Approaching the Mystery of the Person: Person and Act at the Center of Karol Wojtyła’s Thought

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Approaching the Mystery of the Person: Person and Act at the Center of Karol Wojtyła’s Thought

November 3 at 7:00 PM - November 4 at 5:00 PM

$20 – $130

The Introduction to Karol Wojtyła’s philosophical magnum opus, Person and Act, offers a bird’s-eye view of how his study differs from previous ones. If the person traditionally lies in the background, as a presupposition for the act to be human, Wojtyła explains that his study will reverse that approach. It will show how the act “reveals the person; it will be a study of the person through the act” (103). What is it that distinguishes the human act from the happenings in nature or the actions of animals? Wojtyła begins with the fact of moral experience and plumbs its richness, not to develop normative judgments or a systematic ethics, but to understand the anthropology implicit within the experience itself. His 1965 “Synopsis” tells us that a “correct interpretation” of this experience “demands a grasp of that which is essential to the person.” It “does not reveal the person to us in an accidental, collateral or secondary way—but, properly, in a most essential way.”  It therefore provides the possibility of “build[ing] an anthropology that is as essential and integral as possible” (4). Person and Act “aims in the broadest sense to explicate the reality that the person is. The act will be the source from which we shall draw cognition about the reality that is the person . . .” (106).

Hence, if we ask, why center a study of man on the human act?, the answer will be that the act constitutes, for Wojtyła, a privileged source for the discovery of the person. It is here that man experiences his personal existence most acutely, both in his immanence in his act and also in the transcendence his act implies, its personalistic values and their posture toward objective good. It is in the act that the person is most present to himself and to his world.

Our conference seeks to explore Person and Act’s disclosure of the person and its importance for the rest of Wojtyła’s and Saint John Paul II’s philosophical approach to the person.



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November 3 at 7:00 PM
November 4 at 5:00 PM
$20 – $130
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Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family


Pontifical John Paul II Institute–McGivney Hall
620 Michigan Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20064 United States
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