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The Person: Subject and Community

Reprinted by permission from Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II, Person and Community: Selected ssays,
translated by !heresa Sando", #S$, and a%ailable throu&h Peter 'an& Publishin&(
Karol Wojtyla
)ll of the reflections I shall be presentin& here refer to and are rooted in my boo" !he )ctin&
Person( *ased on the analyses in that boo", I +ish to ree,amine the connection that e,ists bet+een
the subjecti%ity of the human person and the structure of human community( !his problem +as
already outlined in !he )ctin& Person, especially in the final section -Participation(. /ere I +ish to
de%elop that outline some+hat, be&innin& +ith the concept of person, +hich itself +as rather
e,tensi%ely discussed in the boo"( $any of the analyses presented in !he )ctin& Person are closely
connected +ith the problem of the subjecti%ity of the human person0 one mi&ht e%en say that they
all in some +ay contribute to an understandin& and disclosure of this subjecti%ity( It +ould be
difficult here to reproduce them in full( Certain sections could be compiled as an appendi, to this
essay( In addition, I should also mention a discussion that too" place in connection +ith !he )ctin&
Person at a meetin& of professors of philosophy( !a"en as a +hole, the papers from that discussion
constitute an e,tensi%e contribution to Polish philosophical anthropolo&y0 it +as also +ith this in
mind that they +ere subse1uently published in )nalecta Craco%iensia(
The Problem o Subjecti!ity
!he problem of the subjecti%ity of the human bein& is a problem of paramount philosophical
importance today( 2i%er&ent tendencies contend +ith one another o%er it0 their co&niti%e
assumptions and orientations often &i%e it a diametrically opposed form and meanin&( !he
philosophy of consciousness +ould ha%e us belie%e that it first disco%ered the human subject( !he
philosophy of bein& is prepared to demonstrate that 1uite the opposite is true, that in fact an analysis
of pure consciousness leads ine%itably to an annihilation of the subject( !he need arises to find the
actual point at +hich phenomenolo&ical analyses based on the assumptions of the philosophy of
consciousness be&in to +or" in fa%or of an enrichment of the realistic ima&e of the person( !he
need also arises to authenticate the foundations of such a philosophy of person(
In addition, the problem of the subjecti%ity of the person3particularly in relation to human
community3imposes itself today as one of the central ideolo&ical issues that lie at the %ery basis of
human pra,is, morality 4and thus also ethics5, culture, ci%ili6ation, and politics( Philosophy comes
into play here in its essential function: philosophy as an e,pression of basic understandin&s and
ultimate justifications( !he need for such understandin&s and justifications al+ays accompanies
human"ind in its sojourn on earth, but this need becomes especially intense in certain moments of
history, namely, in moments of &reat crisis and confrontation( !he present a&e is such a moment( It
is a time of &reat contro%ersy about the human bein&, contro%ersy about the %ery meanin& of human
e,istence, and thus about the nature and si&nificance of the human bein&( !his is not the first time
that Christian philosophy has been faced +ith a materialistic interpretation, but it is the first time
that such an interpretation has had so many means at its disposal and has e,pressed itself in so many
currents( !his aptly describes the situation in Poland today +ith respect to the +hole political reality
that has arisen out of $ar,ism, out of dialectical materialism, and stri%es to +in minds o%er to this
We "no+ that such situations in history ha%e fre1uently led to a deeper reflection on Christian truth
as a +hole, as +ell as on particular aspects of it( !hat is also the case today( !he truth about the
human bein&, in turn, has a distinctly pri%ile&ed place in this +hole process( )fter nearly t+enty
years of ideolo&ical debate in Poland, it has become clear that at the center of this debate is not
cosmolo&y or philosophy of nature but philosophical anthropolo&y and ethics: the &reat and
fundamental contro%ersy about the human bein&(
7rom the point of %ie+ of Christian philosophy, and theolo&y as +ell, such a turn of e%ents 4+hich
+as reflected in the entire teachin& of the Second 8atican Council, especially in the constitution
9audium et spes5 fa%ors treatin& the topic of the human person from a %ariety of an&les( 4I ha%e
al+ays to some e,tent ta"en this approach in my publications(5 !he present +or" also de%elops in
accord +ith this principle(
"# $%TW%%& T'% S(PPOS)T(* A&+ T'% '(*A& S%L,: R%,L%CT)O&S O& T'%
S($J%CT)-)TY O, T'% P%RSO&
"#"# The %./erience o the 'uman $ein0
In the field of e,perience, the human bein& appears both as a particular suppositum and as a
concrete self, in e%ery instance uni1ue and unrepeatable( !his is an e,perience of the human bein&
in t+o senses simultaneously, for the one ha%in& the e,perience is a human bein& and the one bein&
e,perienced by the subject of this e,perience is also a human bein&( !he human bein& is
simultaneously its subject and object( #bjecti%ity belon&s to the essence of e,perience, for
e,perience is al+ays an e,perience of -somethin&. or -somebody. 4in this case, -somebody.5( !he
tendency to retreat to+ard the -pure subjecti%ity. of e,perience is characteristic of the philosophy
of consciousness, about +hich more +ill be said later( In reality, ho+e%er, objecti%ity belon&s to the
essence of e,perience, and so the human bein&, +ho is the subject, is also &i%en in e,perience in an
objecti%e +ay( ,perience, so to spea", dispels the notion of -pure consciousness. from human
"no+led&e, or rather it summons all that this notion has contributed to our "no+led&e of the human
bein& to the dimensions of objecti%e reality(
In e,perience, the human bein& is &i%en to us as someone +ho e,ists and acts( I am such an e,istin&
and actin& indi%idual and so is e%eryone else( !he e,perience of e,istin& and actin& is somethin&
that all human bein&s, both others and I, ha%e in common0 at the same time, all human bein&s, both
others and I, are also the object of this e,perience( !his occurs in different +ays, because I
e,perience my o+n self as e,istin& and actin& differently from ho+ I e,perience others, and so does
e%ery other concrete self( #b%iously, thou&h, I must include both others and myself in the +hole
process of understandin& the human bein&( I can proceed in this process either from others or from
myself( Special attention to this self is particularly important for a full understandin& of the
subjecti%ity of the human bein&, because in no other object of the e,perience of the human bein&
are the constituti%e elements of this subjecti%ity &i%en to me in such an immediate and e%ident +ay
as in my o+n self(
When I construct an ima&e of the person as subject on the basis of the e,perience of the human
bein&, I dra+ especially upon the e,perience of my o+n self, but ne%er in isolation from or in
opposition to others( )ll analyses aimed at illuminatin& human subjecti%ity ha%e their -cate&orial.
limits( We can neither &o beyond those limits nor completely free oursel%es from them, for they are
strictly connected +ith the objecti%ity of e,perience( )s soon as +e be&in to accept the notion of
-pure consciousness. or the -pure subject,. +e abandon the %ery basis of the objecti%ity of the
e,perience that allo+s us to understand and e,plain the subjecti%ity of the human bein& in a
complete +ay3but then +e are no lon&er interpretin& the real subjecti%ity of the human bein&(
:or are +e interpretin& it +hen +e focus in a purely -phenomenal. or -symptomatic. +ay on
indi%idual functions or e%en on selecti%e structural +holes +ithin the human bein&, as do the
different particular sciences that e,amine the human bein& in a %ariety of aspects( While it cannot
be denied that throu&h the use of this method these sciences &ather more and more material for
understandin& the human person and human subjecti%ity, they themsel%es do not pro%ide this
understandin&( #n the other hand, because they do supply us +ith an e%er increasin& body of
empirical "no+led&e about the human bein&, +e must constantly rene+ 4or, as it +ere,
-reinterpret.5 philosophically the essential content of our ima&e of the human bein& as a person(
!his need also increases alon& +ith the +hole +ealth of phenomenolo&ical analyses, +hich, in the
interests of the objecti%ity of e,perience, must in some +ay be transposed from the plane of
consciousness and inte&rated into the full reality of the person( !here can be no doubt that these
analyses are especially %aluable and fruitful for the entire process of understandin& and e,plainin&
the subjecti%ity of the person(
!his state of research on the human bein&, and in particular its rather +ell;defined and differentiated
approach to the basic source of "no+led&e of the human bein&, that is, to the full and
multidimensional e,perience of the human bein&, allo+s us to accept completely the ancient
concept of suppositum and, at the same time, to understand it a ne+ +ay( !o say that the human
bein&3I and e%ery other human bein&3is &i%en in e,perience as a suppositum is to say that the
+hole e,perience of the human bein&, +hich re%eals the human bein& to us as someone +ho e,ists
and acts, both allo+s and le&itimately re1uires us to concei%e the human bein& as the subject of that
e,istence and acti%ity( )nd this is precisely +hat is contained in the concept of suppositum( !his
concept ser%es to e,press the subjecti%ity of the human bein& in the metaphysical sense( *y
-metaphysical,. I mean not so much -beyond;the;phenomenal. as -throu&h;the;phenomenal,. or
-trans;phenomenal(. !hrou&h all the phenomena that in e,perience &o to ma"e up the +hole human
bein& as someone +ho e,ists and acts, +e percei%e3someho+ +e must percei%e3the subject of
that e,istence and acti%ity( #r better, +e percei%e that the human bein& is3must be3that -subject(.
#ther+ise the +hole e,istence and acti%ity &i%en to us in e,perience as the human bein&<s e,istence
and acti%ity 4and, in the concrete case of my o+n self, as my e,istence and acti%ity5 could not be the
human bein&<s 4my5 e,istence and acti%ity( $etaphysical subjecti%ity, or the suppositum, as the
transphenomenal and therefore fundamental e,pression of the e,perience of the human bein&, is
also the &uarantor of the identity of this human bein& in e,istence and acti%ity(
*y sayin& that the suppositum is the fundamental e,pression of the +hole e,perience of the human
bein&, I mean that this e,pression is in some sense an in%iolable one: e,perience cannot be detached
from it, and, at the same time, that it is open to e%erythin& that the e,perience of the human bein&,
especially the e,perience of one<s o+n self, can brin& to the understandin& of the subjecti%ity of the
person( While reco&ni6in& the special and distinct character of metaphysical "no+led&e, I am not
+illin& to let it be di%orced from the rest of human "no+led&e( )fter all, all "no+led&e is
metaphysical at root, for it reaches to bein&0 this cannot, ho+e%er, obscure the si&nificance of the
particular aspects of bein& for understandin& it in its full richness(
"#1# O/erari Se2uitur %sse
!he disco%ery of the human suppositum, or human subjecti%ity in the metaphysical sense, also
brin&s +ith it a basic understandin& of the relation bet+een e,istence and acti%ity( !his relation is
e,pressed in the philosophical ada&e: operari se1uitur esse( )lthou&h the ada&e sounds as thou&h it
+ere referrin& to a unilateral relation, namely, to the causal dependence of acti%ity on e,istence, it
also implies yet another relation bet+een operari and esse( If operari results from esse, then operari
is also3proceedin& in the opposite direction3the most proper a%enue to "no+led&e of that esse(
!his is, therefore, a &nosiolo&ical dependence( 7rom human operari, then, +e disco%er not only that
the human bein& is its -subject,. but also +ho the human bein& is as the subject of his or her
acti%ity( #perari, ta"en as the total dynamism of the human bein&, enables us to arri%e at a more
precise and proper understandin& of the subjecti%ity of the human bein&( *y subjecti%ity here, I am
no lon&er referrin& to just the suppositum as the subject in the metaphysical sense0 I am also
referrin& to e%erythin& that, based upon this suppositum, ma"es the human bein& an indi%idual,
personal subject(
!he dynamism proper to the human bein& is comple, and differentiated( )bstractin& for the
moment from other differentiations, +e should note that the structural +hole of human dynamism
4operari in the broadest sense of the term5 includes e%erythin& that in some sense merely happens in
the human bein&, alon& +ith e%erythin& that the human bein& does( !he latter3i(e(, action3is a
distinct form of human operari0 the human bein& is re%ealed as a person mainly in and throu&h
action( ) complete analysis of human dynamism +ould &i%e us a complete picture of human
subjecti%ity( *y a complete analysis, I mean an analysis not only of actions but also of e%erythin&
that happens in the human bein& on both the somatic and the psychic le%els, or, more precisely, on
both the somatic;reacti%e and the psychic;emoti%e le%els3for there can be no doubt that human
subjecti%ity reflects the comple,ity of human nature and is, therefore, in some sense
multidimensional( ) deeper analysis based on the relation operari se1uitur esse and carried out
al+ays +ithin the conte,t of the human suppositum, or metaphysical subjecti%ity, +ould help re%eal
the nature of both the somatic and the psychic subjecti%ity of the human bein&0 in other +ords, such
an analysis +ould help sho+ ho+ human persons are subjects throu&h their bodies and psyches( It
+ould be difficult not at least to mention the enormous si&nificance of the emotions for the
de%elopment of a concrete human subjecti%ity, i(e(, for the "ind of subject that a concrete human
bein& is, namely, both an indi%idual and a person(
I shall, ho+e%er, set aside that +hole line of in1uiry here, for I belie%e that the form of human
operari that has the most basic and essential si&nificance for &raspin& the subjecti%ity of the human
bein& is action: conscious human acti%ity, in +hich the freedom proper to the human person is
simultaneously e,pressed and concreti6ed( !hus, remainin& al+ays +ithin the conte,t of the
suppositum 4the suppositum humanum, of course5, or subjecti%ity in the metaphysical and
fundamental sense, +e can arri%e at a "no+led&e and e,planation of subjecti%ity in the sense proper
to the human bein&, namely, subjecti%ity in the personal sense( )fter all, metaphysical subjecti%ity
in the sense of suppositum belon&s to e%erythin& that in any +ay e,ists and acts0 it belon&s to
different e,istin& and actin& bein&s accordin& to an analo&y of proportionality( We must, therefore,
define more precisely the subjecti%ity proper to the human bein&, namely, personal subjecti%ity,
ta"in& as our basis the +hole of human dynamism 4operari5, but especially the dynamism that may
properly be called the acti%ity of the human bein& as a person: the dynamism of action(
*e&innin&, then, +ith action, +e cannot help but percei%e that the personal subjecti%ity of the
human bein& is a distincti%e, rich structure, one that is brou&ht to li&ht by means of a
comprehensi%e analysis of action( !he human bein& as a person is constituted metaphysically as a
bein& by the suppositum, and so from the %ery be&innin& the human bein& is someone +ho e,ists
and acts, althou&h fully human acti%ity 4actus humanus5, or action, appears only at a certain sta&e of
human de%elopment( !his is a conse1uence of the comple,ity of human nature( !he spiritual
elements of co&nition and consciousness, alon& +ith freedom and self;determination, &radually &ain
mastery o%er the somatic and rudimentary psychic dimensions of humanity( !he indi%idual<s +hole
de%elopment, in turn, tends clearly to+ard the emer&ence of the person and personal subjecti%ity in
the human suppositum( In this +ay, someho+ on the basis of this suppositum, the human self
&radually both discloses itself and constitutes itself3and it discloses itself also by constitutin&
!he self constitutes itself throu&h action, throu&h the operari proper to the human bein& as a person(
It also constitutes itself throu&h its entire psychosomatic dynamism, throu&h the +hole sphere of
operari that simply happens in the subject but that ne%ertheless also someho+ shapes the
subjecti%ity of the indi%idual( #f course, the human self is able to constitute itself in this manner
only be= cause it already is and has been constituted in an essential and fundamental +ay as a
suppositum( !he suppositum humanum must someho+ manifest itself as a human self:
metaphysical subjecti%ity must manifest itself as personal subjecti%ity(
!his must is the stron&est ar&ument for the metaphysical conception of human nature( !he human
bein& is a person -by nature(. !he subjecti%ity proper to a person also belon&s to the human bein&
-by nature(. !he fact that the human suppositum, or metaphysical subjecti%ity, does not display the
traits of personal subjecti%ity in certain cases 4i(e(, in cases of psychosomatic or purely
psycholo&ical immaturity, in +hich either the normal human self has not de%eloped or the self has
de%eloped in a distorted +ay5 does not allo+ us to 1uestion the %ery foundations of this subjecti%ity,
for they reside +ithin the essentially human suppositum(
In +hat follo+s, I shall be considerin& the normally de%eloped human self, for it is there that +e
find the authentic traits of the subjecti%ity proper to the person(
"#3# Consciousness and Li!ed %./erience
In sin&lin& out action, or human operari, as the form of human dynamism that best enables us to
"no+ the human bein& as a personal subject, the first thin& +e should note is that this action is
conscious acti%ity( In attemptin& to understand the subjecti%ity of the person by means of action, +e
also need to become a+are of the special si&nificance consciousness has for this subjecti%ity( It
must be conceded that this aspect +as not de%eloped in the Scholastic tradition, +here actus
humanus +as subjected to a detailed analysis chiefly from the side of %oluntarium( 8oluntarium, of
course, could only occur on the basis of understandin&3mainly an understandin& of &oods and
ends3since %oluntas is simply appetitus intellecti%us e,pressed in liberium arbitrium(
Consciousness, ho+e%er, is not the ordinary understandin& that directs the +ill and acti%ity( )fter
2escartes, on the other hand, the aspect of consciousness e%entually assumed a "ind of
absoluti6ation, +hich in the contemporary era entered phenomenolo&y by +ay of /usserl( !he
&nosiolo&cal attitude in philosophy has replaced the metaphysical attitude: bein& is constituted in
and someho+ throu&h consciousness( !he reality of the person, ho+e%er, demands the restoration of
the notion of conscious bein&, a bein& that is not constituted in and throu&h consciousness but that
instead someho+ constitutes consciousness( !his also applies to the reality of action as conscious
While it may be &ranted that the person and action3or, to put it another +ay, my o+n e,istin& and
actin& self3is constituted in consciousness to the e,tent that consciousness al+ays reflects the
e,istence 4esse5 and acti%ity 4operari5 of that self, still the e,perience of the human bein& 4and
especially the e,perience of my o+n self5 clearly re%eals that consciousness is al+ays subjectified
in the self and that its roots are al+ays the suppositum humanum( Consciousness is not an
independent subject, althou&h by means of a certain abstraction, or rather e,clusion, +hich in
/usserlian terminolo&y is called epoche, consciousness could be treated as thou&h it +ere a subject(
!his +ay of treatin& consciousness forms the basis of all transcendental philosophy, +hich
in%esti&ates acts of co&nition as intentional acts of consciousness, that is, as acts directed to+ard
e,tra subjecti%e, objecti%e contents 4phenomena5( )s lon& as this type of analysis of consciousness
retains the character of a co&niti%e method, it can and does bear e,cellent fruit( )nd yet because this
method is based on the e,clusion 4epoche5 of consciousness from reality, from really e,istin& bein&,
it cannot be re&arded as a philosophy of that reality, and it certainly cannot be re&arded as a
philosophy of the human bein&, the human person( )t the same time, ho+e%er, there can be no
doubt that this method should be used e,tensi%ely in the philosophy of the human bein&(
Consciousness is not an independent subject, but it does play a "ey role in understandin& the
personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&( It is impossible to &rasp and objectify the relation
bet+een the suppositum humanum and the human self +ithout ta"in& into consideration
consciousness and its function( !he function of consciousness is not purely co&niti%e in the sense
that this may be said of acts of human "no+led&e or e%en self;"no+led&e( While I can a&ree +ith
/usserl that these acts are in consciousness, it is 1uite another thin& to say that they are proper to
consciousness and correspond &enetically to its proper function( Consciousness, insofar as it
undoubtedly reflects +hate%er is objectified co&niti%ely by the human bein&, at the same time and
abo%e all endo+s this objectified content +ith the subjecti%e dimension proper to the human bein&
as a subject( Consciousness interiori6es all that the human bein& co&ni6es, includin& e%erythin& that
the indi%idual co&ni6es from +ithin in acts of self;"no+led&e, and ma"es it all a content of the
subject<s li%ed e,perience(
*ein& a subject 4a suppositum5 and e,periencin& oneself as a subject occur on t+o entirely different
dimensions( #nly in the latter do +e come in contact +ith the actual reality of the human self(
Consciousness plays a "ey and constituti%e role in the formation of this latter dimension of personal
human subjecti%ity( #ne could also say that the human suppositum becomes a human self and
appears as one to itself because of consciousness( !his in no +ay implies, ho+e%er, that the human
self is completely reducible to consciousness or self;consciousness( Rather, the self is constituted
throu&h the mediation of consciousness in the suppositum humanum +ithin the conte,t of the +hole
e,istence 4esse5 and acti%ity 4operari5 proper to this suppositum( !his should not be understood in
the sense of indi%idual acts or moments of consciousness, +hich, as +e "no+, manifests itself as
dynamic as +ell as discontinuous and oscillatin& 4+e need only consider periods of sleep5, and also
as connected +ith the subconscious in %arious +ays(
!a"in& all of this into consideration, +e still cannot fail to reco&ni6e that human bein&s are subjects
3and e%en subjects completely in actu, so to spea"3only +hen they e,perience themsel%es as
subjects( )nd this presupposes consciousness( Clearly in such a %ie+ the %ery meanin& of subject
and subjecti%ity is not only enriched but also some+hat modified( !he concept of subjecti%ity ta"es
on a distincti%e in+ardness of acti%ity and e,istence3an in+ardness, but also an -in;selfness(.
/uman bein&s e,ist -in themsel%es,. and so their acti%ities li"e+ise ha%e an -in;self,. or -non;
transiti%e,. dimension( !his in;selfness and in+ardness of human acti%ity and e,istence is simply a
more precise3and no less philosophical3definition of +hat is contained %irtually in the notion of
suppositum humanum( !o attain an ima&e of the person as a concrete human self and, to&ether +ith
this, to arri%e at the full meanin& of personal human subjecti%ity, +e must unra%el this -%irtualness.
and e,plicate as fully as possible +hat is contained in the suppositum humanum( )nd that is
precisely +hat an analysis of the human bein& from the perspecti%e of consciousness and li%ed
e,perience +ill help us do(
!here are those +ho hold the %ie+ that by such an analysis +e se%er oursel%es from metaphysical
subjecti%ity and enter the realm of purely psycholo&ical subjecti%ity( !his %ie+ ultimately appeals
to the e,perience of the human bein& and to a manner of methodically e,aminin& that e,perience( It
does not seem to me, ho+e%er, that anythin& stands in the +ay of our analy6in& the human bein&
from the perspecti%e of consciousness and li%ed e,perience so as better to understand the
suppositum humanum, and especially this suppositum as a concrete and unrepeatable self, or
person( )fter all, the reality of the person is not -e,tra phenomenal,. but only -trans;phenomenal(.
In other +ords, +e must deeply and comprehensi%ely e,plore the -phenomenon. of the human
bein& in order fully to understand and objectify the human bein&(
"#4# %icacy and Sel5+etermination
7ollo+in& these obser%ations, +e may no+ return to the form of human operari called action3
conscious acti%ity( /a%in& considered the aspect of consciousness, +hich is essential for such
acti%ity, +e are better prepared to understand the special connection bet+een action and the
personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&( )ction, +hich in traditional terminolo&y +as called actus
humanus, should really be called actus personae( !he latter is a better name for action because of
the element of efficacy that lies at the basis of action, for this is the efficacy of a person( ) strict
connection e,ists bet+een a concrete human action and a particular self, a connection that has a
causal and efficient character( *ecause of this connection, the action cannot be di%orced from that
self and attributed to someone else as its author( !his connection is of a completely different "ind
from the one that occurs bet+een the same human self and e%erythin& that merely happens in it( We
attribute the action, the conscious acti%ity, to this self as its li"e+ise conscious author( Such efficacy
in%ol%es the element of +ill, and therefore of freedom, +hich in turn, brin&s +ith it the element of
moral responsibility( )nd this ta"es us ri&ht in to the essential dimension of the personal subjecti%ity
of the human bein&(
!his dimension +ill ha%e to be analy6ed in successi%e sta&es, for it contains3and in some sense
continues to accumulate3such a +ealth of specifically human reality that it is impossible to
e,amine all of its essential elements at once( )lthou&h an analysis of moral responsibility ta"es us
e%en more deeply into the problematic of the +ill and of the freedom proper to the human bein& as
a person, and thus in a certain sense ma"es our %ie+ of them e%en sharper, an analysis of personal
efficacy should come first(
!he concept of efficacy, thou&h certainly &rounded in the e,perience of the human bein&, is
imprecise here insofar as efficacy may refer to the dependence of an e,ternal effect on a cause3an
effect outside the authorin& subject( )cti%ity itself in that case has a transiti%e character, +hich, of
course, is often true of human acti%ities( !hrou&h our acti%ity +e are the authors of many effects
outside oursel%es0 throu&h it +e shape our surroundin& reality( !his type of causal dependence also
appears in the concept of action, but there it is not the most basic type of causal dependence( 7or
action, another type of causal dependence is more basic, namely, that +hich connects conscious
human acti%ity +ith the subject of that acti%ity( #b%iously this other type of causal dependence,
+hich has an intransiti%e character, is accessible in each particular instance only to introspection, to
inner e,perience( !his may be +hy e%en our lin&uistic con%entions tend to lin" the concept of
action and this basic dimension of it less stron&ly than is true in reality( In order to &et a full sense
of the reality of this dimension, +e must considerably supplement e,ternal e,perience +ith internal
e,perience( !his dimension, in turn, is of &reat importance for an insi&ht into the personal
subjecti%ity of the human bein&(
#nce +e ha%e a full sense of the reality of the inner dimension of the human bein&, +e see that the
efficacy so clearly manifested in the e,perience of action is not just efficacy but also self;
determination( In actin& consciously, not only am I the a&ent of the action and of its transiti%e and
intransiti%e effects, but I also determine myself( Self;determination is a deeper and more basic
dimension of the efficacy of the human self throu&h +hich the actin& human bein& is re%ealed as a
personal subject( fficacy alone3the causal dependence of an action on the self3does not tell us
the +hole story about personal subjecti%ity( If it did, then this subjecti%ity could be understood by
analo&y to other subjects of e,istence and acti%ity 4other supposita5 in the +orld, subjects to +hich
+e also attribute efficacy and the effects of this efficacy accordin& to their respecti%e natures and
po+ers( Such efficacy comes from the subject 4suppositum5, but it does not &o bac" into the subject
or return to it someho+, and it does not refer in the first place to the subject itself( It also does not
e,hibit the uni1ue subjecti%e structure that is re%ealed by action and by the personal efficacy
contained in action( In contrast, the efficacy that is also self;determination fully discloses the person
as a subjecti%e structure of self;&o%ernance and self;possession(
In human acti%ity, or action, I turn to+ard a %ariety of ends, objects, and %alues( In turnin& to+ard
those ends, objects, and %alues, ho+e%er, I cannot help but also in my conscious acti%ity turn
to+ard myself as an end, for I cannot relate to different objects of acti%ity and choose different
%alues +ithout thereby determinin& myself 4thus becomin& the primary object for myself as a
subject5 and my o+n %alue( !he structure of human action is autoteleolo&ical in a special
dimension( !his is not merely the dimension of biolo&ical life and its respecti%e instincts0 it is also
not merely the dimension of the elementary attraction and repulsion associated +ith %arious types of
pleasure and pain( !he self;determination contained in actions and in authentically human efficacy
points to another dimension of autoteleolo&y, one that is ultimately connected +ith the true and the
&ood3the &ood in an unconditional and disinterested sense 4bonum honestum5( /uman actions thus
display a transcendence that is as if another name for the person( !his transcendence is +hat brin&s
to li&ht the subjecti%ity proper to the human bein&( If this subjecti%ity is re%ealed throu&h self;
determination, it is because self;determination e,presses the transcendent dimension of essentially
human acti%ity( !his dimension stops at the person as a subject and cannot &o beyond the person,
for it finds its reason of bein& and its meanin& primarily in the person( !he efficacy of the person,
therefore, ultimately brin&s to li&ht the subjecti%ity proper to the person, and it does so e%ery time it
is e,ercised: in e%ery action, choice, and decision, it someho+ brin&s this subjecti%ity out of the
dar" and ma"es it a distinct -phenomenon. of human e,perience(
/ere +e are already touchin& upon other areas of the analysis( )s I said before, +e cannot do the
+hole analysis at once, but must de%elop it &radually and successi%ely( )t the same time, ho+e%er,
it is not easy in this analysis to separate the different areas and seal them off hermetically from one
another( *efore &oin& on, then, let us d+ell yet a moment on the structure of efficacy as self;
determination( !hrou&h it, personal human subjecti%ity is not only disclosed to us co&niti%ely but is
also really constituted as a specific reality, one that is essentially different from all the other
supposita +e encounter in the surroundin& +orld( !his human suppositum, +hich is constituted and
constitutes itself throu&h acts of self;determination, is +hat +e call a self, or an I( #f course, +e say
this primarily and properly of our o+n suppositum, but indirectly also of e%ery other human
I already mentioned earlier that the self is not reducible to consciousness alone, althou&h it is
constituted throu&h consciousness( Consciousness, and especially self;consciousness, is an
indispensable condition for the constitution of the human self( :e%ertheless, the real constitution of
this self +ithin the frame+or" of the human suppositum ultimately ta"es place as a result of acts of
self;determination( In them, as I said before, the structure and profile of the self;possession and self;
&o%ernance proper to a person are re%ealed( )nd they are re%ealed because in e%ery act of self;
determination this structure is someho+ reali6ed ane+( It is in this reali6ation of the structure of
self;determination and self;&o%ernance that the person as a concrete human self is actually
constituted( !his also brin&s into clearer focus the intimate connection bet+een the self and the
suppositum( !he self is nothin& other than the concrete suppositum humanum, +hich, +hen &i%en
to itself by consciousness 4self;consciousness5 in the li%ed e,perience of action, is identical +ith the
self;possession and self;&o%ernance that comes to li&ht as a result of the dynamics of the personal
efficacy that is self;determination(
!he self, then, is not just self;consciousness, but it is also the self possession and self;&o%ernance
proper to a concrete human suppositum( !hese latter aspects of the self are manifested primarily
throu&h action( arlier I said that the self cannot be reduced to self;consciousness alone0 no+,
ho+e%er, I should add that the full dimension of the human self, +hich includes self;possession and
self;&o%ernance, is conditioned by self;consciousness( !his dimension is also the basis of the full
relation of the self to the personal subjecti%ity that is proper to a human bein&( Such subjecti%ity, as
I said before, is not only the subjecti%ity of bein& but also the subjecti%ity of li%ed e,perience(
Consciousness plays a fundamental role in the constitution of such subjecti%ity throu&h its special
function of internali6ation 4in !he )ctin& Person, I called this the refle,i%e function of
consciousness5( !han"s to this function, the e,perience of the human bein& 4primarily as a
determinate self5 discloses the -in+ardness. and -in;selfness. proper to concrete human esse and
operari( !hese are, as I said, meanin&s of the subject and subjecti%ity that the concept of suppositum
itself does not yet brin& to li&ht(
!his -in+ardness. and -in;selfness,. as the full 4e,perienced and li%ed5 reali6ation of the personal
subjecti%ity of the human self, is both manifested and actuali6ed in self;possession and self;
&o%ernance, for I e,perience myself as a personal subject to the e,tent that I become a+are that I
possess myself and &o%ern myself( !he consciousness3or, more precisely, the self;consciousness
3connected +ith action and +ith efficacy as self;determination conditions that li%ed e,perience( In
this sense, +e can say that both the concrete human self and the concrete personal human
subjecti%ity correspondin& to it are constituted thou&h consciousness 4+ith its help5(
7rom the point of %ie+ of the person as a bein& that -e,ists and acts,. the person as a suppositum, I
do not see any fundamental fla+s or shortcomin&s in this analysis( )fter all, the li%ed e,perience of
our personal subjecti%ity is simply the full actuali6ation of all that is contained %irtually in our
metaphysical subjecti%ity 4suppositum humanum5( It is also both the full and fundamental
re%elation of our metaphysical subjecti%ity and the full and fundamental actuali6ation and
reali6ation of our bein& in li%ed e,perience( !his also seems to be a possible3and in some sense
e%en the philosophically definiti%e3meanin& of the ancient ada&e operari se1uitur esse( !he
suppositum humanum and the human self are but t+o poles of one and the same e,perience of the
human bein&(
"#6# ,ulillment and Transcendence
!he picture of personal human subjecti%ity that un%eils itself before us in e,perience +ould be
incomplete if +e failed to include the element of fulfillment( If action is the a%enue to "no+led&e of
the person 4operari se1uitur esse5, then +e must necessarily e,amine the e,pression -to fulfill an
action(. !his e,pression seems in a most basic +ay to refer not just to the reality of the action, the
actus humanus, but also to the reality of the human bein&, the subject +ho fulfills the action( !his is
not an accidental e,pression( Properly understood, it si&nifies a tendency a+ay from +hat is
incomplete to+ard an appropriate fullness( )n action as an actus humanus is this actual fullness in
the order of operari( !he person, ho+e%er, is al+ays included +ithin the compass of the action<s
fulfillment( !he action as an actus humanus re%eals the in+ardness and in;selfness of the person and
also acti%ates the self;possession and self;&o%ernance proper to the structure of the person( In the
li&ht of this, +e must as": to +hat de&ree is the fulfillment of an action also the fulfillment of
oneself, the fulfillment of the person +ho fulfills the action>
!his is a %ery real problem( In some sense, it is e%en the most profound and basic of all the
problems that must be addressed in an analysis of the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&( In
the dynamic structure of this subjecti%ity, the tendency to+ard the fulfillment of oneself, a tendency
that lies at the root of all human operari, particularly actions, testifies simultaneously to contin&ency
and autoteleolo&y( !he tendency to+ard the fulfillment of oneself sho+s that this self is someho+
incomplete, and althou&h the incompleteness and contin&ency of this bein& are not synonymous, the
former may be reduced to the latter( !his same tendency also points to autoteleolo&y, because the
aim of this bein&3a suppositum that e,periences itself as incomplete3is the fulfillment of itself:
self;fulfillment( !he disclosure of this tendency completes our picture of the human self, +hich
constitutes itself in its actions by means of consciousness and self;consciousness( In these actions,
throu&h the element of self;determination, the human self is re%ealed to itself not only as self;
possession and self;&o%ernance, but also as a tendency to+ard self;fulfillment( !his sho+s
conclusi%ely that the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein& is not a closed;in structure( :either
self;consciousness nor self;possession encloses the human self +ithin itself as a subject( ?uite the
contrary( !he +hole -turnin& to+ard itself. that consciousness and self;consciousness +or" to brin&
about is ultimately a source of the most e,pansi%e openness of the subject to+ard reality( In the
human bein&, in the human self as a personal subject, self;fulfillment and transcendence are
inseparably connected( I already mentioned earlier that, to the modern mind, transcendence is as if
another name for the person(
In philosophy, the term -transcendence. has many meanin&s( In metaphysics, it si&nifies bein& as a
reality surpassin& all cate&ories, +hile at the same time constitutin& their foundation0 it also
si&nifies the true and the &ood as transcendentals on the same le%el as bein&( In philosophical
anthropolo&y, transcendence3in "eepin& +ith its etymolo&y transscendere3li"e+ise si&nifies a
surpassin& 4a &oin&;out;beyond or a risin&;abo%e5, to the e,tent that this is %erifiable in the
comprehensi%e e,perience of the human bein&, to the e,tent that this is re%ealed in the dynamic
totality of human e,istence and nati%ity, human esse and operari( !he %arious manifestations of this
transcendence ultimately con%er&e in a sin&le source, +hich constantly resounds +ithin the human
bein& as a subject, as a suppositum, and +hich in the final analysis testifies that the suppositum
humanum is also of a spiritual nature( !ranscendence is the spirituality of the human bein&
re%ealin& itself(
I do not intend here to present either a metaphysical analysis of this problem or a comprehensi%e
treatment of the transcendence proper to the human person( I shall confine myself to discussin& just
one element of transcendence, namely, that +hich is re%ealed by the distincti%e personal shape
&i%en to human actions by conscience( !he profile of fulfillment, as strictly belon&in& to the
personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&, is connected +ith this element of transcendence in an
especially %i%id +ay(
We often spea" of moral subjecti%ity by analo&y to psycholo&ical subjecti%ity +hen considerin& the
aspects of consciousness and li%ed e,perience, but such distinctions must not be allo+ed to shatter
the ima&e of the basic unity of the personal subject( Personal subjecti%ity is the subjecti%ity that +e
e,perience as our o+n self in our o+n actions( !his subjecti%ity is re%ealed to us in its true depth in
the li%ed e,perience of moral %alue 4&ood or e%il5, an e,perience al+ays connected +ith the element
of conscience in human actions(
Why does the element of conscience in action re%eal the transcendence of the person> !he ans+er
to this 1uestion +ould re1uire a +hole series of analyses, +hich I attempted to carry out in !he
)ctin& Person( /ere, ho+e%er, I shall "eep my response brief( In conscience, truth presents itself as
the source of moral duty, or -cate&orical. duty 4as Kant +ould say5( !ruth presents itself as a
constituti%e condition of the freedom proper to action, in +hich this freedom manifests itself as the
self;determination of the person( !o be free means not only to +ill, but also to choose and to decide,
and this already su&&ests a transcendent subordination of the &ood to the true in action( Conscience,
ho+e%er, is the proper place of this subordination( !he person<s authentic transcendence in action is
reali6ed in conscience, and the actus humanus ta"es shape as the +illin& and choosin& of a -true
&ood. than"s to conscience( !hus the element of conscience re%eals both in action and in the
efficient subject of action the transcendence of truth and freedom, for freedom is reali6ed precisely
throu&h the +illin& and choosin& of a true &ood(
-2o &ood and a%oid e%il. is the first principle of conscience as synderesis and also the elementary
precept of all human pra,is( !o act in accord +ith this principle, I must in my conscience constantly
&o out beyond myself to+ard true &ood( !his is the basic direction of the transcendence that is a
property of the human person 4proprium persona5( Without this transcendence3+ithout &oin& out
beyond myself and someho+ risin& abo%e myself in the direction of truth and in the direction of a
&ood +illed and chosen in the li&ht of truth3I as a person, I as a personal subject, in a sense am not
myself( Conse1uently, +hen +e analy6e acts of "no+led&e, acts of +ill, or the +orld of %alues
connected +ith them, +e do not brin& to li&ht the personal property of the human bein& unless +e
brin& to li&ht the transcendence that resides in those acts, a transcendence they ha%e by reason of
their relation to the true and to the &ood as -true. 4or as -befittin&,. honestum5, i(e(, as +illed and
chosen on the basis of truth(
)n analysis of conscience also re%eals the strict connection bet+een transcendence and fulfillment(
)t issue here is not only the role of conscience in the dynamics of fulfillin& an action, but also the
fulfillment of the self in that action( In fulfillin& an action, I fulfill myself in it if the action is
-&ood,. +hich means in accord +ith my conscience 4assumin&, of course, that this is a &ood
conscience, a true conscience5( *y actin& in this +ay, I myself become &ood and am &ood as a
human bein&( !he moral %alue reaches to the %ery depths of my ontic structure as a suppositum
humanum( !he opposite +ould be an action not in accord +ith my conscience, a morally e%il
action( I then become e%il and am e%il as a human bein&( In this case, the fulfillment of the action
leads not to the fulfillment but to the unfulfillment of myself( !he li%ed e,perience of the
unfulfillment of myself corresponds to a ne&ati%e moral %alue 4+hich could also be called an anti;
%alue, especially from the point of %ie+ of the jud&ment and %erdict of conscience5( !hus
fulfillmerit of self and unfulfillment of self ha%e t+o meanin&s: 4I5 a metaphysical meanin& 4I
become and am &ood or e%il as a human bein&5 and 4@5 an e,periential meanin& 4+hich is &i%en in
my a+areness and li%ed e,perience of a moral %alue3&ood or e%il5( !hese t+o meanin&s really
deser%e a separate analysis, +hich I do not intend to present here( I +ish, ho+e%er, at least to dra+
attention to the special pro,imity of these t+o meanin&s( It ser%es as still another proof that the
suppositurn humanum and the human self are but t+o poles of one and the same e,perience of the
human bein&(
#b%iously fulfillin& oneself is not identical +ith fulfillin& an action, but depends on the moral %alue
of that action( I fulfill myself not by the fact that I fulfill an action, but by the fact that I become
&ood +hen that action is morally &ood( We see, then, that the fulfillment of a person is related to
transcendence, to the transcendent dimension of the action, a dimension objectified in conscience( I
fulfill myself throu&h &ood, +hereas e%il brin&s me unfulfillment( #b%iously, too, self;fulfillment is
a distinct structure of the personal subject, a structure that differs from both self;possession and
self;determination( !his structure is actuali6ed in the action throu&h its moral %alue3throu&h &ood
3of course, only in the dimension of that action per modum actus( !he e,perience of morality also
re%eals +ays in +hich moral %alue, &ood or e%il, may become rooted and in&rained in the subject(
In this re&ard, the ethics of )ristotle and later that of !homas )1uinas, as +ell as modern;day
character studies, spea" of habits 4de habitibus5 and also of moral proficiencies, of %irtues and %ices(
!hese all in%ol%e different forms of the fulfillment or the unfulfillment of the self( *oth the one and
the other spea" of the human bein&, the human self, as a personal subject(
!he essential point in all this is that fulfillment as a subjecti%e reality, a reality &i%en to us in the
li%ed e,perience of conscience, but clearly not limited to or reducible to that e,perience, is
distinctly connected +ith transcendence( I fulfill myself, I reali6e the autoteleolo&y of my personal
self, throu&h the transcendent dimension of my operari( !he transcendence of truth and &oodness
has a decisi%e influence on the formation of the human self, on its de%elopment +ithin the +hole
reality of the personal subject, as an analysis of conscience and morality so clearly re%eals( Such an
analysis also deepens our %ie+ of the contin&ency of the human bein&( It does this both by sho+in&
ho+ essential it is for us as human bein&s to stri%e for self;fulfillment and especially by sho+in&
ho+ in this stri%in& +e find oursel%es al+ays bet+een &ood and e%il, bet+een fulfillment and
unfulfillment, and ho+ persistently +e must o%ercome the forces operatin& both from +ithout and
from +ithin a&ainst self;fulfillment(
!his e%en partial self;fulfillment brou&ht about by the moral &ood of an action is accompanied by
the element of peace and happiness so essential for e,periences of conscience 4+hereas moral e%il
manifests itself in the e,perience of conscience accompanied by depression and despair5( !his
su&&ests that transcendence is in some sense a common perspecti%e for self;fulfillment and
happiness( I shall not, ho+e%er, e,amine this issue here0 I merely +ish to dra+ attention to it(
1# T'% +),,%R%&T +)*%&S)O&S O, CO**(&)TY
1#"# The State o the 7uestion
!he conjunction of subject and community in the title of this essay on the person does not
presuppose in ad%ance ho+ these t+o topics +ill be joined in the analysis( !he course of the
precedin& discussion3in "eepin& +ith the plan I outlined at the be&innin&3points this analysis in
the direction of the connection that occurs bet+een the subjecti%ity of the human bein& as a person
and the structure of human community( :o+ I intend to ree,amine that connection in relation to my
pre%ious e,amination of it in !he )ctin& Person(
7irst of all, then, I should point out that !he )ctin& Person does not contain a theory of community,
but deals only +ith the elementary condition under +hich e,istence and acti%ity -to&ether +ith
others. promotes the self;fulfillment of the human bein& as a person, or at least does not obstruct it(
#ne cannot, after all, deny the facts in%ol%ed( !hese facts3ne&ati%e facts "no+n to us from the
history of human"ind and the history of human societies3should be "ept in mind +hen considerin&
the problem of the personal subject in community( !his problem is also the focus of the last part of
!he )ctin& Person( )lthou&h I do not present a full;blo+n theory of community there, certain
elements of this theory are already implicitly contained in it( #ne such element in particular is the
concept of participation, +hich I understand in the last part of !he )ctin& Person in t+o +ays( 7irst
of all, I %ie+ it as a property of the person, a property that e,presses itself in the ability of human
bein&s to endo+ their o+n e,istence and acti%ity +ith a personal 4personalistic5 dimension +hen
they e,ist and act to&ether +ith others( Secondly, I concei%e participation in the )ctin& Person as a
positi%e relation to the humanity of others, understandin& humanity here not as the abstract idea of
the human bein&, but3in "eepin& +ith the +hole %ision of the human bein& in that boo"3as the
personal self, in each instance uni1ue and unrepeatable( /umanity is not an abstraction or a
&enerality, but has in each human bein& the particular -specific &ra%ity. of a personal bein& 4clearly
this -specific &ra%ity. does not deri%e in this case solely from the concept of the species5( !o
participate in the humanity of another human bein& means to be %itally related to the other as a
particular human bein&, and not just related to +hat ma"es the other 4in abstracto5 a human bein&(
!his is ultimately the basis for the +hole distincti%e character of the e%an&elical concept of
!he first meanin& of participation refers not to this positi%e relation to another<s humanity, but to
the property of the person by %irtue of +hich human bein&s, +hile e,istin& and actin& to&ether +ith
others, are ne%ertheless capable of fulfillin& themsel%es in this acti%ity and e,istence( Such a
formulation of the problem points to the irre%ocable primacy of the personal subject in relation to
community, a primacy in both the metaphysical 4and hence factual5 and the methodolo&ical sense(
!his means not only that people de facto e,ist and act to&ether as a multiplicity of personal subjects,
but also that +e can say nothin& essential about this coe,istence and cooperation in the personalistic
sense3+e can say nothin& essential about this multiplicity as a community3unless +e proceed
from the human bein& as a personal subject(
In my opinion, the +hole problematic of alienation is ultimately reducible to this as +ell( )lienation
has rele%ance not for the human bein& as an indi%idual of the human species but for the human
bein& as a personal subject( !he human bein& as an indi%idual of the species is a human bein& and
remains a human bein& re&ardless of the system of interpersonal or social relations( !he human
bein& as a personal subject, on the other hand, can e,perience alienation, or a "ind of
-dehumani6ation,. in these relations( !hat is +hy in !he )ctin& Person I treat participation
primarily as a property by %irtue of +hich human bein&s, +hile e,istin& and actin& to&ether +ith
others, that is, in %arious systems of interpersonal and social relations, are able to be themsel%es and
to fulfill themsel%es( Participation is in a sense the antithesis of alienation( When I say in !he
)ctin& Person that participation is a distincti%e property of the human bein& as a person, I mean that
people tend to+ard participation, +hereas they defend themsel%es a&ainst alienation, and that the
basis for both participation and alienation is not people<s essence as members of the human species
but their personal subjecti%ity(
In reflectin& on community, therefore, +e should not attach fundamental si&nificance to the
-material. fact that people li%e and act -to&ether +ith others(. )s a -material. fact, it still says
nothin& about community but spea"s only of a multiplicity of bein&s, of actin& subjects, +ho are
people( !he -material. fact of a number of people e,istin& and actin& to&ether, or3as I put it in my
analyses in !he )ctin& Person3of the human bein& e,istin& and actin& to&ether +ith others, is still
not a community( *y community I understand not this multiplicity of subjects itself, but al+ays the
specific unity of this multiplicity( !his unity is accidental +ith respect to each subject indi%idually
and to all of them to&ether( It arises as the relation or sum of relations e,istin& bet+een them( !hese
relations can be in%esti&ated as an objecti%e reality that 1ualifies e%eryone jointly and sin&ly in a
particular multiplicity of people( We then spea" of a society 4or, usin& other terminolo&y, of social
&roups, etc(5( #nly the indi%idual people3the personal subjects3+ho are the members of this
society are substantial subjects 4supposita5, each of them separately, +hereas the society itself is
simply a set of relations, and therefore an accidental bein&( In the notion of society, ho+e%er, this
accidental bein& in some sense comes to the fore and becomes the basis for predication concernin&
the people, the persons, +ho belon& to the society( We then spea" of a person from the point of %ie+
of his or her social membership, e(&(, a Pole, a Catholic, a member of the middle;class, a blue;collar
!his same relation or set of relations throu&h +hich a particular multiplicity of people3of personal
subjects3forms a social unity may be e,amined not so much as an objecti%e reality that 1ualifies
e%eryone jointly and sin&ly in this multiplicity, but rather from the perspecti%e of the consciousness
and li%ed e,perience of all its members and also in some sense each of them( #nly then do +e
arri%e at the reality of community and detect its proper meanin&( !here clearly occurs3both from
the factual 4and thus also metaphysical5 and from the methodolo&ical point of %ie+3a strict
connection, correspondence, and conformity bet+een community and personal human subjecti%ity,
understandin& subjecti%ity here in the sense presented in the first part of this essay( *y analy6in&
only the multiplicity of human supposita and the unity of objecti%e interpersonal and social relations
that corresponds to them, +e obtain a some+hat different picture from the one +e &et +hen +e
focus on personal subjecti%ity, and thus on the consciousness and li%ed e,perience of interpersonal
and social relations in a particular human multiplicity( #nly the latter picture, it seems to me,
corresponds to the concept of community(
We do in fact often use the terms community and society interchan&eably( !his is justifiable, e%en in
the li&ht of +hat +as said abo%e( )t the same time, ho+e%er, +hat +as said abo%e also &i%es us
reason to distin&uish them( ) community is not simply a society, and a society is not simply a
community( %en thou&h the same elements may to a lar&e e,tent &o into the ma"eup of both
realities, +e apprehend them in different aspects, and this adds up to an important difference( In a
sense, too, one could say that a society 4a social &roup, etc(5 is +hat it is by %irtue of the community
of its members( Com;munity, therefore, seems to be the more essential reality, at least from the
point of %ie+ of the personal subjecti%ity of all the members of a &i%en society or social &roup(
7rom this it also becomes clear that the social relations in a &i%en 4one and the same5 society can
become a source of alienation in proportion to the disappearance of community, that is, in
proportion to the disappearance of the relations, bonds, and social unity percei%ed and e,perienced
by the indi%idual subjects(
!he concept of community, as can be inferred e%en from +hat +as said abo%e, has both a real and
an ideal meanin&: it si&nifies both a certain reality and an idea or principle( !his meanin& is
ontolo&ical as +ell as a,iolo&ical, and hence also normati%e( It +ould be impossible here to &o into
a full discussion of all these meanin&s of community0 the most I can do is simply mention them(
!he precedin& analysis of personal subjecti%ity can to a certain de&ree assist us in understandin&
and e,plicatin& these different meanin&s of community( Community is an essential reality for
human coe,istence and cooperation, and in another sense it ser%es as a fundamental norm for such
coe,istence and cooperation( Clearly, then, there must be a special %alue of community, one that I
do not thin" should simply be identified +ith the common &ood( We disco%er this %alue by
obser%in& the co;e,istence and co;operation of people as if from the perspecti%e of the personal
subjecti%ity of each of them( !he common &ood, on the other hand, seems to be an objectification of
the a,iolo&ical meanin& of each society, social &roup, etc( !he disco%ery of the %alue of community
may be considered a direct ar&ument in support of the thesis concernin& the social nature of human
)nd it is precisely in this conte,t that +e encounter the problem of the relation bet+een community
4the %alue of community5 and the autoteleolo&y of the human bein&( !hat people fulfill themsel%es
in and throu&h community +ith others seems beyond doubt( *ut does this mean that +e can
someho+ reduce the self;fulfillment of the person to community, or autoteleolo&y to the teleolo&y
of one or more communities> I shall attempt to address this issue belo+ by outlinin& the t+o3
seemin&ly mutually irreducible3profiles or dimensions of human community( #ne is the
dimension of interhuman and interpersonal relations, +hich may be symboli6ed by the relationship I
3thou( !he other, +hich may be symboli6ed by the relationship +e, seems to in%ol%e not so much
interhuman as social relations( In both of these relationships, the aspect of personal human
subjecti%ity analy6ed earlier must not only be subjected to further analysis, but also be &radually
and, so to spea", retrospecti%ely %erified(
1#1# )8Thou: The )nter/ersonal +imension o Community
In this and the follo+in& section of the analysis, I could use the term profiles of community, but I
thin" it +ould be better to spea" of dimensions of community( In each of the relationships I plan to
analy6e, community is a different fact( In addition, ho+e%er, to its factual structure 4to +hich the
term profile seems to refer5, community has an a,iolo&ical and normati%e meanin& as +ell, and so
each of these relationships also presents us +ith a different dimension of community( In my
analysis, I +ill also attempt to brin& to li&ht and to some e,tent describe the dimension of I3thou
relationships, and then do the same for +e relationships( !hese relationships arise in the conte,t of
the facts of human coe,istence and cooperation( !hey are part of our human e,perience and of our
ori&inal 4prescientific and e%en to some de&ree prereflecti%e5 understandin& of this e,perience( We
come into bein&, be&in life, and &o throu&h a relati%ely lon& period of de%elopment in I3thou and
+e relationships, and yet, althou&h our +hole e,istence is immersed in these profiles of community
durin& this time, +e do not reflect upon the meanin& or structure of community( Studies in
de%elopmental psycholo&y can thro+ a &reat deal of li&ht on this issue( !here can be no doubt that I
3thou and +e relationships as e,periential facts, as facts &i%en in our e,perience, occur in each of
us much earlier than any attempt3especially any methodolo&ical attempt3on our part to
reflecti%ely objectify these relationships(
While fully appreciatin& this fact, or rather this rich and %ery influential set of facts, I prefer to base
my analysis on a later situation, one that +ill allo+ me to spea" of a sufficiently de%eloped sta&e of
personal subjecti%ity(
)fter all, this analysis is concerned throu&hout not just +ith the suppositum humanum, but also
+ith the human I, or self( It seems that only from the perspecti%e of a sufficiently de%eloped
personal subjecti%ity can +e conduct a full analysis of the I3thou and +e relationships +ith respect
to the communal reality contained in them( It also seems that the profiles and dimensions of
community contained in these relationships, +hen analy6ed at the sta&e of a sufficiently de%eloped
personal subjecti%ity, should operate retrospecti%ely to e,plain these relationships at earlier sta&es,
and not con%ersely( 'et us, then, first consider the I3thou relationship, +hich is the one in +hich
+e primarily detect 4to a certain de&ree in contrast to the +e relationship5 the interhuman,
interpersonal dimension of community(
It is sometimes said that the I is in a sense constituted by the thou( !his superb intellectual synopsis
needs to be unra%eled and de%eloped, of course( In e,plicatin& it, +e should not o%erloo" the basic
fact that this thou3li"e the I3is al+ays a someone: the thou is some other I( )nd so in the %ery
point of departure of the I3thou relationship +e find a certain multiplicity of personal subjects(
)lthou&h this is a minimal multiplicity 4one A one5, an analysis of the unity essential for the
concept of community must be based on the assertion of this multiplicity( ) thou is another I, one
different from my o+n I( In thin"in& or spea"in& of a thou, I e,press a relation that someho+
proceeds from me, but also returns to me( -!hou. is a term that e,presses not only a separation, but
also a connection( !his term al+ays contains a clear separation of one from many others( !he
separation need not necessarily be formal0 it may be %irtual( :or does it ha%e to comprise the -te,t.
of the relation0 it may belon& to its -subte,t(. :e%ertheless, in thin"in& or spea"in& of a thou, I
al+ays ha%e some sense that the concrete human bein& +hom I thus describe is one of many +hom
I could so describe, that at other times or in other situations I also describe 4and e,perience5 %arious
other people in the same +ay, and that I could describe each of them in this +ay( Potentially,
therefore, the I3thou relationship is directed a+ay from me to+ard all human bein&s, +hile
actually it al+ays connects me +ith some one person( If it actually connects me +ith many, then it
is no lon&er a relation to a thou but a relation to a +e, althou&h it can easily be resol%ed into a
number of relations to thou<s(
!he particular refle,i%ity of this relation is also re%ealed here( !he relation to a thou is in its
essential structure al+ays a relation to another, and yet, because one member of this relation is an I,
the relation3in a +ay peculiar to itself3demonstrates the ability to return to the I from +hich it
proceeded( I am not referrin& here to the function of a counter;relation, +here the thou as an I
+ould be related in the same +ay to me 4to my I5 as a thou, and I +ould then be a thou for the other(
I am referrin& to the %ery same relation that proceeds from my I to the thou, for this relation has a
complementary function, +hich consists in returnin& to the I from +hich it proceeded(
#f course, all of this has its full meanin& only in the conte,t of consciousness and li%ed e,perience,
in the same conte,t, therefore, in +hich both the I and the thou as another I are constituted0 it does
not, ho+e%er, ha%e this same full meanin& +ith respect to the metaphysical cate&ory of relation(
!hrou&hout this part of the analysis, I am spea"in& about the li%ed e,perience of relations, +hich
presupposes the I and the thou as separate personal subjecti%ities, and not merely about relations as
accidents subjectified in separate supposita, althou&h I am in no +ay 1uestionin& this basic reality(
What is essential for the present analysis, ho+e%er, is the I and the thou as fully constituted,
separate, personal subjects, alon& +ith all that comprises the personal subjecti%ity of each of them(
When the relation directed from my I to a thou returns to the I from +hich it proceeded, the
refle,i%ity of this relation 4+hich need not yet be a mutual relation in%ol%in& the counter;relation
thou;I5 contains the element of specifically constitutin& my I throu&h its relation to the thou( It
seems, ho+e%er, that this element still does not &i%e rise to community0 rather, it has meanin& for a
fuller e,perience of myself, of my o+n I, and in some sense for the %erification of myself -in the
li&ht of another self(. )t the basis of this relation, there may also de%elop a process of the imitation
of personal models, a process %ery important for education and self;education, and ultimately,
therefore, for that self;fulfillment +hose ori&inal dynamism is rooted in e%ery personal subjecti%ity,
as +as mentioned earlier( 'ea%in& aside that possibility, ho+e%er, it must be ac"no+led&ed that, in
the normal course of e%ents, the thou assists me in more fully disco%erin& and e%en confirmin& my
o+n I: the thou contributes to my self;affirmation( In its basic form, the I3thou relationship, far
from leadin& me a+ay from my subjecti%ity, in some sense more firmly &rounds me in it( !he
structure of the relation is to some de&ree a confirmation of the structure of the subject and of the
subject<s priority +ith respect to the relation(
%en the unilateral relation of an I to a thou is already a real e,perience of an interpersonal
relationship, althou&h the full e,perience of such a relationship occurs only +hen the I3thou
relationship has a reciprocal character: +hen a thou that for me becomes a specific other, and thus
-also another human bein&,. simultaneously ma"es me its thou0 +hen t+o people mutually become
an I and a thou for each other and e,perience their relationship in this manner( #nly then, it seems
to me, do +e obser%e the full character of the community proper to an interpersonal I3thou
relationship( I +ish to reemphasi6e, ho+e%er, that e%en +ithout such reciprocity the I3thou
relationship is still a real e,perience of an interpersonal relationship( !his e,perience can also ser%e
as a basis for analy6in& the participation that I described in !he )ctin& Person as a participation in
the %ery humanity of another human bein&( !he thou relationship does not ha%e to be reciprocal for
such participation to occur( When the relationship is reciprocal, ho+e%er, +e can then say that it is
precisely participation, and not somethin& else, that forms the essential constituent of a community
ha%in& an interhuman, interpersonal character(
I shall not &o into an analysis of the indi%idual forms and %arieties of interpersonal I3thou
relationships or the indi%idual forms and %arieties of community that de%elop +ithin such
relationships 4and also throu&h +hich such relationships de%elop, for community, as I ha%e already
said, is an essential element of such reciprocal relationships5( Certain forms of interpersonal I3thou
relationships, abo%e all friendship and lo%e, ha%e, of course, been e,amined and e,plained many
times and in many +ays, and are al+ays a fa%orite topic of reflection( In the present study, +hile
omittin& an analysis and description of thou relationships themsel%es, I +ish to brin& to li&ht +hat
is essential for the "ind of community contained in them and do this from the point of %ie+ of the
subjects themsel%es3or, more precisely, from the point of %ie+ of the mutuality of the subjects3of
such concrete relationships of an I and a thou in their personal subjecti%ity( !his +ill allo+ us to
detect the element of a certain re&ularity that, in an analo&ous +ay, is common to all relationships in
+hich t+o people are joined to&ether as an I and a thou, re&ardless of the particular type of
relationship it happens to be( I am concerned here +ith the interpersonal dimension of community
proper to all I3thou relationships, re&ardless of their particular form( /ence this analysis embraces
+ithin its scope the I3thou of married or en&a&ed couples, the I3thou of mother and child, and
e%en the I3thou of t+o stran&ers +ho une,pectedly find themsel%es in such a relationship(
While lea%in& aside all the particular features of these relationships, there is one thin& in this re&ard
that needs to be reco&ni6ed and emphasi6ed( !he human bein&3both the I and the thou3is not
only an e,istin& subject but also an actin& subject, and in this actin& the thou becomes at e%ery step
an object for the I( !his objecti%ity, to&ether +ith the +hole relation, returns to the I by means of a
special "ind of interaction: the I becomes in a certain sense an object for itself in actions objecti%ely
directed to+ard a thou( !his, of course, belon&s someho+ or&anically to the process of the
distincti%e +ay the I is constituted by the thou, +hich I already discussed( If the I, or self, is
constituted by its actions 4as +as sho+n in the first part of this essay5, and if the thou as another I,
or self, is also constituted in the same +ay, then this is also the means by +hich the I3thou
relationship, includin& the correspondin& effects of this relationship in both of its subjects 4the I and
the thou5 is constituted( !he subject I e,periences the relation to a thou in acti%ity that has the thou
as its object, and, of course, %ice %ersa( !hrou&h this acti%ity directed objecti%ely to+ard the thou,
the subject I not only e,periences itself in relation to the thou, but also e,periences itself in a ne+
+ay in its o+n subjecti%ity( !he objecti%ity of acti%ity 4action and interaction5 ser%es to confirm the
a&ent<s o+n subjecti%ity, if only because the object of this acti%ity is itself a subject and represents a
personal subjecti%ity proper to itself(
Confinin& oursel%es to the I3thou relationship in +hat could be called its elementary form, +ithout
any particular 1ualifications concernin& ho+ the t+o persons are mutually related, e,cept to say that
in this relationship the I is a subject of acti%ities directed objecti%ely to+ard the thou and %ice %ersa,
+e can no+ describe the basic dimension of interpersonal community( !his dimension is both a fact
and a demand: it has both a metaphysical and a normati%e 4ethical5 meanin&, in "eepin& +ith +hat
+as said earlier concernin& the concept of community( !his dimension is reducible to treatin& and
really e,periencin& -the other as oneself. 4to use an e,pression ta"en directly from the 9ospel5(
!his +hole analysis, in turn, directs us bac" to +hat +as said in the last part of !he )ctin& Person
concernin& the meanin& of nei&hbor(
!o specify more precisely +hat distin&uishes the dimension of community proper to interpersonal I
3thou relationships, it should be noted that these are the relationships in +hich human bein&s
mutually re%eal themsel%es to one another in their personal human subjecti%ity and in all that &oes
to ma"e up this subjecti%ity( !he thou stands before my self as a true and complete -other self,.
+hich, li"e my o+n self, is characteri6ed not only by self;determination, but also and abo%e all by
self;possession and self;&o%ernance( In this subjecti%e structure, the thou as -another self.
represents its o+n transcendence and its o+n tendency to+ard self;fulfillment( !his +hole structure
of personal subjecti%ity proper to the I as a self and to the thou as another self is mutually re%ealed
throu&h the community proper to the I3thou relationship, since, by %irtue of the mutuality of the I
3thou relationship, I am simultaneously a thou for the I that is a thou for me( In this +ay, the I3
thou relationship as a mutual relation of t+o subjects 4supposita5 not only ta"es on meanin& but also
truly becomes an authentic subjecti%e community(
!o say that such a community in%ol%es the mutual re%elation of the partners in their personal human
subjecti%ity is to point to the factual meanin& of the community proper to an interpersonal I3thou
relationship( We must not for&et, ho+e%er, that such a community has a normati%e meanin& as +ell(
7rom this point of %ie+, +e may say that, throu&h the dimension of community proper to an
interpersonal I3thou relationship, there ou&ht to be a mutual self;re%elation of persons: the partners
ou&ht to disclose themsel%es to each other in their personal subjecti%ity and in all that ma"es up this
subjecti%ity( !hrou&h the I3thou relationship, they should re%eal themsel%es to one another in their
deepest structure of self possession and self;&o%ernance(
)bo%e all, they should re%eal themsel%es in their stri%in& for self;fulfillment, +hich, culminatin& in
acts of conscience, testifies to the transcendence proper to the human bein& as a person( In
interpersonal I3thou relationships, the partners should not only un%eil themsel%es before one
another in the truth of their personal reality, but they should also accept and affirm one another in
that truth( Such acceptance and affirmation is an e,pression of the moral 4ethical5 meanin& of
interpersonal community(
!his meanin& both shapes and3in another respect3%erifies interpersonal community in its
indi%idual reali6ations and in the indi%idual forms of these mutual relationships of a human I and
thou, includin& those such as friendship and lo%e( !he more profound, inte&ral, and intense the bond
bet+een the I and the thou in these mutual relationships, and the more it ta"es on the character of
trust, a &i%in& of oneself, and 4to the e,tent possible in the relation of one person to another5 a
special "ind of belon&in&, the &reater the need for the mutual acceptance and affirmation of the I by
the thou in its personal subjecti%ity, in the +hole structure of self;possession and in full harmony
+ith the personal transcendence that e,presses itself in acts of conscience( In this +ay, +ithin the
conte,t of the I3thou relationship, by the %ery nature of interpersonal community, the persons also
become mutually responsible for one another( Such responsibility is a reflection of conscience and
of the transcendence that for both the I and the thou constitutes the path to self;fulfillment and, at
the same time, characteri6es the proper, authentically personal dimension of community(
*y -community. I understand -that +hich unites(. In the I3thou relationship, an authentic
interpersonal community de%elops 4re&ardless of its form or %ariety5 if the I and the thou abide in a
mutual affirmation of the transcendent %alue of the person 4a %alue that may also be called di&nity5
and confirm this by their acts( #nly such a relationship seems to deser%e the name communio
1#3# We: The Social +imension o Community
I belie%e it is e,tremely important to distin&uish the social dimension of community from the inter;
personal dimension( !he need for this distinction is dictated by the different profiles of community,
profiles that in a symbolic, but also %ery precise, +ay are e,pressed by the pronouns I3thou and
+e( I and thou refer only indirectly to the multiplicity of persons joined by the relation 4one A one5,
+hereas directly they refer to the persons themsel%es( We, on the other hand, refers directly to the
multiplicity and indirectly to the persons belon&in& to this multiplicity( We primarily si&nifies a set
3a set, of course, made up of people, of persons( !his set, +hich may be called a society, a &roup,
etc(, is not itself a substantial bein&, and yet, as I said abo%e, +hat results from accidents from the
relations bet+een human persons, in some sense comes to the fore here, pro%idin& a basis for
predication primarily +ith respect to all and secondarily +ith respect to each one in the set( !his is
precisely +hat is si&nified by the pronoun +e(
Clearly, then, the +e introduces us to another +orld of human relationships and refers to another
dimension of community, namely, the social dimension, +hich differs from the pre%ious dimension,
the interpersonal dimension of community found in I3thou relationships( In the follo+in& analysis
of the social dimension of community, I shall ta"e the position that community is particularly
compatible +ith the person as a subject, +ith the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&, +ith the
fact that each human bein& is an I or a thou, and not merely a he or a she( /e and she seem to refer
primarily to people as objects, just as they does( I intend to analy6e the social dimension of
community not so much from the perspecti%e of the he, she, or they, but3in a +ay parallel to the
pre%ious analysis3more from the perspecti%e of the I and the thou( I also shall not be discussin&
society, but only the social dimension of human community, +hich is precisely +hat the pronoun
+e si&nifies( I should note ri&ht at the start of this analysis that not only does this pronoun refer to
many subjects, to many human I<s, or sel%es, but it also refers to the uni1ue subjecti%ity of this
multiplicity( )nd in this respect a +e differs from a they(
If a +e is many human I<s, or sel%es, then3li"e the I, or self3it may be concei%ed and understood
throu&h acti%ity( ) +e is many human bein&s, many subjects, +ho in some +ay e,ist and act
to&ether( )ctin& -to&ether. 4i(e(, -in common.5 does not mean en&a&in& in a number of acti%ities
that someho+ &o alon& side by side( Rather it means that these acti%ities, alon& +ith the e,istence
of those many I<s, are related to a sin&le %alue, +hich, therefore, deser%es to be called the common
&ood( 4*y spea"in& in this +ay, I do not mean to use the concepts of %alue and &ood
interchan&eably, much less confuse them(5 !he relation of many I<s to a common &ood seems to be
the %ery core of social community( *y %irtue of this relation, the people in%ol%ed in it, +hile
e,periencin& their personal subjecti%ity3the factual multiplicity of human I<s3are a+are that they
form a specific +e, and they e,perience themsel%es in this ne+ dimension( !his is the social
dimension, different from the I3thou dimension, althou&h in it the persons remain themsel%es
4they remain an I and a thou5, but the direction of the relation is fundamentally chan&ed( !his
direction is determined by the common &ood( In this relation the I and the thou also find their
mutual relationship in a ne+ dimension: they find their I3thou throu&h the common &ood, +hich
establishes a ne+ union bet+een them(
!he best e,ample of this is marria&e, in +hich a clearly delineated I3thou relationship, an
interpersonal relationship, ta"es on a social dimension +hen the spouses accept into this
relationship the set of %alues that may be defined as the common &ood of marria&e and3at least
potentially3of family( In relation to this &ood, their community appears in acti%ity and e,istence in
a ne+ profile and a ne+ dimension, namely, the profile of a +e and the social dimension of a couple
4not just one A one5( !he couple do not cease bein& an I and a thou, and they also do not cease bein&
in an inter;personal I3thou relationship( In fact, their I3thou relationship in its o+n +ay dra+s
upon the +e relationship and is enriched by it( !his also means, of course, that their ne+ social
relationship imposes ne+ duties and demands on the interpersonal I3thou relationship(
:o+ that +e ha%e a basic outline of the +e relationship, +e may as", by analo&y to the pre%ious
analysis: to +hat e,tent and in +hat sense is each I constituted by the +e in a +ay similar to ho+
the I is constituted by the thou in interpersonal relationships> /uman e,perience confirms that this
does happen( #f course, +hen spea"in& here of the constitution of the human I, I am assumin& all
that I said in the first part concernin& the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&( I am not
referrin& to its constitution in the metaphysical sense, for in that sense e%ery I is constituted in its
o+n suppositurn( In contrast, the constitution of a concrete I in its personal subjecti%ity ta"es place
in a special +ay throu&h acti%ity and e,istence -to&ether +ith others. in social communities, in the
dimension of %arious +e<s( It ta"es place differently from the +ay it occurs in the I3thou
dimension, for in the +e dimension the relationship has a decisi%e si&nificance for the common
&ood( !hrou&h this relationship, a human bein&, a concrete I, disco%ers different confirmations of
his or her personal subjecti%ity from those that occur in interpersonal relationships( )nd yet this
confirmation of the subject I in the community +e a&rees profoundly +ith the nature of this subject(
Perhaps it is just such %erification that lies at the basis of all that has e%er been said concernin& the
social nature of the human bein&(
ssentially spea"in&, a +e does not entail a diminution or distortion of the I( If de facto this
sometimes happens 4I dealt +ith this in !he )ctin& Person5, then the cause should be sou&ht in the
realm of the relation to the common &ood( !his relation can be defecti%e in %arious +ays3both on
the side of the human I 4or many such I<s5 and on the side of +hat is re&arded as the common &ood
for many I<s(
!his topic comprises an e,tensi%e area of philosophy, and abo%e all of social ethics, +hich I shall
not &o into here in any depth or detail( Similar to my analysis of interpersonal relationships 4I3
thou5, I shall not discuss the different forms and %arieties of social community3the different forms
and %arieties of social reality 4societies, social &roups, circles, etc(53in +hich all human bein&s
e,ist and act( In my analysis of the social dimension of community, I basically +ish to &rasp and
illuminate the meanin& of this dimension primarily in the aspect of the personal subjecti%ity of the
human bein&3and thereby sho+ the compatibility of personal subjecti%ity and community( In this
aspect, +here the autoteleolo&y of the human bein& and the +hole problematic of human self;
fulfillment naturally comes to the fore, community, too, must present not only a factual, ontolo&ical
4and thus metaphysical5 meanin&, but also a normati%e 4and thus ethical5 meanin&(
7irst of all, then, the -common. relation of many I<s to a common &ood, by %irtue of +hich this
multiplicity of subjects appears to itself 4and to others as +ell5 as a specific +e and as that +e, is a
particular e,pression of the transcendence proper to the human bein& as a person( In a particular
+ay, too, the relation to the common &ood actuali6es this transcendence( /ere +e should recall +hat
+as said in the first part of this essay +ith re&ard to transcendence and its strict connection +ith the
self;fulfillment of the subjecti%e self( Conscience, as a "ey element of the self;fulfillment of the
personal self, points in a special +ay to transcendence and, so to spea", lies at its subjecti%e center(
#bjecti%ely, transcendence is reali6ed in a relation to truth and to the &ood as -true. 4as -befittin&,.
honestum5( !he relation to the common &ood, a relation that unites the multiplicity of subjects into
one +e, should li"e+ise be &rounded in a relation to truth and to a -true. &ood( !he proper
dimension of the common &ood then comes into %ie+( !he common &ood is essentially the &ood of
many, and in its fullest dimension the &ood of all( !his multiplicity can be 1uantitati%ely di%erse:
t+o in the case of marria&e 4no lon&er just one A one, but a couple5, se%eral in the case of a family,
millions in the case of a particular nation, billions in the case of all human"ind( /ence, the concept
of the common &ood is an analo&ical concept, an analo&y of proportionality, since the %ery reality
of this &ood is subject to differentiation( !he common &ood of a married couple or a family is one
thin&, that of a nation another, and that of human"ind still another( !he human +e is also reali6ed in
them in an analo&ous +ay( In all of these reali6ations, ho+e%er, the common &ood corresponds to
the transcendence of the persons and forms the objecti%e basis for their constitution as a social
community3as a +e(
!he reality of the common &ood in the +hole +ealth of its analo&ies determines the direction of the
transcendence that lies at root of the human +e( !his transcendence, ho+e%er, belon&s to the
structure of the human I0 it is not in principle opposed to the personal subjecti%ity of the human
bein&, but in principle corresponds to it( !his does not mean, of course, that social life is a realm
free from conflict( We "no+ only too +ell from e,perience that just the opposite is true( In !he
)ctin& Person, I attempted to point out some %arieties of such conflict, merely indicatin& their
different forms and scope( :e%ertheless, in principle the social dimension of community enters
compatibly into the +hole tendency to+ard self;fulfillment proper to human subjecti%ity( !he
common &ood, as the objecti%e basis of this dimension, represents a &reater fullness of %alue than
the indi%idual &ood of each separate I in a particular community( It, therefore, has a superior
character3and in this character it corresponds to the subjecti%e transcendence of the person( !he
common &ood<s superior character and the &reater fullness of %alue it represents deri%e ultimately
from the fact that the &ood of each of the subjects of a community that calls itself a +e is more fully
e,pressed and more fully actuali6ed in the common &ood( !hrou&h the common &ood, therefore, the
human I more fully and more profoundly disco%ers itself precisely in a human +e(
!he common &ood is often a difficult &ood0 perhaps it is e%en so in principle( We Poles "no+ from
our o+n history ho+ much the common &ood +e call -Poland. or -our homeland. has at times cost
particular indi%iduals and e%en +hole &enerations of our countrymen and +omen( !he amount of
effort e,pended in achie%in& the common &ood, the amount of sacrifice of indi%idual &oods3to the
point of e,ile, imprisonment, and death3testifies to the &reatness and superiority of this &ood( !he
situations mentioned here by +ay of e,ample 4and %ery tellin& ones indeed, especially the e,treme
situations5 are con%incin& proof of the truth that the common &ood conditions the indi%idual &oods
of the members of the community, the human +e( In e,treme situations, it seems as thou&h in the
li%ed e,perience of certain members of the community those indi%idual &oods tend to lose their
reason of bein& +ithout the common &ood( !his does not mean, ho+e%er, that the sacrifice of
oneself or one<s life for the common &ood comes do+n to a simple -tippin& of the scales. in fa%or
of the common &ood o%er the &ood of the indi%idual in one community or another(
*ecause the common &ood appears as superior, and as such corresponds to the transcendence of the
person, confrontin& the person<s conscience and either a&reein& +ith it or &i%in& rise to conflict, the
1uestion of the common &ood must be a central issue for social ethics( !he history of societies and
the e%olution of social systems sho+ that +e are constantly stru&&lin& to attain the -true. common
&ood that corresponds to the essence of both the social community proper to the human +e and the
personal transcendence proper to the human I( !he historical facts tell also, ho+e%er, of the repeated
emer&ence of %arious "inds of utilitarianism, totalitarianism, and social e&oism( )lready in the
smallest and most basic human +e, marria&e and the family, +e find si&ns of these different
de%iations3proportionate, of course, to this community and its particular nature( )s the multiplicity
of human I<s increases, social community, the unity proper to the human +e, becomes more
difficult, ob%iously on different le%els( *ut I already said that the common &ood is a difficult &ood(
!he pri%ile&ed status of this &ood, the reason for its superiority in relation to indi%idual &oods,
deri%es, as I said, from the fact that the &ood of each of the subjects of the community, +hich
defines and e,periences itself as a +e on the basis of the common &ood, is more fully e,pressed and
more fully actuali6ed in that &ood( !his also accounts for the fact of social community, the fact of
the constitution of a +e by many human I<s( In itself, this fact is essentially free from utilitarianism0
it lies +ithin the realm of the objecti%e and authentically e,perienced truth of the &ood, +hich is
also the truth of conscience( In behalf of this truth, human bein&s as members of a community
embrace the hardships connected +ith the reali6ation of the common &ood3at times e%en to the
point of the e,treme situations mentioned abo%e( In behalf of the same truth of the common &ood,
ho+e%er, they also achie%e all those %alues that &o to ma"e up the true and in%iolable &ood of the
person( !his finds particular e,pression in our o+n day, as e%idenced in numerous declarations and
actions( Community, the human +e, in its %arious dimensions, si&nifies a human multiplicity +ith
the "ind of structure in +hich the person as a subject is ma,imally actuali6ed( !his, too, +ill be the
meanin& of the common &ood in its %arious analo&ies, this the reason for its superiority, +hich is
e,perienced by the personal subject at times dramatically, but al+ays in a basically ethical +ay(
We3as I said at the outset3does not si&nify just the simple fact of a human multi;subjecti%ity( It
refers not only to the multiplicity of human I<s, but also to the special subjecti%ity of this
multiplicity, or at least to a decided tendency to+ard the achie%ement of such a subjecti%ity( !his is
ob%iously a di%ersified tendency, +hich should be understood and reali6ed in proportion to the
different +e<s and in accord +ith the specific communal nature proper to each of them( !his
tendency, to&ether +ith the resultin& reali6ation of the subjecti%ity of the multiplicity, de%elops in
one +ay in the case of a +e such as marria&e or the family, in another in the case of a particular
circle, association, or social &roup, and in still another in the case of a nation, a country, or, finally,
all human"ind 4the term -human family. also spea"s %ery elo1uently in this re&ard5( In these
different dimensions, the human I<s display a readiness not only to thin" of themsel%es in cate&ories
of a +e but also to reali6e +hate%er is essential for the +e, for social community( In the conte,t of
such community, therefore, and in "eepin& +ith its human essence, they also display a readiness to
reali6e the subjecti%ity of the many, and, in the uni%ersal dimension, the subjecti%ity of all3for this
is +hat a complete reali6ation of the human +e entails( It seems that only on the basis of this "ind
of social community, one in +hich a factual multi;subjecti%ity de%elops in the direction of the
subjecti%ity of the many, can +e percei%e in the human +e an authentic communio personarum(
We all "no+, ho+e%er, ho+ many obstacles and counter;dispositions stand in the +ay of this
readiness, pre%ailin& o%er it from %arious sides( We also "no+ ho+ much +e are continually on the
road to reali6in& the human +e in different realms, a road that in so many places +inds both
bac"+ard and for+ard, dependin& on +hat holds s+ay in different periods and on ho+ the balance
of the reali6ation of the different +e<s, and ultimately the uni%ersal +e, e%ol%es(
In any case, an analysis of social community points in this re&ard to a basic homo&eneity of the
personal subject and human community( !hat at +hich the de%elopment of the different +e<s in the
+hole +ealth of their analo&ies aims is a clear reflection of the human I, of personal human
subjecti%ity, rather than somethin& opposed to this subjecti%ity( )nd if it happens to be opposed,
human bein&s as subjects must institute reforms( !he social community of the +e is &i%en to us not
only as a fact but also al+ays as a tas"( )ll of this, in turn, confirms that the subject as a person has
a distincti%e priority in relation to community( #ther+ise it +ould be impossible to defend not just
the autoteleolo&y of the human self, but e%en the teleolo&y of the human bein&(
@(4# Alienation as the Antithesis o Partici/ation
!he abo%e analysis of interpersonal community and social community seems to entail a number of
conse1uences( 7irst of all, the concept of community cannot be used uni%ocally, since it refers to
different "inds of realities( !he reality of social community cannot be completely reduced to the
reality of interpersonal community, nor can the latter be reduced to the former( *et+een the I3thou
relationship and the +e relationship there e,ists a difference of profiles that seems to e,tend to the
%ery roots of the t+o relationships( #ne can only say3and e%en should say3that the I3thou
relationship e,ists +ithin %arious +e relationships, +hich do not and certainly should not annihilate
the thou relationship, but should rather facilitate and promote it( Similarly, one can and should say
that %arious types of +e relationships run throu&h the I3thou relationship( !he social and
interpersonal dimensions of community in %arious +ays mutually permeate, imply, and e%en
condition one another( Still, the profiles of these relationships remain basically different and
separate( 7rom the normati%e point of %ie+, +e should stri%e to de%elop, maintain, and e,pand I3
thou and +e relationships in their authentic forms( !his means +or"in& to brin& about the most
harmonious disposition of communal and personal life possible, to +hich the +ell "no+n principle
of subsidiarity 4principium subsidiarietatis5 also refers(
Secondly, +hen %ie+ed in the conte,t of the precedin& discussion, the meanin& of participation and
also of alienation as its antithesis ta"es on &reater clarity( While notin& the different "inds of
community that occur in I3thou and in +e relationships, the separate dimensions of inter;personal
and social community, I ha%e maintained throu&hout this analysis that the human bein& as a person
ser%es as a basis of analo&y +ith respect to them( $oreo%er, it seems that an analysis of community
from the point of %ie+ of the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&3as I presented 4thou&h
merely in outline5 abo%e3allo+s us to establish certain basic tenets concernin& community, i(e(,
concernin& the disco%ery of the %ery patterns of communal reality( !he re%ersal of this order seems
not so much dan&erous for the truth of the ima&e in 1uestion as 1uite simply impossible( We can
spea" meanin&fully of community only in the li&ht of persons, +hich means only in the conte,t of
the person as the proper subject of e,istence and acti%ity, both personal and communal, and only in
relation to the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&, because only this aspect allo+s us to &rasp
the essential property of human I<s and their relationships, both interpersonal and social( )nd that is
precisely +hy the le%el of the subject 4+hich is ne%ertheless an objecti%e le%el from the
epistemolo&ical and methodolo&ical point of %ie+5 +ould seem to allo+ for a fuller understandin&
of both participation and alienation(
In %ie+in& alienation as the opposite or antithesis of participation, I ha%e in mind the person and
both dimensions of community, the +e and the I3thou( In each of these dimensions, participation is
connected +ith transcendence, and so it is &rounded in the person as a subject and in the person<s
innate tendency to+ard self;actuali6ation, to+ard self;fulfillment( We fulfill oursel%es as persons
throu&h interpersonal I3thou relationships, as +ell as throu&h a relation to the common &ood,
+hich allo+s us to e,ist and act to&ether +ith others as a +e( !hese t+o different relations and their
correspondin& communal dimensions also entail t+o different profiles of participation, +hich I
outlined at least partially in !he )ctin& Person( !hat s"etch, as I already mentioned, needs to be
analy6ed and de%eloped in &reater detail, +hich I ha%e done to some e,tent in this essay(
!he present analysis tends to confirm me in the con%iction that participation should be seen as a
property of human bein&s, correspondin& to their personal subjecti%ity( !his subjecti%ity does not
enclose people +ithin themsel%es or ma"e them impenetrable monads, but3on the contrary3opens
them up to others in a +ay proper to a person( Participation, then, both in the case of the
interpersonal community I3thou and in the case of the social community +e, can and should be
seen as an authentic e,pression of personal transcendence and as a subjecti%e confirmation of this
transcendence in the person( It mi&ht seem as thou&h transcendence to+ard a common &ood +ould
lead us a+ay from oursel%es, or, more precisely, +ould lead us all a+ay from the human bein&( )
thorou&h analysis of this &ood, ho+e%er, sho+s that the human bein& is deeply inscribed in the true
meanin& of the common &ood3the human bein& not as concei%ed in the species definition, but the
human bein& as a person and subject( 7or this reason, too, the true meanin& of the common &ood, its
full -inte&rity. 4honestas5, is and must be in science a central issue for social ethics and in practice a
matter of the &reatest responsibility(
)lthou&h in their profiles I3thou and +e communities are distinct and mutually irreducible to one
another, in the e,perience and de%elopment of communal life they must permeate and mutually
condition one another( !he fully authentic human bein&, the human bein& as a person, the one
+hose personal identity is disclosed throu&h I3thou relationships to the e,tent that those
relationships ha%e the profile of a &enuine communio personarum, is the one +ho is and must be
permanently inscribed in the true meanin& of the common &ood if that &ood is to conform to its
definition and essence( !hat is +hy in !he )ctin& Person it seemed possible to define participation
4in its social profile5 as a property by %irtue of +hich human bein&s tend 4also5 to+ard self;
fulfillment and fulfill themsel%es by actin& and e,istin& to&ether +ith others( )lthou&h this
definition is based on the person as a subject rather than on community3on the I rather than on the
+e3and, conse1uently, seems partial and incomplete, it ne%ertheless allo+s us to disco%er the
social profile of community e1ually +ell( Participation thus understood conditions the +hole
authenticity of the human +e, a +e that de%elops objecti%ely on the basis of a relation to the
common &ood but that also3on the basis of this same relation3tends to+ard the de%elopment of
the true subjecti%ity of all +ho enter into the social community( !he passa&e from multi;subjecti%ity
to the subjecti%ity of the many is the proper and full meanin& of the human +e( Participation,
understood as a property of each I, by %irtue of +hich that I fulfills itself by e,istin& and actin&
-to&ether +ith others,. is not opposed to such a meanin& of social community( In fact, it seems that
only +hen understood in this +ay can participation ensure both that meanin& and, more importantly,
the reali6ation of social community: the reali6ation of the human +e in its full authenticity as the
true subjecti%ity of the many(
Participation in this sense3as a property of the person, by %irtue of +hich each person is and
remains himself or herself in a social community3seems to be a necessary condition for an
authentic communio personarum, both in +e relationships and in interpersonal I3thou
relationships( *oth of these relationships in%ol%e openness, and both de%elop +ithin the conte,t of
the transcendence proper to the person( )n I3thou relationship opens one human bein& directly to
another( !o participate means in this case to turn to+ard another self in the conte,t of personal
transcendence and, therefore, to turn to+ard the full truth of that human bein&( In this sense, then, to
participate means to turn to+ard humanity( !his humanity is &i%en in the I3thou relationship not as
the abstract idea of the human bein& 4in !he )ctin& Person, I treat this problem as belon&in& instead
to the epistemolo&ical foundations5, but as a thou for an I( Participation in this relationship is
e1ui%alent to the reali6ation of an interpersonal community in +hich the personal subjecti%ity of the
thou re%eals itself throu&h the I 4in some sense reciprocally as +ell5( $ost importantly, ho+e%er,
this is a community in +hich the personal subjecti%ity of both the I and the thou are anchored,
safe&uarded, and de%eloped(
)lienation is the opposite of participation0 it is its antithesis( !he concept of alienation, as +e "no+,
+as employed in $ar,ist philosophy, but e%en independently of this it has become an aspect of
modern anthropolo&y, of contemporary thou&ht on the human bein&( What, then, is alienation> /o+
should its essence be concei%ed> Re&ardless of all that has been said concernin& +hat +as or is a
real or supposed form of alienation, it is al+ays +orth+hile and e%en fundamental to as" +hat
alienation is in itself( In fact, only an ans+er to this 1uestion can %alidate our jud&ments concernin&
the actual forms of alienation, that is, our jud&ments concernin& +hat +as, is, or may be an instance
of alienation(
When I say that alienation is the antithesis of participation, this should be understood in the li&ht of
+hat I said earlier in formulatin& the state of the 1uestion of the second part of this essay on the
person( I said there that the +hole problematic of alienation refers not to the human bein& as an
indi%idual of the species, and thus not to the human bein& as concei%ed in the species definition, but
to the human bein& as a personal subject( I ta"e the position that alienation is essentially a
personalistic problem, and, in this sense, clearly both a humanistic and an ethical one as +ell(
)s the antithesis of participation, alienation contributes to or 4dependin& on the alienatin& factor5
creates an occasion for depri%in& people in some respect of the possibility of fulfillin& themsel%es
in community either in the social community of a +e or in the interpersonal community of an I3
thou( )lienation can and in many +ays does occur in both of these dimensions of community( In the
social dimension, the presence of alienatin& factors is apparent +hen the multiplicity of human
subjects, each of +hom is a particular I, is unable to de%elop appropriately in the direction of an
authentic +e( !he social process, +hich ou&ht to lead to the &enuine subjecti%ity of all, is then
chec"ed or e%en re%ersed, because human bein&s cannot find themsel%es as subjects in this process(
Social life &oes on as thou&h beyond them3not so much in opposition to them but rather -at their
e,pense(. !hey, in turn, althou&h e,istin& and e%en actin& -to&ether +ith others,. do not fulfill
themsel%es in this life, either because they ha%e estran&ed themsel%es or because the society,
throu&h some faulty structure, does not &i%e them a basis for self;fulfillment or e%en denies them
the ri&hts needed for it( !his, of course, is not a complete and e,hausti%e picture, but only an
outline, su&&estin& an understandin& of alienation as the antithesis of participation in the social
sense( 2ependin& on its proportions, this type of alienation constricts or e%en annihilates the human
+e( )nd it does so not just +ith respect to one I or another 4as in the case of estran&ement5, but3as
history and the contemporary era teach3in dimensions of +hole social &roups, societies, and
classes and e%en entire nations( I am not attemptin& here to analy6e this social phenomenon0 my
only concern at the moment is to apprehend the feature that +ill allo+ us to formulate a more
precise definition of the essence of alienation(
In an analo&ical form3but, of course, +hile preser%in& the +hole distinctness of this relationship,
+hich I discussed earlier3+e can detect this feature in the interpersonal dimension of community,
in relationships of the I3thou type( )lthou&h this dimension is &enerally not commensurate +ith
the +e dimension 1uantitati%ely, it is sometimes e%en more painful 1ualitati%ely, since human life is
probably li%ed out more in I3thou dimensions than in +e dimensions( In the I3thou dimension,
alienation as the antithesis of participation si&nifies a constriction or annihilation of e%erythin&
throu&h +hich one human bein& is another self for another human bein&( !his sub%erts the li%ed
e,perience of the truth of the humanity, the truth of the essential +orth of the person, in the human
thou( !he I remains se%ered and disconnected from the thou, and so it is not fully disclosed to itself
either( In such interpersonal relationships, the -nei&hbor. also disappears and all that remains is the
-other,. or e%en a -stran&er. or an outri&ht -enemy(. !his, too, ho+e%er, is only a "ind of outline,
su&&estin& the meanin& of alienation in the interpersonal dimension( Community in this dimension
becomes distorted and disappears in proportion to the disappearance of the li%ed e,perience of
humanity, +hich is the e,perience that authentically dra+s people to&ether and unites them(
*y ta"in& the position that in both dimensions of community alienation is the antithesis of
participation, I +ish to emphasi6e here from the ne&ati%e side the same point that formed the cru,
of this entire analysis: that the reality of human community in both of its dimensions, the I3thou as
+ell as the +e, de%elops in the conte,t of the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&, and
de%elops in relation to it specifically and primarily( )lienation as the antithesis of participation, and
thus its opposite or ne&ation, does not so much -dehumani6e. the human bein& as an indi%idual of
the species as it threatens the person as a subject( #n the other hand, participation as the antithesis
of alienation confirms and emphasi6es the person as a subject( In this sense, participation may also
be re&arded as a distincti%e -property. of the person, for it fosters the person<s self;fulfillment both
in interhuman and in social relationships( In each dimension, it safe&uards the transcendence proper
to the person(
$y reflections are dra+in& to a close( I do not intend to analy6e alienation itself in this essay( What
I said about alienation abo%e is neither a description of the phenomenon nor an attempt to de%elop it
systematically( )s +e "no+, a &reat deal has been +ritten about this topic( !he concept of alienation
has become an important and e%en fundamental cate&ory of contemporary thou&ht on the human
bein&( )t the same time, despite the numerous pronouncements concernin& +hat alienation is3
e%en those "no+n from $ar,ist philosophy alone3there is no completely established %ie+
concernin& +hat alienation is, or +hat constitutes its essence(
I ha%e not dealt here +ith this topic e, pro fesso( !he real purpose of these analyses collected under
the title -!he Person: Subject and Community. +as to in%esti&ate the relations that occur bet+een
community 4interpersonal and social5 and the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&( !o+ard the
end, ho+e%er, I sa+ a possibility of proposin& a reduction of the %arious current descriptions of
alienation 4+hich contain only an assertion or su&&estion that alienation occurs in certain situations5
to the realm of the person as subject and community( I belie%e that by means of such a reduction3
and the present analysis can also ser%e as a tool to this end3the fuller essence of alienation is
re%ealed( )nd only +ith a fuller &rasp of +hat alienation essentially is do +e ha%e a basis for sayin&
+hat it is in particular instances or situations, and +hy(
In the second part of this essay, I mentioned a number of times that +e cannot spea" of alienation
on the basis of the species concept -human bein&,. but only in relation to the personal subjecti%ity
of the human bein&( !his is a preliminary assertion, in a sense still intuiti%e( :e%ertheless, I belie%e
that this analysis of the personal subjecti%ity of the human bein&, carried out here in the conte,t of
the person as subject and community, can by means of this intuition also contribute to the
in%esti&ation of the nature of alienation(