To meet Rocco Buttiglione is to like him. He is almost certain to greet you with a smile, a warm handshake, playful brown eyes, and a welcoming jest. He is likely to be carrying a pipe or a short Italian cigar. His English is excellent, but his German—the language in which he lectured at the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein for many years— and his French and Spanish (they say) are even better.
I suppose that Professor Buttiglione’s Polish is pretty good, too, for it happens that as a young professor he went to Cracow to study certain aspects of the philosophical method, called phenomenology, that originated in the German-speaking world and that later gained an important center, especially in the fields of ethics and aesthetics, in Poland. (Many other important intellectual impulses of the early twentieth century—associated with philosophers such as Carnap, Wittgenstein, Popper, and Husserl and economists like Hayek and von Mises—originated in Austria and influenced Poland.) While in Cracow, Buttiglione came to know the new bishop, Karol Wojtyła. When the latter, quite suddenly, was elected Pope in 1978, Rocco was immediately among his close friends and counselors.
Rocco, who was born in Gallipoli in the “hee” of Italy, exactly four years to the day after D-Day, June 6, 1948, took up at the same time a professorship in Teramo, near Rome. So far as I know, Rocco Buttiglione is the only living philosopher from whom Pope John Paul II has ever