access to a reality that transcends cosmic perception. In the Regensburg address, Benedict made reference to this moment of tansfertilization between Abrahamic faith and Greek pagan culture in which the lights went on:

Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: "I am."

“This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Psalm 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature.”
Benedict XVI’s point at Regensburg, his undelivered address to the Roman University “La Sapienza,” his Address to European Professors, June 24, 2007 and his address to The Sixth European Symposium of University Professors (June 7, 2008) are all directed to the same point: “Broaden Reason.” [7]This broadening is achieved by the ontological experience of self-transcendence in the act of Christian faith. The mind “sees” the being of the believer as illuminated in the very act of belief that is a moral, ontological act of the “I.” Reason is “broadened” by this new exposure to Being in a way unmediated by sensible perception or conceptual symbolizing. Access to Being broadens reason. It is a new access to a reality that transcends cosmic perception. In the Regensburg address, Benedict made reference to this moment of tansfertilization between Abrahamic faith and Greek pagan culture in which the lights went on[8]: “Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: "I am."
“This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Psalm 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature.
Reductive Knowing
Consider Pope Francis in #106 of “Laudato Si:” 106. The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that “an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed”.[86]
107. It can be said that many problems of today’s world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life.”
The moment we were living through as a financial debacle (2008), and now societal as the legitimization of same sex union (“gay marriage”) is really a crisis of the meaning of man as person. It begs for a comparison with the meaning of 6th c. axiality. From a positive perspective, the turn to the subject as ontological reality[9] and not mere consciousness is its full import. Could it not be, at the start of this new millennium, that we are entering a new consciousness of reality and truth that is the human person whose practical mandate is the gift of self – in the image of the god-man? An age of conceptual reductionism is being exploded by an age of experiential enlightenment which cannot tolerate theburden and boredom of a meaningless infinity of data bases of facts. The human person is emerging not as an evolving animal but as “another Christ” who is an autonomous and self-determining “I” in search of the Absolute.
Bad Reason ( No Metaphysics) Damaged Faith (Protestant Reformation)

Luis Bouyer’s Assessment of how the Defective Metaphysic of Nominalism Vitiated the  Protestant Protestant Reformation:

The principal source of the error of Protestantism was the use of philosophic nominalism (developed within Catholicism) where the metaphysics of being had been lost.
Bouyer assessed that it is evident in two signature sentences of Luther: 1) Grace alone saves us; 2) it changes nothing in us. "Grace" has been objectified and reified into a "thing,” while it envelops us as a "cloak." We are saved, but nothing has changed in us. We continue in our sin. God becomes objectified to us, and we to each other. We are alone together as individuals. The relationship is not constitutive but accidental. Grace, as “thing” is extrinsic to us and covers us as a cloak.

   The operative concept offered by Louis Bouyer to explain the isolated extrinsicism of God and creature as presented by the thought of Luther and Calvin is not to be found in scripture nor in the principles of "Grace alone saves us," or "it changes nothing in us" is philosophic nominalism. I quote:

   "What, then, is the source of the element in Protestant theology of a God forbidden to communicate himself to his creature, of man unable, even by the divine omnipotence, to be torn from his own solitude, from the autonomy of his so arrogant humility, of a world and a God inexorably condemned to the most utter 'extrinsicism?'[10] To the historian, the reply is obvious. The Reformers no more invented this strange and despairing universe than they found it in Scripture. It is simply the universe of the philosophy they had been brought up in, scholasticism in its decadence. If the Reformers unintentionally became heretics, the fault does not consist in the radical nature of their reform but in its hesitation, its timidity, its imperfect vision. The structure they raised on their own principles is unacceptable only because they used uncritically material drawn from that decaying Catholicism they desired to elude but whose prisoners they remained to a degree they never suspected. No phrase reveals so clearly the hidden evil that was to spoil the fruit of the Reformation than Luther’s saying that Occam was the only scholastic who was any good. The truth is that Luther, brought up on his system, was never able to think outside the framework it imposed, while this, it is only too evident, makes the mystery that lies at the root of Christian teaching either inconceivable, or absurd.

   "What, in fact, is the essential characteristic of Occam's thought, and of nominalism in general, but a radical empiricism, reducing all being to what is perceived, which empties out, with the idea of substance, all possibility of real relations between beings, as well as the stable subsistence of any of them, and ends by denying to the real any intelligibility, conceiving God himself only as a Protean figure impossible to apprehend?"

Lesson 3: Socrates and the essences of things: The point here is the appeal to personal experience (phenomenology): Wojtyla wrote in the opening paragraph of the “The Acting Person (p. 3):” “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 Socratic method is conceptualizing [objectifying] the consciousness that comes from the experience of the acting person. And it is here where the universal and the absolute are encountered
                John Henry Newman corroborates t he view of empiricists like Locke and Hume on causality, i.e. it cannot be perceived by the external senses. He will say that indeed, causality is not perceived through the external senses but in the experience of the self exercising self as agent. There and only there. From that internal experience of the “I” as agent as master of itself – which is the proper locus of freedom – causality is extrapolated to the relations and associations that are perceived through sensation.
“The assent which we give to the proposition, as a first principle, that nothing happens without a cause, is derived, in the first instance, from what we know of ourselves; and we argue analogically from what is within us to what is external to us. One of the first experiences of an infant is that to his willing and doing; and, as time goes on, one of the first temptations of the boy is to bring home to himself the fact of his sovereign arbitrary power, though it be at the price of waywardness, mischievousness, and disobedience. And when his parents, as antagonists of this willfulness, begin to restrain him, and to bring his minds and conduct into shape, then he has a second series of experiences of cause  and effect, and that upon a principle or rule. Thus the notion of causation is one of the first lessons which he learns from experience, that experience limiting it to agents possessed of intelligence and will. It is the notion of power combined with a purpose and an end. Physical phenomena, as such, are without sense; and experience teaches us nothing about physical phenomena as causes.[11]

                We can say in summary that the turn to the subject has undermined our naiveté with regard to what is actually “taken in” by the external senses. Modern philosophy has been honest and correct in its evaluation of the content of sensation. We do not sense “substances” nor sensible qualities such as color, smell or sound. Pain is not in the tooth, nor red in the dress. Nor do we sense moral values that are absolutes in the objective world of sensation where the real is always individual, particulate and contingent. True there is no knowledge at all without external sensation, but it is not only the experience of sensing that gives us the full horizon of knowing, but the experience of ourselves experiencing things through sensation. The experiences itself as subject in the act of experiencing the external world as object. The received classical realism has insisted this in its nihil in intellectu nisi per sensum. The same obtains in the moral absolutes. They are not found in the contingent, empirical sensory world as absolutes. They are experienced as the being of the “I” as image of the Creator tending ontologically to union. That ontological tendency within us is the ontological hard-wiring of the created image that, when reflected as consciousness, becomes “conscience” that resonates with some forms of action and shuns others. Conscience, then, is not a store of retrieval a priori principles that we recall and from which we deduce moral probity in the concrete existential. It is an ontologically grounded innate sense.
2) Aristotle’s Great Work of an Objective Metaphysics of the “Form” as Presented by Etienne Gilson as a Separate Handout. It is extended to all reality as the objective ontological principle of “substance,” that will develop into Wojtyla’s subject, “I.”       
T he Great Metaphysical Achievement For the 3d Millennium (and beyond): The Ontological “I: The Metaphysics of St. Thomas and Wojtyla’s Phenomenology (below) Completing It.
(Wo jtyla’s) “Subjectivity and the Irreducible[12] in the Human Being”[13]
(All emphasis by underling with some bold is mine)
The problem of the subjectivity of the human being seems today to be the focal point of a variety of concerns. It would be difficult to explain in just a few words exactly why and how this situation has arisen. No doubt it owes its emergence to numerous causes, not all of which should be sought in the realm of philosophy or science. Nevertheless, philosophy—especially philosophical anthropology and ethics—is a privileged place when it comes to clarifying and objectifying this problem. And this is precisely where the heart of the issue lies. Today more than ever before we feel the need—and also see a greater possibility—of objectifying the problem of the subjectivity of the human being.

In this regard, contemporary thought seems to have more or less set aside the old antinomies that arose primarily in the area of the theory of knowledge (epistemology) and that formed an as though inviolable line of demarcation between the basic orientations in philosophy. The antinomy of subjectivism vs. objectivism, along with the underlying antinomy of idealism vs. realism, created conditions that discouraged dealing with human subjectivity—for fear that this would lead inevitably to subjec­tivism. These fears, which existed among thinkers who subscribed to realism and epistemological objectivism, were in some sense warranted by the subjectivistic and idealistic character—or at least overtones—ofanalyses conducted within the realm of "pure consciousness." This only served to strengthen the line of demarcation in philosophy and the op­position between the "objective" view of the human being, which was also an ontological view (the human being as a being), and the "subjec­tive" view, which seemed inevitably to sever the human being from this reality.
Today we are seeing a breakdown of that line of demarcation—and for some of the same reasons that gave rise to it in the first place. By "some of the same reasons" I mean that this is also happening as a result of phenomenological analyses conducted in the realm of "pure conscious­ness" using Husserl's epoché: bracketing the existence, or reality, of the conscious subject. I am convinced that the line of demarcation between the subjectivistic (idealistic) and objectivistic (realistic) views in anthropology and ethics must break down and is in fact breaking down on the basis of the experience of the human being. This experience auto­matically frees us from pure consciousness as the subject conceived and assumed a priori and leads us to the full concrete existence of the human being, to the reality of the conscious subject. With all the phenomenologi­cal analyses in the realm of that assumed subject (pure consciousness) now at our disposal, we can no longer go on treating the human being exclusively as an objective being, but we must also somehow treat the human being as a subject in the dimension in which the specifically human subjectivity of the human being is determined by consciousness.
And that dimension would seem to be none other than personal sub­jectivity.
This matter requires a fuller examination, in the course of which we must consider the question of the irreducible in the human being—the question of that which is original and essentially human, that which ac­counts for the human being's complete uniqueness in the world.

Traditional Aristotelian anthropology was based, as we know, on the definition o anthropos  zoon noetikon, homo est animal rationale. This definition fulfills Aristotle's requirements for defining the species (human being) through its proximate genus (living being) and the feature that distinguishes the given species in that genus (endowed with reason). At the same time, however, the definition is constructed in such a way that it excludes—when taken simply and directly—the possibility of accentuating the irreducible in the human being. It implies—at least at first glance—a belief in the reducibility of the human being to the world. The reason for maintaining such reducibility has always been the need to un­derstand the human being. This type of understanding could be defined as cosmological.

The usefulness of the Aristotelian definition is unquestionable. It be­came the dominant view in metaphysical anthropology and spawned a variety of particular sciences, which likewise understood the human being as an animal with the distinguishing feature of reason. The whole scientific tradition concerning the composition of human nature, the spiritual-material compositum humanum—a tradition that came down from the Greeks through the Scholastics to Descartes—moved within the framework of this definition and, consequently, within the context of the belief that the essentially human is basically reducible to the world. It cannot be denied that vast regions of experience and scientific knowledge based on that experience reflect this belief and work to confirm it.

On the other hand, a belief in the primordial uniqueness of the human being, and thus in the basic irreducibility of the human being to the natural world, seems just as old as the need for reduction expressed in Aristotle's definition. This belief stands at the basis of understanding the human being as a person, which has an equally long tenure in the history of philosophy; it also accounts today for the growing emphasis on the person as a subject and for the numerous efforts aimed at interpreting the
personal subjectivity of the human being.1

In the philosophical and scientific tradition that grew out of the defini­tion homo est animal rationale, the human being was mainly an object, one of the objects in the world to which the human being visibly and physically belongs. Objectivity in this sense was connected with the general assumption of the reducibility of the human being. Subjectivity, on the other hand, is, as it were, a term proclaiming that the human being's proper essence cannot be totally reduced to and explained by the proximate genus and specific difference. Subjectivity is, then, a kind of synonym for the irreducible in the human being. If there is an opposition here, it is not between objectivism and subjectivism, but only between two philosophical (as well as everyday and practical) methods of treating the human being: as an object and as a subject. At the same time, we must not forget that the subjectivity of the human person is also something objective.2
I should also emphasize that the method of treating the human being as an object does not result directly from the Aristotelian definition itself,nor does it belong to the metaphysical conception of the human being in the Aristotelian tradition. As we know, the objectivity of the conception of the human being as a being itself required the postulate that the human being is 1) a separate suppositum (a subject of existence and action) and 2) a person (persona). Still, the traditional view of the human being as a person, which understood the person in terms of the Boethian definition as rationalisnaturaeindividuasubstantia, expressed the individuality of the human being as a substantial being with a rational (spiritual) nature, rather than the uniqueness of the subjectivity essential to the human being as a person. Thus the Boethian definition mainly marked out the "metaphysical terrain"—the dimension of being—in which personal human subjectivity is realized, creating, in a sense, a condition for "build­ing upon" this terrain on the basis of experience.

The category to which we must go in order to do this "building" seems to be that of lived experience. This is a category foreign to Aristotle's metaphysics. The Aristotelian categories that may appear relatively closest to lived experience—those of agereand pati—cannot be identified with it. These categories serve to describe the dynamism of a being, and they also do a good job of differentiating what merely happens in the human being from what the human being does.3But when the dynamic reality of the human being is interpreted in Aristotelian categories, there is in each case (including in the case of agereand pati)an aspect not directly apprehended by such a metaphysical interpretation or reduction, namely, the aspect of lived experience as the irreducible, as the element that defies reduction. From the point of view of the meta-physical structure of being and acting, and thus also from the point of view of the dynamism of the human being understood meta-physically, the apprehension of this element may seem unnecessary. Even without it, we obtain an adequate under­standing of the human being and of the fact that the human being acts and that things happen in the human being. Such an understanding formed the basis of the entire edifice of anthropology and ethics for many cen­turies.

But as the need increases to understand the human being as a unique and unrepeatable person, especially in terms of the whole dynamism of action and inner happenings proper to the human being—in other words, as the need increases to understand the personal subjectivity of the human being—the category of lived experience takes on greater significance, and, in fact, key significance. For then the issue is not just the metaphysical objectification of the human being as an acting subject, as the agent of acts, but the revelation of the person as a subject experiencing its acts and inner happenings, and with them its own subjectivity(for example, replicating the sentiments of Jesus Christ). From the mo­ment the need to interpret the acting human being(I'homeagissant) is expressed, the category of lived experiencemust have a place in anthropol­ogy and ethics—and even somehow be at the center of their respective interpretations.4

One might immediately ask whether, by giving lived experience such a key function in the interpretation of the human being as a personal subject, we are not inevitably condemned to subjectivism. Without going into a detailed response, I would simply say that, so long as in this in­terpretation we maintain a firm enough connection with the integral ex­perience of the human being, not only are we not doomed to subjectivism, but we will also safeguard the authentic personal subjectivity of the human being in the realistic interpretation of human existence.
In order to interpret the human being in the context of lived experience, the aspect of consciousnessmust be introduced into the analysis of human existence. The human being is then given to us not merely as a being defined according to species [this would be an abstraction], but as a concrete self, a self-experiencing subject. Our own subjective being and the existence proper to it (that of a suppositum) appear to us in experience precisely as a self-experiencing subject. If we pause here, this being discloses the structures that determine it as a concrete self [they will be self-mastery, self-governance, self-gift]. The disclosure of these structures constituting the human self need in no way signify a break with reduction and the species-definition of the human being—rather, it signifies the kind of methodological operation that may be described as pausing at the irreducible. We should pause in the process of reduction, which leads us in the direction of understanding the human being in the world (a cosmological type of understanding), in order to understand the human being inwardly [we are in search in search of the meaning of “sense of divine filiation” that will be a consciousness of the action of being “another Christ”]. This latter type of understanding may be called personalistic. The personalistic type of understanding the human being is not the antinomy of the cosmological type but its complement (my underline). As I mentioned earlier, the definition of the person formulated by Boethius only marks out the "metaphysical ter­rain" for interpreting the personal subjectivity of the human being.
    The experience of the human being cannot be derived by way of cos­mological reduction; we must pause at the irreducible, at that which is unique and unrepeatable in each human being, by virtue of which he or she is not just a particular human being—an individual of a certain species—but a personal subject [To be a subject is to be the protagonist of action – Helen Keller]. Only then do we get a true and complete picture of the human being. We cannot complete this picture through reduction alone; we also cannot remain within the framework of the ir­reducible alone (for then we would be unable to get beyond the pure self). The one must be cognitively supplemented with the other. Never­theless, given the variety of circumstances of the real existence of human beings, we must always leave the greater space in this cognitive effort for the irreducible; we must, as it were, give the irreducible the upper hand when thinking about the human being, both in theory and in practice (my underline). For the irreducible also refers to everything in the human being that is invisible and wholly internal and whereby each human being, myself in­cluded, is an "eyewitness" of his or her own self—of his or her own humanity and person.

My lived experience discloses not only my actions but also my inner happenings in their profoundest dependence on my own self. It also dis­closes my whole personal structure of self-determination, in which I dis­cover myself as that through which I possess myself and govern myself—or, at any rate, should possess myself and govern myself. The dynamic structure of self-determination reveals to me that I am given to myself and assigned to myself. This is precisely how I appear to myself in my acts and in my inner decisions of conscience: as permanently as­signed to myself, as having continually to affirm and monitor myself, and thus, in a sense, as having continually to "achieve" this dynamic structure of my self, a structure that is given to me as self-possession and self-governance. At the same time, this is a completely internal and totally immanent structure. It is a real endowment of the personal subject; in a sense, it is this subject. In my lived experience of self-possession and self-governance, I experience that I am a person and that I am a subject.

These structures of self-possession and self-governance, which are es­sential to every personal self and shape the personal subjectivity of every human being, are experienced by each of us in the lived experience of moral value—good and evil. And perhaps this reality is often revealed to us more intensely when it is threatened by evil than when—at least for the moment—nothing threatens it. In any case, experience teaches that the morale is very deeply rooted in the humanum, or, more precisely, in what should be defined as the personals. Morality defines the personalisticdimension of the human being in a fundamental way; it is subjectified in this dimension and can also be properly understood only in it. At the same time, however, the morale is a basic expression of the transcendence proper to the personal self. Our decisions of conscience at each step reveal us as persons who fulfill ourselves by going beyond ourselves toward values accepted in truth and realized, therefore, with a deep sense of responsibility.
This topic has been the subject of many penetrating analyses, some already completed and others ongoing. While not continuing those analyses here, I wish only to state that, when it comes to understanding the human being, the whole rich and complex reality of lived experience is not so much an element or aspect as a dimension in its own right. And this is the dimension at which we must necessarily pause if the subjective structure—including the subjective personal structure—of the human being is to be fully delineated.

What does it mean to pause cognitively at lived experience? This "paus­ing" should be understood in relation to the irreducible. The traditions of philosophical anthropology would have us believe that we can, so to speak, pass right over this dimension, that we can cognitively omit it by means of an abstraction that provides us with a species definition of the human being as a being, or, in other words, with a cosmological type of reduction (homo = animal rationale). One might ask, however, whether in so defining the essence of the human being we do not in a sense leave out what is most human, since the humanum expresses and realizes itself as the personalis. If so, then the irreducible would suggest that we cannot come to know and understand the human being in a reductive way alone. This is also what the contemporary philosophy of the subject seems to be telling the traditional philosophy of the object.
But that is not all. The irreducible signifies that which is essentially incapable of reduction, that which cannot be reduced but can only be disclosed or revealed. Lived experience essentially defies reduction. This does not mean, however, that it eludes our knowledge; it only means that we must arrive at the knowledge of it differently, namely, by a method or means of analysis that merely reveals and discloses its essence. The method of phenomenological analysis allows us to pause at lived ex­perience as the irreducible. This method is not just a descriptive catalogingof individual phenomena (in the Kantian sense, i.e., phenomena as sense-perceptible contents). When we pause at the lived experience of the ir­reducible, we attempt to permeate cognitively the whole essence of this experience. We thus apprehend both the essentially subjective structure of lived experience and its structural relation to the subjectivity of the human being. Phenomenological analysis thus contributes to trans-phenomenal understanding; it also contributes to a disclosure of the rich­ness proper to human existence in the whole complex compositumhumanum.

Such a disclosure—the deepest possible disclosure—would seem to be an indispensable means for coming to know the human being as a personal subject. At the same time, this personal human subjectivity is a deter­minate reality: it is a reality when we strive to understand it within the objective totality that goes by the name human being. The same applies to the whole character of this method of understanding. After all, lived experience is also—and above all—a reality. A legitimate method of dis­closing this reality can only enrich and deepen the whole realism of the conception of the human being. The personal profile of the human being then enters the sphere of cognitive vision, and the composition of human nature, far from being blurred, is even more distinctly accentuated. The thinker seeking the ultimate philosophical truth about the human being no longer moves in a "purely metaphysical terrain," but finds elements in abundance testifying to both the materiality and the spirituality of the human being, elements that bring both of these aspects into sharper relief. These elements then form the building blocks for further philosophical construction.

But certain questions always remain: Are these two types of understanding the human being—the cosmological and the personalitic—ultimately mutually exclusive? Where, if at all, do reduction and the disclosure of the irreducible in the human being converge? How is the philosophy of the subject to disclose the objectivity of the human being in the personal subjectivity of this being? These seem to be the questions that today determine the perspective for thinking about the human being, the perspective for con­temporary anthropology and ethics. They are essential and burning ques­tions. Anthropology and ethics must be pursued today within this challenging but promising perspective.
1.   One such effort is my book Osobaiczyn [Person and Action] (Krakow: Polskie Tow. Teologiczne, 1969; rev. ed. 1985). [English edition: The Acting Per­son, trans. AndrzejPotocki, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Boston: Reidel, 1979).] Another even more relevant work in this regard is my essay "The Person: Subject and Community" 219-261 below.
2.   See the section entitled "Subjectivity and Subjectivism" in The Acting Person 56-59.
3.  My work The Acting Person is in large measure constructed upon this basis.
4.   One can observe this by comparing my book The Acting Person with Mieczyslaw A. Krapiec's book I—Man: An Outline of Philosophical Anthropology, trans. Marie Lescoe, Andrew Woznicki, Theresa Sandok et al. (New Britain: Mariel, 1983).

Karol WoJtyla, "Podmiotowosci I 'to, co nieredukowalne' w eflowieku," Ethos 1.2-3 (1988): 21-28. A paper sent to an international conferencein Paris (13-14 June 1975).

* * * * * * * *
Notice here how the explanation of morality is very different from Aristotelian/thomist-scholastic logic that we have looked at up to Wojtyla’s “Subjectivity and the Irreducible…” that is, instead of an abstraction of man as “rational nature” or “substance,” man is “I.” But that “I” is fully intelligible as image of the divine Persons who are one God each as gift to the Other. The human “I” has an internal dynamism of becoming who he/she is by transcending himself/herself. That is, the truth of the human person is “self-gift.” And none understand that better than the woman who engendered the God-man by her fiat (self-gift). So, the simple moral criterion is going out of selft: when gift, one is becoming another Christ; when turning to self, one sins. The act of freedom is the act of determing oneself.

Wojtyla: Person and CommunityLang (1993)188-195.

“The Personal Structure of Self-Determination,”
In phenomenological experience, I appear as someone who possesses myselfand who is simultaneously possessed by myself. I also appear as someone who governs myself and who is simultaneously governed by myself. Both the one and the other are revealed by self-determination; they are implied by self-determination and also enrich its content. Through self-possession and self-governance, the personal structure of self-determination comes to light in its whole proper fullness.
In determining myself—and this takes place through an act of will—I become aware and also testify to others that I possess myself and govern myself. In this way, my acts give me a unique insight into myself as a person. By virtue of self-determination, I experience in the relatively most immediate way that I am a person. Of course, the path from this experience to an understanding that would qualify as a complete theory of the person must lead through metaphysical analysis. Still, experience is the indis­pensable beginning of this path, and the lived experience of self-deter­mination seems to be the nucleus of this beginning. In any case, if a full affirmation of the personal value of human acts requires a theory of the person as its basis, the construction of this theory seems impossible without an analytic insight into the dynamic reality of action, and above all into the structure of the self-determination essential for action, a struc­ture that from the very beginning presents itself in some sense as a per­sonal structure (my emphasis).
In Vatican II's Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, we read that "the human being, who is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself or herself except through a disinterested gift of himself or herself" (24). The document of the last Council seems in these words to sum up the age-old traditions and inquiries of Christian anthropology, for which divine revelation became a liberating light. The anthropology of St. Thomas Aquinas is deeply rooted in these traditions, while also being open to all the achievements of human thought that in various ways supplement the Thomistic view of the person and confirm its realistic character. The words of Vatican II cited above seem chiefly to accentuate the axiological aspect, speaking of the person as a being of special intrinsic worth, who is, therefore, specially qualified to make a gift of self. Beneath this axiological aspect, however, we can easily discern a deeper, ontological aspect. The ontology of the person suggested by this text seems again to coincide closely with the experience discussed above. In other words, if we wish to accentuate fully the truth concerning the human person brought out by Gaudium et Spes, we must once again look to the personal structure of self-determination.
As I said earlier, in the experience of self-determination the human person stands revealed before us as a distinctive structure of self-posses­sion and self-governance. Neither the one nor the other, however, implies being closed in on oneself. On the contrary, both self-possession and self-governance imply a special disposition to make a "gift of oneself," and this a "disinterested" gift. Only if one possesses oneself can one give oneself and do this in a disinterested way. And only if one governs oneself can one make a gift of oneself, and this again a disinterested gift. The problematic of disinterestedness certainly deserves a separate analysis, which it is not my intention to present here. An understanding of the person in categories of gift, which the teaching of Vatican II reemphasizes, seems to reach even more deeply into those dimensions brought to light by the foregoing analysis. Such an understanding seems to disclose even more fully the personal structure of self-determination.
Only if one can determine oneself—as I attempted to show earlier—can one also become a gift for others. The Council's statement that "the human being... cannot fully find himself or herself except through a disinterested gift of himself or herself' allows us to conclude that it is precisely when one becomes a gift for others that one most fully becomes oneself. This "law of the gift," if it may be so designated, is inscribed deep within the dynamic structure of the person. The text of Vatican II certainly draws its inspiration from revelation, in the light of which it paints this portrait of the human being as a person. One could say that this is a portrait in which the person is depicted as a being willed by God "for itself' and, at the same time, as a being turned "toward" others. This relational portrait of the person, however, necessarily presupposes the immanent (and in­directly "substantial") portrait that unfolds before us from an analysis of the personal structure of self-determination.

R. Connor

[1] Benedict XVI, Synod on the Word of God (2008): Keynote Address.
[2] The syllabus is structured with two goals in mind:
i.                     The course should acquaint the students with the philosophical concepts mentioned in the syllabus.

ii.                   The treatment of these topics should help the students understand the errors in today’s culture that stem from mistaken philosophical concepts (reductionism/relativism) in general, and from mistaken metaphysical concepts in particular.  They should understand how a correct metaphysical approach provides an answer to these mistaken notions.

iii.      I add at the beginning the act of Judeo-Christian faith as a lived self-transcendence. Without it, Metaphysics as we have come to understand it originating from the Greeks would not have taken place.

a.        While there are many such notions, three we have chosen to focus on are:
                                                                  i.      Importance of metaphysics for theology. I add: a) Louis Bouyer’s appraisal that the Protestant Reformation was vitiated not by its theology or intention, but by the Nominalism in which it was formulated; b) now, at this moment, Vatican II cannot be understood and become culture without the development of the “I” ontologically as in the Magisterium of the post-Council. By way of example, it is impossible to give a coherent account of Humanae Vitae and the identity of love and life without a metaphysical account of Gaudium et Spes #24: “man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself.”     Also, without a metaphysic of intrinsic and constitutive relationality, the sacrament of matrimony cannot be explained in terms of the complementarity of self-gift, and therefore invalid in the case of homosexuals. That lacking, the default refutation of “gay marriage” takes the form of consequentialism (as no kids, it doesn’t last, etc.). This is the challenge of the moment. We need a metaphysic of constitutive relationality. Deeper yet, we need the theo-ontologic offered by Robert Barron where Jesus Christ is the meaning of Being, and it is only within the Christology of Chalcedon (451) and Constantinople III (680-681) of the relation of the divine and human natures of the divine Person that the metaphysic of St. Thomas takes on its full force and relevance for the future.[2] See the Appendex at the end: Karol Wojtyla’s “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in the Human Person” for the achievement of the human person as ontological “I.”

                                                                 ii.       Understanding of the faith requires clear concepts; many of these concepts are metaphysical in nature.  Two specific examples to be covered are Transubstantiation and the Incarnation.

                                                               iii.      Importance of metaphysics for ethics/natural law – the importance of stable natures to a coherent ethics. Instead of “nature” read “person.”

                                                               iv.      Scientism is a reductionist materialism which is current among the many “new atheists”.  Their ideas purport to show how science proves that God does not exist.  Students should understand the non-scientific presuppositions of scientism and be acquainted with the metaphysical problems involved with the many forms of reductionism prevalent in modern society.

[3] The reason for this: faith is an act of the whole person. And the person is ultimate meaning of reality (being). Hence without a living faith, reason is deprived of full access to reality. Sin, and the state of sin, is this “self-referentiality” and darkness. Metaphysics is the rational account of living in this anamnesis (not forgetting).
[4] Barron, “The Priority of Christ,” Brazos (2007) 171-182.
[5] John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, #83.
[6] Benedict XVI: Regensburg Lecture (2006):

[7] Reason is withered because of the turn back on the self. It may reason, but it cannot see: “reason…has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge [empirical facts and data bases]  and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring rise to the truth of being.. Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing [conceptual reasoning]. Rather than make of use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate  the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned [agnosticism, relativism].” John Paul II,  Fides et Ratio #5.
[8] Suddenly, in this period, there emerged the philosophers the notes offer us to consider: 2.2.1-2.6.2
[9] This is the philosophic life work of Karol Wojtyla; e.g. “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in the Human Person” Person and Community, Lang (1993) 109-117.
[10] The above book of Bouyer is about the following: “how was it that starting from positive, orthodox, traditional principles, never abandoning them entirely, and periodically returning to them, the Reformation became something individualistic, heretical, and negative?” (p. 32). As above: the answer is the use of a faulty metaphysic from a decayed scholasticism. Conceptual knowing refers to nothing intrinsic to reality. It is merely a naming by the c reation of categories of the mind.
[11] John Henry Newman, Grammar of Assent, UNDP (1992) 70-72.
[12] I.e. not reduced to an object by the conceptual abstraction, “rational animal.”
[13] K Wojtyla, Person and Community Lang (1993) 209-117.

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