Volume 89, 2015
Analyzing Catholic Philosophy
Mark K. Spencer
Created Persons are Subsistent Relations
A Scholastic-Phenomenological Synthesis
The recent Catholic philosophical tradition on the human person has tried to articulate the irreducibility of the human person to anything non-personal, and to synthesize all of the best of what has been said on the human person. Recently, a debate has arisen regarding the concrete existence and relationality of persons. I analyze these debates, and show how both sides of these debates can be synthesized into a view on which human persons are both subsistent beings and identical to certain relations. First, I examine those strands of recent Catholic tradition that defend the concreteness and relationality of the person, drawing on some Existential Thomists and phenomenologists; in connection with this, I consider the ideas of the beauty and mysterium of persons. Second, I examine the opposing view, drawing on some traditional Thomists and personalists. Finally, I show how the scholastic notion of transcendental relations can reconcile these views.