ANTHROPOLOGY, PHILOSOPHICAL (Greek ’ανθρωπος [anthropos]—man, λογος [logos]—discourse, science)—an explanatory interpretation of the human being, man, and his essentially human action.
RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL SOURCES. Philosophical anthropology has sources in religious and philosophical traditions. In the Old Testament and New Testament we find mention of man’s origin and his essentially human actions. According to Mosaic-Christian revelation, man’s origin is connected with God’s creative action: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him: he created man and women“ (Gen 1, 27). Man who is created by God is a unity of Body (Basar) and spirit (Nephesh). The unity of man in the books of Machabees I (not without some influence from the Greek thought of the Hellenistic period) seems to take the form of a dualism of soul and body, for the killing of the body does not reach the soul which still lives. In the New Testament the role of the soul and its life is emphasized, although it is the whole man who is called to an honest moral life in friendship with God and men.
Another source of the religious conception of man is ancient Greek Orphism which accents the divine origin of the soul (from Zeus). The soul give life to the body. The Pythagoreans accented this thought and recognized the divine nature of the soul which after separating from the human body returns to its divine cosmic center and source.
In European philosophy, Plato and Aristotle in their works drew a conception of the human being. Plato thought of man as a rational spirit-soul which existed for ages as a spirit and was incarnated in a human body as the consequence of a spiritual fall from which philosophy would redeem it. Aristotle thought of man as a Ζωον λογικον [zoon logikon], an animal capable of the use of reason as a result of the essential unity of soul and body. The soul is the source of life and arises as a result of natural transformations and the actions of the divine sphere of the Sun. The Platonic and Aristotelian conceptions of man differed in their interpretation of man’s being and action and were received and modified in subsequent ages as philosophical thought developed. They took the form of a reductionistic image of man: either as an incarnate soul (imprisoned in the body), or as a product of evolution in the order of nature, with the provision that in man’s cognitive activity he is helped by the so-called agent intellect which is not mixed with matter, separate from matter, and not affected by matter. The reductionistic conceptions of man accented either the aspect of consciousness in man, or his biological powers and these conceptions appeared in various forms among ancient, medieval, and modern thinkers. Apart from the Platonic and Aristotelian vision of man, there is another—the Christian vision of man presented by St. Thomas Aquinas. It emphasized man’s unity in an Aristotelian sense, but also accented the autonomous existence of the human soul which is created immediately, in view of the soul’s immateriality that is manifested by God in intellectual knowledge. The soul exists in itself as a subject and is also the form and organizer of matter to be a human body. Only through the body can the soul act and come to self-awareness and become aware of who man is. The reductionistic conceptions of man fell into antinomies and were in discord with the facts of human existence such as the fact that in a certain aspect man’s spiritual activity depends on matter, and on the other hand, human acts have immaterial structures. Only Thomas Aquinas’ theory of the human being avoids these contradictions. In Thomas Aquinas’ major and most mature work—the Summa Theologica, we find an extensive presentation and understanding with philosphical and theological arguments concerning the human being, his action, and his destiny. In the first part of the Summa he extensively analyzes the context of man’s existence and action. This context is the philosophical and theological understanding of God as the Creator of the world, the conception of creation, and the structure of man’s being and action. In the two sections of the second part of the Summa (I–II, and II-II), he presents an analysis of man’s human acts (as human) and considers natural and supernatural habits and the law that guides human acts for the sake of man’s good. In the third part of the Summa he shows and analyzes the end of human life that is achieved by Christ’s salvific action. The scholastic system of questions and answers is a continuation of Aristotelian aporia and shows in depth the ontological structure of the thing studied and how to understand the thing in ultimate terms (by the method of reductio ad absurdum).
THE “HUMAN FACT” SEEN FROM WITHIN. The fundamental matter for philosophical anthropology is to establish the “human fact” as an object of study and explanation. What is the fact of being a man and how is this fact given to us? In philosophical anthropology over the ages man was understood either as an “incarnate spirit” according to the tradition of Plato, or as a “rational animal” in the Aristotelian tradition, which become dominant in this domain. The establishment of the “human fact” as an object of study and explanation may be done by calling upon the internal experience of being a man that we perceive in the course of human actions. Both points of view complete each other. Calling upon the “human fact” seen from outside gives a feeling of an objective measure in establishing the object of philosophical explanations. Man seen from the outside appears in history primarily as the creator of tools—homo faber. The epochs of humanity’s development are designated by the kinds of tools man produced, hence the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age, the steam age, electric age, and nuclear age are terms that describe man’s history in the most general terms. The tools man finds accidentally (such as a stick) or which he builds basically serve extra-biological ends, unlike the tools and signs that animals use to preserve the life of the individual or species. A tool that serves extra-biological ends may have many functions, such as a stick which can be used for defense, for support, and to make signs to signal and make oneself understood. The tools man produced developed over human history to such a degree that presently in large measure they create man’s environent of tools and culture: roads, cities, factories, houses, etc.. The development of tools is possible only in organized socieities, and organized societies are only possible with the use of human language as a system of conventional signs. The tools that appear in this context are intentionally composed of different component parts. These parts create in the tool a system of necessary relations. These relations are an intentional joining of many things for a unity of action. The man who creates such a system of tools is a being who knows this internal system of relations in the tool. The knowledge of relations presupposes that the man who creates tools understands this system and so uses rational cognition which is necessary to know and produce a tool.
Man seen from outside is thus a rational being, that is, a being who uses his reason for the sake of an end. The rational connection connected with the making and use of tools appears in man in connection with contemplative and esthetic cognition, which does not produce anything, such as occurs in experiences of theater, music, and religion. Furthermore, reflective cognition occurs in man. This is indicated by the building of cemeteries which show that man comprehends the whole of his life in his cognition. Therefore the “human fact” seen from outside provides information about who man is, for it reveals his rational cogntion in the building and use of tools which are a necessary system of relations; it reveals contemplative-esthetic and reflective cognition.
THE “HUMAN FACT” SEEN FROM INSIDE. The human fact seen “from inside” is accessible to man in each of his experiences of action when he experiences himself as “I who am acting”, which means as the one who elicits from “myself” actions which are “mine”, whether this is in the vegetative, sensitive, or spiritual order. I say that “I” breathe, “I” see, “I” understand, etc.. The experience of what is “I” and what is “mine” and registered as coming forth from “myself” as the subject, is inseparable from all human activity. “I” am given to myself in cognition not under the aspect of the content of this “I”, but under the aspect of its existence. I know that I exist as an acting subuject, but I do not know precisely the content of “I”. Nevertheless I experience the presence of “I” in what is “mine”, and I register this directly. At the same time I experience the transcendence of “I” in relation to what is “mine”, for “I” is not identified with the individual things and series of things that are “mine”. I experience that I am something more than what is “mine”, for I can change what is “mine” and perform my actions in a different way.
The original experience of “I” in the rational acts that are “mine” (acts of knowledge, decision, and production) is the appearance of “I” as a person who is a self of a rational nature. The person thus understood determines man’s dignity, for the person reveals the transcendence of his existence in relation to nature and all the products of social life.
The original experience of being a man presents the real subject which is man, whose ontological structure and whose activity must be explained. This explanation must be made by a metaphysical analysis of that which is “mine” as originating from “I”, which provides an undestanding of the ontological content (nature) of man, whose act of existence is indisputably experienced.
THE SOUL, SOURCE OF LIFE. The ontological unity of the human being needs to be explained, a unity that exists despite the heterogeneity of human action (of that which is “mine”). The explanation is made by showing the one fundamental source of action called the “soul”. This source of action appears within the system of of action that flows from the received genetic code. A uniforum system of action with the experience of the unity and identity of the subject in all the heterogenous acts points to the soul as the factor that actualizes man. The soul, therefore, as an act (’εντελεχει&alpha [entelechaeia] organizes and forms matter for itself to be a human body through which it realizes its (“my”) acts. As the organizer and form of the body, the soul can act only through the body. As it performs acts of intellectual knowledge, acts of decision, and acts of love—which are acts that are immaterial and unmeasurable in their structure—the soul reveals by these acts the character of its existence, and the immaterial structure indicates the essential simplicity of the soul, which in these contexts can come into existence only as a consequence of an act of creation, since the soul transcends all the forces of nature. When we show in human (cognitive and volitional) activity acts of an immaterial structure that transcend nature and society, we indicate that the existence of the soul can be explained by a creative act of God, since it is impossible for that which is simple in its ontological structure to have come into being by evolution. The soul, then, receives existence (becomes) in itself as a subject whose existence it imparts to the body as matter that it organizes. The soul thus understood cannot cease to exist in the incessant organization (and simultaneous disorganization) of the matter of its body. Hence man’s death as the complete disorganization of the body still does not affect that existence of the soul, its immortality. If therefore there are questions about the fact of immortality, this is in man the reason for raising a question that no other beings apart from man raise.
COGNITIVE ACTION. The next philosophical analysis of “my” acts in specifically human action concerns the fact of human knowledge and human love as a consequence of knowledge. In the process of human knowledge we see a sensory phase and an intellectual phase, concluding in an understanding of the known being. Both the sensory and intellectual phaze of cognition occur by the interiorization of the cognitive contents of the known object by produced signs in the knowing subject. The process of cognition begins at the moment the known object sends out physical stimuli (light waves, sounds etc.), which at the moment of reception become physiological stimuli that cause a reflection of the object in the form of the sign in the knowing subject. The object present in a sign is known in the imagination and in the case of man it is “purified” of individual material features and as an intellectual cognitive “image” is is known by the intellect in a conceptual cognitive form. The concept produced by the intellect is an intellectualization of the phantasm through a grasp of necessary features (under an appropriate cognitive aspect) of the things presented in its phantasm. The process of sensory knowledge, both though the external senses that grasp in a material way the existing object, and through the interior sense that draw together the impressions of the various senses into one object, and the process of rational (intellectual) cognition, constitute one continuum of knowledge that grasps the thing itself (as real content) in a system of natural and conventional signs. The natural signs which create the contents of sensory cognition and intellectual-conceptual cognition are spontaneously produced in the knowing subject. Upon this background in order to communicate, the subject produces the conventional signs of human language, and this helps to make precise the content of cognition in intersubjective communication.
Human cogntion occurs in a three-fold system of signs: (a)of the thing signified in cognition (for we do not know everything in the object of cognition, but only that which in some way we “designate” in our cognitive interest); (b) of natural transparent signs which imperceptibly mediate in spontaneous cognition and connect cognition directly with the thing (for we need a special act of reflection to discover the existence of the system of natural signs in the knowing subject); (c) of conventional signs of our language which allow cognitive intersubjective communication and by this communication allow a more precise grasp of the contents of cogntion.
The initiated process of knowledge in the spontanous grasp in signs of the content of the known thing is perfect at the stage of forming judgments about the known thing, and then in the process of reasoning according to logical rules.
The discovered and recognized process of cognition in man reveals the existence of various immediate sources of cognition: the external senses that bring us directly and spontaneously into contact with the individual mateiral thing; the internal senses that organize into one known object the impressions of the various senses; finally the reason capable of grasping in its own way, immaterially and necessarily, the presented cognitive contents. Contents grasped in conceptual cognition and understood in judgmental cognition are subject in a further process of thought (namely logical cognitive operations) to the construction of “plots” that are verifiable by reference to things, or “plots” that live by the logic of thought but have no basis in things.
COGNITION AND CULTURE. The processes of human intellectual cognition are at the foundation of our understanding of human culture which has its origin in this cognition. That is why all the departments of culture that come from human intellectual cogniton possess a semiotic character of existence. They first came into existence as pure “concepts” which when objectified became a model for productive work, and then the content of this “concept-model-plan” was transferred to a subject of cultural existence outside of thought (to voice, gestures, paper, canvas, stone, etc.) If the first mode of the existence of the concept in the cognitive apparatus we call primary intentionality, then the transfer of the mode of existence of planned content to a subject outside of thought we call “secondary intentionality”, but it is always in the form of signs. Our natural congition of the existence of a thing is a signless mode of existence.
Culture understood in the most general sense can be reduced to four great currents that are connected with different mode of cognition: the theoretical current, the practical current, and the poetic current.
The theoretical current of cognition concerns the sphere of prescientific common-sense cognition and scientific forms of cognition; the practical current is expressed in the realm of morality as in the way of realizing the good, and in custom; poetic cognition concerns the realm of technical and artistic creativity. A fourth great current of culture is religion in the individual and social dimension. Religion is the focal point of all the forms of cognition when it becames the ultimate (or first) foundation for personal decisions in all human choices. Every man as he expresses himself as a man in human free and rational decisions has a fundamental reason (expressed in a personal relation to the Transcendent, however understood) for his human decision. This is the fundamental act of religion.
Man’s appetitive acts, like his cognitive acts, are realized on a sensory and spiritual level. On the sensual level they take the form of feelings: both simple appetitive feelings aiming directly at a sensually known good, and feelings of fear or anger that are directed to a good that is sensually known but difficult to achieve, since it is necessary to remove obstacles. The two kinds of feelings witness to two powers of sensory feeling in man: concupiscible and irascible. The feelings evoked may help or hinder acts of the will, desire, or love, which arise from a response to an intellectually known good.
RATIONAL FREEDOM. Acts of the will (volition) are free and are not subject to any necessity apart from the desire or appetite for the good as good, namely for the good conceived analogically. All desires for a concrete good are free, subject only to autodetermination. This means that the will determines itself in a non-necessary way by the choice of a concrete practical judgment about the good, and the reason presents this judgment to the will for choosing. The act of choice is an act of the will. The freedom of the will in acts of decision occurs completely within the domain of man’s internal experience, for man does not choose things directly, but chooses one among many practical judgments concerning things. When the will chooses a judgment concerning a thing, it determines itself in its acts of decision to make its own act of decision. The making of the act of decision is already a constitution of the moral order in man. The moral order encompasses the entire human person, his reason and will, which are tied together in an act of decision for human action. For this reason man’s act of decision is a consitution of moral being, for all human rational and voluntary actions are a realization of the act of decision.
The realization of human acts (namely moral acts) in man should not be accidental but a matter of skill (if they are rational acts). The development of skills in human acts should lead to man’s harmonious development. This occurs by the optimal actualization of huma psychic and moral habits, which were called “optimum potentiae”, namely the supreme form of definite human habitual skills. The whole network of habitual skills, called the virtues (vices are the opposite of virtues and cause evil and irrational deeds), perfects the human faculties of action, and so perfects the reason, will, the sphere concupiscible appetites, and the sphere of irascible appetites. Each of these powers, as an immediate source of action, is subject in the course of action to refinement by the appropriate virtue. Thus the practical reason, which directs the whole process of human action, is refined by prudence in its various dimenions concerning: memory of the past, recognition in the present, and a right prognosis of the future. Justice perfects the action of the will with respect to other persons and is expressed in the legal and social order, in the order of just distribution and exchange. Temperance refines the concupiscible appetites, especially in the domain of self-preservation (eating, drinking, and sexuality), and it gives moderation and the restraint of reason to human appetites. The refinement of the irascible appetites occurs by the virtue of fortitude which enables man to rationally defend the good by rightly attacking evil, in particular, however, by not surrendering to the pressure of evil which must be withstood bravely. The refinement of man in his rational and free human action accents the dynamism of the human being who is completed precisely in human action. Human action, in keeping with man’s rational character, should also be subject to the direction of reason. Reason’s direction in the realm of the appetites is in the strict sense of the word the sublimation of appetites which in man, as a being who is essentially one, must be in agreement with reason as the deciding factor in man’s humanity.
TOWARD SOCIETY. Man directs himself in his conduct by the dictates of reason and free will and is essentially ordered to social life, for he cannot form his reason or acquire the use of reason and human speech without the help of other persons. Also in the realm of will and appetites he cannot develop without a social context.
The human being is a gendered being—man and woman—and is by nature order to social life, and the basic expression of social life is the family. It is the smallest and, at the same time, most basic cell of social life, and in the family man finds the rational possibility to live and develop. In the natural course of things a family is established by monogamous and indissoluble marriage, for this state best favors the development of human life and ensures the rights of the third persons, the children of the family. In the legal order, the family is a subject possessing rights.
In the organization of social life other social constructs appear besides the family. These are like “extended families” in the form of clans, tribes, the nation, and the state, which is organized on the principle of complementarity, which is a rendering of services to man in the realm of personal life (intellectual, moral, and creative development). The shortcomings of a lower social organization are filled by higher and extensive societies. All social groups have as the basis of their social bonds various interpersonal relations. On the one hand, these relations appear in the form of inclinations toward others as a condition of normal life. On the other hand, they form into various systems of relational social constructs such as the fimaly, nation, and the state in their various types of organization. Human society is thus a unique bond based on relations between people that make possible the perfecting of personal life. Various groups of interhuman relations create different societies: familial, national, and state.
THE PERSON—SOVEREIGN. In relation to such existing socieities, man as a personal being transcends these societies and is their end, not merely a means that makes it possible for societies to come into existence and act. Man, as a personal being, is a whole higher in form that the “social whole”—family, nation, and state. Man by his reason (cognition) and will (love) is capable of encompassing these societies, changing them, and giving them new forms of action. Man, as a conscious and free subject, is a stronger form of being than the systems of relations which presuppose the existence of the subject of these relations. Hence the law, as the organizing form of societies and the action of these societies, basically has one chief end which is the good of man as a personal being. Yet man himself in his biological-vital endowment is the integrating part of society, and in aspects of his biological being he is necessarily subordinate to society, and society is entitled to distribute goods that are under social control in due proportion to its members according to the measure of justice. Hence one group of people cannot enrich themselves and arrange things for their own benefit at the cost of others. The domains of social means should be accessible to all according to social proportion. Social proportions, however, are connected with human work which is an actualization of human (and mainly personal) potentialities. Thus in societies the human person is sovereign in the order of personal ends—truth, good, and beauty—and the same man is subject to the sovereignty of society in the realm of means that realize human personal ends.
COMPLETION IN THE ACT OF PERSONAL DEATH. The most important problem in philosophical anthropology (and for really living man) is the fact of human death. If we accept the fact that the soul exists independently in itself as in a subject, we affirm that at the moment of the complete disintegration of the body, the independently existing, immaterial, and essentially incomposite soul can not cease to exist. Thomas Aquinas rightly states in the Summa Theologica (I, q. 75, a. 6), that “[…]that which possesses existence by itself cannot arise or be destroyed except through itself”. For this reason the soul cannot arise by “generation”, that is, by material transformations, for it is the subject of an immaterial existence; nor can it cease to exist by natural destruction, for destruction or corruption does not affect it.
In the problematics of death, we should distinguish death considered in a passive sense, and death considered in an active sense. Death in the passive sense is the disintegration of the human organism. Man cannot avoid this. The passive experience of death basically occurs outside of consciousness. If, however, man is a rationally knowing and loving being in acts of free decision, that is, if he possesses a spiritual life inseparably connected with the soul, then besides death in the passive sense as something suffered externally, we must think of death in an active sense as an experience of the human spirit. This experience occurs in the sphere of the spirit, insofar as the human soul carries the changing actions of the reason and will and their end and ultimate completion. The ultimate completion of the the changing states of the spiritual psyche is the moment of taking the final decision as the personal joining of cognition and love. This is done by virtue of the the ultimate cognition of reality which we affirm in various ways. All our cognition of really existing being is a cognition only of being that is contingent, changing, unintelligible on its own, and so it is an imcomplete cognition that appeals to the source, that is, to the Absolute or God. Without a real and indubitable, intuitive and experiential cognition of God—as the reason for the existence of contingent beings and of ourselves—our intellectual life would be incomplete and unfulfilled in its fundamental and most important point, since it was not provide for the spirit a concrete answer to the question that is involved in all acts of intellectual cognition. Man would be an unnatural and incomplete construct in the most important act of cogntion. The whole course of human nature striving in cognition to discover the meaning of existence would be uncompleted and man would not have in a practical sense any real possibility of infallibly and without doubt resolving existential questions. Since there is no possibility of such cognition in the course of the variable duration of this life, for this variable duration only gives rise to the problematics but does not resolve it, then only at the moment this period is ended—at the moment of death (after the biological activities of the brain cease)—can it be completed, when the act of intellectual cognition stands before God as the first and ultimate reason of being. In the final and ultimately fulfilling act of intellectual cognition, the soul as the source of cognition “sees” God to whom the whole life of the person was subordered, just as contingent and variable beings that are not intelligible by themselves are subordered to the Absolute as the single reason that can account for their existence without entailing a contradiction.
Likewise in the experience of love and happiness the necessity of man’s ultimate completion appears, and this occurs at the moment of “passage”, death personally experienced. The human will is inclined to something more than concrete volition. No concrete volition or love can match the human will and its living capacity disposed to infinity, so something always greater. Thomas Aquinas called this duality of the will “appetitus naturalis”—the natural appetite of the will, and “appetitus elicitus”—concrete appetition elicited toward a concrete good. No concrete good that is an object of the will can fill or satisfy human appetition which by virtue of the ontological structure of the will is directed toward the general good, which is the sign of the desire for happiness. This desire for happiness is the motor of all the concrete desires that accompany every elicited act of appetition, and this desire is a natural and inextinguishable desire for God. Proof of this is that man in his nature is inclined to an infinite good, since he shows this constantly in his volitional desires. If this is a desire of nature, it has a chance of being fulfilled in human life, in its ultimate, final, and completing act. This “intersection” of the abstract and infinite with the concrete and real which takes place in human nature is possible and necessary at the moment life ends, when God as the Absolute (still not in a supernatural vision) stands before the human spirit to show himself to the human spirit as the real and concrete good that was acting in us through the changing world of goods, a world that never satisfied the capacity of our will. The world of changing things and people prepares us and enables us to choose and cling to the revealed Good, God. Death thus understood is a fulfillment of the natural desire of the human will, since only at that moment can there be a total confrontation of human desires, loves and decisions with the concrete and infinite good, for this is not possible in any other moment of human life because of the variation in goods and in the human will. Love as a form of human existence conquers death, and in the moment biological life ceases it gains the condition for full declaration, full freedom, and a full actuation of the human person who is ultimately joined in an act of love with the known transcendent Thou, who is chosen in an act of perfect decision, who ultimately completes, and to whom every real human love and every free decision leads. Death as experienced in an active sense becomes the factors the gives ultimate meaning to human life.
Man’s life appears as existing: first in the mother’s womb from which he receives all the conditions of life; then in the bosom of the earth and the whole cosmos which prepares him through questions, imperfect love, and imperfect decisions for his ultimate completion in the “bosom of God” at the moment of “passage” when the conditions that limit human actions through matter cease and there is a maturation to ultimate completion as a person by a decision of the ultimate choice of God as the Absolute Being, Truth, Good, and Beauty.
Mieczysław A. Krąpiec
ANTHROPOLOGY. SYSTEMATIZING THREADS. The general systematic context. The history of philosophy does not note a turn in interest toward man in early times. In ancient times the main object of philosophical interest was primarily the cosmos, and man was treated as one of the elements of the cosmos. Protagoras’ thesis of man as the measure of all things was not resolved philosophically. Even if philosophers considered human matters, it was most often only under cognitive or moral aspects. Likewise the establishment of man’s ontological place in the universe was not done directly, but within the philosophy of nature. Hence the problem of the soul as the form that distinguishes people from other changing beings became properly a part of cosmology. Also, Plato’s and Aristotle’s attempts to determine the nature of the soul and its relation to the body may be thematically and methodically associated with ontology.
Some Christian thinkers had a theological conception of man according to which man was an element of the order of Divine things (e.g., “imago Dei” in St. Augustine). Philosophical thinkers in the early Middle Ages were not so much concerned with man’s essence as with his salvation. Also, the theocentrism presented by Thomas Aquinas did not lead to a specific treatment of the anthropological problematic in philosophy. Already, however, certain foundations in theory of being and action were being formulated, and a place was being prepared for the acceptance of the dignity of the person.
Anthropocentrism. In the fourteenth century philosophers began to focus quite explicitly on man as a knowing subject and on everything else that is cognitively given to man. Nicholas de Cusa raised the rank of the human person and emphasized the person’s individuality and creative abilities. Renaissance humanism was more of a rallying cry than a thematically and methodically defined philosophical proposition. While they really searched for answers to the question of what man is, they did not do this at an ontological level. Some deliberated in detail on the art of human living (M. de Montaigne), many moralized (F. de La Rochefoucauld, J. de La Bruyére); B. Pascal had a lively interest in man’s greatness and nothingness, the contradictions within man, and the mysterious nature of man. Some even tried to explain the human individual as overcoming his own products to form new works that better correspond to reality (F. Bacon). For the most part, however, philosophers approached the matter by introspection (at first) or in historical terms (at a later period) which meant that their studies were only in a small degree related to philosophy. But then, in connection with psychology, the conception of anthropology finally appeared.
Epistemological anthropocentrism was appeared distinctly in the seventeenth century, but there was not a turn to man in his whole concrete structure, but to the pure subject. According to Descartes and Locke, human consciousness as the only subject and object of philosophical analyses became the source of human knowledge and the standard of the value of knowledge. The philosophy of cognition was not an introduction to philosophy or a fragment of philosophy, but if it did not replace philosophy, then it absorbed philosophy in its fundamental part. One sign of the partial treatment of man is Descartes’ description of man primarily as a res cogitans as opposed to a res extensa. This approach persisted in the eighteenth century. In Kant’s theory of the autonomous and active reason, the reason is moreover treated as the internal object of philosophy. Regardless of whether natural anthropology was well-grounded (J. F. Blumenbach), the great critic of Königsburg divided separated from philosophical anthropology a so-called anthropology that would consider man as free and creative, and especially as one who forms himself (“man aspires to culture and civility”). The separated discipline, however, does not have a philosophical character; it is simply a cultural and historical theory of man. The eighteenth century, however, anticipated the philosophy of man as philosophers looked for the principles of human nature (especially D. Hume).
The nineteenth century presents a great variety of approaches to the question of the human essence. The German idealists generally treated man as absolute reason. An emphasis on the activity of human thought led in the case of Hegel to objective idealism. The object of thought is everything; it exists dialectically and by evolution. Hegel also made the theory of culture, conceived in terms of development, into the most important field of philosophy. Because of this a reaction began against rationalism and idealism and pave the way for ontological anthropocentrism, that is, for a school that approached the theory of reality from man and considered man concretely. L. Feuerbach put man in the first place in philosophy (philosophy=anthropology), but he conceived of man as the most perfect product of nature (naturalism) and of cultural reality as man’s projection. K. Marx followed the same line and formulated the premises of a materialistic philosophy of man: the theory of alienation and socialist humanism.
The development of the so-called particular sciences in the nineteenth century, especially the so-called human sciences, did not favor the development of an autonomous philosophy of man. The human person was found neither in the center of the universe, nor could the human person be am object of precise investigations. Scientists excluded human questions from the field of scientific treatment. Humanists often proclaimed relativism in culture and human values. Philosophy was most occupied with man’s self-portrait, and philosophy’s treatment of this was very narrow. Philosophy described particular aspects of man, e.g., homo religiosus, homo faber, homo creator, and homo ludens.
S. Kierkegaard’s existential anthropology arose from the philosophy of the subject. In his case a philosophical analysis of consciousness was the direct and best way to authentic being, which is concrete human existence. The uniqueness of authentic being is in self-reflection, the relation of someone to himself and the tragedy of choosing between opposing alternatives (Christ or nothingness, infinity or finitude, freedom or necessity, the eternal or the temporal …). Man’s task is self-perfection. The mixture of idealism with naturalism and evolutionism (even with the apotheosis of the brutality of instincts) lies at the foundations of the anthropology suggestively expounded by F. Nietzsche. Human life here becomes the fundamental anthropological category. In this atmosphere of thought around 1900 there arose an attempt to treat the whole of philosophy as the theory of man, and the theory of man was identified with the philosophy of man’s life. An attractive example of this was provided by H. Bergson, W. Dilthey, and later L. Klages. They tried (each in his own way) to put human life in the foreground in their studies, and they generally emphasized the irrational and creative moments in human life.
M. Scheler appeared upon this background. Scheler was the author of philosophical anthropology as autonomous from the particular sciences and as the discipline most typical of modern thought. According to Scheler the philosophy of man neither synthesizes the findings of the particular sciences nor does it interpret them philosophically, but it investigates ontological human nature. By the use of the phenomenological method, “die Selbstproblematik des Menschen” appeared in all its spheres: knowledge, being, action, experience, etc.. It is, as it were, man’s philosophical self-consciousess. Man is not an element of the organic word. He is not the highest product of biological evolution, but a spiritual personality who turns toward himself and transcends the world, hence even metaphysics becomes a “Meta-anthropologie”.
Existentialism provided the grounds for a full philosophical anthropocentrism. Existentialism was also grafted to the tree of subjective philosophy (for the most part, the “I” cannot be objectified). Initially the philosophy of man was treated as an introduction to metaphysics (“regionale Ontologie”). Later, however philosophical anthropology replaced the philosophy of being (M. Heidegger), and sometimes even had little in common with it. The mode of human existence (“alienation from existence”) was already recognized as philosophical thinking (K. Jaspers and G. Marcel). Philosophical anthropology is the theory of man’s authentic existence. Human existence is not only the first and central object of philosophy, but is also the whole proper theme of philosophy. Although the existentialist philosophical anthropology is mostly based on self-consciousness or self-understanding, it takes as its starting point various moments of the human phenomenon and accents various types of problematics. The problematics sometimes may be closely tied with ethics (e.g., in J. P. Sartre), or theology (e.g., in M. Buber, R. Bultmann, E. Brunner, D. Bonhoeffer, P. Tillich, K. Rahner), or with other fields. Depending on what aspect of human existence is chosen, the whole philosophy of man may become interpersonalistic (e.g., in M. Buber), or personalistic, more or less hermeneutical, and may refer more or less strongly to the tradition of ontology.
Phenomenological explanations. We often encounter models of philosophical anthropology which, while they preserve an existential starting point and a phenomenological method, try to construct an objective metaphysics of man. Perhaps left often, while they do not deny its autonomy, they see it as a section or thematic aspect at the same time of classical ontology, cosmology, theodicy, and ethics. Nevertheless the conception of an autonomous philosophical anthropology built completely within the framework of the classical philosophy of being emerged and took a definite form. It was then treated mostly as one of the disciplines of so-called particular metaphysics which seeks the ultimate ontological reasons for human behavior.
The propositions of philosophical anthropology are presented with great ingenuity. Philosophical anthropology is a kind of synthetic culmination of the particular sciences concerning man. This is most often done on the ground of one leading discipline. It does not always need to be only an extrapolative generalization, often a positivistic synthesis. Sometimes it is a speculative completion of the particular sciences and is strictly connected with metaphysics or ethics. H. Plessner’s model is an example of such a philosophy of man that stands in a middle position (between the theory of being and natural science). A. Gehlan also tried to draw broadly and abundantly on the material provided by the particular sciences in a philosophical “explanation” of man’s essence. A. Portmann works in anthropology mainly on the canvas of biology and a comparative study of human behavior. P. Teilhard de Chardin draws an attractive vision of man and his position in the universe (seasoned moreover with mysticism) on basic of far-reaching extrapolations from the findings of cosmogenesis and biogenesis. Even medicine provided some with foundations for constructing a philosophy of man.
There are often philosophical attempts to create a vision of man as a whole by developing upon psychology. It is thought that it is sufficient in this to consider in the starting point all human experiences. Philosophical anthropology, however, finds the fullest support in the humanities. From this point of view we may distinguish at least three varieties of the philosophy of man: based more or less explicitly on the neo-Kantian tradition, the Marxist tradition, or the structuralist tradition. A different type of philosophical anthropology is formed in connection with futurology (D. Gabor, N. Rotenstreich, Bromberger, Pendell, Köstler). The general consensus is that philosophical anthropology cannot be replaced by any other single science about man or by the other sciences taken together. However, writers begin to disagree already when they consider how adequate to the above-mentioned tasks is a philosophy which is a meta-science in relation to disciplines concerning human matters. It is not difficult, however, to agree that a mere logical or semiotic analysis of languages or a theory of the methods of the particular sciences concerning man, or a critique of knowledge in those sciences does lead to an ultimately grounded resolution of the questions that surround the mystery of man as a whole. His nature, existence, and position in the cosmos require objective studies, and these studies must concern the deepest human structure. Finally, in general the limitation of philosophical thought to the cultivation of meta-science has not only been ineffective in dealing with the essential problematic formed by a tradition spanning centuries, but has also been consequently unworkable.
Synthetic approaches. The value of philosophical anthropology as a synthetic and general superstructure upon the base of comparative science concerning man has caused much more controversy. This superstructure takes different forms. It may be an encyclopedic and synthetic elaboration of the results of natural and cultural anthropology, psychology, and sociology (which would provide a mosaic vision of man), or it may be an extrapolative generalization of the most theoretical positions of the sciences mentioned (a so-called inductive philosophy of man), or it may be a crowning synthesis of scientific achievements that occur on the level of one leading discipline or outside of any discipline according to an ad hoc invented guiding idea or even a preconception of man (people who have exceptionally creative minds and have proper scientific training and experience in life achieve this), or it may be an analytic and critical reflection on facts generally accepted in the sciences concerning human matters and aim at constructing a rationally grounded answer to the fundamental questions about man’s nature, position in the world, and the meaning of his existence.
The encyclopedic and synthetic approach in philosophical anthropology does not use the necessary ultimate foundations for building a view on the world. It does not go essentially beyond the findings of the particular sciences concerning man. While it provides a mass of detailed information, it does not look at this information with a new perspective of the whole which would consider man’s primary unity and integrity, but it merely summarizes partial aspects mechanically. It is not able to be the sort of foundation the humanities and practical sciences concerning man want to have, for it is properly only a concise presentation of the results of those sciences. To explain particular and partial aspects of the human person and his products we must employ ideal or paradigmatic types of man’s behavior and a theoretical model of human activity. These types or models cannot be a generalization of observation but must be the result of a separate intellectual approach to man’s nature and his ontological identity. There is even a paradoxical situation. The more the philosophical of man is joined with the particular sciences, the less does it perform the function of their basis or play the role of a theoretical foundation for a view of the world. The same applies to the philosophy of man as an extrapolation of the most general theses of the thematically relevant disciplines. No essentially new contents are obtained here, and the epistemological and methodological values of such philosophical inductive anthropology quickly diminish the further it travels from strictly scientific knowledge. The results obtained in this way cannot be scientifically verified nor do the contribute basically to resolving the problems that most bother our mind, the problems concerning the ultimate reason for existence and the meaning of human life.
Models of the philosophy of man that crown the findings of the appropriate sections of the humanities and natural science with critical analysis or synthesis are also not free from the above difficulties. The multi-science theory of man does not use a method or language common to the sciences about man that meet the demands of the logic of science. A reflection, however, upon the human matters that these sciences study either does not go beyond the framework of a particular discipline or the reflection does not fit within the discipline and becomes an autonomous type of knowledge. In the latter case data for explaining the fact must be acquired by a different conceptual apparatus and must employ a different method for legitimizing proposed hypotheses. The proposition of compromise, that philosophical anthropology could draw its initial facts from the particular sciences and explain them in depth by showing the ontological reasons they imply only seems to resolve the difficulty in choosing a proper way for science and philosophy to work together. Scientific facts are not written in a language independent of a particular explanatory theory. Hence there are not, strictly speaking, any scientific facts common to the essentially different theories of natural science, the humanities, and philosophy. Each of these has its own facts to explain, each studies reality under a specific aspect, and each presents itself with different goals in the acquisition of knowledge.
The need for a metaphysical anthropology. The need for a philosophical science about man does not contradict the these that, besides the particular sciences about man and autonomous philosophical anthropology, there are merits to a third science built upon these sciences. This certainly contributes to the organization of many pieces of information about man and allows us more easily to avoid gaps and accidental disharmony in these, and to see analogies and relations of dependence among the regional spheres that lead to knowledge. Likewise there is still a need for the philosopher to be familiar with the important findings of the particular sciences. Independent of the functions these findings perform in the broader culture, they provoke and prepare on the side questions for the philosophy of man and help under a negative aspect to clarify the facts at its starting point. Finally, when we oppose a conception of the philosophy of man that is based on an ideology or idealization of natural sciences (scientism), we are not justifying any kind of irrationalism in philosophical anthropology. There are serious historical reasons for thinking that an autonomous philosophy of man is possible, one which does not draw on sources of knowledge outside the range of reason and which ultimately provides an empirically legitimate resolution to the problems which torment human beings and which cannot be examined in the framework of nonphilosophical disciplines.
It does not seem right as we evaluate the gravity of man’s mystery and role that we should have to proclaim epistemological anthropocentrism (which is the position of many phenomenologists) or ontological anthropocentrism (typical of existentialists). Man does appear to be an unusual and privileged being in the way he acts and his position in the world. Man even appears to be like a keystone for the ontological variety of the cosmos. Our human consciousness enables us to grasp our own person as our own “I” and everything else as given to the subject or as the action of the subject. Human beings do not comprise the entire field of interest in philosophy. More importantly, human beings cannot become the deepest reason that explains all reality. Man is also an element of the cosmos. Hence we need a theory concerning types of beings other than human beings. We also need a general theory of being to fully and ultimately explain everything however it exists that does not exist by necessity. Finally, while experience of the self, self-understanding, and self-perfection are important factors in defining who we are, they are not the whole of human knowledge or of human action. We need beyond these knowledge obtained by “extraspection” which is extra-objective.
Philosophical anthropology is not a philosophical interpretation from man’s position concerning nature, society, and cognition, but it is a separate section of philosophy. This view also have other consequences for our considerations. The philosophical interpretation of human facts is not immune to subjectivism and its consequences unless at the starting point we do not consider besides self-experience and self-understanding also what it known about the basic structures of objective reality. We should not understand this as if the philosophy of man were merely a development of ontology or as if a merely reflection on the nature of philosophy could lead us to see there philosophical anthropology. Philosophical anthropology cannot be a particularization of general metaphysics, but it does remain metaphysics. It possesses distinct data to explain. The phenomena it takes in its starting point are located within the horizon of being, but are of a human type; they are constitutive and fundamental for man and his existential position. However, since they are not only absolute situations of my “I” alone, but also of the relations of my self to another person, to another thing, to the future, to the whole universe, and further more they are not explained by their own nature and therefore to interpret them in depth we must do so in the framework of cognition of a metaphysical type. In the most theoretical explanations we must use the method of the philosophy of being and its conceptual apparatus. Of course, this method is enriched in accordance with the different starting point of philosophical anthropology. The language also transforms general metaphysical terms into terms in which new contents are expressed (on the basis of analogy). With regard to this analogical character it produces new concepts and also characterizes them by referring to general metaphysical concepts. Thereby we can reasonably say that human existence is ultimately and fully explained by man’s inner ontological structure. This structure is in large measure common to all beings, and more important, it is a shared participation in the absolute being.
The approach of philosophical anthropology requires that its system must methodologically presuppose so-called general metaphysics and the philosophy of nature, and it must precede metaphysical psychology, ethics, esthetics, and the whole philosophy of culture. Philosophical anthropology explains human phenomena by their ontological structure and, which follows from this, their ontological position among beings. For this, metaphysical theses about the composition of being, the properties of beings, and the hierarchy of their types are necessary. Again the other mentioned disciplines of so-called particular metaphysics in the interpretation of the events from which they begin their consideration draw on the statements from the philosophy of man. However, when engaging in metaphysics as a whole we cannot make sharply divide the stages ordered to the particular parts of metaphysics. It is most characteristic of metaphysics to return in cycles to contacts with reality, to search repeatedly for analogies among different kinds of existence, and under this aspect constantly to give expression to theses that have already been obtained. The explanatory metaphysical reflection and the experiential grasp to phenomena along with our first understanding of phenomena overlap.
The particular sciences today do not always provide an answer to the question of who man is taken as a whole, and the question of how he is related to other beings (species, society, culture, nature, non-temporal values, the Absolute). The sciences do not tell us whether man is simple in essence or composite in his ontological structure, or what is the meaning of man in his ontological perspective. We do not know how ultimately to resolve the dichotomies of man and the world, freedom and necessity, immanence and transcendence, or the dualism and the unity of soul and body. Nor are philosophical theories of partial perspectives of human personality sufficient to resolve these problems, even if these theories cover various functions in man and variations of the same topic. Thus philosophical anthropologies such as the following do not resolve the problems mentioned above: the theory of perception and esthetic creation (M. Dufrenne, M. Souriau), the theory of knowledge (E. Husserl), the theory of morality or natural law (J. G. Fichte, J. P. Sartre), the theory of religion (F. W. Schelling, J. Bachofen, P. Ricoeur), the theory of existence alone (M. Heidegger), or the theory of the creation of the sign (E. Cassirer). In all manifestations and activities man is ontologically identical, although he may have different and diametrically opposed profiles. We must find a perspective in the philosophy of man to achieve a complementarity of approaches. The antagonism between conceptions of philosophical anthropology to this time does not help in searching for such a perspective. Meanwhile the responsibility of human beings for the reality in which they live and create increases, and despite the immense progress of science and technology the problems in taking the best attitude in civilization as it is at present do not lessen. It turns out that sufficient and rationally grounded foundations for resolving this tangled, unexplored, and rich human reality can be provided by a theory that studies man under the aspect of his being and shows the ultimate reasons in his ontological structure for man. The problems of death, guilt, and suffering are not resolved unless man is put in the ontological perspective of the Absolute (man is called to eternal happiness). The philosophy of man should show man’s transcendence (openness, reference) not only to a human “thou”, but also to the divine &ldquo:Thou”. Man’s reason and end is the Absolute who is described as “Thou” for man (K. Rahner). In this general statements is hidden a sufficient basis for legitimizing the basic theoretical theses of a view on the world and concrete principles of action. The particular sciences about man also find there an expression and justification of their implications. At the same time all this is a theoretical verification of the philosophy of man.
Philosophical anthropology applies a metaphysical and necessary way of explanation and shows the structure of the human being and his essential action. Man may also become an object of explanation in other types of scientific knowledge. If we use the method of the natural sciences we may study man as a biological subject in the context of various phenomena. The study and description of man’s biological properties is presented by natural anthropology. J. Czekanowski and his school developed and enriched natural anthropology in Poland.
Man in his biological differentiation within the species causes by the variety of physical characteristics in time and space expresses himself variously in his social actions. An analysis of man’s mode of behavior and his cultural (social) activity is the object of cultural anthropology, called also ethnology, the various forms of which are continually developing, such as the structural anthropology of C. Levi-Strauss, and the psychological anthropology of S. Freud and his circle of thinkers.
Theological studies based on biblical Revelation concerning man, his origin, his nature, and his destiny, form biblical (theological) anthropology which considers the light of faith in understanding the human being as a self-aware and free person.
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Mieczysław A. Krąpiec, Stanisław Kamiński