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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 84, Issue 1, Winter 2010

Elizabeth Salas
Pages 99-124

Person and Gift According to Karol Wojtyła/John Paul II

This paper examines the meaning of what Karol Wojtyła/John Paul II calls “The Law of the Gift,” namely, “Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, can fully find himself only through a sincere gift of himself.” After explaining what it means to be “willed for itself,” I consider how “finding oneself only through a gift of self ” is justified. I then argue that in his theory of self-gift, Wojtyła/John Paul II espouses an “embodied” altruism. Two objections to Wojtyła/John Paul II’s account are also addressed: (1) the idea that finding fulfillment (moral goodness) through self-giving is incompatible with altruism and (2) that reciprocal self-giving is incompatible with altruism. I defend Wojtyła/John Paul II’s notion of self-giving against these objections in several ways, but focus on evidence for the compatibility of subjective enrichment and altruism.

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