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Summary „To be or to have in the postmodernity (perspective of the Catholic personalism)”


Academic year: 2021

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Mgr. Łukasz Brózda


„To be or to have in the postmodernity (perspective of the Catholic personalism)”

It is hard to overlook, without going to any extremes, that modern man today faces a huge challenge resulting from a lacking much sense pursuit of increasing his possibilities in the area of consumption. The definitely excessive managing of all types of material goods today transforms many people into properly deprived of broader horizons, internally quite empty slaves of "possessing" and immediate satisfaction, focused almost only on multiplying already owned goods or replacing them with other, seemingly, more perfect ones. Consumption, which is the only part of our nature in postmodernity, has dominated its other spheres, even those as important as science, morality, art or religion. Increasingly, also the basis for the status, gradation, or simply happiness of individual people create principles referring to the consumption.

Consuming, as an indispensable element of human life since the dawn of time is a part of the biological existence of man and is a necessary condition for life, the metabolic cycle of absorption, digestion and excretion. Differences between the natural, from the point of view of human nature, consumption and consumerism must be searched in the social approach to the process of consumption. The thesis that consumption turns into consumerism seems legitimate when it ceases to be the means and becomes the goal of life and such a dominant activity that „have” is completely subordinated to what „to be” points out. Remaining through the body a creature connected with inseparable bonds with the world of nature, demanding consumption, a man feels through his spirituality a fundamental separation with him. If someone does not try to understand who they are, they are also unable, responsibly and sensibly, to face the dilemma of "being" or "having". Unfortunately, the modern context of our existence does not help us to think too deeply about our nature.

The issue of specific tension between the oppositional – as believed – worlds of values, world views and attitudes related to "to be" and "to have" is the subject of study among sociologists, educators, psychologists, and theologians (e.g. John Paul II,



Benedict XVI and Pope Francis). The "be" or "have" alternative makes also the subject of interest to philosophers, in particular of G. Marcel and E. Fromm, who recognized that human existence takes place in the space between two antagonistic levels of being:

existence and life.

The above-mentioned authors constitute a fundamental reference point for the presented dissertation. Due to the fact that the issue of tension between "to be or to have?" is of interest to almost all modern sciences, there were used also numerous studies from such disciplines, as: philosophy, sociology, economics, pedagogy, theology. Considering just the title of the dissertation, it is natural that the author has reached first of all for authors, who can be included in the broadly understood postmodern trend as well as those referring to the Catholic personalism. Due to a direct or indirect connection with the analyzed issue, the bibliography was divided into literature on the subject and secondary literature.

While preparing this dissertation, mostly two types of scientific publications in the field of humanities were used: analytical and synthetic. A query and analysis of numerous publications, which the author considered as important from the point of view of the topic of the thesis, became the basis for proposing, within its framework and basing on his own thoughts, appropriate syntheses.

Within the monograph, two research goals were pursued to be carried out.

Therefore, it was attempted to show the correlation between the contemporary overestimation of the value of "having" over "being" with thinking and lifestyle preferred by postmodernism. By highlighting the threats that appear in this area in the postmodernism, the author also attempted to present personalism as this intellectual- existential system, which by referring to the personal approach of a man avoids extremes in the area of the "be or have?" dilemma. The man does not only have to give up the possession, but must see in it one of the factors of respecting his transcendence.

The dissertation To be or to have in postmodernity (perspective of the Catholic personalism) consists of five chapters, which aim is to fulfil the research goal. In the

first of these I will try to outline the "be or have" dilemma in a historical and philosophical context. In its first part, there is a peculiar short query of philosophical literature: from Greek antiquity to modernity around the the problem of possession,



which is interesting for us, and the resulting implications. In the other two paragraphs of the first chapter, there was made an attempt to show the perspective of Erich Fromm and Gabriel Marcel regarding the tension between being and possessing, i.e. of the twentieth-century philosophers, for whom this topic was actually the main subject of consideration.

Due to the fact that modern man faces dilemmas about how to have and be in a specific reality, then in the second chapter there will appear a space to show those conditions of postmodernity, which from the perspective of Catholic personalism threaten solutions to these dilemmas worthy of a person. There will be place for such phenomena and social facts as: incomplete vision of man and humanity, anthropological materialism, the illusion of a world without suffering, irrationalism and a reducing vision of freedom. It is also hard to overlook other serious issues: the crisis of personal ties and social life, individualism and the crisis of social ties, symptoms of social injustice, the banalized perception of love. Anxiety, not only from the point of view of personalism, is roused by the today’s developing "axiology" of consumerism, the symptoms of secularization, transformations in the sphere of faith and religion, and finally the sacralization of consumption. The way of rational moving in the area of things and people is also not made easier for the modern man by the strong primacy of the material-economic and technological paradigm. To its main effects may be counted.

dramatic manifestations of the ecological crisis.

In the context of even such a cursorily outlined agglomerate of threats that the consumer postmodernity brings with it, the serious crisis of human identity within it cannot be surprising. By dealing with this in the third chapter, I will touch on the problems of many people with fluid reality, actually existing in the trap of the global world. It is impossible not to refer to very disturbing cultural tendencies that do not seem to favor the "being" of a person. This statement must first be referred to the media and fashion as factors that directly stimulate the consumption trend.In this context, it is not surprising that at least some attempts to identify a postmodern man relate to the consumption.

In the next two chapters, inspired by the position of personalism, I will propose soome characteristic for this trend respecting of both spheres of a person's existence,



that is, those related to "have" and "to be". The personalism appears as a chance for a person's rational existence in the postmodern consumer world, because it raises the value of all his needs. In the fourth chapter of the thesis there is a place to show what is associated with "have" in the context of personalistic morality. The existence of modern man - consumer in the space of personalistic ideals of social life will be discussed here.

The issue of affirmation of progress and possession from the perspective of personalism will also be addressed. This chapter is crowned by the outline of personalistic axiology.

In the last chapter of the dissertation, there appear some fundamental considerations for it regarding "being", which means the transcendent dimension of the human nature.

There will be discussed here the specificity of human being in the historical aspect, as well as outlined an integral personalistic anthropology. Attention will also be paid to the development of a person, always taking place in the space of culture and work. After showing the responsibility of a person for nature, there will also appear an important issue of existence of a person in the sphere of the sacrum.

Łukasz Brózda


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