Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

159—Person and Act: John Paul II’s Philosophy w/ Timothy Flanders

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | May 05, 2023 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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Catholic University of America Press recently launched a major new series: the English Critical Edition of the Works of Karol Wojtyła/John Paul II. The first volume of the series was a new translation of Wojtyła’s 1969 book Person and Act, along with related essays.

In Person and Act Wojtyła set forth the foundation of his blend of phenomenology, Thomism and personalism, a foundation underlying much of his other philosophical and theological writing. The first English translation is generally considered to be quite inaccurate, and, crucially, removed the Latin terms by which Wojtyła refers to the Thomistic and scholastic tradition, leading to a false impression that Wojtyła was much more of a pure phenomenologist and less of a Thomist than he really was. Thus the new translation by Gregorz Ignatik is a significant moment for the reception of Wojtyła/John Paul II’s thought in the Anglosphere.

In this episode, Timothy Flanders joins Thomas Mirus to discuss Person and Act as they attempt to boil down some of the key points of this rather challenging book, setting Wojtyła’s philosophy in its intellectual, cultural, and religious context, and showing why his insights about human consciousness, the experience of morality, and the person are important for us as well.

Points discussed include:

  • How Wojtyła’s use of phenomenology and personalism relates to the traditional Aristo-Thomistic anthropology
  • The importance of phenomenological methods for the “healing of experience” and giving an objective account of the subjective
  • Correcting modern errors about consciousness
  • The concept of the person in relation to the traditional concept of human nature
  • The need to integrate cognition with experience and the danger of the “emotionalization of consciousness”
  • The centrality of morality to personhood


The Meaning of Catholic

Person and Act and Related Essays

Recommended secondary sources:


Crosby, The Personalism of John Paul II

Jablonska, A Pope for All Seasons

Less accessible:

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

Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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