Translated and edited by Kenneth W. Kemp and Zuzanna Ma?lanka Kiero?, Introduction by Fr. Alfred Wierzbicki, 112 pages, 5½” x 8½”, introduction, notes, index
Man in the Field of Responsibility
Wojtyla, Karol (Pope John Paul II)
In 1972, Karol Wojtyla, then Cardinal Archbishop of Cracow but still teaching at the Catholic University of Lublin, began work on a book on the conception and methodology of ethics that he intended to write together with his former student Tadeusz Stycze?. Although the manuscript served as the basis for further discussion between Wojtyla and his colleagues, the work remained unfinished when, in 1978, Wojtyla was elected Bishop of Rome. In 1991, Fr Stycze? decided, with the approval of Pope John Paul II, to publish the manuscript in book form. Although an Italian translation appeared in 2002, the book is appearing now for the first time in English translation.
Here, Wojtyla steps back from the focus on sexual ethics that characterized Love and Responsibility (1960) to address the most general questions of ethics, but the work can also be seen in connection with Wojty?a’s other major philosophical book. It was, Wojtyla
wrote, intended as a continuation of Person and Act (1969). In that work his subject had been the human person, and he had tried to factor morality itself out. In this work he subjects morality itself to analysis, presenting it as a reality that has the human person,
distinctly and uniquely, as its subject. By concentrating on an analysis of the experience of morality, Wojty?a is able to see the truth of the formulation of ethics as a practical science in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition, but also the truth of the formulation of
ethics as a normative science by Kant and the truth of the formulation of ethics by Scheler as a science about values.
The result, then, is a synthesis of an objectively and realistically oriented philosophy of being, inspired by the achievements of St. Thomas Aquinas, with a modern philosophy of the subject influenced by the work of Immanuel Kant and Max Scheler. It
offers an approach to ethics that is attentive to the person in a way that Utilitarianism is not and grounded in metaphysical realism in a way that Kantianism is not. He adds to the Thomistic conception of natural law attention to the human experience of morality. It points ahead to ideas deepened in the papal encyclical Veritatis Splendor (1994).
This was Pope John Paul II’s last book on philosophy.
St. Augustine’s Press and translators Kenneth W. Kemp and Zuzanna Maslanka Kieron are to be commended for making this important work available for the first time in English. Man in the Field of Responsibility offers fascinating insights into the thought of the man who would become Pope John Paul II. Here we find Karol Wojtyla grappling philosophically with the great questions of good and evil, freedom and fulfillment, that were central to his papacy, and especially to key encyclicals such as Veritatis Splendor and Evangelium Vitae. This book is necessary reading not only for students of John Paul II as a thinker and for students of Catholic philosophy, but also for all who seek greater understanding of the moral predicament of modern man. – Carson Holloway, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Kenneth W. Kemp is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Fellow of the Center for Catholic Studies at the
University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has published a number of articles in the areas of ethics and of the relation
between science and religion.
Zuzanna Ma?lanka Kiero? is a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. Currently she is finishing her doctoral dissertation on various paradigms of human evolution under the supervision of Archbishop Józef ?yci?ski.
Their previous translations of Polish philosophical works include Archbishop Józef ?yci?ski’s God & Evolution.