"Sic vive cum hominibus, tamquam deus videat; sic loquere cum deo, tamquam homines audiat" Seneka


Hugh McDonald web site on Polish Classical Philosophy (Thomism):

Piotr Jaroszyński
  • Born 1955
  • 1979, M.A. in Philosophy, Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. "The Controversy Concerning the Object of Aristotle's Metaphysics according to Joseph Owens"
  • 1983, Ph.D. in Philosophy, Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. "Metaphysics of Beauty: An Attempt to Reconstruct the Classical Conception of Beauty"
  • 1983-1984, spent at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies (Toronto) continuing his research and taking part in courses and seminars led by such prominent figures as Joseph. Owens, Edward. Synan, Armand A. Maurer
  • Professor and Tutor Father Mieczyslaw Krapiec, rector of the Catholic University in Lublin (1970-1983)
  • 1990, Habilitation in Philosophy, Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. "Aesthetics or Philosophy of Beauty?"
  • In 1990, research leaves at the Institute of Philosophy, Catholic University of Leuven
  • 1983-1991, served as Professor's Assistant to Father Mieczyslaw Krapiec at the Department of Metaphysics
  • 1991, became Chair of the Department of Philosophy of Culture (1991)
  • 1993, became University Professor at KUL
Memberships in Professional Societies
  • Towarzystwo Naukowe KUL (Scientific Society of the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland)
  • Polskie Towarzystwo Filozoficzne (Polish Philosophical Society)
  • Polskie Towarzystwo Tomasza z Akwinu (Polish Society of Thomas Aquinas)
  • American Maritain Association
  • American Catholic Philosophical Association (USA)
  • Società Internazionale Tommaso d'Aquino (Włochy) (International Society of Thomas Aquinas, Italy)
  • Societé Paderewski (Morges, Switzereland)
  • Yves R. Simon Institute (USA)
  • Gilson Society (USA)
  • Phi Sigma Tau. International Honor Society in Philosophy (USA)
  • Member of the Organizing Committee of the International Congress Catolicos y la vida publica (Madrid)
  • Semiotic Society of America
  • Rector's Award, Catholic University of Lublin, Award for the book Nauka w kulturze (Science in Culture), June 2003.
Relevant Professional Activities
  • Editor-in-chief, "Czlowiek w kulturze" ["Man in Culture"], Philosophical Journal (since 1992, 18 volumes)
  • Member of the Scientific Committee of Powszechna Encyklopedia Filozofii (Universal Encyclopedia of Philosophy), published by Polish Society of Thomas Aquinas, Lublin (8 of 10 volumes have appeared since 2000)
  • The Future of Western Civilization, Annual international congress organized every year since 2002 by the Department of the Philosophy of Culture
  • Foundation: Lublin School of Christian Philosophy, president


Scholarly Books
  • The Metaphysics of Beauty (Lublin 1986, in Polish).
  • The Controversy Over Beauty (Poznan 1992, Krakow 2002, in Polish).
  • The Basic Classical Rhetoric (in Polish, Warsaw 1998, 2002).
  • Metaphysics and Art (Peter Lang, 2002, in English). Review  foto1
  • Ethics: The Drama of the Moral Life (New York Alba House 2003 in English; 6th ed., 2002 in Polish.) He received personal thanks of Pope John Paul II for writing this work. Review  foto1 foto2 foto3
  • Science in Culture (Value Inquiry Book Series, Editions Rodopi, Amsterdam New York 2007, in English). Review foto1 foto2
Articles Published in English or Spanish
  • New Methodological Foundations of the Metaphysical Theory of Being, Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, 60 (1986), pp. 77-87.
  • On the Nature of Beauty, Angelicum, 65 (1988) pp. 77-98.
  • Bonum aut valor?, Atti del III Congresso Internazionale Etica e Societa contemporanea, Citta del Vaticano 1992.
  • Pulchrum ut primum amatum et cognitum [The Beautiful as First Loved and First Known], Atti del IX Congresso Tomistico Internazionale II, Noetica, critica e metafisica in chiave tomistica, Citta del Vaticano 1991, pp. 75-80.
  • Kalokagathia, Dialogue and Humanism, 5 (1994), pp. 79-87.
  • SOFIA, Science and the Freedom of Man, Freedom in Contemporary Culture, Lublin 1998, pp. 539-545.
  • Is There a Place for Responsibility in the Liberal Conception of Freedom?, Freedom and Responsibility, ed. Roman Kozlowski i Piotr W. Juchacz, Wyd. Naukowe UAM, Poznań 2003.
  • The Relevance of the Classical Greek Conception of Slavery For Our Times, Contemporary Philosophy, 24 (5 & 6, Sept/Oct & Nov/Dec 2002), pp. 24-27.
  • Christian Humanism and the Challenges of Contemporary Culture in the Post-communist Lands, Proceedings of the International Congress on Christian Humanism in the Third Millenium: The Perspective of Thomas Aquinas, 21-25 Rome, Vatican City 2004, pp. 153-160.
  • Dialogue and The Pursuit of Truth In Science and Revelation, Realia, Vol. XXV, No. 5 & 6, Sep/Oct & Nov/Dec 2003.
  • De Sofía a Filosofía, w: Pensamiento y Cultura, Universidad de la Sabana, Bogota 2005, vol. 8, No 1, ss. 49-56.
  • Maintaining the Earth's Human Face: Christian Culture's Personalistic Dimension, Star. Saint Austin Review, September/October, vol. 6, No. 5, 2006, pp. 27-30.
  • Art and Science: the Clash of Civilizations, Actas del V congreso de la sociedad de lógica, metodología y filosofía de la ciencia en España, Granada, 29 Noviembre - 1 Diciembre de 2006, ss. 703-706.
  • De la filosofía a la meta-física, w: Pensamiento y cultura, Universidad de la Sabana, Bogota, vol 9, Noviembre 2006, ss. 25-35.
  • Culture of Social Responsibility. Philosophical Reflections, w: Responsibilita sociale d' impresa e nuovo umanesimo, ed. E. Bettini, F. Moscarini, San Giorgio Editrice, Genova 2008, pp. 114-119.
  • Freedom and Tolerance, w: The Human Person and a Culture of Freedom, American Maritain Association, Washington 2009, pp. 255-264.
  • Sign: Between Metaphysics and Ontology, w: Semiotics 2008. Selected Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Semiotic Society of America, Houston, TX, October 16-19, 2008, ed. J. Deely and L. Sbrocchi, Ottawa: Legas, October 2009, ss. 627-639.

Invited Guest Lectures Abroad

  • Catholic University of Leuven (Louvain), Belgium, Institute of Philosophy: "The Philosophy of Beauty," December 1992
  • University in Seattle, USA, "The Treasure of Polish Culture," 11 February 2002
  • Redeemer Pacific College, Kanada, Neoplatonism, 13.02.2002
  • St. John's University, New York, USA,"The Relevance of the Classical Greek Conception of Slavery for Our Times," 22 October 2002
  • University of Calgary, Canada, "Ethics of the Good or Ethics of the Tolerance?", 30 January 2004
  • Université National de Burundi (Africa), Bujumbura, 22.02.2005, « Culture de Paix et philosophie de la culture »
  • Grand Séminaire de Burundi, Bujmubura, 18-19.02.2005, « Philosophie de la culture »
  • „La ricerca intellettuale via per incontrare Cristo. L'insegnamento dell'Enciclica Fides et Ratio", Vicariato di Roma, Ufficio per la pastorale universitaria, Roma, 4-6 marzec 2005, Reason, Rationality, Ideology
  • Katolische Akademie Domschule, Polnische und deutsche Kultur - Möglichkeiten der gegenseitigen Bereicherung, 7. 05.2005, Würzburg.
  • Rockuhurst University, Catholic Perspectives on Science and Culture : Europe and America, Kansas City, 6.09. 2005
  • The Council of Educators in Polonia, The Educators as Role Models, Chicago, 16.09. 2005
  • University of Helsinki, Political Correctness: it's ideological and philosophical background, Finland, 27.02.2006-2.03.2006
  • Balemesiana, Humanismo cristiano y los retos de la cultura contemporánea en los países poscomunistas, Barcelona, 30.03.2006
  • Universidad Abat Oliba, , El valor de la cultura clásica en la sociedad contemporánea, Barcelona, 31.03.2006
  • Polish Institute in Vilnius (Lithuania), 26.09.2006, Culture of the Middle-European Societies in Face of European Integration and Globalization
  • Wheeling Jesuit University, Philosophy in Contemporary Europe, Wheeling (West Virginia, USA), October 30, 2006
  • Wheeling Jesuit University, Poland: From Soviet Communism to Freemarkets and the European Economic Union, October 30, 2006
  • Wheeling Jesuit University, Ethics in Contemporary Europe, October 31, 2006
  • St. John's University, The Place of Ethics in Culture, New York, November 9, 2006
  • St. John's University, The Place of Philosophy in Culture, New York, November 9, 2006
  • Universidad de Valladolid, El arte contra la razón, Valladolid (Spain), 4 Noviembre, 2006
  • Universidad de Valladolid, La crisis de la belleza, Valladolid (Spain), 4 Noviembre, 2006
  • Universidad de Murcia, Ciencia en la cultura, Murcia (Spain), 14.03.2007
  • Universidad San Antonio de Murcia, Comprender la belleza: ayer y hoy, 12.03.2007
  • Universidad San Antonio de Murcia, Fides et ratio - introducción, Murcia, 14.03.2007
  • Universidad San Antonio de Murcia, Ética y sus problemas mas importantes, 14.03.2007
  • Universidad San Antonio de Murcia, Ética y sus problemas, 16.03.2007
  • Universidad San Antonio de Murcia, El arte versus la religión y la moralidad, 16.03.2007
  • University of Ottawa, Why aesthetics needs metaphysics?, 4.06.2007
  • McGill University, Montreal, Science in Culture, 7.06.2007
  • Université Catholique de Lille, L'Éthique: classique, moderne, postmoderne, 3.12-9.12.2007
  • Universidad de Murcia, Ética clásica, moderna y postmoderna, 20.02.2008
  • Universidad Católica San Antonio, Murcia, Introducción a la ética, 19.02.2008
  • Universidad Católica San Antonio, Murcia, El hombre y la historia, 22.02.2008
  • Universidad Católica San Antonio, Murcia, El hombre y la vida moral, 22.02.2008
  • Università degli Studi di Parma, Introduzione all'etica greco-romana, 31.03.2008
  • Università degli Studi di Parma, Introduzione all'etica cristiana, 1.04.2008
  • Università degli Studi di Parma, Introduzione all'etica moderna e contemporanea 2.04.2008
  • Fundación Balemsiana, Barcelona, Una experiencia de totalitarismo educativo: el caso de Polonia 24.04.2008
  • St. John's University, Lublin School of Philosophy, New York, October 14, 2008
  • Universidad de Salamanca, Cómo comprender ars: recta ratio factibilium, Salamanka, Hiszpania, November 25, 2008.
  • Overcoming Evil with Love - Is there a Conflict between Philosophy and Faith? - Ave Maria University, Florida, USA, 4.02.2009.
  • Universidad de Valladolid, El arte y la religión, 3.03.2009.
  • Universidad de Valladolid, La ciencia y la ética, 3.03.2009..
  • Universidad de Valladolid, El arte: la producción o la creación? 5.03.2009.
  • Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia (Hiszpania), El bien común y el socialismo, 12.05.2009.
  • Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia (Hiszpania), El bien común: liberalismo o personalismo? 13.05.2009.
  • St. John’s University, New York, Slavery and Socialism, 29.09.2009.
  • St. John’s University, New York, The Misfortunes of Socialism, 29.09.2009.


Presentations at International Conferences
  1. Baltimore, Md., USA 1986, American Catholic Philosophical Association: New Methodological Foundations of the Metaphysical Theory of Being
  2. Rome, Italy, September 1990, Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas: Pulchrum ut primum amatum et cognitum
  3. Rome, Italy, September 1991, Angelicum, Bonum aut valor?
  4. Lublin, August 1996, KUL: SOFIA, Science and the Freedom of Man
  5. Barcelona, Spain, September 1997, Balmesianum: Christ and the Concept of Classical Culture
  6. Rome, Italy, 7-10 September 2000: Personal Dimension of Christian Culture
  7. Notre Dame, Annual International Meeting, American Maritain Association, "Faith, Scholarship, and Culture in the 21st Century" 19-22 October 2000, University of Notre Dame, USA: Civilization: Immanent or Transcendent?
  8. Boca Baton, Florida, USA, Annual International Meeting, American Maritain Association, , American Maritain Association, 18-20 October 2001: Dialogue in Latin Civilization
  9. Princeton, N.J., Annual International Meeting, American Maritain Association, University of Princeton, USA, 17-20 October 2002, The Relevance of the Classical Greek Conception of Slavery for Our Times
  10. Roma, Plenary Session Address, Rome, Italy, International Congress, "Christian Humanism in the Third Millenium: The Perspective of Thomas Aquinas," 21-25 September 2003: The Challenges of Contemporary Culture to Christian Humanism in Post-Communist Countries"
  11. Chicago Annual International Meeting, American Maritain Association, "The Human Person and a Culture of Freedom," University of Chicago, USA,16-19 October 2003: Freedom and Tolerance
  12. Madrid, VI Congreso Católics y la Vida Pública, Fundación Universitaria San Pablo-CEU, 19-21 Noviembre 2004, Postmodernism and the Fall of Marxism.
  13. Roma, III Giornata Europea degli Universitari, "La ricerca intellettuale via per incontrare Cristo. L'insegnamento dell"Enciclical Fides et ratio", 4-6 Marzo 2005, Pontificia Università Lateranense, Reason, Rationality, Ideology
  14. Roma, Ora et labora. The Labour in Europe, Pontifical Lateran University, 30.06-3.07. 2005, Il background ideologico della negligenza Intellettuale e del lavoro contemplativio nell'Europa contemporanea.
  15. Barcelona, "Catolicos y la vida publica", Universidad Abat Oliba, 31.03.2006, Lo Políticamente Correcto y su trasfondo filosófico e ideológico
  16. Roma, L'impresa e la costruzione di un nuovo umanesimo, Universitá Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 22-25 June, 2006, Social Responsibility: Philosophical Reflections.
  17. Vilnius, "Europos Kalbu Dienos Savaite » [Days of European Languages], University of Vilinius, Lithuania, 25.09.2006, The Place of Language in the Society and The Place of Language in Relations Between Political Power and Society.
  18. Nashville, Tennessee, USA, Nature-Science-Culture: Contemporary Tensions, November 4, American Maritain Association, Thirtieth Annual International Meeting. Nature, Science and Wisdom: The Role of the Philosophy of Nature, November 2-5, 2006
  19. Nashville, Tennessee, USA , Panel Discussion on my book: Science in Culture (Rodopi 2006), C. Hancock, R. Blum, Th. Michaud, P. Redpath
  20. Roma, Incontro Europeo dei Docenti Universitari in occasione del 50° anniversario dei Trattati di Roma (1957-2007). Un nuovo umanesimo per l'Europa. Il ruolo delle Università, 21-24 Giugno 2007, How work and production have changed in the last 50 years in Eastern Europe?
  21. Religión, Cultura y Educacción, Universidad Abat Oliba, Barcelona, 23.04.2008, Religión, Cultura y Educacción: el caso de Polonia
  22. Houston, Sign: Between Metaphysics and Ontology. 33rd Annual Meeting of the Semiotic Society of America, Texas, October 16-19, 2008.
  23. Maryland, Baltimore, 1-3.10.2009, The Inaugural North American Étienne Gilson Society, Thomist Humanism and the Future of Civilization, Loyola University, , The Influence of Thomist Humanism on Polish Culture: Past, Present, Future.
  24. Tallin (Estonia), "Trialogos Festival", 26-31.10.2009, Liturgy and Metaphysics (29.10.2009).

A Brief Overview of Lublin Thomism

by Professor Piotr Jaroszynski of the Catholic University of Lublin, Doctor Habilitatus
Contact: Piotr Jaroszynski:jarosz@kul.lublin.pl
A Brief History of Lublin Thomism
"Lublin thomism" was born at the Catholic University of Lublin after the Second World War when Poland lost her independence. Stalin installed a puppet government that implemented an agenda that served the interests of the Russian Communists. However, Poland had been traditionally a very Catholic country and the Catholic Church was still very strong. The opposition to communism was based upon our identification with Catholicism. Even though we Poles had lost much of our property and independence at the economic and political levels, our spirit was free, and we still pursued and recognized the truth. It happened that the Catholic University of Lublin was the only private university behind the Iron Curtain; all other universities were subject to Marxist ideology. 
During the war, both the Germans and the Russians tried to eliminate the entire Polish intelligentsia, as witnessed in incidents such as the massacre of Polish officers by the Russians in Katyn. Several very young professors who survived the war, such as J. Kalinowski, M. A.  Krapiec, S. Swiezawski, S. Kaminski, M. Kurdzialek, and later K. Wojtyla, came to the conclusion that they must demonstrate the errors in the Marxist conception of man. A wrong conception of man leads to totalitarianism. Their task was not merely to show the errors in the Marxist philosophy of man, but to discover and show the true image of man. This was a philosophical task, but one which also had far-reaching political consequences. This is how “Lublin Thomism” emerged.
The Department of Philosophy was opened at the Catholic University of Lublin in 1946. The professors and students there have studied and written works in almost all fields of philosophy: metaphysics, philosophy of man, philosophy of religion, philosophy of law, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of art and beauty, philosophy of culture, methodology of philosophy, etc. Most of the work was done by Father Mieczyslaw Albert Krapiec and his pupils. We try to follow the path of classical realistic philosophy. In our approach, the understanding of being as existing lies at the bottom of all philosophical investigation. The approach of St. Thomas Aquinas provides a reliable guide in our investigations. While the writings of St. Thomas himself provide us with a fresh and direct philosophical approach to the major questions of philosophy, the same cannot be said about the tradition that grew from his works. We must distinguish between the actual thought of St. Thomas as found in his works, and "Thomism", which is the collective body of works of many generations of scholars who have commented on his thought. Unfortunately, much of traditional Thomism is a distortion of the thought of St. Thomas in the area of philosophy. St. Thomas presents a philosophy based on existence, which we may call "existentialism" (but we must avoid any confusion with the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre in this regard). Much of what is called Thomism is a kind of essentialism. Essentialism lays stress upon concepts rather than real existence, and takes its starting point in logic rather than in existence.
The phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and his disciples is well-known in Poland, where many notable philosophers are in one way or another disciples of Husserl. Perhaps the best known Polish phenomenologist is Roman Ingarden, but there are many others. The Lublin Thomists are well acquainted with phenomenology, and draw upon its insights and methods, but we should not exaggerate the influence of phenomenology on “Lublin Thomism”. We think that phenomenology is useful at the level of description, but phenomenology is not a proper starting point for metaphysics. Metaphysics is the first philosophical discipline, and all other branches of philosophy are simply applied metaphysics. Metaphysics is the philosophy of being, and it is essential that the metaphysician should grasp being as existing. Being is grasped in existential judgements, which cannot be reduced to descriptions or concepts. However, if the metaphysician adopts the phenomenological "epoche" as his principle method, he becomes an idealist. Since "epoche" is the "bracketing of existence", that is, leaving the problem of existence to the side in order to concentrate on neutral description, then the philosopher who makes "epoche" his starting point lapses into idealism.
The essentialist approach which infected much of Thomism came from the wrong application of some of Aristotle's works. We find a theory of scientific knowledge in Aristotle's "Posterior Analytics", but this particular theory does not belong to metaphysics, nor did Aristotle or Thomas apply it to metaphysics. It is not hard to discover why. This theory of science is proper to the particular sciences, especially mathematics and geometry. In such areas we use univocal terms, which can be defined according to proximate genus and specific difference. They fit perfectly as subjects and predicates in syllogistic reasoning. Metaphysical terms are, by way of contrast, neither univocal nor strictly limited in their range of denotation and thus cannot be strictly defined. To apply them syllogistically would be an error.
Metaphysics has its own distinctive object and method. We can discern two distinct phases in the development of metaphysical knowledge. The first phase is the formation of the transcendentals. This involves the “clarification” of the concept of being. In the second phase, we peer into the very structure of being in light of the concept of being and of other transcendentals, as well as the first principles of being. Here we see the major role played by the process of “rendering free of contradiction”. Instead of definition, we have “clarification”. Instead of syllogism, we have “rendering free of contradiction”.
The method by which we grasp being as existing is called “separation”. This method is neutral; there is no “a priori” possible, for any “a priori” appears at the level of content (an essence) and not at the level of existence which is grasped immediately, without medium, since existence is not an essence, and cannot be mediated as for example a color or a form.
Moral relativism, so predominant in contemporary culture, has its main source in Kantian philosophy. Immanuel Kant introduced into philosophy and into ethics a theory of value, which later on was developed by different Neo-Kantian schools, and finally found its place in almost every area of culture. However, the main difference between the value and the good is that the good is a property of being (therefore, good is real!), whereas value was introduced in opposition to being (a correlate of “Sollen” as opposed to “Sein”). The value is not real, since it is not a property of being, and this leads to idealism and the relativisation of morality.
Ethics cannot be separated from philosophical anthropology, since it is a man who makes decisions which are good or bad for man. Therefore we must know what and who man is. It is absurd to talk about ethics without philosophical anthropology.
The most important task for philosophical anthropology is to discover the inner and outer facts characteristic for man. These facts must then be interpreted in a philosophical way, i.e. rendered free of contradiction. Some of the external facts are that fact that man lives in societies, that he produces tools, and uses language. The inner facts include various individual experiences at the physiological, psychic and spiritual levels. These facts are apparent only to the subject who experiences them. The subject of experience sees that his individual experiences have the same source. It is the same “I” that fulfills different acts: I breathe, I am sad, I think. As Father Krapiec noticed in his brilliant book “I-Man”, in order to render these facts free of contradiction, we need to turn to the theory of the soul where the soul is an act of a body.
There are two aspects to the theory of person. From the historical point of view, neither the Greeks nor the Romans had a developed understanding of man as a person. A man was conceived as a soul. The situation changed in the Christian perspective when every man was respected as having been created in the image of God. The word “image” is key, since it corresponds to the Greek term “prosopon” and the Latin word “persona”. From the philosophical point of view, this Christian message, as in the case of the discovery of existence, provided a much better explanation for the essential unity of the human being, i.e. composed of body (potency) and soul (act), where the soul of a man is a subject for existence and for different acts.
Karol Wojtyla (the late Pope John Paul II) was the author of "The Acting Person". The importance of his reflections in this book seem to lie in his detailed analysis of the human decision as the main source of human moral responsibility.
Philosophy develops in a different way than mathematics or physics. It is a distinct branch of culture. Mathematicians and physicists do not need to study the past, and each new discovery redefines the field of knowledge. In philosophy, the past always remains important. The methods used in philosophy do not depend upon technological development as do the specialized sciences. Philosophy has as its object of study “being”, and studies its object under a different aspect (“qua being”). On the other hand, philosophy is the most difficult science to understand and it is good to know the history of philosophy from the very beginning in order to avoid errors where past philosophers have already found proper solutions.
Is metaphysics dead? Is metaphysics irrelevant in a culture which values the constant and incremental progress of the natural sciences and technology? The death of metaphysics would be the death of man as a rational being, since metaphysics poses rational questions which have perennial value for man. I think that those who speak about the “death of metaphysics” simply do not understand what metaphysics is. My guess is that they probably have the ontology of Christian Wolff in mind. But here again we see how important knowledge of the history of philosophy is, without which it is easy to be in a state of “apaideusia” (lack of education) as it was called by Aristotle. Aristotle began his work "Metaphysics" with a review of the various positions of other philosophers. When we read his review, we find that the same views recur throughout history and in our time as well.
How do we see the role of epistemology? Epistemology is variously known as the theory of knowledge, criteriology, or gnoseology. Much of modern philosophy puts epistemology in the place of metaphysics. The problem of epistemology taking the place of metaphysics has its source in Cartesian philosophy, the philosophy of René Descartes and his followers. However, Descartes only knew scholastic philosophy as seen through the eyes of Suarez who followed the path of Duns Scotus. Descartes did not know Thomas Aquinas as an original thinker. Following methodic scepticism, it became impossible to return to the real world since "a posse ad esse non valet illatio" (there is no valid inference from what can be to what is). Without a real being, there is no place for metaphysics. Substituting it with epistemology or ontology leads to nihilism. Epistemology did not exist as an independent branch of philosophy in ancient and medieval thought because realistic epistemology (and not quasi-metaphysics) is a branch of philosophical anthropology. It is a man (a person) and not an impersonal consciousness who comprehends being. In order to develop a realistic epistemology, we must first know what being  and what man are.

We sometimes wonder who it is in Poland that coordinates the mass media in such a blatantly anti-Catholic and anti-Polish way.

Star. Saint Austin Review, September/October, vol. 6, No. 5, 2006, pp. 27-30.

Western civilization today has the mass media as its spiritual, and money as its material, keystones.

The entire field of individual human creativity has lost its human face, becoming instead a mechanical exploitation of the possibilities of the human brain.

When we deny the distinct existence of minds in individual human beings, the result is the domination of one ideology that allows no dissent.

Neo-Kantian philosophy heavily influences the concept of culture in our day among philosophers and ordinary people. Culture appears to be a sphere of values that we create. This sphere of values is opposed to nature, and, in a way, is divorced from being. The opposition of Natur-
Kultur corresponds to the opposition of Sein-Sollen (being-oughtness). This approach to culture claims to ennoble us, especially in relation to the material world. We often hear said that people create culture in the sense that we create values. From the classical idea of homo sapiens and the modern idea of homo faber we finally arrive at homo creator.

Today Western civilization is in a new phase that can be described as “the cult of man”. We treat man as a god. We could say that this is quite noble, were it not for the diabolical consequences of the cult of man, and that this new deity can show a terrifying face. Losing their connection with nature affects all cultural domains: Theory, praxis, poesis, and the sphere of religion are increasingly turned against the human good. Science treats people like mere material things as it violates human subjectivity. The cult of tolerance opens the way for demoralization. Art no longer
purifies our consciousness and subconscious. It cuts us off from the light.

Increasingly, religion constructs idols as it wages war against the one God. The regress of Western culture is directly proportional to its progressive de-Christianization. In this situation we must consider this paper‟s topic: the personalistic dimension of Christian culture. A culture that
strikes at the personal dimension of human life is an anticulture, no culture at all.

When I consider the origins of the word culture I think first of agriculture. The Romans considered cultura as primarily the cultivation of fields. Cicero used the term cultura metaphorically, and extended it to cultivation of the soul. As a farmer uproots weeds, so culture uproots vices and sows the seeds of a sane and noble life.

Cicero undoubtedly had the Greek idea of paideia in mind when he wrote of the culture of the soul, even if he did not resort to an etymologically-related term. The term paideia derives from pais, „a boy‟. Paideia aimed at the proper upbringing of a young man, instilling in him the virtues of an excellent human being and man. Homer praised the virtues of fortitude and prudence. And he praised eloquence as the outpouring of wise thoughts. The other virtues appeared later.

Culture as paideia has a dynamic character. It develops in the human soul as its subject. Thus we must understand culture in relation to the concrete subject, the human soul. In this conception, culture is strictly connected with human nature. And nature requires cultivation by means of a proper education. Thanks to culture, through which we become increasingly truly human, and not so much thanks to ourselves, we appear to be culture‟s creator. The first activity in the creation of culture is directed at human beings.

To understand the classical conception of culture, we must understand the classical conception of nature. The conception of nature was a key concept in Greek philosophy. It had many shades of meaning. Here we will limit ourselves to the different meanings of the term “nature” that appear in Aristotle‟s Physics.

(1) “Nature is the principle and internal cause of motion and rest in things in which it exists by essence and not accidentally.” (Aristotle, Physics 192 b)
(2) Nature is the first matter that constitutes the supposit of any object that has within itself the principle of motion and change.
(3) Nature is the shape or conceptual form. Just as the term “art” refers also to the outcome of art, so the term “nature” refers both to the natural process and to the product of this process. What is muscle or bone in a potential sense does not yet possess its own “nature”, and does not exist by “nature” until it receives a conceptual form. According to this second meaning, “nature” would be the shape or form (capable of being divided only conceptually) of things that possess a source of motion in themselves. However, what is composed of matter and form (for example a man) is not a “nature”. A man is “by” or “from” nature, or “exists naturally”. Moreover, form, not matter, is nature. We may say that any given thing exists in a more proper sense when it has achieved its full actualization than when it exists in a merely potential manner. Furthermore, a man originates
from a man, but a bed does not come from a bed. For this reason we say that the shape of the bed is not the bed‟s “nature”. We say the wood is the nature. For if a bed sends out shoots, it is the wood that is growing, not the bed. Even if the shape were a work of art, the form (of a man) would still be (his) nature, because a man begets a man.

(4) A thing‟s nature can be the process of generation, whereby the thing attains its own “nature”. In this sense, nature is unlike healing, which leads to health, not to medicine. Healing comes from art. It does not lead to art. This is not the same relation as that of nature (in one sense) to nature (in another sense), because that which naturally develops, develops from something, and then becomes something else. The aim of this development is not to move toward its starting point. It moves toward its final state or goal.

(5) Form, then, is nature.
Aristotle tells us that form and nature occur in two senses, because a privation or lack is also a form in some sense. (Physics 193ab) Let us examine this passage in detail. We may present its main points in a list similar to the one above. Nature is:

(1) The essential and internal cause of motion and rest.
(2) Matter and the suppositum for things that possess the principle of change within themselves.
(3) Shape or form.
(4) A natural process.
(5) The product of a natural process.

To sum up, according to Aristotle, nature is (1) more properly the form as a thing that is already actualized, not merely potential form, or something that may be; (2) the process of generation, the effect of which is that a thing attains to its nature; or (3) a natural development from something and to something that is different from the starting point, to which the thing moves by inclination, as inclining to attain its form.

We may understand nature considered in itself in any of three senses. Crucial in this paper is that we understand nature first as the starting point, then as the process, and finally as the terminal point.

In talking of nature as starting point, I wish to emphasize the moment (1) at which a particular and definite form determines the acting subject; (2) of potentiality; and (3) of inclination. I consider inclination as the attraction for a fitting object of action, attainable under normal conditions. I emphasize these three moments because: (1) without any determinate acting subject only be an unorganized pile of matter, a heap, would exist; (2) without potentiality no process would exist; and (3) without inclination, the consequence of form, any process would be chaotic. The principle of teleology or finality appears here.

In a process we deal with the realization of the principle of finality. If any process moves, (1) an end or goal must exist as the motive for the sake of which the activity is elicited; and (2) the phases of the process that occur in sequence must be ordered. Order is a sign of rationality because order is a sign of the participation in reason.

In the terminal point we must make a distinction between two senses of end, because end in one sense is the final phase, while end as aim is the achievement of a perfection or fullness, which can occur before the final phase. This is the end as a perfection and as the completion or ful- fillment of potentiality. In a natural process, degeneration can follow fulfillment, or a thing may reach the term of its existence before it can achieve perfection.

We should note that in the world of nature the process from the starting point to the terminal point occurs in most cases without hindrance. Natural beings start a process under the influence of an internal principle and achieve the fullness of their development and of their particular powers. After they give life to others of the same species, they degenerate and perish. In most cases this is what occurs, but something may fail to reach its goal because of an accident, of some incidental cause. An internal defect, or the actions of some other being that is also acting for an end, may interfere. Animals usually attain the optimum of their particular powers, such as the power of self-movement, sense powers, nutrition, and reproduction. They attain the optimum set forth by their species and the disposition of their particular powers.

Apart from considering nature as what we consider or talk about, we can talk about nature as we refer it to diverse subjects. Properly speaking, when we predicate a nature of some subject, we have to do so analogically, or participatively. We do not predicate of a subject a single, univocal, or totally equal participation of nature. And we do not predicate of a subject many equivocal, unrelated, and totally unequal participations of nature. While we predicate nature in different, or unequal, senses of participation, these share a common core of content, or meaning, and a principal analogate in which this content is most fully realized or possessed. In the case of nature, the principal analogate is not the starting point or the process. It is the terminal point, nature in the sense of fullness and perfection, a maximum, not nature in the sense of potentiality and process, a minimum. This is the classical understanding of nature. And it opposes the common understanding of nature today as starting point and process, where the terminal point is regarded as destruction or as a violation of nature.

We cannot apply the Greek conception of nature to human beings in exactly the same way as we predicate it of other things. By its own power, human nature cannot fulfill its natural inclinations. In most cases nature itself is sufficient for other beings to achieve their ends. Human nature needs something beyond itself to reach its natural fulfillment, something that transcends nature, which has some distance from nature, to help it reach perfection. The Greeks regarded reason or mind (Nous) as this element. Man possesses reason, and reason is not from this world, is something divine within us. Hermotimos or Anaxagoras said, “Reason is a god within us,” and “mortal life holds a part of the god himself.”

Reason‟s divine origin helps human nature to realize itself, to move from potency to act, and achieve its end, its proper form. Culture as paideia is a dynamic work that reason directs upon human nature. Culture is connected with the starting point (nature as something definite but still mostly in a state of potentiality) and with the terminal point (nature actualized according to natural inclinations). We are wrong to look at culture as a creative activity that works independently of nature and natural ends. An element of responsibility always exists within culture. And culture always has a moral dimension.

The Greek conception of culture had the right starting point, but it faced conceptual perils projected by human imagination. We could always misunderstand the transcendence of human reason in relation to the world of nature in terms of pantheism. So could the Greeks. Pantheism was always present in the background of Greek and Hellenistic thought. And it reached a mature form in neo-Platonism and Stoicism.

The problem of pantheism is crucial in our understanding of culture in its relation to nature and to reason. If we look at culture in pantheistic terms, we will think that the reason does not bring nature to completion. We will think that nature is an emanation of reason as part of a downward process (prohodos), and that it is completed by the reason as part of its journey to return to its former high position (epistrophe). In this sense, reason does not complete nature. It creates nature in its phase of generation and its phase of perfection. This doctrine has an important reservation: only divine reason exists; other minds do not exist. In this way, pantheism dispenses with the problem of culture: by necessity reason (1) creates nature and (2) brings nature back to its state of perfection, an ontological sublimation where a series of hypostases absorb nature.

The danger of pantheism appeared in Plato and Aristotle, with his imprecisely formulated theory of the active intellect. The Arab philosophers Avicenna and Averroes drew philosophical conclusions from Aristotle‟s imprecise remarks. These had later repercussions in the conception of culture and in its particular domains. Most of all, pantheism struck at the principal subject of culture: the concrete person. By depriving human individuals of our subjectivity, a pantheistic vision of reality no longer had anyone for culture to cultivate. Nature was divine reason in a degraded form. Only one reason existed, and human individuals did not possess their own, individual, minds. The human soul did not possess its own subsistence. The result was that culture lost its human profile. It no longer had a profile that was distinct from nature and God.

Through the filter of Medieval Arab philosophy and Renaissance naturalism, the pantheistic trend in Greek and Hellenistic philosophy shaped the modern and contemporary understanding of culture. The naturalism of the Renaissance was a deification of nature. The Renaissance cult
of value dissociated value from nature and the real world, putting man at the same level as God. Man creates values without considering nature or natural ends. The creative act came to be regarded as valuable on its own account. In this way, the conception of the good essentially changed. The classical conception of the good was that the good was the end and aim of potencies and inclinations. Our creative acts, if they do not take reality into account, can turn against reality with destructive force.

In this context, the Christian understanding of culture is crucial for philosophy, theology, and civilization in general. It respects the original understanding of culture as that which completes what a nature lacks. With its transcendental conception of God and its affirmation that there is a plurality of minds, it offers a rational alternative to pantheism. The Christian conception of culture is open in a constructive way to different civilizations with their different characters.

The authentic transcendence of God could only appear in the context of the existential conception of being. This conception of being shows in a radical way that only one being can be the reason for the existence of all other beings. The existential perspective in the conception of being is always threatened by some form of pantheism. We can only properly understand God‟s radical ontic transcendence and the doctrine of creation that presents God as the source for the generation of other beings in terms of the existential conception of being.

In this conception, people appear as contingent beings of a definite nature possessing an individual reason. The obvious difference between human beings and the world of nature does not lead to the apotheosis of man or to naturalism. Culture becomes a task or plan that we must carry out during our life on earth. The reference point and subject of culture is man, and man is also the author of culture.

In the realm of culture a vast field exists open to creativity and supernatural help. Human creativity is not creativity in the same primary sense as divine creativity, which creates from nothing. Human beings must always take material such as we find it as our starting point. The basic material with which we have to work with is our human nature. We must consider our natural inclinations, use our reason, and seek to understand the proper end of these inclinations. Since a great distance exists between the starting point of undeveloped human nature and the end, we can be open to different propositions or possibilities. As a result, we have different civilizations, and within these, different cultures. Within particular cultures, we have creative individuals who follow different paths.

Just as our reason completes what is lacking in nature within the limits of our human possibilities, so supernatural grace gives added strength to our human powers as we make our way to our proper end. Nature by itself, even with the help of human reason, cannot lead us all the way. Religion, then, must be culture‟s culmination of culture. Not a compartment of culture, but the keystone. The whole dynamic of the drama of human existence appears in religion, the arena where we must use our reason to overcome and realize our nature with the help of culture. In this effort, at every step, we are painfully aware of our human weakness and helplessness, with respect to nature, which we strive to submit to ourselves, and ultimately with respect to death. By our powers we cannot force open the gates of death. Religion reaches into the order of daily life. And it opens to us the perspective of eternal life.

Christianity appears to be the most personalistic way of approaching human culture. The concept of the person bears a reference to nature, reason, and subjectivity. A culture that fails to consider any one of these elements will sooner or later turn against man. Naturalism considers only this world. Pantheism treats this world with contempt. Both are incomplete. And both turn against us.

Modern thought has divorced culture from nature, has even set the two in opposition. Modern thinkers presented the opposing pairs: Sein-Sollen (being-oughtness) and Nature-Kultur. This has led to relativism and subjectivism, sanctioned by legislators and the mass media.

Where relativism and subjectivism have been embedded in institutions, they have spread into education and our attitudes. In so doing, they have led us away from our true human nature. When we deny the distinct existence of minds in individual human beings, the result is the domination of one ideology that allows no dissent. If only one reason exists, room exists for one ideology, which will dominate the entire rational sphere. The domination of such an ideology, in turn, becomes the basis for a totalitarian utopia.

Finally, the divorce between culture and the subjectivity of each individual human being has led to depravity in the application of science. Experiments in the field of genetic engineering have been notorious for their lack of respect for human individuals. Lives have been ruined and destroyed on a massive scale for the sake of science. Common in scientific experiments is to treat people as a mere objects or things, not as a subject, a person.

Western civilization today has the mass media as its spiritual, and money as its material, keystones. Its method is technology, which leads Western culture increasingly far from nature and its authentic roots. At its starting point Western culture is alienated from nature. In its destination
it is alienated from God. The entire field of individual human creativity has lost its human face, becoming instead a mechanical exploitation of the possibilities of the human brain. Our culture has changed for the worse in many areas. But philosophy and philosophers must bear some responsibility, since philosophy opened the way for culture‟s dehumanization of culture. Especially necessary today is that we return in a creative way to the Christian conception of culture, so that we do not destroy what is left of the human face in the face of the Earth.

Piotr Jaroszynski

transl. Hugh McDonald


We sometimes wonder who it is in Poland that coordinates the mass media in such a blatantly anti-Catholic and anti-Polish way.

Miranda Devine is an Australian columnist and writer, noted for her conservative stance on a range of social and political issues. Her column is printed twice weekly in Fairfax Media newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald.

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