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

By Rocco Buttiglione; Paolo Guietti et al. | Go to book overview
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5. The Acting Person

Structure of the Work

The Acting Person is clearly Karol Wojtyła’s major work, the homecoming of his philosophical journey. In Love and Responsibility, the new approach gained through the critical assimilation of Scheler and of phenomenology is empirically tested against one aspect of human life. In The Acting Person,1 the new

1. Osoba i Czyn (Crakow: Polskie Towarzystwo Teologiczne, 1969). The American
translation, amply corrected and revised, of 1979 is edited by Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka
(Dordrecht/Boston/London: Reidel) and bears the title The Acting Person. The work
appeared also as volume 10 of the Analecta Husserliana in a translation by Andrzej Potoki.
A second Polish edition of Osoba i Czyn was prepared for this translation, and it was from
this text that the American translation was then made. An important discussion about
this occurred. Some (including Alfred Bloch, Andrzej Poltawski, and, at least indirectly,
also Andrew N. Woznicki) have criticized Anna-Teresa Tymienicka for an interpretive
revision of the book, which, by carefully avoiding the technical terms which Wojtyła uses,
excessively phenomenologized both his language and his ideas. The effect of this was to
reduce the importance of the hypokeimenon or of the suppositum, which is the metaphysi-
cal subject to which all attributions regarding the person refer. This debate makes the
position of the scholar who wants to use Wojtyła’s main work particularly difficult. The
first edition is outdated, but the new American translation is unreliable, or at least
overshadowed by doubts. Such doubts have been heightened by Anna-Teresa Ty-
mieniecka herself, who in “A page of History, or from ‘Osoba i Czyn’ to ‘The Acting
Person’.” (Phenomenology Information Bulletin 3 [October, 1979], pp. 3-52) has spoken
of collaboration of two authors in the translation and practically raised herself to the rank
of co-author of the book. By so doing she has legitimated suspicions about the fidelity of
the translation. I have been relieved of embarrassment through the courtesy of Stanislaw


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