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Authentic Relating:Summary-Reflection On Karol Wojtyla's

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Authentic Relating

(a summary and reflection on the paper: Participation or Alienation)


Karol Wojtyla starts by positing the necessity of establishing a pre-understanding of the relation soi-autrui in the study of the difference between participation and alienation.

He then clarifies problem of soi-autrui in that it crosses two cognitive situations. The first dealing with soi (I) in relation to its ontology and concrete action. And the second dealing with the concept of autrui (other) in that there is a world consciousness that includes all peoples and readily presents to I the very concept of another.

Thus when we speak of soi as the I, the two cognitive situations must be considered (consciousness, the real subject who experiences himself and the other). But understanding the problem of soi- autrui necessitates a study of the experience i.e. action or act.

The pope then establishes the concepts of I- self and other.

Consciousness is very much connected to the act in that the former conditions the full manifestation of the I through the latter. However, consciousness alone cannot form the act (conscious activity), there is a need for the will to bring about a conscious action self consciousness coupled by the will constitute self- determination. In here, the act performed reveals the wholeness, originality and uniqueness of every man. Through action the proper I- self emerges wherein man becomes aware of his being subject, the cause of his actions, who actualizes his potentials and who discloses and acknowledges himself as the one who possesses his own self Ð'- self- possession.

The concept of other springs from one's ability in understanding the truth that the other is also made in self-consciousness and self- possession. That the other is a different I. The other is also a neighbor because he is another I. This conviction flows from a subjective participation in humanity to a transference of that which is given to us as our own I.

After clarifying the two concepts of I and other, Karol Wojtyla then proceeds in presenting the I-other scheme Ð'- a structure for participation. In here he posits that mere knowing the being of man (ontology) does not suffice in the understanding of the scheme. It only serves as the first potential that can make fundamentally possible the actualization of participation. The very actualization is achieved through consciousness and experience. Self-consciousness and self-possession being not transferable is to be approximated and transferred with volition in order to experience the other I as a person.

The pope further ascertains the significance of participation translating it as a duty in the light of the commandment to love. In which case the sharing to another man's humanity must originate from within - a disposition fundamentally present in each man (quoting Scheler). By this one can gleam the emotionsal spontaneity (as contrary to spontaneity of the will) that includes both the choice of acknowledging the other as someone assigned hic et nunc and the choice of affirming and accepting the other. This choice coupled with looking at participation as a definite duty can be called the second categorical imperative Ð'- an ethical evaluation bearing universality of participation done with volition and consciousness.

The discussion now proceeds in explicating the concept of alienation.

The pope first presents a new scheme of I- you having in mind authentic participation i.e. communion personarum.

He then brings to light the negative verification of participation namely alienation Ð'- a contradiction of participation that annihilates the possibility of authentic participation the absence / suppression of all elements and alienation deforms the I-other scheme as well as its actualization in alienation's devoid of accepting and choosing the other on the basis of self Ð'-consciousness and self-possesion Ð'- alienation isolates the other Ð'- an attack to the inter-human relations (as evidenced in concentration camps, prison and torture chamber even in daily life).

The abovementioned fact is the field of confrontation between participation and alienation which reaches even the human interior. This is what the pope then develops in the proceeding discussions.

The antinomy between participation and alienation is regarded as a horizon in the analysis of the I- other scheme.

How is this so?

The Pope maintains that in every human relation, be it participation or alienation, can be seen in the light of I-other. This is because the entire human existence is characterized with acting in common with others in as much as we live in a community comprised of the multiplicity of people existing and acting together. This multiplicity can then present favorable or unfavorable conditions that may either strengthen or weaken the horizon i.e. antinomy.

Participation is an attribute that affords the person to maintain himself amidst relating to the other I. It also provides a structure to the multiplicity of persons existing and acting.

Alienation contradicts the abovementioned structure and order.

And it is in this contradiction and canceling out of each other as observed at the horizon of every human relation that that will account for the antinomy. This is like saying that the I-other scheme can be found in its unfavorable conditions in concentration camps where humanity is debased and the treatment of the other as another I is absent Ð'- a kind of treatment that can even extend to daily life of relating.

The I-other scheme seen in the light of participation and alienation presents its primordiality and primacy in humanity's way of relating Ð'- telling about a person's being human and his subjective reality. And given the fact that the scheme can experience weak points, each one must regard its actualization as a duty Ð'- such can define our being human too.

The Pope concludes by presenting his rebuttal or outright dissatisfaction to the Marxist philosophy of alienation which only accounts alienation as caused purely by human creations (economic/political systems, property ownership, labor and even religion) and that it is in conquering these factors where true liberty can be achieved. The Pope rather proposes that we need not look farther but into ourselves, into the place of human being as a personal subject in this world. This way, the human creations can be inspected in the light of whether



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