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Karol Wojtyła: The Thought of the Man Who Became Pope John Paul II

, 1997
ISBN: 9780802838483

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The achievements of John Paul II in recent years cannot be overstated. Led by this man and his profound contribution to Catholic social thought, the Catholic Church has become the world’s single greatest voice for democracy and human rights. Protestants, too, have found in Pope John Paul II a brave and steadfast Christian pastor. Few people, however, know the Pope’s background or the philosophy behind his thinking.

Written by Rocco Buttiglione, one of the Pope’s closest friends and counselors, this volume is the standard work for all who want to understand the philosophical mind of Karol Wojtyła, the man who became Pope John Paul II. Based on an accurate reading of all of Wojtyla’s works and of all relevant secondary literature, this English edition of Buttiglione’s book provides a complete introduction to the Pope’s philosophy and his original contribution to the philosophy of freedom.

The early chapters give biographical information on Wojtyła, and examine his early philosophical formation. The middle chapters explore in depth two of the Pope’s central philosophical and theological conceptions—human love and the acting person. The closing chapters look at Wojtyla’s role at the Second Vatican Council, examine his poetic works, and place his thought in dialogue with contemporary philosophy.

New to this English edition of Buttiglione’s work are a foreword by Michael Novak, an appendix published for the third edition of The Acting Person, and an afterword that updates the book with a survey of secondary literature on the Pope’s thought published between 1982 and 1996.

In the Logos edition, Karol Wojtyła is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

  • Offers an introduction and guide to Karol Wojtyła’s writings
  • Provides biographical information on Wojtyła
  • Explores two of the Pope’s central philosophical and theological conceptions
  • Judgment on Contemporary History
  • Biographical Notes about Karol Wojtyła
  • Karol Wojtyła Philosophical Formation
  • Love and Responsibility
  • The Acting Person
  • Wojtyła and the Council
  • The Poetic Work of Karol Wojtyła
  • Conclusion: A Dialogue with Contemporary Philosophies

Top Highlights

“Marx will then read history as the history of the modes of production, that is to say, of more and more efficacious forms by which the dominion of man over nature and over other men is achieved.” (Page 5)

“The order of creation is the first and fundamental content of human consciousness.” (Page 206)

“For Kant, sensible experience is disregarded rather than transcended, and the experience of duty entirely lacks the passivity and availability to the presence of value which St. John emphasizes. The reason for this is that St. John’s approach is, quite unconsciously, phenomenological and so drawn from the totality of experience as it presents itself, while Kant’s approach is phenomenalist. So, when he develops the themes of liberty and of the ethical action of the person, he cannot begin from experience. The same idea of experience immediately undergoes an initial reduction which crucially impoverishes it.” (Pages 67–68)

“In Scheler’s system, the judgment of value is understood in relation to a single act, and not to the person as a whole, who is a subject of actions which unite and cohere with the actions which follow them. Such a person ultimately lacks ontological consistency.” (Page 59)

“Only when two freedoms meet each other in the pursuit of a common good can the person be the object of reciprocal action conforming to the personalistic norm.” (Page 91)

Rocco Buttiglione’s insight into the formative stages of the Pope’s mature thought offers a priceless gate of entry into the thinking of John Paul II. . . . A work of considerable ecumenical importance, this book provides the best available introduction to Wojtyla’s thought in any language.

—Michael Novak, journalist, novelist, diplomat

In my judgement, it is difficult to appreciate the richness of Pope John Paul II’s seminal encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, without a certain familiarity with his profound philosophical orientation. That ‘man is the way’ for the Church, for example, an axiom of the crucial encyclical, surely finds its roots in The Acting Person, which is but one of the demanding works Rocco Buttiglione explores in this study. An extraordinary study that should lead to a much better grasp of the subtleties of this remarkable Pope’s mind.

—John Cardinal O’Connor, archbishop of New York

Beyond dispute is John Paul II’s unrivaled stature as moral and spiritual leader on the world-historical stage. Why that should be the case cannot be explained apart from Karol Wojtyła as philosopher and theologian. This book opens the door to the expansive and adventuresome mind of a thinker who joins faith to reason and clarity to devotion, equipping us to cross into the third millennium with convincing hope.

—Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief, First Things

The life of John Paul II has been chronicled many times, and he is sure to have many biographies in the years to come, but no account is likely to surpass that of Rocco Buttiglione, whose personal friendship with the Holy Father and philosophical training equip him to understand the mind of John Paul II in all its subtlety and depth. It is one philosopher appreciating the work of another, as he engages practically the secular ecclesiastical issues of our day.

—Jude P. Dougherty, dean emeritus, School of Philosophy, Catholic University of America

  • Title: Karol Wojtyła: The Thought of the Man Who Became Pope John Paul II
  • Author: Rocco Buttiglione
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Pages: 400

Rocco Buttiglione is professor of politics, social ethics, and economics at the International Academy for Philosophy in Liechtenstein.


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Digital list price: $10.99
Save $2.00 (18%)