One of the great pleasures and honors of publishing the Catholic Monitor is the interaction in the comment section with good and intelligent Catholics who know philosophy and theology.
Below is a sample of a discussion we had on: Was Pope John Paul II a Thomist or a Kantian Phenomenologist?
This discussion is from the comment section of the September 23 post "John Paul II, Taylor Marshall & Francis' Apparently Pure Kantian/Modernist 'Catholic... Freemasonic Naturalism'":
While John Paul ii was, in fact, a very intelligent man, I think his
fundamental flaw lay principally in his presumption that his personality
and charm could nullify all ill-will and erroneous presumptions in
However, it is not correct that Gilson's understanding of St. Thomas' acknowledgement of the 'act of being' as the 'act of all acts, the perfection of all perfections' [St. Thomas' own words!] implies that Gilson was an 'existentialist' in the sense of several varieties of twentieth-century philosophers. Gilson certainly did not ignore the stability of created natures or essences.
While Maritain was fuzzy in articulating various matters, it was due, in part, to his striving to stay very close to interpretations of Cajetan and John of St. Thomas while engaging in discussions with his contemporaries.
However, Gilson never agreed with Maritain on all things, and he explicitly disagreed with him on some major issues.
Even the then Fr. Wojtyla (as Flippen explicitly indicates in the essay cited) strongly indicated that St. Thomas' doctrine of 'being' permits one to go beyond Scheler's philosophy of 'value' and ground moral judgments in the truth and good of things, beings. No subjectivism is implied in this.
So, again, let me say that in my judgment, Wojtyla's disputable actions and judgments are rooted not so much in the intellectual sources he studied, but rather in his own passions and the (arguably) exaggerated esteem he had for his own capacities and abilities to influence others.
And unfortunately, all to many others seem to have the same view.
Fred Martinez said…
Please reread this section of Flippen's essay where he shows in the
Wojtyla juggling act he plays between subjective "Modern philosophy
[Kant, etc]... the philosophy of consciousness" and St. Thomas'
metaphysics called below "objective acts of knowing."
I agree that he tries to keep subjectivism within Thomism, but it appears to me his ambiguity of terms fails him sometimes and he tries to emphasize and push too far subjective "consciousness" as even Flippen appears to admit: "The point here is somewhat difficult to understand... One thing that makes this position somewhat difficult to maintain is that in some sense consciousness is obviously cognitive in nature, i.e. it is a knowing of knowable objects. And yet, even as he admits this, he emphasizes the passive character of consciousness'"
It appears that Wojtyla's overall "Personalism" which sometimes seems to equalize the Personhood of God with the created depended personsonhood of man even as it is juggled within Thomism and is used by him to ambiguously emphasize a type of substitution or at least to over emphasize man's "consciousness" becoming for God's being which lead to things like the apparent idolatry or at least differentism of Assisi.
Please read this whole passage in the link and show me where I may be incorrect:
"Cardinal Wojtyla consistently calls the philosophy of being, focused on the objective knowing of things and of the self. Modern philosophy, which he calls the philosophy of consciousness, has been very concerned with that concomitant awareness of the self as knowing things. The term "philosophy of consciousness" comes from the fact that the concomitant awareness of self as knowing something is also called consciousness or self-consciousness...
You are definitely touching on some rather technical points.
I think, overall, Prof. Flippin tries to read Wojtyla as supplementing, not disagreeing with Aquinas (or, insofar as the latter agrees in the main with him, Aristotle).
However, when the professor says that the 10 categories are adequate to explain the human being, it seems to me one ought to put a qualifier here... 'not exhaustively.'
This latter is a point that Wojtyla (likely pondering some implications of any of Gilson's rather profound reflections) seems to be emphasizing.
Without ascribing 'subjectivism' to human awareness (for W. acknowledges that our knowledge is 'of' things and derives its content from them), he is exploring the fact that our concomitant awareness of being agents of our knowing implies an 'act' that is not reducible, totally, to what is the content in categories.
This parallels certain points made by Gilson concerning metaphysics. The 'act of being,' though apprehended in and through our knowing of finite things, is expressed in the fundamental categories (substance, quantity, quality, relation, action/passion, etc....) as determined in 'what' is known by the content known; but neither the act of being nor the act of knowing by us as subjects (persons or cognizers) is merely that content.
I don't quite see how it is that Prof. Flippin can make his objection and continue later by favorably citing many others (K. Schmitz, R. Buttiglione, and the various Polish scholars who were both Thomists one one variety and another yet knowledgeable of the implications of the entire phenomenological movement) in their defense of what Wojtyla was trying to do.
He tried to bond some unique phenomenological reflections on awareness of our awareness with fundamental principles of knowledge and being articulated by St. Thomas.
But speculatively, this does at all necessarily imply a defense of 'subjectivism' if one is philosophically trying to explore experiential dimensions of awareness or subjectivity.
Yes, there are some ambivalent and unresolved aspects in his analyses and loose ends.
But even these aspects of his philosophical reflections don't justify his imprudent actions and failures.
Rather, these were rationalized in terms of long-established personal habits that evidenced excessive confidence, pride, in his own abilities and being highly esteemed by others.
The least trace of disorder in the passions results in imprudence and errors. As grave an error as his actions at Assisi were, along with his kissing of a Quran, in no way does this imply that he equated Divine Personhood with created persons and finite consciousness.
True, someone with the latter assumptions would look favorably on what Wojtyla did in those acts and others. But that does not necessarily mean that Wojtyla's reasons for such and theirs are the same.
To give contrasting example: one man in combat may fight ferociously and valiantly and kill others to defend himself, his comrades, and his country; another might do the same thing purely out of daring and a lust to kill.
To appearances, the exterior act or effect seems the same, but both differ radically in terms of both motive and rationale.
Fred Martinez said…
I agree that "overall, Prof. Flippin tries to read Wojtyla as supplementing, not disagreeing with Aquinas."
Moreover, I didn't say "his actions at Assisi were, along with his kissing of a Quran... imply that he equated Divine Personhood with created persons and finite consciousness," I said "sometimes [it] SEEMS to equalize the Personhood of God with the created depended personsonhood of man even as it is juggled within Thomism and is used by him to ambiguously emphasize a type of substitution or at least to over emphasize man's "consciousness" becoming for God's being which lead to things like the apparent idolatry or at least differentism of Assisi."
SEEMS in the sense of being "ambivalent" in the same sense that the Semi-Arians were "ambivalent" to the Arian heretic's teachings to stay in communion with them and the Roman emperor while not denying explicitly that Jesus was God.
As you said: "Yes, there are some ambivalent and unresolved aspects in his analyses and loose ends."
But, as everyone knows "ambivalent and unresolved... and loose ends" can be used as you said for "his imprudent actions and failures.'
I totally agree with you when you say: "But even these aspects of his philosophical reflections don't justify his imprudent actions and failures.'
But, it appears to show how those "imprudent actions and failures" may have come about.
The Bear said…