Love in the Horizon of Responsability according to Karol Wojtyla

Love, love pulsating the temples,
Love in man becomes thought and will:
Teresa’s will to be in Andrew; Andrew’s will to be in Teresa.
‘Tis strange yet necessary to distance a little from the other,
Since man cannot remain in the other without end, and he suffices not.
How can you achieve this, Teresa? How can you remain in Andrew forever?
How can you achieve this, Andrew? How can you remain in Teresa forever?
How can it be done if one cannot endure in the other? If man suffices not?

These are the words of the chorus at the end of the first act of Karol Wojtyła’s The Jeweller’s Shop. They were written in 1960, at the same time as his work, Love and responsibility, to accompany his developing philosophical reflection in the poetic language of drama and through lived experience. Love is not merely one adventure among others; far more than that, love is a task or a challenge that involves the whole person and determines his destiny. How can love endure forever? How can it achieve the communion of persons promised in the fascination of the first encounter? Above all, how much of this task of love depends on human freedom? These are the questions of the drama which underlie the philosophical approach of Wojtyła’s Love and responsibility.

1. Love in the horizon of responsibility

Love and responsibility: the association of these two terms in the volume’s title can almost sound contradictory to our sensibility and might frighten us away from looking deeper at the schema that makes their association possible. The object of the work is to “give reasons for the norms of Catholic sexual ethics” by reference to the “more fundamental goods and values”, among which the good of the person must be emphasized.2 Accordingly, it is “love which constitutes the characteristic good of the world of persons”. The specific theme of Wojtyła’s essay is to “put love into love”, that is, to introduce love, understood as everything that originates from the sexual impulse between man and woman, to love’s horizon, understood as the ethical responsibility of one person toward the other.

To reach this objective, the first thing to be done is to overcome the reductive interpretations of the sexual experience and of love which would prevent us integrating love and personal responsibility. In Wojtyła’s work, we can find reference to three main reductions which foil an adequate understanding of the experience of love.

Firstly, the naturalistic interpretation which, starting from the scientific objectification of the biological and physiological dynamisms of the body, reduces sexuality to libido and therefore to the mechanical world of nature, undermining in this way the sphere of ethics.3 According to this interpretation, sexuality belongs to a sub-personal dimension which necessarily dominates all of nature’s aspects. In this perspective, man himself is distinct from the passive functions of his body and if, on the one hand, he is completely determined at the level of his instincts, on the other hand, he emerges as spirit, claiming to be able to manipulate the body according to the exercise of his autonomous freedom.4

The seemingly opposed romantic interpretation of love5 emphasizes love as passion, considering this to be the essence of love: an irrational event which avoids any possibility of control on the part of freedom or of principles. The sexual dimension is subordinated to sentiment: the body remains absorbed in the turbulence of passion. The measure of love becomes the intensity of the feelings which are experienced. One rejoices aesthetically in the affective experience of the moment but without opening to the reality of a relationship with the other or to the building up, in time, and publically, of a shared life together. However, Wojtyła also considers the scholastic interpretation of love which prevails in Catholic thought to be insufficient. This interpretation is characterized by an “anthropology of the faculties” which divides the human act into many partial acts attributed separately to the faculties of reason and will6 and defined by their partial objects without reference to personal subjectivity. This theoretical model, proposing an extrinsic control of reason over the dynamisms of instinct and affectivity, is unable to grasp the dynamic unity of love and neglects its interpersonal context.

Underlying these reductive interpretations of human love which remain dialectically opposed and contrasting is a common deficiency: they all fail to adequately consider the person as the subject of love, in his relationship with the other person. For Wojtyła, the solution does not involve the superimposition of a new theory, more comprehensive than these last, but, above all, a re-encounter with the original experience of love so as to adequately consider all of its constitutive factors.

In this study, he applies for the first time a method perfected in his Lubliner Vorlesungen (1954-1957).7 It concerns an original integration of the phenomenology taken above all from the school of Max Scheler, but critically evaluated in its constitutive limits by enlisting the perspective of the ontological realism of St Thomas Aquinas.8 The first step consists in grasping the essential elements of phenomena and the important relationships among them; the second step consists in illumining the essence of the phenomenon, situating it in the context of the human person in his totality and his interpersonal relationships.9 In this way, the perspective of the subject proper to modernity is assumed without falling into subjectivism precisely because “every subject is at the same time an objective being; he is objectively something or someone”, as Wojtyla says at the beginning of the text.10 At the same time, it is the perspective of the person, not just of the substance, which constitutes the culmination of metaphysics and, therefore, impinges upon ontology, especially the interpretation of love.

However, beyond the philosophical references, the author’s ultimate point of reference is lived experience: the book “does not constitute the exposition of a doctrine; rather, it represents before all else the fruit of a constant engagement between doctrine and life”, developed in the daily exercise of pastoral activity.11 So we have here the meaning of the method adopted by Wojtyła: reference to experience is not exhausted in the analysis of content in order to grasp its significance, but in receptivity to its reality as something greater than ourselves.12 True, it is an experience of love; but it is also an experience of responsibility. Surprising as it may seem, we must observe that this concept is quite a recent one in ethical reflection, given that it was introduced only in the first decades of the 20th Century by Max Weber.13 To introduce it critically, we must clarify three variables that are implicit: that which is relative to the subject of responsibility (who is responsible?); that which refers to the object which he is responsible for (what is he responsible for?); and, lastly, the variable of intersubjectivity (before whom is he responsible?). The analysis of responsibility points us toward the context of the experience of moral praxis and, specifically, toward the connection between person and act. We see in Love and responsibility that Wojtyła always conducts his analysis of love parallel to his analysis of moral experience. This is particularly significant: for him, love is not just a gratifying event which occurs at the level of the emotions, but an invitation to love, that is, to learn a way in which freedom achieves the promise of fulfilling what is given seminally in the experience of love.

2. The experience of love and the revelation of the person

The adoption of experience as the point of departure for the analysis of love implies for Wojtyla the consideration of some of its constitutive elements. We shall demonstrate at least three such fundamental aspects. Firstly, there is the personal and interpersonal context in which such experience occurs: beyond the multiplicity and complexity of its factors, “love is always a reciprocal relationship of persons”, an event of the person and an event among persons.14 This is the concrete point of departure that enables us to avoid the abstraction and objectification of the phenomenon of love, which tends, fatally, to identify love with only one of its partial components. It is precisely in reference to the person that all other factors must be assumed: the impulses of the body and the psychological dynamics of affectivity and of feelings.

Moving on to the second element, the body is always considered as a living body which reflects a personal interiority and intentionality directed toward the reality of the exterior world. Certainly, the analysis of the human sciences, particularly that of physiology, finds its place here and it is considered very carefully in Love and responsibility. However, the author is always careful to avoid allowing the reductive factors which influence the method of these sciences to prevail over the concrete experience of love.

Finally, the experience of love always implies personal freedom, which is expressed in action. The practical mediation of acting is the concrete place where love is realized. In this way, Wojtyła makes room, right at the beginning of the volume, for an analysis of the verbs “to use” and “to enjoy”, as an expression of those actions in which the person is at the same time both the “subject and object of action”.

In the experience of love, the profound connection between love and person emerges, which constitutes that central nucleus of Wojtyła’s reflection and brings him closer to the philosophical current of French personalism of the last century.15 Referring to the Holy Spirit, St Thomas Aquinas said, in the context of his Trinitarian theology, “Love is the name of the person”.16 The statement has an anthropological extension: only the person is worthy of love and only love enables an authentic relationship between persons. It is impossible to understand love except in the perspective of the person; on the other hand, it is impossible to understand the person except in the light of love. So what is it that manifests the personal experience of love? What do we gain from assuming the personalistic perspective when considering love? In the first place, it is love that reveals the person. Philosophical reflection affirms that man is “someone” and this distinguishes him from other beings of the visible world that are always and only “something”. He is a subject and can never be considered merely as an object. The term person was chosen to underline that man is not enclosed in the notion of an “individual of a species”, as Wojtyła points out. In him, there is something more, namely, a fullness and perfection of particular being which cannot be expressed in any other way than with the word “person”.17 However, it is precisely love which leads us to understand that the person in his singularity is irreducible to any other category of thought.18 In love, the beloved is unique and unrepeatable; she is revealed to be non-substitutable by any other. In fact, love has for its object, not the common qualities of the species, nor the singular qualities of the individual as such, which could very well be found in others and perhaps in greater measure. On the contrary, its object is the person of the other in his singularity and mystery, in the destiny of fullness to which he is called and to which both feel attracted. On the other hand, only when love is developed to the point of touching the person at this level, then and only then, is it forever.

On the other hand, the person is open to a relationship with other persons, as one subject to another. Personhood is not individuality enclosed in self-sufficiency; it is freedom open to encounter and acceptance in which a person can find himself again as subject. It is precisely intersubjectivity, the recognition of the other in his quality of subject, which prevents the person from being reduced to a mere object to “be used”. However, Wojtyła wishes to emphasize something more: the communication which love consists in cannot remain merely within intersubjectivity because the person is not reducible to his consciousness. Interpersonality must involve the person in his integrity and therefore in his corporeity and be realized in a communication of the good.19 Love is directed toward achieving a communion of persons based on a common orientation toward the good loved by both which, in this way, becomes the common good and establishes the relationship.

Secondly, only in love does the person achieve the fashioning of himself. Let us all take to heart the prophetic strength of the words of John Paul II in his first encyclical: “Man cannot live without love. He remains for himself an incomprehensible being, his life remains without meaning if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it, if he does not make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it”.20 Love, particularly sexual love, has a unique, existential value for the person: it decides the meaning or the meaninglessness of his life.

The call to freedom, that is, the reference to moral experience, is inserted precisely here. In effect, the person realizes himself as a person through his acts. The moral dimension of experience is constituted precisely by the inescapable bond that unites the person to his action on the strength of a call to the good which seeks to be achieved in a free response which decides the identity and meaning of the life of the one who acts.

At this point, the category of responsibility appears which enables us to relate moral experience to the experience of love: through my acting, I am called to respond to a presence filled with promise, which is given to me in an encounter. In this encounter, the gaze of the other is intentionally directed toward me. It precedes my action and opens it to meaning, precisely because it orientates it toward a good to be achieved, namely: the communion of persons.21 The experience of love clarifies the meaning of the moral experience and of responsibility. The person is awakened to his moral subjectivity by the presence of the other person who calls him to respond to this primary and gratuitous gift of the loving presence, achieving in this way a communion in the good. We are accountable then for our acts, not for consequences that are exterior to them. Consideration of the experience of responsibility is necessary for overcoming the sphere of pure consciousness and of the pure “I” so as to embrace the person with all his characteristics.22 Rightly therefore, Wojtyła’s critique of utilitarianism is very severe since it denies personal responsibility in acting and represents a reduction of the truth of love.

The inadequacy of the question in which the Anglo-Saxon normative ethic has been swamped is clear: “Why must I be moral?” This question is born of a separation of the act from the concrete experience in which it becomes an act of the person. If morality is understood as a series of previously existing principles to be applied to action, then the question is understandable, but cannot be answered. However, in reality, morality is a constitutive dimension of experience and by asking itself the question, “Why must I be moral?” it is already, from the start, adopting an immoral posture toward life by undermining the responsibility that the experience of the other and the call to love inevitably imply.23

3. The dynamism of love

The experience of love, particularly the love between man and woman, has then a realistic and dynamic character. It is awakened by the concrete reality of a presence and is intentionally guided toward the other person so as to construct a communion with her. In the second part of Love and responsibility, Wojtyła makes a careful analysis of the dynamism of love, distinguishing three dimensions: the psychological, the metaphysical and the moral. It is of interest to us here to detain ourselves above all with the first, integrating into it some elements of the second. We will dedicate the last part of the reflection, which will concern Karol Wojtyła’s personalism, to the moral dimension.

love in the horizon1«If the essence of love is donation, we can understand why, according to the author of Love and responsibility, the love of a man and a woman in the context of marriage, which is certainly only one particular context of love, represents the place where the totality of love’s characteristics is reflected with particular clarity. We cannot disregard the profound agreement here with the central statements of the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est.»

Our first observation is that the author’s analysis integrates the contribution of psychology and modern phenomenology. These point to the motivations which drive action. At the same time, he introduces a Thomistic analysis of the passions and the will, which enables us to discover the role of the end, that is, the ethical value for the personal will.24 The individual elements of the analysis of the dynamism of love are not understood as isolated fragments but as integral parts of a single personal act of love. Partial aspects can only be understood in the unity of this act. Only from this united perspective do they receive their full intelligibility.

At the beginning of love, we find an experience of attraction. It begins by perception, that is, by the reaction of the senses and the excitement caused by their objects. Such a reaction is always accompanied by emotion, that is, by the psychological reaction not only to sexual values but also spiritual values which the encounter with the person brings. Sensuality, the complex sphere of response to masculinity or femininity through the body of the person of the opposite sex, is always linked to the recognition of personal values. Indeed, the body is an integral aspect of the person and can never be dissociated from him. If the corporal dimension is separated from the interpersonal context of the relationship, it will come to be characterized by a utilitarian and inevitably unstable orientation. Here we can locate the phenomenon of disordered desire which Catholic doctrine calls concupiscence and which implies an intentional reduction of the other to a mere object of pleasure. In this way, the body of the other is used without recognizing his or her personal value.

However, a special experience of the value of the person as such is anticipated in the emotions. This experience concerns the deepest and most intense emotions related to the encounter with another human subject and to the promise of communion revealed in it.25 In this sense, affectivity plays a decisive role. Wojtyła defines affectivity as the capacity to react to the person’s masculinity or femininity with an appreciation for the person’s complexity and not merely on account of sexual values considered in a narrow sense. The affective reaction is expressed in the “desire to always be together”.26

Affection has a decisive importance in the dynamism of love because it leads to discovering the values of the other in a concrete way. Affective experience points essentially to the other as a person. In this sense, affectivity prepares reason and will respectively to understand and accept the person in his truth, beyond his usefulness and capacity to provide pleasure. It enables, even from the beginning, the unification of the various elements which interiorly drive one person toward another, on the basis of the recognition of a primary, gratifying gift, namely: the satisfaction experienced on account of the presence of the beloved, with an awareness that this corresponds to a profound longing of the heart. However, affectivity in itself remains ambiguous. For example, I can affectively withdraw into myself and take pleasure merely in what the other awakens in me, without going beyond myself and grasping the value of the other as a person.

Here is the true and proper level of love: to grasp, as a personal act and by a judgement of reason, the value of the person in and for himself and, by an act of the will, to seek what is truly good for him. There is a transcendent movement here in the dynamism of love which prevails over the concupiscible self-referencing of instinct or affectivity; by following the original orientation, the other is understood as a value in himself that merits his being recognized and affirmed for his own sake, in an act of ecstasy and dedication. The attraction of the sexual tendency and the experience of sympathy for the other, so characteristic of the affective moment, must be transformed into friendship, the specific trait of which is benevolence, namely: to want the good of the other.

This is the characteristic formula of love. Here Wojtyła makes his own the affirmation of St Thomas, with all the richness of his interior analysis: “In hoc precipue consistit amor, quod amans amato bonum velit” (“Love principally consists in this: that the lover wants the good for the beloved”).27 Love is in the will as “the final authority; without its participation, no experience has full personal value or the gravity appropriate to the experiences of the human person”.28 The will’s volition does not arise from a vacuum, as we have seen, but is formed by assuming the dynamisms of the sexual and affective tendencies. For its accomplishment, this act of the will must be founded on a rational judgement which grasps the unique and irreducible value of the person as such. In the development of the interpersonal relationship of love, the content that makes communication possible also appears, namely: the good whose truth establishes and determines the act of love.

So we come to what constitutes, simultaneously, love’s essence and its paradox, that is, donation. “To give oneself” is more than just “to want”. It implies a supreme act of freedom, which is found in a specific way in spousal love.29 Now, how can a person who is by nature self-possessed, inalienable and non-substitutable (sui juris et alteri incommunicabilis) give himself to another in a true gift of self without thereby alienating himself? Personal maturity consists, for Wojtyła, in self-possession and self-mastery, by means of which the tendencies of the impulses and affections are ordered by the judgement of reason and facilitate the free self-determination of the personal subject.

At the same time, love constitutes the greatest realization of the person’s intrinsic potentialities. Love culminates in going out of oneself in a free gift of self to the other person. It involves a paradox because “enrichment and personal growth” can only happen by means of this gift. Here is the secret of human freedom, which is born of a love and is made for love: the person, who belongs essentially to himself, can belong to the other only through a free act of his love. In the freedom of love, the person continues to possess himself but, simultaneously, is given totally to the other. Of course, perceiving the echo, in advance, of the great anthropological affirmation of Gaudium et spes, John Paul II often loved to repeat: “…man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself”.30 In this conciliar text, the two pillars of Wojtylian personalism present in Love and responsibility come together, namely: the person as end; and the gift of self. The first pillar has its ultimate foundation in Christian theological anthropocentrism, admirably expressed by St Thomas Aquinas: “The ultimate end of the universe is God who only the intellectual creature attains by knowing and loving Him as He is in Himself. Therefore, in the whole universe, only the intellectual creature is desired for his own sake, so that all other realities exist in relationship to him.31 The second pillar reaches back to the mysticism of St John of the Cross as has been convincingly documented.32 The Spanish mystic spoke eloquently of the soul’s “gift of self” to God, which is rooted in God’s prior gift to the soul. It has a nuptial character and has its deepest root in Trinitarian love.33 The originality of the moral perspective, when it speaks of the gift of self, consists in seeing it in its tension toward a good life, that is, in relationship to excellent acting which implies a life well-governed. Free acting, precisely insofar as it is directed to another person and to the gift of self, calls the person to a communion and enables him not only to “subsist in himself” but also “to subsist in communion”, experienced in the act of love.34

love in the horizon2«In this conciliar text, the two pillars of Wojtylian personalism present in Love and responsibility come together, namely: the person as end; and the gift of self. The first pillar has its ultimate foundation in Christian theological anthropocentrism, admirably expressed by St Thomas Aquinas: “The ultimate end of the universe is God who only the intellectual creature attains by knowing and loving Him as He is in Himself. Therefore, in the whole universe, only the intellectual creature is desired for his own sake, so that all other realities exist in relationship to him.” (St Thomas Aquinas, by Beato Angelico. Fresco of the Convent of San Marco, Florence).

If the essence of love is donation, we can understand why, according to the author of Love and responsibility, the love of a man and a woman in the context of marriage, which is certainly only one particular context of love, represents the place where the totality of love’s characteristics is reflected with particular clarity. We cannot disregard the profound agreement here with the central statements of the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est: “Amid this multiplicity of meanings, however, one in particular stands out: love between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness. This would seem to be the very epitome of love; all other kinds of love immediately seem to fade in comparison”.35

4. The truth of love

As we approach the end of this chapter, let us now return to a popular wojtylian expression, already encountered, which is decisive for grasping the meaning of his personalism. I am referring to the expression, the “truth of love”.36 The moment of truth is highlighted as necessary in order to prevail over the ambiguities of the spontaneous impulses and of affectivity so that the freedom of love may emerge, that is, the capacity to affirm the person for his own sake. However, a new difficulty seems to arise precisely here. According to the most wide-spread opinion, as Wojtyła explains, love is related above all to the subjective truth of sentiment,37 to authenticity; it avoids truth imposed from the outside, which would be purely intellectual, disconnected from life and would impose its criteria and rules on experience extrinsically. The question is then: how can we overcome the subjectivism of a “love without truth”, without falling into an intellectualism of a “truth without love”?

The road travelled in Love and responsibility explores the logic proper to love from the inside. This road begins with the importance offered by the very experience of love which contains already the necessary reference to the good in any truly loving, interpersonal relationship. A love which wants the good for the beloved is authentic, that is, it is oriented toward a true and real good, in a way that conforms to the nature of that good.38 It is not just that “I desire you as a good for me”, but that “I desire your good”, “I desire what is truly a good for you”. This requires a certain level of disinterest so as to affirm the objectivity of truth in relation to the good; it is constituted neither for me nor for the other but refers to the objective reality of personal goods, as the Creator planned them.

On the other hand, every appreciation of the good is realized in a communicative environment, between persons and by means of a language which implies a certain objectivity based on the rational content of the good. Precisely in this way, the wills of those who love are found to be united in a new and particular bond, namely: the recognition of the “common good” which is truly good for each of them.39

We seem to have evidence here, within the dynamic of love, of reference to a truth concerning the good that has its ultimate origin in God the Creator. It is the very condition of possibility and authenticity for love itself in its effective “exodus” toward the other. Therefore, Wojtyła dedicates the fourth part of his work to the theme of justice toward the Creator, affirming in this way that there is an at least implicit and unavoidable reference to God in every experience of love. The argument of Love and responsibility is always developed on a rigorously philosophical rather than theological plane, although it is always open to theology. The reference to God the Creator belongs to a truly rational reflection concerning human love. Such a reference provides the foundation that sustains and defines its nature, determining the norms that govern it: an original love precedes and establishes the human love which necessarily has an analogical and responsorial/dialogical character.

At the level of the contents proper to the good, on which conjugal love is based, the traditional doctrine of the Church had pointed to the objective content of marriage in terms of three ends: procreation, mutual help and the remedy for concupiscence. A personalistic perspective such as Wojtyła’s remains unsatisfied with any attempt to establish the union of man and woman merely on these foundations. Only love is an adequate attitude of one person toward another. Some early forms of personalism applied to sexual morality had proposed a revision of the doctrine of the ends, identifying love tout court with mutual love and making this the primary finality of marriage. This reduced procreation to a secondary, merely biological end and eliminated the reference to concupiscence as an expression that might promote a now surpassed, negative vision of sexuality.40 Instead, for Wojtyła, it would be profoundly reductive and an extrinsicism to consider love as just one of the ends of marriage. Love is the very substance of marriage. It regulates it from within and the traditional ends acquire their moral significance from it. On the other hand, it is not the biological finality as such that establishes the ethical value to be respected: that would be naturalism. Rather, precisely in the light of the experience of love, the moral significance of sexuality appears in relation to those goods, which belong to the nature of the person himself.41 So there is no need to rearrange their hierarchy or find error in their meaning: the ends of marriage are the concrete determinations which the truth of love involves in the sexual sphere so that the goods to which they tend may be realized.42

love in the horizon3«The second pillar reaches back to the mysticism of St John of the Cross. The Spanish mystic spoke eloquently of the soul’s “gift of self” to God, which is rooted in God’s prior gift to the soul. It has a nuptial character and has its deepest root in Trinitarian love. Free acting, as it is directed to another person and to the gift of self, calls the person to a communion and enables him not only to “subsist in himself” but also “to subsist in communion”, experienced in the act of love.»

The truth of love demands the attitude of respect which Wojtyła calls the personalistic norm, a fundamental point of his entire ethical thought which he takes up again and integrates starting from the well-known Kantian formulation: “Whenever a person is the object of your acting, remember that you must not treat him only as a means, as an instrument; rather, he is, or ought to be an end in himself”.43 The heart of the sexual moral problem consists then in this: How can one “enjoy sexual pleasure without treating the person as an object of pleasure?”44 Sexual morality will consist then in an ongoing synthesis and an ever increasing maturity of the natural finalities of the sexual tendency and the personalistic norm. More precisely, it will consist in assuming, within the naturalistic perspective of love, those goods for the person which are constitutive of his nature.45

The truth concerning the good illumines the way of personal love from within and facilitates the ordering of the tendencies of instinct and affectivity. This is the decisive dimension of the moral virtues, by means of which the appetitive dynamisms are shaped and orientated toward the good of the person, becoming in this way a positive energy in favour of a fully human expression of sexual love. Through the virtues, particularly chastity, the acting subject achieves integration; the fragmentation and disintegration of concupiscence is overcome in this way and the personalistic norm is perceived to be connatural to the subject.46 Affectivity plays a decisive role in this transformation of the subject and in this interiorizing of the personal truth of love. Particularly involved are the great and profound emotions which, in the experience of love, accompany and precede the recognition of the unique value of the person loved. In this way, the truth concerning love, rather than being imposed from outside the subject, is recognized as intrinsic to his sensibility. It is the most intimate and secret substance which reason illuminates and guides to its fullness. The exercise of freedom, sustained by grace, contributes by impressing this truth on the affective orientations as the personal life of the individual increases in excellence. And this virtue is not extrinsic to the interpersonal context either, because it is clearly evident in the relationship between those who love.


How can that love which pulsates the temples last forever? How can that love which glimpsed the promise of communion in the fascination of the first encounter endure in the ongoing construction of a common destiny? The question of Andrew and Teresa in The Jeweller’s Shop has been explored with diligence and depth in the reflections of Love and responsibility. Having treated the question as decisively existential, since life’s entire destiny depends on love, the search for increasingly adequate ways of response must now be embarked upon and continually be deepened.

At the end of this journey, we can say that the personalistic way, pointed out by Karol Wojtyła, is always relevant and promising in the convincing response that it offers the men and women of today. This is primarily because it presents the experience of love as that place where the unique and unrepeatable value of the person and his vocation to the gift of self is revealed. It is also because a concrete approach to the dynamic unity of the person and his acting enables us to re-establish a positive nexus between freedom and truth, overcoming in this way the unilateral oppositions of, on the one hand, subjectivism which reduces love to a subjective authenticity and, on the other hand, objectivism which misunderstands personalistic richness.

Only that love which becomes a responsible act of the person can endure in time.

* Article published in HUMANITAS 63, in Spanish language. English version from L. Melina, “Learning to Love at the School of John Paul II and Benedict XVI”, Trans. Joel Wallace, Modotti Press (Connor Court Publishing), Melbourne, 2011.
1 K. Wojtyła, The Jeweller’s Shop: A meditation on the Sacrament of Matrimony, passing on occasion into a drama, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1980, p. 41.
2 K. Wojtyła, Love and responsibility, Ignatius, San Francisco, 1981, p. 16.
3 Ibid., pp. 61-63.
4 The extreme fruit of this reductionism is the current “gender theory”. See, for example: J. Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Routledge, London 1990: For a critique: P. Donati, “La famiglia come relazione di «gender»”, in Idem., Manuale di sociologia della famiglia, Laterza, Bari 1999, pp. 123-180.
5 Op., cit., Love and responsibility, pp. 109-113.
6 In this regard: G. Angelini, Eros e agape. Oltre l’alternativa, Glossa, Milano 2006, pp. 23ff, 32ff, 63ff.
7 K. Wojtyła, Lubliner Vorlesungen, Seewald Verlag, Stuttgart 1981. For an excellent approach to this work: K.L. Schmitz, At the Center of the Human Drama. The Philosophical Anthropology of Karol Wojtyła / Pope John Paul II, CUA Press, Washington DC, 1993, pp. 30-57.
8 Concerning the method of this work, see: R. Buttiglione, Il pensiero di Karol Wojtyła, Jaca Book, Milano 1982, pp. 103-114; J. Kupczak, Destined for Liberty. The Human Person in the Philosophy of Karol Wojtyła / Pope John Paul II, CUA Press, Washington DC, 2000, pp. 63-81.
9 Wojtyła does not clearly separate these two moments in Love and responsibility, although it is more noticeable in the second part. It will be more noticeable in the theoretical work, Person and Act, of 1969, K. Wojtyła, The Acting Person, Reidel, Dordrecht, Holland, 1979, pp. 3-22, where he introduces his methodology.
10 Op. cit., Love and responsibility, p. 24.
11 Ibid., p. 15.
12 Cf. J.J. Pérez-Soba, La experiencia moral, Facultad de Teología «San Dámaso», Madrid, 2002.
13 This work in based on: Amor y responsabilidad y en el ensayo fenomenológico del maestro de K. Wojtyła: R. Ingarden, Sulla responsabilità, Italian translation by A. Setola, Cseo, Bologna, 1982. The classic points of referente for ethics are: M. Weber, Politik als Beruf, (1919) (Italian translation: La scienza come professione. La politica come professione, Einaudi, Torino, 2004); H. Richard Niebuhr, The responsible Self. An Essay in Christian Moral Philosophy, Westminster, John Knox Press, Louisville Kentucky, 1999 (1st edition: 1963); H. Jonas, Il principio responsabilità. Un’etica per la civiltà tecnologica, Einaudi, Torino, 1993 (German original: 1979); P. Ricoeur, Il concetto di responsabilità, in Idem., Il Giusto, SEI, Torino, 1998, pp. 31-56; P. Ricoeur, Sé come un altro, Jaca Book, Milano, 1993 (French original: 1990). For a general presentation: A. Fumagalli, “Interpersonalità, comunità e responsabilità”, in L. Melina – D. Granada (Editors), Limiti alla responsabilità? Amore e giustizia, Lup, Roma, 2005, pp. 119-134.
14 Op. cit., Love and responsibility, pp. 67-68.
15 It is sufficient to mention, among others: J. Lacroix, Personne et amour, Seuil, Paris, 1955 and M. Nédoncelle, Vers une philosophie de la personne et de l’amour, Aubier-Montaigne, Paris, 1957. For a complete panoramic view and a critical approach: J.-J. Pérez-Soba, La pregunta por la persona. La respuesta de la interpersonalidad. Estudio de una categoría personalista, Facultad de Teología «San Dámaso», Madrid, 2004.
16 St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 37, a. 1. On this subject, see: J.-J. Pérez-Soba, “Amor es nombre de persona”. Estudio de la interpersonalidad en el amor en Santo Tomás de Aquino, Pul- Mursia, Roma, 2001.
17 K. Wojtyła, Love and responsibility, cit., p. 24. Cf. R. Spaemann, Personen. Versuche über den Unterschied zwischen “etwas” un “jemand”, Klett- Cotta, Stuttgart, 1996.
18 A. Wierzbicki, La persona e la morale. Introduzione, in K. Wojtyła, Metafisica della persona. Tutte le opere filosofiche e saggi integrativi (edited by G. Reale and T. Styczen), Bompiani, Milano, 2003, pp. 1219- 1227. See in this regard: J. Crosby, The Selfhood of the Human Person, CUA Press, Washington DC, 1996, pp. 41-81.
19 Op. cit., Love and responsibility, p. 73-79.
20 John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, n. 10.
21 Lévinas’ reading is particularly important here, although the gaze of the other, for him, is resolved in the commandment and is not understood to be the presence of an original gift which invites one to follow a way and makes this way possible: E. Lévinas, Totalité et Infini. Essai sur l’exteriorité, Nijhoff, La Haye, 1961, p. 230.
22 For a critique of the limitations of Husserl and a clarification of the ontic fundamentals of responsibility, see R. Ingarden, Sulla responsabilità, cit. p. 69-76.
23 Concerning this: J.J. Pérez-Soba, La experiencia moral, cit., p. 14.
24 Op. cit., Love and responsibility, note 64.
25 Ibid., pp. 74-80.
26 Ibid., pp. 89-90.
27 St Thomas Aquinas, Contra gentiles, III, c. 90 (Marietti n. 2657). This definition taken from Aristotle, Rhetoric, II, c. 4: 1380 b 35-36.
28 Op. cit., Love and responsibility, p. 117.
29 Ibid., pp. 99, 84, 117.
30 Vatican II, Pastoral Consititution, Gaudium et spes, n. 24. Concerning the concept of “donación” in Karol Wojtyła, see: G. Reale, Karol Wojtyła, un pellegrino dell’assoluto, Bompiani, Milano 2005, pp. 103-107; also: P. Ide, “Une théologie du don. Les occurrences de Gaudium et spes, n. 24, § 3 chez Jean-Paul II”, in Anthropotes XVII/1 (2001), pp. 149-178 (the first part of the article) and Anthropotes XVII/2 (2001), pp. 313-344 (the second part).
31 St Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles, III, c. 111 (Marietti, n. 2858): «Constat autem ex praemissis (cap. XVII) finem ultimum universi Deum esse, quem sola intellectualis natura consequitur in seipso, eum scilicet cognoscendo et amando, ut ex dictis (Ch. XXV ff.) patet. Sola igitur intellectualis natura est propter se quaesita in universo, alia autem omnia propter ipsam».
32 Cf. M. Waldstein, Introduction, in John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them. A Theology of the Body. Translation, Introduction, and Index by Michael Waldstein, Pauline Books & Media, Boston, 2006, pp. 23-34, where he speaks of “Wojtyła’s Carmelite personalism”.
33 Cf. St John of the Cross, Fiamma viva d’amore B, 3, § 78-80, in Opere, 4th edition, Postulazione Generale dei Carmelitani Scalzi, Roma, 1979, pp. 818-820. (In English: The Works of St John of the Cross, Vol. 3, London, Burns, Oats & Washbourne, 1947, The living flame of love, pp. 15-226).
34 Cf. J. Noriega, “La prospettiva morale del ‘dono di sé’”, in G. Grandis – J. Merecki (Editors), L’esperienza sorgiva. Persona – Comunione – Società. Studi in onore del Prof. Stanisław Grygiel, “Sentieri della verità” n. 2: Cattedra Wojtyła, Cantagalli, Siena 2007, pp. 53-60.