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Philosophy of Religion

The Statute of the Man in the Modern Catholic Anthropology

Ivan Kaltchev
SU "St. Kliment Ohridski", Sofia, Bulgaria

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ABSTRACT: In what follows, I examine the renaissance of the idea of freedom as a fundamental measure of humanity in the work of Karol Voitila (Pope John Paul II). I examine as well Karol Voitila's concept of the human person as found in his work "Love and Responsibility" as well as the encyclical Evangelium vitae, which affirms the incomparable value of the human person. I also consider the celestial predestination of the human person as discussed in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.

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The prevailing motive in the philosophy of the Renaissance and the following centuries is the affirmation of human liberty and dignity on the base of his life on the Earth, the emphasis on the innate human striving for food, happiness and liberty, for universal perfection and entirety of the human nature, for organic unity between the spiritual and the physical.

I can not disagree with Erih Fromm, who emphasizes that even in the late Middle Ages the Catholic doctrines, and the philosophy of the Renaissance later, express the tendency to acknowledging the role of the human will and human exertion - the Catholicism is in harmony with the spirit, that dominates in the social groups, which economic status brings them the feeling of strength and independence.

The Renaissance idea of freedom as a fundamental measure of human nature "finishes" in philosophy like Sheller and Sartr with apotheosis of the act and the constant choice. Butt the freedom as an act is simultaneously a human ability of selfmaster, self-improvement, restraining the mean passions and motives. Freedom is also the ability to be loyal to ourselves and to our beliefs, to reach the real creation in which the man feels as a master and owner - isn't the possession a CONTINUATION of freedom?

These are the fundamental aspects of freedom, connected with the human action, the ethical base, the responsibility and the devotion to God, that obstructs its absolutizing and debase it to the level of the arbitrariness, anarchyand the blasphemous degrading of the choice. Theses aspects carried over the centuries by the great philosophers (first by the Renaissance philosophers) find their normal and logical continuation and development in the philosophy works of Pope Ioan Pavel II and in his remarkable encyclical letters.

In the book "Person and Act", brought into existence probably in the spiritual atmosphere of the Second Vatikana Council, the traditional Tomistic anthropology is critically re-valued. Karol Woytila reproaches the anthropology of St. Toma Akvinski and his orthodox followers that they do not pay the necessary attention to the most important aspects of human existence - the real man is not shown, the one who lives, acts, feels, responsibility about his own acts, loves, suffers, dies,

According to Woytila, the scholastic doctrine about the human being is outside the veracious anthropological tradition - the human metaphysics in the style of St. Toma Akvinski put the single question what is the man as a being, instead of the main question how does he exist. Woytila tries to synthesize the new ideas of the philosophy in its phenomenological and existential orientation with the Catholic philosophy and theology, by emphasizing on the fact that the modern philosophy has discovered the man in his subjectivity, activity, creation, sociality, communication, liberty, the ability to create symbols and to go through the "living-to-death". Woytila is a defender of the idea of the "integral understanding of the man", which might soften the extremes of the subjectivistic interpretation of the man on the base of the realistic tradition of the Catholic philosophy.

Woytila makes this join between the phenomenology and the tomism with the purpose to bring out the anthropological problem by revealing the great similarities between the modern philosophy conceptions of the man and the Christian theology in the interpretation of the fundamental anthropological conceptions: action, activity, act, in which the person integrates. The author, loyal to the traditions of the Catholic anthropology, describes human existence as closed between two epicentres - the "human" and the "divine" and the "divine" is the base for coinstructioning the "human". Woytila gives an illustration for this with the extensive analysis of the phenomenon "fear".

An important moment in Woytila's ideas, proving that he continues the interpreting of the phenomenon of man's freedom is man's fundamental ability to surmount his own limits, that differs him drastically from the things in the natural universum. And this ability the man owes to the soul, "closed" in him, to the immortal personal rule, that makes possible the appearance of liberty. Just in this transcendental act is realized the impulse to the divine existence and the subjection of the unconscious sphere, interpreted by Woytila according to the ideas of Freud, Adler and Jung. Inspired by the ideas of Sheller, Woytila writes that the transcendental act gives rise to man's world of values. There are two different kinds of transcendency - horizontal and vertical. The first is orientated to the outer objects and the second is an act of free self-determination of the subject, orientated to the supreme values. The author in the spirit of the renovated tomism analyzes in details the problems, concerning the moral choice of the subjects, the purpose and the meaning of his existence.

The conclusion that the transcendency as a substance of the act is based on freedom, shows to what degree Woytila attaches importance to the question of freedom.

Remembering an assessment of Iris Murdoc about the works of Sartr, in which from page paces the "martyr of freedom", we can say that in the works of Woytila also can be found the figure of the free man.

This can be observed also in the last part of the book "Person and Act", where are expressed the main points of the theory of the participation. Emphasizing on the social natureo of the man and analyzing in this context the intersubjective relations, Woytila, like the French philosopher Gabrielle Marcelle, calls the authentic social relations "complicity" and "participation" and brings the man's sociality out not only of the rude and prosaic materialistic and economical reality, but mainly out of the abilities of man's soul, out of the personal rule and the transcendency, where is "hiding" the phenomenon of the collectivistic life-with-the-others, Mit-Sein (Haideger).

Of great importance of the development of the modern Catholic anthropology is one of the latest encyclical letters of the Pope Ioan Pavel II "Evangelium vitae", published on 25.03.1995. In this book of 200 pages, which is as much a papal canonic document as a philosophic anthropological work, is examined the "incomparable value" of human personality in the context of the dangers of human life. In this sense the Pope promotes and makes actual his ideas, examined about 30 years ago in several contiguous issues of his work "Love and Responsibility".

But what joins "Evangelium vitae" and "Love and Responsibility" in the conception of man, explored in the documents of the Second Vatikana Council and especially in the Pastoral Constitution "The Church in the Modern World" - it is a theological, anthropological and philosophical conception. "... Everything that is against the pure life" is written there, "like every kind of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and suicide; everything that disrupts the entirety of human's personality like injuries, tortures, delivered to the body and the soul, the efforts, concerning the spiritual interior; everything that insults man's dignity like the inhuman conditions of living, the arbitrary detention in prison, slavery, prostitution, the traffic of women and children or the unworthy conditions of working, making the workers simply instruments of profit, instead of free and responsible persons; everything of these are shameful, they damage the human civilization and corrupt the ones that use them more than the ones that endure them; and more damages they bring to the creative man." (See "Dialogue of Deliverance" 1995, p. 107).

Revealing the renovating essence of the decisions of the Second Vatikana Council, Pope Ioan Pavel II points, that after this council could be discussed not the problem, concerning the regression in the Church life or the quantitative changes, but the one, concerning mainly the novelties with deeply qualitative essence.

If the older Catholic organizations work mainly with social problems and orientated to the society transforming and to the principles of the social equity (in this way some of them were so engaged with the discussion with the Marxism, that they almost lost their Catholic identity), the modern organizations are orientated to the renovating of the human personality. This moving of the accent from society to the personality shows a splendid transition from the sociological to the anthropological and brings an elegant philosophy to the changes of the Church, which are inspired by the decisions, taken on the Second Vatikana Council. Showing for the next time his worth of a philosopher and theologist in the same time, the Pope Ioan Pavel II defends not only his personal anthropological credo, but also the tendency of antropologiation of the Church activity. Here is a very typical passage from his book "To Cross the Threshold of the Hope": "The man is the main actor in all the social and historical transformations, but if he wants to create, he has to renovate himself in Jesus Christ and the Holly Ghost. This kind of re-orientation is very promising about the Church", (See Op. Cit, p. 250).

As we point out, the accent on the Earth life in the new conception of the man, in the same time we have to point that according to the documents of the Second Vatikana Council, it would be a great mistake if the Christians start to think that the supernatural life is unnecessary if they discharge their human duties on the Earth.

In the words of a number of competent participants in the debates of the Second Vatikana Council, the Church shouldn't allow wide expansion of the opinion, that the religion finds the sense of its existence mainly in the philanthropy. In its apostolic and pastoral activity the Church has to avoid two dangers: of naturalistic vitalism and of abstract supernaturality.

The surest way to avoid these two dangers is the Church and its servants to point out the fundamental importance of the suffering and the sinfulness as eternal and real human problems, and the tenacious defence of the opinion, that all acts on the Earth are marked by the heavenly human predestinations. The motives of the suffering, the sin and the secret of death in philosophically-anthropological conception on the Second Vatikana Council are connected with that heavenly human predestination by a constant refer to the model of God's son Jesus Christ. "The human nature was not simply absorbed by him" - is written in the Pastoral Constitution, - "still with this the human nature was brought out of us in incomparable dignity. He worked together with the hands of the people, thought together with man's mind, acted together with man's will and loved together with man's heart". And to announce his good news, Jesus preferred to live like a craftsman of his time and his region. Examined in this way, Jesus Christ is presented as a programme or a model of the global elimination of the alienation, as a teacher on the way of the personal deliverance, widened to united horizons. (See Àíòóàí Êàçàíîâà. Âòîðîé Âàòèêàíñêîé ñîáîð. Ìîñêâà, 1973, ñòð. 241-242).

If we try to make a summary of the proposed in the Pastoral Constitution conception of the man, caused by the challenges off the atheism, the greatest of which is the general absence of any desire of after life, we could say, that this conception, even with the elements of concretness and sociality is a conception of the authentic, "eternal" man. That means that our thoughts must be directed to the outer world, which excels the real history and continues to be the transcendental knowledge source, the storehouse of the moral and social models, which permanently keep their position. (See Op. Cit, p. 244). And their durability is conditioned by our connection with God, which is now made actual due to the "mediation" of Jesus Christ and the present "growth of man in Jesus Christ".....

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