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Understanding the Person

Essays on the Personalism of Karol Wojtyła


Grzegorz Hołub

The book deals with the philosophy of the human person as worked out by Karol Wojtyła. It presents a number of fundamental issues necessary to understand Karol Wojtyła’s personalism. Thus, first it undertakes Wojtyła’s move from the philosophy of the human being to the philosophy of the human person; second, it presents Wojtyła’s epistemological approach to the person against the background of other philosophies concerned with the human person; third, it describes the metaphysical structure of the person; four, it analyses the person’s selected faculties (consciousness, emotions); five, it presents some aspects of the action of the person (a person’s causation, or their role in dialogue); and finally, it tries to sketch the problem of personal dignity.

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Philosophy of the human action is a well established branch of the contemporary, especially English-speaking philosophy. There is a huge body of literature on this matter1 and debates undertake such particular topics like agency, causation, intention, normativity, and others. Very often the philosophy of the human action is a part of analytical philosophy. Karol Wojtyła was also interested in human action to such an extent that his main book takes the analysis of the human action as a starting point for disclosing the person. Thus, the Polish thinker was also involved in those particular issues making up the core of discussions on human action, but he approached them rather from Thomistic, phenomenological and finally – personalistic postions. His understanding of intentionality was set out in the previous chapter. In this chapter we are going to concentrate on some selected issues. We will be concerned with the problem of personal causation, which – in the personalistic perspective – acquires its unique and untypical form. In the second part of the chapter, we are going to investigate how the activity of human beings who get in a dialogue influences the personal reality. Thus, we are going to be concerned here with a kind of intersubjective causation.

In the early stages of his philosophizing, Karol Wojtyła engaged in a study of the ethical thought of Max Scheler, as well as Immanuel Kant. He was interested in how these great philosophers understand morality and the moral act. The theory of personalistic ethics, formulated...

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