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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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The thesis of the dignity of the human person is a fundamental pillar of personalistic thinking. Many personalists analyzing the structure of personhood, in all its richness and complexity, stress at the same time that something more should be pronounced about the person, namely its axiological importance. This importance can be understood twofold. On the one hand, as a special value or as an outstanding preciousness referring to the whole personal existence. Thus, dignity can be considered as a kind of holistic axiological state of the person. On the other hand, dignity can be understood as something stemming from intentional acts and involvements. These two theses demand some clarification and further explanation. There are some personalist philosophers who have made an attempt at explaining this highly important aspect of the person (e.g. Josep Seifert, Robert Spaemann, Adam Rodziński). Thus, we can find further advanced personalistic remarks of the human dignity but at the same time this topic is still open and can be approached in new ways.

Karol Wojtyła was convinced that the dignity is a topic of paramount importance.1 However, in his philosophy of the human person, we are not offered a ready answer as to the question of what human dignity is all about. This philosopher seems to assume this axiological category as an indispensable part of his approach to the person – in anthropological and ethical analyses – but does not offer its complete picture. Nevertheless, Wojtyła left many ideas and premises, which can...

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