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Introduction to the
Philosophy of the
Human Person
(K+12 Curriculum)

*This reading material a

Supplementary material in the subject
Introduction to the Philosophy of the Human Person
Credits and rights are all still reserved to the authors and publishers
Sighted in the bibliography.

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For the Student

Module One: What is Philosophy?

Lesson 1: What is Philosophy?
Lesson 2: Approaches and Branches of Philosophy
Lesson 3: Philosophy, Science and Religion

Module Two: Man as Knowing

Lesson 1: Knowledge and Human Knowing
Lesson 2: Theories of Knowledge
Lesson 3: Acquisition of Knowledge
Lesson 4: Validity of Knowledge

Module Three: Man as Embodied Subject

Lesson 1: Man as a Subject
Lesson 2: Man and His Body
Lesson 3: Man in Existentialism

Module Four: The human person in their environment

Lesson 1: The unity of man and nature
Lesson 2: Man's influence on nature

Module Five: Man and Freedom

Lesson 1: The Will: Nature and Existence
Lesson 2: Attributes of God (Part I and II)
Lesson 3: Freedom of the Will (Part II)
Lesson 4: A Defense of Determinism

Module Six: Man and God

Lesson 1: The Study of Man
Lesson 2: Philosophy of Religion: Basic concepts
Lesson 3: Attributes of God (Part I and II)
Lesson 4: Arguments for God’s Existence

Module Seven: Man as oriented towards their Impending death

Lesson 1: Man and His Work with readings on Karl Marx’s
“Alienated Labor” and Ayn Rand’s “Individualism” theory
Lesson 2: Man and His quest for Meaning, with readings on
Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”,
And Erich Fromm’s “Having and Being.”


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Protagoras, a contemporary of Socrates, once

said, “Man is the measure of all things” and
thus emphasized the importance of human
existence and its attendant age-old existential
issues and philosophical problems as the
foremost problem of philosophy. In the same
vein much later, Alexander Pope, an English
poet, expressed his opinion: “The proper object
of philosophical inquiry is man and it is by
undertaking the analysis of the human
situations and problems that philosophy may be
able to address.”
While philosophers, in general, differ in
their points of view and set forth different aims
of philosophy yet they are one in asserting that
man and his problems should be the only object
of philosophical inquiry. If philosophy cannot
help man in evolving a better life-situation, in
solving day-to-day problems which result in
conflict, confusion and confrontation, it is an
exercise in futility. Hence, philosophers reject
any subject matter of philosophy which has no
relation with life, either directly or indirectly.
In our study of Philosophy of Man, we cannot help but become personal about
this endeavor, for when we study man, we are, in effect, studying ourselves: what we
are and who we are!
Philosophy of Man is a holistic philosophical approach to understand the
human person better by considering all the important and significant aspects related
to him. We shall be treating each aspect one at a time so that, ultimately, we can see
MAN—totally and comprehensively.

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Too often Philosophy tends to be regarded as a remote and abstruse subject

which can only be profitably studied by the brilliant few. It seems that this is
unfortunate and that philosophical matters are often less difficult and more than is
generally supposed.

In order to benefit greatly in our philosophical studies, one must always

approach the subject with an open, critical and inquisitive mind. It is also important
to realize that philosophy, unlike the sciences, does not offer definite answers. The
activity of philosophizing is not going to produce a set of cut-and-dried answers to
clearly stated problems. We shall be moving in the world where “one cannot tell,” “I
don’t know’” “it all depends,” and “it’s a matter of opinion” will be essential and
frequently recurring phrases. We shall hope to sort out and tidy up some problems
and discover the kind of question that it makes sense to ask and the kind of answer
that we can expect to get; we shall hope to end up with more knowledge, more wisdom
and a clearer understanding.

But if the ardent seeker of the truth is not content with that, if he is only
interested in answers that are right and wrong, if he wants final, conclusive certainty
he must go elsewhere--to the study, for example of pure mathematics. As he does so,
he will be shutting with a clang the door that leads to the world of “it all depends.”
And this will be a pity for it is the world in which we live.

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This Module serves to introduce and orient the students about Philosophy. It
will present the nature, approaches, branches and functions of Philosophy, in general.
It will also try to explain the basic differences between philosophy, science and

This module contains the following:

Lesson 1: What is Philosophy?

Lesson 2: Approaches and Branches of Philosophy
Lesson 3: Philosophy, Science and Religion



Philosophy is the love of wisdom (etymologically from the Greek philos meaning
“love,” and sophia, meaning “wisdom”). In the beginning, the term philosophy was
loosely used by Greek thinkers and it conveyed many things. It was Pythagoras of
Samos, a sage and a mystic during the 6th century BC, who invented the word
“philosophy.” “Philosophia” therefore, is the love of wisdom and philosophers are
lovers of wisdom.
The story goes that while Pythagoras was watching the Olympic Games inside
an amphitheater, he notices three groups of people. The first group were there to play
games, to win, to compete, to fight in order to win honor, prestige and fame.
Pythagoras called them the “lovers of fame.” The second group of people went to the
Olympic Games to make money and gain profit by selling their goods and wares
inside. They were the “lovers of gain.” The third group went there to watch the games
and be thrilled by the events unfolding. Pythagoras called them the “lovers of
The story does not end here, for after leaving the Olympics, Pythagoras
observed, just as well, that there were still three groups of people in real life. There
were those whose lives were lived solely for the purpose of becoming famous: LOVERS
OF FAME. There were those who live life with one aim, to become rich and wealthy:
LOVERS OF GAIN. But there were also those people who are just in a minority, who
live life not to become rich or famous, but who live life with one purpose in mind: to
understand what life is really all about. Hence, philosophy is used to denote love of
thinking, thinking attitude, reflective attitude towards life. Philosophers reflect on
knowledge, on God, on life, on death, on what man is and who man is, on right and
wrong, on society, and other questions. Pythagoras called these people, including
himself, of course: LOVERS OF WISDOM.
Pythagoras coined the term “philosophos” in order to differentiate them from the
“sophos.” The sophos during their time were men of great intelligence but they were so

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proud as to admit that they alone possess wisdom. The sophos were traveling
teachers, as well. They went to various places teaching the young rhetoric’s and the
skill to debate and argue. Of course, for a pay. However, they are more interested, not
in the Truth, but how to win every argument they are involved in. So Pythagoras
claimed himself not a sophos, not wise, but only a philosophos a lover of wisdom.
Using a standard dictionary, Philosophy will have to be defined as something
like this: “Philosophy is the study of the ultimate reality, causes and principles
underlying being acquired through the use of human reason alone.” Plato gave a
specific and technical meaning to the term. He defined philosopher as one whose
attention is fixed on reality rather than on appearances. A philosopher is interested in
grasping the essential nature of things. For instance, a philosopher was leisurely
walking inside the university campus. He passed by an untilled garden. He saw a
small flower, plucked it out and then made a philosophical reflection. He said, “Little
flower, I plucked you out from an obscure garden. Little flower, I am holding you in my
hand. Little flower, if I can understand your roots, your stem, your leaves, your
petals—and all in all—then I can understand life and if I can understand life then I
can understand God.”
Thus, philosophy is defined as a reflective and reasoned attempt to infer the
character and content of the universe taken in its totality. We may say, then, that
philosophy is, “a resolute and persistent attempt to understand and appreciate the
universe as a whole.”
Philosophy is basically an attitude and activity of the human mind. To have a
guiding attitude towards life is to have a philosophy, since the principles which a man
consciously or unconsciously adopts determines his thinking and actions in dealing
with the practical issues of human existence. The impulse to philosophize is motivated
by the desire to adopt for oneself and for others a creed to live by. The aim of such an
attempt is to make our lives coherent and purposive. There is no sense in
philosophizing unless it affects our attitude to life and its attendant problems. G.K.
Chesterton, the noted English writer, said that the most important and practical thing
about man is his attitude towards life and his view of the universe. Thus, it matters
whether a man is a pessimist or an optimist, an empiricist, or a rationalist, a skeptic,
or a believer. More than just a subject, philosophy is an activity. There is nothing new
about the idea that the activity of philosophizing is more important than the subject,
philosophy. Some two hundred years ago, the great German philosopher, Immanuel
Kant, told his pupils:

You will not learn from me philosophy, but how to

philosophize, not thoughts to repeat, but how to think. Think
for yourselves, enquire for yourselves, and stand on your
own feet. Dare to think, no matter where it might lead you.
Just dare to think.

Philosophy refers to a way of living and thinking. In this sense, every man has a
philosophy. A man’s way of thinking, his attitude, beliefs and opinions constitute his
philosophy. Our happiness, peace of mind and style of living depends upon our way of
thinking or the philosophy of our life. In a general sense, when we speak of a man’s
philosophy, we simply mean the sum of his beliefs. His beliefs refer to those all
viewpoints which guide his thinking and actions about life and the world. Different
men have different kinds of philosophies. In the words of Fichte, the 19 th century

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German idealist, “the kind of philosophy a man adopts depends on the kind of man he
In India, we are told, that philosophy is traditionally called Darshana implying
thereby insight into the real nature and essence of things. In Platonic sense, a
philosopher is a man of wisdom. A wise man has a clear understanding of the
distinction between reality and appearances. Man is not like other animals. He is a
rational being and lives in the organized life of society. He has ideals and purposes
besides responsibilities towards others. Therefore, it is essential for him to know the
distinction between real and unreal, between right and wrong, between knowledge and
opinion. A philosopher is a guide to humanity. He is one who apprehends the essence
or reality of the world; the one who is able to grasp the eternal and immutable.
At this point, it is necessary to spell out the subject matter of philosophy. What
is philosophy constituted of? The history of philosophy shows that philosophers have
discussed a great variety of questions. It is very difficult to provide a general
description which includes all these questions. However, we can roughly indicate the
main questions with which philosophers have been concerned with. Generally,
philosophers are interested in questions like:

1. Is there a God? What reasons are there to believe in God? Can we prove or
disprove God’s existence? (Philosophy of Religion or Philosophical Theology)
2. What is knowledge? Can we know? What is it to know? How can we know?
(Epistemology or Theory of Knowledge)
3. What is man? Who is man? Is man only his body or is man his soul?
(Philosophical Psychology)
4. Are we free? Are our actions already determined? Do we have a free will?
(Metaphysics and Ethics)
5. What is right? What is wrong? (Ethics or Moral Philosophy)
6. What is beauty? (Aesthetics or Philosophy of Art)
7. What is the good life? What is happiness?
8. Does life make sense? What is the meaning of life?


PHILOSOPHY: Its Approaches, Major Branches and Functions


There are three ways to approach the study of philosophy. And these are:

1. Historical Approach – This is done by dividing philosophy into four major

periods, namely:

Ancient Classical Philosophy – The philosophical period emphasized a concern

with the ultimate nature of reality and the problem of virtue in a political context. This
period was the era of the Greek philosophers who ventured and dealt on cosmological
problems in their philosophical endeavor. This cosmological problem paved the way to
ensue philosophical answer of what basically constitutes the world. Thales is of the

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Greek philosophers who gave us the philosophical perspective that all is water or
water is what constitutes the cosmos (world). The concern later gradually shifted into
political discussion. Socrates, however, transformed the Greek philosophy which was
later infiltrated by the Sophists who claimed to know the truth which could uplift
man’s condition but merely argued to convince people just for a pay.

Medieval Philosophy – This philosophical period used philosophy to rationalize

Christian beliefs. This was also known as the limelight of Christian philosophy which
was geared in a theocentric perspective. It focused on asserting the reality of God and
the proofs or arguments that proves his existence. St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the
leading proponents of this philosophical period who argued that everything that exists
has its cause and the first cause that could explain everything is God, the first cause.

Modern Philosophy – This period in philosophy is characterized by a separation of

reason from faith and which eventually led to the development of science. This was the
starting point already where philosophers imbibed a systematic and empirical
perspective in their philosophical discourse.

Contemporary Philosophy – This concerns the late 19th And 20th century
philosophy which generally focused with man and linguistic analysis. The 20th
century philosophy was set for a series of attempts to reform and preserve, and to
alter or abolish, older knowledge systems. It deals with the upheavals produced by a
series of conflicts within philosophical discourse over the basis of knowledge, with
classical certainties overthrown, and new social, economic, scientific and logical

2. Through a study of individual philosophers – In this approach, one has to

study the ideas and thoughts of these philosophers by going through their
major works and writings. Their ideas and opinions are all expressed in the
books that they have written. However, to understand clearly the major writings
of our philosophers, it is advisable to consult and read some commentaries or
secondary materials. For example, to understand Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
is an exercise in futility if you do not supplement it with Fr. Copleton’s History
of Philosophy, Vol. 6, Part II. Philosophy is the main subject of Plato; or
Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Nicomachean Ethics; of large parts of the works of
St. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham; of the Meditations of
Rene Descartes; of the Ethics of Spinoza; of the Monadology of Leibniz; of
Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding; of Berkeley’s Three Dialogues
and Principles of Human Knowledge; of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason; and
finally, in the present century, of Moore’s own Principia Ethica; of Russel’s Our
Knowledge of the External World; of Heidegger’s Being and Time; of Sartre’s
Beings and Nothingness; and of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
These are some of the major writings of some major philosophers.

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Below is a list of some philosophers and the major period they belong.

Ancient Classical Philosophy

Socrates (c. 470-399 BC)
Plato (c. 428-348)
Aristotle (c. 384-322 BC)

Medieval Philosophy
St. Augustine (354-430)
Boethius (480-524)
St. Anselm (1033-1109)
St. Abelard (1079-1142)
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Modern Philosophy Contemporary Philosophy

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) G.E. Moore (1873-1958)
Rene Descartes (1591-1650) Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
John Locke (1632-1704) Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973)
George Berkeley (1685-1753) Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980)
David Hume (1711-1776) Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
George Hegel (1770-1831)
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

3. Approach through philosophical problems – Philosophers are philosophers

because a great deal of life was spent on philosophizing on major philosophical
problems. The questions listed in the last part of Lesson 1 are just some of the
philosophical questions in which philosophers have concerned themselves with.
Some philosophers devoted much on just one or two questions while others
tried to provide answers on almost all questions and thus creating a whole
system of philosophy. Each particular problem or question corresponds to a
particular branch in philosophy. These are the approaches to a study of
philosophy. And in this course, we will combine the three approaches in order
to get a clear picture of the subject.
Needless to say, in our study of philosophy we cannot but become
philosophers ourselves. For we all are philosophers as long as we are open to
every possible idea, questioning and inquisitive and ever full of wonder.
“To be a philosopher,” said Henry David Thoreau, “is not merely to have
subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live,
according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and
trust.” Francis Bacon admonishes us, “Seek ye first the good things of the mind
and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt. “Truth will not
make us rich, but it will make us free!

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These are some of the major branches of philosophy and their description:

Aristotle, who first studied it systematically, called it "first philosophy" and it is
the subject that deals with "first causes and the principles of things." It is the branch
of philosophy concerned with the ultimate nature of existence. It attempts to
characterize existence or reality as a whole. It is the study of the ultimate reality of all
things. The modern meaning of the term is any inquiry dealing with the ultimate
nature of what exists. Within metaphysics, Ontology is the inquiry into the meaning
of existence itself, sometimes seeking to specify what general types of things exist
(though sometimes the term is taken to be equivalent to metaphysics.) Under
Metaphysics includes: Cosmology (the the study of the of the world or universe) and
Philosophical Theology (Philosophy of Religion).

In our ordinary life, we consistently assume there are only a limited number of
ways in which it is possible to acquire real knowledge. Philosophers have tried to
classify all the different ways in which we can know things. The problems concerning
knowledge belong to the department of philosophy known epistemology.

Another important branch of philosophy is that of ethics or “moral philosophy.”
Philosophers have discussed such problems as the ideal or purpose of life, the norms
of right actions and the theories of good and evil. It is concerned with questions of how
agents ought to act.

Logic is a branch of philosophy which deals with principles of valid reasoning. It
also includes scientific methodology and the fundamental laws which regulate human
thinking and reasoning. Philosophical inquiry is directed to the discovery of truth, the
knowledge of distinction between true or false. This is not possible if our thinking and
reasoning is invalid or full of errors. Thus, logic is an indispensable department of
philosophy, as important as metaphysics and epistemology.

Aesthetics or Philosophy of Arts consists of problems regarding beauty and
sublimity. Why an object is called beautiful? To what extent does the sense of
appreciation of beauty contribute to the enrichment of human life? These and similar
questions constitute the subject matter of aesthetics.

Psychology started as an inseparable branch of philosophy. The scientific study
of the mind and its impact on human behavior contributes to a great extent in better
understanding of human nature. Psychology is particularly related with ethics.

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Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Religion takes up basic problems like the concept and existence of
God, conventional and rational religion, the nature of religious faith, doubt and belief
and the role of religion in the evolution of human civilization.
Thus, we see that the subject matter of philosophy covers a wide range of
problems related to different aspects of man.
We may say that there is theoretical philosophy as well as practical philosophy.
Theoretical philosophy includes departments of metaphysics, epistemology and logic.
Practical part of philosophy covers philosophy of values, or ethics, aesthetics,
psychology and the study of religion.

Philosophy of Man

Philosophy of Man attempts to understand, man as an individual, as a knower,

as a free being, as loving, as a being-towards-death, as a being-before-God, in other
words, as a BEING-IN-THE-WORLD.


Philosophy undertakes a critical examination of the grounds on which beliefs are held.
A large part of the business of philosophy is to inquire what reason can do, what it
cannot do, by way of supporting a particular belief. As human beings, endowed with
reason, we cannot prevent ourselves from thinking about the frame and principles, the
destiny of our lives. The right use of reason brings us nearer to the truth. Philosophy
itself is founded upon a belief expressed long ago by Socrates that “the unexamined
life is not worth living.”

Another function of philosophy is to frame a picture of the whole universe, to establish

a complete worldview. This function distinguishes it from the sciences which
concentrate on a particular aspect of Nature. According to the British evolutionary
philosopher, Herbert Spencer, science is partially unified knowledge while philosophy
is completely unified knowledge. Philosophy is defined as the effort to comprehend the
universe as a whole, not a special department of it. To know only a part is to have
incomplete and distorted view of things.

The function of philosophy is not to change the world but to understand it. In the
context of the contemporary world and its problems, philosophy is very relevant
because it helps us to realize that there are very important questions which science
cannot answer, and that scientific knowledge is not sufficient. Further, philosophy
keeps people intellectually modest and aware that there are no shortcuts to
knowledge, what we believe to be indisputably true may turn out to be untrue.
In discussing the aim of philosophy, it is quite relevant to quote the great British
philosopher Bertrand Russell, “I think philosophy has two uses. One of them is to
keep alive speculations about things that are not yet amenable to scientific knowledge,
after all, scientific knowledge covers a very small part of the things that interest
mankind and ought to interest them. There are a great many things of immense
interest about which science, at present rate, knows little and I don’t want people’s
people imaginations to be limited and enclosed within what can be now known. I think
I enlarge your imaginative view of the world in the hypothetical real and it is one of the

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uses of philosophy. Another use of philosophy is to use that there are things which we
thought we knew and don’t know. Philosophy is to keep us thinking about things that
we may come to know, and to keep us modestly aware of how much that seems like
knowledge is not knowledge.”



Summative Overview

It is quite useful to discuss science, religion and philosophy under one heading
in order to articulate their similarities and differences. These topics are directly related
with life. Science is generally held to be opposed to religion because of its distinct aim
and method. Its aim is cognitive and its method is empirical. It aims to increase our
knowledge of nature. This knowledge enables us to exploit nature for our purposes.
The method adopted by science for acquiring this knowledge is empirical; that is, it is
based on human experience. Experience in science means observation,
experimentation and verification. Religion, on the other hand, is largely a matter of
personal faith and belief. It aims at liberating man from bondage to materialistic life.
Thus, science and religion seem to tread different paths for reaching different goals.
Philosophy is distinct from both science and religion since it does not entirely
rely on observation and analysis for the discovery of truth and neither is it personal
faith. It aims to develop right understanding of life and the world by critical reflection.
Science and philosophy are similar since they are both cognitive disciplines, while
religion and philosophy are similar in concerning themselves with the nature of man
and his destiny.
Further, philosophers act as guide both to scientists and men of religion so that
these contribute to the enrichment of human life. Philosophers have always been
gifted men who looked at things in a detached manner. When Plato said, “Until
philosophers are kings or kings and princes have power and spirit of philosophy,
human society will not cease from evil and sufferings,” he stressed the importance of
philosophy. Philosophy is not opposed to any branch of knowledge, much less to
science and religion. It refers to a way of thinking, an attitude to life, hence, no aspect
of human experience is without philosophy. Philosophy is mother of all sciences, it is
science of sciences, since the earliest human inquiries were related to philosophical
problems. Thus, we can say that philosophy deals with the fundamentals of life and,
hence, is intimately related with all areas of human existence.
Now we can discuss these topics separately.

Philosophy and Science

Most human beings are curious. Not, I mean, in the sense that they are odd,
but in the sense that want to find out the world around them and about their own part
in this world. They, therefore, ask questions, they wonder, they speculate. What they
want to find out may be quite simple things: What lies beyond the range of
mountains? How many legs has a fly? Or they may be rather complicated inquiries:
How does grass grow? What is coal made of? Why do some liquids extinguish flames
while others stimulate them? Or they may be more puzzling inquiries still: What is the

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purpose of life? What are we here for? What is the ultimate nature of truth? In what
sense, if any, are our wills free?
To the first two questions, the answers may be obtained by going and seeing,
and catching one and counting, respectively. The answers to the next set of questions
will be so easy, but the method will be essentially the same. It is the method of the
scientist, investigating, measuring, and experimenting. A method that may be
reasonably summed up in two words: “going and seeing.” The last set of questions
would normally be thought of as philosophical, and it would not be easy to find
answers to them that would commend general agreement. Some people would say that
they are unanswerable. But those who have tried to answer them in the past have on
the whole used the method of speculation rather than investigation, “sitting and
thinking” rather than going and seeing.
“Leisure,” as Thomas Hobbes remarked, is the mother of philosophy.” The same
relationship, it will be noted as that which proverbially exists between necessity and
invention. (Remember the proverb: Necessity is the mother of invention.) This should
not be taken to imply that philosophers are not busy people, but that their activity is
likely to mental rather than physical.
It would be a misleading oversimplification, however, to identify science with
investigating or “going and seeing” and philosophy with speculation or “sitting and
thinking.” The scientist who is investigating the world around him will certainly do
some sitting and thinking about the results of his inquiries. The philosopher who is
speculating about the nature of truth, though he may not do much going, is likely to
do a certain amount of seeing. He must have some data for reflection.
Nevertheless, it is on the whole true that for science the emphasis has been on
investigation, and for philosophers on speculation, and philosophers have often been
criticized for this reason.
Science is analytical description, philosophy is synthetic interpretation. Science
resolves the whole into parts, the organism into organs, and the obscure into the
known. It does not inquire into the values and ideal possibilities of things, nor into
their total final significance. It concerns itself into the nature and processes of things
as they are. But the philosopher is not content to describe the fact; he/she wishes to
ascertain its relation to experience in general, and thus to get at its meaning and is
worth; he combines things in interpretive synthesis; he/she ties to put together things
which the inquisitive scientist has analytically taken apart. To observe processes and
to construct means is science; to critique and coordinate ends in philosophy. Science
gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.
Science is very important. The fruits of scientific research have in many cases
turned out to be applicable to the solution of concrete practical problems; and in
civilized countries these practical applications have immeasurably improved the
material conditions of human life. That science has put into the hands of man power
undreamed of before over the processes of nature, and enabled him to utilize her
forces for attainment of his purposes, so today evident to everybody, and accounts for
the enormous prestige science now enjoys.
On the other hand, the fact is now becoming all too evident that the ledger of
scientific progress has a debit as well as a credit side. The power that scientific
knowledge brings has, indeed, made possible the cure or prevention of many diseases;
it has provided new and highly efficient means of production, communication, and
transportation; and it has given man all the convenient gadgets on which he is today
so dependent. But at the same time it has complicated his life, robbed it in large
measure of the joy of craftsmanship, multiplied its needs, and brought it new diseases

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and perils. The natural sciences and the might they have brought to man are in
themselves wholly neutral as regards values; they lend themselves equally to the
efficient implementation of good and evil purposes.
Philosophical reflection is not an activity indulged only by specialists called
philosophers who allegedly live in architectural monstrosities known as ivory towers.
Just each of us at times engages casually all of us on certain occasions spontaneously
occupy ourselves with philosophical questions.
We may, for example, read in the newspapers of a child born hopelessly
malformed and defective, but who, if operated upon at once, might nonetheless be
kept alive. And we may read further that the physician in charge realizing that the
child’s life could not be other than a grievous burden to himself, to his parents, and to
society, refrained from operating and allowed the child to die. Then, in letters from
readers to the editors of newspapers all over the country, controversy rages about
whether the physician’s action was morally right or morally wrong. And even if we do
not ourselves take active part in them, we too form opinions of the question.
In such a controversy the participants do not merely state their moral appraisal
of the physician’s course. They also give reasons of one kind or another to support the
validity of their judgment. And if these reasons are in turn challenged, each
participant brings forth considerations he believes adequate to vindicate the validity of
his reasons.
The reasons, and the reasons for the reasons that are thus appealed to as
grounds for endorsing or condemning the physician’s action, constitute a moral
philosophy, or at least a fragment of one. And the mental activity of searching for
those reasons, so editing them as to purge them of the inconsistencies or exaggerating
errors that opponents were able to point out, constitute philosophizing, or
philosophical reflections.
In the main, science and philosophy differ in various respects, namely: object,
scope and method.
1. Object - science’s object of inquiry are tangible, material, observable
and verifiable realities whereas philosophy’s formal object
are all intangible realities such as God, right and wrong,
knowledge, etc.
2. Scope - because science’s object are material things, its scope,
too, is limited by its object of study. Whereas philosophy
seeks to understand the “ultimate reality, causes and
principles of beings.” Philosophy is, thus, boundless,
without limit.
3. Method - science has its own method of inquiry to find knowledge. It
uses data gathering, observation, hypothesis formulation,
test and measurement, etc. While philosophy is more bent
on just speculation.

We don’t have to dwell on this aspect lengthily considering that a separate topic
about “Man and God” will be discussed in the latter part of this manual. We have to
touch on religion in general terms.
Coming to religion, it is generally identified rituals, with practices of one kind or
another, with taboos and inhibitions and restraints of various kinds. Mostly religion
implies belief in God. Perhaps religion started with fear but the idea of God came from
wonder and awe. Religion also means worship in one way or another, and in such acts

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of worship the believer humbles himself, surrenders to the God of his belief. In religion
there is something that cannot be explained. It can also be interpreted as
understanding based on perception with oneself. Religion proclaims that behind all
this phenomena, the world of nature and man, there is the reality called God. Thus,
religion is not just based on faith, it is based on the fact that men who have discovered
God come and tell us that they have discovered so. There are men who claim to have
experienced God—become conscious of something within themselves. They do not
pride with their religion but rather on their personal relationship with the knowable

Ten Commandments of Philosophy

1. Allow the spirit of wonder to flourish in your breast. Philosophy begins with deep
wonder about the universe and questions about who we are, where we came
from, and where we are going. What is this life all about? Speculate and explore
different points of view and worldviews. Do not stifle childlike curiosity.
2. Doubt everything unsupported by evidence until the evidence convinces you of its
truth. Be reasonably cautious, a moderate skeptic, suspicious of those who
claim to have the truth. Doubt is the soul’s purgative process. Do not fear
intellectual inquiry. As Johann Goethe (1749-1832) said, “The masses fear the
intellectuals, but it is stupidity that they should fear, if they only realized how
dangerous it really is.”
3. Love the truth. “Philosophy is the eternal search for truth, a search which
inevitably fails and yet is never defeated; which continually eludes us, but
which always guides us. This free intellectual life of the mind is the noblest
inheritance of the Western world; it is also the hope of our future” (W.T. Jones).
4. Divide and conquer. Divide each problem and theory into its smallest essential
components in order to analyze each unit carefully. This is the analytic method.
5. Collect and construct. Build a coherent argument or theory from component
parts. One should move from the simple, secure foundations to the complex
and comprehensive. As mentioned previously, Russell once said that the aim of
philosophical argument was to move from simple propositions so obvious that
no one would think of doubting them via a method of valid argument to
conclusions so preposterous that no one could help but doubt them. The
important thing is to have a coherent, well-founded, tightly reasoned set of
beliefs that can withstand the opposition.
6. Conjecture and refute. Make a complete survey of possible objections to your
position, looking for counterexamples and subtle mistakes. Following a
suggestion of Karl Popper, philosophy is a system of conjecture and refutation.
Seek bold hypotheses and seek disconfirmations of your favorite positions. In
this way, by a process of elimination, you will negatively and indirectly and
gradually approach the Truth. In this regard, seek to understand your
opponent’s position, for as John Stuart Mill wrote, “He who knows only his own
side of the case knows little of that. If he is equally unable to refute the reasons
on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no
ground for preferring either opinion.” Mill further urges us to face squarely the
best arguments our opponent can muster, for until we have met those
arguments we can never be sure that our position is superior. The truth seeker
“must know (the opponent’s arguments) in their most plausible and persuasive

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form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the
subject has to encounter and dispose of, else he will never really possess
himself of the portion of the truth which meets and removes that difficulty.”
7. Revise and rebuild. Be willing to revise, reject, and modify your beliefs and the
degree with which you hold any belief. Acknowledge that you probably have
many false beliefs and be grateful to those who correct you. This is the principle
of fallibilism, the thesis that we are very likely incorrect in many of our beliefs
and have a tendency toward self-deception when considering objections to our
8. Seek simplicity. This is the principle of parsimony, sometimes known as
Occam’s razor. Prefer the simple explanation to the more complex, all things
being equal.
9. Live the Truth. Appropriate your ideas in a personal way, so that even as the
objective truth is a correspondence of the thought of the world, this lived truth
will be a correspondence of the life of the thought. As Kierkegaard said, “Here is
a definition of (subjective) truth: holding fast to an objective uncertainty in an
appropriation process of the most passionate inwardness is the truth, the
highest available for an existing individual.”
10. Live the Good. Let the practical conclusions of a philosophical reflection on the
moral life inspire and motivate you to action. Let moral Truth transform your
life so that you shine like a jewel glowing in its own light amidst the darkness of

Selected Reading

WISDOM by Alfred North Whitehead

The fading of ideals is sad evidence of the defeat of human

endeavor. In the schools of antiquity philosophers aspired to impart
wisdom, in modern colleges our humbler aim is to teach subjects. The
drop from the divine wisdom, which was the goal of the ancients, to
textbook knowledge of subjects, which is achieved by the moderns,
marks an educational failure, sustained through the ages. I am not
Alfred North maintaining that through the practice of education the ancients were
more successful than ourselves. You have only to read Lucian, and to
note his satiric dramatizations of the pretentions of philosophers, to see that in this
respect the ancients can boast over us no superiority. My point is that, at the dawn of
our European civilization, men started with the full ideals which should inspire
education, and that gradually our ideal has sunk to square with our patience.
Thought knowledge is one chief aim of intellectual education, there is another
ingredient, vaguer but greater, and more dominating in its importance. The ancients
called it “wisdom.” You cannot be wise without some basis of knowledge; but you may
easily acquire knowledge and remain bare of wisdom.
Now wisdom is the way in which knowledge is held. It concerns the handling of
knowledge, its selection for the determination of relevant issues, its employment to
add value to our immediate experience. This mastery of knowledge, which is wisdom,
is the most intimate freedom obtainable. The ancients saw clearly—more clearly than
we do—the necessity for dominating knowledge by wisdom. But, in the pursuit of

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wisdom in the region of practical education, they erred sadly. To put the matter
simply, their popular practice assumed that wisdom could be imparted to the young
by procuring philosophers to spout at them. Hence, the drop of shady philosophers in
the schools of ancient Greece. The only avenue towards wisdom is by freedom in the
presence of knowledge. But the only avenue towards knowledge is by discipline in the
acquirement of ordered fact.
The importance of knowledge lies in its use, in our active mastery of it, that is
to say, it lies in wisdom. It is a convention to speak of mere knowledge apart from
wisdom, as of itself imparting a peculiar dignity to its possessor. I do not share in this
reverence for knowledge as such. It all depends on who has the knowledge and what
he does with it. That knowledge which adds greatness to character is knowledge so
handled to transform every phase of immediate experience.
In a sense, knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows; for details are swallowed up in
principles. The details of knowledge which are important will be picked up ad hoc in
each avocation of life, but the habit of the active utilization of well-understood
principles is the final possession of wisdom.


philosophical discussions will revolve around the following questions:
• What is it to know?
• What can we know?
• How can we know?
Emphasis has been given on some very important ways to acquire knowledge as
provided for by some major philosophers of knowledge.

This Module comes in four lessons:

Lesson 1: Knowledge and Human Knowing

Lesson 2: Theories of Knowledge
Lesson 3: Acquisition of Knowledge
Lesson 4: Validity of Knowledge

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studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Understand what knowledge is;

2. know the various theories of knowledge; and
3. formulate a theory of truth

Lesson 1 – What is Knowledge?

He who knows not and knows not he knows not; he is a fool, shun him.
He who knows not and knows he knows not; he is ignorant, teach him.
He who knows and knows not he knows; he is asleep, wake him.
He who knows and knows he knows; he is wise, follow him.
Arabian proverb attributed to King Darius,
The Persian.

What can we know? This is one of the philosophical questions and quest we
need to understand. When we perceive an object the mysterious process of human
knowing takes place and we end up having an idea about that object. What is definite
with the process is the interplay between the knower (the subject or the person) and
the known (that object which is perceived or the object of knowing). This would lead us
to different notions that the knower is the one simply giving the idea towards that
object or the object itself creating an impression to the mind.

The term "epistemology" is based on the Greek words "επιστήμη or episteme"

(knowledge or science) and "λόγος or logos" (account/explanation). Epistemology is a
branch of philosophy that focuses on the study of knowledge and seeks to answer the
questions and problems concerning human knowing. It inquiries into the very nature
of knowledge, the questions of what and how can we know, and the justification or
truth of the knowledge that we have. Thus, this philosophical venture does not only
require us to understand what we know but likewise to establish the truth or validity
of such knowledge we assert.

To assert that we know something is at the same time to claim that such idea is
true. Thus, a formula that is widely accepted as a general philosophical definition of
knowledge: A JUSTIFIED TRUE BELIEF”. A claim to knowledge is successful if: (1) it is
believed by someone; (2) that person can produce concrete evidence to validate his
belief; and (3) this justification supports a claim that actually corresponds with the
facts. So a person who correctly believes a thing to be true without being able to justify
his belief cannot be said to know that thing, since he still will not have sufficient
reason to believe himself to be correct.

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We can have beliefs and still lack knowledge if our beliefs are false.
Unfortunately, we can also have true beliefs and still lack knowledge because we fail to
understand how and why a belief is true. Justification involves finding such an

The questions concerning knowledge and human knowing have been perennial
problems of philosophy. Different philosophers have provided different answers to
these questions. Needless to say, we cannot hope to comprehend these difficult
questions in a few paragraphs.

The following reading from Bernard Lonergan’s Cognitional Structure tries to

pinpoint important elements involved in human knowing. I think this reading can be a
springboard for a better comprehension of what knowledge is and what it is not.

Cognitional Structure
Bernard Lonergan

Human knowing involves many district and irreducible activities: seeing

hearing, smelling, touching, tasting, inquiring, imagining, understanding, conceiving,
reflecting, weighing the evidence and judging.

No one of these activities, alone by itself, may be named human knowing. An

act of ocular vision may be perfect as ocular vision; yet if it occurs without any
accompanying glimmer of understanding, it is mere gaping; and mere gaping is just
stupidity. As merely seeing is not human knowing, so for the same reason, is just
stupidity? As merely seeing is not human knowing, so for the same reason, merely
hearing, merely smelling, merely touching, merely tasting may be parts, potential
components of human knowing, but they are not human knowing itself.

What is true sense is no less true of understanding. Without the prior

presentations of sense, there is nothing for a man to understand; and when there is
nothing to understand, there is no occurrence of understanding. Moreover, the
combination of the operations of sense and understanding does not suffice for human
knowing. There must be added judging. To omit judgment is quite literally silly; it is
only by judgment that there emerges a distinction between fact and fiction.

Nor can one place human knowing in judging to the exclusion of experience and
understanding. To pass judgment on what one does not understand is not human
understanding, but human arrogance. To pass judgment independently of all
experience is to set fact aside.

Human knowing, then, is not experience alone, not understanding alone; not
judgment alone; it is not a combination of only experience and judgment, or of only
understanding and judgment; finally, it is not something totally apart from experience,
understanding and judgment. One has to regard an instance of human knowing not
as this or that operation, but as a whole whose parts are operations. It is a structure
and indeed, a materially dynamic structure.

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But human knowing is also formally dynamic. It is self-assembling. Self-

constituting. It puts itself together, one part summoning fort the next, till the whole is
reached. And this occurs not with blindness of natural process, but consciously,
intelligently, and rationally. Experience stimulates inquiry, and inquiry is intelligence
bringing itself to act; it leads from experience through imagination to insight; and from
insight to the concepts that combine in single objects both what has been gasped by
insight and what in experience and imagination is relevant to insight. In turn,
concepts stimulate reflection, and reflection is the conscious experience of rationality;
it marshals the evidence and weighs it either to judge or else to doubt or to renew

Such in briefest outline is what is meant by saying that human knowing is a

dynamic structure.


After studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. learn the major theories of knowledge
2. differentiate the emphasis of each theories
3. appreciate the value of this theories in understanding how we acquire

Theories of Knowledge


A philosophical doctrine advocating that true knowledge comes from

experience, that is a posterior, or post experiential. Empiricists are assured only by
their own experience, which agrees with the saying, “to see is to believe.” Experience in
this sense may come from our personal encounter with the external world be it
personal or vicarious or may come from internal sensations such feeling and thinking
or external sensations which gives importance on the senses. This gives us the notion
that whatever knowledge we acquire and we have is simply based from one’s own
experience. This concept has its objective reference from which
knowledge is acquired as we see, hear, taste, smell and touch it.
John Locke, an English empiricist, is one of the leading proponents of
empiricism. He asserts that the mind at birth is a “tabula rasa”, an
empty slate or blank paper that is devoid of anything on it. It is through
experience that we begin to fill up the ideas in the mind and therefore
acquire knowledge about things. The concept of empiricism clearly
negates the Rationalist’s belief on innate or inborn ideas. Thus, experience is the very
source of our knowledge

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An epistemological view claiming that true knowledge is

acquired through reason and not experience. Rationalists believe that
knowledge is primarily acquired by a priori or pre experience
processes or is innate—e.g., in the form of concepts not derived from
experience. The relevant theoretical processes often go by the name
"intuition”. Rationalists claim that, we know what we have thought
and the mind has the ability to discover truth by itself. We do not
learn things but simply remember what they already know. It
attempts to account for all objects in nature and experiences as
representations of the mind. Knowledge then is intellectual rather PLATO
that sensory.

Rationalism upholds the doctrine that knowledge is inborn and ideas are innate
which is totally against empiricism. The prominent philosopher who advocated innate
idea was Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher. At the moment of birth, the mind is
already furnished with a range of ideas and concepts that accordingly owes nothing to
experience. Inborn knowledge, however, is initially dormant but with discussions,
intellectual dispute, critical thinking and argument will unfold or unveil the innate
ideas that we have.


The theory of knowledge upholding that knowledge is limited

and that we cannot be completely certain of what we know.
Skepticism questions the limitations of the mind to process the
things that we perceive, thus, giving us uncertain knowledge. There
is likewise the inaccessibility of object that our senses perceive
because our senses can be deceived and therefore unreliable.
Though this theory asserts the limitation of knowledge, it does not
preclude us to seek for knowledge but rather motivates us to further DESCARTES
seek for the certainty of the knowledge we acquire, be it from the
senses or the mind. Descartes and Hume are some of the philosophers who adhere to
this kind of philosophy.

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studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Learn some philosophical methods of acquiring knowledge; and

2. Differentiate the various methods and compare their worth and value.

As we have learned earlier. Various philosophers have offers what for them is a
good method to acquire knowledge. We can benefit from them by studying some of
these important methods that have some practical value.

1. DIALECTICAL METHOD – also known as the dialogical

method” or the “Socratic Method”. The term “dialectic” is
derived from a Socrates himself who would usually converse
or argue with others, questioning them and their
assumptions specifically in this method, two interlocutors
took turns in questioning and answering. Truth is arrived at
by means of this dialectical method of asking and
responding, gradually elimination the doubtful or questionable.
Socrates was known to have argued a great deal with men of his time,
uncovering assumptions and questioning certainties. In men discoursed too
readily of justice, he asked them – “What is it?” he demanded from them
accurate definitions, clear thinking and exact analysis.


attributed to Aristotle, the founder of Logic. By a
combination of agreement and disagreement between three
terms, a conclusion is reached. If two terms or parties
separately agree with a third term or party, then the two
terms agree with each other. Aristotle exhausted all the
possible combinations and formulated laws to govern these
combinations. This method clarified and dispelled all doubt ARISTOTLE
regarding the relationship of any three terms.

3. THOMISTIC METHOD – used by St. Thomas Aquinas. The

method neatly presents the problem to be solved in the
form of a question, then proceeds to put its objections,
seemingly to support the positive or negative answer, and
then goes to the body of the argument always introduced
by “I answer that…” and caps the whole method by ST. THOMAS
answering the objections it had put up, thus demolishing
all doubt and all opposition.

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4. THE METHODIC DOUBT – this method that Rene Descartes advocates is an

analytical one, which emphasizes the necessity of
trying to isolate the simple, and then, but only
then, trying to build the complex on its basis. The
aim is to arrive at certainly. Moreover, this is put
forward not just as a method for philosophy but
as a quite general method which all pursuit of
DESCARTES knowledge should follow. In his First Meditation he
states that we should doubt all that we know
because, first, they come from our senses which can be mistaken or can
deceive us, and second, these can be just the result of a dream or mere

Descartes sets out four important rules to clear thinking:

To accept nothing as true which I did not clearly recognize it to be so.
To divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible.
To carry on reflection in an order beginning with objects that are the most simple
and easiest to understand, in order to rise little by little, or by degrees, to knowledge of
the most complex.
To be thorough and general as to certain of having omitted nothing.


to the facts themselves for everything” – that was Bacon’s
way to acquire knowledge. To proceed to a systematic
empirical study, Bacon launched his reconstruction project
by enumerating “Four Classes of Idols” which be set man’s
mind and which must be debunked. These idols of the
mind are counterproductive habits of thought that deserve
to be swept away if we are to acquire knowledge. An idol, as FRANCIS BACON
Bacon uses the word, is a picture taken for a reality, a
thought mistaken for a thing. These idols are the cause of human error.
They are, namely:

Idols of the Tribe – fallacies or errors natural to humanity in general. We tend to

think, for example, that sense perception gives is direct and truthful access to reality.
Bacon stressed that this assumption must be criticized because we too easily overlook
the fact that out “seeing” does not necessarily show us things as they really are.
Human sense experience, essential though it is, does not so institute the measure of
all things. We must learn to see objectively, a task that requires us to be alert for
occasions when emotion, feelings and inference are self-deceptive.

Idols of the Cave – if the “idols of the tribe” deceive humankind, each individual
must reckon with his peculiar prejudices, which Bacon called “idols of the cave”. Here
Bacon recalls Plato’s allegory in which people imprisoned in a cave mistake
appearance for reality. Each of us has criticized blind spots. Bacon recommends that
we treat with special suspicion any outlook that gives us special satisfaction. We tend
to believe what we like to believe, but that path does not lead to knowledge.

Idols of the Marketplace – these are errors that emerge from the words we use in
everyday business, from the association of men with one another. Their meanings are

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often vague and ambiguous, but they solidify our impressions and beliefs nonetheless.
“Men converse by means of language; but words are imposed according to the
understanding of the crowd; and there arises from a hand and inept formation of
words, a wonderful obstruction to the mind”. Bacon stresses that, “Unless we guard
against the ill and unfit choice of words, their impact cam force and overrule the
understanding and throw all into confusion.

Idols of the Theater – these are idols, which have migrated into men’s kind from
the various dogmas of philosophers and also from wrong laws of demonstration. Many
philosophical speculations claim to be true accounts of reality, but in fact, they are
closer to stage plays depicting unreal worlds of human creation. Specifically, Bacon
faults three types of false philosophy. Exemplified by Aristotle, the first trusts non-
empirical inference too much; its result is sophistry. Although experimental, the
second draws from sweeping conclusions from too little data; its result is
pseudoscience. The third mixes philosophy and religion indiscriminately; its result



studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Learn philosophical theories to validate our knowledge

3. Differentiate the various approaches and compare their worth and

Lesson 4 – Display

The previous discussions has given us enough idea that man indeed can know
something as exemplified by the different theories of knowledge and the philosophical
ways in acquiring knowledge. As we have defined earlier, knowledge is a justified true
belief. This clearly states that it is not enough to claim that we have knowledge of
certain matters. It further obliges us to establish justification of those claims we
assert. This points out the need for criteria by which our knowledge can be judged as
true or false. Different criteria such as customs, traditions, consensus of majority can
be cited but the following discussion will deal more on the
philosophical criteria in validating knowledge.

Correspondence theory
This theory holds that true or valid knowledge is what conforms
or corresponds to facts or agrees which objective reality. This criteria of
knowledge recognizes the interplay between the idea or belief that we BELTRAND
claim to know and the facts themselves. The facts are neither true nor
false but it is the knowledge or claim asserted about them. If I claim and say that

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Pedro is tall and it correspond to the objective and factual reality of Pedro, then it is
true; otherwise, it is false. Thus, a valid knowledge is that which corresponds to
One of the defenders of this theory is Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and he
philosophized that true knowledge is the fact corresponding to the belief. Mind does
not create truth or falsehood. They create beliefs, but when once the beliefs are
created, the mind cannot make them true or false, except in the special case where
they concern future things which are within the power of person believing, such as
catching trains. What makes a belief true is a fact.

Coherence theory
This theory asserts the validity of knowledge if there is consistency. The
knowledge that we claim is counted to be true when it finds harmony or consistency
with other claims or ideas. If it fails to do so, then such claim finds no truth but
falsity. To establish that knowledge is true does not give emphasis on the interplay
between the facts or objective reality, as correspondence theory would put it. Truth or
falsity of the ideas or the judgment we assert depends on its consistency with other
judgments. So far as I make the judgment that Pedro is a good man is consistent with
other judgments that he is indeed good, such judgments finds it meaning and truth.
This coherence theory is substantiated with the use of Logic for validity of judgments
can be evaluated from the logical relations or consistency of those judgments. Thus,
truth or falsity of the knowledge that we claim to believe is established along with its
coherence or consistency with other claims.

Pragmatic Theory
Pragmatic theory of knowledge claims that true and valid knowledge is one
which is practical or useful. No matter how great an idea is, what concerns for the
pragmatists is how our ideas, beliefs, or knowledge is useful and beneficial in its own
way. Pragmatism considers the relativity of knowledge for what works in one instance
may not be to all. Once knowledge does not lead to good consequences, knowledge is
deemed worthless, hence, false and unacceptable. True and valid knowledge then is
what works. Among the philosophers with pragmatic views include: William James,
John Dewey and Charles Pierce.

Additional Reading:
Epistemological Skepticism by C.E.M. Joad (1891-1953)

. . . . . Let us suppose that I am looking at a star, Sirius say, on a dark night. If

physics is to be believed, light waves which started to travel from Sirius many years
ago reach (after a specified time which astronomers calculate) the earth, impinge upon
my retina and cause me to say that I am seeing Sirius. Now the Sirius about which
they convey information to me is the Sirius, which existed at the time when they
started. This Sirius, may, however, no longer exist; it may have disappeared in the
interim. To say that one can see what no longer exists is absurd. It follows that,
whatever it is that I am seeing, it is not Sirius. What, in fact, I do see is yellow patch of
a particular size, shape and intensity. I infer that this yellow patch had am origin (with
which it is connected by a continuous chain of physical events) several years ago and
many million miles away. But this inference may be mistaken; the origin of the yellow

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patch, which I call a star, may be a blow on the nose, or a lamp hanging on the mast
of a ship.
Nor is this the only inference involved. It is true I think I am seeing a yellow
patch, but am I really justified in holding this belief? So far as physics and physiology
are concerned, all that we are entitled to say is that the optic nerve is being stimulated
in a certain way, as a result of which certain events are being caused in the brain. Are
we really justified in saying any more than this? Possibly we are… but it is important
to realize that once again an inference is involved, and once again the inference may
be mistaken. Directly we go beyond the bare statement “the optic nerve is being
stimulated in such and such a way” and conclude from this fact “therefore I am seeing
an object of such and such character”, we are drawing an inference and are liable to
fall into error. What, then, if the physicist and physiologist are right, we in fact know
that certain events are taking is merely an inference due to the fact that we think
these events must have a cause…?
If we accept the teaching of physics and physiology, what we know in
perception are not the movements of matter, but certain events in ourselves connected
with those movements; not objects external to ourselves, but the effects of the impact
of light-rays and other form of energy proceeding from these objects upon our bodies…
What, then, is left in the world outside us? We cannot tell


Abstract – a quality of the type of thinking that works with concepts that are entirely
general, excluding the consideration of the particular instances to which these general
concepts might be applied.

Analytical – referring to the method of inquiring that divides things or ideas into the
simplest parts and studies the relations that hold among these parts.

A posterior – a term for the type of proposition that can be verified only “after the
facts”; a proposition about the contingent, that is, that which is necessarily dependent
on experience.

A priori – a term for the type of proposition or statement that can be verified
independently of, and prior to, experience, which cannot be disconfirmed by any
particular experience because its contents is “relation of ideas” rather than “matter of

Assumption – a principles that is accepted uncritically, taken for granted, without the
support of proof or argument. Often an assumption is employed as the major premise
of an argument.

Cause – a hidden, or underlying entity, process or principles that is taken to

determine or explain the nature of the phenomenon that are present to the senses.

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Coherence theory of truth – the theory that truth is not a property of individual,
isolated judgments or statement, but that truth must involves a judgment’s being
consistent with a large body of other judgment, forming a part of an interconnected,
rational system.

Correspondence theory of truth – the theory that regards individual statements as

true if they simply agree with the facts to which they refer, and as false if they simply
do not.

Deduction – a form of the method of reasoning called inference, in which necessary

conclusions are reached by applying analytic definitions and laws of logical derivation
to some original premise to derive its logical consequences.

Dialectic – the use of questions and answer as a method of philosophical inquiry,

weighing the strengths and weaknesses of differing and opposing viewpoints with the
aim of reaching a new, more complete, and more balanced understanding of the issue
at hand.
Epistemology – the division of philosophy the is connected with theories about the
origin, structure, and possible scope of human knowledge; often, this goes hand in
hand with an attempt to formulate and clarify the procedures by which reliable
knowledge can be attained and by which claims to knowledge can be evaluated.

Experience – the product of the contact between the date originating in the world and
the faculties of sense, memory and conceptual understanding possessed by sensitive
beings; often described as a relationship between a mind that appropriate these data
and “the given”, the objective features of the world that serve as grist to its mill.

Induction – the form of reasoning that begins with a substantial body of proportions
about observable phenomena and concludes with a generalization or a prediction.

Necessary connection – the idea Hume believed we infer rather arbitrary, without
sound reasons based on experience itself, from the experience of two events that are
“constantly conjoined” in space and time.

Premise – in a philosophical argument, a primary assumption on which subsequent

claims of the argument rely and form which these claims may be logically derived.

Syllogism – the type of deductive inference forming the core of Aristotelian logic,
composed of a major premise stating a categorical facts (“All men are mortal”), and a
minor premise stating a particular matter of fact (“Socrates is a man”), and concluding
with an inference derived from combining the two premises (“Socrates is mortal”).

Tabula rasa – literally “blank slate”, used by Locke to refer to the quality of the
unexperienced mind, in which he believed there exist no “innate ideas”.

Truth – agreement between concepts and reality between the world as represented
through language and the world as it really is.

World – the subject matter of experience, the totality of things that can possibly
engage the attention and interest of sentient beings.

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This module will explicate the idea of man as a subject, as an I, as a self who is
the source of all his actions and decisions. Furthermore, this module will establish the
very intimate relationship of man as a subject and his body, thus emphasizing the
important idea of “man as an embodied subject.”

This Module comes in three lessons:

Lesson 1: Man as a Subject

Lesson 2: Man and His Body


After studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. comprehend the answer to the metaphysical question on what is

2. understand the meaning of "subject";
3. differentiate "subject" from "object"; and
4. appreciate man as the subject.

Lesson 1 – Display

What is Man?

According to classical definition, man is a rational animal. Man is defined as

an integral organism comprising within his being – vegetative, sensory and rational
life. Man is, at one and the same time, a material and spiritual being. Man is a
corporeal reality, endowed with life of the soul, whose superior activity has as its
formal object transcendental value, being and the good. Man is a creature made by
God (efficient cause) according to His image and likeness; to know, love and serve Him
and to share His everlasting glory (final cause). Man is primarily a person,
harmonizing all his faculties into a unified whole, created to the image and likeness of
God, has an immortal soul and destined for everlasting life with God.
Man is a vegetative, sentient and rational organism.
a) As a vegetative organism, man, like the plants, is subject to nutrition,
growth and reproduction.
b) As a sentient being, man, like the animals, has sense – knowledge and
c) As a rational being, man, unlike any other creature on earth, has rationality
which implies cognitive and appetitive powers.

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Man is also an animal but unlike them, he, alone, possesses these
characteristic features: the ability to think and reason, to organize things in order to
accomplish ends such as the whole world of arts and crafts, manufacturing and
industry. Only man has oral and written language which enables him to communicate
and preserve ideas. He, alone, establishes permanent institutions corresponding to
his own nature, such as family, civil society, law, etc. Man is open to the world, not
limited to any particular environment for his experience and behavior. Lastly, he is
endowed with the most universal human phenomenon religion or the worship of God.
Man is a vegetant soul. As a vegetant soul, man is a vegetant organism. As a
vegetant organism, man is like plants. Plants have soul because they have life.
Because they have life, plants feed, grow, and propagate themselves. Feeding,
growing, and propagating arte basic activities of life. That is why plants have soul
which is vegetative. Like plants, man also is a vegetative organism. The animals are
the possessors of a sensient soul. A sensient soul is higher than a vegetative soul.
Being higher than vegetative does not mean that the sensient soul enables also a body
to feed itself. Grow, and reproduce. However, it develops a nervous system that allows
the senses in the body to function. So, what makes a sensient soul higher than
vegetative soul is that the latter is incapable of sensation, because it does not have a
nervous system, while the former has nervous system. Through its nervous system, a
sensient soul allows its beholder to experience pain and pleasure because it has
feelings. This is true to animals and brutes. Any brutes is a possessor of a sensient
soul. In this context. Man is like brutes. Man is also a sensient organism. Man
shares his sensient soul in common with the brutes. The only difference is that
whereas the brutes are only capable of feelings (i.e. feeling of pain and pleasure). Man
is capable, not only of feelings, but also of emotions – because man is also a possessor
of the highest grade of soul called rational.
A person is an individual being. An individual being is a being which is one in
itself and distinct from all other beings. All real beings are individuals; general entities
exist only in the mind. A person is an individual possessing a spiritual nature. What
do we mean by a spiritual nature? Spiritual means immaterial. A spirit exists not only
in itself (it is a substance), and for itself (it is self-conscious), but also by itself (it
posits itself). Spirit is essentially self-knowledge, self-volition, self-consciousness, and
self-position. It is EGO, or I.
The “I” is open to the whole of reality. It opens up into the infinite. Its capacity
is unlimited. The human intellect is capable of knowing reality. The human will too
strives towards the good. The human will is free because it strives towards the good.
The "I" is essentially self-conscious. Consciousnesses the core of being. Every being is
conscious, each according to its degree. Consciousness men as active self-identity. The
"I" is essentially active self-identity. This takes the forms of self-affirmation. I am I.
This is the most fundamental affirmation, to which all other affirmations owe their
When we speak of man as object, we do not simply mean man as an object of
knowledge or study. That he is such an object is self-evident; otherwise nothing
whatsoever could be said concerning him. By man as an object is meant, more
precisely, man considered from the outside (objectum - to throw in front), as an
individual belonging to a certain species. Man as an object has a definition which
contains a genus (animal) and a specific difference (rational. Likewise the person as an
object can be defined; it is an individual possessing a spiritual nature. We know man

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and the person objectively by means of universal concepts. When we consider them in
that way, we disregard the fact that man speaks of himself as "I", Man or the person
considered as an object is never "I", but only "He" (the person) or "It" (the human
Man as a subject is not "He" or "It", but "I". Here man is no longer considered as
a thing or as an object, but as a Self. "I" is not a universal concept, it cannot be
defined. "I" is a singular; yet, although it involves a material component, it is, unlike
the other material singulars, an intelligible singular. The purely material singulars of
our everyday experience can be known only though sense perception, they can only be
denoted, pointed to, "this table here, that chair there." I know myself in a much more
intimate way, not merely by a sense perception, by a concept or a judgment, but as
the subject of all my perceptions, my concepts, and my Judgments, as the source of
all my conscious activities. The fact that I know myself as the subject or the source of
all my conscious activities explains why although I know myself very intimately, this
knowledge can never be exhausted.

To further reinforce this concept of man as a subject, let us turn to Jonathan

Glover's article entitled "Persons and Consciousness" which is found in his book, I:
The Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity.

Persons and Self-Consciousness

Jonathan Glover

The word "person" is one of the most controversial in the language. Consider
some of the different views expressed about what a person is.
One common thought is that a human being is a person, while members of
other species are not. The reason usually given for this is that our psychology is more
complex than that of animals. But the kind of psychological complexities thought to
qualify someone for being a person vary. Harry Frankfurt, for instance, has said that
matters is having second-order desires. Animal want things, but people also want to
have some desires rather than others. Daniel Dennett has suggested that having a
sense of Justice is necessary for being a person, “to the extent that justice does not
reveal itself in the dealings and interactions of creatures, to that extent they are not
This exclusion of anyone completely unjust may seem to draw the boundary
rather narrowly. At the other extreme, the view has been expressed in the abortion
debate that a newly fertilized human egg is a person. That debate illustrates the way
the concept is often shaped to fit people's values. A widely held view of the abortion
issue is that whether or not a fetus has a right to life depends on whether it's a
person. It is hard to avoid the impression that participant on both sides of the debate
start with an attitude to abortion and then decide the question of personhood
accordingly One philosopher, Michael Tooley, is open about this. He gives an account
of personhood in terms of moral considerations, which he takes to be prior to the issue
of whether or not the fetus is a person,
Perhaps we should expect these disputes over what a person is. Marcel Mauss
suggested that it is an illusion to see our conception of a person as static. He thought

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it originated with tribal social roles, mentioning that "persona" was the Latin word for
a mask. He sketched out an account of how the conception evolved, through the
Roman idea of a person as the bearer of legal rights (so that slaves were not persons),
and through Stoic and Christian ideas of the person having moral value, to the modem
way of thinking of a person mainly as someone with states of consciousness. Mauss
thought our conception was likely to go on changing. I do not know how far Mauss
gives correct account of these changes. But, like the abortion debate, a story of this
kind illustrates how what people take to be the special features of a person may vary
with other aspect of their outlook.
Being "person" is a concept with boundaries that are blurred or disputed; there
may be no satisfactory single answer to the question, "What is a person?" I want to
suggest that a prime feature of personhood is self-consciousness. A person is someone
who can have thoughts, whose natural expression uses the word "I". This seems to
capture one central strand in our idea of a person. But, since the concept is disputed,
this is a suggested way of using the word, rather than a claim that it is somehow the
"correct" account of it.
On this account, Hume's oyster is not a person. It has not thought "I am being
touched" that rises above an impersonal awareness of a sensation. On the other hand,
being a person does not require any moment of illumination of the kind Jean Paul
Richter had. (Perhaps Richter know that he was standing in the front door before the
flash came to him.) Self-consciousness does require consciousness and some primitive
power of thought. But, provided I-thoughts can be had, it does not matter whether
their acquisition was in a sudden conscious moment or through slow, unconscious
conceptual growth,
You and I both have I thoughts, but those thoughts belong to two different
people because they are not located in the same stream of consciousness. A certain
unity of consciousness is required for being a single person. This is why it maybe less
misleading to think of a split-brain patient as two people. But perhaps we should not
be too rigid here. In the case of temporary brief divisions, it may raise fewer problems
to think of one person than two. It is suggested, then, that to be a person is to have a
single stream of I-thoughts.

After studying this lesson, you should be able to:
1. Understand the relationship that exist between self and its body; and
2. Know the role played by the body in a person's existence.

Lesson 2 – Display

I refer to myself in a variety of contexts- I say, for instance: "I wash myself, I
weigh myself, I examine myself in the mirror, I try to improve myself, I know myself.”
In each of these expressions the subject is the same. The object also seems to remain
the same throughout; however, when our references become more specific, we note

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that the objects are different, "I wash my face, I weigh my body, I examine my
appearance, I try to improve my character, and I know myself." Nevertheless, although
the subject uses different organs or faculties in performing these actions, we do not
say, "My hands wash my face, my eyes examine my appearance," though we might
say, "I wash my face with my hands, I examine my appearance with my eyes," I am a
unity insofar as 1 perform an act.
Although all these objects of my actions are different, they all belong to me; they
all are, to a certain extent, I. I refer to my face- my body, my appearance. All these
actions originate in me and terminate in me. Yet, they are not entirely in me; they
involve something which is not strictly I.
I perform these actions upon myself; yet the performing I and the I on which
these actions are performed are not quite the same reality; otherwise there would be
no resistance and no difficulty. There is in me, besides the performing, originating I,
besides the I as subject, something which is not entirely I; some not-I. But every
material not-I belongs to the world, is part of the world. Hence part of me is both I and
the world. That is my body. Through my body I am part of the material world, and the
material world is a part of me.
There are certain things which I am, other which I have, others still which in a
certain sense I am, and in another sense, I have. I am a person, I have a dog. But
what about my body? Shall I say, "I have my body" or "I am my body"? I must say
both, I must correct one Statement by means of the other.

At first glance, it seems as if I could say, "I have a body."

But, as Gabriel Marcels explains, if we are to be exact, we
should say, "I have whatever I have because of my body."
Having a body is the prerequisite, the indispensable condition,
of all having. Since my body itself is for me a condition of all
"having," I cannot truthfully say that "I have my body."
Why then should I not say that I am my body? This
assertion is incorrect if the intention is to identify my whole
being with my body. It is correct if it is taken as meaning that I
MARCEL am also my body.
There is a difference between what I merely have and
what I Gabriel merely am. Some objects lie on the surface of my being. I have
them more than I am they — for instance, my hair, my fingernails. Others are very
near the core of my being; I am they more than I have them — for instance, my
feelings, my imagination, and my memory. Between these extremes lie my heart, my
eyes, my face, my body.

As Marcel would put it:

"My body is the reality which I have and am. Better, it is
the totality of all realities which I do not have in the
absolute sense, because I am they, and those, which I
am not absolutely because I have them."My body is the
extension of my 'originating' ego in the direction of the
"world". It is the bridge which connects the ego with the

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"worldly" things and beings. It is the continuation of my

subjectivity in the realm of objects."

The body is intermediary between me and the other, between the other and me,
between his world and me, and between my world and him. From all of these, we can
gather several points:
1. The body is an intermediary.
2. The other is accessible to me through my body.
3. I encounter the other as other through my body.
4. "My" body is not "a" body.
5. My body is not a mere instrument
6. My body is not isolated from me.
7. My body is not the object of "having."
8. The "I" first and foremost is a bodily "I".

All of these imply that there is m me something absolutely central, which I do

not have, which I only am. It is that which has all the rest and is not itself had; which
knows everything in me but is not itself known. For if it were had, by what would it be
had? If known, by what would it be known? IT IS MY EGO, MY SOUL WITH ITS


It is impossible to talk of human existence which is detached from a bodily

existence, for human existence always implies a bodily existence. Man’s body is
basically man’s expression of his presence to his fellowman in the world. Man’s body,
therefore, is the immediate datum which gives man a primary consciousness of his
own existence. In this case, not just have a body, but man is a body. In fact, man is
his body.

As previously mentioned, human nature has inseparable levels which are

somatic, behavioral, and attitudinal. In view of the inseparability of these levels, the
discussion on man as a body should not be misunderstood as an inquiry which is
exclusive only in the somatic level of human nature, for if this were the case, the
purpose of investigating man as a whole will be defeated. Besides, this inquiry should
not also be misunderstood as a mere inquiry of the human body for the same will
happen, i.e.-, a fragmented and a dichotomized understanding of man as body and
soul. In virtue of the Christian view that man is holistically body and soul, a
discussion on man as a body cannot be dissociated from the acceptance of the view
that man is body only in reference to the soul. In other words, the purpose here in
studying man as a body is to discuss the whole human person with an emphasis on
the body.

Now, this book shall try to present this inquiry of the human body in three
perspectives, viz.; Finitude, subjectivity, and encounter.

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The Human Body as Finitude

Human existence as a bodily existence is a finite existence. Man’s bodily

existence is finite since man’s thrownness in a body explains the limitation of man.
Man, obviously, has many limitations; one of them can primarily be located in the
human body. This, man’s existence in the body proves the finitude of man since
man’s presence in the world is primarily a physical presence. Through his body, man
is thrown in the world. And this thrownness limits man in terms of time, space, and
eternal (bodily) existence since man is a being towards death.

In the context of its limitation, man’s bodily existence is an existence in time in

a two-fold dimension. First, man’s bodily existence is confined to a particular
beginning (birth) and an inevitable end (death). Second, man’s bodily existence cannot
occur in two places at the same time. At a particular time, man is situated in a
concrete place and not simultaneously in another place. Thus, once man is “here,”
man cannot be “there” at the same time. In a word, through his body, man’s existence
is limited and incomplete.

Further, aside from positing the idea on the finitude of the human body in the
context of time, space, and death, the human body is also finite in the context of its
accidental constituents like shape, size, height, weight, color, among others. These
accidental constituents of the human body, however, can be easily summed up in
terms of race, culture, and civilization. It is obviously true that the Easterner’s bodies
are distinctively different from the Westerners’. In fact the Eastern setting, the
“bodies” of the Japanese are “different” from the “bodies” of the Taiwanese; the
“bodies” of the Indonesians are “different” from the Singaporeans. At any rate, the
point that we are trying to drive here is that man’s shape, height, weight, and color
also manifest the limitation of man’s existence form the standpoint of his body. Thus,
it is absurd for a Filipino to dream of transforming his body to become a German’s
body and vice-versa.

Man and His Condition

Today, in the advent of the advancement of science and technology, the

human body suffers s lot of manipulation. There is what is called the scientific
transformation of the human body. We heard a lot about cloning, about different
fomrs of “lifts” like “face lift”, bust lift”, nose lifts”, etc. about surgeries like surgical
virginity, vaginal repair, bust reduction, bust expantion, sex transplant, cloning,
penis enlarger, penis extender, likewise so much has been heard about exercises
that would magically add an inch or so to one’s height, and do on and so forth. To
consider the goodness of badness of these bodily manipulations, however, annot be
drawn in Philosohy of Man or Philosophy of the human person since such an
undertaking falls undr Ethics or Moral Philosophy. Despite saying this, one can still
insist that all these bodily transformations are good in the sense that they mean
progress and development of man’s consciousnes. However, all these scientific
bodily manipulations remain man’s incapability to accept the truth of the finitude of
his body.

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The Human Body as Subjectivity

The human body cannot be dissociated form man as a subject.

Man’s body is not anyone else’s body, because it is embedded in man’s
personhood or subjectivity. Man’s body is, therefore, infused in the
subjectivity of man; man is his body. In other words, I am my body; my
body is inseparably identified to me. And my body permeates the whole
being in me. Since man is a subject and since man’s body is infused in
MERLEAU- his subjectivity, it necessarily follows that man’s body is not reducible to
become an object body but a subject body. This is clearly emphasized by

In the line with the contention of Merleau-Ponty, Marcel says that the human
body cannot be considered as the object of having. For Marcel, having a body is totally
different form having a house, a table, a chair, a pair of shoes, etc. These “having”, for
Marcel, show the exteriority of their being objects; while man’s having a body shows
the interiority of man himself. This interiority can be seen in virtue of the fact that
man’s body cannot be dislodged from man’s self-consciousness. Whereas the objects
of man’s external having are disposables, the “object” of man’s “internal having” is not.
Marcel, in the end, is telling that the human body is not disposable as one disposes a
house, a table, a chair, or a pair of shoes, among others.
Further, since the human body is not a thing in the world, it is not proper that
it must be studied as an object of experimentation in physiology and biology. All these
sciences treat of the human body not as a subject-body but as an object-body. In
these sciences, man’s body becomes an object of observation and experimentation.
Besides, these sciences treat the human body as a mere instrument of their

Because the human body is not an instrument but an expression of human

existence, then, the human body as subjectivity refers to the wholeness of man. Thus,
the embodied subjectivity includes the rational, affective, and emotional dimensions of
a human person.

The Human Body as a Gesture of Encounter

The human body is not an instrument of man's encounter of others—both
entities and persons—but as an expression of man as a conscious self. Thus, man's
body is not a medium of his encounter of other beings in the world, but the way
whereby man makes himself accessible to others. The human encounter is vested in
the embodiment of man's subjectivity.
Since the human encounter cannot occur without the body, the one embodied
subject enters into the other embodied subject. This encounter of two subjects enable
them to unconceal each other's worlds. One's encounter of another person makes him
part of the meaning of the world of this person and vice-versa. So in a professor's
encounter of the world of the students, He becomes open to their world just as the
students are to me.

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This can only happen, however, when such an encounter is really an authentic
In the discussion of the human person's relatedness, an I-It, an I-He/she, and
an I-Thou relationships were discussed. Of these degrees of relationship, it is the 1-
Thou that fits in an authentic human encounter. The reason behind this is that in the
I-Thou relationship, there is a personal encounter between two embodied subjects in
virtue of their mutual openness and concealment of each other's embodied
subjectivity. Yes, it is true that in the concrete human encounter, a person may not
conceal himself or may inhibit himself to be transparent to the other; or still, a person
may hide his true self to the other. But all these encounters can only happen when the
encounter is cursory, the one which normally occur in the I-It and I-He/she
relationships. However, it must be reiterated that it is in the I-Thou relationship where
the authentic human encounter happens.

1. It is impossible to talk of human existence apart from the human body.
2. His human body is man's expression of his presence in himself, in the world, and
in his fellow human person.
3. The inquiry of the human body is not intended to revive the Platonic dispute on
the dichotomy of soul and body. The inquiry, instead, is undertaken in order to
take the whole man as the substantial unity of body and soul with emphasis on
the body.
4. The human body refers to the finitude of man in the sense that human bodily
existence is limited by space, time, and death. Besides, the human body is also
limited in terms of its accidental constituents.
5. The human body refers to man's embodied subjectivity; man's body is infused in
his subjectivity- Thus, the human body is not a thing to be used on exploited
because it is a subject-body. As a subject-body, it cannot be the object of
“having”, since the human body cannot and can never be disposed, unless when
it is treated as an object. The embodied subjectivity of man refers to the whole
man as rational, affective, and emotional.
6. The human body is not an instrument of man’s encounter of things and person
in the world; it is man’s expression of himself as an embodied subjectivity. The
authentic human encounter, however, is possible, only in the I Thou relatedness.

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Jonathan Glover

My frontiers are those of my body. I may be unconscious for periods, but I still
exist: my body has a continuous path through space and time. It is what is perceived
by others when they perceive me. And the special ways in which I am aware of my
body are at least a large part of my own self-consciousness. Should I then stop
thinking of my body as mine and think of it as me?
My corpse is not me. The view worth considering is that I am my living body.
Perhaps a further modification is needed to allow for the case where a body is alive,
but where the brain will never again function in the way needed for consciousness. If
irreversible loss of consciousness is the end of me, the view that I am my body will
have to stipulate that my body must be both alive and capable of consciousness.
The two issues this raises turned out to be related: The first is whether all parts
of my body are essential to my existence. The second is whether saying that lam my
body allows an adequate role for my mental life.
Is my whole body essential to me?
There is a complication raised by transplant. If my kidney or heart fails, I shall
be glad to have a transplant. My only worry will be whether it will work. But if the
neurologist says my brain is functioning poorly, I shall be far less reassured by the
offer of a brain transplant. I may feel, not that I am being given someone else's brain,
but that someone else is being given my body. My brain seems more essential to me
than is the rest of my body.

This has led some philosophers to view that I am my brain. But, once frontiers
are narrowed to the brain, it is hard to stop there. Are all parts of the brain essential
to me? It is hard to see why the mechanisms in the cerebellum which controls
breathing are so different from the heart or the lungs. Some strong arguments would
be needed to show that, while I survive a heart transplant, I could not survive the
replacement of the cerebellar breathing mechanisms. The brain is singled out because
of its contribution to mental life. It is hard to see why its other functions are more
relevant than those of the rest of the body.

The flexible reference of the word "I" can be invoked. Just as "here" can be refer
to this room or to this country, so the limits of' “There” are usually set by the bodily
frontier, but, in rare cases, such as brain transplants, they can be set more narrowly-
It is open to someone to say that I am my body, while allowing that I may survive the
destruction of some bits of it and not of others. But, on this approach, there are
essential and unessential bodily parts of me, and the essential parts are those most
closely bound up with my mind.

My mental life. The special role of the brain brings out a deeper problem for the
view that I am my body. The brain is special because of its role in my mental life,
particularly my conscious life. This is crucial to me: it is very dubious that I am still
there when in irreversible coma. So it is only plausible that I am my body if my mental
life is reducible to the functioning of my brain. Many deny that it is. They say that
there is more to people than can be described in physical or in functional terms.
The background to this is the way an old dualist model of the mind has been
replaced in the neuroscience.

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The traditional dualist picture of human beings assumed interaction between

mind and body. On this picture, what goes on when one sees a ball and catch it
involves the interaction between the physical and non-physical processes. Light
strikes my retina, which causes nerve impulses to be sent up the optic nerve and
eventually to the visual cortex. This causes me to have a visual experience (itself a
mental event, not physically located in the brain or anywhere else). The visual
experience causes me to decide to catch the ball- This decision is another purely
mental event, which, in turn, causes physical events in the brain, which sent nerve
impulses causing muscles to move.
Ever since Descartes championed this model, people have felt puzzled 'about it.
What can be said about the nature of these mental events? How is the interaction with
the brain supposed to work?
My identity is obviously rooted in the continuous existence of my body. And my
mental life is identified as mine because of its dependence on my brain. But perhaps
we should be cautious about going further and saying that I am reducible to any set
of my physical features.


This module explains the interplay between humans and their environments.
Allows students to demonstrate the virtues of prudence and frugality towards
his/her environment

This Module includes:

Lesson 1: The will: Its Existence and Nature

Lesson 2: The unity of man and nature


By Spirkin, Alexander. Dialectical Materialism

The unity of man and nature.

Human beings live in the realm of nature, they are constantly surrounded by it and
interact with it. The most intimate part of nature in relation to man is the biosphere,
the thin envelope embracing the earth, its soil cover, and everything else that is alive.
Our environment, although outside us, has within us not only its image, as something
both actually and imaginatively reflected, but also its material energy and information
channels and processes. This presence of nature in an ideal, materialized, energy and
information form in man's Self is so organic that when these external natural
principles disappear, man himself disappears from life. If we lose nature's image, we
lose our life.

Everything, from each separate cell of a living organism to the organism as a

whole, generates bioenergy. Just as the bioenergy of the separate cell goes
beyond its boundaries, so the bioenergy of the organs and the organism as a

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whole extends beyond their boundaries, forming a luminous aura. As the

ancient acupuncture therapists intuitively established, bioenergy and bio
information move along special channels (meridians) forming a complex
structure, in which all the components of the living whole interact both with
themselves and with the external world. Energy-information interactions are a
vital dimension of any living system, including that of man as the highest stage
in the hierarchy of the structures of existence known to science.

Man is constantly aware of the influence of nature in the form of the air he breathes,
the water he drinks, the food he eats, and the flow of energy and information. And
many of his troubles are a response to the natural processes and changes in the
weather, intensified irradiation of cosmic energy, and the magnetic storms that rage
around the earth. In short, we are connected with nature by "blood" ties and we
cannot live outside nature. During their temporary departures from Earth spacemen
take with them a bit of the biosphere. Nowhere does nature affect humanity in exactly
the same way. Its influence varies. Depending on where human beings happen to be
on the earth's surface, it assigns them varying quantities of light, warmth, water,
precipitation, flora and fauna. Human history offers any number of examples of how
environmental conditions and the relief of our planet have promoted or retarded
human development.

At any given moment, a person comes under the influence of both subterranean
processes and the cosmic environment. In a very subtle way he reflects in himself, in
his functions the slightest oscillations occurring in nature. Electromagnetic radiations
alone from the sun and stars may be broken down into a large number of categories,
which are distinguishable from one another by their wavelength, the quantity of
energy they emit, their power of penetration, and the good or harm they may do us.
During the periods of peak solar activity, we observe a deterioration in the health of
people suffering from high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis or infarction of the
myocardium. Disturbances occur in the nervous system and the blood vessels are
more liable to suffer from spasms. At such times, the number of road accidents
increases, and so on. It has been noted that there is dependence between any
weakening in the Earth's magnetic field and acceleration of growth, and vice versa,
growth is retarded when the magnetic field becomes stronger. The corpuscular,
radioactive irradiations, cosmic dust, and gas molecules which fill all universal space
are also powerful creators and regulators of human existence in biological life. The
universe is in a state of dynamic balance and is constantly receiving various forms of
energy. Some forms are on the increase or decrease, while others experience periodic
fluctuations. Each of us is a sensitive resonator, a kind of echo of the energy flows of
the universe. So it would be quite wrong to regard only the energy of the sun as the
source of life on earth and humanity as its highest manifestation. The energy of
distant cosmic bodies, such as the stars and the nebulae, have a tremendous
influence on the life of man as an organism. For this reason, our organisms adjust
their existence and development to these flows of external energy. The human
organism has developed receptors that utilize this energy or protect themselves from
it, if it is harmful. It may be said, if we think of human beings as a high-grade
biological substance, that they are accumulators of intense energy drives of the whole
universe. We are only a response to the vibrations of the elemental forces of outer
space, which bring us into unity with their oscillations. Every beat of the organic pulse
of our existence is coordinated with the pulse of the cosmic heart. Cosmic rhythms

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exert a substantial influence on the energy processes in the human organism, which
also has its own rhythmic beat.

Man's influence on nature.

Man is not only a dweller in nature, he also transforms it. From the very beginning of
his existence, and with increasing intensity human society has adapted environing
nature and made all kinds of incursions into it. An enormous amount of human labor
has been spent on transforming nature. Humanity converts nature's wealth into the
means of the cultural, historical life of society. Man has subdued and disciplined
electricity and compelled it to serve the interests of society. Not only has man
transferred various species of plants and animals to different climatic conditions; he
has also changed the shape and climate of his habitation and transformed plants and
animals. If we were to strip the geographical environment of the properties created by
the labor of many generations, contemporary society would be unable to exist in such
primeval conditions.

Man and nature interact dialectically in such a way that, as society develops, man
tends to become less dependent on nature directly, while indirectly his dependence
grows. This is understandable. While he is getting to know more and more about
nature, and on this basis transforming it, man's power over nature progressively
increases, but in the same process, man comes into more and more extensive and
profound contact with nature, bringing into the sphere of his activity growing
quantities of matter, energy and information.

On the plane of the historical development of man-nature relations we may define

certain stages. The first is that of the complete dependence of man on nature. Our
distant ancestors floundered amid the immensity of natural formations and lived in
fear of nature's menacing and destructive forces. Very often they were unable to obtain
the merest necessities of subsistence. However, despite their imperfect tools, they
worked together stubbornly, collectively, and were able to attain results. This process
of struggle between man and the elements was contradictory and frequently ended in
tragedy. Nature also changed its face through interaction with man. Forests were
destroyed and the area of arable land increased. Nature with its elemental forces was
regarded as something hostile to man. The forest, for example, was something wild
and menacing and people tried to force it to retreat. This was all done in the name of
civilization, which meant the places where man had made his home, where the earth
was cultivated, where the forest had been cut down. But as time goes on the
interaction between man and nature is characterized by accelerated subjugation of
nature, the taming of its elemental forces. The subjugating power of the implements of
labor begins to approach that of natural forces. Mankind becomes increasingly
concerned with the question of where and how to obtain irreplaceable natural
resources for the needs of production. Science and man's practical transforming
activity have made humanity aware of the enormous geologic al role played by the
industrial transformation of earth.

At present the interaction between man and nature is determined by the fact that in
addition to the two factors of change in the biosphere that have been operating for
millions of years—the biogenetic and the abiogenetic—there has been added yet
another factor which is acquiring decisive significance—the technogenetic. As a result,

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the previous dynamic balance between man and nature and between nature and
society as a whole, has shown ominous signs of breaking down. The problem of the so-
called replaceable resources of the biosphere has become particularly acute. It is
getting more and more difficult to satisfy the needs of human beings and society even
for such a substance, for example, as fresh water. The problem of eliminating
industrial waste is also becoming increasingly complex. The threat of a global
ecological crisis hangs over humanity like the sword of Damocles. His keen awareness
of this fact has led man to pose the question of switching from the irresponsible
destructive and polluting subjugation of nature to a reasonable harmonious
interaction in the "technology-man-biosphere" system. Whereas nature once frightened
us and made us tremble with her mysterious vastness and the uncontrollable energy
of its elemental forces, it now frightens us with its limitations and a new-found
fragility, the delicacy of its plastic mechanisms. We are faced quite uncompromisingly
with the problem of how to stop, or at least moderate, the destructive effect of
technology on nature. In socialist societies the problem is being solved on a planned
basis, but under capitalism spontaneous forces still operate that despoil nature's

Unforeseen paradoxes have arisen in the man-nature relationship. One of them is the
paradox of saturation. For millions of years the results of man's influence on nature
were relatively insignificant. The biosphere loyally served man as a source of the
means of subsistence and a reservoir for the products of his life activity. The
contradiction between these vital principles was eliminated by the fact that the
relatively modest scale of human productive activity allowed nature to assimilate the
waste from labor processes. But as time went on, the growing volume of waste and its
increasingly harmful properties destroyed this balance. The human feedback into
nature became increasingly disharmonized. Human activity at various times has
involved a good deal of irrational behavior. Labor, which started as a specifically
human means of rational survival in the environment, now damages the biosphere on
an increasing scale and on the boomerang principle—affecting man himself, his bodily
and mental organization. Under the influence of uncoordinated production processes
affecting the biosphere, the chemical properties of water, air, the soil, flora and fauna
have acquired a negative shift. Experts maintain that 60 per cent of the pollution in
the atmosphere, and the most toxic, comes from motor transport, 20 per cent from
power stations, and 20 per cent from other types of industry.

It is possible that the changes in the chemical properties of the biosphere can be
somehow buffered or even halted, but the changes in the basic physical parameters of
the environment are even more dangerous and they may turn out to be uncontrollable.
We know that man can exist only in a certain range of temperature and at a certain
level of radiation and electromagnetic and sound-wave intensity, that is to say, amid
the physical influences that come to us from the atmosphere, from outer space and
from the depths of the earth, to which we have adapted in the course of the whole
history of the development of human life. From the beginning man has existed in the
biosphere, a complex system whose components are the atmosphere, the hydrosphere,
the phytosphere, the radiation sphere, the thermosphere, the phonosphere, and so on.
All these spheres are and must remain in a natural state of balance. Any excessive
upsetting of this balance must be to the detriment not only of normal existence but of
any existence at all, even human vegetation. If humanity does not succeed in
preventing damage to the biosphere, we run the risk of encountering the paradox of

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replacement, when the higher plants and animals may be ousted by the lower. As we
know, many insects, bacteria, and lichens are, thanks to their relatively simple
structure, extremely flexible in adapting to powerful chemical and even physical
factors, such as radiation. Mutating under the influence of an unfavorable
environment, they continue their modified existence. Man, on the other hand,
"nature's crown", because of the exceptional complexity of his bodily and mental
organization and the miraculous subtlety and fragility of his genetic mechanism may,
when faced with a relatively small change in the chemical and physical factors of the
environment, either produce unviable progeny or even perish altogether.

Another possible result of harmful influences on the environment is that the

productivity of the biosphere may substantially decline. Already we observe
unfavorable shifts in the great system of the universe: Sun-plants-animals-plants.
Much more carbon dioxide is being produced on earth than plants can assimilate.
Various chemical preparations (herbicides, antibiotics, etc.) affect the intensity of
photosynthesis, that most subtle mechanism for the accumulation of the vital energy
required by the universal torch of life. Thus, not only progress but even human life
itself depends on whether humanity can resolve the paradoxes in the ecological
situation that have arisen today.

Modern technology is distinguished by an ever increasing abundance of produced and

used synthetic goods. Hundreds of thousands of synthetic materials are being made.
People increasingly cover their bodies from head to foot in nylon, Capron and other
synthetic, glittering fabrics that are obviously not good for them. Young people may
hardly feel this and pay more attention to appearance than to health. But they become
more aware of this harmful influence as they grow older. As time goes on the synthetic
output of production turns into waste, and then substances that in their original form
were not very toxic are transformed in the cycle of natural processes into aggressive
agents. One gets the impression that human beings are working harder and harder to
organize bits of synthetic reality by disorganizing the systems evolved by nature.
Emphasizing man's hostility to nature—a hostility armed with the vast achievements
of modern technology—both natural scientists and philosophers are today asking
themselves the pessimistic question: Is it not the fatal mission of man to be for nature
what cancer is for man himself? Perhaps man's destruction of the biosphere is

One would like to think that the limited capacities of nature do not signify a fatal
limitation of civilization itself. The irrational principle, which once permeated human
nature, still exists in human behavioral mechanisms, as can be seen, for instance, in
the unpredictable consequences of their individual and concerted efforts. Much in
human activity goes beyond the limits of the predictable, even when it is humanely

The man-nature relation, the crisis of the ecological situation is a global problem. Its
solution lies in the plane of rational and humane, that is to say, wise organization,
both of production itself and care for mother nature, not just by individuals,
enterprises or countries, but by all humanity, linked with a clear awareness of our
planetary responsibility for the ecological consequences of a civilization that has
reached a state of crisis. One of the ways to deal with the crisis situation in the "man-
nature" system is to use such resources as solar energy, the power of winds, the

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riches of the seas and oceans and other, as yet unknown natural forces of the
universe. At one time in his evolution man was a gatherer. He used the ready-made
gifts of nature. This was how human existence began. Perhaps even today it would be
wise to resort to this method, but on a quite different level, of course. The human
being cannot restrict himself to gathering, any more than he could in primitive times.
But such a shift in attitude could at least abate the destructive and polluting principle
in civilization.

As cybernetic methods and principles in the various fields of knowledge and practice
develop, control theory has been widely applied in many spheres. Its aim is to ensure
the optimal function of a system. A humanely oriented mind should be able to transfer
the idea of optimality and harmony to ecological phenomena.

In their production activity people are mastering more and more new materials and
learning to replace one with another. In the long term this could lead, as the
alchemists once believed, to production on the principle of everything out of
everything. Moreover, our planet has an active balance—it loses less substance in the
upper layers of the atmosphere than it receives from outer space. It would therefore
appear that the amount of substance available as a whole will not place any radical
limitation on material production.

Life, including human life, is not only metabolism; it is also a form of energy
transformation and movement developed to degrees of subtlety that are as yet beyond
our comprehension. Every cell, every organ and organism as a whole is a crucial arena
of the struggle between entropic (dispersing) and anti-entropic processes, and the
biosphere represents the constant victory of life, the triumph of the anti-entropic
principle in the existence of the living.

Losses of living energy from our organism are constantly compensated by various
forms of energy flowing from the vast expanses of the universe. We need not simply
energy, such as electromagnetic radiation or heat, but radiant energy of the finest
quality. The struggle for the existence of living creatures, including man, is a struggle
not so much for the elements that compose his organism—they are abundantly
available in the air, water and underground—not for solar energy in its direct,
electromagnetic radiation, but for the energy that is captured by the mechanisms of
photosynthesis and exists in the form of organic, particularly plant structures. When
we consume vegetable food, we take the energy of nature particularly that of the sun,
at first hand, so to speak. But plants are also the food of herbivorous animals, and
when we eat meat, we take this energy at second hand.

So, the biosphere is not a chaotic conglomeration of natural phenomena and

formations. By a seemingly objective logic everything is taken into account and
everything mutually adapts with the same obedience to proportion and harmony that
we discern in the harmonious motion of the heavenly bodies or the integral paintings
of the great masters. With a sense of wonder we see revealed before us a picture of the
magnificent universe, a universe whose separate parts are interconnected by the
subtlest threads of kinship, forming the harmonious whole which the ancient
philosophers surmised when they viewed the world with their integrating, intuitively
perceptive gaze. We are part of the ecological environment and it is a part of the
universe. It contains myriads of stars and the nearest of them is the Sun. The Sun is

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the master of Earth. We are, in a certain sense, its children. Not for nothing did the
rich imagination on whose wings mankind flies ever further and higher in the orbit of
civilization portray the Sun in ancient legends as the highest deity.

But to return to our theme, the bitter truth is that those human actions which violate
the laws of nature, the harmony of the biosphere, threaten to bring disaster and this
disaster may turn out to be universal. How apt then are the words of ancient Oriental
wisdom: live closer to nature, my friends, and its eternal laws will protect you!


This module explains the perennial debate on freedom versus determinism

among philosophers and psychologists. Arguments in favor of the existence of free
will are substantial, but the arguments advocated by determinism are likewise
presented to for to better understand both philosophies.

This Module includes:

Lesson 1: The will: Its Existence and Nature

Lesson 2: Freedom of the Will (Part I)
Lesson 3: Freedom of the Will (Part II)
Lesson 4: Arguments for Determinism



After studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. understand that the will really exist,
2. comprehend the nature of the will, and
3. Know the object of the will.

Lesson 1 – Display

The will, in philosophy and psychology, is a term used to describe the

faculty of mind that is alleged to stimulate motivation of purposeful activity. The
concept has been variously interpreted by philosophers, some accepting the will as a
personal faculty or function (for example, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes and
Kant) and other seeing it as the externalized result of the interaction of conflicting
elements (for example, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Hume). Still others describe the will as
the manifestation of personality (for example, Hobbes, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer).
The reality of individual will is denied altogether by the doctrine of determinism.
Modern psychology considers the concept of the will as unscientific (as in Skinner) and
has looked to other factors such as unconscious motivation or psychological influence
to explain human actions.

However, the existence of the will can be demonstrated philosophically and

confirmed by data derived from everyday experience. For example, every act of real
self-control is an implicit manifestation of the will. In such an act we are conscious of

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the fact that some tendency in us is held in check by a higher tendency. That higher
tendency is the will.

Against this argument the following objection can be raised. Animals also
exercise self-control. Thus, a hungry but well-trained dog will not take the meat he
sees on the table.

This, however, is not real self-control. The sight of the meat has aroused in the
dog two conflicting tendencies; hunger and fear. The fear is the product of his
experience. Maybe on previous occasion, his grabbing the meat has been followed by
some very disagreeable sensation, like a spank, a whip or any punishment. The
memory of these painful sensations is now associated with the perception of “meat-on-

Another empirical confirmation of the existence of the will derives from the fact
that we sometimes will an object which is repulsive to our body and sense tendencies;
for instance, when we swallow a bitter medicine, or submit to a painful operation or
tooth extraction. In all these cases, we are not attracted by a material, sensible good
but some good presented by our intellect.

Another proof for the existence of the will is the phenomenon of voluntary
attention. Voluntary attention is distinct from spontaneous attention. Spontaneous
attention is present in animals; it is the concentration of the senses and of the mind
on some object which appeals to one of the lower drives. In voluntary attention we
concentrate our senses and our mind on some object which does not spontaneously
interest us. We concentrate because we want to concentrate, and we want to
concentrate because our intellect tells us that it is good to concentrate. Compare the
attention you pay to an interesting movie with that given to a dull but important

So the existence of the will cannot be denied. But what is the very nature of the
will? If a will exists, then what is it? What is its object? Let us now turn to a particular
excerpt in John Kavanaugh’s article entitled Human Freedom for a clearer
understanding of what the will really is.

Human Freedom
Free choices: A Metaphysical Analysis of the Will

The Will is an intellectual tendency, or a tendency toward an intellectually

known good. It is different from sense an appetite in that it is not “chained down” by
the immediacy of the sensed object. I know not only this object as good, but I know all
objects, all subjects, all that is, us good in some respect—at least insofar as it exists.
Anything then, because it can be seen as good, might be the object of my will—
whether it is a good steak, a good person, a good feeling, or a good action. It is
precisely because a thing or action can be seen as having good aspects that my will
goes to it or ends toward it. The very reason that I find myself having a tendency
toward an object in the first place is because I sense it or know it as having good
things about it. It is the “good” quality of the thing by which the will is drawn or

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We might say, the, that the will is naturally determined to seek the good; and if
I were presented with an unmitigated, simple, unqualified good, my will would
certainly be necessitated toward it. With this in mind—that all things are good in some
way and that my will tends spontaneously toward them because they are somehow
good—I recognize nevertheless that my ‘tending’ is always concerned with an
existential, real world in which good are precisely limited, finite, conditioned,
interrelated, and ordered to other goods. If I am about to undertake a course of action,
it is often evident that a number of possibilities—all of which have good and bad
points to recommend and discredit them—are presented to me as alternatives. Since
none of these alternatives ‘goods’ can be called unconditional or simple goods, and
since none of them can exhaust the total meaning of good in which they all
participate, none of them can force my will to a necessary choice, This is our

a. the will is a tendency toward an intellectually known good; thus it is

precisely the ‘good’ aspect of the object which attracts my will,
b. the only object which could necessitate my will would be a good that is
unconditionally good in an unqualified sense;
c. in many of my choices, however, the goods from which I select as the “the
good for me in this decision” are all conditioned, limited and qualified;
d. Therefore, freedom of choice can be operative in my behavior.

We might note that if there should be a case in which a particular good

appeared to be absolute—due to lack of knowledge or an excess of fear and emotion-
then freedom of choice would be inoperable, Similarly we might ask ourselves: if the
will tends toward the known good all the time, does that mean we never choose evil? If
we reflect upon moments of deliberation and choice, it becomes rather clear that this
is not the case. It is precisely in deliberation upon and selection of a particular good
among many-in relation to our knowledge of who we are and what our potentialities
may be—that moral failure occurs. I can freely choose a particular good-for-me-now
which I consciously know is not in continuity with my identity and potentialities.

Amid these reflections, however, we must not forget that we also experience our
freedom as being severely limited and modified at times. As we have seen, knowledge
is of primary importance. We cannot have self-possession if we never arrive at an
understanding of the self and its meaning. We cannot choose if we are not aware of
option of different possibilities, of various alternatives. We could neither choose nor
love that which we do not in some way know. We might even have experienced people
who seemingly never have known goodness, nobility, kindness or sympathy and
consequently were never able to exercise their freedom with respect to these values.
Moreover, there are ample data that point to the importance of the environment,
conditioning, deprivation, habit, emotion, natural preferences, and one’s own history
in the formation of the projects and choices. All these factors are undeniable, and they
must be weighed with the factors that point to man’s freedom.

Consequently, reflection upon my experience leads me to conclude at least

initially the there are forces which can shape and influence my present and future
behavior. Nonetheless, there are also data that cannot be ignored which point to the
conclusion that determining ‘forces’ do not totally destroy my ability to take

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possession of myself. As long as I can question, as long as I can achieve a distance

from my environment and from immediate needs, and as long as I can know various
values and goods as limited and conditional, I can take hold of my life and my
situation and I can say something about it.

In conclusion I might say, first, that I feel free. This is an important

consideration. But feeling free does not necessarily make it so. The feeling of freedom
does not indicate, however, that such an experience is quite primary and fundamental
to our behavior. Second and more important is that there are levels of human behavior
which, upon reflection and analysis, indicate freedom as self possession and freedom
of choice. These levels of behavior, moreover, are not just feelings. They are the
incontrovertible evidence of questioning, self-reflection, distance, and the awareness of
goods-precisely as conditional. If these actions did not exist, I could not be doing what
I am doing right now.



After studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Differentiate the various kinds of freedom,
2. Understand some important arguments for the freedom of the Will.

Freedom in general means the absence of resistant. There are different kinds of
restraint and freedom. Physical freedom is the absence of physical restraint. When a
prisoner is released from prison, he is physically free, since he is no longer restrained
by the prison walls. Moral freedom is the absence of moral restraint, of an obligation,
of a law. Thus, in this country we are morally free to criticize the government.

Psychological freedom is the absence of psychological restraint. Psychological

restraint consists in drives which force a subject to perform them. Thus, a hungry,
untrained dog is forced by its hunger to eat the food, which is set before it, a scared
cat cannot help running away. These animals are not forced into their actions by any
external power or moral obligation; they possess no psychological freedom. A hungry
man, on the contrary, can still refrain from taking food, and a soldier frightened by
heavy bombardment can choose to stay at his post. Men possess psychological

Psychological freedom is also called freedom of choice, since it allows the free
subject to choose between different courses of action. It has been defined as that
attribute of the will whereby it can act or not act (freedom of exercise), can act in this
way or in that way (freedom of specification).

In the whole history of philosophy, a great deal of debate has been done on
whether or not our will is free. In this lesson, we will consider two arguments
demonstrating the freedom of the will.

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1. ARGUMENT FROM COMMON CONSENT – the great majority of men believe that
their will is free. This conviction is of the utmost practical importance for the
whole of human life. Therefore, if there is order in the world, the majority of
mankind cannot be wrong in this belief. Hence, the will is free.

The judgment of common sense is that there is freedom of the will. That
man on the street is sure that he is free and that his neighbor is free. Only among
the sophisticated does determinism (the doctrine that there is no freedom of the
will) find acceptance, and even among them only in theory, not in practice. Besides
this, we can make a number of observations.

a. If all those studied the question theoretically arrived at deterministic

positions, we should indeed have to follow them, but even among
professional philosophers the majority uphold that the will is free.
b. Whether one professes determinism or the freedom of the will ha a great
practical influence on life. Why should a man try to control himself if he is
convinced that cannot do it anyway?
c. Far from shunning moral effort, great numbers of determinists make a
consistent effort to be decent and honest persons. It is difficult to see how
there is no contradiction between the doctrines they profess and the kind of
life they try to lead.

2. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ARGUMENT – we have said that most people naturally

hold that the will is free. Why do they cling to that conviction? Because they are
directly and indirectly aware of their freedom in the very act of making a free
decision; they are indirectly aware of it’s because of the many instances of the
behavior which can only be explained by admitting the freedom of the will.

Direct awareness of the freedom of our decisions: In this argument, we claim that
at the very moment in which we are exercising our freedom we are aware of it.
We do not claim, on the other hand, that we are directly aware of being able to
choose freely before the choices is made or after it has been made.

The point is that we are not aware of our power of choosing freely except in the
very act of exercising that power. We are aware of the possible courses of action; we
may know from past experience that when no great difficulties lie in the way we are
capable of choosing any of these courses. But we are not conscious of our power of
free choice as such, except while we are exercising it.

Once we have reached a decision, we continue to have the impression that,

although we have chosen A, we could as well have selected B or C. Therefore, we do
not claim that we have an awareness of our freedom of choice before exercising it or
after having exercised it. But we possess that awareness while we are choosing, while
we are deciding to take A rather than B. At that moment, we are conscious that we are
selecting A without coercion, without constant; we feel that we are not being impelled
by blind impulses that we are not being manipulated like a puppet.

2.2. Indirect Awareness of the freedom of will – Many facts of our daily life, of which
we are clearly aware, can be explained only if are free. We deliberated before taking
a decision, we weigh the reasons for or against it, and we regret some of our past

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choices. This surely implies that we should, and by inference could, have acted
differently. We admire, praise and reward virtuous actions and manifest through
our attitude the implicit belief that the person who performed them was not forced
to do so. If Hitler was not acting freely, when he decreed the wholesale
extermination of the Jews, his actions were just one more natural disaster, and
there was no reason for any indignation about it.

In most countries, the administration of justice is based on a belief in the

freedom of at least some human actions. Most courts try to find out the degree of
deliberation (that is, of freedom) with which a crime was committed. And the
punishment is generally proportional to the degree of freedom. If man is not free,
there is no reason for punishing a “first degree murder” more severely than the
killing of a pedestrian in an automobile accident.

If I were determined, I would know nothing about it. Animals are unfree, and
totally unaware of it. In order to be aware of space, I must, in some way, stand
outside space. I can know time only because something in me is above time. I can
speak of determinism only because I am not totally in its grip.

1. THE ETHICAL ARGUMENT – If there is no freedom, there is no moral

responsibility no virtue, no merit, no moral obligation, no duty, no morality. The
necessary connection between freedom and the spiritual realities is quite obvious
and is demonstrated in Ethics.

This is a strong argument because the sense of duty and the belief in morality and
moral obligation come naturally to man and even those who deny their existence in
theory live in practice as if they admitted it.

Kant, a major German Philosopher, who claimed that the existence of freedom was
not demonstrated by theoretical reason, nevertheless was conviction from the fact of
duty, which he considered to be immediately evident to the practical reason.

Among the first principles, which are virtually inborn to the human intellect, there
is at least one that refers to the moral order. “The good must be done and evil
avoided.” This fundamental dictate of conscience, this moral ‘ought’, is virtually inborn
every human mind. It is the basis of all moral obligation and it implies freedom of the
will since obligation is nothing but the necessary of doing something freely.

No social life is possible without obligations and duties. In our relations with other
people we are aware of certain obligations we have in regard to them, and we are even
aware of their obligations toward us. Therefore we are continually taking it for granted
that man is free.

2. THE PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENT – This argument can be presented in a

philosophical context. It presupposes the two following philosophical statements:

Every kind of knowledge evokes a corresponding kind of striving. This

follows from the fact that knowledge and striving are the two fundamental
functions or aspects of being.

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Immaterial striving is free at least in this sense that it is not determined

from outside. Determinism derives from matter.

If these two principles are admitted, the argument from the freedom of the will
it easy to set up:

There is in man an immaterial kind of knowledge. Hence, there must also be

him an immaterial kind if striving. And since immaterial striving is free, there is in
man a free kind of activity, which is called the will. Still the question remains.
“Why the human will is free?”

Why the human will is free?

Man’s freedom does not consist merely in being able to do what he wants to do.
Many Animals can do what they want to do. But is not within their power to decide
what they want to do. Man, on the other hand, is able not only to do what he ants
to do also decide that he wants to do one thing or another.

We must show, therefore, the fact that and the reason why the human person
does not will the things he wills out of necessary; the fact that and the reason why
he will then freely. To explain clearly, we have to proceed in a number of stages:

1. Man wills a thing necessarily as soon as he decided: “This is good.”

The will is a faculty whose object is the good. But the will does not know
its own object, it is not a cognitive faculty; it meets its object through the
intellect. Hence, as soon as the intellect judges: “This is good,” the will is
presented with its object and must necessarily embrace it.

2. Man decides necessarily that a thing is good when it conforms to his

standard of goodness.

The person judges the goodness of things not arbitrarily about according
to a certain norm or standard. When an object fulfills the requirements of
that standard, it is necessarily called good.

3. Man’s standard of goodness is “goodness as such.”

The will is guided by the intellect. The intellect knows being as such,
desires truth as such. The object of the will has the same extension as that
of the intellect which guides it’ it is good as such. The good as such means
the perfect good, without any restriction, imperfection or limitation.

4. No object on earth comes up to man’s standard of goodness.

On earth we never meet the perfect good. Many things are good, but they
are not absolutely good, they all have their limitations, their defects.

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5. Hence, there is not a single object on earth with regard to which man is
forced to decide. “This is good.” There is not a single object in relation to
which we are not free.

In other words: We are free to will or not will, because we always say:
“this is good but not perfectly good.” Our intellect provides us with the idea
of the perfect good because it is the guide, which our will follows. The
relation of the will to the intellect is analogous to the relation between the
engine and the steering wheel of a car. Movement is initiated by the engine
(will) but the direction of the movement derives from the action of the wheel

It follows that our freedom is ultimately based on the immateriality of our

will and our intellect. We are free because we are spirits.


After studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Understand the various forms of determinism,
2. Learn the various factors that affect and influence our actions, and
3. Know the arguments for determinism

Lesson 4 – Display

Though some philosophers have argued their own position about freedom, the
other side, which is a contradictory argument, should also be presented, that e. i.
DETERMINISM. Many modern philosophers and psychologists who deny the freedom
of the will are called “determinists” and their system is known as “determinism.” They
claim that in spite of some contrary appearances, man is forced or “determined” in all
his actions.

Determinism is the philosophical concept that every event, including human

cognition and behavior, decision and action, is causally determined by an unbroken
chain of prior occurrences or by number of forces which compel us to act as we do.
Like the some of the natural laws of science which have the form: If X occurs then Y
occurs. If a patient is sick, there must be a reason for such condition to happen which
certainly explains everything. Thus, if we know the initial condition (X occurs) and the
law (If X then Y) we can explain/predict the occurrence of Y. Determinism is the
contention that all physical (and mental) events and experiences of man in the
universe can be incorporated under such laws. This is NOT the view that we can
actually predict everything. Our ignorance of facts is enormous and we certainly do
not know all the laws and statistical regularities which describe such events and
experiences that we have. Thus if something occurred, there must be a reason for it
and such reason itself is the argument being emphasized and highlighted by the
In its toughest argument, Hard Determinism is the theory that because
Determinism is true, no one is free; no one has free will (or choice) and no one truly
acts freely. Determinism, as a philosophical doctrine, is absolutely contradictory to the
belief that there is such a thing as freedom of the will. Determinism asserts that “there

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is no free will that we do things, not because we decide to do these, but because these
were determined to us by a number of forces which compelled us to act as we do.” We
could not have done otherwise. We cannot do these things we did.
In an argumentative or syllogistic form, philosophers who advocate determinism
would put it this way:
1. Determinism is true: all events are caused.
2. Therefore, all human desires and choices are caused.
3. For an action to be free it would have to be the result of a choice, desire or
act of will which had no cause. That is, free WILL means that the Will or
choosing "mechanism" initiates the action.
4. Therefore, there can be no free choices or free will.
According to the Hard Determinists, freedom is present when a free act or
choice would be one which is uncaused, or happened independent of causes, or
completely disconnected from preceding events. The "Will" or person doing the
choosing and acting would have to be a primum mobile (first mover), a new beginning,
or an original creative source of activity. But, this cannot be, it is argued, since surely
actions are caused by wants and desires, wants and desires flow from our character,
and our character is formed by environment and heredity. Thus, every actions or
events have sources which are external to us and are not within our control; a proof
itself for determinism and not of freedom.
All materialists and sensists are necessarily determinists. For them man is a
purely material being. But matters is perfectly determined and possess no freedom.
When we know a material system perfectly, we can foresee and predict all further
activities. Thus an astronomer predicts with great accuracy all future eclipses. The
volcanologist can predict with a certain degree of accuracy when and where an
earthquake will happen. The materialist claim that if we knew the material system
called “MAN” perfectly, and if we are aware of all the influences working on him, we
should be able to predict all his future activities; we could write his biography on the
day of his birth.
Determinism can be seen in different forms or arguments. The following
arguments will portray the general perspectives within a deterministic view of life.

1. The Argument from Biology

Biological determinism maintains that physiological factors exert a compelling

influence in man’s life. We do what we do because of the kind of body we have
inherited from our parents, because we are born that way. The biological determinists
emphasize especially the role of the endocrine glands and the genes in determining
our conduct. We may sometimes wonder that we act in a certain manner but we end
up realizing that hereditary factors have something to do with it. Thus, we do act not
because it is an act of free will but because of the biological factors that make us and
determine us to do so.

2. The Law of Causation

The arguments from of determinism make it evident that it is anchored with the
law of causation. The law of causation is one which no man would care to deny; it
simply and undeniably asserts that every effect has its cause. No one indeed can think
otherwise. Causation, in fact, as Kant showed, is one of the ways in which we must
think; it is, as he says, an a priori form of thought; we did not learn from experience to
think causally, but rather by thinking causally we help to constitute experience. Man’s

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decision or actions then do have their causal explanation but such cause is of physical
or material aspect and not of non-physical or immaterial, the free will, which the
concept of freedom asserts

3. The Argument from Science's Philosophy of Nature

A philosophy of nature is a general theory explanatory of all the occurrences of
nature. Now the ideal of scientific explanation in physics, chemistry, biology,
physiology, and everywhere is mechanical. Events do not happen because anybody or
any will wants them to happen; they happen because they have to happen; they
happen because they must. And it is the business of science to find this necessary
connection between the occurrences of nature. The universe, by this hypothesis, whole
and part, is governed by the action of mechanical law. The reign of law is universal.
Man is a very small creature upon a small earth, which is itself a comparatively small
planet in one of the smaller solar systems of an indefinitely large number of solar
systems which partially fill infinite space. The universe is a physical mechanism in
which law rules, and man is but a least part of this universal machine. How then can
he do otherwise than he does do? A single free-will act would introduce caprice, whim,
chance, into a universe whose actions are so mechanically determined that an
omniscient observer of the present could predict infallibly all futurity. Thus, man is so
called bound and determined to act by his own nature to act and is not free.

4. The Argument from Ethics

The interests of ethics, of such matters as duty, obligation, conscience, reward,
and blame, are peculiarly bound up with the doctrine of freedom, in the eyes of many.
Yet there is also an argument from ethics for determinism. It runs as follows: a man's
character determines his acts, he is responsible, for the act is his own; he committed
it because, being the man he could not have done otherwise. If his act were an effect of
free will, no one could count upon him, he would be an irresponsible agent. Just
because he is bound by his character, he is dependable. If his acts are good, he is to
be congratulated on his character, not praised overmuch; if his acts are bad, he is to
be pitied for his character, not blamed overmuch. He is rewarded, not because he
could have done otherwise, but as a tribute to the stability of his character and as a
stimulus to continued right action. He is punished, again not because he need not
have done wrong, but to help him do right next time. All our instruction, reproof, and
correction of others presupposes they may be determined by such influences. Thus,
the whole outfit of ethical categories may be read in deterministic terms, and indeed
are so read by many ethical thinkers and writers, beginning with Socrates, who held
that right ideas determine right conduct.

5. The Argument from Theology

The argument from theology for determinism runs somewhat as follows: God is
omniscient, He therefore knows what I am going to do, there is therefore nothing for
me to do except what He knows I am going to do, there is consequently but one reality,
not two possibilities awaiting me in the future; therefore I am not free to do otherwise
than I must do when the time comes. Thus the doctrine of the foreknowledge of God is
held to exclude the freedom of man's choice. But to deny that God has foreknowledge
would be derogatory to His dignity.

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6. The Argument from Psycho-social

Psycho-social determinists emphasize a combination of psychological and social

factors as explaining human conduct. On the psychological side, they point to the
different drives and tendencies which impel the individual; on the social side, to the
continual pressure of the environment – words, customs, fashions, propaganda, but
most of all in education, in particular, education during the first few years of life “.
Man as part of the social group is not freely deciding but merely following.

The psychologist determinists insist upon the compulsive influence of the

motives and presented to our mind, asserting that when two motives are opposed to
each other, the stronger necessarily prevails. In this view, the will is like a balance,
which necessarily tips toward the heavier weight. Thus, our will necessarily chooses
the greater good and follows the stronger motive.
Let us expand our discussion on the psycho-social type of determinism for this
is the popular kind of determinism today. We assume that the actions of people will be
explicable in terms of the circumstances or context in which they are performed, and
in terms of the character or nature of the actors and the purposes that they have in
mind. Their actions we should certainly sat are determined by them, but their
characters, their purposes, their circumstances, are the products of their heredity,
their education, their environment, the whole of their HISTORY.
The philosophical doctrine has been given scientific evidential support by the
famous Harvard psychologist, B.F. Skinner. In his book, Walden Two, he stresses:

“The causes for human action all lie outside the man and that these causes are
necessitating. Man’s behavior is shaped and determined by external forces and
stimuli whether they are familiar or cultural sanction, verbal or non-verbal
reinforcement, or complex system of reward and punishment. I have nothing to
say about the course of action which I will take.”

In another part of Walden Two, he says

“Give me the specifications and I’ll give you the man. Let us control the lives of
our children and see what can make of them.”

Skinner did not these pronouncements without any scientific support. The
power of conditioning has been recognized. The stimulus-response model of Pavlov is
generally regarded among scientist as very convincing. Reinforcements, both positive
and negative, can shape an individual or group reaction. Forms of reward and
punishments have already been adapted for their utility. In other words, this
phenomenon of behavior control is occurring right now in our society by means of
governmental, educational and propagandistic control techniques, through in a less
systematic manner.

To summarize, it would be good touch on John Kavanaugh’s reflection of his

own experience, which correspond to Skinner’s position in Walden Two and Science
and Human Behavior. Kavanaugh enumerates:

a. I have genetic, biological and physical structures, which influence my

behavior. They are part of the total me which is involved in choosing.

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b. I have environmental structures, which are part of me – my early life and

psychological development, the culture, national and ecclesiastical
framework that I find myself situated in.

c. I am keenly aware of external forces and demands, which impinge upon me,
sometimes-creating needs even valves.

Before us and our discussion of determinism, it would be best to study a

particular except in B.F. Skinner’s book entitled Beyond Freedom and Dignity.
Let us take a look at the last chapter of this book:


As a science of behavior adopts the strategy of physics and biology the

autonomous agent to the environment—the environment in which the species evolved
and in which the behavior of the individual is shaped and maintained, replaces which
behavior has traditionally been an attribute. That a man’s behavior owes something to
antecedent events and that the environment is a more promising point of attack then
mans himself has long been recognized. It was Robert Owen, according to Trevelyan,
who first clearly grasped and taught that environment makes character and that
environment is under human control or, as Gilbert Saldea wrote, “that man is a
creature of circumstance, that if you changed the environments of thirty little
Hottentots and thirty little aristocratic English children. The aristocratic would
become Hottentots, for all practical purposes, and the Hottentots little conservatives.”

………Autonomous man is a devise used to explain what we cannot explain in any

other way. He has been constructed from our ignorance, and as our understanding
increases, the very stuff of which he is composed vanishes. Science does not
dehumanize man, and it must do so if it is to prevent the abolition of the human
species. To man as man we readily say good riddance. Only be dispossessing him can
we turn from the inferred to the observed, from the miraculous to the natural, from
the inaccessible to the manipulable.

It is often said that in doing so we must treat that man who survives as a mere
animal. “Animal” is a pejorative term, but only because “man” has been made
spuriously honorific. Krutch has argued that whereas the traditional view supports
Hamlet’s exclamation, “How like a god!” Pavlov, the behavioral scientist, emphasized
“How like a dog!” But that was a step forward. A god is the archetypal pattern of an
explanatory fiction, of a miracle-working mind, of the metaphysical. Man is such more
than a dog, but like a dog he is within range of a scientific analysis.

……….Man is not made into a machine by analyzing his behavior in mechanical terms.
Early theories of behavior, as we have seen, represented man as a push-pull
automation, close to the nineteenth century notion of a machine, but progress has
been made. Man is a machine in the sense that he is a complex system behaving, in
lawful ways, but the complexity is extraordinary. His capacities to adjust to
contingencies of reinforcement will perhaps be eventually simulated by machines, but
this has not yet been done, and the living system thus simulated will remain unique in
other ways.

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………Is man then “abolished”? Certainly not as a species or as an individual achiever.

It is the autonomous inner man who is abolished, and that is a step forward. But does
not man then become merely a victim or passive observer of what is happening to
him? He is indeed controlled by his environment, but we must remember hat it is an
environment largely of his own making. The evolution of a culture is a gigantic
exercise in self-control. It is often said that a scientific view of man leads to wounded
vanity, a sense of hopelessness, and nostalgia. But no theory changes what is a theory
about; man remains what he has always been. And a new theory may change what
can be done with its subject matter. A scientific view of man offers exciting
possibilities. We have not yet seen what can make of man.



In the previous modules we studied “Man as an Embodied Subject,” “Man as

Knowing” and “Man and Freedom.” This module we have to study “Man and God”—the
essence of man in relations to his Maker. A philosopher was strolling inside a university
campus. He passed by an untilled garden and picked up a flower. He said, “Little flower, I
plucked you out from an obscure garden. Little flower, I am holding you in my hand.
Little flower, if I can understand your roots, your stem, your petals—and all in all—then I
can understand man and if I can understand man . . . then I can understand God.”

The study of man in relations to God is important because man is the highest of God’s
earthly creatures. And we learn something about the Creator by seeing what he has
created. For only man is said to have been made by God in his own image and likeness.
Thus, a direct clue to the nature of God ought to emerge from a study of man. To the
extent that the copy resembles the original, we will understand God more completely as a
result of our study of the highest creature.



Images of Man

Man as Machine

One prevalent perspective on the human is in terms of what he is able to do.

The employer, for example, is interested in the human being’s strength and energy,
the skills and capabilities possessed. On this basis, the employer “rents” the employee
for a certain number of hours. That humans are sometimes regarded as machines is
particularly evident when automation results in a worker being displaced from a job.
In this approach, persons are basically regarded as things, as means to ends
rather than ends in themselves. They are of value as long as they are useful.

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Man as an Animal

Another view sees man primarily as a member of the animal kingdom as a

derivation from some of the higher forms. He has come into being through the same
sort of process as all have other animals, and will have similar end.

This view of man is perhaps most fully developed in behavioristic psychology.

Here human motivation is understood primarily in terms of biological drives.
Knowledge of man is gained not though introspection, but experimentation upon

Man as a Sexual Being

Sigmund Freud regarded sexuality as the basic framework of man. In a world in

which sex was not openly discussed or even mentioned in polite circles, Freud
developed a whole theory of personality around human sexuality.

Man as an Economic Being

Another view is that economic forces are what really affect and motivate the
human being. In a sense, this view is an extension of the view that man is an
extension of the view that man is primarily a member of the animal kingdom. It
focuses upon the material dimension of life and its needs.

Man as a Pawn of the Universe

Among certain existentialists, particularly, but also in a broader segment of

society, we find the idea that man is at the mercy of forces in the world which control
his destiny but have no real concern for him. These are seen as blind forces, forces of
chance in many cases. Sometimes they personal forces, but even then they are forces
over which man has no control, and upon which he has no influence, such as political

Man as a Free Being

The approach which emphasizes the freedom of man, his ability to choose, sees
the human will as the essence of the personality. This basic approach is often evident
in conservative political and social views. Here freedom from restraint is the most
important issue, for it permits man to realize his essential nature. The role of
government is simply to ensure a stable environment in which such freedom can be

The Christian View of Man

The Christian view of man dwells on the fact that man is a creature of God. This
means, first, that is to be understood as having originated not through a chance
process of evolution, but through a conscious purposeful act of God. Thus, there is a
reason for man’s existence, a reason which lies in the intention of the Supreme Being.

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Further, the image of God is intrinsic to man. Man would not be human
without it. Hence, man puts his faith in the God who created him. In the words of St.
Augustine, “Lord, you have created us for yourself, oh God, and our soul is restless
until it rests in you!”



In Lesson One we discussed that man originated from God. This explains that
human experiences cannot ignore questions about God. Thus, philosophers have also
tried to answer questions related to God. That branch of philosophy specifically
concerned with this aspect is known as philosophy of religion.

What is philosophy of religion? Until recently it was generally understood to

mean religious philosophizing in the sense of the philosophical defense of religious
convictions. Its program is to demonstrate rationally the existence of God, Thus
preparing the way for the claims of revelation. In short, it is philosophical thinking
about religion.

Philosophy of religion is not an organ of religious teaching. It need not be

undertaken from a religious standpoint at all. It studies the concept and propositions
of theology and reasoning of theologians and analyzes concepts such as God, holy,
salvation, worship, creation, eternal life, miracle, etc. It also tries to determine the
nature of religious utterances in comparison with those of everyday life.

Our primary task at this point, however, is to clarify the Jewish-Christian

concept of God, seeking a philosophical understanding of its various aspects.

The term used for the main ways of thinking about God are formed around
either from the Greek word Theos or its Latin equivalent, Deus.

1. Atheism (Greek a – without or no; Theos - God) a belief that there is no God
of any kind.
2. Agnosticism (Greek a – without or no; gnostic – knowledge) – the belief that
we do not have sufficient reasons or knowledge either to affirm or deny the
existence of God.
3. Skepticism (Greek skepto – to doubt) simply means to doubt the existence
of God.
4. Daism – refers to the idea of an “absentee” God who long ago set the
universe into motion and has hereafter left it alone.
5. Theism – belief in God
6. Polytheism (Greek poly – many; Theos – God) the belief among primitive
people and reaching its classic expression n Ancient Greece and Rome, that
there are multitude of personal gods, each holding sway a different
department of life.
7. Pantheism – Greek pan – all; Theos – God) is the belief, perhaps, most
impressively expounded by some of the poets, that God is identical with
nature or with the world as a whole.

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8. Monotheism – (Greek mono – one; Theos – God) – the belief that there is but
one God, who is personal and moral and who seeks a total and unqualified
response from his human creatures.



The doctrine of God is the central point for much of Philosophical Theology.
There’s a need for a correct understanding of God. Some people think of God as a kind
of celestial policeman who looks for opportunities to pounce upon erring and straying
persons. The opposite view, that God, is grandfatherly, is also prevalent. Here God is
conceived of as an indulgent, kindly, old gentleman who would never want to detract
from human’s enjoyment of life. These and many other conceptions of God need to be
corrected, of our spiritual lives are to have any real meaning and depth.

The study of God’s nature should be seen as a means to a more accurate

understanding of him and hence a closer personal relationship with God. When we
speak of the attributes of God we are referring to those qualities of God which
constitute what he is. They are the very characteristics of his nature. The attributes
are permanent qualities. They are essentials and inherent dimensions of his very
nature. Divine attributes, according to Aristotelian conception, are inseparable from
the being and essence of God.

Classifications of Attributes

1. Communicable attributes. They are those qualities of God of which at least a

partial counterpart can be found in his human creations. Example, love, which,
while infinite in God, can be found in man. The incommunicable attributes, on
the other hand, are those unique qualities for which no counterpart can be found
in humans. One example of this is omnipresence of God. God is everywhere
simultaneously. Even with jet and rocket travel, man is incapable of being
everywhere simultaneously.
2. A second pair of categories is the immanent or intransitive and the emanant and
transitive qualities. The former are those which remain within God’s own nature.
His spirituality is an example. Emanant or transitive attributes are those which go
out from and operate outside the nature of God, affecting the creation. God’s mercy
is a transitive attribute. It makes no sense to think or speak of God’s mercy apart
from the created beings to whom he shows mercy.
3. Closely related to the immediately preceding classification and sometimes
combined with it is the distinction between absolute and relative qualities. The
absolute attributes of God are those which he has in himself. He has always
possessed these qualities independently of the objects of his creation. The relative
attributes on the other hand are those which are manifested through his
relationship to other subjects and inanimate objects. Infinity is an absolute
attribute; eternity and omnipresence are relative attributes representing the
relationship of his unlimited nature to the finite objects of his creation.
4. Our final classification is that of natural and moral attributes. The moral
attributes are those which in the human context would relate to the concept of
rightness (as opposed to wrongness). Holiness, love, mercy, and faithfulness are

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examples. Natural attributes are the non-moral superlatives of God, such his
knowledge and power.

The last system with some modifications will be used in this study. Instead
of natural and moral, however, we use the terms attributes of greatness and
attributes of goodness.

Attributes of Greatness

God is spirit; that is, he is not composed of matter and does not possess
physical nature. One consequence of God’s spirituality is that she does not have the
limitations involved with a physical body. For one thing, he is not limited to a
particular or spatial location. Furthermore, he is not destructible, as is material
In biblical times, the doctrine of God’s spirituality was a counter to the practice
of idolatry and of nature worship. God, being spirit, could not be presented by any
physical object or likeness.

Philosophical Theology perceives God as personal. He is an individual being,
with self-consciousness and will, capable of feeling, choosing, and having a reciprocal
relationship with other personal and social beings. Another dimension of God’s
personality is the fact that God has a name. God identifies himself with Moses as “I
Am” or “I Will be.” By this he demonstrates that he is not an abstract, unknowable
being, nor a nameless force but rather it refers to him as a personal God. Further, an
indication of the nature of God is the activity in which he engages. He is depicted as
knowing and communicating with human persons.

A Living God
God is alive. He is characterized by life. His name “I am” indicates that he is a
living God. Not only does this God have life, but he has a kind of life different from
that of every other living being... While other beings have their own life in God, he does
not derive his life from any external source. He is never depicted as having been
brought into being. The adjective “eternal” is applied to him frequently, implying that
there never was a time when he did not exist.

God is infinite. This means not only that God is unlimited, but that he is
illimitable. In this respect, God is unlike anything we experience. Even those things
that common sense once told us are infinite or boundless are now seen to have limits.
The ocean once seemed to be an endless source of good, and a dumping place so vast
that it could not be contaminated. Yet we are becoming aware that its resources and
its ability to absorb pollution are both finite. The infinity of God, however, speaks of a
limitless being.

The infinity of God may be thought of from several angles. We think first in
terms of space. Here we have what has traditionally been referred to as immensity

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and omnipresence. God is not subject to limitations of space. All finite objects have a
location. They are somewhere. With God, however, the question of whereness or
location is not applicable. God is the one who brought space (and time) into being. He
was before there was space. He cannot be localized at a particular point.

God is also infinite in relation to time. Time does not apply to God. He was
before time began. The question, how old is God? Is simply inappropriate. He is no
older now than a year ago. He is simply not restricted by the dimension of time.

God is timeless. He does not grow or develop. There are no variations in his
nature at different points within his existence. He has always been what he is.

Further, the infinity of God may also be considered with respect to objects of
knowledge. His understanding is immeasurable. A further factor, in the light of this
knowledge, is the wisdom of God. Bu this is meant, that God acts in the light of the
facts and in light of correct values. Knowing all things, God knows what is good.

Finally, God’s infinity may also be considered in relationship to what is

traditionally referred to as the omnipotence of God. By this we mean, God is
powerful. God is able to do all things which are proper objects of his power. What he
chooses to do, he accomplishes, for he has the ability to do it.

There are, however, certain qualifications of this all-powerful character of God.

He cannot arbitrarily do anything whatsoever that we may conceive of. He can do only
those things which are objects of his power. Thus, he cannot do the logically absurd or
contradictory. He cannot make square circles or triangles with four corners.

God is described as unchanging. He does not change. The divine constancy
involves several aspects. There is first no quantitative change. God cannot increase in
anything, because he is already perfection. Nor can he decrease, for if he were too, he
would cease to be God. There is no qualitative change. The nature of God does not
undergo modification.


Attributes of Goodness

Moral Qualities

If the Attributes of Greatness we studied in the preceding lesson were God’s

only attributes, he might be conceivably be an immoral or amoral being, exercising his
power and knowledge in a capricious even cruel fashion. But what we are dealing is a
good God, one who can be trusted and loved. He has attributes of goodness as well as
greatness. In this lesson, we will consider his moral qualities, that is, the
characteristics of God as a moral being. For convenient study, we will classify his
basic moral attributes as purity, integrity and love.

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1. Holiness

There are two basic aspects of God’s holiness. The first is his uniqueness. He is
totally separate from all creation. It speaks of “the otherness of God.” This is what
Louis Berhof called the “majesty-holiness” of God. The other aspect of God’s
holiness is his absolute purity and goodness. This means that he is untouched and
unstained by the evil in this world. God’s moral perfection is the standard for our
moral character and the motivation for religious practice. The whole moral code
follows from his holiness.

2. Righteousness

The second dimension of God’s moral purity is his righteousness. This, as it

were, the holiness of God applied to his relationships to other beings. The
righteousness of God means, first of all, that the law of God, being a true
expression of his nature, is as perfect and righteous as he is.

3. Justice

God administers his kingdom in accordance with his law. That is, he requires
that others conform to it. God’s righteousness is his personal or individual
righteousness. His justice is his official righteousness, his requirement that other
moral agents adhere to the standards as well. God is, in other words, like a judge
who as a private person adheres to the law of society, and in his official capacity
administers that same law, applying others.
The justice of God means he is fair in the administration of his law. He does
show favoritism or partiality.


The cluster of attributes which we are here classifying as integrity relates to the
matter of truth. There are three dimensions of truthfulness; 1) genuineness—being
true; 2) veracity—telling the truth; and faithfulness—proving true.

1. Genuineness
In a world in which so much is artificial, our God is real. He is what he
appears to be. God is real; he is not fabricated or constructed or imitation, as
All other claimants to deity.

2. Veracity

Veracity is the second dimension of God’s faithfulness. God represents

things as they really are. Whether he is speaking of himself or part of his
creation, what God is says is the way things really are.

God has appealed to his to his people to be honest in all situations. They
are to be truthful both in what they formally assert and in what they imply.

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3. Faithfulness

If God’s genuineness is a matter of his being true and veracity is his

telling of the truth, then his faithfulness mans that he proves true. God keeps
all his promises. This is a function of his unlimited power.


When we think in terms of God’s moral attributes, perhaps what comes first to
mind is the cluster of attributes we are here classifying as love. Many regard it as the
basic attribute, the very nature or definition of God: God is love! The basic dimension
of God’s love to us are: 1) benevolence 2) grace 3) mercy.

1. Benevolence

Benevolence is a basic dimension of God’s his we mean the concern of God

for the welfare of those whom he loves. He unselfishly seeks our ultimate
welfare. It is agape, not Eros type of love.

2. Grace

Grace is another attribute which is part of the manifold of God’s love. By

this we mean that God deals with his people on the basis of their merit or
worthiness, what they deserve, but simply according to their need; in other
words, he deals with them on the basis of his goodness and generosity.

3. Mercy

God’s mercy is his tender-hearted, loving compassion for his people. It is his
tenderness of heart toward the needy. If grace contemplates man as sinful;
guilty and condemned; mercy sees him as miserable and needy.



The various arguments for the existence of God can be divided into two types:
the ontological arguments and the cosmological arguments for God’s existence. In the
ontological arguments, they focus attention upon the idea of God and proceeds to
unfold its inner implications. However, in the cosmological arguments, they start from
some general nature of the world around us and argue that there could not be a world
with these particular characteristics unless there were also the ultimate reality which
we call “God”. Let us now turn to these.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT – the ontological argument for the existence of

God was first developed by St. Anselm, one of the Christian Church’s most original
thinker and the greatest theologian ever to have been Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Anselm begins by concentrating the Christian concept of God into the

formula” “a being that which nothing greater can be conceived.” It is clear that by
“greater” Anselm means more perfect, rather than spatially bigger. His argument
can be found in the second chapter of his Proslogion. It runs:

Therefore, if that than which a greater cannot be thought is in the

understanding alone, this same thing than which a greater cannot be thought is that
than which a greater can be thought. But obviously this is impossible. Without doubt,
therefore, there exists, both in the understanding and in reality, something than
which greater cannot be thought.” Anselm distinguishes between something, x,
existing in the mind only and it’s existing in reality as well. If the most perfect
conceivable being existed only in the mind, we should then have the
contradiction that is possible to conceive of a yet more perfect being namely, the
same being existing in reality, as well as in the mind. Therefore, the most perfect
conceivable being must exist in reality, as well as in the mind.

The argument has also several other notable forms, in particular, Rene
Descartes has a similar argument which can be found in his fifth Mediations.
According to Descartes, just as one can have a clear and distinct idea of God. And as
Descartes sees it, the idea of God is the idea of a supremely perfect being.
Furthermore, this being can be seen to have “an actual and eternal existence” just as
some number of figures can be seen to have some kind of character or attribute. His
argument run as follows:

“Existence can no more be separated from the essence of God than can its
having its three angles equal to two right angles be separated from the essence of a
rectilinear triangle, or the idea of a mountain from the idea of a valley, and so there is
not any les repugnance to our conceiving a God (tat is, a Being supremely perfect) to
whom existence is lacking (that is to say, to whom a certain perfection is lacking), than
to conceive of a mountain which has not valley.”

The idea of Rene Descartes here seems to be that from the notion of God one
can deduce his existence. God is supremely perfect and must therefore exist.


St. Thomas Aquinas is well known to have offered five ways to proving divine
existence using the cosmological arguments. The First Way argues from the fact of
motion to a Prime Mover. The Second Way argues form the contingent being to a First
Cause. The Third Way argues form the contingent beings to Necessary Being. The
Fourth Way argues degrees of value to Absolute Value and the Fifth Way argues form
the evidences of purposiveness in nature to a Divine Designer.

Argument from Motion – the key term in the First Way is “change or in the Latin of
Aquinas, “motus”. The word motus is sometimes translated as “movement” or
“motion” but “change” is perhaps the best English equivalent. For motus covers what
we should normally call change of quality, change of quantity, and change of location
or place.

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Argument from Cause – the Second Way turns on the notion of causation and
existence. “We never observe, nor ever could,” says Aquinas, “something causing itself
for this would mean that preceded itself, and this is not possible.” According to the
Second Way, then, the mere existence of something requires of cause. And in that
case, says Aquinas, the existence of everything requires a cause that is not itself
caused to exist by anything other than itself. Why? Because if there is no such
cause, then nothing could exist at all, while obviously some things do exist. He

“Now if you eliminate a cause you also eliminate its effects, so that you cannot
have a last cause nor an intermediate one; unless you have a first cause. Given
therefore no stop in the series of causes, and hence no first cause, there would be no
intermediate causes either, and no last effect, and this would be an open mistake.
One is therefore forces to suppose some first cause, to which everyone gives a name
which is God”.

Argument from Contingency of Beings – According to the Second Way, God exists
because the present existence of things depends on the present existence of an
uncaused cause. The Third Way includes this suggestion, but it begins differently
from the Second Way. According to the Third Way, some things come into existence
and pass out of it. Some things, in other words, are generated and corruptible. In
Aquinas’ view, however, if everything were like this, then would now have come a time
when nothing existed at all, not all things are generated and corruptible. Some are
therefore ingenerated and incorruptible, in Aquinas’ terminology, there are necessary

In other words, everything in the world about us is

contingent – that is to say, it is true of each item that is might
not have existed at all or might have existed differently. The
proof of this is that there was a time when it did not exist at
all. The existence of this page is contingent upon the prior
activities of lumberjacks, transport workers, paper
manufacturers, printer, author, and others. Everything points
beyond itself to other things. Argues Aquinas, “If everything
were contingent, there must have been a time when nothing
existed. In this case, nothing could ever have come to exist for
there would have been no casual agency. Since there are
things in existence, there must be something which is not
contingent, which necessary, which cannot exist, and this is
being we call God.”

Argument from the Degrees of Value to Absolute Value – the Fourth Way
recognizes that certain realities can be identified of their own value. But this
concept of value is hierarchical in the sense that one’s degree of value can be
transcended by another. Such as the concept that if there is something or
someone that is good, then there must be better or best. Thus, if there exists a
man who is imperfect, then there must be a higher being that transcends man
who is perfect and recognized with the Highest Value or Absolute Value. This is
only acknowledged to God who is the Absolute Value or the Summum Bonum
(Ultimate Goodness.)

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ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN (OR TELEOLOGICAL) – This argument which is the Fifth
Way of St. Thomas Aquinas has always been the most popular of the theistic
arguments. Perhaps the most famous exposition of the argument from the design is
that of William Paley (1743 – 1805).

Paley’s analogy of the watch conveys the essence of the argument. Suppose
that while walking in a desert place I see a rock lying on the ground and ask myself
how this object came to exist.

I can properly attribute its presence to chance, meaning to say in this case the
operation of such natural forces as wind, rain, heat, frost and volcanic action.
However, if I see a watch lying on the ground I cannot reasonably account for it in a
similar way. A watch consist of a complex arrangement of wheels, cogs, axles, springs
and balances, all operating of time. It would be illogical to attribute the formation and
assembling of these metal parts into a functioning machine to the chance operation of
such factors as wind and rain. We are, therefore, obliged to postulate an intelligent
mind which is responsible for all the phenomenon.
Paley argues that the natural world is a complex a mechanism, and as
manifestly designed, a super intelligent Designer responsible for it. This great
Designer or architect is what we call “God”.



LESSON 1 – Display

We have gone through some arguments for the existence of God and possibly
seen some merits or flaws in these arguments. But the questions we will try to raise
now are: are these arguments really important on the personal level? Are these
essential to our faith-life? In trying to answer these questions, we cannot but take into
the fore the question of what really faith is and its apparent opposition with reason.

The opinion that religious faith as the acceptance of certain beliefs by a

deliberate act of will are those of 17th century French thinkers Blaise Pascal and

1. Pascal’s Wager – Pascal’s best known contribution to philosophy is called “Pascal’s

Wager.” In this section of his Pennees, he speaks about the search for God. For Pascal,
that search is the quest for the meaning of life, because God provides the hope that we
can be redeemed from misery and death. According to him, this search for God
revolves around the idea of a wager, a bet. Thus he said:

“Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wearing that God exists. Let us estimate
these chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose nothing. Wager, then, without
hesitation that he exists.”

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Here, Pascal argues that we ought to be God exists. If we wager our lives that
God exists, we stand to gain eternal salvation if we are right and lose little if we are
wrong. If on the other hand, we wager our lives that there is no God, we stand to gain
little if we are right, but to lose eternal happiness if we are wrong.

In other words, Pascal does not give so much thought in logical demonstration
concerning God’s existence. We only need to bet, to believe that there is a God, to have
faith. We ought to wager that God exists and live accordingly. To do so, his concords,
is not irrational but exactly opposite. In our human situation, it is not given to us to
demonstrate that God exists, and yet an analysis of our predicament suggests that
faith in God is sensible. He believes that, “The heart has its reasons, which reason
does not know.” He goes on to say, “It is the heart which experiences God not the
reason. This is faith: God is felt by the heart, not by the reason.”

2. James’ Will to Believe – William James argues in his famous essay The Will to
Believe (1897) that the existence or non – existence of God, of which there can be no
conclusive evidence either way, is a matter of great importance that anyone who so
desires has to stake his life upon the God – hypothesis. We are obliged to bet our lives
upon either this or the contrary possibility. He says:

“We cannot escape the issue by remaining skeptical and waiting for more light,
because, although we do avoid error in that way if religion be untrue, we lose the good,
if it is true, just as certainly as if positively choose to disbelieve

“If there is a personal God, our unwillingness to proceed on the supposition that he is
real may make it impossible for us to be accepted by him.”

3. Tennent’s View – A more recent philosophical theologian, F.R. Tennent identifies

faith with he element of willing venture in all discovery. Tennent freely allows that
there can be no general guarantee hat faith will be justified. He says, “Hopeful
experimenting has not produced the machine capable of perpetual motion, and
Columbus steered with confidence for Utopia, he would not have found it. “ Faith
always involves risks, but it is only by such risks that human knowledge. He

“The fruitfulness of a belief or of faith for the moral or religious life

is one thing, and the reality or existence of what is ideated and assumed is
another. There are instances in which a belief that is not true, in the sense of
corresponding with fact, may inspire one with lofty ideals and stimulate one
to strive to be a more worthy person.”

4. Tillich’s “Ultimate Concern” – Another philosopher, Paul Tillich, offered his ideas
on the subject. He contrasts two types of philosophy of religion, which he describes as
ontological and cosmological. The latter ( which is associated with Aquinas ) thinks of
God as being “ out there,” to be reached only at the end of a long and hazardous
process of reasoning; to find it him is to meet a Stranger. For the ontological approach,
which Tillich associated with Augustine and Anselm, God is already present to us as
the Ground of our own being. He is identical with us; yet at the same time he infinitely
transcends us. God is not an other, an object which we may know or fail to know, but

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Being- itself, by which we participate by the very fact of existing. To be ultimately

concerned about God is to express our true relationship to Being.

Tillich teaches that “Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned.” Our
ultimate concern is that which determines our being or not-being, not in the sense of
physical existence, but in the sense of”…the reality, the structure, the meaning, and
aim of existence.”

People are, in fact, ultimately concerned about many different things, for
example, their nation, their personal success and status; but these are only primary
concerns, and the elevation of a preliminary concern to the status of ultimacy is
idolatry. Tillich describes ultimate concerns as follows:
“Ultimate concern is the abstract translation of the great commandment: ‘The
Lord, our God is one; and shall love your God with all your heart, and with all your
soul, and with all you mind, and with all your strength.’ The religious concern is
ultimate; it exclude all other concerns from ultimate significance; it makes them
preliminary. The ultimate concern is unconditional, independent of any conditions of
character, desire or circumstances.”

5. Tolstoy’s Power of Life – Count Leo Tolstoy, at one point in his life almost
committed suicide as a result of the senselessness and meaninglessness he finds in
life. In his efforts to find the real meaning of life, he found out that life can only
become meaningful through faith in God. He argues that faith is an irrational
knowledge. But it gives and provides the meaning to life.

It would be best to note that in his search for the meaningfulness of life, he
tried to solicit the help of science and philosophy, for he thought, rational knowledge
might provide the answer for his question concerning life’s meaning. But in all these
efforts, he never succeeded. Let us take a look at an excerpt from his Confessions.

Leo Tolstoy

Life is a meaningless evil – that was incontestable, I said to myself. But I still
lived, still live, and all humanity has lived. How is that possible? Why does it live,
since it can refuse to live? Is it possible Schopenhauer and I alone are so wise as to
have comprehended the meaninglessness and evil of life?

The discussion of the vanity of life is not so cunning, and it has been brought
forward long ago, even by the simplest of men, and yet they have lived and still live.
Why do they continue living and never think of doubting the reasonable of life? …

Thus, outside the rational knowledge, which had to me appeared as the only
one, I was inevitably led to recognize that all living humanity had a certain other
irrational knowledge, faith, which made it possible to live?

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All irrationality of faith remained the same for me, but I could not help
recognizing that it alone gave to humanity answers to the questions of life, and, in
consequences of them, the possibility of living.

The rational knowledge brought me to the recognition that life was meaningless
– my life stopped, and I wanted to destroy myself. When I looked around at people, at
all humanity. I saw that people lived and asserted that they knew the meaning of life. I
looked back at myself: I lived so long as I knew the meaning of life. As to other people,
so even to me, did faith give the meaning of life and the possibility of living?

Looking again at the people of other countries, contemporaries of mine and

those passed away, i saw again the same. Where life had been, there faith, ever since
humanity existed, had given the possibility of living and the chief features of faith were
everywhere one and the same.

…Consequently, in faith alone we find the meaning and possibility of life. What,
THINGS NOY SEEN, AND SO FORTH, NOT REVELATION (that is only the description
of one of the symptoms of faith), NOT THE RELATION OF MAN TO MAN, NOT MERELY


Epicurus unanswered questions; “Is God willing to prevent evil,

But not able? Then is he impotent. Is God able but not willing?
Then is he Malevolent. Is God both able and willing, whence then is evil!”

The Nature of the Problem

We have spoken of the nature of God’s providence and have noted that it is
universal. God is in control of all that occurs. He has a plan for the entire universe
and all of time, and is at work bringing about that good plan. But a shadow falls
across this comforting doctrine: the problem of evil. We are dealing here with a
problem that has occupied the attention of some of the greatest minds of the Christian
church, intellects of such stature as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Contemporary philosophers and theologians as well admit that the problem of evil is
one of the most vexing problems humans face.

The evil that precipitates this dilemma is of two general types: On one hand,
there is what is usually called. . “Natural evil.” This is evil that does not involve human
will and acting, but is merely an aspect of nature which seems to work against man’s

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welfare. There are destructive forces of nature: storms, floods, hurricanes,

earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and the like. These catastrophic
occurrences produce large losses of life as well as property. And much suffering and
loss of human lives are caused by diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and a
host of illnesses.

The other type of evil is termed “moral evil.” These are evils which can be traced
to the choice and action of free moral agents. Here we find war, crime, cruelty,
corruption, class struggles, discrimination, slavery, injustices too numerable to

Themes for Dealing with the Problem of Evil

Admittedly, a total solution to the problem of evil is beyond human ability. So

what we will do here it to present several themes which in combination will help us
deal with the problem. These themes will be consistent with the basic tenets of
philosophical theology.

Evil as a Necessary Accompaniment of the Creation of Man. Archbishop

Desmond Tutu of South Africa used to say: “God created us for freedom. God insists
that we have to be human and to be human is to be free!” Man would not be man if he
did not have free will. This has given rise to the argument that God cannot create a
genuinely free being and at the same time guarantee that this being will always do
exactly what God desires of him. If man is to be truly human, he must have the ability
to desire to have and do things some of which will not be what God wants man to have
and to do. Apparently, God felt that, for reasons which were evident to him but which
we can only partly understand, it was better to make human beings than androids.
And evil was a necessary accompaniment of God’s good plan to make man fully
human and free.

A Reevaluation of What Constitutes Good and Evil. Some of what we term good
and evil may not be that. It is, therefore, necessary to take a hard look at what
constitutes good and evil. We are inclined to identify good with whatever is pleasant to
us at the present and evil, with what is personally unpleasant, uncomfortable or
disturbing. Yet, Philosophical Theology seems to see things somewhat differently.

First, we will briefly consider the divine dimension. Good is not to be defined
in terms of what brings personal pleasure to man in a direct fashion. Good is to be
defined in relationship to the will and being of God. Good is that glorifies him, fulfills
his will, and conforms to his nature.

In considering the divine dimension, we must also take note of the superior
knowledge and wisdom of God. Even in regard to my own welfare, I may not be the
best judge of what is good and what is evil. My judgment is often fallible. It may seem
good to me to eat sweet, sticky candy. But to my dentist, it may seem quite different. It
may seem good and thrilling to a child to use a match as his/her plaything, but to
his/her parents using a match as a playing is entirely different and dangerous matter.

Second, we must consider the dimension of time or duration. Some of the

evils which we experience are actually very disturbing on a short-term basis, but in

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the long term work a much larger good. The pain of the dentist’s drill and the suffering
of post-surgical recovery may seem quite severe evils, but they are in actuality rather
small in light of the long-range effects that flow from them. Philosophical Theology
encourages us to evaluate our present and temporary sufferings and the seeming evils
that befall us sub specie aeternitatis (in the light of eternity).

Third, there is the question of the extent of the evil. We tend to be very
individualistic in our assessment of good and evil. But this is a large and complex
world, and God has many persons to care for. The Saturday downpour that spoils a
family picnic may seem like an evil to me, but be a much greater good to the farmers
whose parched fields need the rains, and ultimately to a much greater number of
people who depend upon the farmers’ crops for food. What is evil from a narrow
perspective may, therefore, be only an inconvenience and, from a larger frame of
reference, a much greater good to a much larger number.

Evil in General as the Result of Sin in General. One cardinal doctrine of

philosophical theology is the fact of racial sin. By this we do not mean the sin of race
against race but rather the fact that the entire human race has sinned and is now
sinful. Philosophical Theology terms this as “The Fall”—man’s first sin, a radical
change took place in the whole universe. In its head, Adam, the entire human race
violated God’s will and fell from the state of innocence in which God had created

Thus, it appears likely that a whole host of natural and moral evils may have
resulted from the sin of mankind. We live in the world which God created, but it is not
quite as it was when God finished it, it is now a fallen and broken world. And part of
the evils which we now experience as a result of the curse of God upon creation.
More serious and more obvious, however, is the effect of the fall in the
promotion of moral evil, that is, evil which is related to human willing and acting.
There is no question that much of the pain and unhappiness of human beings is the
result of moral and natural evils.

Additional reading:

EVIL by David Hume (1711 – 1776)

The whole earth, believe me, Philo, is cursed and polluted (said Demea). A
perpetual war is kindled amongst all living creatures. Necessity, hunger, want,
stimulates the strong and courageous: fear, anxiety, terror, agitate the weak and
infirm. The first entrance into life gives anguish to the newborn infant and to its
wretched parent: weakness, impotence, distress, attend such stage of life and ‘tis at
last finished in agony and horror.
Observe too, says Philo, curious artifices of nature, in order to embitter the life
of every living being. The stronger prey upon the weaker, and keep them in perpetual
terror and anxiety. The weaker too, in their turn, often prey upon the stronger… and
molest them without relaxation. Consider that innumerable race of insects, which
either are bred on the body of each animal, or flying about infix their stings in him.
These insects have others still than themselves, which torment them. And thus on

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each hand, before and behind, above and below, every animal is surrounded with
enemies, which incessantly seek misery and destruction.
Man alone, said Demea, assume to be, in part, an exception to this rule. For by
combination in society, he can easily master lions, tigers, and bears and whose greater
strength and agility naturally enable these to prey upon him.
On the contrary, it is here chiefly, cried Philo, hat the uniform and equal
maxims of nature are most apparent. Man, it is true, can, by combinations surmount
all his real enemies, and become master of the whole animal creations, but does he
not immediately raise up to himself imaginary enemies, the demons of his fancy, who
haunt him with superstitious terrors, and blast every enjoyment in life? His pleasure,
as he imagines, becomes, in their eyes, a crime; his food and repose give them rage
and offense; his very sleep and dreams furnish new materials to anxious fear; and
even death, his refuge from every other ill, presents only the dread of endless and
immeasurable woes. Nor does the wolf molest: more the timid flock, than superstition
does the anxious breast of wretched mortals.
Besides, consider, Demea, this very society, by which we surmount those wild
beats, our natural enemies; what new enemies does it not raise to is? What woe and
misery does it not occasion? Man is the greatest enemy of man. Oppression,
injustices, contempt, violence, sedition, war, treachery, fraud: by these they mutually
torment each other; and they would soon dissolve that society which they had formed,
were it not for the dread of still greater ills, which must attend their separation?
But though those external insults, said Demea, from animals, from men, from
all the elements, which assault is, from a frightful catalogues of woes, they are nothing
in comparison of these which arise within ourselves, from distempered condition of
our mind and body. How many lie under the lingering torment of diseases?... the
disorders of the mind…though more secret, are not perhaps less dismal and vexatious.
Remorse, shame, anguish, rage, disappointment, anxiety, fear, dejection, despair; who
has ever passed through life without cruel inroads from these tormentors? How many
have scarcely every felt better sensations? Labor and poverty, so abhorred by
everyone, are the certain lot of the far greater number; and those few privileged
persons, who enjoy ease and opulence, never reach contempt or true felicity. All the
goods in life united would not make a very happy man: but all the ills united would
make a wretch indeed; and anyone of them almost (and who can possess all), is
sufficient to render life ineligible.
Were a stranger to drop, on a sudden, into this world, I would show him, as a
specimen of its ill, a hospital full of diseases, a prison crowded with malefactors and
debtors, a field of battle, strewed with carcasses, a fleet floundering in the ocean, a
nation languishing under tyranny, famine, or pestilence. To turn the gay side of life to
him, and give him a notion of its pleasures, whither should I conduct him? To a ball,
to an opera, to court? He might justly think that I was just showing him a diversity of
distress and sorrow…
Ask yourself, ask any of your acquaintances, whether they would live over again
the last ten or twenty years of their lives. No! but the next twenty, they say, will be

And from the drags of life, hope to receive

What the first sprightly running could not give.

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Thus at last they find (such is the greatest of human misery: it reconciles even
contradictions) that they complain, at once, of the shortness of life, and of its vanity
and sorrow.
And is it possible, Cleanthes, said Philo, that after all these reflections, and
infinitely more, which might be suggested, you can still persevere in you
anthropomorphism, and assert the moral attributes of the Deity, his justice,
benevolence, mercy, and rectitude, to be of the same nature with these virtues in
human creatures? His power we allow infinite; whatever he wills is executed: but
neither man nor any other animal is happy: therefore he does not will their happiness.
His wisdom is infinite: he is never mistaken in choosing the means to any end: but the
course of nature tends not to human or animal felicity: therefore it is not established
for that purpose. Through the whole compose of human knowledge, there are no
inferences more certain and infallible than these. In what respect, then do his
benevolence and mercy resemble the benevolence and mercy of men?
Epicurus’s old questions are yet unanswered.
Is he willing to prevent evil, but notable? Then is he impotent? Is he able but
not willing, then he is malevolent? Is he both able willing? Whence then is evil?...


This Module deals with the meaning of human condition and the quest of man
for meaning in life. In this chapter, we shall attempt to view man’s quest for meaning
through the theory of Logotherapy by Viktor Frankl, Individualism by Ayn Rand,
Alienated Labor by Karl Marx, and Having and Being by Erich Fromm.
It focused also on man’s relationship into the world especially on His work and
to his society.

This module contains the following:

Lesson 1: Man and His Work with readings on Karl Marx’s “Alienated
Labor” and Ayn Rand’s “Individualism” theory.

Lesson 2: Man and His quest for Meaning, with readings on Viktor
Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, and Erich Fromm’s “Having and



After studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Know Man’s human nature and how to find meaning into it.
2. Understand man’s view of work and how through it, man will find
meaningful life.
An individual’s innate desire to know prompts him to search for truth and
meaning. This intellectual search is inevitable insofar as man is always bewildered by
the tremendous paradox of human life. According to Florentino Timbreza, “to
philosophize means to search for meaning, and philosophy is understood as man’s
intellectual search for the ultimate meaning of human existence.” Indeed, it is precisely

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because human life is a great problem that every individual feels the need to search
for an answer and this intellectual quest is known as philosophy.

To search for meaning is to know first the condition of man and how
meaningful are the human nature in the concrete human existence.

Human condition we mean; It encloses the somatic, behavioral, and attitudinal

levels of human nature. In other words, human condition absorbs and embraces the
totality of human nature.

Secondly, by human condition is meant the state of being human. If this is

expressed in a form of a question it shall posit the question “how is it to be human/”
The “how” to be human presupposes the state of being human. Thus, to talk of
human condition is to consider how man exist and lives distinctively as a human
Thirdly, if man has a distinctive way of existing and living how does man realize
this? Human condition requires not only an understanding of the state of being
human, but also of the meaning of being human.
Man should encounter the sense, purpose, and direction of being human so
that man’s existence could have meaning. Otherwise, human existence will become
nothing else but a mere absurdity.


On account of man as the shepherd of being, the builder of the world, and the
gardener of the world, man, in the Christian perspective, is also called God's co-
creator of the world. It is in view of man as the worker that all these are realized.
Work is one of the basic aspects of the human person's being-with-others-in-
the-world. Through work, the network of human relatedness is well-expressed. Thus,
man works in order to supply his needs and the heeds of mankind. We cannot deny
the social implications of work inasmuch as everything which man does always bears
an inherent social character.
But what is the meaning of work? What are its kinds? And what are its
Christian implications?


Work means any activity of man whereby man exerts physical and/or other
powers in order to make something. By dint of work, man exerts effort for the purpose
of the production of goods. Holistically, work involves the whole human person. Work,
therefore, is not just a mere human activity; it is a personal human activity. It is the
whole person that works and not just man's hands, feet, eyes, or body. Since man as a
person is an embodied subjectivity, it is the whole man who is involved in work.
Glenn, a recognized Catholic author, has this to say:

All human effort unites in different proportions the activities of the

body (muscular effort), intellect (mental effort), and will (moral effort).
And any human effort, no matter what proportion of muscle, mind,
and will will be nvolved, which tends partially or entirely to the

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production. , of goods, utilities, commodities, values... is labor or


If work, in the strict sense of the word, involves body, intellect, and will, then,
work is distinctly a human activity. Thus, non-human creatures do not work since
they do not have both intellect and will. They only act in accordance with their instinct
patterned according to God's plan and purpose of His creation. To this, Pope John
Paul II in his encyclical letter "On Human Work" says the following:

Work is one of the characteristics that distinguishes man from the

rest of the creature whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be
called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works at the
same time by work bears a particular mark of a person operating
within a community

As a distinctly personal human activity, work identifies man in his dignity.

Through work, man establishes a sense of superiority over and above other creatures,
since, through it, man produces his own food. Man works in order for him to live.
Work then is a basic dimension of human existence. Man's life is built up everyday.
From work it derives its specific “dignity” says the author of the encyclical letter, “On
Human Work.”

Aside from considering work as something which specifies human dignity, work
can also be understood as a sacred call from God. It is not true that work originates as
God's punishment to man's first parents so that labor is treated of as a consequence of
sin. This means that even if man did not sin, he would still be inclined to work.
According to Pope Leo XI11: "Man, even before the fall, was not destined to be wholly
idle, Likewise, St. Thomas Aquinas argues that man has a natural inclination towards
work. God, through work, invites man to be His co-creator. Indeed, by his work, man
becomes God's co-creator. Thus, it is in the spectrum of Christian belief that man has
to work hard in order for him to be really God's co-creator as he paints and beautifies
the world.

Further, work can also be considered as the founding entity of man and society.
It is impossible for man to live and exist if man does not work. St. Paul, in the Bible,
makes it clear: "He who does not work should not eat.” Besides, if man works, it would
be impossible also that his produce is only intended for his own satisfaction. In this
case, work bears within itself a two-fold aspect, namely: individual or personal and
social. It is personal m the sense that the individual human person exerts his powers
for the production of goods. It is social in the sense that the State will benefit from the
produce of man's work. Besides, the products of human effort will make the common
good more secure.


Everything that man does which involves the process of producing the goods
and services that mankind needs and desires is work. In this process, work can be
classified into several kinds, to wit: manual, clerical, professional, management,
entrepreneurial, invention, and intellectual.

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Manual work is the most common form of work. Almost everybody who is
physically fit to work can engage in this kind of work. Clerical work, more or less, can
be acquired through a specialized clerical course. Professional work refers to the work
which is done by learned individuals who are college graduates or those who are
holding post graduate degrees, e-g- journalist, businessman, surgeon, lawyer,
clergyman, physician, teacher, etc. Work of management refers to the work which is
done by managers, superintendents, etc. in various industries. Likewise, capital
owners also engage in this kind of work. Work of enterpriser refers to the work which
is done by small-scale business oriented individuals who set to establish their own
business. Work of invention refers to that kind of work which is done by scientists in
their laboratories. This kind of work obviously requires a lot of brains and creativity.
Intellectual work is usually attributed to the thinkers who are labeled as scholars,
philosophers, including scientists.


The Bible does not say that man should do nothing except work. In fact, the
Bible even narrates that God "rested" on the seventh day- This implies that the worker
is more important than his work. It is true that after the Fall, work becomes
compulsory to man. Had man remained innocent, work should have been his
delightful concern- After the Fall, man assumes his lot to work so that he can sustain
himself. But this does not mean that man is cursed by God so that he should do
nothing but work.

It is a fundamental fact that the human person, who is the worker, is more
important than his work. When work is overemphasized than the worker, the worker
would find his work meaningless. It is man's sense of responsibility that makes work
meaningful. And man can only find an authentic sense of responsibility when his work
is always intertwined with his belief in God.

To the Christian, work is performed as a service to God. It is the attitude of the

Christian that work is his grateful response to God who is the Creator and Sustainer
of his life. The Christian is not ashamed of his work since the nature of his work is not
important because for him what is important is his linkage to God in his work. In this
light, the Christian believes that through his work, he glorifies God. Work, then, for
the Christian is service both to God and to man.

Suffice it to say that for the Christian, each man is called by God to work (so
that man acts as His co-creator) and that any kind of work is man’s active service to
God, his Creator, his Redeemer, and Sustainer.


1. Work refers to any activity which man does through which he exerts
physical and/or other efforts in order to produce or to make something.

2. Work involves the whole human person since man is an embodied

subjectivity; the self or the whole man/ therefore/ cannot be dichotomized
from work.

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3. Since work involves not only the human body but also man's intellect and
will/ work is exclusive to man. This is underscored by Pope Paul II in his
encyclical letter titled: “On Human Work".

4. Through work, man establishes his dignity. Through work man produces his
own food and thereby makes himself superior over other creatures which
cannot, on their own accord, produce their own food.

5. Work is not a curse from God due to human sinfulness since, even if man
did not sin, man is still inclined to work- This is emphasized by both
St.Thomas Aquinas and Pope Leo XIII.

6. Work is the founding entity on man and society; work has a two-fold aspect,
viz.: personal and social.

7. There are several kinds of work, to wit: manual, clerical, professional,

management, enterpriser, invention, and intellectual.

For the Christian, the worker is more important than work. Work is man's service to
God; it is man's grateful response to God his Creator and Sustainer. The Christian is
not ashamed of the nature of his work because he finds God m his work. Work is
man’s way of glorifying God; it is his gesture of service to both God and his fellowman.

Karl Marx

The worker becomes poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production
increases in power and extent. The worker becomes a cheaper commodity the more
commodities he produces. The increase in the value of the world of things is directly
proportional to the decrease in the value of human world. Labor not only produces
commodities. It also produces itself and the worker as a commodity, and indeed in the
same proportion as its produces commodities in general.

This fact simply indicates that the object which labor produces, its product,
stands opposed to it as an alien thing, as a power independent of the producer. The
product of labor is labor embodied and made objective in a thing. It is the objectification
of labor. The realization of labor is its objectification. In the viewpoint of political
economy, this realization of labor appears as the diminution of worker, objectification as
the loss of subservience to the object, and the appropriation as alienation (Entfremdung),
as externalization (Entausserung).

So much the realization of labor appear as diminution that worker is diminished

to the point of starvation. So much does objectification appear as loss of the object that
the worker robbed of the most essential objects that not only of life but also of work.
Indeed, work itself becomes a thing of which he can take possession only with the
greatest effort and with the most unpredictable interruptions. So much does the
appropriation of the object appear as alienation that the more objects the worker
produces, the fewer he can own and more he falls under the domination of his product,
of capital.

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All these consequences follow from the fact that the worker is related to the
product of his labor as to an alien object. For it is clear according to this premise: The
more the workers exert himself, the more powerful becomes the alien objective world
which he fashions against himself, the poorer he and his inner world become, the less
there is that belongs to him. It is the same in religion. The more man attributes to God,
the less he retains himself. The worker puts his life into the object; then it no longer
belongs to him but to the object. The greater this activity, the poorer is the worker. What
the product of his work is, he is not. The greater this product is, the smaller he is
himself. The externalization of the worker in his product means not only that his work
becomes an object, an external existence, but also that its exist outside him
independently, alien, an autonomous power, opposed to him. The life he has given to the
object confronts his as hostile and alien…

Up to now we have considered the alienation, the externalization of the worker

only from one side: his relationship to the products of his labor. But alienation is shown
not only in the result but also in the process of production, in the producing activity itself.
How could the worker stand in an alien relationship to the product of his creativity if he
did not alienate himself from himself in the very act of production? After all, the product
is only the resume of activity, of production. If the product of work is externalization:
production itself must be active externalization, externalization of activity. Only
alienation- -and externalization in the activity of labor itself - - is summarized in the
alienation of the object of labor.

What constitutes the externalization of labor?

First is the fact that labor is external to the laborer - - that is, it is not part of his
nature - - and that the worker does not affirm himself in his work but denies himself,
feels miserable and unhappy, develops no free physical and mental energy but mortifies
his flesh and ruins his mind. The worker, therefore, feels at ease only outside work, and
during work he is outside himself. He is at home when he is not working and when he is
working he is not at home. His work, therefore, is not voluntary, but coerced, forced
labor. It is not the satisfaction of a need but only a means to satisfy other needs. Its
alien character is obvious from the fact that as soon as no physical or other pressure
exist, labor is avoided like the plague. External labor, labor in which man is
externalized, is labor of self-sacrifices, of penance. Finally, the external nature of work
for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his own but another person’s, that in
work he does not belong to himself but to someone else. In religion the spontaneity of
human imagination, the spontaneity of human brain and heart, acts independently of
the individual as an alien, divine or devilish activity. It belongs to another. It is the loss
of his own self.

The result, therefore, is that man ( the worker) feels that he is acting freely only
in his animal functions - - eating, drinking, and procreating, or at most in his shelter and
finery - - while in his human functions he feels only like an animal. The animalistic
becomes the human and the human the animalistic.

To be sure, eating, drinking and procreating are genuine human functions. In

abstraction, however, and separated from the remaining sphere of human of human
activities and turned into final and sol ends, they are animal functions.

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We have considered labor, the act of alienation of practical human activity, in two
Aspects: (1) the relationship of the worker to the product of labor as an alien object
dominating him. This relationship is at the sane time the relationship to the sensuous
external world, to natural objects as an alien world hostile to him: (2) the relationship of
labor to the act of production in labor. This relationship is that of the worker to his own
activity as alien and not belonging to him, activity as passivity, power as weakness,
procreation as emasculation, the worker’s own physical and spiritual energy, his
personal life - - for what else is life but activity - as an activity turned against him,
independent of him, and not belonging to him. SELF-ALIENATION, as against the
alienation of the object, stated above.

A direct consequences of man’s alienation from the product of his work, from his
life activity, and from his species-existence, is the ALIENATION OF MAN FROM MAN.
When man confronts himself, he confronts other men. What holds true of man’s
relationship to his work, to the product of his work, and to himself, also holds true of
man’s relationship to other men, to their labor, and the object of their labor.

Summary of Marx Ideas Related to Work

1. The need for a classless economic society. Marx claims that as it is, there is a
society of oppressors versus the oppressed, the exploiters versus the exploited.
Hence, the history of class struggle is society.
2. Religion is man’s opium for it only creates a world of illusion for men who
cannot fond his happiness in this world.
3. society should be changed, but philosophizing is inadequate, action is called
4. This action is a form of social revolution led by the proletariat, the oppressed
class. This revolution can be done by the abolishing private properties.
5. The reason for this that the fundamental form of human work is not thought
but manual labor, the product of which is self- alienation in the present society,
does not belong to the laborer. By the dialectic movement of the historical
process, the way to communism is paved.
6. The capitalist system exploits the workers for the capitalist does not pay the
workers the full value of the commodity he produces. The system itself is
fraudulent, even with the payment of higher wages. The system must be
7. Man is not primarily contemplative but active. His activity is in the production
of goods to answer his basic needs. This process goes on and on as there are
always fresh needs to be satisfied. This, of course, involves social relations
among men and contains the whole history as well as the philosophy of man.

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Ayn Rand

“I am. I think. I will…

“What must I say besides? These are the words. This is the answer.

“stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms.
This - - my body and spirit - - this is the end of the quest. I wished I know the meaning
of things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for
being, and no word of sanction upon being. I am the warrant and the sanction….

“I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a
speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is
possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My
happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own

“Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a
tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds.
I am not a sacrifice on their altars…

“I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them. I none to life for
me, nor do I live for any others. I covet no man’s soul nor is my soul theirs to covet.

“I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers, but such as each of them shall
deserve of me. And to earn my love, my brothers must do ore than have been born. I do
not grant my love without reasons, nor to any chance passer - - by who may wish to
claim it. I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.

“I shall choose friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters. A shall choose
only such as please me, and them I shall love and respect, neither command nor obey.
And we shall join our hands when we wish, or stand alone when we so desire. For in
the temple of his spirit, each man is alone. Let each man keep his temple untouched and
undefiled. Then let him join hands with others if he wishes, but only beyond his holy

“For the word “WE” must near be spoken, save by one’s choice and as a second
thought. This word must near be placed first within man’s soul else it becomes monster,
the root of all the evils on earth, the root cause man’s torture by men, and of an
unspeakable lie.

“For the word “WE” is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens stone,
and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost
equally in the gray of it. It is word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by
which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fool steal the wisdom of the

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“What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my
wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even
the botched and the impotent, are masters? What is life, if I am but to bow, to agree, and
to obey?

“But I am done with creed corruption.

“I am done with the monster of “WE”, the word of serfdoms, of plunder, of misery,
falsehood and shame.

“And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom
men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace
and pride.

“This god, this one word: I”



After studying this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Know the fact that man faced a lot of struggles in life.

2. Understand how man can use these struggles on his quest for the
real meaning of human existence.


The task in this portion of the manual is not to show the human existence as
such is meaningful; instead, it is to show the fact of the man quest towards finding
and realizing the meaning of human existence.
But is it a human imperative that a man should find meaning in his existence.
Can man impose a meaning in his existence? Is the meaning of human existence
something to be made or to be found? Can man finds meaningful life amidst various
kinds of crises?
It is in this philosophical questions that Viktor Frankl found meaning in life.
He has proven that man can surpass different kinds of turmoils in life. What Frankl
has shown is that man can develop an ability or skill to handle whatever pain, be it
dire poverty, hardship, suffering, and frustration which man encounters in life.
Exactly, it is his dehumanizing behind-bars experiences in the Nazi prison camps that
prompted him to found logotherapy.
Let us read the following excerpts from the book of Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s
Search For Meaning”…

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Viktor Frankl

The Meaning of Life

I doubt whether a doctor can answer this question in general terms. For the
meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day, and from hour to hour. What
matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning
of a person’s life at a given moment. To put the question in general terms would be
comparable to the question posed to chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the
best move in the world?” There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good
move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of
one’s opponent. The same holds for human existence. One should not search for an
abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to
carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be
replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his
specific opportunity to implement it.

As each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents problem for
him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reserved. Ultimately,
man should not ask what meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is
HE who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to
life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
Thus, Logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence.

The Essence of Existence

This emphasis on responsibleness is reflected in the categorical imperative of

NOW!”. It seems to me that there is nothing which would stimulate a man’s sense of
responsibleness more than this maxim, which invites him to imagine first that the
present is past, and second, that the past may yet to be changed and amended. Such
a precept confronts him with life’s finiteness as well as the finality of what makes out
of both his life and himself.

Logotherapy tries to make the patient fully aware of his own responsibleness:
therefore, it must leave to him the option for what, to what, on to whom he
understands himself to be responsible. That is why a logotherapist is the least tempted
of all psychotherapist to impose value judgments on his patients, for he will never
permit the patient to pass to the doctor the responsibility of judging.

It is therefore up to the patient to decide whether he should interpret his life

task as being responsible to society or to his own conscience. There are people,
however who do not interpret their own lives merely in terms of a task assigned to
them but also in terms of the taskmaster who has assigned it to them.

Logotherapy is neither teaching nor preaching. It is far removed from logical

reasoning as it is from moral exhortation. To put it figuratively, the role played by a
logotherapist is that of an eye specialist rather than that of a painter. A painter tries to

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convey to us a picture of the world as he sees it; an ophthalmologist tries to enable us

to see the world as it really is. The logotherapist’s role consist of widening and
broadening the visual field of the patient so that the spectrum of potential meaning
becomes conscious and visible to him.

By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning
of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world
rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have
termed this constitutive characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.” It
denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something, or
someone, other than oneself – be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to
encounter. The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause to serve or
another person to love – the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself.
What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason
that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-
actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.

Thus far we have shown that the meaning of life always changes, but that it
never ceases to be. According logotherapy, we can discover this meaning in life in
three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing
something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward
unavoidable suffering. The first, the way of achievement or accomplishment, is quite
obvious. The second and third need further elaboration.

The second way of finding a meaning in life is by experiencing something- -

such as goodness, truth and beauty - - by experiencing nature and culture or, last but
not the least, by experiencing another n human being in his very uniqueness - - by
loving him.

The Meaning of Love

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the inner core of his
personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human
being unless he loves him. By his love he is enable to see the essential traits and
features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him,
which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love,
the loving person enables the beloved person to actualized these potentialities. By
making him aware of what he can be and of what and how he should become, he
makes these potentialities come true.

In logotherapy, love is not interpreted as a mere epiphenomenon of sexual dries

and instincts in the sense of a so-called sublimation. Love is a primary a phenomenon
as sex. Normally, sex is a mode of expression for love. Sex is justified, even sanctified,
as soon as, but only as long as, it is vehicle of love. Thus, love is not understood as
mere side-effect of sex; rather, sex is a way of expressing the experience of that
ultimate togetherness which is called love.

The third way of finding a meaning in life is by suffering.

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The Meaning of Suffering

We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when
confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For
what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best,
which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament
into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change a situation – just
think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer – we are challenged to change

Let me cite a clear-cut example: Once, elderly general practitioner consulted me

because if his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who have
died two years ago and whom he had loved above all else. Now, how could I help him?
What should I tell him? Well, I refrained from telling him anything bit instead
confronted him with the question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had
died first and your wife would have had to survive you?” “oh”, “he said,” for her this
would have been terrible; how she would have suffered! “Whereupon I replied, “ You
see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared
her this suffering – to be sure, at the price that now you have to survive and mourn
her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left my office. In some way,
suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the
meaning of a sacrifice.

Of course, this was no therapy in the proper sense since first, his despair was
no disease; and second, I could not change his fate; I could not revive his wife. But in
that moment, I did succeed in changing his attitude toward his unalterable fate in as
much as from that time on he could at least see a meaning in his suffering. It is one of
the basic tenets of Logotherapy that man’s main concern as not to gain pleasure or to
avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to
suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has meaning…

There are situations in which one is cut off from the opportunity to do one’s
work or to enjoy one’s life; but what never can be ruled out is the unavoidability of
suffering. In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning literally to
the end. In other words, life’s meaning is an unconditional one, for it even includes the
potential meaning of unavoidable suffering.

Let me recall that which was perhaps the deepest experience I had in the
concentration camp. The odds of surviving the camp were no more than one in twenty-
eight, as can easily be verified by exact statistics. It did not even seem possible, let
alone probable, that the manuscript of my first book, which I had hidden in my coat
when I arrived at Auschwitz, would ever be rescued. Thus, I had to undergo and to
overcome the loss of my mental child. And now it seemed as if nothing and no one
would survive me; neither a physical nor mental child of my own! So I found myself
confronted with the question whether under such circumstances my life was
ultimately void of any meaning.

Nor yet did I notice that an answer to this question with which I was wrestling
so passionately was already in store for me, and that soon thereafter this answer
would be given to me. This was the case when I had to surrender my clothes and in

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turn inherited the worn=out rags of an inmate who had already been sent to the gas
chamber immediately after his arrival at the Auschwitzs railway station. Instead of the
many pages of my manuscript, I found in the pocket of the newly acquired coat one
single page torn out a Hebrew prayer book, containing the most important Jewish
prayer, Shema Ysrael. How should I have interpreted such a “coincidence” other than
as a challenge to lie my thoughts instead of merely putting them on paper?

A bit later, I remember, it seemed to me that I would die in the near future. In
this critical situation, however, my main concern was different form that of most of my
comrades. Their question was, “Will we survive the camp? For, if not, all this suffering
has no meaning.” The question which beset me was. “Has all this suffering, this dying
around us, a meaning? For a life whose meaning depends upon such a happenstance
– as whether one escapes or not – ultimately would not be worth living at all.”

So, for Frankl, man can find meaning in his existence in a three-fold manner,
1. By doing a life-project;
2. By experiencing value, particularly in the context of love; and
3. By finding meaning in suffering.


From “To have or to be”
Erich Fromm

Because the society we live in is devoted to acquiring property and making a

profit, we rarely see any evidence of the being mode of existence and most people see
the having mode as the most natural mode of existence, even the only acceptable way
of life. All of which makes it especially difficult for people to comprehend the nature of
the being mode, and even to understand that having is only one possible orientation.
Nevertheless, theses two concepts are rooted in human experience. Neither in should
be, or can be, examined in an abstract, purely cerebral way; both are reflected in our
daily life and must be dealt with concretely. The following simple examples of how
having and being are demonstrated in everyday life may help readers to understand
these two alternative modes of existence.


Student in the having mode of existence will listen to a lecture, hearing the
words and understanding their logical structure and their meaning and, as best they
can, will write down every word 8iin their loose-leaf notebooks – so that, later on, they
can memorize their notes And thus pass an examination. But the content does not
become part of their own individual system of thought, enriching and widening it.
Instead, they transform the words they hear into fixed clusters of thought, or whole
theories, which they store up. The students has become the owner of a collection of
statements made by somebody else (who has either created them or taken them over
from another source).

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Students in the having mode have but one aim: to hold onto what they
“learned” either by entrusting it firmly to their memories or by carefully guarding their
notes. They do not have to produce or create something new. In fact, the having- type
individuals feel rather disturbed by new thoughts or ideas about a subject, because
the new puts into question the fixed sum of information they have…

The process of learning has an entirely different quality for students in the
being mode of relatedness to the world. To begin with, they do not go to the course of
lectures, even to the first one in a course, as “tabulae rasae”. They have thought
beforehand about the problems the lectures will be dealing with and have in mind
certain questions and problems of their own. They have been occupied with the topic
and it interest them Instead of being passive receptacles of words and ideas, they
listen, they hear, and most important, they receive and they respond in an active,
productive way. What they listen to stimulates their own thinking process. New
questions, new ideas, new perspectives arise in their minds. Their listening is an alive
process. They listen with interest, hear what lecturer says and spontaneously come to
life in response to what they hear. They do not simply acquire knowledge that they can
take home and memorize. Each student has been affected and has changed. Each is
different after the lecture than he or she was before it. Of course, this mode of learning
can prevail only if the lecture offers stimulating material. Empty talk cannot be
responded to in the being mode, and in such circumstances, students in the being
mode find best not to listen at all, but to concentrate on their own thought processes.


The difference between the having and being modes can be easily observed in
two examples of conversations. Let us take a typical conversational debate between
two men in which A has opinion X and B has opinion Y. Each identifies with his own
opinion. What matters to each is to find better, i.e., more reasonable, arguments to
defend his opinion. Neither expects to change his own opinion or that his opponent’s
opinion will change. Each is afraid of changing his own opinion, precisely because it is
one of his possessions, and hence its loss would mean an impoverishment.

The situation is somewhat different in a conversation that is not meant to be a

debate. Who has not experienced meeting a person distinguished by prominence or
fame or even by real qualities, or a person of whom one wants something; a good job.
To be loved, to be admitted? In such circumstances, many people tend to be at last
mildly anxious, and often they “prepare” themselves for the important meeting. They
think of topics that might begin the conversation; some even map out the whole
conversation, as far as their own part is concerned.

Or they may bolster themselves up by thinking about what they have: their past
successes, their charming personality (or their intimidating personality if this role is
more effective), their social position, their connections, their appearance and dress. In
a word, they mentally balance their worth, and based one this evaluation, they display
their wares in the ensuing conversation. The person who is very good at this will
indeed impress many people, although the created impression is only partly due to the
individual’s performance and largely due to poverty of most people’s judgment. If the

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performer is not so clear, however, the performance will appear wooden, contrived,
boring and will not elicit much interest.

In contrast are those who approach a situation by preparing nothing in

advance, not bolstering themselves up in any way. Instead, they respond
spontaneously and productively; they forget about themselves, about the knowledge,
the positions they have. Their egos do not stand in their own way, and it is precisely
for this reason that they can fully respond to the other person and that person’s ideas.
They give birth to new ideas, because they are not holding onto anything. While the
having person rely on what they HAVE, the being persons rely on the fact that they
ARE, that they are alive and that something new will be born if only they have the
courage to let go and to respond. They come fully alive in the conversation, because
they do not stifle themselves by anxious concern with that they have. Their own
aliveness is infectious and often helps the other person to transcend his or her
egocentricity. Thus the conversation ceases to be exchange of commodities
(information, knowledge, status) and becomes a dialogue in which it does not matter
any more who is right. The duelists begin to dance together, and they part not with
triumph or sorrow – which are equally sterile – but with joy. The essentials factor in
psychoanalytic therapy is this enlivening quality of the therapist. No amount of psycho
analytic interpretation will have an effect if the therapeutic atmosphere is heavy,
unalive, and boring.


What holds true for a conversation holds equally true for reading, which is – or
should be – a conversation between the author and the reader. Of course, in reading (
as well as in personal conversation) whom I read from (or talk with) is important.
Reading an artless, cheap novel is a form of daydreaming. It does not permit
productive response; the text is swallowed like television show, or the potato chips one
munches while watching TV. But novel, says Balzac, can be read with inner
participation, productively – that is, in the mode of being. Yet probably most of the
time it is also read in the mode of consuming – in having. Their curiosity having been
aroused, the readers want to know the plot: whether the hero dies or lives, whether
the heroine is seduced or resist; they want to know the answer. The novel serves as a
kind of foreplay to excite them; the happy or unhappy end culminates their
experience: when they know the end, they HAVE the whole story, almost as real as if
they rummaged in their own memories. But they have not enhanced their knowledge;
they have not understood the person in the novel and this have not deepened their
insight into human nature, or gained knowledge about themselves.

The modes of reading are the same with regard to a book whose theme is
philosophy of history. The way one reads a philosophy or history book is formed – or
better, deformed – by education. The school aims to give each student a certain
amount of cultural property, and at the end of their schooling certifies the students as
having at least the minimum amount. Students are taught to read a book so that they
can repeat the author’s main thoughts. This is how the students “know” Plato,
Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant Heidegger, Sartre. The difference between
various level of education from high school to graduate school is mainly in the amount
of cultural property that is acquired, which corresponds roughly to the amount of
material property the students may be expected to own in later life. the so-called

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excellent students are the ones who can most accurately repeat what each of various
philosophers had to say. They are like a well-informed guide at a museum. What they
do not learn is that which goes beyond this kind of property of knowledge. They do not
learn to question philosophers, to talk to them; they do learn to be aware of the
philosophers’ own contradictions, of their leaving out certain problems or evading
issues; they do not learn to distinguish between what was new and what the authors
could not help thinking because it was the “ common sense” of their time; they do not
learn to hear so that they are able to distinguish when the authors speak only from
their brain and when their brain and heart speak together; they do not learn to
discover whether the authors are authentic or fake; and many more things.

The mode of being readers will often come to the conclusion that even a highly
praised book is entirely without or of very limited value, or they may have fully
understood a book, sometime better than had the author, who may have considered
everything he or she wrote being equally important.


In a religious, political, or personal sense the concept of faith can have two
entirely different meanings, depending upon whether it is used in the having mode or
in the being mode.

Faith, in the having mode, is the possession of an answer for which one has no
rational proof. It consist of formulation created by others, which one accepts because
one submits to those others – usually a bureaucracy. It carries the feeling of certainly
because of the real (or only imagined) power of the bureaucracy. It is the entry ticket
to join a large group of people. It relieves one of the hard task of thinking for oneself
and making decisions. One becomes one of the “beati possidentes”, the happy owners
of the right faith. Faith, in the having mode, gives certainty; it claims to pronounce
ultimate, unshakeable knowledge, which is believable because the power of those who
promulgate and protect the faith seems unshakeable. Indeed, who would not choose
certainty, if all it requires is to surrender one’s independence?

God, originally a symbol for the highest value that we can experience within us,
becomes in the having mode, an idol. In the prophetic concept, an idol is a thing that
we ourselves make and project our own power into, thus impoverishing ourselves. We
then submit to our creation and by our submission are in touch with ourselves in an
alienated from. While I can HAVE the idol because it is a thing, by submission to it, IT,
simultaneously, has ME, once He has become an idol, God’s alleged qualities have as
little to do with my personal experience as alienated political doctrines do. The idol
may be praised as lord of mercy, yet any cruelty may be committed in its name, just as
the alienated faith in the human solidarity may not even raise doubts about
committing the most inhuman acts. Faith, in the having mode, is a crutch for those
who want to be certain, those who want an answer to life without daring to search for
it themselves.

In the being mode, faith is an entirely different phenomenon. Can we live

without faith? Must not the nursling have faith in its mother’s breast? Must we all not
have faith in other beings, in those whom we love, and in ourselves? Can we live

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without faith in the validity of norms for our life? Indeed, without faith we become
sterile, hopeless, afraid to the very core of our being.

Faith, in the being mode, is not, in the first place, a belief in certain ideas
(although it may be that, too) but an inner orientation, an attitude. It would be better
to say that one is IN FAITH than that one HAS FAITH. (The theological distinction
between faith that IS belief [ fides qua creditor] and faith As belief [fides qua criditur]
reflects a similar distinction between the content of faith and the act of faith.) one can
be in faith with oneself and toward others, ad the religious person can be in faith
toward god. The god of the old testament is, first of all, a negation of idols, of gods
whom one can have. Though conceived in analogy to an Oriental king, the concept of
god transcends itself from the very beginning. God must not have a name; no image
must be made of god.

My faith in myself, in another, in human kind, in our capacity to become fully

human also implies certainty, but certainty based on my own experience and not on
my submission to an authority that dictates a certain belief. It is certainty of a truth
that cannot be proven by rationally compelling evidence, yet truth I am certain of
because of my experiential, subjective evidence. ( the Hebrew word for faith is
EMUNAH, “certainty, AMEN means “certainly”.

If I am certain of a man’s integrity remains inviolate to the time of his death,

even which would not exclude a positivistic standpoint that he might have violated it
had he lived longer. My certainty rests upon the knowledge in depth I have of the other
and of my own experience of love and integrity. This kind of knowledge is possible only
to the extent that I can drop my own ego and see the other man in his suchness,
recognize the structure of forces in him, see him in his individuality and at the same
time in his universal humanity. Then I know what the other can do, what he cannot
do, and what he will not do. Of course, I do not mean by this that I could predict all
his future behavior, but only the general lines of behavior that are rooted in basic
character traits, such as integrity, responsibility, etc.

This faith if based on facts, hence, it is rational. But the facts are not
recognizable or “provable” by the method of conventional, positivistic psychology; I, the
alive person, am the only instrument that can “register” them.


Loving also has two meanings, depending upon whether it is spoken of in the
mode of having or in the mode of being.

Can we HAVE love? If we could, love would need to be a thing, a “love.” “love is
an abstraction, perhaps a goddess or an alien being, although nobody has ever seen
this goddess. In reality, there exists only the ACT OF LOVING. To love is productive
activity. It implies caring for, knowing, responding, affirming, and enjoying: the
person, the tree, the painting, the idea. It means bringing to life, increasing
his/her/its aliveness. It is a process, self-renewing and self-increasing.

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When love is experienced in the mode of having it implies confining,

imprisoning, or controlling the object one “loves.” It is strangling, deadening,
suffocating, killing, not life-giving. What people call love is mostly a misuse of the
word, in order to hide the reality of their not loving? How many parents love their
children is still an entirely open question. Lloyd de mause has brought out that for the
past two millennia of western history there have been reports of cruelty against
children, ranging from physical to psychic torture, carelessness, sheer possessiveness,
and sadism so shocking that one must believe that loving parents are the exception
rather than rule.

The same may be said of marriage. Whether their marriage is based on love or,
like traditional marriages of the past, on social convenience and custom, the couple
who truly love each other seems to be exception. What is social convenience, custom,
mutual economic interest, shared interest in children, mutual dependency, or mutual
hate or fear is consciously experienced as “love” – up to the moment when one or both
partners recognize that they do not love each other, and that they never did. Today
one can note some progress in this respect: people have become more realistic and
sober, and many no longer feel that being sexually attracted means to love, or that a
friendly, though distant, team relationship is a manifestation of loving. This new
outlook has made for greater honesty – as well as more frequent change of partners. It
has not necessarily led to a greater frequency of loving, and the new partners may love
as little as did the old.

The change from “falling in love” to the illusion of “having” love can often be
observed in concrete detail in the history of couple who have “fallen in love.” (in the
ART OF LOVING. I pointed out that the word “falling” in the phase of “falling in love” is
a contradiction in itself. Since loving is a productive activity, one can only STAND in
love or walk in love; one cannot “fall” in love, for falling denotes passivity.”

During courtship neither person is yet sure of the other, but each tries to win
the other. Both are alive, attractive, interesting, even beautiful – inasmuch as
aliveness always makes a face beautiful. Neither yet has the other; hence each one’s
energy is directed to BEING, i.e. to giving to and stimulating the other. With the act of
marriage the situation frequently changes fundamentally. The marriage contract gives
each partner the exclusive possession of the other’s body, feelings and care. Nobody
has to be won over any more, because love has become something one HAS, a
property. The two cease to make the effort to be lovable and to produce love, hence
they become boring, and hence their beauty disappears. They are disappointed and
puzzled. Are they not the same persons any more? Did they make a mistake in the
first place? Each usually seeks the cause of the change in the other and feels
defrauded. What they do not see is that they no longer were the same people that they
were when they were in love with each other; that the error one can have love has led
them to cease loving. Now, instead of loving each other, they settle for owning together
what they have: money, social standing, a home, and children. Thus, in some cases,
the marriage initiated on the basis of love becomes transformed into a friendly
ownership, corporations in which two egotism are pooled into one: that of the “family.”

When the couple cannot get over the yearning for the renewal of the previous
feeling of loving, one or the other of the pair may have the illusion that new partner (or

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partners) will satisfy their longings. They feel that all they want to have is love. But
love to them is not an expression of their being; it is a goddess to whom they want to
submit. They necessarily fail with their love because “ love is a child of liberty” (as an
old French song says), and the worshiper of the goddess of love eventually becomes so
passive as to be boring and loses whatever is left of his or her former attractiveness.

This description is not intended to imply that marriage cannot be the best
solution for two people who love each other. The difficulty does not lie in marriage, but
in the possessive, existential structure of both partners and, in the last analysis, of
their society. The advocates of such modern-day forms of living together as group
marriages. Changing partners, group sex, etc., try, as far as I can see, to avoid the
problem of their difficulties in loving by curing their boredom with ever new stimuli
and by waiting to HAVE more “lovers,” rather than to be able to love even one.


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Publishing Inc. 2001
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Cedeño, Lourdes R. So God Created Man. Quezon City, Katha Publishing House Co.
Inc. 2003
Cruz, Corazon L. The Philosophy of Man. 3rd ed. Mandaluyong City, National
Bookstore. 2004
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids,
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Determinism - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.htm.@Yahoo.com

Freedom and Determinism.htm.@Yahoo.com


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