The Personal Being (Polo)

I wish to say, just at the beginning, that we are very convinced of the great relevance of Leonardo Polo’s philosophical anthropology. To speak here today is due to that conviction, and to the attempt that our particular opinion could be judge by an impartial audience.

Significance of Leonardo Polo’s Anthropology

We want to focus on this question: which matter is more important, the philosophical anthropology of Leonardo Polo, or perhaps his enquiry about the limit of human knowledge, and accordingly his methodological proposal of giving up such a mental limit?

We want to emphasize his anthropology, because all the philosophy of Leonardo Polo is essentially anthropology. There is no doubt that Polo has researched in others fields, like metaphysics, causal physics, and many more. But one must answer that metaphysics is a human knowledge, and like Polo formulates such a human knowledge; furthermore, Polo has written about the physic universe, pointing at its character of fundament, in his Theory Course of Knowledge.

We insist: the philosophy of Polo is essential anthropology. And that is because his methodological proposal is a special freedom that the philosopher can take, and can exercise. There is a kind of solidarity between his methodological proposal, from which all his philosophy is formulated, and his anthropology.

If we return to our theme, we can ask again where does the importance of the anthropology of Polo lie? To answer in general terms, the anthropology of Polo is, in our opinion, very important because it modifies the character of human knowledge: it amplifies it.

a) The human knowledge:

We would dare to say what follows.

The human being has lived for twenty-five centuries without philosophy. Not without knowing anything; but only with practical knowledge, and has formulated his lasts explanations over the world in myths and literary narrations generation after generation. Philosophy did not appear until the sixth century before Christ, and when that happened, it was a theoretical form of knowledge.

After that, the human being has lived for another twenty-five centuries established in the value of theory. The first philosophy was a form of theoretical knowledge, that has been spread out to all the set of second philosophies. They, at last, have generated our current sciences. Sciences have modified human techniques that have transformed the world in which we live today.

Twenty-five centuries without theory, another twenty-five centuries taking advantage of the possibilities of theory. We might be entering another twenty-five centuries equipped with a knowledge somehow more than the theoretical. The methodological proposal of Polo for the philosophy is meta-theoretic; its importance rests on this point.

If this was so, the very word “Philosophy” could change. Perhaps in doing so, we could give lead to a misunderstanding rather than to aid. The modification that the approach of Leonardo Polo involves for human knowledge is an amplification that could be designated in a very appropriate term eleutero-sophy: free knowledge, and knowledge of freedom; or perhaps heuristic-sophy: knowledge that look for itself.

That is what Aristotle said about philosophy, of first philosophy: that it is the science, the intellectual knowledge that is looked for. But Aristotle associates such a search with the natural wish of knowing, with the theory, and its gradual spreading and development. In doing so, he did not make the most of the notion of heuristic.

But, the wish of knowing, (the desire towards theory, the philosophy (or even the increase of our knowledge to which such a desire is directed)), it is not the same as the search of knowing. Because wishing means to tend, and tendencies are clearly different of knowing possessions; that one doesn’t possess, one wishes it; but with everything that one already has, one can enjoy. Nevertheless, the search of knowledge it is not merely a desiderative dynamic, but cognitive too. It is extremely compatible with the possession of notions, because one needs knowledge even to seek. Furthermore, searching is better than knowing, because if it is treated with Wisdom, then there is no doubt that in this life, one has nothing to do but search it; and this is something more than to desire it.

Sometimes it is distinguished between animals, that are incapable of knowing, and God, who knows everything, and from a human being, who knows, but in a partial sense, and for this reason, wants to know more. Philosophy, it is said, is not divine, but strictly speaking, human. I repeat, knowledge it is not only the object of desire, but it is a theoretical possession. Although the knowledge that has been reached would be a limited one, that does not stop another upper knowledge: heuristic-sophy.

And definitely: the desire is directed towards the knowledge —to theory— from its absence. The search set out of knowledge with the intention of knowing more, of going further on theory. Moreover, when the knowledge is understood in a heuristic sense, one can comprise how the human wisdom is opened without any objection to another upper wisdom: to divine wisdom. Certainly, reason is directly compatible with faith.

b) Metaphysics and anthropology

We have the offer of a new form of knowledge, heuristic-sophy. Or, just a new method for philosophy: the abandonment of mental limit, that leads to a meta-theoretical knowledge. We can ask ourselves now: What is the basis for this new form of wisdom?

Leonardo Polo often says that it consists of amplifying classic metaphysics with a transcendental anthropology. Or, that one must add to the classic set of the transcendental metaphysics, another new set of trascendentals notions: the one of anthropological trascendentals, the trascendentals of person. One must add to being, truth and good, for instance, to coexist, to understand and to love. These are the subjective and personal side of metaphysics trascendentals. Therefore, the transcendental anthropology of Polo is an enlargement of classic philosophy in order to discover, in human person, not only a theme between others, but a different and original theme from that of metaphysics. For example, transcendental themes like those of metaphysics. This is the way in which the transcendental anthropology is proposed.

As far as metaphysics is concerned, when it is added to such anthropology, metaphysics limits its scope and specifies its objects. Metaphysics it is not the knowledge of entity in all its universality, but it is the knowledge of grounds, of fundamental being. To such a fundament it has now been added the knowledge of free being, of freedom: that is the theme of transcendental anthropology.

We shall dare to say it in another way. It concerns with adding to the theme the methodological dimension of knowledge. For this reason it is also eleutero-sophy. Because human knowledge can liberate itself from being attached to the theme (to the theme of metaphysics, the ground). Then the knowledge can achieve to be in charge of itself, of its proper methodical dimension. The dimension that constitutes itself, is that at the end of the personal freedom. That is exactly what distinguishes anthropology from metaphysics. The object of anthropology is at the same time its subject. The theme of anthropology is the human being. But also man formulates it: the theme is added to the method.

Moreover, it is not true that modern philosophy inquires and pursues the method? Discourse of method is the title of the most famous work of Descartes, the book that opens the door of modernity. Kant devotes his philosophy to the critic of reason, of our cognitive instrument. That is, to the method. Hegel will arbitrate the dialect like the method that can generate the content of absolute knowledge, the one that monopolizes the entire reality.

The philosophy of Leonardo Polo recognizes that the approach of modern thinking is the attempt of a transcendental anthropology. The modern philosophy of subjectivity fails because it is made in symmetry with the metaphysics. Modern philosophy has understood freedom in a causal way, with notions that involve the ground, in the same terms of entity. Such symmetry is, according to Polo, the wrong thing of modern subjectivism. The anthropology of Leonardo Polo is, from this point of view, a thorough rectification of such subjectivism. In order to do so, it requires the essential distinction of ground and freedom.

In fact, this is the direct and specific benefit of the modification or enlargement of human knowledge that Polo has proposed: to distinguish sufficiently ground and freedom. This happens when philosophy is elevated to its meta-theoretic level, that is, when classic philosophy is enlarged, or modern philosophy is rectified. Or if when it is added to the knowledge theme its methodical dimension, then one can establish exactly the last double reference of human knowledge. The double reference that turns the human knowledge dual: metaphysics and anthropology.

Human wisdom —practical, theoretical and meta-theoretical— has always dealt with two big themes, that are the ground and the destiny, the ground of the universe and the human destiny.

Polo’s anthropology can distinguish both themes clearly, because it declares that human destiny does not derive from ground. It is not explained by metaphysics. Human destiny sends us to freedom. So, human destiny is separated from the universe and points to transcendence in the same order of the person, of its intimacy. For this reason, anthropology is transcendental.

c) Theme of anthropology

To what contributes the transcendental anthropology of Leonardo Polo? To what lead to such a modification of the way of knowledge?

We shall answer the theme of transcendental anthropology is the person.

Polo, of course, did not conceive the notion of person, originally. It comes etymologically from the masks that were used in ancient Greek theatre to amplify the sound of human voice and to play different roles in a performance. In philosophy, it is a concept of Christian origin. It was created in order to formulate both a notion of the divine trinity, and the one of Christ. There is only one God, only one divine nature. But nevertheless there are three different persons; although there is only one person in Jesus Christ, however He has two different natures: divine and human. In both cases, person distinguishes itself from the notion of nature. And nature was the first theme of philosophy.

The notion of person does not belong exclusively to Polo. But it is the particular way of Polo to focus on human person, because it has been common, along the history of philosophy, to focus the anthropology on human nature. There are a lot of manuals of that matter which begin examining the evolution of living organisms until the apparition of homo sapiens. After that, they continue studying the faculties of such a rational animal: its sensibility, its capacity of knowing; its tendencies and appetites, both that have their origin in sensibility and that have its origin in free will, and so on. Further on they examine some of the production that the human being achieves in activating its capabilities: work, culture, economy, family, society, etc. Moreover they examine separately other dimensions of human reality like its  aesthetic sense, its religiosity, its historicity… . As well, of course, it is a theme for the person; but, only one? Following Polo, one must focus anthropology on person; one must discuss any other anthropological theme from person and depending on person.

By the way, doing so, we find a test of the person’s value. It is so usual, perhaps, to the traditional anthropology, to focus on human nature, without paying enough attention to person. For instance, ethics used to distinguish between acts of man (all those which man does), and those other acts that properly are human, those which are deliberated: those that have been done with warning, intention and free will. But, strictly speaking, only the last one are personal acts. It could sound strange or partial to separate the acts that are impersonal. But it is asked by the same dignity of person. Then man would notice that, which is called natural, although it is not entirely personal, is, probably and in some way, capable of being assumed by a person. After that, man would recognise that only in that way is interest for transcendental anthropology. The anthropology of Polo distinguishes, better than human acts and acts of man, between received life and life contributed by person. It is a better way of understanding that matter by taking in mind the personal being.

The transcendental anthropology discovers in the human person a singular existence, proper of person. Moreover it points out that being has at least two senses: a personal one that it is different from the other one, the physic. Being is different for persons and for all other being of the universe. Furthermore the transcendental anthropology understands that person achieves to be free. That involves a new meaning for existence. Therefore, human person is not a reality, which participates of existence together with the rest of beings that are the subject matter of metaphysics. Human person is a reality, which exercises a peculiar and proper activity of being. To the human person corresponds a unique and exclusive act of being, which belongs to the person.

Polo accepts the traditional anthropology, the metaphysic one, which provides a coherent notion of man according to the analogy of being. But Polo proposes us his transcendental anthropology like an innovation that pretends to improve our understanding of personal being over analogy.

d) The transcendental anthropology

What says about personal being, on human person, the transcendental anthropology of Leonardo Polo, then? Briefly and plainly enunciated: the dualities and the trascendentals. These are the matters of the second and third part of the first volume of the Antropologia transcendental.

Such a matter implies that to personal being corresponds some transcendentals, which are only appropiate to it. Such trascendentals are, specifically, four: the existence, or rather, the co-existence of person, its freedom, its personal intellect, and the gift-love of person. Such a doctrine is, in part, already known. I shall limit myself to emphasize, among these four trascendentals of person, the transcendental freedom. Polo understands that freedom is the most typical transcendental of human person. Freedom is not only a property of its behaviour, of its free will, as the tradition assets; but it is a characteristic of its being, of its existence. It is a transcendental of person.

Freedom as being

But, firsts, one must said that human person is a dual being, or that human person pair up itself. That is not very well known, perhaps. But it is extremely important.

First of all, because the same transcendentals of person are considered according to dualities: existence and freedom form a duality that constitutes the intimacy of person, the inner aperture of person. The intellect and the gift-love pair up between then and from each other, constituting the inside aperture of human person. A person that search, deepen in its intimacy, recognition and acceptance.

But, furthermore, the duality is a very indicative characteristic of the freedom that concerns to personal being. Polo describes it as being furthermore. In order to show it, I am going to focus on the intelligen e, because the Polo’s philosophy of mental limit encloses an incisive account of intellectual activity. Such an account supports, at lasts, his entire anthropology.

I am thinking, specifically, that such a focussing in person of the entire anthropology, culminates the realistic intention of Aristotle correction of Plato. According to Aristotle, Nous is the topos for ideas, and consequently there is no heavenly world where they exist. But now, one can add that it is the person the one who exercises the intellect. And that it is not the last one who acts in a spontaneous way.

At this point, I dare to think, that there is possible some discussion of the traditional thesis. The tradition, which began with Aristotle used to focus on the actuality of intelligible notions a little bit more than in the activity of the intellectual. If we straight such a tendency applying the couple potency-act to intelligible notions, we shall notice that the intelligible is related to an intellectual act. In order to understand the different intelligibility of the material and of the mental, it would be appropiate to distinguish the intelligible that is heterogeneous with the mental activity from the intelligible that is similar with such an activity. Such a distinction will allow us to add the transcendental anthropology to metaphysics. According to such addition, we point out the sequence from idea, through understanding, to person. And not only as a epistemological question, but in it existential scope. The freedom of intellectual activity expresses a peculiar way of being.

Let’s see it.

At this issue, Plato seems to be a heir of Parmenides. To be means to be always the same. To keep itself in being, to restrain the erosion of time in order to still being that what such a being is. According to this, what changes, what appears again, or what have a birth and a death, that, in real terms, is not being. Strictly speaking, real is only the ideal, because it always keeps itself being what is it. What it is moving is only a copy or a imitation of the true reality, that which is always the same to itself.

After Plato, Aristotle improves such an understanding of reality. According to him, in order to be always the same, one must to exercise any type of activity. To be is to be in act. To exercise activities according to them something achieves to restrain time, to keep itself and to be. Particularly, ideas are always the same, they keep themselves, because they have been thought. And understanding is a singular activity. Its present is simultaneous with its perfect: one thinks, and already has thought. Mental activity is not a temporal one. It is an inmanent activity. And according to such activity, the idea is always the same that it is.

There is mental activity and there is physic activity too, which achieve to keep itself in being. In circulars movements on heaven the beginning and the end coincide. Stars rotate always the same to themselves, without stoppage or variation. The meteorological transformations under the Moon, imitating the circle, keep the elements in being. From earth arises water. From water, air; from air, fire; and from the last one comes up earth. At the end of the cycle, there are the four elements again. In other words, we have always the same. The same have achieved to restrain time, to keep itself by means of its mutual transformations.

Medieval philosophy followed that tradition, and consequently it distinguishes, for creatures, between act of being and essentials activities. In one hand, the activities in order to keeping, to persist in being, in the other hand, the sets of activities that have to do with achieve that, or the activities that must be exercise while the thing lasts.

A philosophy of creation, certainly, must distinguish between originating being from any other being, those that have a beginning and become to being. These, the creatures, exert its activity in order to exist, to achieve being, not merely in order to keep always their sameness.

At this moot is pertinent the inquiry of Leonardo Polo on mental activity. It is possible to exist in the way of subsisting. That is proper to physic universe, whose act of being is the persistence. But it is possible to exist adding something to the mere still keeping in time. Such an activity is to keep itself on the way of adding itself; or better to say, by insisting. Polo said that to human person is not enough to persist, but to “be furthermore”. Being is persisting, but for persons being means to insist, to add itself, to goes on.

The intellectual operation it is not only without time, it is not only present, because what has been thought keep itself always sameness. Intellectuals operations can be intensified, making themselves stronger, in the way of expressing the operation, not only the notion or the intellectual object. The intellectual exercise pairs up: theme, and after method. To the theme it is possible to add the method. Such an intensification of mental activity, according to it, the mental activity pair up itself, points out and shows the personal way of keeping, of exists in the way of adding, of being furthermore.

Such an insistence of mental activity can be prosecuted. Intellectual habits follows the intellectual operations expressing them. Habits make possible new intellectual operations too. But all of this culminates in a personal habit, a habit of the human entity. Such habit of the human entity means to have the operations and the habits at the person disposal. Such a habit is the self who knows its proper intellectual activity, but only the essential one. The self of each person can be denominated self, or the entity habit of “sinderesis”. Sinderesis is an extension of knowing that has its origin at the intellect. The intellect, moreover, can be reached in its proper transparency: to know about itself. Furthermore, the personal intellect, even deprived of human wisdom, can search its proper theme. That is a theme that overflows and transcends the scope of any method. We have operations, and furthermore habits; acquired habits, and furthermore personal habits; habitual wisdom, and furthermore personal intellect; and, as if all of these weren't enough, we have the immense and boundless theme of personal intellect. As I have said, it is always furthermore.

In such a prosecution, from operation to the reaching of human act of being, the intellectual activity intensifies itself. It pairs up and it reiterates its duality. In doing so, it goes on furthermore and it contributes with itself. Then, it is insistent activity, dual activity. Activity that doubles itself and redoubles itself, because it concerns with a being that it is always furthermore. For this reason, it refers to an exact way of being, of keeping in being, of insisting in its act of being.

Moreover, it expresses properly the free existence, the free way of being. In adding itself, by insisting, the activity liberates itself of the previous, and contributes itself as novelty. It can liberate again from such novelty in the way of reiterating it adding. So it is pairing up: it contributes itself, it intensifies itself, and it continues itself by innovating itself. That means to be free, with the freedom of a knowing act of being. That means “eleutero-sophy”, as I have already said you. For this reason, the duality shows very well the free act of being of human person, of that act of being that keep itself by adding itself, of that act of being that Polo called the furthermore act of being of human person.

As Polo suggests, the furthermore character of human person can be achieved by giving up the mental limitation. Intellectual operation is the limit to what has been known by intellectual objects. And intellectual operations  are the starting points, because knowing must liberate itself from operation in order to add itself. But that can be done in one sense, by means of expressing the intellectual operation, after that, by maintaining it and seeing its expression. But whatever, that can be done by means of achieving the personal intellect proper transparency, and by means of directing the persona intellect in the search of the boundless theme.

The very well known sentence of Saint Augustine, “if you would said that it is enough, then you will be lost” it is not only a psychological advice, but it is perfectly descriptive of personal act of being, of an act of being that it is always furthermore. It is an insisting, a redoubling, a contribution, a innovation.

I am going to repeat it, because it is certainly something deep. The intellectual activity frees itself from its attachment to the theme, redoubles its exercise, it intensifies it, and makes a theme the same method. Such making a theme involves, at the same time, to make a method the theme. Because in such reiterating, the method (as method and as known theme) has been added. Theme and method pair up, pull one of each other; In doing so, the activity is contributed and it is kept by adding itself. That is the way in which we reach the furthermore being of human person.

The innovation of knowledge that L. Polo proposes is born in this free character of the knowing existence of human person. Such knowing existence adds the method to the theme according to a dual intensification of intellectual activity. Human person it is a being that always is furthermore. For this reason, human knowledge it is open to a future beyond what has been known in present. It is metatheory, heuristic-sophia. And, lasts, for this reason, the personal intellect search its boundless and immense theme: the supreme wisdom, that the divine truth is.

The personal being

Taking everything into account, human freedom is a way of being, that it is characterized by being dual. Or perhaps, it pairs up in order to reach its being, in order to being furthermore. In doing so, we arrive to the aim of this paper: to put forward the higher dualities of human person.

I understand that these dualities are four: i. the duality between human person and God; ii. The inner duality of each person; iii. The duality between human person and the universe, and in general terms with the whole reality out of mind; and iv. The duality of the person with its proper human nature.

These dualities concern with the list of the higher knowing habits of the person, the personal habits or the innate ones. They are: “sinderesis”, habit of first principles and habit of wisdom. To them it is possible to add the search without method of personal intellect’s theme. Such a search is without method because it goes beyond of what can be reach with the giving up of mental limit.

We are going to consider these dualities separately.

a) the first one, is the duality between human person and God. Human being, like all other beings except divine being, it is a created being. The being is no genus, but it can divided among two: created and non created. Human being, as creature, is absolutely dependent on God. But the human being concerns with God not only in terms of dependence, but it has an internal aperture to its creator, because human being is a spirit. The human person concerns to God. Such a concerning constitutes the last button of personal being, and its more deep desire.

The four anthropological trascendentals flex that final reference from man to God. Human person co-exists intimately with its creator in the way of have a destiny in God. Moreover, God is the theme that the personal intellect, search. The human person give away to Him, hoping its acceptance.

Human person sound out its interior, going into itself, who is its creator, and where is its destiny, or which is its more deep truth. For this reason, human person pursues the divine acceptance of its personal reality.

b) The personal intimacy of is constituted by the inner duality of each human person. It is the “method-thema duality” in the inner botton of each human being. At that botton, the person reaches to know about itself. Persons are beings that known about themselves. They are not beings that exist and after have certain knowledge about them. They are beings that have an intellectual existence. They exist knowing about themselves.

Such a knowing about itself it is, in a certain way, insufficient. It is not, strictly speaking, its truth. The ultimate reason, because human person lack of inner replica. Its wisdom is a habit, a possession, an existential disposal. But there is no other person, another person with whom to coexists. Human being lacks of inner replica because it is a creature; only God’s Word (its Verb) is a wisdom that, at the same time, is a person. The Son is identical with the Father.
But such a lack of replica for the human person, such a solitude for the personal intimacy, it is not a whole emptiness. It is, in no way, negative. It is no diminish to the finite character of second creature. The lack of replica allows, on the other hand, the direction of the intellectual search. In witness whereof, the personal intellect knows which it is searching. Otherwise, how could it search it?

c) The third anthropological duality is the one that links human person with the creation of universe, with the creature other one than human person. Without such a creature, the same human person would not be possible, because the moreover being is a second being.

Human person, said Polo, is a generous being that respect the first creature. Human person lets being the first creature without interfering in it. It is certainly generous, because it forgets of itself, and renouncing to any contribution, it accepts the creation of the universe, and also because it opens itself outside, without asking the same about itself, in order to inhabit the world, carrying out and raising it.

I want to suggest a symbol of the generosity of human person: the face. Human face, that looks around, is not only an image of person, but of it aperture outside. Without such an aperture, its human nature would not have at its disposal. Consequently, it could not act.

d) The fourth and last radical duality of human person is the one that links human person with its nature.

The human nature is a corporal one. It has spiritual potencies too, like mind and free will, and perhaps with the affectivity.

Human person has at its disposal its nature, especially by means of the habits. Habits allow a certain control about its nature. Habits are the growth of some operative principles. Of course, growth is the essential expression of a furthermore being, of a being that adds, insists and goes on.

The person, by means of habits, improves its nature because it raises its nature to the essence of a personal being. The person turns its nature in its expression by means of it personalization.

The essence of man certainly is an expression of the person that coexists. But it is also an expression of the other trascendentals. The transcendental freedom has at its own disposal a nature. It is a illumination of the out of-mind being by the intellect and a contribution by the personal giving.

The last is especially relevant. Human person is donation. It aspires and tries to makes gifts. But without acting by means of its nature, the human person would not have a gift to contribute. Then, its gift-love would come to nothing. The duality between the person and its nature has a special significance in order to fulfil the structure of the human person as a created being.

This summary of the four higher dualities of human being is logically very concise. It pretends to encourage the research and the developing of Polo’s anthropology. But, w at has been said, is

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