Washington, DC, USA: Catholic University of America Press (2022)

Authors
Mark K. Spencer
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
Abstract
Catholic philosophical anthropologists have defended views of the human person on which we are not reducible to anything non-personal. For example, it is not the case that we are nothing but matter, souls, or parts of society. Nevertheless, most Catholic anthropologies have been reductionistic in other ways. Mark K. Spencer presents a philosophical portrait of human persons on which we are entirely irreducible to anything non-personal, by synthesizing claims from many strands of the Catholic tradition. These include Thomism, Scotism, phenomenology, personalism, nouvelle théologie, analytic philosophy, Greek and Russian thought, and several others. It adjudicates among these traditions' claims by considering whether they are grounded in how we appear in experience and whether they are non-reductionistic. While many metaphysical claims about persons are defended, the picture that ultimately results is one on which persons are best grasped not through abstract concepts but through aesthetic perception, as unique kinds of beauty. This portrait also shows how we have many irreducible parts, principles, and powers. Various chapters explore the irreducibility of our subjectivity, senses, intellect, freedom, and affections, and of our souls, bodies, acts of existence, and activities. Readers will also find explorations of divine simplicity and causality, the nature of matter, organisms, and artifacts, all of which must be understood to fully grasp our own irreducibility. In considering how to synthesize various traditions' claims, the book also offers new solutions to a number of prominent debates in contemporary Catholic philosophy. These include debates over natural law, the natural desire to see God, the separated soul, the nature of gifts, integralism and personalism, idealist and realist phenomenology, and various scholastic accounts of the act of existence. The picture of persons thereby developed helps the reader to perceive persons more perfectly.
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ISBN(s) 0813235200   9780813235202
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