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Part 1


One Philosophy: An Attempt as its
Definition, Nature and Historical Outline..7
Two Why Philosophy? .12
Three Philozophizing and Insight.15
Four The Nature of Philosophical Inquiry20
Five philosophy in a Crisis Situation25


SIX Man: As Some Western Philosophers

See him.30
Seven The Phenomenon of Man42
Eight Man is Existential Phenomenology46
Nine Man: As Eastern Philosophers See Him
Towards a View of Man: An
Oriental perspective
By Dr. Magdalena Alonso-Villaba.55
Ten Filipino Values.68
Eleven Man as Knower..80
Twelve Man in Dialogue.83
Thirteen Man as Lover..89
Fourteen Man and God
Rational Inquiry About of Gods Existence
By Francis E. Reilly, S.J. ..92
Fifteen Man and Freedom.102
Sixteen The Filipino and Freedom
Freedom: A Politico-Historical
By Dolores A. Reyes106
Seventeen Man as Worker.112
Eighteen Man: A Being-for-Death120
Nineteen Man and His Environment125


Philosophy of Man is an inquiry into man as person and as existent being in the world,
with emphasis, in this book, on the Filipino in the context of his culture and society.

This is a textbook for student like mine whose knowledge in philosophy is rather scanty.
I have tried to be as simple as possible without hopefully falling into the error of over-

It is my hope that each student at the end of the course

Will come to realize the true nature of philosophy and philosophical inquiry;
Is knowledgeable about man and his existence in the world;
Is particularly concerned about values:
About mans truth, freedom, death,
Relations with God and others; and
Is oriented towards a constant philosophical
Evaluation of man.

Part I is about philosophy; Part II is about man. The chapter on the Oriental perspective
on man is in response to the oft-repeated observation that our view of man is usually one-sided
in favor of the West. If the treatment of the course is incomplete or not comprehensive
enough, just remember the time frame is only one semester.

This is a revised edition. The changes, additions mostly, are inputs from friends and
faculty members from various schools teaching the course. For instance, I have given capsule
annotations to some of the philosophers I emotion in the historical outline in Chapter Six. There
are additions in commentaries on Values, Work and death.

I have presented a simpler version of the article of Dr Ramon C. Reyes, Philosophy in a
Crisis Situation, and an addendum to Dr. Magdalena Alonso Villabas eastern philosophies,
including a short essay on Islam

Since the topic of the human being and his environment is the in thing now, I am
happy to include excerpts from the article on this by Sister Mary Soledad Perpinan, R.G.S., a
personal witness to the Rio de Janerio Earth Summit.

` I have added a reflection page at the end of each chapter at the suggestion of Arts Dean
Leovino Ma. Garcia of the Ateneo de Manila University who found the reflection pages in my
book, Contemporary Ethics, provocative.

I wish to thank all those who helped me in one way or another, especially my sister Flor,
my typist, and the National Book Store Publishing Staff.

And I wish to thank my contributors whose immediate and generous response is most
heart-warming and is a testimony of their friendship.

Part 1


Media, at any given day and time, literally explode with what contemporary man is
about, what his interests are and, inevitably, what he is.

They pose a challenge: Is the contemporary man the same as the ancient and medieval
man? The external trappings are certainly different: where he lives, how he lives, how he
travels, what he wears, what he eats. But essentially he is the same as yesterdays man.

If we do a historical about-face, what do we see? The world wars, the birth of Marxism,
the Industrial Revolution, the exploit of Columbus, the rise and fall of `the Roman Empire, and
the people of Homer and Sophocles. We see man with the same loves and hates, his bigness
and pettiness, his godlike vision and earthbound ways. World literature and the rest of the arts
depict nothing else.

To each of us, however, is addressed the question: What is man to you? Each of us must
make the journey into this question, personally, philosophically, with the help of those who
have already undertaken it.

Because though todays man is essentially the same as yesterdays man in our historical
about-face, we also note the differences in how man of each era tried to cope with the
problems of his times and how this was duly noted, if not initiated, by philosophers.

We look around us, we look inside us. There is no other way. As Socrates once said. The
unexamined life not worth living.

And so, this is what this course, Philosophy of Man, is all about: to examine man in all
his dimensions as person, as existent being in the world his dignity, truth, freedom, justice,
love, death, in relation with others and God, with emphasis on the Filipino in the context of his
culture and society.


Philosophy: An attempt at its Definition, Nature, and Historical outline

Definition of philosophy

The word philosophy can be looked at from two aspects: its etymological and its real definition

Etymologically, philosophy comes from two Greek words, philo and Sophia, which means love
of wisdom. Thus, a philosopher is a lover of wisdom.

Its real definition can be stated briefly: philosophy is a search for meaning.

The word search means to look, to find, to seek. It connotes, however, something more
serious, more intense, more of a quest. There is definitely a world of difference between the
ordinary and the philosophical meaning of search. The difference lies in the three elements
found in philosophical search. These are:

1. The object of the search is of real value to the subject. In philosophy, broadly speaking,
object refers to a thing, subject to the person philosophizing.

We hear of buyers having paid more than $50 million for an estimated $8 million
worth of jewelry because of the late Duchess of Windsor at a recent auction because of
romantic and historical reasons. Philosophers likewise favor certain objects, such as
what Heidegger terms the limits experiences of God, life and death.

2. It consumes the whole person his attention, concentration, interests, and effort.

A person can hardly eat or sleep at the loss of a big amount of cash, or at the exciting
prospect of a momentous event. Likewise, a philosopher can hardly afford distractions
as he goes on his search.He observes, reads, reflects, writes on what to him now is the
most important thing in his life.

3. It is continued without let-up until (a) the answer is found, or (b) the answer is not yet
found, but the conviction is reached that for the moment at least this is the best
possible although still imperfect answer.

One observes that man can never be satisfied, completely and for always. True,
for man is a homo viator, a traveler, and life presents a lot of questions. Philosophy can
answer most, but not all, of these questions. However, this should not be a cause for

despair. Accepting man as he is a finite, imperfect being is accepting also the

inadequate answers to certain questions. It is enough that man tries his best up to lifes
end to confront the myriad problems his being a homo viator poses.

The philosopher searches for the meaning of life its importance, significance,
value, and revelance.

The Nature of Philosophy

It is in the very nature of philosophy that man searches for the meaning of himself and
his world. It can truly be said that philosophy was born the very first time man started
wondering at what he saw around him.

To the early Greeks, philosophy was a superstar of a subject. They looked with favor
..On a total world picture in the unity of all truths whether they were scientific, ethical,
religious, or aesthetic. A Greek philosophos was concerned not only with the particular types of
knowledge, but with all types,

Later, of course, we witness the other subjectmathematics, physics, chemistry,

biology, psychology, astronomy, theology come into their own. Today, philosophy is
considered to have four main branches: logic, ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics.
Universities with a major in philosophy usually offer the following core subjects:

1. Logic (the science and art of correct thinking)

2. Ethics ( the science of the morality of human acts)
3. Epistemology (the theory of knowledge, the goal of which is truth)
4. Metaphysics (the foundation subject of all philosophy, it deals with human reality and
system of human thought that seeks to explain the fundamental concepts of man)
5. Cosmology (the study of inanimate things such as the universe, from the philosophical
6. Aesthetics ( the study of the beautiful)
7. Rational or Philosophical Psychology (the study of the life principle of living things,
specifically that of man)
8. Theodicy (the philosophical study of God)
9. Social Philosophy (the study of man in relation to the family, the State, and the Church)
10. Philosophy of Man (as already defined in the first chapter, is the inquiry into his
dimensions as persons and as existent being in the world: his dignity, truth, freedom,
justice, love, death, his relations with others and with God)

A Short Historical Outline


At the start of the semesters, the temptation is great to begin the discussion with once
upon a time and why not? To students, the beginnings of philosophy seem so long ago it has
the aura of fairy tales and dinosaurs.

It is commendable to put introduction in a capsule historical perspective and says that

indeed once upon a time there lived people in Greece who taught the world was made up of
water or air, who preceded the well-known triumvirate of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; that
Socrates and Plato were brilliant, but that it was Aristotle who contributed significantly in the
following areas: ethics, logic, metaphysics, art, literature, psychology, biology, politics, and then
when he died in 322 BC he had given the world so much, but the best tribute came sixteen
centuries later, where in the thirteenth century, he was rediscovered and his philosophy was
put within the Christian framework by Thomas Aquinas, the angelic doctor, the best
philosopher of the Middle Ages.

One can be tempted to write a detailed historical account of philosophy but time and
space are constraints. So only a brief skeletal outline of the history of western thought will be
given here, and only to put this course in its proper perspective and to place correctly periods
and philosophers mentioned.

There are three excellent sources easily available:

1. A History of Philosophy by Frederick Copleston, S.J.

2. Realms of Philosophy by William S. Sahakian and Mabel lewis Sahakian
3. Approaches to Ethics by W. T. Jones, Frederick Sontag, Moron O. Beckner, and Robert
Fogelin, editors.

Frederick Coplestons magnum opus consists of several volumes in which he traces the
history of philosophy from Greece and Rome to Modern Philosophy.

The Sahakians present their ideas in terms of realms of philosophy. These for them are
epistemology, ethics, social and ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of religion,
metaphysics, and contemporary philosophy.

Approaches to Ethics is a study according to historical periods.

The outline that follows is based on these three sources.

A. Pre-Socratic period
B. The Greeks
1. Socrates
2. Plato
3. Aristotle

C. The Romans
1. Seneca
2. Marcus Aurelius
3. Epictetus
D. The Middle ages
1. Augustine
2. Bonaventure
3. Boethius
4. Albert the Great
5. Thomas Aquinas
6. Duns Scotus
7. Pico Della Mirandola
E. Early Modern Period
1. Rene Descartes
2. Nicolo Machiavelli
3. Thomas Hobbes
4. Benedict Spinoza
5. John Locke
6. David Hume
7. Immanuel Kant
F. The Nineteenth Century
1. Jeremy
2. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
3. Arthur Schopenhauer
4. John Stuart Mill
5. Soren Kierkegaard
6. Prederich Nietzsche
7. Karl Marx
G. The Contemporary Period
1. Jean Paul Sartre
2. Gabriel Marcel
3. Edmund Husserl
4. Martin Heidegger
5. Teilhard de Chardin
6. Karl Jaspers
7. Martin Buber
8. Robert Johann
9. Henri Bergson

10. Ludwig Wittgenstein

11. Willian Luijpen
12. Alfred North Whitehead
13. John Dewey
14. William James
15. Charles S. Pierce
16. Paul Ricoeur

The List is by no means exhaustive. The curious student is invited to go straight to the
sources and to the philosophy section of the school library or books stores.

Reflection 1

1. Before you started this course, what have you heard about what philosophy was all about?
What did you think it was? What did you expect to get from it?


2. What Subject do you think would be philosophys concern?


3. In what sense, to you, is man a homo viator, a traveler?



Why Philosophy?

The title is from Robert O. Johann, renowned American philosopher, and as of this
writing, still Chairman of the Department of Philosophy of Fordham University.

The brief historical outline in the preceding chapter should drive home dual point. First,
that philosophy, which started centuries before Christ, shows no sign of coming to an end. It is
still very much alive. Second, that there is no such thing in philosophy, once it has gotten off the
ground, as a completely new idea.

Roman philosophers were almost completely dependent on Greek thought. Thomas

Aquinas adopted Aristotle. Philosophers since Aquinas have reacted for or against Thomism
and against each others. Contemporary philosophers admit they are indebted to Greek and
medieval thinkers.

The philosophic tradition is a must; so is personal reaction to it. William Luijpen says is
very well in the preface of his work, Phenomenology and Metaphysics:

In the realm of philosophy it is not possible to be an authentic thinker unless we allow

tradition to play an inspiring role. The so calledclassical works of the past embody the
collective history of what mankind has seen. Those works became classical precisely because
their authors were first in giving verbal expression to a vision which no one else had seen
before them. Such a seer often was like the voice of one crying in the desert. Only later,
sometimes even only much later, others also began to see what he had seen. What we and
our contemporaries now see we always owe also to the effort of what others have seen
before us.

Seeing, however, is a personal act. The original vision, the seeing that originated in
the genius of great thinker, has to be kept alive through the subsequent personal seeing of
others. Human truth does not exist and live outside the personal and collective history of
individual beings who see. It is possible, therefore for human truth to die in the course of

This answers to some extent Johannss Why Philosophy?

There will always be some thinking men in every generation, men who will wonder at
what they see, not just accept what they see. Of course, there are times, Johann Admits as in
our age of streamlined efficiency when philosophy is under a cloud. This is because
philosophers cannot seem to agree, thus leaving students and men of affairs dissatisfied and
more muddled than before.

Johann cites a few reasons for this: (1) Man misunderstands philosophys nature and
functions by comparing it with sciences. (2)Man experiences his own life as a problem. Being a
thinking creature, he realizes he can decide, he is responsible for such decision. (3) He turns to
philosophy only to discover that reality is not something only out there but it has also involves
him. His response must necessarily be subjective. The quality of his life depends on his own
free response.

Like Luijpen, Johann believes in the necessity of the philosophic tradition. Students need
to be exposed to this. Still, he cautions that their personal sifting and judgment on this tradition
is called for. That they can be aware of this is in itself the contribution of philosophy. Johann

As the French philosopher Blondel once observed, philosophy is not to explain life but to
help constitute it. By making man aware of the implications of his actions, level that cannot be
otherwise reached. It is a level on which man is faced not with the disposition of things or the
mastery of the world that surrounds him, but with the disposition of himself, and the decisions
that determine his own meaning. If on this level he finds no ready-made answer that can be
grasped independently of his personal commitments and the experiences to which they give
rise, it is nevertheless no slight service of philosophy to make him aware even of that.

Studying philosophers their lives and their works raises the perceptions as well as
the quality of a mans own life. Joad, author of a slim volume on philosophy, traces to values
culled from such a study. He says:

The general thinking of the great tradition of philosophy is that, if we live as we ought,
we shall know things are they are, and that if we see things as they are, our vision will help us
live as we ought. This is not merely a creed for the learned. It is a faith which many simple folk
have embraced. Thus philosophy provides men less with a faith by which to live than a scale of
values to regulate their living. These values can serve not only as ideals to guide the individuals
life, but as ends direct the actions of all mankind.

Reflection 2

1. Is philosophy under a cloud also for you? Why?


2. Why is seeing a personal act?


3. Do you agree with the statement that philosophy raises the quality of mans life? Why?



Philosophizing and Insight


An emotional experience like young love or a harrowing event can arrest a persons
attention and push him into thinking deeply about it. Into philosophizing? For philosophizing is
a searching for meaning.

Perhaps this word philosophizing is too much, too soon, for young people face to
face for the first time with a philosophy course.

And yet it was not so long ago when many of you were precocious children, delighting
(or pestering) your parents with your never ending why questions and cute observations.
Why is the moon round? Why do birds fly? Where is heaven, Papa? Why are you crying, Mama?
Or why are you laughing all by yourself? You were not aware of it, but you were then indulging
in some form of philosophizing.

I remember the time in college when my journalism professor entered our classroom
with a phonograph. Tersely, she gave us instruction: to write piece inspired by Debussys Claire
de Lune. At eight oclock in the morning it was really an imaginative feat to think of moonlight.
But we were young and full of inspiration. My classmates, a gifted lot, turned out essays and
short stories. I handed in the following sonnet (later published in our college organ):

Claire de Lune

Tonight the full moon holds a breathless peace

On still, dream-stricken houses, wraps a shield
Of utter loveliness round age-old trees
And streets that wind up in a drowsy field.
And yet this peaceful air, it seems to me,
Grows drenched with rhythmic magic like the blue
Of summer skies, like wavelets of the sea,
Becomes song-shaken like my love for you.
On such a night, I dare with half-shut eyes
To dream that you can be a part of me,
That life can nimbly spring a quickly surprise
That leaves us chains-unshackled, glorious, free;
To bring my fledgling wishes, magic wise
Upon the threshold of infinity.

Was I philosophizing? I think so. All poetry is philosophizing.


To me, all eighteen then, moonlight meant love and romance. It meant different things
to my classmates, and it means different things to the painter, the fisherman, the scientist, the
What I am trying to says is that no one sees into something more than what meets the
eye. It is what philosophers call insight.
Insight men have ever since they used their intelligence and power of reflection. The
history of philosophy shows that men have seen and noticed things around them, thought and
pondered on these, and acted on their reflections.
Father Roque J. Ferriols, S.J., in his article insights, says there are two things to be
considered regarding an insight:
1. The insight itself
2. What I do with the insight

I heard moonlight in Debussys Claire de Lune, I saw moonlight in my mind. I

thought of love, I felt love, and I wrote a sonnet about it.
Father Ferriols mentioned two techniques, among other techniques, in handling
1. The use of metaphors
2. Use of conceptual analysis

According to Father Ferriols, abstraction is one of the tools often used in the analysis of
insights. An abstract thought is called a concept and analysis by abstraction is called conceptual
analysis. He warns, however, that there is danger here: . . . it can deiccate an insight. So, he
suggests one should return to the concrete fullness of the original insight.

Permit me to refer to another personal experience. A few months after my fathers

death, I was caught by typhoon-like winds and rains on my way home. Form our subdivision
entrance it was more than a five-minute walk to the house. There were no houses on both sides
of the road. I was afraid of being carried away by the wind. In my desperation I prayed. I asked
my father for help, reminding him, You know how terrified I am of the wind. (Typhoon Yoling
had blown off our entire roof and my father and I almost died.) suddenly I was aware: there
was no more wind. There was no more rain.

At the gate of our house, my youngest brother was waiting for me. He was apologetic.
O was really going to fetch you, he said, but I couldnt because of the very strong wind and
rain. I asked, When did they stop? and he said, Just now. From that incident, I saw two
1. The power of prayer, and
2. The ties that bind the living with their beloved dead.

Some people might be skeptical about my experience. Some may be ready with a
perfectly natural explanation for the phenomenon. No matter. To me it was a unique
experience. Besides, in spite of widespread materialism today, I am sure there is a growing
number of believers who will testify that prayer can do wonders.

Miracles do happen, and many people believe in miracles, Father Robert de Grandis,
S.S.J., in his book Praying for miracles, narrates many miracles testified to by people who were
blessed by God.

A miracle did happen to my bother Reynaldo. According to the certification of his

doctor. He was initially admitted November, 1991, for liver cirrhosis and diabetes mellitus, and
that on December 6, 1991, he was readmitted because of hepatic encephalopathy and
infectious diarrhea. He was discharged December 13, 1991, markedly improved.

Let me give you portions of Reynaldos own certification of what happened to him:

That from the second day of my confinement. I lapsed into a third-degree pre-
comatose stage. I had no control of my faculties. I was having loose bowel movement,
and I was coughing most of the time.

That the next day, December 8, my eldest sister brought three rose petals which she
remembered came from Lipa, those days of the shower of petals from Our lade, Mediatrix of All
Grace. She placed the petals (which my son Ronald saw bore the picture of Our Lady and Her
Son) on my forehead and on my bare chest and stomach. Together my mother, wife, sons,
brothers and sisters prayed to Our Lady for my immediate recovery. After the prayers, I was
able to move my body slightly by myself. This was taken by all present as a sign of Our Ladys
answering their prayers.

That during the early hours of Decmber9, I was able to regain slowly my consciousness
and use of my faculties. I prayed to Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace, not knowing two of the
rose petals were in a plastic bag pinned to my shirt. Suddenly, I smelled fragrant. She said no. I
believe that a miracle happened, because right after this, my health remarkedly improved.
(Certifications from my doctor and the hospital are hereto attached.)

I, too, can testify as to his miraculous recovery. That night when he was comatose, I
asked one of the resident physicians treating him, and she told me, You see how fast his
deterioration is. He can go anytime. But he did not.

That morning after the laying of the petals, I called his room to ask about his condition.
Wonder of wonders! His eldest son Bobby said he was awake and could talk. His Ate over the
phone was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. That afternoon I saw him in bed, but already
talking telephone conversation. That afternoon, I was him up and about, eating his hospital

The next day he was given a thorough urinalysis examination, ultra sound and all, under
no less than the Director of the Kidney Institute. The tests took over two hours, and the
technician, was at first apprehensive of the results. My brother prayed to Our Lady, and behold,
the final results were negative: All clear!

I went to visit him the day he left the hospital. I saw him walking down the street to
meet e. I heard you have arrived, he said. And this, six days after he was in the third-degree

In his certification, he said: Up to this writing, I have had my weekly check-up, and only
minor pains from my liver and diabetes are being treated.

Reynaldo died last July 22, 1992, seven months after the miracle, seven months of life with us,
and of being closer to God.

Insight is only for the aware, for those who have eyes that see. It is not for the
insensitive, for the dense. It is for those who stop to listen, who can feel pain, who can cry.

Perhaps in should have written first of insight in this chapter, for, after all, it is insight
first that is philosophized. To me it takes a special person to philosophized. Poetry is for the
elite, my M.A. thesis adviser, Father Harry Furay, S.J. told a student once. So is insight. So is
philosophy in its finest hour.

Reflection 3

1. After the process of philosophizing (a searching for meaning) has been explained to you, and
after you have read and re-read and discussed my sonnet, Claire de Lunc, can you say I am
philosophizing here? What am I trying to say?

2. Give your own example of insight.


The Nature of Philosophical Inquiry

I shall first make a rough outline of the article of Robert O. Johann entitled The Nature
of Philosophical Inquiry and then discuss this outline, using generously the authors
terminology, at the same time presenting my own comments and reflections.

The Outline
I.General Position of this Paper: Ontological Pragmatism
II.The Nature of Inquiry in General
III.The Matrix and Scope of Philosophical Inquiry
IV.The Modes of Philosophical Inquiry
1. Logic
2. Phenomenology
3. Meta-Pragmatics

Oncological Pragmatism

Johann has adopted the position of Ontological Pragmatism in his article:

Ontological because the instrumental conception of knowing, far from implying a veil
between us and reality, actually enables us progressively to discern its nature;

Pragmatism because it views thematic knowledge as an instrumental function of

experience aimed at the latters transformation. Ideas must be tested by consequences. Their
validity is measured by tier success.

As analogy: the Chinese abacus has been rediscovered by educators in the west as an
unexcelled instrument for teaching mathematics to young children. It is found to be even more
effective that the electronic calculator. So American as well as Chinese educators are going into
research and experiments for a wide adaptation of this ancient device.

Inquiry may be provisionally defined as mans effort to integrate his experience as

responsible agent.

Experience in Johanns paper signifies the interactive process itself, that is, the human
self in dynamic relation with the whole range of the other.

There are different steps in inquiry:

1. Man functions as the responder. He does not just react, he responds. Which means he is
confronted by external realities such as problems he answers these problems while keeping
in mind the impact his responses will have not just on the present but on the future, too.

An example: At the start of the February Revolution, I heard the appeal of Cardinal Sin. I heard
Enrile. I went to EDSA with my friends, unmindful of the discomfort, because I felt that now was
the time to stand up and be counted. Behind this was the conviction of years for freedom and

Or I heard the appeals of Cardinal Sin and Enrile. I wanted to go to EDSA but I was sick. I was
very weak and my mother guarded me like a hawk. So I glued myself onto the radio and TV set,
crying buckets of tears at my frustration for not being there.

2. Man may be aware of the inadequacy of past habits in dealing with a problem which gives
rise to hesitancy and uncertainty.

An example: How did I cope with a similar problem in the past, I ask myself. When my father
got sick of cancer of the stomach, the doctors I consulted advised me to let my father undergo
an operation. I gave them my permission. He died just the same, barely two weeks after the
operation. Friends and close relatives were critical, though kindly. Now I et in a bind whenever
confronted by the same problem for friends and relatives to operate or not to operate? Which
is more important: the length of life or the quality of that life?

3. The uncertainly is a positive and pervasive quality of the interactive process itself. It is this
incoherence that calls for inquiry.

The unsureness of an action to be taken is not private and subjective, not is it negative. It is
an all-embracing situation between man the agent and his environment.

In my previous allusion to the problem of to operate or not to operate, I am filled, of

course, with indecision, with anguish of the recent past, and yet now I force myself to move
with some detachment. I reflect on negative or passive euthanasia and the Catholic
theologians view of it, I inquire into the latest incursions of medical science, I remember my
friends recent exposures to similar cases. I think of the existentialist notions and my own
religions teachings on life and death. I, then, arrive at some comparative peace of mind. I, then,
can address the problem with harmony.

In view of the foregoing steps, inquiry may now be defined as that whole process by
which mans experience o himself as responder to actions on him is transformed from an
incoherent state to one whose elements hang together, from a state of tension and discord to
one that is resolved and intergraded.

This does not mean that perfect peace has been attained. By the very condition of the
interaction process the character of the other, my own character, and the reality of the world
around us we have to assume there is always room for further inquiry.

The Matrix and scope of philosophical


This section views inquiry in relation to mans communal life. The responsible self exists
and functions only in a community of selves. This has important bearing not only in the nature
of inquiry in general but also on the origin and nature of philosophical inquiry specifically.
1. Human experience is shared experience. There is cooperative activity. The very acts of
eating, learning, playing have to be done with others. Our bayanihan spirit is evident in
building a house, moving a house, in wakes and funerals in family reunions.

This reminds me of the time when I passed by EDSA that morning after the Marcoses fled
to Hawaii. There had been this appeal aired over the radio for volunteers to clean the four-
day accumulated filth. What do you know? EDSA, from Ortigas to the two military camps of
Crame and Aguinaldo, was spic and span. Cleaning EDSA was a cooperative experience.

There is this sort of centrifugal-centripetal relationship and his community. If he affects his
community by what he does with others, his community affects him, too. He is, in fact, a
product of this cultural influence, thus it affects the way he sees his problem and his choice
of solution.
Ex-President Aquino has said there is Filipino way of solving our insurgency problem. The
late columnist Louie Beltran has spoken repeatedly, with tongue in cheek, of the Filipino
way of doing things, a way which confounds of foreigners.

2. This shared experience has a double import.

a. Of foremost importance is its role, as shared, in the creation of community.
Experience may just be adequate for survival, and yet as shared, becomes the
tradition of this group, and makes and keeps the community and its members
b. The lack of adequacy is now projected to experience as a whole. The relative
adequacy of their contents to actual conditions and possibilities determines the
richness of that life, its greater or lesser humanity.
3. Use of common sense.
The responsible agent sooner or later realizes that common sense is not enough.
Common sense is that generally accepted body of regulative meanings and procedures
applied to particular circumstances, to the here and now. It makes a person aware of
the problem but cannot by itself, by its own meanings and procedures do much about it.
It cannot intelligently exploit the world-as-means, to effect consummatory experience.
This means that common sense to using his surroundings as means or instrument to
satisfy his needs.
4. Need for philosophical inquiry
Philosophical inquiry looks to all meanings in the agent community experience
precisely as meanings, both in their relationships to one another and to the over-all
quality of life. It emerges in response to tensions and conflicts inherent in human life
itself. It lifts life to a level of integrity and coherence that cannot be reached without it.
Philosophy cannot be divorced itself from the ongoing coarse of human life and the
actual concerns of men. Because it bears the quality of life itself, it must begin there and
end there.

Disagreement among philosophers. Because each philosopher is shaped by its own

cultural milieu, his outlook on life is necessarily subjective. He is different from the scientist
whose conclusions are independent of his like and dislikes. The philosopher is steeped in his
individual biases which may be spontaneous o culturally conditioned.
If you look at the history of the philosophy, you will realize that no two philosophers are
exactly alike. Plato and Aristotle differ. So do Aquinas and Machiavelli. So do Sartre and Marcel.
And this runs true for most men. How I look particular segment of my life may differ
from that of my best friend. Right now, I see outside of my window the tall, heavily-laden
branches of my duhat tree commingling with the branches of my chico and achuete trees.
Probably somebody else may have the same crazy mix-up outside his window, but my point of
view and my thoughts at the moment are definitely unique to me.
The difference of immediate quality which is a matter of but not to direct awareness,
something which a person can feel and testify to but not to prove is the decisive factor in
shaving philosophical convictions. The ideal, of course, is ultimate integration in universal
communion. But this is still a long way off, if achievable at all. In the meantime we can only
grope towards communion through dialogue and discussion in an effort to purify our separate

The modes of Philosophical inquiry

1. Logic: The first condition for an adequate philosophy is theoretical coherence.
This means trying to make sense of what my self-awareness unfolds to me of my
environment. This means trying to relate the meaning of my life as a logical whole,
to make sense of them on the level of thought. An example I can think of now is the
issue of good and evil.
2. Phenomenology: This accepts the fact that theoretical coherence is not enough, for
this may not have practical relevance. Logical patterns can have independence all
their own and, therefore, need to be complemented and continually tested by what
we way call phenomenological adequacy. It means he must alive his thought. In
addition to being self-consistent, an adequate philosophic stance must also conform
with what is disclosed in direct experience, with all the agent is and can become
aware f from his life together with others in community.
3. Meta-pragmatics: Philosophy must self-consciously plan itself in the context and
service of human life of which it is a function and whose direction it has to grasp
both to control its own conduct as inquiry and to measure the adequacy of its
results. This means:
a. The formulation of an ideal of human wholeness;
b. The work continuous criticism carried on in the light of his intent.

The making of such judgments about all that man does including, therefore, his
philosophical efforts and their issue, is the primary and abiding task of philosophical inuiry.

Reflection 4

i. How do you function as a respondent to a happening?


ii. Illustrate from your own life: Human experience is a shared experience.

iii. What do you think is meant by Each philosopher is shaped by his own cultural milieu?

iv. Do you think there is need for philosophical inquiry? Why?


Philosophy in Crisis Situation

Each philosophical movement can be said to be an answer to a crisis situation. The

history of philosophy shows that philosophers are quick to grasp, examine, reflect,
criticize, comment on current on movements and events.
The Philippine scene is no exception. The Philosophical Association of the
Philippines has been true to the philosophical enterprise: holding seminars on every
conceivable subject relevant to the country.
Elected president of this Association for many years until he voluntarily
inhibited himself in the 1986 elections is Dr. Ramon C. Reyes, the author of the article
Philosophy in a Crisis Situation. He is the product of the Ateneo de Manila University
and the University of Louvain. He teaches at the Ateneo de Manila University where he
was Chairman of the Department of Philosophy from 1968 to 1981.

Following is the outline of the article of Dr. Reyes:

I. Introduction
1. Philosophys stance on our crisis situation today
2. Meaning of Greek krisis
3. Role of the Aquino assassination in todays crisis: its uniqueness in forcing us to
re-evaluate our values

II. The Role of Krisis

1. Critical reflexion: the special role of philosophy in the crisis situation
a. Meaning of critic or critique
b. Search for an absolute foundation, not necessarily goal.
2. Medium of language: between man and reality
a. Nature of interpretation in philosophical understanding: the straddling of
multiple levels of meaning through metaphors and other figures of
b. Language ultimately an activity to re-create a world even in flux, to
transfigure it.
c. Two general types of language
1. Operational
2. Hermeneutical

III. The Role of Poesis

1. Poesis: second role of philosophy in a crisis situation
2. Poesis a creative role: the philosopher-interpreter to dare say what here to
fore have been left unsaid to transform and elevate his experience.
3. Role of Poesis in the Aquino assassination, a moment of negation in the
Hegelian dialects.

4. Poetic role not subjectivistic, but rooted on the given situation defined by
the communitys social and historical past and language.
5. Nation to try to shape its future out of the historical situation as defined y
the present consciousness of the people.

IV. The Role of Phronesis

1. Phronesis: third role of philosophy in the crisis situation
2. Phoronesis to show man his historical situatedness in the light of Aristotles
phronesis, which certain capacity to think and feel in the situation as befits a
man of action, the need for our own concept of pakiramdam.

The incident that inspired Dr. Reyes to write the article Philosophy in a Crisis
Situation was the Ninoy Aquino assassination. As it was the incident that inspired many
Filipinos to stop in their tracks, re-assess the situation, and start that step that eventually
exploded into the EDSA phenomenon.
I shall try to present a simpler version of this article of Dr.Reyes.
Since EDSA, we can say there have been a lot of crises in our world: the many coups
during Corys term, the power crisis, the film scam, the VAT controversy, problems or our over-
seas workers. And the terrible sufferings of the people of Serbia and Rwanda.

The Three Roles of Philosophy

Dr. Reyes article tells us how philosophy can look at all these crises and how the
three roles of philosophy, namely krisis, poesis, and phronesis can help us understand, grasp
the essence of the problem, relate it to how philosophers past and present would have taken
issue with it, look into ourselves and see how we can relate it to our personal and communal
past and present and future.
Dr. Reyes starts by pointing to the economic and political situation which led to the
assassination of Ninoy Aquino, and the tama na, sobra na, palitan na, which led to the EDSA

1. The Role of Krisis

We have to look at the economic and political scenery and do some critical
reflection which is, after all, what Dr. Reyes calls the special role of philosophy in a crisis

a. Crisis comes from the Greek word krisis which means the act or power of
distinguishing the good from the bad, not just concentrating on the bad alone,
Examples of critiques are the reviews you read in the newspapers: of concerts
(piano, violin, voice), of paintings and sculptures, of books.
b. Thus, we Filipinos did some critical reflecting when Ninoy as killed when we went
into an examination of our values such as kapwa tao, which to Dr. Reyes, is

.a cardinal principle of our culture encompassing a whole set of cognate values

such as the respect for human life, the dignity of the human person, the sense of
truthfulness and fairness and loyalty in our dealings with fellowmen, the sense of
duty to common welfare over and above purely personal interests, the sense of
honor in the service of country and people.

2. The Role of Poesis

Poesis is a creative role. The philosophers interpreter must dare to say which has been
unsaid to transform and lift up his experience.w

Medium of Language

Language is the medium that philosopher uses as critic and as interpreter.

Interpretation is actually what all philosophers have done, from Thales on: interpreting the
world as they see it, interpreting the other philosophers in the past as well as their
contemporaries, as archaeologists do with their discovered stones and bones and parchments.
But language is not just a tool, as Dr. Reyes points out. Language is ultimately an
activity, a doing, a performative, a speech act. Motivated by some practical interest as will to
meaning, eventually by a certain moral will-to-freedom, by which the human spirit tries to
establish for itself a proper realm or world.
It is important to state that it is not a stable world philosophical language portrays,
but a world which remains ever in flux with the use of the figures of speech, especially the
metaphor (implied comparison such as Mario is a lion among mice).
Thus, language is ultimately an activity to re-create a changing world and to
transfigure it.
The Aquino assassination stirred, shook the nations conscience: people started to
talk and write and act.
And this is what we should be doing todays fears after the EDSA revolution, when
new crises have been confronting us. As Dr. Reyes says, we have to create a renewed vision of
man, such that we look into our social and economic problems, situation which can be traced
to (1) poverty and (2) deterioration of our moral fibre which is so evident in the crime situation
today. So, we must creatively seek to lift our people from the debilitating clutches of poverty
and from the sinking feeling that so many of our people feel unsafe because of so many crimes
committed daily.

3. The Role of Phronesis

Aristotle defines phronesis as a sort of practical wisdom, a certain capacity to think
and feel in the situation as befits a man of action, That is why Dr. Reyes recommends

This means we have to look at the three dimensions of time: the past, not so far
back as Magellan and Legaspi but, to my mind, something more recent like Rizals time,
to see how this and our communitys traditions have affected our present, and how we
can transform this present to a better future world.

Reflection 5

Select a crisis our society is going through today. How can the three roles of Philosophy
confront the issue?

1. As Krisis:

2. As Poesis:

3. As Phronesis

Part 2

Man: As Some Western Philosophers See Him

Philosophy, as a search for meaning, has only one obsession: MAN. As an attempt to
understand himself and the world he lives in, the philosopher cannot but start his inquiry on
This chapter will deal with how some philosophers of the West see man. This
presentation will naturally be brief and incomplete as every philosopher of worth has
something to say about man.
The study of man himself is called philosophical anthropology. Martin Buber says this
study is unique in the sense that man is the subject as well as the object of knowledge. To him

the philosophical anthropologist must stake nothing less than his real wholeness, his
concrete self. And more: it is not enough for him to stake his self as an object of knowledge. He
can know the wholeness of the person and through it the wholeness of man only when he does
not leave his subjectivity out and does not remain as untouched observer. He must enter,
completely and in reality, into the act of self reflection, in order to become aware of human

The ancient philosophers perhaps were not aware of such sophistication when they
pioneered into expressing their ideas and feelings at the contemplation of their world.
Ionia, the meeting place of West and East, is looked upon as the cradle of Western
Thought. It is the house of Homer, the poet, and of Thales, the first Greek philosopher. That is
why Miletus, where Thales lived, is looked upon as the cradle of Ionian philosophy.
The Ionian philosophers, notably Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, were:

profoundly impressed with the fact of change, of birth and growth, decay and death.
Spring and Autumn in the external world of nature, childhood and old age in the life of man,
coming-into-being and passingawaythese were the obvious and inescapable fact of the
universe. It is great mistake to suppose that the Greeks were happy and careless children of the
sun, who only wanted to lounge in the porticoes of the cities and gaze at the achievements of
their athletes. They were very conscious of the dark side of our existence on this planet, for
against the background of sun and joy they saw the uncertainty of death, the darkness of the

To this assessment of Greek thought must be added the Greeks will to power against
their ideal of moderation and their belief of divine jealously, which drove them to create their
Olympian dream-world, the gods of which watch over him with jealousy to see that he does
not transgress the limits of human endeavor.

Thales probably was in his prime in the early part of the sixth century B.C.

His answer to the primary compositions of everything was water, noting that everything
was moist, and that if water evaporated, it became either mist or air, and if frozen, could
become earth.

Anaximander did not accept his predecescosors answer, but concluded that the primary
element was indeterminate. Being the first to call this the material cause, it was to him not
water nor any one element but indefinite, eternal and ageless, the sources of the worlds.
This philosopher talked of the evolution of animals (from the sea of adaption to
environment) and of the origin of man. His main distinction then is his attempt to answer the
question how the world developed out of this primary element.

He claims Man was born from animals of other species, for while other animals quickly
find nourishment for themselves, man alone needs a lengthy period of sucking, so that had he
been originally as he is now, he could never have survived.


Anaximenes was close to Thales in his approximation of the primary element in that this
water determinate. This was air, for man and all other things cannot live without it. He thus
introduced the idea of condensation and rarefaction. Air when condensed can become wind,
cloud, water, earth, and finally stones, and when rarefied can become fire.

Conclusion: the lonians claim to philosophical fame is that They raised the question as
to the ultimate nature of things. Though their answer was matter (water, indeterminate
matter, air), they were not materialistic in our way of thinking for the very simple reason that in
their day the distinction between matter and spirit was not yet entertained. As Coplesion says:
They assumed that we could know things as they are: they were filled with the naivete of
wonder and the joy of discovery.

B. The most important Greek philosophers are Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

Socrates (470 399 B.C.)

The bare facts of the life of Socrates are:

1. His father was a stoneman or sculptor, his mother a midwife.

2. His wife Xantippe, said to be an ugly woman, bore him three children,

3. He would go to the marketplace, the agora, where he would discuss things, using the
question and answer method.
4. He was arrested and condemned to death because of two charges: (a) impiety,
because of not worshiping the gods of the state and introducing nes and unfamiliar
ways of workship, and (b) corruption of the minds of the young who would flock
around him.
5. He did not admit any guilt, he refused to be set free by friends and he died after
drinking a glass of hemlock in the presence of friends.
6. His philosophical contribution may be summed up thus: (a) He employed inductive
arguments and universal definitions. Called his practical method, it took the form
of dialectic of conversation.

b. For him, mans body comes from this world of matter, but his reason comes from the
Universal Reason of Mind of the World.

c. In his dialectical method, he sought to discover the truth. This he did to discover the
good life. He stressed the value of the soul, in the sense of the thinking and willing subject, and
he saw clearly the importance of knowledge, of true wisdom, if the soul is to be properly

d. To Socrates, knowledge leads the way to ethical action. To him, knowledge and
virtue are one, in the sense that the wise man, he who knows what is right, will also do what is

His last day on earth, according to Plato was spent on talking about immortality of the

Plato (428/7 348 B.C.)

A pupil of Socrates, Plato, too, had a bias against democracy. He had a aristocratic
upbringing, and was immersed in the culture of his day, but his plan, abetted by relatives, to
enter politics was abandoned after what he saw done to Socrates.

Among the salient points of his philosophy are:

1. Knowledge is not sense-perception, not what simply appears to me.

2. Like Socrates, Plato believes in virtue of knowledge, and the source of knowledge is
virtue. It is now abstract, but concrete knowledge, not theoretical but practical
knowledge. A man must know what is good so that he may do good.

3. Virtue can be taught, and there are four cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage or fortitude,
temperance and justice.

In spite of Socrates influence, Plato was his own man of ideas, especially in his period of
maturity. Proof of this is his three best known works of dialogue form: (1) Symposium, which
speaks of everything on earth is but a shadow of what is in the mind of God, the beauty of the
earth but a shadow of divine Bounty. (2) The Republic which is about the state, about the ideal
government. (3) Phaedreus which is about the nature of love.

Plato has shown his interest in man as knower and as possessor of an immortal soul. Much
has been made of his theory of knowledge, his main contribution to philosophic truth.

Aristotle (384 322 B.C.)

Aristotle at seventeen was Platos student at the Academy where he also taught until his
teachers death. Then he went to Asia Minor where he became the tutor of Alexander of
Macedonia who became Alexander the Great.

Upon his return to Athens, he founded the school he called the Lyceum. He left only
when he feared persecution form Athenians consumed by anti-Macedonian feelings upon the
death of Alexander. He did at the age of 62.

Aristotle was the most prolific of the Greek philosophers. His philosophy was largely
influenced by three factors in his life: (1) his father, a court physician, from whom he got his
interest in biology and science in general; (2) Plato and his stay at the Academy; and (3)
Alexander the Great who furthered his interest in botany and zoology which he studied to know
man better, and who got him involved in the constitution and the government of the Greek
states. So, Aristotle was scientist and philosopher, as well as researcher, writer, and teacher.

It remains for Aristotle, to define man as a rational animal. His ideas on almost
everything that concerns man have influence Aquinas as well as philosopher beyond the Middle
Ages. To him, man is not the centre of the universe. Man is only a part of it; it is the cosmos that
is the focal point. This Aristotles so called geocentric spherical system.

For Aristotle:

1. Knowledge comes from the senses and can be true in itself.

2. Reality consists of matter and from, and matter is a continuous process of developing or
3. There is a First Cause, source of all chance but is unchangeable itself. This, for him, is

4. The goal of human life is happiness. To reach this is moderation or the avoidance of
5. Logic would enable man to perceive that the ideal state is one governed by a rule of law,
a state ruled by middle class.

Marcus Aurelius (121 180 A.D.) to him, man does not do evil willingly.

Epictetus (50 138 A.D.) To him men must find happiness in himself, not in outside
circumstances he cannot control. He must fear most of all the God within him. His favourite
maxim is bear and forbear.

Boethius (480 524 A.D.) To him man is an individual substance of a rational nature.

Augustine (354 430 A.D.)

We know these facts about him; his father was a government official, his mother was
Monica, a Christian who is now a saint; he lived with a woman who bore him a son called
Adeodatus; he had a good schooling; after his studies he chose to teach and become a
rhetorian; was baptized into a Catholic Church, an answer to his mothers tears of fear for his
soul; became a priest and Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); and was awarded the title of
Doctor of the Church (title given to defenders of the Church); was later canonized. He is known
as the great formulator of Christian doctrine.

Augustine calls man the great mystery. He asks the Psalmist, What is man that thou
art mindful of him? he wonders at that in man which cannot be understood as a part of the
world, as a thing among things.

To Augustine there are inescapable certainties in the man knowledge on which we may
absolutely rely. The basic facts of being alive, of thinking, or simply existing are disclosed in
ones immediate awareness of oneself.

Thomas Aquinas (1224 1274)

This angelic doctor was an Italian Catholic theologian and philosopher, a member of
the Dominican order, a student of Albert the Great, lecturer at the University of Paris and at the
court of Pope Alexander IV, later at the University of Naples. He was a great thinker and writer,
and looked upon as the one who popularized scholasticism and the greatest philosopher of the
Middle Ages. The thirteenth century, largely because of him, is considered the Golden Age of
the Church.

Among St. Thomas numerous works, two stand out: the Summa Contra Gentiles, a
defence of Christianity against the Arabs, and the Summa Theologica, his greatest work,
unfinished when he died.

As a philosopher:

1. He makes a clear distinction between philosophy and theology.

2. In his theory of knowledge, he is firm on the fact that there are no innate ideas, but that
all knowledge must proceed first from the senses.
3. In his Metaphysics, he talks of man as the existent being in the private world and of
God, in whom essence and existence are one. He assumes Aristotles distinction
between the potential (man can be perfected) and the actual (God who is already
absolutely perfected)
4. In the Theodicy, he presents proofs of Gods existence whom he calls the unmoved
Mover and the First Cause.
5. He develops a complete moral system in the SummaTheologica.
6. His work on the science has brought home the dependence of the universe on its
7. His philosophical method perfects the method of the medieval scholar. He makes use of
both deductive and inductive reasoning, is unsurpassed in his power of synthesis, and
proves in his arguments that reason and faith can lead to the truth.

Pico Della Mirandola (1463-1494)

Fifteenth century Italy, the period of the Italian Renainassance, is the setting of the
philosophy of Pico Della Mirandola. He was an intellectual who boasted of having studied all
schools of philosophy. His best known work is On the Dignity of Man, the thesis of which is that
man may make of himself what he wishes to be. Man is a part of the three chief zones of the
created universe: the immaterial angels, the material but incorruptible heavenly bodies, and
corruptible earthly bodies.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

He was a French mathematician, considered the Father of Modern Philosophy.

He studied in a Jesuit school, and then he could not just accept what he was taught. In
evolving his own philosophic system, he put all aside books and was in doubt in everything
unless it was supported by incontrovertible and absolute proof. That was when he
formulated his Cogito ergo sum.( I think, therefore I am.)

Descartes distinguished between spirit and matter, between thinking and extending
substances. He applied his principles also to physics (his famous theory on vortices to the
account for the motion of heavenly bodies). But it was in Mathematics that he was the most
recognized: his work on the negative roots of equations and his founding of analytical

Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

He lived during the Golden Age of Florence which was ruled by Lorenzo de Medici. His
political fortunes went downhill with the downfall, his restoration, of the Medicis. Eve n his
masterpiece, The Prince, which favors autocrats and despotism, could not save him. He died
broken in spirit and in health.

The theme of The prince is the end of the justifies the means. This is evident from his
aphorisms on the nature of man: which come from this work and from another work,
Discourses on Livy, Some of these aphorisms are:

1. All men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find
occasion on it.
2. Men act right only under compulsion.
3. The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearance, as though they were
realities, and are often even more influenced by the things that seems than by those
that are.
4. Men change masters willingly, hoping to better themselves.
5. It is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself ,to learn how not to be
good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessities of the case.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1675)

As a philosopher, he considered knowledge empirical in origin and results. He was also

interested in mathematics. He is best remembered for his Leviathan, a treatise on a theory of
government, as well as a philosophy of naturalism. Leviathan is in fact an artificial man, with
sovereignty as an artificial soul, and the pacts and covenants as a parts of man when God said,
Let us make man.

Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677)

A Dutch philosopher, Spinozas major work is Ethics, the theme of which is good and
evil, virtue and vice.

Descartes was the greatest influence on his philosophy, especially Descartes views that
thought and matter are the basic categories of reality. For him God or nature is the only

substance. Thought and matter are Gods infinite attributes, and all finite beings (such as
human minds and bodies) are only modes or states of the attributes of God.

John Locke (1632-1704)

Locke was an English philosopher. He was sometimes referred to as the intellectual

ruler of the eighteenth century because of his theories of knowledge and political life. His
views on human nature and society influenced Jefferson and other American Founding Fathers.
He studied at Oxford, and later taught Aristotelian philosophy there. He became dissatisfied
with this.

His masterpiece is The Essay Concerning Human Understanding, the theme of which is
that our understanding is so limited that comprehensive knowledge of the universe is beyond
mans power to reach. His interest inscience, awakened by Thomas Sydenham, enabled Locke
to give the modern world its first philosophical formulation of what science is.

David Hume (1711 1776)

Hume is one of those persons disappointed in their life ambitions. He wanted literary
fame, but it eluded him all his life.

This fame, however, caught up with him after his death. Critics praise his An Enquiry
Concerning the Principles of Morals, for here he argues that morals rules, especially those on
justice, have utility for their basis.

For him, all knowledge comes from experience. He is an agnostic, noting the existence
of God could not be proved nor disproved. He does note that all men possess benevolence
which he asserts is the basis of each moral judgement.

Immanuel Kant (1724 1804)

Born in Konigsberg, East Prussia, Kant is one of the most important philosophers in the
world. His philosophy is a radical innovation and his written style which he calls
architectonic makes his major works formidable reading, unlike his lecture style.

These works are: (a)Critique of Pure Reason which is about the nature and limits of
human knowledge, and (b) Critique of Practical Reason, his major work on ethics.

Kant believes we cannot think of the mind and its objects as separate things. The mind
must be actively involved with its object; it is a creative force. He puts a great value on moral
duties and human dignity, believing in the Gospels as proper guide to life.

He asks four questions: (1) What can I know? (2) What ought I to do? (3) What may I
hope? (4) What is man? The first is answered by metaphysics, the second by ethics, the third by
religion, and the fourth by anthropology, Kant says that the first three are so related to the
fouth that they could also be answered by anthropology.

Jeremy Bantham (1748 1832)

His chief distinction is his being the founder of the school of philosophy known as
Utilitarianism. Briefly this means that the value of every act (a) derives from its usefulness, and
(b) is for the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people.

Bentham has influenced such philosophers like John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, and
the Americans William James and John Dewey.

Georg Wilhem Friendrich Hegel (1770 1831)

Eighteenth century German philosopher Hegel is considered the greatest of German

Idealists. In his complex philosophy, he treats the themes of alienation of man from God and
the recovery of the lost unity between the finite and the infinite, this infinite being the creative
life which embraces every thought in a united universe and which is God or the Absolute or the
Totality or Reality as a whole.

For him the subject matter of philosophy is the Absolute; its fundamental purpose is to
solve divisions in the world of reality, to overcome the splintered harmony, its task is to
reconstruct the life of the Absolute.... to exhibit systematically the self-realization of infinite
reason in and through the finite.

His first great work is the Phenomenology of the Spirit; it is usually accepted as an
introduction to philosophy. Here he starts with the lowest levels of human consciousness and
works dialectically upwards to the level at which the human mind attains the absolute point of
view and becomes the vehicle, as it were, of infinite self-conscious spirit.

Few philosophers of the nineteenth century could claim they owned nothing to Hegel.
He continues to exert influence into the twentieth century as seen in existentialism and

But Hegel is not a popular author for the two reasons: (a) his terminology, and (b) his
technique of arguing which is the dialectal method.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

The World ass Will and Idea is his masterpiece. His theme here is that though the world
seems a vast collection of diverse objects spread out in space, it is really only a blind, struggling
will. This, to him, can be known by intuition, and is the basis for his ethics.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

A child prodigy, he was exposed to the best education of his day. Having Bentham to
guide him, he became a believer in utilitarianism. But his version is different from Bentham in
his major work entitled Utilitarianism. Here he admits there may be some pleasures that are
intrinsically higher than others; he hints that virtue may have a value apart from the good
consequences of virtuous action, and finally, he gives consciences a basic position in the
foundation of ethics.

Martin Buber (1878-1965)

He was a German-Jewish philosopher and translator. He studied philosophy and art of

history at the Universities of Vienna, Leipzig, Berlin, and Zurich. He was a founder of Zionism.
Indeed he was the respected and literate voice of German Jewry.

Bubers philosophy starts with the relationships are the two kinds: (a) I and You, and (2)
I and It. His work is sometimes called Jewish existentialism.

Martin Buber comments that Kant has avoided answering the forth question. This he
says in What is Man?, a major chapter of Between Man and Man, a book by this renowed
Jewish philosopher. This chapter traces ideas on man from Aristotle to Kant, Hegel and Marx,
Feuerback and Nietzsche, Heidegger and Scheler.

Frederich Nietzche (1844 1900)

German philosopher of the nineteenth century, he has for his most renowned work.
Thus Spake Zarathustra. Here he expounds on his ideas of Superman where man creates values
enabling him to transcend himself in the direction of Superman. This is the didea, many say,
which influenced Hitler in looking upon Germans as the master race, triggering the slaughter of
millions of Jews.

The existentialists rebelled at the dehumanization of man. They sought to bring back the
uniqueness of the individual. Soren Kiekagaard, Karl Jaspers, Jean Paul Sartre, Gabriel Marcel,
and Martin Heidegger have made significant contributions. Their philosophy on man will be
presented in another chapter. But a word here about Martin Heidegger.

Heidegger uses the word dasein for man. Dasein which means existence in ordinary
discourse, literally means a there (da) and being (sein) therefore a being there, and refers
to mans conscious, historical existence in the world, which is always projected into a there
beyond its here

Early in chapter I of his book, An Introduction to Metaphysics, he asks:


For what indeed is man? Consider the earth within the endless darkness of space in the
universe. By way of comparison, it is a tiny grain of sand; between it and the next grain of its
own size there extends a mile or more of emptiness; on the surface of swarm of supposed
intelligent animals, who for a moment have discovered knowledge. And what is the temporal
extension of the human life amid all the millions of years? Scarcely, a move of the second hand,
a breath.

But, Heidegger says, man starts questioning asking the fundamental question of
metaphysics: Why are there essents (existents or things as they are) rather than nothing? This
questioning is a privilege happening that we call an event, and the whole picture is changed.
Man now becomes open to all authentic questions and to authentic existence.

Reflection 6

Pick out any three philosophers in the Chapter. Comment on their philosophy of man:

1. -

2. ________________________________________________________________________

3. ________________________________________________________________________


The Phenomenon of Man

In The Shoes of the Fisherman, Jean Telemond, who is a thinly-disguised portrait of

Teilhard de Chardin, says, Man is the only significant link between the physical order and the
spiritual one. Without man the universe is a howling wasteland contemplated by an unseen
Deity. Again: Man is a very special phenomenon. He is a veing who knows, he is also a being
who knows that he knows.

Peirre Teilhard de Chardin was born in France in 1881 and died in the United States in
1955. He was a Jesuit priest and a paleontologist, one of those involved in the discovery of the
Peking Man in 1929. His masterpiece is The Phenomenon of Man. Here he tries to reconcile
Christian theology with the scientific theory of evolution. His writings were suppressed during
his lifetime. He was really a man ahead of his time.

In the Preface to his great work, Teihard states the book must not be taken as
metaphysics, nor as theology, but only as science. He says the book is about man solely as a
phenomenon, but covers the whole phenomenon of man. Here he reminds us of two things. (1)
that nothing exists in pure isolation, and (2) science, philosophy and theology tend to converge
the nearer they try to explain the whole man.

He also wants to point out two basic assumptions in the development of his theme.
The first is the primacy accorded to the psychic and to thought bin the stuff of the universe,
and the second is the biological value attributed to the social fact about us. In other words two
assumptions are: pre-eminent significance of man in nature, and the organic nature of

The book reflects clearly the authors evolutionary approach. It has four main parts: (1)
Pre-life which covers the stuff of the universe (principically energy and matter), and the
within of things (existence and spiritual energy), and the juvenile earth. (2) Life- which covers
the advent of life, its expansion, its complexity. (3) Thought- which discusses the birth of
thought and the different stages toward homo sapiens and modern earth. (4) Super life- which
talks of the spirit of the earth, the convergence of the person and the Omega Point, and man
and the Ultimate Earth.

Sir Julian Huxley, who wrote the introduction to the book, states that Teilhards
evolutionary approach, drives him

inevitably to the conclusion that, since evolutionary phenomenon (of course including
the phenomenon known as man) are processes, they can never be evaluated or even

adequately described solely or by direction, their inherent possibilities (including of course also
their limitation), and their deducible future trends.

To Huxley, Teilhard has effected a three-fold synthesis, namely:

1. Of the material ad physical world, of the world of mind and spirit

2. Of the past with the future; and
3. Of variety with unity, of many, with the one.

Huxley asserts Teilhardss two positions:

1.that mankind is its totality is a phenomenon to be described and analyzed like any
other phenomenons, and all its manifestation, including human history and human
values, are proper objects for scientific study.

2. His second, and perhaps most fundamental point is the absolute necessity of
adopting an evolutionary point of view.

Huxley concludes:

We, mankind, contain the possibilities of the earths immense future, and can
realize more and more of them on condition that we increase our knowledge and our
love. That, it seems to me, is the distillation of the phenomenon of Man.

I would like to point out certain terms used by Teilhard, as explained by Huxley.

1. Noogenesis: gradual evolution of the mind.

2. Cosmogenesis: gradual evolution of the cosmos.
3. Hominization: denotes the process by which the original proto-human stock
becomes (and is still becoming) more truly human.
4. Noosphere: sphere of the mind and is opposed to biosphere which is sphere of life.
5. Convergence: denotes the tendency of mankind, during its evolution, to superpose
centripetal on centrifugal trends, so as to prevent centrifugal differentiation from
leading to fragmentation.

This refers to human beings mating with human beings, unlike other creatures like
insects of birds or fishes mating with other species and, thus, producing many
varieties of their kind.
6. Complexification: this concept includes the genesis of increasingly elaborate
organization during cosmogenesis, as manifested in the passage:

From subatomic units to atoms;

From atoms to inorganic and later to organic molecules;
Hence to first subcellular living units

To cells
To multicellular individualsetaz
To cephalized metazoan with brains
To primitive men
To civilized societies

In his Foreword, which he entitles Seeing, Teilhard starts by saying,

This work may be summed up as an attempt to see what happens to man, and what
conclusions are forced upon us, when he is placed fairly and squarely within the framework of
phenomenon and appearance.

Why should we want to see, and why in particular should we single out man as one

Seeing. We might say that the whole of life lies in the verb if not ultimately, at least
essentially. Fuller being is fuller union: such is the kernel and conclusion of this book. But let us
emphasize one point: union increases through an increases consciousness, that is to say, in
vision. To see or to perish is the very condition laid upon everything that makes up the
universe, by reason of the mysterious gift of existence. And this, in superior measure, is mans

He suggests: For man to discover and take this measure, a whole series of sense have been
necessary.. These senses are:

A sense of spatial immensity, in greatness and smallness, disarticulating and spacing out,
within a sphere of indefinite radius, the orbits of the objects which press round us;

A sense of depth, pushing back laboriously through endless series and measureless
distances of time, which a sort of sluggishness of mind tends continually to condense for us in a
thin layer of the past;

A sense of number, discovering and grasping unflinchingly the bewildering multitude of

material or living elements involved in the slightest change in the universe;

A sense of proportion, realizing as best we can the difference and dimension, the atom
from the nebula, the infinitesimal from the immense;

A sense of quality, or of novelty, enabling us to distinguish in nature certain absolute

stages of perfection and growth, without upsetting the physical unity of the world;

As sense of movement, capable of perceiving the irresistible developments hidden in

extreme slowness extreme agitation concealed beneath a veil of immobility the entirely
new insinuating itself into the hearth of the monotonous repetition of the same things;

A sense, lastly, of the organic, discovering physical links and structural unity under the
superficial juxtaposition of successions and collectivities.

Keeping these sense in mind will serve to have a unified vision of man and an understanding
of the main outline of this work: Pre-life: Life: Thought, all leading to super-life, in his words, a
single and continuing trajectory, the curve of the phenomenon of man.

Reflection 7

1. Why does Teilhard call man a phenomenon?


2. Wherein lies the value of his evolutionary approach?



Man in existential Phenomenology

The father of Existentialism is Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish thinker who lived and worked
in the last century. Today existentialism is no more the philosophy of a few years back; still it
cannot just be dismissed because of its still very relevant issues and very visible philosophers.

The main approach I use in this course is existential phenomenology. First I shall
introduce existentialism, then phenomenology, and then find the leading existentialists. Let me
state early that the acknowledge Father of Phenomenology is Edmund Husserl, and the one
who started existential phenomenology is Martin Heidegger.


Existentialism is a reaction to the depersonalization, the humanization, the loss of

uniqueness of the individual during the Industrial Revolution.

Roger Troisfontaines defines it briefly as a philosophy of subjectivity or selfhood,

whose fundamental doctrine proclaims mans freedom in the accomplishment of his destiny,
and whose principal method is consequently that of description or phenomenology.

Perhaps a few remarks would help put this philosophical movement in a better

First remark is form Paul Tillich, a leading German Protestant theologian, who found a
haven in the United States form the Nazis. He clarifies the main issue between existentialism
and essentialism by saying that the quarrel between the two initiated the existentialism of the
nineteenth and the twentieth century. It was the unacceptance of Hegels perfect essentialism
by existentialists who saw what it had done to the concept of man in a technological society.

The common point in all existentialist attacks is that mans existential situation is a state
of estrangement form his essential nature. Hegel is aware of this estrangement, but he believed
that it has been overcome and that man has been reconciled with his true being. According to
all existentialists, this belief is Hegels basic error. Reconciliation is a matter of anticipation and
expectation, but not of reality. The Kierkegaard shows or in society as Marx shows or in
life as such as Schopenhauer and Neitzsche show. Existence is estrangement and not
reconcillation; it is dehumanization and not the expression of essential humanity, it is the
process in which man becomes a thing and ceases to be a person. History is not the divine
manifestation but a series of unreconciled conflicts, threatening man with self-destruction. The
existence of the individual is filled with anxiety and threatened by meaninglessness. With this
description of mans predicament all existentialists agree and are therefore opposed to Hegels
essentialism. They feel that it is an attempt to hide the truth about mans actual state.

Another point of clarification from Tillich is the distinction between existential and
existentialist, though they have a common root; existence. He says:

The former refers to a human attitude, the latter to a philosophical school. The opposite
of existentialist is essentialist. In existential thinking, the object is involved. In non-existential
thinking, the object is detached. By its very nature, theology is existential; by its very nature,
science is non-existential. Philosophy unites elements of both. In intention, it is non-existential;
in reality, it is an ever-changing combination of elements of involvement and detachment.

A second remark is from John Wild author of the authoritative book the Challenge of
Existentialism. John Wild remarks that Soren Keirkegaard was influenced in his interest in
practical or existential thinking by the early Greeks and in his insight into the individual person
by Christianity.

Jean Paul Sartre is usually pitted against Gabriel Marcel the atheistic versus the
theistic existentialist. But Sartre and Marcel as well was as Heidegger and Jaspers have
something in common with Keirkegaard; all are empiricists. Man is being-in-the-world. John
Wild says, NO world, no subjective existence. This is a formula they would accept.

A third remark is: There are many existentialists, but not two of them are exactly alike.
However, there are certain elements that seem to be common in their writings. These are given
below, the first three are discussed by Troisfontaines in his article, What is Existentialism?

1. Importance of subjectivity
2. Freedom: a value
3. Use of Phenomenology
4. Interest in the individual person and his dignity
5. Emphasis on immediate data of experience
6. The preference for authentic over insuthentic existence
7. Awareness of mood and feeling: feeling that existence s hard: that life is alien and
absurd; the feeling of dread.
8. The need for commitment or engagement
9. The need to be-with-others
10. The faith that man is responsible for his existence and the kind of being he will turn
out to be.

Troisfontaines in his article What is Existentialism? discusses existentialism in three


i. What Existentialism Is Not

ii. An Attempted Definition
iii. Divergent Tendencies of Existentialism

To him, existentialism is not

1. A sort of postwar dilettantism: Eccentric young men and women who frequented the
night clubs near the caf where Sartre wrote misunderstood him. They thought that

being individuals meant they should be different for the sake of being different and that
they could do anything they liked.
2. Identifiable with the philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre: there were others, like Marcel, who
had written ahead of Sartre. Sartre himself admitted as much. But he was certainly the
one who popularized existentialism.

What existentialism is involves the elements of subjectivity, freedom and


1. Subjectivity

Object refers to a thing, subject to a person. Objectivity indicates something that can be
studied from all angles. Subjectivity indicates something more personal, more intimate,
something that can hardly be put into words. Gabriel call it mystery in contrast to
problem his term for object. Subjectivity is the true interpretation of reality.
Subjectivism as the false interpretation of reality.

2. Freedom
There are two aspects to be noted, according to Troisfontaines;
a. There are matters imposed on me, that condition me, matters over which I have no
control, like my birth, my family, my country, my physical features. Marcel calls his
existence, form the term ex-sistere, Latin for to be outside of , while Sartre calls
this facticity form fact
b. There are matters I can choose, like my friends. This Marcel calls project or
commitment, and realizes he alone makes decisions for himself. He alone decides
what kind of man he will be. He alone can say jes or no to God.

3. Phenomenology
Just what is phenomenology? Is it a method or an attitude or both?
a. Description: In tradition philosophy, there are many definitions. Here, there are still
definitions, but at a minimum. There is rather description of what is immediately
given in experience (phenomenon).
b. Circular description: it does not form a vicious circle. Different terms are used to
describe the same phenomenon, with the end result of new insights grasped by the
subject. The initial knowledge grows and grows until the person knows that now he
c. Use of examples as well as forms; such as the drama, poetry, short story, and the
novel. Existentialist philosophers are empiricists and pragmatist. They district
speculation and the abstract. They want their works to be read. They sugar-coat
their philosophical insights.

Troisfontaines singles out the play or drama as a favorite vehicle of existentialists for
one of two reasons:

a. As propaganda, as in the hands of Sartre. In his play The Devil and God, he proves
the non-existence of God.
b. As metaphysical experiment, as with Marcel in his play, La Chapelle Ardente, the
theme is fidelity to the dead.

Phenomenology as an attitude is a philosophy in itself. By its insistence on concrete

lived experience, not on some hypothetical happening, it has invited people to take a good
second look at the world around them, to look at a man as an individual person, not as a
nebulous member of humanity.

A philosophy of encounter is how William Luijpen calls phenomenology. As an attitude

it involves three steps:

a. A bracketing of what already knows. In so doing, one can approach the object of the
knowing with fresh unprejudiced eyes.
b. A first, then a second reflection.
c. The truth coming out concealment.

It may be necessary to say a few words here on reflection. It is best to read Marcels
own account of it in Chapter V of Volume I of his book The mystery of Being.

Certain points to remember according to Marcel are:

1. Reflection is concerned with something valuable, worth of thinking about.

2. Reflection is personal act. Nobody else can do it.

3. It is linked to a living personal experience of some kind of obstacle. Marcels

example is that of a traveler on foot who arrives at the edge of the river where the
bridge has been washed away by a flood. The traveler has no choice but to call a
ferryman or a boatman. This ferryman function is that of reflection.

4. it is a way of rising from one level to another, recovering the unity lost in the obstacle
just surmounted.

5. There are two levels of reflection:

a. Primary reflection- is one which tends to break up or dissolve the unity of

experience which is put before it.
b. Secondary reflection- in one which is recuperative, for it reconquers that
unity. Examples of Marcel are his treatments of Who am I?,I exist, and my

To Troifontaites, existentialism has two divergent tendencies:

1. Atheistic or inauthentic, as in the writing of Jean Paul Sartre.


2. Christian or Theistic or Authentic, as in the writings of Grabiel Marcel.

The example of testimony with its four attitudes is used to illustrate these two
tendencies. As a witness to a crime, such a killing, one can choose one of four attitudes.

a. Yes to testify for the sake of justice. This is the stand of Christian existentialism.
b. No for fear of compromise. You do not want to take sides for fear of offending one
or the other party. This is not existentialist attitude.
c. No because of cowardice. You ask yourself. Why testify at all? The world is absurd.
Justice is a big joke. Why put my life on line? Likewise this is not an existentialist
d. Yes for amusement. You have no conviction of the truth. You take sides for the fun
of it. This is the stand of atheistic existentialism.

Man by Engelbert J. Van Croonenburg is an excellent statement of the Christian

existentialist viewpoint. Here is a summary of the main thoughts he raises.

1. Experience of ones own existence: It is only through his own being that man comes
in contact with reality. The experience of self necessarily has many modalities, but
there is one basic experience which makes all others possible and without which
they could not be. It is the experience of ones own existence.
2. To exist is to stand out: The word existence is composed of the Latin words, ex
which means out, beyond, above, and sistere which means to stand.
a. Through his existence he is raised above the abyss of nothingness.
b. Man is now and lives on the dividing line between past and present.
c. Man is an embodied being, fundamentally related to a body.
d. Man is above all subhuman beings.
e. The four characteristics mentioned above are found in all men. But the last is
found only in authentic man: Man rises above the lower levels of his
existence and reaches consciously beyond himself into being of which he
3. Man and his body: Have in I have a body, means possession. Now this is
different from I have a book although both statements refer to possession. First,
because I cannot dispose of my body the way I can dispose of a book; second, I is
not equal to my body, I am more than my body.
4. Being in-the-world: I am in contact with things and person. I am part of the space
structure and time constellation, which are inherent in this world.
5. Being-in-situation: Situation stands here for that zone of reality which is influenced
by me and influences me. Many elements of my situation are not of my own making.
I did not choose my parents, my country, the time of my birth. On the other hand,
there are elements where my free action is decisive: choice of my friends, my
interests, my activities.

6. I and my life: I am more than my life. I live my life is different from My life is
lived. The first means I am the master of my life. The second means I am slave,
dictated upon by others, such as the media.
7. A value to be realized within ourselves: Our authentic growth takes place in the here
and now of the concrete situation. Our giving way to a driver during peak hours is
such a value realized only within ourselves.
8. Values we have and values we are: Values we have are on the object level, while
values we are on the subject level and, thus, enhance our existence.
9. The vocation of man: Simply put, the personal vocation of man is the perfecting of
life and personality to the full measure to which he has been destined.
10. Creative fidelity. It is the actual continuation of the original dedication to ones
personal vocation. Fidelity means loyalty to a given word and commitment in spite
of adversities. This fidelity is dynamic and creative. Creativity refers to mans being
and homo viator and therefore, in need of transforming his life to a continuous
growth to authenticity Creativity also means mans ability to adapt to constantly
varying circumstances.
11. Pain and suffering. Fidelity to vocation is severely tested when a man is faced with
pain and suffering. The proper attitudes are: (a) accept them, for these also have
existential value, and (b) try to find out their meaning in your life.
12. Being-unto-death. As an embodied being, man is also a being-for-death. The
common man tries to avoid its very possibility, but the philosopher, who wants to
come to the ultimate root of all reality, cannot leave it unconsidered.
13. Gain in lose. The unfolding of the human personality is a measure of joy and pain. It
is characteristic of this unfolding that the higher can be reached by leaving behind
the lower. This is due to the peculiar structure of man, where materiality and
spirituality are the two antipodes.
14. A super-temporal dimension. When man commits himself to his personal vocation,
his decision is based upon that which is permanent in his being and, thus, he
transcends the changing elements of time and space. He knows that with the
emergence of his spirit his real self will find its highest expression.

The Most Prominent Existentialists

1. Soren Kierkegaard was born in Copenhagen in 1813 and died in 1855. This Danish
thinker was about to become a minister in the Danish church when he realized there
was a discrepancy between the religion which was preached and the religion as it
might really be lived. He became a loner, devoting his life to writing.
This Danish thinker, steeped in the knowledge of Greek philosophy, is accepted as
the Father of Existentialism. it does not mean though that he is the originator of
all modern existentialist themes, but the claim is richly backed up by his works.
The most important of these are:
a. Either/Or where he analyzes the aesthetic and the ethical modes of life.
b. Fear and Trembling where he analyzes the biblical story of the sacrifice of Isaac,
introducing us to the absurd, an existentialist theme.

2. Karl Jaspers, born in 1883, was a German professor who produced Psychology of
World Views (1932), and Philosophical Logic (1947). He is nearest to Keirkegaard in
beliefs. He considers the individual as the unique existent, the being who freely
transcends what he already is and creates himself, as it were, through the exercise
of his freedom. Indeed, from this point of view man is always in the making, his won

Though with an unstable essence, Jaspers says man can be seen from the two
inseparable phases of his being: Dasein and Existenz. Dasein refers to myself as
object and includes my reality. It can be analyzed, defined, and understood up to a
certain point. It is determined. Existenz is my very self, purely subjective. It cannot
be analyzed nor defined. It is free. But my existenz is in my Dasein and all acts of
the former are manifested in the latter.

3. Jean Paul Sartre, born in 1905 and died April 15, 1980, is the French philosopher
mostly credited with the popularizing of contemporary existentialism. he claims to
represent atheistic existentialism.

Sartre believes that existence precedes essence, and that this being in which existence
precedes essence is man. Everything around him is bounded by the human situation and he is
surrounded by other men existents and beyond this, nothing no heave, no God. Such is
the theme of his Existentialism Is a Humanism.

Sartre believes also in subjectivity, mans will to be, a conscious decision to be what he
wants to be. Man is responsible not only for himself but for all men. Thus, belief in mans
freedom though he considers freedom as the curse and futurity which carries his concept
of involvement.

Man is anguish. This Sartre writes about in Being and Nothingness. To him, add to the
sense of anguish a sense of deep moral responsibility and the realization that man is nothing,
and man feels nausea. In fact, for Sartre, existence is alienation of personality, is nausea. This is
the theme of his 1938 novel with the same title.

4. Gabriel Marcel, born in 1898 in France, a convert to Catholicism, is noted for being a
Christian existentialist. He refused to be called an existentialist, but his edeas are
existentialist, no doubt about it. He wrote ahead of Sartre.

His monumental work is the The Mystery of Being, in two volumes. Volume I is
Reflection and Mystery which is about our broken world: the need to transcend its problems,
truth and reflection, feeling, being-in-situation, my-life, togetherness, and presence as a
mystery. Volume II is Faith and Reality. It discusses, among others, existence and being, opinion
and faith, prayer and humility, freedom and grace, and death and hope.

In this work he illustrates his belief in the world of immediate experience and concrete
data which is rich and mysterious. This belief he presents phenomenological, using concrete
examples and references, such as the loss of a watch, having a pet dog, thoughts and young
man has about a beautiful girl he met the night before. All these illustrate reflection.

Marcel recognizes the problems of todays broken world as primarily philosophical, and
he counters these with faith and an appeal with philosophic vision.

5. Martin Heidegger was born in 1889 in Germany. He is closely associated with the
development of phenomenology which this teacher, Edmund Husserl, formulated.
Ridiculed by his contemporaries, he is ably defended by Emmanuel Levinas as the
only existentialist. He is truly the Father of Existential Phenomenology.

Called an enigmatic thinker, Heidgger accuses philosophy of losing sight of Being and
Time he talks of man as the being who asks Being. What is the meaning of Being? Though he
talks of unveiling Being and openness of man to Being, critics claim he has not been
successful in doing so.

This work is supposed to have a second part, but this was never published. There are
those who surmise it may be due to the difficulty of the problem posed or of language. Sartre
refers to him as atheistic like him, which Heidegger denies. Heidegger does say God is
completely out of the scope of philosophical investigation, but that philosophys duty is to
arrive at a proper concept of man, a dascin, and his relation with God.

Reflection 8

What do you think (or you may give an example to illustrate what you think) of these
key ideas of existentialism?

1. Subjectivity

2. Freedom

3. Phenomenology

4. Need for involvement



MAN: AS Eastern Philosophers See Him

Confucius says may be the opening of many anecdotes by irressible tellers of jokes,
but the expression is not very far from the truth. Confucius (551-478 B.C), called the great
Chinese sage, has been for some 2,500 years, the bible of the East for his moral teachings
which are chiefly rooted in The measure of man is man.

Confucianism, Taonism, Hinduism, and Buddhism have their following of millions all
over the world. The following article does not include the world of Islam as it will require a
separate article itself. Suffice it for me to mention here that though it is the youngest of the
world religions, having been established by Mohammed who died in 632 A.D., its adherents
now number also in the millions covering some one-seventh of the worlds population.

I am providing, however, at the end of Dr. Villabas article an addendum on Islam as well
as few more pointers on how the eastern philosophers regard mans personal, social, and moral

We may say man has two faces: that of the West and that of the East. Far too long and
too often only that of the West is exposed and scrutinized.

The article of Dr. Villaba on looking at man from the perspective of the Orient is, thus,
welcome. It is doubly significant for the Filipino who is part of the East more than he realizes.


Magdalena Alonso-Villaba, Ph.D.*

This paper will deal with the traditional concept of man from the four great system of
philosophy in the East namely: Hinduism and Buddhism, for India; and Confucianism and
Taonism, for China.


All Indian have as their fountainhead the Upanishads. The fundamental concept found
in the Upanishads si that underlying the external world of change there is unchangeable reality
which is identical with that which underlies the essence of man. This unchangeable reality is
Brahman and that which underlies the essence of man is the Atman. The main teaching of the
Upanishads is that atman is Brahman. What is Brahman? Brahman is ground of all things. It is
the Absolute (Pure Consciousness) that stands transcendingly in the heart of the man and of
every contingent being. The value of this Upanishadic anthropology lies in the roots man most
ontologically in the divine Absolute and establishes for centuries to come the creaturely
dimension of mans personality. This Brahman, as the power that turns into and animates
everything in the universe, is the identified with Atman. What is Atman? Atman is the highest
aspect of what we understand as soul the principle of life. It is the inmost essence in man.

Man, however, is seen in consiciting of five sheaths. The first sheath is the self dependent on
food, (annamayatman). This is the material layer of amn better known as the physical or
corporal self. Behind this sheath is the self as vital breath (pranamayatman). This is the
biological layer. Behind this sheath is the other self consisting of will (manomayatman). This is
the psychological layer. This again contains within it the self or consciousness
(vijnamamayatman). This is the intellectual layer. Behind this is the final essence of the self as
pure bliss (anandamayatman). This approximates the Brahman which is Pure Bliss. These
sheaths are considered as dark covering of ignorance that lie underneath the whole created
world. Only when this has been torn away can the true self, which is Atman identified with
Brahman, be known. Such knowledge is called Self Realization. So, how to come Brahman and
remain in touch with it is the quest that has inspired the spirit of man in India through the ages.

It is in this regard that Indian society reinforced its caste systems. The logic behind the
Caste is that every man is born to his own place in the world and his first duty is to show it, to
live up to it and make known both in appearance and action just what is his role in the world
drama. The individuals concern is to become identified with the tasks and interests of his social
role. The supreme virtue is to become anonymous, for the key to the realization of ones
present incarnation lies in the virtue of the caste. Caste is regarded as forming an innate part of
character: the divine moral order (dharma) by which the social structure is knit together and
sustained as the same as that which gives continuity to the lives of the individual. So just as the
present is to be understood as a natural consequence of the past, so the manner in which the
present role of the caste is played will determine its future. The correct way of dealing with
every life problem is indicated by the laws (dharma) of the caste and the particular stage of life
proper to ones age. By the rigorous practice of prescribed virtues, the individual man dissolves
himself thus gaining release from his own personality and absorption in the boundlessness of
universal being. Dharma is the way to pass into the transcendental consciousness and bliss of
the purest spiritual self Brahman.

The depersonalizing principle of specialization is divided into four stages of the ideal life
course of the individual. The first stage is that of the pupil, when one goes to the spiritual
teacher (guru) to receive divine knowledge and magic craft of his vocation. This is the period
when the mere natural man is sacrificed. Strict chastity is enjoined and the life of man in the
spirit is born. When this stage is finished, the youth, now a young man enters the second stage
that of the householder. The young man is married and takes over the paternal craft, business
or profession and forms a family of his own. It is in this stage that he gets into three of the four
ends of Hindu life: wealth and power, (artha); pleasure of his caste married life (kama) and
rights, and duties of his caste (dharma0. In the second half of his life cycle after serving
independent from him in life, he steps away from the three ends of life to enter the third stage
of life that of a hermit. He retires to the seclusion of the forest to enter upon the path of the
quest of the Atman Brahman.

To reach the Absolute Man, the perfected man, one must somehow discard all the
sheaths of man mentioned earlier (physical, biological, psychological, intellectual, bliss) for
these are not the true self, the Atman, but only superimpositions or contingent manifestations

of Brahman. Thus, the great Indian philosopher, Shankara, stated that the world and everything
in it including Man, is but a maya usually translated as illusion, appearance, or reflection of
Brahman. As an appearance or a reflection, it is not a reality in its own right. Hence, the world
and everything in it, is declared as unreal. This applies to the human ego which is apparently
conscious but is only a reflection of Pure Consciousness which is Brahman. Ordinary man,
however, sees Atman in his body only, but in depth introspective analysis brings one face to
face with reality and discover that deep within the individual self is the true-self the Atman
which is truly the Brahman. Therefore, as long as man looks upon the world as real, man will be
bound to the world, which is unreal. He is ignorant of the true reality. Thus, the final goal of
man is to know the true reality Brahman. The only way to destroy ignorance is by knowledge.
This is acquired through the practice of Yoga-Meditation. Concentration and Absorption in the
Brahman. Thus one obtains Self-Realization. This is meant to show that on the higher level of
introspective analysis, man is no longer an organism internally related to the world, rather, he is
absorbed by the Brahman and so in his realization man says, I am not this body nor the sense
nor this intellect nor the will, I am not even the individual ego, I am Brahman. This is the
discovery that the absolute stands transcendently in the heart of man. He has found his
dependence on the mighty Existent (Brahman) from which he derives his whole existence and
to which he is but a contingent manifestation. Thus, man now enters the fourth and last stage
of life that of the wandering beggar. All ties with the world have been completely cut off. He
is utterly free and attains the fourth end of life spiritual release (moksha).


Throughout his life, the Buddha constantly reminded his disciples of the trasitoriness of
all phenomena. He stresses that all conditioned things or phenomenal processes, mental as
well as material are impermanent or transient and subject to arising and passing away. That all
things rise, decay and fall, is an objectively evident everyday experience. What is important is
for man to realize that man is also subject ot the same law that governs all external beings. The
paradigm of reality for the Buddha is action which is instantaneous and followed immediately
by its consequence, not substance as it is in the Upanishads. So, the fundamental concept
running through Buddhism is that whatever exists changes. Existence here means the capacity
of producing everything. The Buddhist view of man is based on this fundamental concept.

Man, and everything in the world is analyzed under two categories Name (nama) and
Form (rupa). The tem nama literally means the name but is usually translated into English as
mind, but in Buddhist psychology it is used as a collective name to refer to the psychological
and mental aspects of the human being. The term rupa literally, form, is translated into
English by the word matter or body or corporeality. This is also a collective name to describe
the physical aspects of being. Thus, nama-rupa taken together, comprises the psyco-phusical
organism which constitutes a person or a separate or distinct individual. Buddhism considers
nama and rupa as interdependent and belongs to each other in an integral manner. This
mana cannot exist without rupa and rupa goes on when supported by nama and
nama when supported by rupa. This division of ma and other beings in the world into two
categories is only the first step in the analysis of the self. The next step is the analysis of man

and the things existing in the world as a stream of five conjoined currents, the five aggregates
(skandhas). These are: matter, sensation, perception, mental constructs, and consciousness.
Briefly, it is said that the psychosomatic organism consist of the compound of material stuff
(rupa) and emotional, cognitive, volitional, and cognitive faculties of the mind (nama). None of
these elements is permanent; hence, man has no abiding support underlying this stream. There
is no soul. When the five aggregates come together, they take a certain form or shape and what
is thus formed is given a name. Thus, we have name and form but when the elements
disintegrate, there is no nama-rupa, no person, no ego. these physical forms are like foam;
sensations, like bubbles; perceptions, like mirage; mental constructs, like the flimsy truck and
banana plant, and consciousness, like phantoms (Samyutta Nikaya III).

Buddhism states that when man perceives himself as a permanent ego, he is as deluded
as the child who takes a spreading flame for a swift running animal. The end of this illusion is
Nirvana, or the blowing out of the imagines ego. Thus, the term person has validity only in the
relative sense, namely: as popular designation and experiences in conventional language but
not in the absolute sense. The only actual realities are the psycho-physical phenomena
although they have only a momentary duration. There is no permanent reality, the only realty is
impermanence. Only the ego belongs to the realm of naming, the true persons cannot be
reached by the modes of speech.

The concept of no-soul (anatta) is tied up with the concept of impermanence

(anicca) and have a direct bearing of the concept of suffering (dukkha). The three go together.
The word suffering is an inadequate translation of the term dukkha. It is a word that
describes the predicament in which man is bound by conditional existence. It is the desire to
exist, to re-exist, to continue to exist which arises as a result of the belief in a permanent self or
soul which has thrown man into the predicament in which he is. This is therefore based on
ignorance. It is by ignorance that one desires or thirsts to exist. Therefore, to eliminate
dukkha which in effect means the elimination of notion of the self, it is necessary that one
comes to true understanding of the real nature of the self that is, that there is no permanent

So, -what is man? Man is just a name given for the totality of the five aggregates that
compose the individual; but each of the aggregates separately is not man. Now man has the
tendency to look upon things as permanent and yet they are not permanent. Because of this
wrong view, man suffers. He is bound by ignorance, so the final goal of man is to attain
enlightenment; to free himself from the bonds of ignorance. To do this, man must realize the
impermanence of things and that man must realize the sheaths. Believing this, man is freed
from the shckles of ignorance. He reaches Nirvana, which is the extinction of all desires. How is
this to be attained? By yoga or deep meditation.


The ideal goal of Chinese philosophy is to form men who carry the twin characteristics
of sageliness within and kingliness without. This is to say that in his sagelisness within, man
accomplishes spiritual cultivation; in his kingliness without, he functions in society. In other

words, the ideal should know what is right and correct, and apply these in society. True to the
Chinese ideal, Confucianism is essentially ethical; and in this system, ethics cannot be separated
from politics. Thus, man is regarded as a moral being and a social being. For Confucius, a true
man is a noble man, (chun-tzu), a superior man and such a man is said to be a man of jen
(human heartedness); a man of all round virtue. Man is expected to possess four virtues. These
four virtues of Confucianism are Human heartedness (jen) which consists in consideration for
others, loving others, doing to others what you wish others to do to you; Righteousness (yi)
which is doing what one ought to do and doing acts that are obligatory without a personal
utilitarian end in view, to do the right and proper thing in relation to circumstances without
regard of personal profit; Ritual or Propriety (li) which is humbling oneself to pay respect to
others. It also means putting others first and oneself second. The last virtue is Wisdom (chi).
This is the understanding of the others three virtues, namely, Humanheartedness (jen);
Righteousness (yi) and Ritual and Propriety (li).

Mencius theory of the human nature is intimately tied-up with this. According to
Mencius, human nature is originally good. To support his theory, Mencius speaks of the four
beginnings that belonged to mans original nature. The first of these is the feeling of
commiseration, which is the beginning of the virtue of humanheartedness (jen). Man tends to
sympathize with his fellowmen. Next is the feeling of shame and dislike. Man tends to be
ashamed of evil and dislike evil. This is the beginning of Righteousness (yi). Then, there is the
feeling of modesty and yielding towards the good. This is the beginning of Ritual or Propriety
(li). Finally the sense of right and knowledge of what is right and what is wrong; what is good
and what is bad. According to Mencius, all men in their original nature possess these four
beginnings. These four beginnings differentiate man from the beast. It is expected that man
should develop these four beginnings because it is only through their development that Man is
truly a man. Through the full development of his nature man cannot only know Heaven
(universe) but can also become one with Heaven.

Neo-Confucianism develops the concept that all men and all things are brought into
existence by Heaven and Earth. Nevertheless, man and things are different, namely, that man,
apart from his human body, possesses in addition, the nature of Heaven and Earth.

In regard to what fills the area which is Heaven and Earth, man is part of its body; in
regard to what directs the movements of Heaven and Earth, man is part of its nature.

ChangTsai, a Neo-Confucianist, regards chi (vital gas, etc.) as the basic elements of all
things. The entire body of chi is called the Supreme Harmony or the tao. Within the chi
which has the Yin quality tends to be still, to be submerged, and to fall: while the chi which
has the Yang quality tends to move, to float on the surface and to rise. Therefore, along with
Heaven and Earth and all things, man is basically one body. But the nature of Heaven and Earth
signifies the directive force there. Since mans nature is what he derived from the nature of
Heaven and Earth, man is part of its nature.

The nature of man reveals a power to have conscious knowledge and the combination
of this nature and conscious knowledge has a name the mind. Men have minds and thereby

are able to have self-conciousness and understanding. Since nature along with chi makes the
source from which things come, the sage man is conscious of this and understands it. Chang
Tsai says if man enlarges his minds, then he is able to identify himself with all things in the
world. The man who enlarges his minds unites it with Heaven. To heaven belongs the power of
transforming and when a man studies and comprehends this, this is a following up of the work
which Heaven has not completed. The mind whose mind is united with Heaven does his duty in
Society. He gives due respect to elders; tenderly kind to orphans and the weak thus, he treats
Heavens seniors as they should be treated and Heavens young as they should be treated.

Thus, to the man whose mind is united with Heaven, the study of Nature and the
making use of Nature in science are an understanding of the transforming work of Heaven and
Earth, a plumbing of the depths of their divinity.

Jen represents oneness of Heaven and Earth, an emotional oneness. The man who
becomes really and truly a jen man is the sage and the sage is one body with Heaven and
Earth and all things. The contrast between himself and others for him no longer exists. The
tendencies in life in all things are the jen of Heaven and Earth. Any and every sort of thing is
actually part of the scope of the jen of Heaven and Earth; but it does not follow that any kind
of every sort of thing is conscious of being so. For example, a majority of men are not conscious
that they are so. The sage man not only comes within the scope of life of Heaven and Earth, he
is also conscious that really and truly he is so. Thus, by means of reflection there comes the
genuine consciousness of everything, being in ones I. As such, there is no longer distinction
between the I and the not-I.


Taoism is essentially a philosophy that advocates what is natural and spontaneous,

simple and necessary. Based on its philosophy, that by which anything and everything comes to
be is the Tao. In the Tao. In the Lao-tsu Book, it is said: From Tao there comes one. From
one there comes two; from two there comes three, from three there comes all things. The
Tao is generally understood as the Power or the Principle behind all things. It is oftentimes
called the None-Bing. The one here spoken of refers to Being; the two are Yin and Yang
the cosmic principles or forces where Yin signifies femininity, passivity, cold, darkness,
softness, etc. and where Yang signifies masculinity, activity, warmth, brightness, hardness,
etc. The three refers to the Tao, the Yin and the Yang. Through the interaction of the
Yin and the Yang, all phenomena in the universe are produced.

Everything that exists in the universe needs the universe as a whole as necessary
condition for existence. When a man is born, he has the properties that he necessarily has. All
things in the univers, all that exist, cannot cease to exist without some effect on him. Man has
in him Yin and Yang, and mental faculties which make him superior to beasts and birds.
Man should strive to be a man of Tao a sage, a perfect man. A sage is one who has a
complete understanding of the nature of things. To understand nature, one has to know the
Invariable (abiding) Law of Nature. To know the invariable Law of Nature is to be enlightened.

The first thing that man must know is that things are ever changeable and changing but
the laws that govern this change of things are not themselves changeable. One of these laws it
The Way of Heaven has no favorites; it is necessarily on the side of the good. Among the laws
that govern the changes of things, the most fundamental is that When a thing reaches its
extreme, it reverts from it. This is expressed in the Lao-Tzu Book as Reversal is the movement
of the Tao (Ch. 40). to go further and further means to revert again (Ch. 25). This means that
if anything develops certain extreme qualities, those qualities invariably revert to become their
opposite. B=for instance, eating the right amount of food is good for the health but overeating
is harmful. Corollary to these fundamental laws are other laws like: The Tao invariably does
nothing and yet there is nothing that is not done (Ch. 37). It is to be understood however that
doing nothing here means not over-doing because by over-doing, one destroys.

Taoism maintains that the sage who has a complete understanding of the nature of
things thereby has no emotions. This is to say that he is not disturbed by emotions but enjoys
peace of soul.

The sage is no longer affected by the changes of the world. In this way, he is not
dependent upon external things and hence his happiness is not limited by them. As such, he is
said to gave achieved absolute happiness. He is absolutely happy because he transcends the
ordinary distinctions of things. He transcends the distinctions between the self and the world,
the me and the non-me. There is now an identification of man with the universe. To
achieve this identification, man needs knowledge and understanding of still a higher level.

Taoism speaks of two levels of knowledge; the Lower level, which is the finite point of
view when man sees distinctions like those between right and wrong; and the Higher level,
which is the higher point of view, when man sees things in the light of Heaven, that is from the
point of view of the Tao. Form the viewpoint of the Tao, things though different are united
and become one. For instance, the distinction between me and non-me are united and
become one. Thus, although all the things differ, they are alike in that they all constitute
something and are good for something. They equally come from Tao. Therefore, from the
viewpoint of the Tao, things though different are united and become one. In order to be one
with the Great One (universe) the sage has to transcend and forget the distinctions between
things. The way to do this is to discard knowledge and is the method used by Taoists for
achieving sageliness within.

The task of knowledge in the ordinary sense is to make distinctions; to know a thing is to
know the difference between it and other things. Therefore, to discard knowledge means to
forget these distinctions. Once distinctions are forgotten, there remains only the
Undifferentiatied One, which is the great while, By achieving this condition, the sage is said to
have knowledge of a higher level which for Taoists is knowledge which is not knowledge.
This is to say that at first sages had knowledge; they knew distinctions but later transcended
this knowledge to go beyond distinctions. This knowledge beyond distinctions is what Taoists
called No-knowledge or knowledge which is not knowledge.

Taoism states every man can be a sage. Therefore, each man, as man, should strive to
be one with the Tao, for such a man is the sage, the perfect man, the happy man.

Thus, we realize that whether Indian or Chinese, the concept of man is the same, that is,
to become a perfect man. The four systems differ only in the approach towards the attainment
of their goal.



The followers say it is the oldest of religions, claiming it to start 4,000 yrs. ago. In the Vedas
(Vedas loosely meaning knowledge), the most ancient sacred writings of Hindus, can be found
their beliefs such as on creation, the self, death:

1. Belief in God: the early Vedas reveals belief in animism, and Hindus worship a supreme
being they call Brahman. To them life constantly, eternally recurs, such as butterfly egg
to caterpillar to butterfly, but they are aware that behind this impermanence is
permanence, and thus is found in Brahman or God.
Man suppers from the impermanence and temporality and can only find peace in
2. Belief in reincarnation: Hindus think man goes through many reincarnations and can
find relief in moksha or release, which is really death. Thus, Hindus go to Benares, their
Holy City of liberation, where taking a bath in the river Ganges is supposed to free a
man from his sins. The dead are usually cremated and ashes strewn at a certain point in
the Ganges. Only the holiest men are not cremated; their bodies are surrounded by
flowers, weighed with stones, and sunk into the river amidst the singing of hymns of his
3. Belief in Karma: This means man is affected by his previous experience existence. He
cannot escape from his past deeds which determine his happiness or unhappiness in his
present life. He suffers from the bad deeds in his past life, but is rewarded for his
goodness then.
A man cannot escape from his fate. Considered the five transitory things in the
world are the shadow of a cloud, the love of the malicious, an intimacy with another
mans wife, youth and opulence.


Siddhartha Gautama was born in the warrior caste. His father was an aristocratic Hindu
chieftain, and he grew up in luxury. But after coming in contact with human suffering in the
form of an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and an ascetic, he left his wife and child to become
a monk and a wandering beggar to solve the riddle of life.

He sat under a tree called the Bodhi tree, and after 45 days of meditation, he achieved
enlightenment. Buddha means the enlightened one. Thereafter, for 45 years, he preached
all over northern India on the meaning of life.

Buddhism has two school of doctrine:

1. Hinayana known as the Lesser Vehicle with followers in Southern Asia, which exalts
individual austerity and salvation by personal example.
2. Mahayana Buddhism or the Greater Vehicle with followers in China, Japan, Korea,
Tibet and Mongolia, which stands for salvation by faith and good words.

Buddha was born a Hindu, and it is said he retained some of Hinduisms concept, such as
belief in reincarnation, karma, seeking of release from his world of suffering and
ignorance, the taming of ones appetites and passions. The last especially is brought
home even to very young children.

His teachings revolve around what is known as the Four Noble Truths and the Noble
Eightfold Path.

The Four Nobles Truth

1. Pain and suffering exist.

2. The cause of suffering is craving for satisfaction of sensual delights. It is this craving that
leads to transmigration and reincarnation, of rebirths and sufferings.
3. Sufferings end when man stops his cravings. But unlike Hinduism, Buddhism does not
believe in the permanence of anything, even of the soul. The soul, for Buddhism, is
made up of five aggregates (as mentioned in the article of Dr. Villaba), and when these
aggregates go, so does man. All composite beings die, and so the moral tasks of man is
to die to self, to renounce all desires.
4. This path that leads to the ending of sufferings is called the eightfold path.

The Eightfold Path:

1. The right viewpoint. This means the proper understanding of the Four Noble Truths.
2. The right aspiration. This means to go beyond the I.
3. The right to speech. This means to choose the right word to show courtesy and respect
to others.
4. The right action. This means one that does not inflict the five precepts of not killing, not
stealing, not lying, not having illicit sexual relations, and not taking intoxicating drinks.
5. The right to livelihood. This means one that does not inflict harm or pain on others.
Thus, being a butcher or a soldier is out of the question.
6. The right effort. This means living the proper pace towards enlightenment, towards
thoughtful action.
7. The right concentration. This means we must control our emotions, our imagination,
avoid illusions and self-deception.

8. The right contemplation. This means the quieting of all irrelevant thoughts until we
come to true knowledge, not by reason or logic, by the intuition and by insight. This
leads to the end of rebirth. To Enlightenment, nirvana, the end of all rebirths and

Attributed to Buddha himself are these to ethical teachings (1) Look at evil as evil, and
(2) seeing evil as evil, be disgusted therewith, be cleared of it, be freed of it.


Three pillars of thought have dominated Chinese thought: Confucianism, Buddhism, and
Taoism. But it is Confucianism that has the greatest influence. It has been looked upon as less
religion than a formal ethical system; through it is misleading to say the Chinese are not a
religious people. They have been tolerant towards all religious beliefs until the communist
regime. They practice ancestor worship and some animism in their reverence for mountains,
rivers, and the soil, and their desire to be in harmony with the rhythm of the universe. They
gave rites and festivals to pay their respects to the spirits. Fengshui (literal meaning : wind-
water0as used for instance in determining the placing and building of a house is still a popular

For the Chinese, there has always been the belief in harmony: harmony between man,
Heaven and Earth, there being no boundaries between the world of spirits, the world of nature
and the world of man.

Confucianism believes in the original goodness of man. Mencius, the greatest of

Confucianism writers, states. The tendency of mans nature to good is the tendency of water
to flow downward.. and, if men become evil, that is not the fault of their original endowment.
The sense of mercy is found in all men; the sense of shame is found in all men; the sense of
respect is found in all men; the sense of right and wrong is found in all men.. Charity,
righteousness, prosperity and moral consciousness are not something that is drilled into use;
we have got them originally.

The ethics of Confucius lies in his foundation of the Five Relationships: between ruler
and subject, father and son, husband and wife, older brother and younger brother, older friend
and younger friend. He also formulated the Golden Rule: never do to others what you would
not like them to do to you.

Then ten attitudes formulated by the followers of Confucius to govern the Five
Relationships are love in the father, filial piety in the son; gentility in the eldest brother,
humility and respect in the younger, righteous behavior in the husband, obedience in the wife;
humane consideration in elders, deference in persons; benevolence in rulers, loyalty in


Lao-Tzu was the philosopher credited with articulating Taoism; Yang (the active male
element) and Yin (the passive female element) are in harmony. The source of all order in the
universe is Tao.

From many scholarly attempts to define Tao comes this explanation: In its narrowest
sense, Tao means literally a way, a channel and so by extension, it may connote the proper
way to go, the way of nature, the law of life, universal law. From the beginning of time,
when the Great Ultimate or first primordial unit of the cosmos began to divide into the
differentiated elements ying and yang, the Tao was operating as the force for integration for it
transcends both the world of nature and the unseen world. Even Heaven itself works through
Tao, the gods act always in accordance with its way.

But the Taoism as conceived by Lao Tzu has deteriorated through the years superstition
and idolatry. It created more kinds of heaven (8) than the Buddhists who had 33. They created
gods for every conceivable reason. It was close to voodooism.

As conceived by Lao Tzu, Taoism no doubt has been, with Confucianism and Buddhism,
shapers of the philosophy of China.

The World of Islam

Islam is a word that means submission to the will of God. Moslem is a word
derived from the sense root; it means one who submits.

The founder of this religion is Mohammed. He did not claim to be savior nor messiah,
but prophet of Allah. His utterances are preserved in the Koran, Islam Bible, and other religious

Mohammed was said to be a simple man, married to Khadija, a widow of means and
fifteen years his senior. Freed from the necessity of having to earn his living, he could indulge
his contemplative bent by going off to the hills around Mecca to meditate. It was in such a time
that he had a vision; the archangel Gabriel commanding him to Recite! The first units of the
Koran form his recitation. Though frightened at first, subsequent visions convinced him he
was indeed marked as Allahs prophet. Eventually Koran came to have 114 sutras or chapters.

Mecca, at that time, was a bustling place. Business thrived principally because of
pilgrims to many shrines, notable that of the Kaaba (Cube) that housed various idols and a black
stone, a meteorite said to have streaked down the sky in the distant past.

He went to Yathrib where he was accepted he was accepted are religious leader and
governor. Armed conflicts with Mecca eventually led to his victory, and he returned in triumph
to his city. He destroyed all the idols, leaving only the Black Stone in the Kaaba.

The Koran emphasizes two doctrines.


1. There is only one God, and

2. There is the last Judgment; the delights of Heaven for the good and the terrors of Hell
for the bad.

Mohammed decreed ritualistic observances, known as the Five Pillars is His prophet.

1. Profession of faith; there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet.
2. Prayer, performed five times daily, facing Mecca, wherever one might be, and on Fridays
in the mosque.
3. Almsgiving, as a offering to Allah and an act of piety.
4. Fasting dung Ramadan.
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a believers lifetime.

The Koran also contains other ordinances. Believers are forbidden to eat pork, to
gamble, to practice usury, to worship and to make idols. There are rules for marriage and
divorce, and penalties for crimes.

The year after the death of Mohammed saw his followers start their conquest form out
of Saudi Arabia to Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Persia, eastward to India, to Asia. Islam was
spread by the power of the sword the Crusades were undertaken to stop it but it appealed
to the conquered for its dynamism and simplicity: brotherhood of men under one God to do His

In the Philippines, Islam has been a reality since the fifteenth century.

Reflection 9

What in each of the Eastern philosophies taken up do you feel you can relate to:

1. Hinduism

2. Buddism

3. Confucianism

4. Taoism

5. Islam


Filipino Values

We cannot talk of a man and not talk of his values. Truly we can say a man in his

Values are a part of a mans situatedness. They are there, ready to envelop him the
moment he is born. Values of parents, other relatives, peers, and on the way to grown-upness,
values of media, his church, his world of work dangle before him for him to choose from and a
be part of him.

In a attempt at soul-searching in the recent past, a lot has been said about Filipinos

Senator Leticia R. Shahani formed a committee to study the Filipino, and the results of
that study is entitled A Moral Recovery Program: Building a People Building a Nation. This
was brought to the Committee on Education, Arts and Culture and the Committee on Social
Justice, Welfare and Development of the Senate, May 9, 1988.

There are the findings of the Committee:

A. The Filipino and His Strengths

1. Is able to get along with others
2. Gives importance ot the Family
3. Usually has a happy temperament and habit of laughter
4. Is a good follower, able to ride with the times, and to respond creatively to the
challenge of the outside world
5. Is used to hard work and is industrious
6. Has faith and is religious
7. Is able to earn a living
B. The Filipino and His Weakness
1. Is too self-centered
2. Is over-solicitous for his family
3. Lacks discipline
4. Is too much a follower and lacks initiative
5. Has a colonial mentality
6. Believes in to each his own
7. Lacks self-reflection
C. The Most Important Reasons for the Filipinos Strengths and Weaknesses
1. The family and home environment
2. The society in which he lives
3. Culture and language
4. History
5. Education

6. Religion
7. Nations economy
8. Politics
9. Mass Media
10. Leaders and role models
D. What Should Be Done? Suggested Goals for Each Filipino:
1. The pro-country advocacy and pride towards Filipino works
2. Upholding a good for all, the ability to look at things not for self only, but for justice
and anger at its desecration.
3. A clean conscience and commitment in avoidance of graft and corruption,
especially in ones own life.
4. The values and habit of discipline and good and correct work.
5. The value and habit of reflection and analysis of self, the keeping to heart of the
importance of the spiritual, the giving of importance to the spirit and not to the
externals only.

Our damaged Culture

Sometime in November 1987, A Damaged Culture, an article of American James

Fallows, appeared in the Atlantic Monthly which clearly referred to Filipino culture. A number
of us were shocked and incensed.

One such person is Teodoro Benigno, STAR columnist, who writes about it five years
later. He quotes two paragraphs from the Follows article:

Most of the time I spent in the Philippines, I walked around feeling angryangry about
myself when I brushed off the latest platoon of child beggars, angry at the beggars when I did
give in, angry at the rich Filipinos for living behind high walls and guardhouses in the fortified
Makati compounds euphemistically called villages, angry as I picked my ways among piles of
human feces left by homeless families living near the Philippine Navy headquarters on Roxas
Boulevard, angry at the society that had generated into a war of every man against every man.

The countries that surround the Philippines have become the worlds most
famous showcases for the impact of economic development. Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
Singapore all are short on natural resources, but all (as their officials never stop telling you)
have clawed their way to top through hard study and hard work. Unfortunately for its people,
the Philippines illustrate the contrary: That culture can make naturally rich country poor. There
may be more miserable places to live in East Asia Vietnam, Cambodia but there are few
others where the culture itself, rather than a communist political system, is the main barrier to
development. The culture in question is Filipino, but it has been heavenly shaped by nearly a
hundred years of Fil-American relationship. The result is apparently the only non-communist
society in East Asia in which the average living standard is going down.

Benign refers to the carnival-like atmosphere of the elections and optimism of many
that everything would be alright. He says:

This is what gets me, the Filipinos infinite capacity for patience. We can never
really get angry, it seems, even if there is everything to get angry about. I have been told time
and again by many of my readers, by the audiences I have addressed, that I am on the right
track, that I have all the right to be angry , that I should not give up, fine, I am not giving up. But
why Filipinos get angry? Why James cans follows, an American, get angry over what is
happening to us while we cant? Why is he close to tears while we continue to smile, even
simpler and giggle? Why does the sight of a street waif foraging for food in a garbage dump not
torment the rich Filipino, the middle class Filipino? Why do we not throw up at the sight and
smell of slums? We are Christians, arent we?

I will say this: Until we get angry, until we get cholered up, the culture that James
follows says is damaged will remained badly damaged.

Then he asks:

What is at the core of our damaged culture? Maybe it is the fact that we Filipinos prizes
about all what psychologists can Smooth Interpersonal Relations (SIR). We have to save face all
the time or almost all the time. So we indulge the hypocritical graces (is it really hypocritical?)Of
not rocking the boat, not wishing to offend the person or persons we are talking with, not
stirring a hornets nest in public, and not calling a spade a stinking spade, not saying
sonouvabitch when we want to say much more than sonouvabitch. We care only about what
happens to us and members of our families. The rest can burrow into garbage dumps for food
for all we care. Yessir, blessed are the poor for they shall enter the kingdom of Heaven.

James Fallows was dead right. Our culture is damaged.

Our Shining Moments

But lest we forget, the Filipino does have his shining moments. I can add to list of
Senator Shahani from my observations and experiences, though there are, of course,
exceptions to the rule:

1. The Filipino is honest: I have known many men who are scrupulously honest, who would
never cheat nor steal though they be very poor.
2. The Filipino has a love for books and learning. Just a glance at our history, in those more
genteel days before the war when graduates of the seventh grade could already teach,
when students would save moneys for books.
3. The Filipino has a sense for justice. Though muffled by fear, it will burst out as in the
case of the Aquino assassination and the continuing fight of the loved ones of victims of
heinous crimes.

4. The Filipino has a sense of appreciation and shows it in a number of ways, like from the
farmer gift of a chicken or two, from the city friend as invitation to lunch, the sending of
flowers or sweets, or in unhappy times, the gift of presence.

Last July 22, 1992 my brother Reynaldo died. This, only two months after our youngest
brother Danilo succumbed to high blood pressure and cardiac arrest.

We brought him to San Ildefonso, Bulacan,where he had lived for around twenty years
as a policeman of the town. But as the acting Mayor in his eulogy said, Reynaldo was an
administrative officer and had often run the Department in the Hefes absence. He was called
Ka Rey (by the older folks) and Tito Rey (by the youngest ones). There were so many people
who came during his wake and for the parangal at the municipio. The Church was full during
the mass and the funeral procession to the memorial park was impressive, considering it was a
Tuesday morning, an office and school day.

Many sent flowers (wreaths from the generals arrived promptly, but most of abuloy (our
timed-honored custom) was in hundred peso bills. I asked my sister Mimi, a long time resident
of the place, if the people of San Ildefonso were really this generous. She said yes, but more so
now because the word has spread around that us, the family. Had given Ray everything we
could, had done for him everything that could have be done.

5. The Filipino remembers. Notice our celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries. Notice
our observance of Todos los Santos. Father James B. Reuter, S.J. talks of a plan of a book
of the heroic men and women of World War II, the Fall of Bataan, the Death March
before those who can still remember will be gone. Tony Mercado, the books
producer, suggests the title to be One Brief, Bright, Shining Moment. Father Reuters
reaction is:
But the Filipino has had so many brief, bright, shining moments!

Soliman, dying in the water at Bangkusay, fighting rifles with a bolo.

Rizal, in the Luneta, riddled with bullets, spinning around so that he would fall
with his face to the sun.

Gregorio del Pilar, at Tirad Pass standing up against the whole American Army.

The cripple in the wheelchair, on EDSA, facing the tank.

When the pressure is on, we see the real strength of the Filipino We see the
Filipino as he really is He is not a comedian, entertaining people with vulgar jokes He
is not a gangster He is not a thief He is not a philandering husband He is a man who
loves his wife and children, who loves his country He is a man with incredible courage,
who is willing to stand up and die for those he loves.

Our beautiful stories of heroism during World War II could be called: One Brief,
Bright, Shining Moment. But I think that it would be fair to call it: The Filipino.

For another insight into values, I would like to refer you to philosophers who are
considered authorities on the topic of Filipino values: Father Vitaliano R. Gorospe and Dr.
Florentino T. Timbreza.

Vitaliano R. Gorospe, S.J.

Father Gorospe is a philosopher and theologian. He used to teach in the Department of

Philosophy, but has been teaching exclusively the past few years in the Department of Theology
of the Ateneo de Manila University. His areas of specialization are moral philosophy, social
ethics, and moral theology. A prolific writer, he has written articles for local and foreign
magazines, and has authored a number of books. One such book is The Filipino Search for
Meaning, which is on moral philosophy in a Philippine setting, and from which the selections
that follow are taken.

Filipino Values

The best way to introduce this chapter on value is to say a word about cultural values
which we experience and which are most familiar to us, e.g., family-closeness and solidarity,
politeness (the use of po), hospitality, gratitude, (utang na loob) respect, etc. A Filipino
observer who studies emotionally, unlike a non-Filipino observer who studies Filipino values
objectively from without or from a distance. We Filipinos take these values for granted. It is
the foreigner or scholar who points out our own values to us. This is one of their contributions.
When we speak of Filipino values, we do not mean that these values are found only in the
Philippines. Elements of these individual human values are also found in the value system of
other cultures and other peoples. The differences area matter of the way these values are
ranked or emphasized or combined so that they take on a distinctively Filipino slant or cast. No
human value is uniquely Filipino.

How does a social scientist study Filipino values? In a scholarly study of the Filipino value
of social acceptance, an outstanding anthropologist points out that three aims motivate and
control an immense amount of lowland Filipino values and behavior. These values are social
acceptance, economic security, and social mobility. Furthermore, two intermediate values are
smooth interpersonal relations (SIR) and sensitivity to personal affront (amor propio). The
former is preserved by the threefold means of pakikisama, euphemism (Filipinos usually tell an
outsider what he wants to hear), and the use of a go between or mediator. Contrary behavior
with regard to the latter is sanctioned by hiya or shame (the Asian value of saving face) and self-
esteem (amor propio). It would then seem that social acceptance is a basic element in the
value-system of the lowland Filipinos. It is to be noted that it is not the concern of the social
scientist whether these Filipino values are indigenous (pre-Christian or pre-Islam) or already
have been influenced by Christian or Islamic values. Nor does the social scientist ask which

values ought to prevail in the life of the individual and the nation, in case there is a conflict
between Filipino and, say, Christian moral and religious values. Whether Filipino values ought
to be allowed to be as they are or would a moral philosopher approach human values in
general and moral values in particular? The philosophical study of values is called axiology.

Phenomenological Knowledge of Value

A value, e.g., gratitude (utang na loob), is immediately given in experience before it is

known or explained. Prephilosophical knowledge precedes reflexive philosophical knowledge.
There are two ways of knowing a value. First, by real or experiential knowledge, e.g., one who is
in love knows love, even if he cannot define it? The farmer who has been wronged by the
landlord knows injustice and cries for social justice without knowing its definition. This is
connatural knowledge of value by ethical insight. Second, by notional or conceptual knowledge,
e.g., one who may not have experienced injustice is able to give a concept or definition of social
justice. This is objective rational knowledge of value which, of course, may be based on actual
experience. Recall the distinction made by John Henry Newman between notional assent and
real assent. The difference is illustrated by the gospel parable of two sons the first promised
to help his father but never did, and the other turned down his fathers request, but helped his
father in the end. In Chapter Two, we said that to really know is to do; to know justice to be

Scheler applied Husserls phenomenological method to mans emotional life and values.
The aim of Husserls epoche or bracketing (phenomenological reduction) is to get at the
things themselves, that is, to arrive at the essential structure (eidos or essence) of things, by
bracketing or prescinding from the data of the senses, concept, symbols and the changing
factors of experience. A Filipino who has experienced the value of utang na loob has an insight
into its essence namely, a debt of gratitude, a debt of interiority, independently of whether
his gratitude is towards his parents, teachers, or to a friend, whether his gratitude is shown by
returning a favor (reciprocity), or by voting for political candidate to whom he is indebted,
whether his gratitude is short-lived or enduring, etc. we know what respect for elders is,
whether it is manifested by the used of the word, po, or by making mano (kissing the hand
of an elder), or by doing an errand for kuya (older brother),etc. We all know and appreciate
the value of friendship is shown by a handshake, or a kiss, or strengthened by mutual gift
sharing, etc.

What is always and everywhere immediately given in any value-experience is what

Scheler calls the a priori or unchanging essence of the value revealed by insight in what is felt,
preferred or loved. Values are a priori intentional objects of feeling. Mans emotional life has its
own a priori structure, its own order of the heart (logique de coeur). In Blaise Pascals famous
words: The heart has reasons which reason itself does not know. If you ask a man why he
married his wife, he is hard put to give you at once the many reasons or motivations of his
decision, but he knows in his heart why he married this woman rather than another. A girl
who really loves a guy, even if she has been stood up, may prefer to say to the boy: if she has
been stood up, may prefer to say to the boy: Never mind giving any explanations, I understand

because I love you. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is
invisible to the eye (Antoine Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince). The essence of value, e.g.,
gratitude, respect, friendship, is not a tendency (entelechy) in things which points to their
purpose, but value is seen by intuition or insight.

Filipino Values are Ambivalent

In the past, we Filipinos have been apologetic about our Filipino values, e.g., pakikisama, utang
na loob, hiya, etc., as if they were weaknesses rather than strengths. The negative attitude is quite
understandable in view of negative criticism of Filipino values from others as well as form Filipinos
themselves. Our Filipino values have been blamed for most or our national ills. For instance, small group
centeredness, or family-centeredness has been blamed for nepotism, graft and corruption, regionalism
and factionalism and a lack of national discipline. There has been an on-going debate whether Filipino
values are a help or hindrance to the development of the Filipino of the nation. Some Filipino values are
said to be obstacles to modernization, industrialization and democratization.

From a philosophical and moral point of view, Filipino values are ambivalent, not in the sense of
neutral as explained above, but are a potential for good or evil. They can be a help or a hindrance to full
human development depending on how they are understood and practiced or lived. For example, one
can use pakikisama to form a criminal syndicate or a Tondo gang or for community and nation-building.
Utang na loob can be an undying debt of interior gratitude to a friend or may be used pressure one in
debt into voting for an evil political candidate. We should look upon our traditional Filipino values as the
mainsprings of our strengths rather than our weaknesses. Filipino values simply are what they are, but
rather from an evolutionary point of view, i.e., Filipino values become. One does not discard/foster
values at will. They are there and will stay there until they disappear because of disuse over time. Disuse
will occur when these values lose their survival function, which is unlikely to happen.

Values as such are blind; they have no proper objects. They come into play when a decision is to
be made and not before. Pakikisama, for example, whether applied in a decision to assist a stranger or
to join a kabarkada in boycotting classes, is the same value. What is different is the foreseen (or
unforeseen) outcome, not in the value involved in the decision to join or not to join. There is no reason
for discarding a value because it has been used in the context of some evil act. Remember, it is
possible to have sama-sama, tulong-tulong sa kaunlaran or sa kalokohan. From our traditional
Filipino values, each generation of Filipinos must, by selective creativity, make our traditional Filipino
values help each Filipino to become more fully human and Christian. The values of other peoples which
can contribute to our development must not be super-imposed but integrated and become one with our
indigenous and traditional values so that they become distinctively Filipino.

Dr. Florentino T. Timbreza

Dr. Timbreza is at present connected with the Department of Philosophy of the De La Salle
University. His major interest is Filipino Philosophy. In fact, he has a book on it entitled Pilosopiyang

The selection that follows is part of the speech on Filipino Survival Values he delivered at a
Baguio seminar of the Philosophical Association of the Philippines of which he was one of the Governos.

I have quoted only portions of Non-Violence and Violence in the speech of Dr. Timbreza. It
would be interesting to reflect on this in the light of recent happening, especially the spate of killings,
the bank robberies, the formation of vigilante groups, and kidnappings.


Filipinos are by nature non-violent. Despite their religious, socio-cultural disparities, not to
mention their varied dialects, Filipinos possess a common principle regarding the priceless value of
peace and reconciliation, harmony and brotherhood, and love for one another. Violence and conflict,
they believe, will produce nothing beneficial except hatred and resentment, distrust and ill will towards
one another. Their moral heritage on this matter is nationwide, transcending ethnic and geographical

Spearheading the entire Filipino race, the Tagalogs teach if they throw you iron, repay them
with bread (Kung hagisan ka ng bakal, gantihan mo ng tinapay). Expressed in Maguindanao thought,
throw bread at those who throw you stone (Ug bengeran ka sa mato, bengeran nengka sa pan).
Likewise, the Pampangos preach if they throw you a stone, throw them bread in return (Nung besibas
da cang batu, besibasan meng puto). Confirming the same perception, the Cebuanos state, if they
throw you a stone, return it with bread (Kung labayon ka ug bato, basil ug pan).

The Ilocanos share the same tenet. Whenever they hurl a stone at you, toss them a bread (No
batuendaka ti bato, batuem ida ti tinapay). Accepting the wisdom of the same precept, if they throw
you a stone, the tirurays emphasize,recompense it with bread (Buluke tudaan go batew, fan ni

Strange and paradoxical as all these pronouncements may sound, Filipinos believe only begets
love and violence only begets violence. Thats why if others hate you, return it with love, i.e., if you want
to overcome their hatred. If somebody also gets mad at you, repay him with affection.

It must be carefully pointed out, however, that this mental mould of the people does not
necessarily mean they are suffering from some kind of mental perversion, like a masochistic bent or
propensity. We do not mean here their pleasure of being abused, dominated or exploited, as in the case
of masochism, but their own thinking or view of non-violence.

To show the universality of this principle of non-violence, let us consult the scriptures, the great
teachers, and sages of the world. Recompense injury with kindness, the Taoist sage, Lao Tzu,
preached. For love is victorious in attack, he continued, and invulnerable in defense. Heaven arms
with love those it would not see destroyed.

The Old Masters point is plain enough. The greatest invincible weapon on earth is love. Love
alone is the weapon of those who will prevail over all sorts of adversities.

Whisper vs. Shout

Clear enough, force, in Filipino thought, cannot resolve conflict. Force will just exacerbate the
situation and create further indifference, hostility, and resentment. Conflict or any form of dispute can
be threshed out and resolved, the people believe, by means of humane, refined of urbane approach. For
example, sweet word, state the Tagalogs, attracts the heart and will appease hatred (Ang salitang

matamis sa pusoy nakakaakit, pampalubag ng galit). With them the Bilocanos agree: Gentler words
soften the heart (Ang sulting mahinay, macalucmay).

In other words, a gentle way of sepeaking, according in the Illonggos, will appease animosity
while harsh words will just add fuel to it (Malunok nga palabton naga palaya sang caaguig, apang ang
matigas mga pulong pasaka sang casignal). For the Tagalogs, a whisper is loader than a shout (Mas
malakas ang bulong kaysa sigaw). It is better and more effective to resolve any strife in a diplomatic
way than to employ severe and drastic means or force. This is shared by other Filipinos.

For instance, soft talk, in Cebuano thought, is louder or stronger than a loud one (Ang
humubo nga pulong mas tunog pa kaya makusog nga pulong). For the Turutays, to speak softly is
better than to shout (Mentahe ketanogi segurawe beh ekesek). The Maguinadanaos put it thus: A
shout is faint whereas a whisper is strong (Mabeger su kambitagara su anggulan nin di-mabager). On
the other hand, the Ilocanos illustrate the same concept metaphorically. A hurtful word is like a deadly
poison, but a nice talk is like a fragrant flower (Ti nasakit a sarita kasta makapatay a sabidong, ngem ti
nasayaat a panagsasao kasla nabanglo a sabong) Fine word, they continue, is as strong and
attractive as a magnet (Ti nalumamay a sarita, kasla batumba lani a napigsa).

Tactful Gesture

In consequence, the proper and decorous way to settle any friction or dissension, according to
the Filipinos, is through a suave and smooth approach. A rough and harsh approach will only add more
insult to injury. A conciliatory and tactful gesture will help prevent further feeling of indifference among
the people concerned. As the Alkanos observe, cold water is used to put out fire (Ro maeamig nga
tubig kon sumilapo, patay ro kaeayo). Inferentially, by this they mean if we use fire to put out fire, we
will end up with a bigger fire. But if we use cold water, definitely we shall be able to prevent it from
growing bigfire, explain the Tagalogs, the more it guts ablaze (Habang ginagatungan ang siga, lalo
naming lumalaki ang apoy).

On the contrary, as you pour out more cold water over it, both the heat and fire will be put out.
All this indicates that shout against shout, anger against anger, will only lead to more furious shouting,
roaring and yelling; whereas a nice and cordial talk will soften a hardened heart so that any strife,
antipathy, rancor or bitterness can be finally overcome

Lets reflect some more on the Filipino concept of violence per se (karahasan).


Anybody who lives in violence, the Filipinos believe, will die in violence. That is, whatever kind of
life a man lives, that he is going to die of. (Kung ano ang ikinabubuhay ay siyang ikamamatay). For them
this is the law of life. To illustrate, whoever plays with fire, declare the Sugbuanos, if you would not
like to get burned, say the Pampangos, dont go near the fire (Nung eca bisang mapali eca lalapit
keng api).

In Tausug thought, dont grab a glowing ember (Ayaw kau sumaggau baga). This is also an
element of Ilonggo experience. Anybody who lives by the knofe, they warn, will get killed by the
knife (Ang nahuli sa patalom mapatay man sa patalom). In addition to this, a hardheaded individual,
they reason, is going to have a bad end (Ang tao nga tinokoyan malain ang madangatan).

With them the Ilocanos agree: The man who wields a bolo will hurt himself (If tao nga agiggen
iti buneng isut masugatan). For the same reason, the Tagalogs say dont ever play with a kitchen knife
if you dont want to get wounded (Huwag kang maglalaro ng sundang kung ayaw masugatan).

In consequence hereof, the great benefit that derives from self-restraint and non-violence is as
important as dear life itself, precisely because untimely boldness and lack-of-self-control will certainly
mean death for a person. The matter at issue was not unknown to Dr. Jose P. Rizal himself. In a meeting
between Crisostomo Ibarra and philosopher Tasio where the former sought the latters advice regarding
his plan for a revolution against the oppressors and people who were then exploiting their fellow
Filipinos, Dr. Rizal, through the lips of philosopher Tasio and pointing out to a rose plant in a nearby
garden, says:

Why should we not model ourselves upon the feeble stem which is full of roses and buds?
The wind is blowing and staggering it helplessly. And it bows down as if its carefully keeping its
own load. If the stem stands erect, it will be destroyed and smashed; the wind will blow away its
petals and the buds will dry up. Let the wind pass and the stem will straighten again, proudly
carrying its own treasure. Who can blame it for stooping down out of necessity? To avoid the
bullet is not cowardice; whats bad is to face the bullet itself so that one cannot rise again.

What Rizal would like to impart is obvious enough. Sometimes, stooping down in order to avoid
danger, in his view, is a matter of necessity and survival. On the contrary, if one will encounter violence
itself that is, violence against violence then one will, for sure, be in peril; in the same manner that
the stem of the rose plant will be broken if it will stand up against the devastating blow of the wind.

The Bamboo and the Typhoon

It is interesting to note that Rizals point is essentially related to a Chinese parable of the pine
and the willow in heavy snow. The pine branch, being rigid and unbending, cracks under the weight;
but the willow branch, being soft and elastic, yields to the weight, and the snow drops off.

Likewise based on their experience and observation, the Filipinos have their own parable of the
bamboo and the whipping blow of the typhoon:

Man is like the bamboo,

Yielding and bending towards
The direction of the wind blast.
Not standing up against
But stooping down,
In order that its own stem
Will not be broken or smashed.
(Ang tao ay kawayan ang kahambing
Sumusukot umaayon sa bugso ng hangin,
Di sumasalungat kundi nagpupugay,
Upang di mabakli ang sariling tanghay).

Sharing the same wisdom, the Ilocanos express it thus:

Model yourself upon the bamboo.

It whips itself to bend

While the wild is strong,

Those that are stubborn,
Stiff and unbending will crack,
Or will be uprooted from the ground
And get up dried soon.
(Tuladem diay kawayan,
Ibautna diay bagina nga agrukob
No napigsa ti angin.
Dagiti pinuon a nasukir ken agpasikkil,
Isuda ti malpag wenno mabual
Pagpapananna a magangodanton).

Reflection 10

1. What do young people like you value most today; respect for elders, friendship, responsible
citizenship and love country, etc.,
2. What do older people say of their values?
3. What do you say of the values of Filipinos today in general?
4. In what way are Filipino values ambivalent?
5. Comment on Dr. Timbrezes stand on non-violence


Man as Knower

This chapter will present the ideas on knowledge of William Luijpen, Robert O. Johann, and
Sister Mary Aloysius.

William Luijpen

If I ask you what are you doing? you will probably answer I am writing a letter, or I am reading
this bestseller, or I am painting a landscape. But if I ask you what do you mean by writing or reading or
painting? I am sure you answer will be longer in coming.

I have just illustrated what William Luijpen calls the two kinds of consciousness: pre-reflective
and reflective. Pre-reflective is that which requires no thinking. It is something one simply knows. It is
implicit, not-thematic. Reflective thinking is something you think about. It is explicit, thematic. This is; of
course, more important than the first, for it is knowledge proper, an explicitation. But pre-reflective
consciousness has its value, too: it is the basis of philosophical thought. It is the treasure trove of your
earlier impressions, sensations, ideas.

Luijpen distinguishes two elements an any knowing the subject and the object. Other terms he
use for subject are noesis and being-outside-itself-with reality, and for object are noema and the reality-
of-the-object-to-which consciousness is present. All knowing is intentional: it has an object. It is due to
this that phenomenology is a philosophy of encounter.

To him, consciousness is

1. Never wrapped up in itself; it is openness.

2. Intercourse with reality; it is a neither self-giving of the perceived, not through imagination nor
3. Not pure passivity, which is usually illustrated by the mirror and the camera.

There is dialectic unity of noesis and noema. Thus, knowledge can be defined as on the one
hand the wonderful mystery of mans openness to reality and, on the other, it is the mystery of realitys

Luijpen talks of viewpoint, profile, horizon. Viewpoint is what the subject sees. Profile is any part
of the subject sees. The more one has of viewpoints and profiles, the more one knows. Horizon refers to
unity or backgrounds of meanings. An example is: I am holding a ball pen, my hands a part of my body; I
am inside a room of Far Eastern University which is in the University Belt, Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines.
Horizon, thus, is a perception of the whole thing.

An immanent act is defined by Luijpen as an act which originates from the subject which I am
and remains in me as my perfection. An example is: I have just finished reading a beautiful book. I tell
you about it. I summarize it for you. Do you know what the book is all about? You say yes. But who is the
greater beneficiary of the knowing? It is I definitely.

Robert O. Johann

Truth is the object of knowledge. In Fidelity to Truth, Johann gives two kinds of truth: objective
and subjective. Objective id the truth of the object; subjective is the truth of the subject. He says truth is
both objective and subjective. Truth comes from the reality and the person. To Johann, the truth is
always the Real as disclosed to an individual who has personally comes to grips with it and succeeded in
a measure in articulating his vision.

Sister Mary Aloysius

The theme of Self-Becoming and the other is actually the importance of the other to self, or as
Marcel puts it, the mediating presence of the human other.

Of the four basic human realities, namely language, knowing, ethical acting and feeling, I shall
pick out only knowing there.

Sister Mary Aloysius details some precisions on human knowing:

1. Openness of human body

2. Limited openness of the human body
3. Use of point of view
4. A certain infinity characterizing human knowing
5. The finitude of human knowing

It is this last precision Paul Ricoeur gives as the reason for the dialogic structure of human

Reflection 11

Briefly illustrate

1. Any one of Luijpens statements on consciousness.


2. Johanns truth is both objective and subjective.


3. One of Sister Mary Aloysiuss precisions on human knowing.



Man in Dialogue

He was the old man in my childhood, wispy white hair framing his balding head, a tall Spanish
mestizo, almost blind, with his ubiquitous cane, and we called him Lolo Menggoy.

The was the source of Filipino folk tales about the aswang, manananggal, kapre, that my Tia
Yeyeng would tell me at bedtime, one at a time, Lola Basyang style.

Now that I am reflecting on the philosophical implications of dialogue, I ask myself if there was
dialogue involved between Lolo Menggoy and my aunt, and between my aunt and me. The arrows all
seemed to point the same way. Was there an interchange? Or was it only a matter of one pouring
information into the ears of another?

I know that dialogue is more that two persons talking in each other. Students of drama are
taught that there are plays without direct dialogue. Pantomimes or gestures do as well. Silence my be
dialogue after all.

Let us examine the ideas on dialogue and communication of Dominic Dubarle, Martin Buber,
and Dr. Rmon C. Reyes.

Dominic Dubarle

In his article, Dialogue and its Philosophy, so Dominique Dubarle presents two kinds of
dialogue, namely:

1. Dialogue with the natural aim of unanimity

2. Dialogue of convictions and their confrontation.

The first kind of dialogue aims at intellectual agreement on the basis of evidence open to all
and makes it possible in principle to establish true knowledge. The fundamental rules of this kind of
cooperative dialogue rejection of violence and trickery, intellectual honesty superior to any interest
other than that of truth, objectivity in discussion, etc. The scientific inquiry, precisely because it is a spirit
of inquiry, is animated by a strong sense of these principles and their application.

Other examples of this kind of dialogue are classroom meetings or outings, student council
matters, homeowners meetings on subdivision security, Cabinet meetings at Malacaan, military
strategy meetings with the Chief of Staff presiding.

The second kind of dialogue involves philosophical, religious, and political convictions. It is
hopeless to dream of unanimity on these matters as long as man is man. Dubarle defines this second
kind of dialogue as human conversation where spiritual convictions confront one another. By that very
fact it is a confrontation of liberties which in principle at least are conscious at the particular time in
which are operative.

Such a dialogue occurs when philosophers meet, as during the annual seminars of the
Philosophical Association of the Philippines. Topics such as The Relevance of Philosophy, Philosophy is
Crisis, Values, are discussed.

There are three main objectives of this kind of dialogue:

1. To remove grave matters in dispute.

2. To define in common those areas of agreement.
3. To hope that each may bring to the other new resources of vitality and progress even on the
plane of the convictions in which they differ.

No philosopher can claim he has the whole truth. He has to engage in dialogue to get fragments
of the truth form others and to give back fragments of his own philosophical outlook.

Martin Buber

In Original Remembrances, Buber narrates a recurrent dream wherein something

extraordinary was happening to him, like a small animal resembling a lion cub (whose name I know in
the dream but not when I awake) tearing the flesh form my arm and being forced he would be
conscious of an answering cry each time, because it was there even before he cried. He heard it when
he lay himself open to it with every pore of my body.

Here he is telling us the first requirement of a genuine dialogue: to listen, to be open to the
world, to observe, to be aware of everything including flowers and animals, not just of persons.

The signs of a dialogue for Buber are whatever happens to use, whatever occurs to us. These
signs of address are, thus, everywhere, but we ignore them most of the time. When we do notice them,
usually we ignore them, usually we think we do not understand them and have to like them up in the
dictionary. Buber says we need real faith, which begins when we put down the dictionary.

What occurs to me says something to me, but what it says to me cannot be revealed by
any esoteric information: for it has never been said before nor is a composed of sounds that
have ever been said. It can never be interpreted nor translated, I can have a neither explained
nor displayed: it is not a what at all, it is said into my very life: it is no experience that can be
remembered independently of the situation, it remains the address of that moment and cannot
be isolated, it remains the question of t\a questioner and will have its answer.

Who speaks? To Buber, it is God each moment who speaks; so out of the moment Gods, there
is only one identity, the One.

If someone speaks to us, we should answer, we should respond. That, to Buber, is the essence of
responsibility. Responding to what? Buber says, TO what happens to me, to what is to be seen and
heard and felt. Thus, you clap your hands in joy at a beautiful concert, you cry at a beloved uncles
funeral, you went to Edsa those days of February 86 because you were affirming your love for country,
freedom, and justice. To Buber,

Only then, true to the moment do we experience a life that is something other than a
sum of moments. We respond on the behalf, we answer for it. A newly created concrete
reality has been laid in our arms; we answer for it. A dog has looked at you, you answer for its
glance, a child has clutched your hand, you answer for its touch, a host of men moves about
you, you answer for their need.

There are three kinds of dialogue, according to Buber:


1. Genuine dialogue where its participants have in mind the other, and turn to him to establish a
mutual living relationship between them.
2. Technical dialogue prompted by the need of objective understanding.
3. A monologue disguised as a dialogue wherein two men speak each to him such as in a debate,
a conversation in which there is no need to learn or give something.

The basic movement of the life of dialogue is the turning towards the other, he says.
Monologue he calls reflexion, a withdrawing from another person in the latters particularity, so that
the so-called dialogue here becomes a fiction, a game. He concludes, in the rejection of the real
life confronting him the essence of all reality begins to disintegrate.

If we were to distill Bubers ideas on dialogue, we would say something like this: Dialogue is
always a turning towards the other in his concrete reality, very much like what art does, but more than
art, it is a relationship of the I and the Thou, it is openness, a movement of love.

This answers my question at the beginning of this chapter: If my Lolo Menggoy, my Lola
Basyang, and I were engaged in dialogue. Yes, we are.

Dr. Ramon C. Reyes

Excerpts from

The Elements of Society: The Social Philosophy of Edmund Husserl*


For Husserl, the primary act specifically social, in other words, that which primary constitutes
society is the act of communication (Aktivitat der Mitteilung). For him, at the bottom of all social life lies
the community of communication (Mitteilungsgemeinschaft), established by discourse and the
reception of discourse, in other words, by the reciprocal act of someone addressing the other and this
other listening and responding, and vice-versa (Ansprechen and Zuhoren).

Communication is a complex phenomenon requiring the superposition of several activities.

Husserl goes into some detail enumerating these requirements. First of all, communication requires the
mutual recognition of the subjects involved as subjects, thus, as conscious beings. Husserl calls this
reciprocal appresentation. It would also require that subjects recognize a common ambient world.

But in addition to this general condition, other stages must be passed through.

It is not enough that there is mutual recognition of subjects or reciprocal appresentation. The
subjects must,bilaterally, be conscious of such reciprocal appresentation. In other words, it is not
sufficient that I am aware of the other and the other aware of me. I must be aware that the other is
aware of me and vice-versa. For example, kit is possible for a man to take notice of a woman and vice-
versa, but if each one is not aware that the other is aware, the there is no communication between

Furthermore, there must be reciprocal understanding of this mutual awareness and interest of
each other. In other words, not only must I be aware that the other is aware of me and vice-versa. The
other must be aware that I am aware of the awareness that he or she has of me. And vice-versa. Taking

the same example, the woman may be aware that she has caught the mans attention and that he is
therefore aware of her. But if the man is not made aware that she is aware that he is aware of her, or if
she were to pretend to be aware of it all, then there is still no communication possible between them.

With such conditions fulfilled, the two subjects may now be said to be mutually aware that each
is aware of the others doing and activities. But there is still no real communication. Thus, the man may
be aware that the woman has taken notice of the interest he has taken toward her. And vice-versa. At
this point each one has begun to have some influence over the other. Each of the two being aware of
the mutual awareness they have of each other, each is able to make the other understand something
about himself or herself by way of each ones external behavior. But at best, this is suggestive and
chance communication. For there to be real communication, it is not enough that there be some mutual
understanding of each others suggestive messages. Such mutual understanding must be manifestly

The critical element then for real communication is the deliberate and manifest will to exchange
one anothers thoughts, desires and feelings. This deliberate expression and transmission of each
others thoughts is discourse or language. As discourse, whether gestural, oral, or written, one
deliberately addresses himself to the other, and the other understands the discourse as discourse,
namely as communication, there are two correlative moments, the act of manifestly addressing oneself
to the other and the act of receiving the address, also to be manifestly shown by an attentive attitude or
by some form of responding discourse, showing that he has understood or at least showing by some
established forms of speech or discourse that he is listening.

As language, discourse is significative. In other words, one addresses himself to the other about
something. This then is the content of the act of communication. Regarding this content, the other ways
respond positively, negatively, or with some reservations. To the extent there is accord between the
interlocutors, there is evidently unification between the two, especially if the accord goes both ways of
the discourse. Thus, the two think, work, act in relation to the wishes of each other. However, even if
there is disagreement regarding the content of communication, to the extent that there has been other
and vice-versa, each one is received in the subjectivity of the other, and it is only in so far as there has
been this mutual reception of each others address that there could be that conflict or disagreement.

Hence, the accord regarding the content of communication certainly strengthens the bond
between the interlocutors. Yet this is not essential, as long as effective communication remains. Just as
with the one same self there could be conflict without rupturing the unity of the ego, so also there could
be conflicts between the interlocutors without necessarily breaking the effective bonds of

For Husserl, then, the bond established by communication, by language, is the most fundamental social
bond. It is a bond which creates the effective unity of consciousness, whereby my will to communicate,
together with its content, goes over to the other as he listens and receives my address to him. We both
participate, each one doing his part, now as speaker, then as listener, in the same single act of

What is achieved then is what Husserl calls an overlapping or a coincidence (Decking) of

consciousnesses regarding some matter or other. In so far as the subjectivities are in communication, I
no longer exist by myself, nor the other by himself. It is at this point that the relation of I and Thou
(Ich-Du-beziehung) is established and the subjectivity truly acquires the status of in communication,

there emerge the Thou, the I, and the We, in other words, a true community according to the
manner appropriate to persons.

This community of communication, which provides the ground for the unification of
subjectivities, must expand and acquire certain permanence.

Communication provides the exchange of cognitive experiences such that we are not only
confronted with the same world, but by means of the communicative exchange of our thoughts and
views of complement one anothers perspective of the world. As a result, we do not simply have parallel
views regarding the world but a synthesized experience that unifies our respective particular
experience, each one partially different from the other, but now through communication overlapping
one another and constituting complementary perspectives of one collective experience.

As Husserl himself says,

Each individual has his sensibility, this apprehensions, his permanent unities; the multitude in
communication has also, in a certain sense, a sensibility, a permanent apprehension, and correlatively, a
world of undetermined horizons. I see, I hear, I experience not only with my senses, but also with those
of the other, and the other experiences not only with his senses but also with mine

We are numerous sentient subjectivities, but in so far as we communicate with each

other, the senses of all benefit each one, and in such a way that each one has confronting him a
world which has been formed by all these senses and knows that he has before him an identical
world in so far as it is the same for all. In this regard, therefore, it is as if there were a single
subject as correlate of this common world. The multitude in single subject that acquires for itself
a unity of experience by way of the others and he knows, in so far as the others experience by
way of him, that this identical world may be recognized as identical.

At the root then of this common world and common perspective created by communication,
Husserl posits a certain transcendental intersubjectivity, the transcendental We, to signify that purely
subjective aspect, the condition of possibility of all social life.

As Husserl himself say,

If we were to put into brackets all that is not subjective, all that is of nature and all
objectivity that is tainted with naturality, all social acts become purely subjective and in the
form by which the I and the Thou are thereby in relation to each other such that social acts link
my pure subjectivity to those of the others in a single pure subjectivity.

Reflection 12

1. Give examples of Dubarles kinds of dialogue.


2. What do you think of Bubers expose of what dialogue really is?


3. Elaborate on what Dr. Reyes means by Such mutual understanding must be manifestly willed.


Man as Lover

This chapter presents three points of view on human love: those of Teilhard de Chardin, Erich
Fromm, and Father Vitaliano R. Goraospe, S.J.

Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard talks of love among cells and he calls it amorization. Healthy cells nourish themselves
for individual growth and life, but they also look at the welfare of one another. It is not human love
operating here, but is a recognition of the fundamental law in biology and of the whole cosmos. For
Teilhard, A Superior being is this: not the juxtaposition of millions of cells, but the disappearance of
their individuality which lends itself to the unity of the whole..

True love desires the others good. All beings are attracted to what is good and is reppeled by
what is bad.

In his phenomenology of biological evolution, Teilhard talks of the inwardness of things which
consists of an interior organization characterized by an ascent towards the greatest brain, which is

Teilhard emphasizes that living beings need others like themselves, that sexual love unites
spiritual and carnal love, that there is no normal man outside of normal human relationships, and that
man has the duty to love. Paul Chauchard elaborates on Teilhards concept of love thus:

The science of love deals not only with attractions that underline the maintenance of
superior individuals, and the possible fusion of elementary individuals, and the possible fusion of
elementary individuals into a higher individuality runs across the question of attraction between
individuals. We need more than nourishment alone. Living beings need beings like themselves.
This is true for sexuality and, in more general fashion, is true for all the socialized species,
among which individuals cannot find equilibrium alone, and need others. Animal sexual love is
an automatic reaction provoked by the very centers of the brain which are adjacent to those
producing hunger reactions. Under the stimulus of sexual hormones, there arise both sexual
appetite, which accompanies genital activation and is only secondarily conscious, and sexual
behavior, which induces the animal to perform as required to assure its sexuality, without
having to learn how. Among inferior creatures, the butterfly for example, sexuality is a pure
automatic reflex set off in the male of another through individual choice. On the other hand, the
brains of birds and mammals have progressed to a point at which, before the automatic reflexes
of coupling occurs, choice and courtship take place, indicating the emergence of love in the true

Thus it becomes apparent how realfirmation of the evolutionary perspective that is in a

true sense materialistic, disproves the old false relativism that ignored the levels of different
beings. Far from opposing morality, this confirms it by showing mankind the spiritual level of
mastered love corresponding to our level of mastered love corresponding to our level of
cerebration. Mans principal sexual organ is his superior brain that is responsible both for the
superior aspects of his love and the possibility of mastering his genital reflexes, a possibility we
use poorly because we know little about it. Here we find, really, the essential difference of the

human level of amorizaiton: automatic sexual need persists but the means of satisfying it are
learned rather than instinctive. Ideally, it is a humanized love respectful of persons: practically,
due to the absence of knowledge, it is an automatic preconception. It is natural for animals to
be guided by instinct; if man thinks he is obeying instincts which he does not have, he
dehumanizes himself, imitating animals rather than being guided by his superior nature with its
reflective understanding.

Thus, the psychology of sexual love reestablishes unity between spiritual and carnal love.
Purely carnal love denatures man; permanent monogamous marriage, based on love and
including self mastery, is the only natural carnal union for the human species.

Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm considers love as an art. In the The Art of Loving, he talks of two things:

1. The theory of love: The problem of human existence is separation, alienation. The answer is
love. Love is an active power in man and it is characterized by giving, the highest expression of
my potency. Certain basic elements in love are care, responsibility, respect and knowledge.

2. The practice of love: It needs the following requirements: discipline, concentration, patience and
supreme concern with the mastery of the art of love.

Other qualities needed to love well are overcoming ones narcissism, objectivity, humility and

Father Viataliano R. Gorospe, S.J.

Father Gorospe lists four characteristics of love:

1. Love is mutual or reciprocal.

2. Love must be expressed.
3. The paradox of love It is better to give than to receive.
4. Love is creative.

To him, the two dimensions of love are love of desire (eros) and love of friendship (agape) and
the basis of love is similitude and participation. People in love must have something in common as well
as someone in common. This someone is God.

The Filipino concept of love, Father Gorospe says, is conditioned by our history and culture. It
can be glimpsed through our literature. The concept is usually woven from the man-woman love theme,
the two main qualities of which are fidelity and service (paglilingkod). Other values that come into play
are respect (iginagalang), gratitude (utang na loob), and mutual sharing (pakikisama).

The most popular subject in the world is love, so we never quite reach the bottom line of it.
What is obvious though in the three authors studied in this chapter is the unanimity of their views: that
love is an eros-aagape relationship, than of self and of the other.

Reflection 13

1. How does Teilhards amorization apply to you?


2. Illustrate how, in your daily life, you can apply one element (theory) and requirement
(practice) of from towards acquiring the art of loving.

3. What do you say of Father Gorospes characteristics of love?



Man and God

During the May 87 brown-out, many Filipinos, after their initial apprehension of another
possible coup-dtat, were surprised when they looked up and saw the many bright stars in the sky. Ine
vitably thoughts at such a moment shift to God, the Creator of stars and the sky.

Really, if you were an astrophysics buff and you study space phenomena such as the birth of
stars, and recall that our galaxy, like the other galaxies, was born fifteen billion light years ago, and still
going strong, would not your thoughts stray to God, at His Almightiness, His Infinity?

Scientists like Albert Einstein, missile expert Lise Werner Von Braun, the great mathematician Sir
Isaac Newton, the astronomer Johann Kepler, to name only a few, acknowledge Gods creative power.
They know that the deeper they get into science, the more He comes shining through.

However, there is more than as invisible cord, such as ones thoughts and reflections linking
man to God. Robert O. Johann in Part III of his book The Pragmatic Meaning of God shows God is
intimately a part of being of man, and is the condition for men complete becoming. Johanns purpose is
to show not only how God is intrinsically constitutive of the human, but how explicit and thematic
attention to Him alone makes possible the full realization of the human. He says further:

In order to show this, I propose to proceed in three steps. The first step will consist in
sketching out a conception of the ideal. I shall try to point out what the wholeness is to which we aspire
in all our actions. The second step will indicate the positive being bearing of belief in God on the
realization of this ideal. For, not only is an idea of God implicit in the ideal, the ideal itself cannot be
realized without implicit attention being paid to Him. Thirdly, since the ideal embraces every dimension
of our lives, I shall try to spell out some possible effects or religious belief on these various dimensions.
My purpose will be to clarify how belief in God, instead of being a force for alienation, is actually what
restores us to our neighbor, to ourselves, and to our world.

About 80% of Filipinos are Catholics. But even those who are not, except for the non-believers,
acknowledge the existence of the Supreme Being. Sister Edmunde of the Belgian Sisters of St. Theresas
College concludes in her thesis that the pegan Igorots of the Mountain Province believe in anito, whom
they consider their God. The question for many is: how well-thought out is this belief in God? Is it I
believe because I believe? Is it the gang mentality at work: I believe because you and they believe? Is it
necessary to think about what Johann means by God is an intrinsic part of man? is it necessary to
reflect on if God exists at all?

The significant contribution of the article of Father Francis E. Reilly, S.J. is that it helps us inquire
into this problem within the context of human inquiry and knowing in general.


Francis E. Reilly, S.J.

The adult believer is expected to be aware of his believing. He doesnt just believe, but he knows
that he believes. He knows that he has come to believe through his fellow believers, and that these are

still involved in his believing. He recognizes too that what he believes is said to be from God, whose
existence he accepts and confesses in the very act of believing. This God, the believer asserts, claims to
love us and to share his love by telling us about it. He tells us also many other truths about himself,
ourselves, life, death, etc., and offers us a gift of holiness and salvation. The adult believer realizes upon
reflection that believing is an act of entrusting ourselves, individually certainly, and almost always in
community too, to God, and an act of accepting his message as above.

Even one who does not believe can judge that adult believers conform to the above description.
The nonbeliever, of course, does not share that part of the believers life, but he can assure himself:
That is what believers do.

Some adult believers have a responsibility to be inquisitive about believing. This responsibility
will be a function of a persons education and intelligence. His intelligence and education may depend
on his socioeconomic status. Some people are so impoverished that their inquisitiveness that their
inquisitiveness just does not get the chance to develop. Malnutrition in childhood affects the health of
the brain; poverty condemns the young to an unchallenging schooling. The tools for inquiry simply do
not grow. But still there are some believers who have what it takes to become inquisitive and who have
the leisure time, for example during college years, to ask important questions about believing and in this
way to become believers in and adult way. For these there is a responsibility to ask important questions
about religious belief and to pursue the answer honestly.

The other path of inquiry is philosophy. It amounts to seeking the further truth about the act of
believing in Gods word. It does not so much focus on what God has said but rather asks about the very
act of believing itself. Is religious belief worthy of a human person ho has reached intellectual maturity?
Are gods and God the illusions of childhood the way Santa Claus is? Is belief in God mere credulity, if not
outright fanaticism? Can the responsible, independent thinker still worship the God he was taught about
as a child? If there is such activity as mature, adult religious believing, how can you identify it? How can
it be distinguished from childish faith, form uncritical acceptance of tradition?

It is this philosophical path that I would like to follow. Can the believer verify the object of his
belief? Can the one who believes that God exists find out about Gods existence by reasoning about it? If
Gods existence can be verified rationally, and if affirming his existences makes the believers life more
truly human, can religious belief in him be reasonably regarded as worthy of human person?

Asking these questions amounts to asking about human intelligence and how far it can reach.
What are the proper boundaries of human questioning? If apart from faith one could not know that God
exists, of what validity would that very faith be? If the human person could not reason to the truth of
Gods existence, would faith be anything more than repeating what weve been told? Would it amount
of credulity? And is that what faith is? How human would it be to simply hold on to what Ive been told?
Would there be any difference between childhood and adulthood in believing?

But if believing is a respectable act of the adult human intelligence, it will be necessary that
some people at least will be able to show the truth of Gods existence by reasoning from a standpoint
other than belief.

If the question can be seen as important and worthy of pursuit, the topics mentioned a few lines
above have to be addressed. They concern human intelligence. By what method should the philosopher

inquire about Gods existence? How far can human intelligence reach? Can we ascertain by reasoning
whether there is a God as religious believers describe him?

What guidelines and boundaries does this inquiry have? Inquiry about the truth of a religious
belief will conform to the general guidelines of human intelligence. Some of these guidelines are the
1. Questioning and searching for answer must begin with the human situation in this world. Our
basic act of knowing is the perceptual judgment, that is, a judgment made about a material
object present to our senses. There is no type of judgment about the real more basic than this.
This kind of knowledge-act prods us to find meanings which cannot be reduced to sense
descriptions, and the most advanced claims to knowledge must be consistent ultimately with
what can be known by perceptual judgment.

2. It is also part of our situation in the world that we have an unending drive to know the truth
about reality. We are driven on by a passion to know, by a ceaseless conclusion, no matter how
certain, will leave us completely satisfied. Only the truth will satisfy the inquisitive person, and
even this satisfaction is only partial, only temporarily. Our yearning is for knowing the truth
about reality, our passion (no matter how subjective it might be thought to be) is directed
toward objective knowing, that is, toward grasping the real. We thirst for the real, even for a
partial and poorly expressed knowledge of it.

3. The latter phrase introduces a further characteristic of our situation: we are finite: all our
knowledge can be perfect. These will always be some shadow of incompleteness and
vaguesness. We are finite, and all we do is finite.

4. The three points just mentioned make It mandatory that rational inquiry about Gods existence
be intersubjective, that is, dependent on a community of fellow seekers for the truth. No one is
trying to find God by way of sense perception the way we would look for a lost set of keys. Our
quest brings us far from the visible for otherwise perceivable part of the world, and hence we
need the challenge as well as the assistance of other inquirers. In order to keep our quest
objective (that is: directed toward the real), others have to prod us to reflect on our reasoning,
lest it be too biased by the subjective, by wishful thinking either for or against Gods existence.
And since human knowing is unavoidably finite, it helps to have other finite thinkers at our side,
who may see finitely, of course, another side of reality.

5. Any actual inquiry will be particular, that is to say, it will be about some particular sector of
being: the score of a ball game, the birthday and age of a friend, the approximate dimensions
and age of the universe, the right of religious leaders to express opinions on political matters,
the obligation of citizens to disobey certain laws of the state, etc. and the method used to
discover the truth, even the partial truth, about these matters will depend on just what the
question is. The truth being sought determines the manner of seeking. Hence, it is not right to
expect a priori a quest for the truth about Gods existence to be like a proof in geometry, or a
like confirmation of a medical diagnosis. While we should not be surprised to find some
resemblance among all inquiries, the extent of the resemblance cannot be dictated beforehand.

6. Several of the points explained above may help us to see that if we are going to be loyal to our
inquisitive human nature we will not exclude a priori any questions, nor any realm of being, nor
any method that will enable us to reach the truth about being.

7. In the background of any act of thinking lies the attitude that reality is intelligible and that
human person can know it to some extent, quite early in life we opt for the intelligibility of
being. The option may be implicit. In philosophy we can discover more fully the reasonableness
of the option. It does fit our passion to know, our eagerness to inquire. It makes the
accomplishments of science and technology meaningful, makes a educational system
reasonable, argument worthwhile, conversation pleasant. It underlines the whole of what is
specifically human.

The rather general guidelines about human knowing given above make it somewhat easier to
understand that rational inquiry about Gods existence will have some similarity to other rational
inquiries. Still some differences are to be expected in the way the inquiry will be conducted. The
question Does God Exists? cannot be answered by the same method one would use to answer Does a
planet in our solar system beyond Pluto exist? or Is there any beer left in the refrigerator? The God
whose existence we ask about is said by religious believers not to be a material object. Hence it is
absurd to inquire about him by taking a look, or by any method no matter how sophisticated, for asking
about a material body, or particle, or force, or energy. The method of inquiry is simply different.

How, then, do you test the basic tenet of religious believers, that is, that God, maker of earth
and sky, is real? One helpful starting point would be to expect that the verification of the tenet will have
some of the characteristics of the tenet itself. To put it less vaguely; believing in God (i.e, holding the
tenet) amounts to a fundamental conviction in the life of the believer. So it should not come as a
surprise that the process of testing this belief will be like checking whether I have the right fundamental

Let us say the same thing more slowly. Believing in God is the act of a person, of a flesh and
blood individual living in a society of other individuals with definite problems and attitudes, and the
belief of the religiously mature person will be a basic guide for his life, perhaps the most basic of all his
fundamental convictions. Even persons whose lives are fundamentally directed by beliefs and goals that
are not particularly religious will nevertheless pay attention to their religious beliefs if they have any. It
does to seem at all far fetch to say that the religious beliefs of person belong to a set of fundamental
convictions that direct that persons life.

As a consequence the rational arguments which attempt to verify a religious affirmation of

Gods existence will be of the type that would verify a fundamental conviction. And since the
fundamental conviction of a person are the most basic motives and attitudes of his life, the
persuasiveness of any attempted verification will depend on what fundamental convictions the person
actually lives on. If, for example, a person gives no value to reality beyond the material world and does
not really care whether anything else exists besides matter, no rational argument favoring Gods
existence will mean anything to him. Similarly if a persons motive for his choices are fundamentally self-
centered, if others are considered only for his own personal fain, again no rational argument, no matter
how carefully worked out, favoring Gods existence will be persuasive.

The topic is a bit complex and it would be better to divide it into sub-topics: the type of
knowledge that religious belief and its verification are; the existential situation of individual people; a
method of testing some religious beliefs.

1. What type of activity is religious belief? What makes a religious belief different from an
affirmation about the number of the planets in our solar system, the mean density of the
universe, the angles of polygons, the color of ripe cranberries or mangoes, the presence of
malignancy in a patient, etc., is that purported truth concerning the basic meaning of life
and of being. Such a meaning is transcendent inasmuch as it holds true (or is said to hold
true) in any situation of life. The adult believer in the act of serious religious believing is up
against intimacy, in that he is entrusting himself to the one whom he affirms to be the
personal source of all being, all good, all love. The believer is freely accepting and saying
yes to what this personal source, called God, Yahweh, Allah, etc., ahs said about himself
and use. Hence the act or habit or religious belief is the believers acceptance with mind and
heart of that Personal Bing who reveals himself in love as the one who confers existence and
goodness and truth on what ever is other than himself.

Furthermore the religious believer almost always professes and lives out his belief as a
member of a group of fellow believers who worship together and who support each other
spiritually, emotionally, and even materially according to need.

Hence, serious, adult, religious belief is quite different from other acts of certified
knowledge or opinion. It is the persons basic orientation and set of attitudes and
motivation towards all being. Religious belief is the fundamental sense of life and how to
live it.

The adult believer has some understanding of Gods word. He accepts this word as true.
This is a judgment, made deliberately, made with commitment to that truth. His
commitment is not simply to the truth of the judgment but it is a totally sincere and
personal giving of himself to God who is recognized as giving himself to the believer. Along
with the interaction with God, there is also a believers understanding of reality was a
whole, an understanding of the finite as dependent on the infinite, a judgment affirming this
freely and with commitment. In other words the religious believers feel at home with the
world, accepts its cohesiveness, its reasonableness, its value. This fundamental conviction
enables the religious believer to be enthusiastic about science, art, and technology, too. The
reasonableness and goodness of the world which the religious believer accepts with
enthusiasm are recognized by the same believer as having their source and ground in God
who is ontologically and valuatively ultimate, and who is the one to whom the beliver
commits himself in worship and service.

And so, as David Pailin says, belief in God is not to be treated as an ascent to a claim
about some entity which exists alongside the snails, stones, and stars, etc., which together
constitute the world. It is rather to be treated as belief about the existence and nature of
that which is itself self-explicable, is ontologically and valuatively ultimate and is the only
true ground of the unity and meaning of all things.

Therefore, since religious belief is unlike other types of certified and reliable knowledge,
its verification, too, will be unlike the verification of other types of claim.

2. The topic of individual differences in the intensity of religious believing deserves some
consideration. What I have in mind is the prevailing situation of wide differences in
perceptiveness, in depth of understanding and interests among individuals. How significant
in as individual persons life is the influence of what should be the main inspiration and
integrating factor of his personality? The question seems to be part of a more general
problem of good sense, seeing the point, grasping the connection between a given situation
newly encountered and general principles already known and accepted. Granted that is not
exclusively a problem of the exercise of intelligence, it does seem to be mainly that. Achieve
inquisitiveness, searching for questions, the desire to develop a more accurate and
complete ethical code and to see the event confronting me in relation to that code, all of
these pertain to growth in maturity and in the integralness and magnanimity of my

The human person already has the basic potentiality for such growth. And a person who
allows reality to stimulate his inquisitiveness and who uses his maturating intelligence to
discern which questions are most deserving of pursuits is already in a position to grow in
philosophical wisdom. The individual can allow himself to be challenged by the general
questions about the extent of reality (is there anything beyond the material universe?),
about what makes a general question worth pursuing (are these topics, for example,
important?), about good and evil, (what is it that makes one kind of activity good, another

We can come to see the value of these questions. Part of becoming an adult thinker is
learning to ask the right questions: the capacity to recognize the important truth is
something we can acquire. Such an acquisition is a social event, to be sure, but it is the
individual person who does the acquiring.

At times there can be profound emotion in learning the truth. We can be wild with joy
about existing, or awestruck by the cosmos, or brought to tears by sad news of distant
disasters, ecstatic over Gods love. The individuals learning the truth, with or without
emotion, depends on what his fundamental conviction are, how completely and how deeply
he holds those convictions, how sharp his insights is seeing the connection between them
and the events of life.

A person can learn to see the momentousness of the reality that confronts him. His
ability to see this is dependent on his perceptiveness, it is true, and is to that extent part of
his subjectivity. But reality itself confronting the thinker may at times be objectively of great
importance, deserving of careful examination, demanding close attention. It is not simply a
matter of how you see it subjectively. The subjects role is indispensable in establishing the
vision and commitment which make religious belief and other fundamental convictions
possible, but these beliefs and convictions are still subject to questioning. Are they true? Do
they correspond in some significant degree to what reality objectively is? We can learn the
importance of having fundamental convictions and religious beliefs that are true.

A set of religious beliefs and other fundamental convictions, then, will vary with the
individuals responsible use of intelligence and with the intensity and depth of his
commitment to those beliefs and convictions. There is this aspect of subjectivity even in the
most basic guides of life. But these guides and the decisions to follow them can be

evaluated objectively; am I right? Are my fundamental convictions correct? Does God

really, objectively, exist? are important questions. If a person is going to be genuinely
mature he should be able to explain and defend his fundamental convictions to be
considerable extent. The unexamined life is still not worth living. The mingling of subjectivity
and objectivity involved in these choices is quite like their mingling in the choice of a spouse
in marriage, the selection of career, or a lifestyle. These choices are subjective inasmuch as
they are freely made, and the extent by his individual background. But if the choice to be
truly human it must fit the real, objective situation. Some choices are not simply
unfortunate; they are erroneous; they do not fit reality.

3. Some hints have already been given regarding a method of checking the truth of a persons
religious belief. But it would seem helpful at this point to be somewhat more explicit in
suggesting ways of verifying a religious belief. The usual religious believer will hold God
exists and is creator of the world as a basic tenet of his faith. Now the question is : are
there good reasons for holding this aside from the fact that Ive been told this by my elders?
They could, of course, be wrong. How can I verify the truth? Does God really exist? Is he
truly creator of the world? Is the world such that God must exist? Is the world such that it
must be the work of God?

(a),(1) The religious belief that God exists and is creator of the world can be verified to some extent by
testing the fruitfulness and comprehensiveness of the belief. Is it productive of a unified understanding
of a large sector of reality? Is the belief, for example, consistent with our awareness that the cosmos is
basically orderly, lawful, and predictable to a significant degree? Is the belief any help to our
appreciating the dynamic beauty of nature, the awesomeness of knowing more accurately the age and
dimensions of the universe? Does belief in God the creator enhance our esteem of matter; does the
belief enable us to rejoice over nature as being in some mysterious way our mother? If so can a religious
belief help us to appreciate scientific knowledge and inquiry as most worthy of pursuit?

More generally: does religious belief fit those attitudes towards the world that derive from
rational, non-religious sources? Or more strongly: does religious belief confirm and make more
intelligible those very attitudes? And is religious belief broad and comprehensive enough to fit and
illuminate a wide sector of material reality?

If religious belief in God the creator of the world is consistent with a rational, non-religious
appreciation of the cosmos, the belief can be judged to be not exactly foolish, even if not thoroughly

(2) the reasonableness of the belief may be strengthened by examining how it fits with a rational, non-
religious appreciation of the human person. What human qualities and pursuits do we regard as
absolutely worthwhile, as having a value in themselves and not simply an instrumental role in life?
Happiness, love, friendship, community. Responsible inquiry and opinion-forming on the most important
topics. The establishment of justice for all, and the organization of those structures necessary to
preserve humane peace and justice. Forgiveness. Living according toa carefully formed conscience. And
so on.

For verifying religious belief it is helpful to examine whether such belief is consistent with values
such as those listed above. And does religious belief even promote aan understanding and a realization
of these values? Or would these very human values be better understood and promoted by doubling or

rejecting the existence of God the creator? Does the religious belief in the existence of God offer a richer
horizon for interpreting man and nature than does the denial of his existence?

Further, does it seem that the religious belief in Gods existence give the mature believer
increased drive and motivation for a good? And for philosophical and scientific inquiry> for social
progress? For patience and forgiveness of enemies? For peace? Is religious belief expected to have
practical effects in the life of the believers or not? What practical effects is religious belief supposed to

If religious belief contributes to the above growth of reasonableness and value, is this an
indication of the truth of the belief? And if humane praxis can be better understood and promoted by
belief that by disbelief does this add credibility to the belief?

The method suggested in the above paragraphs may suffice to assure the believer in God the
creator that his belief is true inasmuch as it fits his rational knowledge of nature and the human person.
Belief, it can be discovered, not only fits: it confirms and enlightens the rational knowledge.
Furthermore the person who does not believe may be led to see that belief in God the creator may be
worthy of the thinking person. God, he may conclude, is to so incredible after all.

(b). Some philosophers who try to reason to Gods existence propose another type of argument also.
The existence of the world and its main characteristics, they maintain, cannot be sufficiently understood
by the persistent questioner unless he affirms Gods existence as creator and sustainer of the world. This
kind of argument is sometimes called cosmological since it begins with obvious characteristics of the
world. But the reasoning pertains more properly to metaphysics since the inquirer attempts to give an
ultimate account of finite existence and discovers that such an account leads him to an infinite creator

Furthermore some philosophers begin with the human experience of the moral. When they try
to reach an ultimate account of the experience of the moral in the life of the independent-minded adult,
they discover the presence of God as the author of the moral order and law-giver, as guide and
encouraging companion, and as judge.

In these few lines sketching cosmological and moral approaches to God I have used the
expression ultimate account. By this I mean a human attempt to reach human knowledge expressed in
a judgment, that will be a finite and partial (because human of course) explanation of nature and man. It
will be humanly ultimate since no realm of being is excluded, since the Infinite is affirmed by giving
sense and being to the finite. But since this work of discovery is done by us humans its conclusion will be
incomplete, somewhat dark, and provoking further questioning. No matter how certain it may be, it is
still in need of development and depth.

Neither method sketched above has the knockdown conclusiveness of the proof of geometrical
theorem. Nor does the judgment that God is creator of the world enjoy the luminosity of meaning that
we expect in discovering that the car wont start because the gas tank is empty. Nor is the evidence of
Gods existence as overwhelming in its persuasiveness as is the judgment that the patient has lung
cancer, as evident on the x-ray plate or biopsy slide. The reasoning in both (a) and (b) above is different
from other reasoning but not less worthy of the human searcher for the truth.

In the pages that follow I will present four routes. The first two are based on our moral choices.
The other two are based on our experience of the world as existent.

Reflection 14

1. Do you believe in God? Why?


2. Reflect on any one guideline proposed by Father Reilly.


3. What example of religious activity can intensify religious convictions? Can you say the praying of
the rosary daily or attending a religious service be such examples?

4. Comment on Father Reillys existentialist situation of individual people concerning belief in


Man and Freedom

Like other people the world over, Filipinos are lovers of freedom. Like similar statements, this
must be viewed for what it is: a general statement. If we refer to our heroes from Lapu-Lapu to Ninoy
Aquino, yes, indeed, we are lovers of freedom. The Edsa Revolution was certainly a concrete proof of
our repulsion against repression and of our passionate desire for freedom.

That is love of freedom in big letters.

But if we particularize our experiences, what do we see? Violations of freedom right and left.
Murders, kidnappings ambuscades, graft and corruption, progressive taxation by rebels, kidnapping,
thefts and robberies, slander by word and deed, outright lies. In each case, we violate our freedom
and that of others.

What does freedom really mean? Let us examine some concepts pertaining to it.

Free will

Man has free will. It is mans natural legacy. It is free will you use when you act, when you say
yes or no to the demands of your world. This, Johann says, identical with your selfhood and you
have it simply by being a person. But it is only the first step in the process we call freedom.

Freedom of Choice

It is the freedom to choose between alternatives. It has been defined by Fransen as the
capacity to accept or refuse any activity, and the capacity to do either this or that. Examples are: to
choose which salad, which meat dish, which pastry to eat at a smorgasbord: to choose which dress to
wear at a party or outing; to decide which movie to see, which subject to enroll in, which job offer to

You might observe a certain freedom of choice among animals. My pet dogs Ton-ton or Bu-bu
would refuse to eat after a steady diet of the same food dog. They show their contempt by sniffing only
at the dish. They would jump all over me rather than any other person in the house. But their actions
are more instinctive than deliberate.

Fundamental Option

Fransen defines fundamental option as the basic, freely accepted and intended involvement of
a person as such.

At a certain point in your life you decide what kind of person you will be. From that moment on
you act according to this decision. You have set your priorities in order: are you for God or against God?
For authentic or inauthentic existence? For justice of injustice? For yourself only or for others as well?
Thus, you really have an option, a free decision, a definitive commitment of your wholeness toward
the wholeness of reality as such.

Freedom and Situatedness

Human freedom is situated or conditioned according to Fransen. By this he means two

things: (1) human freedom does not start with a blank sheet, and (2) freedom involves the immediate
concrete set of circumstances in which they exist before the use of freedom.

For example: we have Nestor, a young men, already conditioned by the circumstances of his
birth: he is a Filipino, Manila-born, a Marcos-baby, from the public schools, now a third year college
student at FEU, who comes form an average family, who enjoys drugs, and is discourteous, dishonest,
with peers of the same mentality and plebian tastes, now being faced with this challenge: to slam or not
to slam an open door of a classroom? To won or disown that immature act?

Is not for nothing that we inquire into the circumstances of birth or family of friends and
prospective brides and grooms of our sons and daughters. It is not snobbery I have in mind here, for
among the poor are the most decent and well-mannered people I have ever met. You cross economic
lines where you talk of educated people and people with high principles.

Freedom and Determinism

Determinism is the opposite of being free. It is que sera-sera, what will be, will be. Monden
cites three sources of determinism: (1) biological influences, (2) social pressure, and (3) the unconscious.

For example: there were men from the Marcos years who robbed the people outrageously. And
there are allegedly people in the Aquino and Ramos governments who also could not say no to the lure
of dishonest peso, who choose the line of least resistance to be rich in the shortest possible time. But
there have been men in government, from Quezons time to the present, which are scrupulously honest
and true to their oath of office. Have they been influenced by one of Mondens sources, or is their being
honest or dishonest a genuine act of true freedom?

Freedom and Responsibility

Freedom, Fulton Sheen once said, is not the right to do what you want to do; nor is it right to do
what you must do; rather it is the right to do what you ought to do.

To Johann, freedom is more than its corollary, responsibility. He says the fact that you are
responsible does not automatically make you do responsible actions. That fact that you know the rules
of the school does not prevent you from throwing your plastic soft-drink glasses anywhere except in the
waste baskets or disfiguring the walls of rooms and elevators with graffiti.

Genuine responsibility to Johann means precisely the ability to give an account. It means I can
actually justify my actions as truly responsible to the objective demands of the situation. Responsibility
thus includes responsiveness. To respond is to answer, to commit yourself. It presupposes limitation to
the objective demands of the situation which are truly the needs of your neighbors, your world, your
God. Thus, to your neighbors: love and justice: to your world: stewardship; and to you God: workship.

To respond is to decide your course of action. To existentialists, at the core of human freedom
lies the phenomenon of decision. Sartre says, I am my liberty. You really are the way you act, the way
you choose to act.

Of course, freedom always involves risks. People change. The candidates you votes for may
change. This is because human nature is dynamic and evolutionary and open. Freedom is always posed a
challenge. It is a never ending task: the call to put the other and God in front of self.

Reflection 15

1. What does freedom mean to you?


2. What do you think of Johanns outlook on genuine responsibility?


3. What, to you, is the significance of fundamental option"?


4. How do Filipinos in general look upon freedom?


The Filipino and Freedom

Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini and Andres Bonifacio are households name. So are those of
other Filipino heroes. Nationwide we celebrate Rizal day and the Fall of Bataan, now Araw ng
Kagitingan And that is how it should be. We should not, cannot just let our heroes fade away.
They are the embodiment of man the warrior, man in war and peace, but more relevant to us as
a people, man as lover of freedom.

Inherent in every hero is the love for freedom. The following article of Dolores A. Reyes
analyzes freedom as it is perceived by our national heroes and its ameaning to our present way
of life.


Dolores A. Reyes*

Freedom and Our Filipino Thinkers

Influenced by the Liberalism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, our Filipino
heroes, Jose Rizal, Emilio Jacinto, and Apolinario Mabini had definite ideas about freedom or
liberty. To simply matters, we are equating freedom and liberty based on Websters definition of
the term free as having liberty or not held in bondage. Our Filipino thinkers formulated the
idea which emphasized the full development of the Filipino free from the restraints of the
Spanish Government.

In an appeal to the government to grant more freedom, Rizal wrote The misery of a
people who are without liberty must be blamed on the rulers and not on the people. For a man
to b responsible, it is necessary that he be the master of his actions and the Filipinos are
neither the masters of their actions nor those of their thoughts.

Did Rizal only hold the Spaniards responsible for the loss of the freedom? He did not. In
other essay, he explained, The Filipino person, not being master of liberty, is not responsible
for its misfortunes or its woes. We say this, it is true but we also have a large part in the
continuation of such a disorder.

Here Rizal is saying that the Filipinos could not be held accountable for the ills of the
country for they were not allowed freedom nor granted moral responsibility. However, they are
partly to be blamed for allowing the Spaniards to terrorize them, for their loss of freedom, and
lastly for not doing anything about their miserable condition.

Freedom and Responsibility

When is man responsible for his action? F.H. Bradley in Ethical Studies laid down four
main conditions:
a. Self-sameness. There must be continuity of personal identity.
b. The deed must issue from the will of the agent.
c. The doer must be supposed to be intelligent.
d. The doer must be a moral agent.

In making the Filipinos responsible for their loss of freedom, Rizal probably could not believe
that the actions or our ancestors were truly unavoidable. He probably thought that the Filipinos with
their innate intelligence could not possibly be suffering from a defect of reason of such a kind that they
did not know what they were doing was wrong.

Freedom and Social Control

From birth to death, people live within a complex web of social control. Social control is the
process by which order is established and maintained in society and maintained in society. We are not
aware of this control because of our training in childhood and youth. The members of the group act in
the expected way by habit. The practices and customs of the group have becomes habits. Such habits
are the basis of social control.

Living in the group as socialized human beings requires some conformity to like values and
norms. Our natural drives must be restrained. We must observe the manners of our group. We must
respect the rights of others and assume our rightful duties as members of our society. Since others act
the same way we assume our socially controlled living as natural and normal. To put ii simply, social
constraints deter us from doing what we want and as we please. Does this mean we are not free?

No one in society is ever that free. In other words, our freedom is limited. Our freedom is
limited by the freedoms of our neighbors. It is limited by our customs, tradition and laws. Mabini
realized this limitation ton freedom when he defined liberty as: True liberty is only for what is good and
never for what is evil; it is always in consonance with reason and upright and honest conscience of the
individual. The thief is not free when he steals for he allows himself to be led by evil and becomes a
slave to his passions; when he is punished, it is precisely because he did not use true liberty.

We must be orderly if we are to live together. The world would be in trouble if we could do just
we please and have all the freedom we wanted. As an early philosopher said, A mans troubles start
when he is free to do as he pleases. We do not merely occupy adjacent space but that our lives and
destinies are intermingled. What we understand of ourselves is affected by how we stand in relation to
one another. Jacinto had this fear that in our wish for freedom, we may infringe on the rights of others.
To quote him: Liberty is the attribute of man from the moment he is born; thanks to it, he thinks and
does as he pleases, provide he does no harm to another.

Personal troubles increase when people decide they can live outside their world of social
control. Many a runaway soon finds that such freedom means coping with hunger, diseases and
sometimes violence.

Freedom and Government

Laws are enacted to protect our society and to preserve our system of morality. It is the task of
government ot legislate these laws and to implement them.

Governments have so encroached upon human freedom that it is easy to draw the conclusion
that there is an irreconcilable conflict between governmental activity and individual liberty. The truth is
that freedom for us who wish to live inan organized society and to enjoy the benefits of civilization is
vitally dependent upon government activity.

Actually a good constitution attempts to reconcile government authority and personal liberty by
delimiting the areas of each. Abe Fortas, a Justice of the US Federal Supreme Court, explains this idea
clearly in the following decision on the case involving Dr. Martin Luther King.

We are a government and a people under low. It is not merely government that must live
under law. Each of us must live under law. Just as our form of life depends upon the individuals
subservience to the laws duly prescribed. Both of these are essential.

Just as we expect the government to be bound by all laws, so each individual is bound by
all the laws under the Constitution. He cannot pick and choose. He cannot substitute his own
judgment or passion, however noble, for the rules of law a citizen cannot demand of his
government or of the people obedience to the law, and at the same time claim a right in himself
to break it by lawless conduct, free of punishment or penalty.

Actually the freedoms we enjoy are enhanced by the fundamental law of the land the
Constitution. According to Jacobsen and LIpman, a liberty is a less specific immunity from restriction and
is presupposed to exist unless curtailed by law; it involves no corresponding a obligation on the part of
the state, when this immunity is expressed in the Constitution of laws of a state, it becomes a civil right
which is enforceable in the court.

Our Constitution embodies a Bill of Rights designed to protect individual liberties and to put a
limitation upon the power of the State. To give a detailed explanation of these rights would entail the
writing of another essay. A brief enumeration of the essential civil liberties we suppose will suffice.
These liberties are:

1. The Right to Freedom

This right means we cannot enslave other individual. Former President Jose P. Laurel
once said that as a free people, we should think and act as free men not as freed men, and as
a free people, we should confidently and courageously depend upon ourselves not upon

2. The Right to Equality

The right of every individual in a democratic society is to enjoy equality not in talent or
beauty but equality under law and opportunity.

3. Freedom of Abode and Movement

This guarantees the right of a person to have his home in whatever place he chooses and
also to travel within his country and abroad.

4. Freedom of Expression

The right of all persons to express themselves freely is essential to a democratic society.
This freedom assumes that every individual has a right to a free flow of information and ideas.

5. Freedom of Conscience

We like to believe that no man is really free unless his freedom includes the right to make
his decisions concerning the existence of a god and the nature of the human soul.

6. Citizenship and Suffrage

The right to the status of citizen is axiomatic in a republic, for citizenship is our badge of
full membership in our country. Each citizen must be free to exercise suffrage (the right to vote)
subject only to reasonable restrictions such as age, mental incapacity, and moral turpitude.

7. The Right in Criminal Justice

A system of criminal procedure that guarantees justice to every person accused of wrong
doing is indispensable in a democratic society.

Limits on the power of government are not always clear just because they are written into the
constitution. If ever rights are trampled upon by other individuals or organizations or by the officers of
the government, it is our duty to secure the enforcement of our rights through the courts. This idea is
supported by Mabini when he wrote that Conscience obliges us to obey the mandates of the authority
which we have recognized and to whom we have promised obedience Nevertheless, we have to be
ever watchful as to the justice of the laws, for if this is not done, then we fall in defending our society
The judges are also morally obliged to give relief to the people who, upon discovery that their freedom
is being curbed, turn to them for help.

No society could ever have enough referees and police to do the job of control. Most social
control must be achieved by making people self-controlled.

Freedom and Free Will

There are some people in any society who refuse to act in accordance with those customs which
the society considers fitting and proper. There are always some who do not obey the laws. A glance at a
newspaper on any given day will almost always furnish examples of crime and dissent.

What is dissent? Strictly defined, dissent refers to disagreement I speech and writing. Today, the
word has come to include a wide range of activities in which students, minorities, politicians, urban
poor, farmers, and even ordinary people give voice to protest. This dissent takes the form of picketing,
hunger-strikes, sit-ins, pray-isn, and so on. These dissenters are mostly individuals with strong
convictions and are often willing to take the long hard road to correct what they consider to be unjust or
discriminatory. Sometimes, they are involved in court cases because they deliberately violate some laws.
Herbert Marcuse, an advocate of the Great Refusal, maintains that men to be truly liberated must
resist and oppose the repressive apparatus of the Establishment.

Crimes are committed everyday by ordinary individuals and by organized criminal groups.
Organized crime is a society in itself that week to operate outside the control of the people and their
governments. It involves hundreds or even thousands of criminals working within structures as complex
as those of any large corporation.

Why do we have dissent and crimes? Because we have the gift of free will. In1767, Cesare di
Beccaria published On Crime and Punischment. In this book, he argued that since individuals have Free
Will they deserve to be punished if they commit a crime. For Beccaria, Free Will means the freedom to
choose to do right or wrong. Plato calls the use of free will an exercise of subjective freedom. Hegel
maintains that individual conscience proceeds from the subjectivity of Free Will. We act according to the
dictates of our conscience. If we negate the presence of free will in men we have to picture men as
puppets at the mercy of forces which they cannot control. It is doubtful whether men would want to be
called puppets. Or do we?

Reflection 16

1. Are we freedom loving people? Can you cite specific examples to support your answer?

2. What do you think of Rizals opinion on our loss of freedom during Spanish regime?

3. What do you think of todays Filipinos using (or misusing) their freedom?

Man as Worker

Man uses various forms of economic organization to gain a livelihood. Economic institution are
established primarily for this purpose, although they may also serve other functions in society such as
political action. Labor unions, for example, put up candidates during elections.

The contemporary world possesses a wide range of economic structures. Generally speaking,
however, two types of economy are discernible even if their functions overlap. These are the traditional
and expanding types.

Traditional Economy

The mainstay of a productive society is its capital resource, as organized and employed. In the
traditional economy, the people live by cultivation. Land is the chief economic good and the primary
capital resource. Technology is slow changing. Generally, the productive capacity is poor. This economy
still lingers in the developing countries of the Third World.

Expanding Economy

In the modern era, some of the traditional economic institutions have evolved into system
compatible with industrialization. These systems can be classified as the expanding type.

In the non-communist world, the expanding economy is called market economy. This free
enterprise type of economy is characterized by private ownership of the means of production, freedom
to chose ones line of work, local planning, consumers sovereignty, competition, profit-making, and risk-
taking. Classical capitalism no longer exists in its pure form in the West. There is an increasing pattern of
industries controlled or operated for several kinds of public utilities and operating corporations are

The expanding command or centrally planned economy, the state virtually controls the
economic life of the people. This socialized enterprise type of economy is characterized by Five Year
economic plans, state farms, collectivized state farms, government controlled retailing establishments,
and government controlled labor organizations. The state planning systems aim at promoting rapid
industrialization rather than satisfying the peoples needs in its pure form the command economy does
not exist because in it certain aspects of the market economy also operate. Low agricultural productivity
had forced the Russian government, before her renunciation of communism for instance, to give
farmers private plots to till and to operate markets where the peasants could legally sell their produce.
In China, capitalism has also made a lot of inroads into her economy.

So far, the economic ideologies followed by non-communist and communist countries are
becoming increasingly undefined. Meanwhile the mixed type of economies seems to be the in-thing.

The Christian Point of View

What is the place of man the worker in these economic ideologies? We can get a very good idea
of the Churchs stand on man the worker form the following popular encyclicals:
a. Rerum Novarum by Leo XIII, which champions the case of the lowly workers.

b. Quadragesimo Anno by Plus IX, which agrees with Rerum Novarums points on the right and
duty of the Church to be heard on problems affecting mankind,. And stating his (Plus XIs) view
on private property and wages in the light of changed social conditions.
c. Mater et Magistra by John XXIII, which was issued to commemorate the seventieth anniversary
of the Rerum Novarum teachings and to give his own personal comments on modern problems.
d. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes),one of the
documents of Vatican II, which develops the Churchs teachings on man, his world and his
relations with the Church, and which also deals with the problems of his world today.
e. Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year form Rerum Novarum) by Pope John Paul II deals not
only with labor and capital but the whole economy after Communisms downfall in Russia. It
states that capitalism should now be the system of the countries where communism has failed,
for capitalism is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive
role of business, the market, private property, and the resulting responsibility for the means of
production as well as free human creativity in the economic sector.

Communism has crumbled in Russia under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. As it has crumbled in other
European countries. However, it is still in place in some countries like China and North Vietnam, and
Cuba. In the Philippines we still have the NPAs and NDFs. Although the government of President Ramos
has been reaching out of all rebels: Left and Rights and Muslims in form of amnesty.

The Pastoral Constitution recognizes the hope and anguish modern man suffers because of the
new technology. It recognizes the changes in the social order, in attitudes, morals, and religion which
create the worsening of imbalances on the levels of person, family and nations. It further recognizes the
modern dilemmas, with modern technology, poor nations cry out for help from their such neighbors;
workers do not only look for subsistence but for a fuller life the development of talents, and
participation in economic, social, political, and cultural fields.

The dichotomies man finds in his world poverty in the midst of abundance, backwardness vs.
technological gains, the ideologies of democracy and communism he also fins in himself and is
compelled to ask fundamental questions of what he is and to make wrenching decisions in line with his
personal vision:

Common in the encyclicals are the following convictions on man the worker:

1. Mans dignity as the image of God.

2. The essential nature of his body and soul.
3. The interdependence of person and society.
4. The common good and the need to go beyond an individualistic mind set.
5. Responsibility as well as participation in the body politic.
6. Special attention on the underprivileged and the disadvantaged: need for justice and equality,
avoidance of exploitation.
7. Economic development in the service of man.
8. Special rights of workers, especially of forming unions and of the right to strike.
9. Relations between employers and employees: a cooperative activity. Employees also have
10. The social character of private property which, as Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno says, is the
unquestionable need that the goods which were created by God for all men should flow

equally to all, according to the principles of justice and charity, it also enjoins that in extreme
need, man has the right to help himself to the riches of others.
11. The individual character of private property: ones right to own private property is a natural
right of man, for he needs it to live, to save for the future, to marry and raise a family, to
develop his talents, to receive just compensation for his work, and to retain his identity as an
(Note: Father Vitaliano Gorospe reminds us though that there is a difference between the right
to own property and the concrete right to a particular piece of property. He says it does not
mean that every man on the face of the earth has a moral right to a piece of land, no matter
how small)
12. On work, working conditions, and leisure: the Constitution has this to say:

Human work which is exercised in the production and exchange of goods or in the provision of
economic services, surpasses all other elements of economic life, for the latter are only means to an

Human works, whether exercised independently or in subordination to another, proceeds from

the human person, who as it were impresses his seal on the things of nature and reduces them to this
will. By his work a man ordinarily provides for himself and his family, associates with others as his
brother, and renders them service; he can exercise genuine charity and be a partner in the work of
bringing divine creation to perfection. Moreover, we believe by faith that through the homage of work
offered to God man is associated with the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, whose labor with his hands
at Nazareth greatly ennobled the dignity of work. This is the source of every mans duty to work loyalty
as well as his right to work, moreover, it is the duty of society to see to it that, according to the
prevailing circumstances, all citizens have the opportunity of finding employment. Finally, remuneration
for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his
family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level to correspond to the role and productivity of
each, the relevant economic factors in his employment, and the common good.

The Constitution also provides for the right of the worker to leisure. This and the other ideas
above are culled from the encyclicals mentioned plus the 1941 Christian Message and the 1951 Radio
Message to Spanish Workers of Pius XII.


First, a word about Karl Marx (1818-1983). He was a German of Jewish descent. At the age of six
he was baptized a Protestant. He studied at the universities of Bonn and Berlin where he joined the
group of young Hehelians. He became an admirer of Hegel, but later on disagreed with latters teaching.
Marx went to France where he was twice expelled, then to Brussels, Belgium, and finally to London.

It was in London in 1848, a year after he joined the Communist League where the first of his
important writings appeared: the famous Communist Manifesto , a summary of the principles and aims
of communism, which he prepared with Friedrich Engels (182O-1895).

The second most important work of his is Capital (Das Kapital). The first volume was published
in 1867. The second and third volumes were published after his death be Engels.

Even in his early writings, one could already discern the ideas that would appear in his major
works. The ideas that revolutionized the world are:

1. Need for a classless economic society. Marx claims that as it is there is the society of oppressors
vs. oppressed, the exploiters vs. exploited. Hence the history of class struggle in society.
2. Religion is mans opium, for it only creates a world of illusion for man who cannot find his
happiness in this world.
3. Society should be changed, but philosophizing about it is inadequate. Action is called for.
4. This action is in the form of social revolution, led by the proletariat, the oppressed class. The
revolution can be done by abolishing private property.
5. The reason for this is that the fundamental form of human work is not thought but manual
labor the product of which, by self alienation in the present society, does not belong to laborer.
By the dialectic movement of the historical process, the social revolution abolishes private
property, thus paving the way to Communism.
6. The capitalist system exploits the worker the full value of the commodity he produces. The
system itself is fraudulent, even with the payment of higher wages. The system must be
7. Man is not primary contemplative but active. His activity is in production. This production is of
goods to answer his basic needs. The process goes on and on as there are always fresh needs to
be satisfied. This, of course involves social relations among men and contains the whole history
as well as philosophy of man.

Marxs theory of history is known as dialectic materialism materialist in the sense the basic
factor in history is for him mans economic activity, his physical needs.

The Marxist Conception of Work to Plattel

Martin G. Plattel compares the Marxist and Christian analogy of work. To him the main
differences are:

1. The Marxist view extols work as the highest value. He humanizes nature through his work,
and nature naturalizes him by activating the forces dormant in him.
2. To the Marxist, the value of work has no imperfection, while to the Christian; it will always
imply an imperfection since it belongs only to the sphere of the useful.
3. To Marx, in the final stage of society, everyone will work according to his capacities and
be rewarded according to his needs. He will be happy in his work and be filled with
brotherly love. To the Christian, work is for this earth alone, though self fulfilling and
oriented towards love for others.
4. Marx talks of work often in terms of pure love. But because he is atheistic, his love is only of
this earth. The Christian regards human love as part of divine love and, therefore, goes
beyond the Marxist concept.

Plattel cautions us though when we contrast the two ideas of work. They are different and we
cannot employ the same standards for both. For example, in one sense, the Marxist concept of work
and love is more profound then the Christian. Again, to the Christian, work is also as essential category
of human existence and it is also on the level of this life, but it finds its reward and completion in a
workless co-existence on the level of supraworldly.

Implications for the Filipino Worker

The Philippine labor scene is in ferment.

The Philippine economy still has the vestiges of the traditional type, and it is due to this that we
have the following economic problem:
1. Land Reform: the more comprehensive term is Agrarian Reform as it covers of the land. It is
considered the most urgent economic problem since it will answer the needs of some 70% of
the population most of whom are the disadvantaged, and is a much needed solution to the
insurgency problem. Areas covered include not only rice and corn but also sugar and coconut
land, public, idle, and sequestered land, private, urban, and large multinational leased lands. It
also concerns the maximum area per famer or owner and problems I the fields of production,
loans and marketing.
2. Unemployment: this is still a problem although businessmen talk of encouraging signs of an
economic recovery, and of catching up with our ASEAN neighbors.
3. High prices.
4. Lowered productivity due to a number of causes.
5. Plight of overseas contract workers: Filipino women workers in the Middle East, particularly in
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have been subjected to beatings and sexual abuses by their employers.
In Japan, Filipino women entertainers, who are mostly victims of illegal recruiters and the
Yakuza gang, are dehumanized.
6. Prostitution, especially child prostitution. It used to be rampant in the Ermita area, in the
vicinities of the U.S. bases, and but it is still a problem In Manila and in tourist areas like tourist
areas like Pagsanjan Falls and Boracay Beach. It is a fact that some patients in these areas
exchange their children for appliances like refrigerators and TV sets.

The two main causes of the problems of the Filipino workers are:
1. Poverty and
2. Unjust social structures.

The figures have not changed: still 70% of Filipinos are poor. Most workers would not go
overseas to be separated from their families if they could find comparative work at home. There would
not be so many beggars and street children every nook and corner of Metro Manila or so many
prostitutes if there were a better financial climate.

Indeed, unjust structures of exploitation are still around, but there are attempts to address
them. The answer comes from three sources;

1. The government
2. The Church
3. The left and its different kinds.

The Constitution on Labor

Father Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., one of the commissioners who formulated the Constitution,
discusses the sociohistorical context of the labor provisions. He cites the beginnings of our labor
concepts in the American Constitution, where the central in the American Constitution, where the
central ideology is liberty in its various ramifications. To protect this ideology, the American

lawmakers provided for devides to prevent concentration of power, and this could be found in the
power distribution among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

The American constitutional provisions on labor were a success for Americans. They were a
failure in the Philippines because of what Father Bernas calls gross economic inequality.

This same insight is obvious in the 1935 and 1971 Constitutions as evidenced in the social justice
provisions. It is also strongly stated in the Constitution.

I must say that the Constitution itself recognizes this contest. When you examine the
Declaration of Principles you will find that in Section 9 it explicitly recognizes poverty as a key
problem thus, the State is commanded to promote a just and dynamic social order that will
ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty
through policies that will promote social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of
living, and an improved quality of life for all. Gross economic inequality is also constitutionally
recognized. Thus, the state is commended to promote social justice in all phases of national
development, and to give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and
enhance the right of all people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and political
inequalities by equitably diffusing wealth and political inequalities by equitably diffusing
wealth and political power for the common good. The constitution also recognizes that much
of the inequality that exists has been brought about by exploitation by both foreign and local
agents. Hence that Constitution commands the State to develop a self-reliant and independent
economy effectively controlled by Filipinos. Finally the Constitution also recognizes that labor
belongs to the disadvantaged sector. In a bid to raise national consciousness about the
importance of labor the constitution affirms labor as a primary social economic force, in other
words, the Constitution affirms that in the order of values the human factor in production is
superior to the capital factor.

Father Joel Tabora, S.J., an expert on Marxism, strongly urges the involvement of the grassroots
sector. There is a need for these to be organized along Christian lines interacting with the
intellectuals and the bourgeoisie but not being manipulated by the latter.

On-going projects of government like the Agrarian Reform Program do address the grassroots.
The question is how much, how soon, and how effective are they.

There is the answer form the Church which has been striving for the implementation of the
Christian ethic and values towards work and the worker.

The attraction towards the Mrxist concept of labor is strong for the Filipinos worker, and the
insurgency problem will remain as long as social injustice exists. Leftist leaders strongly insist that
industrial workers and farmers are still exploited. They are among the most vocal on the land reform

Pro and con discussions on interesting the minimum age, and lowering of prices have been
going on in attempts to help the workers.

Let us try with all our hearts to restructure our society in such a way that we put our Filipino
worker where he rightfully belongs: loving his work, proud of it, working in contentment, in dignity, in
justice, in love of God and neighbor, and in hope for a better life.

Reflection 17

1. What do you think of the Churchs concern towards the workers?


2. Comment on one or two elements common in the encyclicals.


3. What is your attitude towards

a. Work:

b. The Filipino workers:



Man: A Being-For-Death

November first is a sobering day in spite of the fiesta atmosphere in cemeteries all over the
century. Sobering because we are confronted with death: its manifold forms and time of coming, and its
inescapability, its finality.

And I tell myself: at the death of a loved one, always sad, in spite of the message of hope and joy
echoed in homilies for the departed. No words can truly describe this feeling of grief. One has to
experience the pain, the irreplaceable memories to grasp what it is.

Again, I tell myself: if the experienced is that of a world ending, sometimes a succession of wprld
endings, then it cannot but provoke a personal search for the meaning of death.

Of course, many people ignore that thought of death. Young people especially, who think it is
not for them, at least not yet for them, until it stares them in the face.

For me the moment came with my fathers death. A Jesuit friend who administered the last rites
to him asked me, What more do you want? Your father died a beautiful death. I thought about that in
my grief. A beautiful death. Just words before. What makes a death beautiful?

My search has led me to the ideas of three groups: (1) the Christian, (2) the Marxist, and (3) the

Christianity on Death

Death is the end of this life and is the beginning of the next. It is a punishment for sin, that of
our first parents disobedience and pride. They were driven out of Paradise where there was no death.
Since then every man has been a being whose earthly end is death.

The Church teaches that God created man with this end in view: eternal life with Him. And that
this is possible because of Christs sacrifice on Calvary. His death redeemed us from our first parents sin,
and opened the possibility of recovering ones wholeness and of reuniting with loved ones who have
gone before us.

Death is a moment of decision. It may also open the portals of hell, of eternal suffering. So it
may be a moment of fear, but for the Christian who has lived on grace, it is a time of faith, of love, and
of hope.

Marxism on Death

Marx does not believe in the next life. He is an atheist and does not see death as more than a
biological event. Man to him is nothing more than a being generically determined. Death is not
important. And this is the way of all atheists.

Existentialism on Death

Existentialism face death squarely. They say it is one of lifes boundary situations, thus,
inevitable and, thus, the authentic is to accept it and to find out its significance.

Heidegger calls man a being-for-death. Death is a certainty. Only the when is a big question
mark. To Heidegger, there is vagueness in the notion of death, and this he attributes to confusing
existence with being there. Our existences involve not just the present but he past and the future as
well. So does our death. It is not only of the moment it occurs, it is of the past and the future, too. This is
the gist of the historicity of man.

The existentialists accept man an finite, his life having an ending. They say that the real death
that lies ahead of a man is the possibility of himself as not being at all. This belief is in consonance with
Christian teaching that the real death is not being with God. The eternal unhappiness of devils is their
never having seen God.

Recapitulation on the Meaning of Death

Death is a typically human event, not just a biological occurrence. It is separating of body and
soul, but it is not just the body that dies, it is the whole man. It is difficult to talk of the very moment of
death, since some people who had been there, such as the biblical Lazarus, did not talk of their
experiences. There are some recent written accounts of such experiences, and from these we get
glimpse of the next life.

We can talk, I suppose, of watching people die.

I watched my father and an aunt and a brother die, but I cannot talk about it. It is too painful
and too private. The point I want to make, however, is that we have options up to the last moment and
we do make them according to the way we have lived.

What are ones thoughts at the moment of impending death not due prolonged illness? I
remember Father James Reuter, S.J., telling us high school retreatants that during the war, in the
concentration camp whre he was a prisoner of war in the Philippines, while planes were zooming
overhead and anti-craft shell were falling all around, when there was a very real danger of imminent
death, and all he could think of was lugaw. He was so hungry that the immediate threat of death look a

Once when a jeep bumped my car from behind on a highway in Bulacan, sending my car to
careen first on its two right wheels, then on its two left ones, the gasoline pouring over us like rain, what
thoughts did I have? I was seated beside the driver, my nephew. All I could say was the name of my
nephew Eddie, softly, no hysterics, and no prayers either.

The morning of May 7, 1992, at 3:30am, my sister Flor called me to say our youngest brother
Danny was stricken, with his blood pressure at 240/140. He had been brought to a nearby hospital.
Fifteen minutes later her daughter tearfully told my brother was gone, my sisters crying audible in the

The point I wish to drive home is we have to be prepared always for its coming. We may not be
given a chance to make the choice for God suddenly. This has to be a life-long commitment first made
we are young and constantly renewed.

The Finality of Death

And the world going on, really in unconcern, but in testimony that death, like birth, is a fact of
life. The following are lines I wrote that probably typify the feelings of the bereaved at a beloved ones
passing away.

How come the sun is shining

When my brother is dead?

Along Ortigas, traffic at times at a snails pace,

At times smoothly flowing,
Men and women coming and going
To Meralco, down EDSA
u p jeeps or buses, bound to Cubao or Makati
Nervous glances at watches,
At the traffic ahead,
The only concern to get there on time.

My tears fall this May morning.

For how come the world is the same
When Danny, my youngest brother,
Lies in his coffin,
So good-looking in his new barong tagalog?

A call at three-thirty in the morning

From flor, my sister, to say he was stricken.
Fifteen minutes later, another call:
He was gone.

How can I express the anguish,

The pain, my pain, our collective pain:
Of my eight brothers and sisters, my in-laws,
Of my mother, lamenting for her bunso,
Saying over and over: my son is not dead.
Danny, bangon (rise)!
Of his 3 sons taking turns to embrace him,
Kiss him,
Of my hands touching him all over: his chests,
His arms, his legs, his forehead,
Hoping to detect some sign of life,
Repeating over and over in my mind
Danny, get up. Live!

Our asking hopefully the attending doctors and nurses:


Is there any hope? Any chance?

He isnt really dead?

At the Pasig where he lived

His many friends come (they are a revelation)
His sons friends come (they are a comfort)

At Cainta, in my house, where he had lived before his marriage,

Where my mother insists he stays for the last times.
My world looking the same:
The duhat and atis trees outside my window my green and yellow lovebirds in their cage
My dogs: Prince and Princess, Mikey, Toby,
To name a few.
The Antipolo pilgrims hugging the highway.

Danny lies, with a half-smile,

Looking so at peace with God.

But still I cant help asking:

How come the sun is shinning
When my brother is dead?

Death: As Necessity and As Liberty

Death is a necessity and liberty according to Geffre. Just think of how it will be if you continue to
live on and on, a hundred, two hundred years, without retaining your youth as well. Death is also a
release form pain and suffering.

When a loved one is very sick, we pray to all the saints, to God and His Mother. We pray for
miracles, we ask people with healing powers to come. We welcome prayer groups, the laying of hands,
but the times comes when we have to bow to the inevitable: it strikes us like lightning: there is no ore
hope. The beloved is on the threshold of death. Then we pray: thy will be done. Then we whisper to the
beloved: Tulog na anak ko (Sleep, my son). It is all right, Papa, I do not ask you to fight anymore. Go, my
brother, I do not ask you to be bionic anymore. Sleep with God. Go unto the light.

As liberty, Geffre says there is the final option theory that is a very plausible explanation. He

According to this thesis, death would coincide with the first fully personal act of man.
Thus it would be the privileged place for consciousness, for liberty, for encounter with God, and
for the decision about ones personal destiny. Death would thus realize the completion of our
human dynamism and exhaust all the possibilities of choice. This final free human faculties
which ordinarily precedes death, because it takes place of the very instant of death, not before
or after.

This is an affirmation once again of the great moment of death. Once you cross its threshold,
there is no turning back. You step into unending suffering or eternal peace and love.

Reflection 18

1. Comment on any one groups ideas on death.


2. What are your ideas and feelings on death?


3. Narrate briefly your experience of a loved ones dying and your thoughts about it.


Man and His Environment

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!

Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
The woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with color!...............

My soul is all but out of me, - let fall

No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
These are lines form Gods World of Edna St. Vincent
Millay, acclaimed to be the American poet representative of the twentieth century.

Here where beats in remembered brilliant blues of sky

Caress the grey and red of twilight line,

My heart beats in remembered harmonies

To tunes of April singing with the wind,

And these are lines form Nina Estrada, our own most admired poetess of love sonnets.

These days we come to wonder if poets will still be able to write such lines a hundred years
hence if nothing is done to reverse the trend towards despoiling the Planet Earth.

We should be genuinely alarmed by all this talk about what is happening to the ozone layer,
about biodiversity, about the effects of deforestation on the life of human beings.

Man is the steward of all creation, of his environment. But industrialization, in the name of
progress, ahs actually made man a destroyer of his environment. This fact has actually so alarmed
concerned people that world leaders have met to discuss it. Even philosophers have made it a theme of
their seminars.

Recently there was the Earth Summit Conference in Rio de Janeiro to which almost every nation
sent delegates. The Philippines did, both form the government as well as from the private sector.

Once such delegate from the private sector was Sister Mary Soledad Perpinan, R.G.S., nun of the
Good Shepherd congregation. Here are excerpts form the Reflections of an Ecofeminist to Rio and

Facing the Eco-Crisis

I came to Rio gripped by the ecological crisis that we face. A special Earth Summit issue of
the Los Angeles Times featured A day in the life of Mother Earth, stating that if its a typical
day, 250,000 people will be added to the worlds population; up to 140 species of living
creatures will be doomed to extinction; nearly 140,000 new cars, trucks and buses will join 500

million already on the road; forest covering an area more than one third the size of Los Angeles
will be destroyed; more than 12,000 barrels of crude oil will be spilled into the worlds ocean.

The world report carried case studies on environment problems in different parts of the
world: in crowded Cairo where growth has gotten out of control, heading for disaster; in the
Vistula River, Poland, where water is too polluted even for industrial use; in the sands of
Timbuktu where overused land feeds as advancing dessert; in European dumps where toxic
waste piles up with no end in sight; in the coral reefs of Luzon where explosives devastate s
diverse habitat; in Mexico City where smog forces everyone inside; in Chernobyl where the
villagers nightmare is far from over; and in Brazils Amazon where preserving the rain forest in
competition with economic need.

Actually these environment problems are found in every country in the world. Here in the
Philippines we have pollution from garbage, from factories dumping their waste into rivers killing
whatever bountiful fish used to revel in the clean waters, making it possible for rice and other green
things to grow, making it impossible for rice and other green things to grow, or shooting smokestacks
into the air, their obnoxious gases intruding into nearby houses, from smokebelcher allowed to spew
poison into our streets. Look at what the Pasig River has become: murky, dirty. Smelly, dried up in some
places, bordered by toiletless shanties near bridges.

What makes man despoil his environment? I can think three reasons:

1. Desire for progress

2. Greed
3. Poverty

The desires for progress and, in turn, greater wealth and power drives men to develop new and
better technologies: machines, energizers coal-fired, oil run, nuclear powered. Industrialized countries
like the United States, referred to an the North in Sister Mary Soledads article, are motivated by
these. But there are also countries like China, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore- that have been catching

Greed may be the greater motivation. When people who have already more money that they
can spend in ten lifetimes continue to despoil rivers, engage in illegal logging etc., what do they show
themselves to be? Greedy, selfish, uncaring for others welfare.

Sister Mary Soledad reports on Fidel Castros five minute speech at Rio: he blames poverty and
underdevelopment as the worst pollutants.

In our country, poverty has been really a source of pollutants, and this is symbolized by what
Teodoro Benigno calls our national disgrace Smokey Mountain.

To him: It is the biggest garbage pile in the world, smelling of outdoor latrines when the
Mongol armies ejected excreta over conquered territory. It is a shame. It is a scandal. It is a disgrace. It is
foul and fetid testimony that we dont care. Our leaders dont care. Nobody cares.

He continues:For Smokey Mountain is individual and communal dirt, human waste, human
leaving, the dropping of a society which should be buried, burned, incinerated or recycled.

The population-conscious people blame over-population as the culprit, but the Catholic Church
maintains it is not so. Population control is not the answer to poverty, but economic prosperity is.

What should my response be as person to the present land future problems of Planet Earth? Let
this be my creed:

The Earth us father, mother, friend,

The source of life and all good things,
As a sign of respect
I will not destroy the forests
Nor pollute the waters, the air,
See to it that Smokey Mountains will be but a bad dream.
As a sign of caring,
I shall think of others,
Attend to their needs, heed their cries.
From now on- while these are still around
I will tend to green living things,
Enjoy the trees and the fruits from their boughts,
Inhale the fresh air of dawns and evenings,
Revel in the hot springs,
Swim in the clean sparkling waters of sandy beaches,
Thrill to the fishermens catch,
Soar with the many-plumaged birds.
The Earth will be again, I dare to dream,
A paradise, a mirror of Gods grandeur.
Nothing is impossible
If you and I care.

Reflection 19

1. Are you aware of our environment problems? What are your thoughts on the matter?

2. Have you attended any lecture or seminar or watched a TV program on the subject what
conclusions have been brought home to you?

3. Formulate a resolution or two on how you will treat your immediate environment from now on.