“Anonymous” responded to the May 2nd post with the following: “Again with the subjectivism. Is this really wise in these troubled times of interpreting man purely in terms of his “subjective self” (that is, the excuse for all moral degradation).”
Response: I appreciate the critique. Vatican II, John Paul II and Benedict XVI make the same critique since subjectivism is the negation of ontological reality that is the ground of the absolute as true and good. Without a metaphysic of being, we are not talking “reality” and therefore the the “Unemcumbered Self” becomes absolutized as a mystical identity and becomes arbiter of both good and evil, being beyond both. This is the atheism of our day and the prophecy of Nietzsche.
The root of this separation of the self and reality has historically been the cartesian experiment that has left Western thought in an unbridgable dualism between mind and matter leaving man as a ghost in a machine.
But what would my critic say if the “I” is not merely consciousness and thought, but “being” as image of God (Yahweh: “I Am”) in the manner that John Paul II said: “In a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being [“actu essendi” in the Latin text], and hence with metaphysical enquiry” (Fides et Ratio #83)? In a word, the real existential (non-abstract) “object” of the human mind that grounds the good to be done is really the subject or “I” in the moment of self-gift (self-transcendence). Wojtyla focused in on this second tier of “experience” (beyond sense-experience [see Crossing the Threshold of Hope p. 34, The Acting Being pp. 41-50; “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in the Human Person,” Person and Community Lang (1993) 209-217]) where the self experiences itself as being in the act of self-determination (the moral act). This was precisely the life work of Karol Wojtyla philosophically whereby he welded together phenomenology and St. Thomas’s metaphysics of Esse to explain the experience of the “I – gift” that is the meaning of faith in St. John of the Cross.
This shift to the ontological “I” is precisely to bring about a greater objectivity that is rooted in reality. In passing, it can take in the achievements of the Enlightenment and purify them of the cartesian subjectivism while purifying the reductive objectivism of the received scholastic philosophy and theology and expand them into an adequate objectivity. This is precisely the challenge that is presented to the Church (see the Ratzinger-Moynihan interview below), and that the Church has answered and continues to answer if we pay attention and do our homework.