Roberta Spaemanna nowe ujęcie klasycznej teorii osoby

Ks. Józef Kożuchowski



The article is concerned with the subject of the person, which constitutes the core of anthropological reflections of the eminent German thinker, Robert Spaemann. The issue of the person was especially noticeable in one of his most important works entitled Personen. This issue generated a keen interest and recognition of specialists in many countries. These reflections are based on the metaphysical concept of human existence. That is why Spaemann’s theory of the person is often defined as metaphysics of the person.
First, in the introduction, the author points to the significance of the issue; second, he describes its most important threads: understanding the person, the person’s identity and traits such as rationality, freedom, intentionality, love, religiousness, transcendence, ability to forgive, to keep one’s promise and to speak. The next part of the article presents the issues of the person’s self-fulfilment, indestructibility, being the subject of law, having a special status, i.e. dignity. Readers also learn why the classical vision of the person (Boethius, Thomas Aquinas, Kant) is not outdated, whereas Locke’s theory (as well as its radicalised version propagated by its well-known supporters, Parfit, Hoerster, Singer) remains unacceptable as contradictory in itself. As has been emphasized, it involves some false anthropological assumptions, e.g. the issue of the so-called potential person and the difference between human life and person’s life. However, the latter theory is increasingly popular at present since it supports, among others, the justifiability of abortion and euthanasia, and it suits the contemporary mentality with a definitely hedonist overtone.
Many of Spaemann’s views on the person are truly significant and innovative. The issue that Spaemann himself regards as particularly important is his response to the false ideas of Locke and his contemporary continuators. The eminent scholar not only reveals the logical incoherence of this thought and its deviation from common sense, but using unique linguistic and transcendental-pragmatic argumentation, he proves that human is a person, i.e. “someone”, since the moment of conception. Thus, we cannot be thought of as if we had been “something” at first. That is why, not accidentally, the subtitle of Spaemann’s most important book on anthropology, i.e. Personen, is The difference between “someone” and “something”. In this response to Locke’s false theory (and its supporters), he explains that one cannot talk about such a distinction in the case of human beings. The second innovative issue in Spaemann’s work is the defence of the classical concept of the person and expressing it in a new way. The third one is his attempt at overcoming both spiritualistic and naturalistic perception of the human being. The fourth is Spaeman’s observation that our ability to forgive and to keep promises should be treated as a significant trait of the person. The article presents also some aspects of Spaemann’s vision of the person which have not been the subject of analyses yet, neither in the Polish nor in the Western literature, e.g. characteristics of the person, the person being the subject of laws and the person’s special status (ontological and moral dignity).


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