The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 18, Issue 2, Summer 2018

Richard A. Spinello
Pages 291-316

Bioethics and the Human Soul
Pope St. John Paul II’s Reflections on Ensoulment

Pope St. John Paul II’s work on the Theology of the Body is well known among his many followers. Less well known is his conception of the human soul. Karol Wojtyla’s intricate philosophy of the soul fully endorses Aristotelian Thomistic psychology. Wojtyla’s main contribution is a phenomenological description of human action, which provides a credible basis for inferring the soul’s necessity. In the papal writings, John Paul II develops other resourceful doctrines, especially about the timing of ensoulment. His unelaborated notion of the genealogy of the person has implications for ethics. Following in the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II presents an integrated wisdom about the soul that weaves together Christian revelation, modern science, and different modes of philosophical reflection.