In his deep and significant study of the thought of Max Scheler, Hans Urs von Balthasar writes that “the realm of the personal was Scheler’s innermost concern, more important to him than anything else, the sanctuary of his thought.” This is why Scheler again and again aligned himself with personalism in philosophy, as we can see from the introduction to his major work, Formalism in Ethics.
My interlocutor is anyone who denies peisonhood to the embryo on the grounds that a human person can exist only in conscious activity and that in the absence of consciousness a person cannot exist at all. I probe personal consciousness to the point at which the distinction between the being and the consciousness of the human person appears, and argue on the basis of this distinction that the being of a person can exist in the absence of any consciousness. I (...) proceed to argue that it is not only entirely possible for the embryo to be a human person, but that, given the embodied peisonhood of us human beings, this is the only reasonable assumption which we can make. Keywords: human embryo, personhood, being, consciousness, embodiment CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
It is proposed to test the privation theory of evil by examining three kinds of evil: (1) the evil of the complete destruction of some good (as distinct from the wounding of that good); (2) the evil of physical pain; and (3) certain forms of moral evil in which the evildoer is hostile to some good. It is shown that in none of these cases does evil seem to fit the privation scheme, and that in the second and third case (...) evil seems to be in some way “more” than privation. In conclusion it is argued that to entertain such doubts about the privation theory has nothing to do with restoring a Manichean view of evil. In fact, one can entertain these doubts and still affirm that evil is parasitic on good. (shrink)
Towards the end of his response to me, Lee presents an argument for the necessity of interpreting all evil as privation. I counter this argument by showingthat it works only for what I call “formal” good and evil, but not for what I call “contentful” good and evil. In fact, evil that is “contentful” presents a challenge tothe privation theory that I had not discussed in my article. I then proceed, in the second part of my response, to revisit the (...) three cases of evil that in my original paper I had presented as challenges to the privation theory. I engage Lee’s objections to these three counterexamples and I try to explain in a new way why the principle of badness in each of them, especially in pain/suffering and in moral evil, is not just a lack or a deficiency. (shrink)
In the course of his polemic against Kant’s moral philosophy, Scheler was led to depreciate moral obligation and its place in the existence of persons. This depreciation is part of a larger anti-authoritarian strain in his personalism. I attempt to retrieve certain truths about moral obligation that tend to get lost in Scheler: moral obligation is not merely “medicinal” but has a place at the highest levels of moral life; the freedom of persons is lived in an incomparable way in (...) responding to moral obligation; obligation and obedience even have an indispensable place in the existence of Christians. Drawing on the studies of Scheler by Rudolf Otto, Karol Wojtyla, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, I show how Scheler’s personalism is corrected and enhanced once we distance ourselves from his anti-authoritarian animus against obligation and restore obligation to its place in the existence of persons. (shrink)
I explore the personalism embedded in von Hildebrand’s moral philosophy, and then I explore the personalism in his later account of love. I claim that his personalism was significantly developed in his later work, and that it can be still further developed by us. I begin by explaining what Hildebrandian value-response is, and then I proceed to show how he subsequently qualified this foundational concept, first in his Ethics but especially in his late work, The Nature of Love, and here (...) especially through the concept of Eigenleben that was introduced in that work. I am particularly interested in showing why the personalism of von Hildebrand’s thought is enriched through this concept. (shrink)
In this article I explain various points of contact between Newman and the Catholic philosophical tradition. I begin with Newman’s personalism as it is found in the Grammar of Assent, especially in the distinction between notional and real assent, and in the distinction between formal and informal inference. Then I proceed to Newman’s personalism as it is found in his teaching on conscience and on doctrinal development. I then consider Newman as proto-phenomenologist and also as an Augustinian thinker. Finally, I (...) discuss Newman’s teaching on moral and intellectual virtue in The Idea of a University. If I had to pick one utterance of Newman that epitomizes his philosophical thought in a way that engages Catholic philosophers, I would pick the motto of the Grammar of Assent: “Non in dialectica complacuit Deo salvum facere populum tuum.”. (shrink)
In this essay, I try to advance the reception of Karol Wojtyła’s seminal essay “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in Man.” In particular I try to understand and to think through the distinction that he makes between the “personalist” and the “cosmological” image of man. I unpack Wojtyła’s concept of subjectivity, which underlies all that he says about the personalist image of man. I give particular attention to all that he says about the unity formed by the two images. I then (...) proceed to apply Wojtyła’s analysis to a certain cosmological challenge to a personalist understanding of man: it is the challenge that comes from looking at the immensity of the cosmos and at the infinitesimal smallness of man in it and of thinking that man is swallowed up in this immensity and obliterated in his importance. I argue that precisely the subjectivity of the person implies that there is in each person an “infinite abyss of existence” so that each person is in reality his or her own whole and is no mere part of the cosmic whole but is incommensurable with it. (shrink)
This new edition of The Heart is the flagship volume in a series of Dietrich von Hildebrand's works to be published by St. Augustine's Press in collaboration with the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project. Founded in 2004, the Legacy Project exists in the first place to translate the many German writings of von Hildebrand into English. While many revere von Hildebrand as a religious author, few realize that he was a philosopher of great stature and importance. Those who knew von (...) Hildebrand as philosopher held him in the highest esteem. Louis Bouyer, for example, once said that "von Hildebrand was the most important Catholic philosopher in Europe between the two world wars." Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger expressed even greater esteem when he said: "I am personally convinced that, when, at some time in the future, the intellectual history of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century is written, the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time." The Heart is an accessible yet important philosophical contribution to the understanding of the human person. In this work von Hildebrand is concerned with rehabilitating the affective life of the human person. He thinks that for too long philosophers have held it in suspicion and thought of it as embedded in the body and hence as being much inferior to intellect and will. In reality, he argues, the heart, the center of affectivity, has many different levels, including an eminently personal level; at this level affectivity is just as important a form of personal life as intellect and will. Von Hildebrand develops the idea that properly personal affectivity, far than tending away from an objective relation to being, is in fact one major way in which we transcend ourselves and give being its due. Von Hildebrand also developed the important idea that the heart "in many respects is more the real self of the person than his intellect or will." At the same time, the author shows full realism about the possible deformities of affective life; he offers rich analyses of what he calls affective atrophy and affective hypertrophy. The second half of The Heart offers a remarkable analysis of the affectivity of the God-Man. (shrink)
My purpose in this paper is to set forth a case for inclusion, without any restriction whatsoever, of gays and lesbians in the legal definition of marriage within the various jurisdictions within the United States of America. Historical and cross cultural definitions of marriage are usually based on two basic premises or components, structure and function. Structural definitions of marriage, with which most people and jurisdictions identify, are based on exclusion and inclusion, i.e. on who is eligible for inclusion and (...) who must be excluded. Ordinarily the restrictions exclude those not having reached the age of majority, those who are not judged mentally competent, and those of the same gender. Functional definitions of marriage are based on the willingness of the partners to engage in the duties and responsibilities to each other and to all offspring regardless of their physical or mental fitness. I intend to defend the proposition that legal marriage for gays and lesbians is better defined and defended when based on function rather than structure. Specifically, this means that marriage is the union of those who 1.) without mental equivocation embrace their mutual commitment to support and care for each other; 2.) are of legal age; 3.) are of sound mind; and 4.) affirm their commitment to fulfill, to the best of their ability, the following functions as they pertain to the natural birth, legal adoption, or foster care of any and all children included in the marital union: These functions include but are not limited to: protection , economic, affect-giving, socialization, acculturation, education, and sexual access between the conjugal partners. Historically, there is no record throughout the history of humankind, of any state or body politic that does not profess a vested interest in the mate selection patterns of its young. This is not generally for the edification of the married, but rather for the assurance of the socialization and acculturation of the ascending generation. (shrink)
Newman often argued like this in debate: “you do not accept this claim of mine because you think that it is exposed to certain objections; but this is unreasonable of you, because you make this other claim which is also, if you think it through, equally exposed to the same kind of objections; therefore, you should either withdraw your objections against me, or else give up that claim that you have been making.” Some contemporaries of Newman thought that he unwittingly (...) lent support to unbelief by defending his views with this “kill-or-cure” argument, as he called it. This essay defends Newman’s argument against his critics in such a way as to contribute to an understanding of Newman’s rhetoric. (shrink)
Ryn restates and develops certain themes of conservative political philosophy in the tradition of Edmund Burke. His essay centers around a distinction between plebiscitary democracy and constitutional democracy: the "new Jacobinism" is the broad movement of thought, strenuously opposed by Ryn, which has almost succeeded in making the former type of democracy prevail over the latter. Ryn sees the origin of constitutional democracy in a fundamental ethical stance. He argues that our first moral duties and responsibilities are to those with (...) whom we live every day, and that we do not have the same strong duties towards those who live at a distance from us; the love of one's immediate neighbor has priority over the love of "humanity." Whoever recognizes this has a strong experience of his or her moral frailty and fallenness, since it is extremely difficult to practice well the active love of this concrete individual who is my neighbor. Now this fundamental ethical stance gives rise to a very definite kind of political order; one learns to esteem the "small" communities of family and village, since this is where moral character is primarily formed. One constitutes political authority so that it supports and protects family life and local community life, and does not interfere with and overrule them. This means that one decentralizes and limits authority, and does so not only for the sake of the local and the regional, but also because one knows of the moral frailty of human beings. (shrink)
I use concepts of Karol Wojtyla’s personalism, especially the concept of subjectivity, to explain Newman’s personalism. There is a “turn to the subject” in Wojtyla, and there is a similar “turn to the subject” in Newman; and they explain each other. Thus Newman’s distinction between the theological intellect and the religious imagination, and his particular concern with the latter, is shown to be an expression of his personalism. I try not only to throw new light on Newman’s personalism, but also (...) to explain why his personalism, as Wojtyla’s, has been mistaken for subjectivism. I show that there is in Newman, as in Wojtyla, a unity of subjectivity and objectivity that secures his thought against subjectivism. (shrink)
This essay—originally a presentation at the annual meeting of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, September 28, 2007, in Washington DC—uses the concept of a “power of assimilation” from Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine toshow how the Christian intellectual exercises this power in encountering the surrounding non-Christian culture.
It is proposed to test the privation theory of evil by examining three kinds of evil: the evil of the complete destruction of some good ; the evil of physical pain; and certain forms of moral evil in which the evildoer is hostile to some good. It is shown that in none of these cases does evil seem to fit the privation scheme, and that in the second and third case evil seems to be in some way “more” than privation. (...) In conclusion it is argued that to entertain such doubts about the privation theory has nothing to do with restoring a Manichean view of evil. In fact, one can entertain these doubts and still affirm that evil is parasitic on good. (shrink)