Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Person and Relation, for a conclusion

For a conclusion to my paper on Person and Relation.

Augustine made the link between person and relation, and introduced the category of pure relation into thought. His failure, at least according to Ratzinger, was that he did not see how this category carried over into the human person.

Aquinas saw that the person has to be on the level of existence (esse) rather than substance or essence, but restricted this to God, and failed, again according to Ratzinger, to transfer this to the rest of reality, and especially to human persons. He also treated Christ as an ontological exception. Christ is, instead, the pattern and model for human persons.

De Smet and Lonergan see the intellectual nature of the person as actually opening all persons, including human persons, to relationship. They also see the property of incommunicability as involving relationship and communication. De Smet observes that this intrinsically social nature of the person was lost in the modern period of the West, though this loss had roots in Duns Scotus.

From the turn to the subject in the modern period - a turn about which Balthasar is deeply suspicious - Lonergan gets inspiration to make a shift from metaphysics to method, or rather, to a general method which includes metaphysics, not however as primary and basic.

All three are open to learning from the contemporary period. Lonergan integrates considerations of Existenz into his discussions of the human person. He sees clearly that our emergence as persons is a process of mutual self-mediation with other persons and with society and tradition. Ratzinger probably uses contemporary insights to find that the concept of person, which emerged under the impact of revelation, was dialogical from the beginning. He also sees that we grow as persons in mediation, in interaction with other persons, and ultimately in interaction with the Other that is God. He sees in Christ the ultimate instance of this. And he clearly recognizes that the Christian revelation pushes us to recognize not merely an I-Thou relationship between God and human beings, but a We-We relationship. Christ is the space where the We of human beings is gathered into the We of God. This helps us find leads in Lonergan...

But above all, Lonergan might challenge the excessive suspicion that people like Balthasar have about the turn to the subject, to consciousness. He would at least oblige us to ask: what is the notion of consciousness, and of knowing, being, objectivity, that this particular theologian has? 

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