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Rafael Díaz Dorronsoro (Roma, Italia): La noción rahneriana de símbolo esencial revisada a partir de la antropología trascendental de Leonardo Polo.

John Branya (Nairobi, Kenya): Antropological Foundation of the Levels of Happiness: Robert Spitzer, Abraham Maslow and Leonardo Polo.

Juan Assirio. (Buenos Aires, Argentina): La dualidad filiación-paternidad. Estudio según la antropología trascendental de Leonardo Polo.




BARRIO, J. M.: La innovación educativa pendiente: formar personas (Guillermo Díaz Pintos, Madrid).

CHOZA, J.: Historia cultural del humanismo (Juan García, Málaga).





La noción rahneriana de símbolo esencial, revisada a partir

de la antropología trascendental de Leonardo Polo.

Rafael Díaz Dorronsoro (Roma, Italia)

Disponible en este sitio de la red





Anthropological Foundation of the Levels of Happiness:

Robert Spitzer, Abraham Maslow and Leonardo Polo[1].

John Branya, Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya



The purpose of this paper is to see how Leonardo Polo’s Transcendental Anthropology can give a foundation to the levels of happiness of Robert Spitzer, in his work: Healing the Culture and the hierarchy of basic needs of Abraham Maslow.  Spitzer distinguishes four levels of happiness according to the inner tendencies of the human being, which he names in Latin as “laetus, felix, beatitudo and gaudio”. Maslow orders the basic human needs from physiological to safety, love, esteem, and finally self-actualization. This paper observes that a) both Spitzer and Polo are in agreement with the perennial philosophy views about happiness and b) that Polo gives a trans-metaphysical (transcendental) grounding to a personal consideration of the last two levels analysed by Spitzer and c) that Maslow bases his analysis in dynamic psychology, and tends to mix Spitzers’ last three levels in his three last levels of needs.


Keywords: Happiness, Levels of Happiness, Transcendental Anthropology, Hierachy of Needs, Spitzer Robert, Maslow Abraham, Polo Leonardo




        It is interesting to see how the Transcendental Anthropology of Leonardo Polo can give an ontological foundation to the levels of happiness proposed by Robert Spitzer   (Spitzer, 2000) and to the hierarchies of basic needs of Abraham Maslow (Maslow, 1943). Spitzer bases his proposal in cultural philosophy, Maslow in psychology, and Leonardo Polo (Polo, 2003) in the ontological structure of the person.

        As Robert Spitzer indicates happiness (eudaimonia) is one of the most frequent topics in religion, philosophy and psychology. Happiness is related to perfection, and it is viewed as the motivation of human actions.

        “The purpose of education from the days of the Greek Academy to the present has been to help students to move from the immediately gratifying to the enduring, from the apparent and superficial to the deep, from the narrow and intensive to the pervasive. This is why these four levels of happiness have found their way into so many philosophies, psychologies and anthropologies. They are not simply part of our inner makeup. They are really a culmination of many cultures’ reflections on the common good and the purpose of education.” (Spitzer 64)

        It is difficult to find views about happiness that are entirely new and that cannot be traced in previous authors. Nevertheless Robert Spitzer, Abraham Maslow and Leonardo Polo are somehow original. Spitzer uses the tools of cultural philosophy to summarize the achievements of the previous authors in four levels and relates happiness to the culture in which people are immersed.

        “With respect to its use as cultural philosophy, I have found the Life Principles to be useful in business, nonprofit organizations, law firms, university and high school environments, and even nursing homes and hospitals.” (Spitzer 15)

        Polo gives a new outlook to the metaphysical and anthropological foundations of happiness which blends very well with the systematization done by Spitzer, and can also give a foundation to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We shall start with a schematic description of each proposal using the most relevant texts of each author and conclude attempting to blend their proposals in an integrated way.

        In the bibliography we include links to short biographies of Spitzer R. (Spitzer, n.d.), Maslow, A. (Hoffman, 1988) and Polo, L. (“Intellectual Trajectory of Leonardo Polo - Leonardo Polo Institute of Philosophy,” n.d.)


Spitzer’s four levels of Happiness,


        Spitzer considers happiness in the classical sense of satisfaction of innate desires.

        “Desire is not linked only to purpose; it is also linked to happiness. In general, when my desires are fulfilled, I am happy. When my desires go unfulfilled, I am unhappy. Perhaps the most general definition of happiness is ‘the fulfillment of desire’ (whether that desire be superficial or sublime). Likewise the most general definition of unhappiness might be the nonfulfillment of desire: frustration, continual heartache, and yearning. In sum, happiness is linked to desire; desire to purpose; and therefore, happiness to purpose.” (Spitzer 59)

        Happiness is also considered a cultural category in the sense that it influences how society views the aim or purpose of the person, which is directly related to human dignity and that the present cultural environment does not appreciate because of its minimalist and materialistic point of view.

        “These ten categories (of cultural discourse) include happiness, success, quality of life and love; suffering; ethics and freedom; and person, rights and the common good. Unfortunately, because the ten categories are intangible, they too are underestimated and undervalued.” (Spitzer 28)

        “Metaphysical materialism tends to reduce reality to matter. Frequently matter is interpreted not in light of late twentieth-century physics (for example, quantum theory, relativity theory, big bang cosmology) but rather in terms of what is tangible, clearly perceived, and clearly understood (for example, colors, solids, locomotion). This type of materialism tends to view reality as building blocks that are clearly perceived by individuals and even clearly within their control.” (Spitzer18)

        The four levels of happiness are a systematic way to analyze the ultimate reasons that motivate human decisions and consequently human behavior. The author gives brief description of the four levels of happiness: physical gratification, ego-gratification, contribution and transcendence.

        “Much of this book will be concerned with four levels of meaning and purpose in life. (…) Suffice to say that the first level of meaning (physical pleasure and possession) and the second level (ego-gratification) are quite tangible, immediately gratifying, and emotionally intense. The third and four levels of meaning (concerned with contribution and love –level 3- and transcendence and faith –level 4) require delayed gratification, education and subtlety, but they have pervasive effects beyond a single person, last much longer, and involve our most creative powers (for example, love, ideals, intellectual creativity, and the pursuit of the common good).” (Spitzer 23)

        The characteristic of the first level laetus is seen as physical pleasure or sensitive gratification which is intense but short-lived and because of this requires repetition, creates habituation that leads to increasing demands. It can also lead to the destruction of the organic base that causes pleasure. The second level felix is the level of ego-gratification, where achievement of wealth, recognition, power is sought. It is a competitive level, where the ego has to be ahead of other egos, and recognition of the supremacy is the main motor. This level may lead to jealously, anxiety, bitterness and trampling of other egos. Spitzer points out that these two levels are self-centred and that as such do not satisfy completely the aspirations of the human being. Humans will not be satisfied until their transcendental aspirations are met. These transcendental aspirations are met partially in level three beatitudo where the ego goes beyond himself and gives himself to another “who”, discovering his own “who”. While this level is more authentic, more human, more personal, still the only level that can fulfill the personal desires for transcendence is the fourth level “gaudio”. At the gaudio level is where God as person can give full recognition to the desire of total happiness which is purely spiritual and therefore unattainable by created beings.


Maslow’s theory of motivation


        As indicated before Maslow’s approach to happiness is exclusively based on psychological observations. Maslow does not use the term happiness in his paper. For him the satisfaction of the desires, or motivations, is what constitutes the motor of human behaviour.

        “The present paper is an attempt to formulate a positive theory of motivation which will satisfy these theoretical demands and at the same time conform to the known facts, clinical and observational as well as experimental. It derives most directly, however, from clinical experience. This theory is, I think, in the functionalist tradition of James and Dewey, and is fused with the holism of Wertheimer Goldstein, and Gestalt psychology, and with the dynamicism of Freud and Adler. This fusion or synthesis may arbitrarily be called a 'general-dynamic' theory.” (Maslow, 1943, p. 372).

        Man motivations, though, cannot be reduced to animal motivations.

        “This theory starts with the human being rather than any lower and presumably 'simpler' animal. Too many of the findings that have been made in animals have been proven to be true for animals but not for the human being. There is no reason whatsoever why we should start with animals in order to study human motivation. The logic or rather illogic behind this general fallacy of 'pseudo- simplicity' has been exposed often enough by philosophers and logicians as well as by scientists in each of the various fields. It is no more necessary to study animals before one can study man than it is to study mathematics before one can study geology or psychology or biology.” (Maslow, 1943, p. 393).

        “That this truism can be forgotten is due mainly to two reasons. First, rats have few motivations other than physiological ones, and since so much of the research upon motivation has been made with these animals, it is easy to carry the rat-picture over to the human being.”  (Maslow, 1943, p. 375).

        What is more relevant of Maslow’s theory for our purpose is the list and explanation of the five levels of needs that motivate human beings.

        “There are at least five sets of goals, which we may call basic needs. These are briefly physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. In addition, we are motivated by the desire to achieve or maintain the various conditions upon which these basic satisfactions rest and by certain more intellectual desires.” (Maslow, 1943, p. 395).

        Man, rather than seeking a situation of homeostasis, or perfect satisfaction, is eager to develop all his capacities, which makes him an active changer, will not be ever really satisfied.

        “I should then say simply that a healthy man is primarily motivated by his needs to develop and actualize his fullest potentialities and capacities. If a man has any other basic needs in any active, chronic sense, then he is simply an unhealthy man.” (Maslow, 1943, 395).

        “Man is a perpetually wanting animal. Also no need or drive can be treated as if it were isolated or discrete” (Maslow, 1943, 370).

        Finally, another interesting statement is that no desire or motivation works in isolation, but they are all intertwined and never fully satisfied, due to the incapacity to satiate all his desires.

        “Thus man is a perpetually wanting animal. Ordinarily the satisfaction of these wants is not altogether mutually exclusive, but only tends to be. The average member of our society is most often partially satisfied and partially unsatisfied in all of his wants.” (Maslow, 1943, 395).

        Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a psychological ranking of needs, which goes from the most basic life needs to the highest. Tough he suggests that only higher needs are taken into consideration when the lower are satisfied, he defends that not all need to be totally satisfied. He also defends that there are interrelated and that they are exceptions in singular cases.

        “As for the concept of emergence of a new need after satisfaction of the prepotent need, this emergence is not a sudden, saltatory phenomenon but rather a gradual emergence by slow degrees from nothingness. For instance, if prepotent need A is satisfied only 10 per cent: then need B may not be visible at all. However, as this need A becomes satisfied 25 per cent, need B may emerge 5 per cent, as need A becomes satisfied 75 per cent need B may emerge go per cent, and so on." (Maslow, 1943, 388).

        For our topic what is interesting is that Maslow makes a classification of motives, of human desires in an increasing order of importance and that he also says that the desires of man are never satisfied; man has an inner force which moves him always ahead, always looking for more. This is one of the characteristics that Spitzer has clearly pointed out and that is at the core of Polo’s Transcendental Anthropology as we are going to see.

The transcendental structure of man according to Polo


        After seeing the cultural and psychological approach to a hierarchy of happiness and satisfactions we discuss whether Leonardo Polo’s Transcendental Anthropology can give an ontological foundation to the findings of Maslow and Spitzer.

        Polo uses de classical definition of happiness recognizing his debt to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

        What is the natural will fixed to so precisely and exclusively? To what does it inflexibly tend? Thomas Aquinas says to happiness (ST 1.41.2 ad 3m; 1.2.4 ad 2m). This is an old idea that comes from Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics 1.7 [1097b ss]). The human being as a spiritual being tends by nature to happiness. The human being cannot but tend to happiness, and this means that with respect to happiness there is no choice. The human being cannot tend to misfortune, to a physical evil, or to any other thing, but only to something which makes him happy. The vegetative functions tend to fulfill their task and are fixed ad unum in accord with it. But the end of our spiritual natural tendency, being fixed ad unum, is not to nourish itself or things like that, but happiness. (Polo, 2008, p. 4)

        “Duty is compatible with happiness because happiness consists in the possession of the ultimate good.” (Polo, 1994)

        Polo agrees with both philosophers in that the desire of happiness is embedded in our will, which is of the will as nature -voluntas ut natura- before it is actualized by the intelligence -voluntas ut ratio. According to Polo the classic Greek words are orexis for the voluntas ut natura and boulesis for voluntas ut ratio.

        “But in so far as we are beings that are not animals, we human tend in a special way that is linked to our reason. This tendency that is not merely biological, because reason can influence it and it obeys reason, this special órexis is called boúlesis by the Greeks. The Medieval philosophers, upon receiving the Greek heritage, translated the two Greek concepts as voluntas. They called the will as tendency voluntas ut natura. Voluntas ut natura is the radical act of desire of our spirit. They called boúlesis -which is not another faculty, but a phase, a development of the voluntas ut natura in so far as it is related to human reason—voluntas ut ratio.” (Ethics,149)

        Polo does not speak of levels of happiness but the triadic structure of the human being can explain them. He arrives at the triadic structure by distinguishing a new level which transcends the hylomorphic composition of body and soul and the hylomorphic composition between them. This new level goes beyond the hylomorphic structure by being a purely formal distinction between the human essence and his act of being. This third level is the level of the personal act of being, which makes each person radically different from each other person. He posits that Thomas Aquinas discovered this fundamental distinction but did not use it in anthropology.

        “Effectively the soul is the immortal part of human nature and because of this it is detachable from the body. But it is not only a “quidditas” but also an essence really different from the human “esse” inasmuch as it is habitually perfected. Summing up, the originating (“principial”) character of the soul has to be dealt with care. Because of its dependency of the human being the soul cannot be properly a principle.” (Polo, 1999, p. 140)

        “Specifically my proposal starts from Tomas Aquinas’ real distinction between the esse and the essence, which is the last important discovery of traditional philosophy. (…This) Thomistic discovery can be expanded, or better used, when studying in recto (directly) the human being; this is if the act of being human, which is the person, which should be distinguished from the human essence.” (Polo, 1999, p. 19)

        Following this clarification he distinguishes three levels: the natural, the essential and the personal. At the natural level the human being “has” (tener = to have, to possess). This level roughly coincides with what the classics considered the human body, and the sensitive and affective levels that are linked to it. The essential level, which is exclusive of human beings is where the human rational faculties of the intelligence and the will are located.  All human beings coincide in having intelligence and will which are the acting powers for human activities. This is the level of ‘doing’ (hacer = to do).

        And finally the personal level -the personal act of being- where each human being is irreplaceable, unique, and where the four personal transcendentals have their seat.

        “The link between these dimensions of the co-existence is clear: the improvement of the universe is linked to the improvement of the human essence. Nevertheless, the ultimate meaning of the human co-existence, by which the human person accepts himself radically, beyond ‘having’ and ‘doing’, and gives himself, decides his own destiny (se destina en su ser). The free intimate of his giving [here LP is referring to the personal level] should be more radical that the immanence of ‘having’ [he is talking of the natural level] and even more radical than the immanence of the virtue [he is referring to the essential level]. Intimacy is what strictly defines the person: a being who is capable of giving, of adding, as the only way to countersign his ‘having’ and ‘being’ ”. (“IEF Leonardo Polo,” n.d.)

            “Certainly, in each human being the person is dual with the essence and this is dual with nature. But the human essence is not a replica of the person. And because the essence is not a replica, the replica has to be sought in other persons. These dualities; the person with the essence, and the person with the replica, are not the highest. If there was only one person, and nothing else, the person will be unknown, and the dualities will disappear. This will not only be a disaster, it is impossible; because nothing human will be real if there were no personal co-existence. Because of this I have proposed the expansion of the transcendentals.” (Polo, 1999, p. 179)

        In the same way than in metaphysics the transcendentals transcend the categories -they are beyond the categories- because they apply to all beings, the personal transcendentals transcend the different types of persons and are therefore common to all persons, for the mere fact of being a person. Polo describes four personal transcendentals: co-existence-with, personal freedom, personal knowledge and personal love.

        “Consequently, in the first place, it is suggested that the theory of the transcendentals can be expanded, that the transcendentals discovered and somehow coordinated by traditional philosophy –which I call metaphysical transcendentals- can be distinguished from the other transcendentals which I call personal transcendentals.” (Polo, 1999, p. 31)

         “The anthropological transcendentals are achieved as thematic value of the character of the “additional” (además). These transcendentals are: the act of being of the person, which I call co-existence, intimacy of second act of being; the intellectual transparency, that I call intellectus ut co-actus; the love that accepts, which is the donation structure of the person; and freedom.” (Polo, 1999, p. 216)

        Co-existence-with is the one we are interested now because it is the one that expresses the way of being of the persons, which is different from the way of being of non-personal realities. A person alone cannot be thought, he is intimacy that by design has to be shared, he has to be in a personal relationship with other beings. These other beings can be at the same personal level –in our case human beings- but in a deeper way has to be the person who is the origin of the persons, the absolute “replica” who can reflect and quench all capabilities and potentialities of the person and therefore make him or her known finally to himself or herself.

             “A second consideration with regards to the duality is to say that what is deepest in human beings is the person and the personal being is incompatible with monism. A unique person will be the absolute disaster because he/she will be condemned to have no replica; on the other hand, a person can only have as replica another person.” (“IEF Leonardo Polo,” n.d.)

        Suffice for this brief article this description of Polo’s transcendental anthropology which will make possible to compare it with Spitzer’s levels of happiness and Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs.


The integration of the psychological and cultural in the ontological


        Polo’s first anthropological level, the natural level, can be an ontological support to the first level of happiness, laetus or satisfaction described by Spitzer. The first gratification is the fulfillment of the natural passions of the biological component of human nature. Whatever is received, whatever is acquired in a physical way gives us the immediate satisfaction or corporal satisfaction. This level is common, but not identical, with the animals, who also have needs and feelings that require satisfaction. It can also be the foundation to the physiological and safety needs as described by Maslow. Nevertheless one has to take into account that Maslow’s safety needs also include safety of live projects, which only men by the fact of their spiritual nature can plan. For Polo this level is exclusively on the sensitive, not intellectual realm.

        Polo’s second level, the essential level, is the level of the felix or “achievement”. The second level of happiness is the fruit of the achievements that our intelligence proposes and that our will conquers. Success requires planning, challenges, foreseeing the future. It requires the ability to distinguish between ends and means, and the constancy of implementing the decisions taken in spite of the difficulties that may arise. This level can appease Maslow’s needs for esteem, and self-actualization, whenever they do not involve the personal donation, which correspond to Spitzer’s third and fourth level of happiness, and Polo’s personal level.

        While Polo does not explicitly make a distinction in his texts because he does not really deal with level of happiness, he distinguishes the relationship with God at a personal level and the relationship with other persons who are at our own level.

        The relationship of person to person is done through the intelligence and will, This is done at the essential level where we communicate and recognize that there are other egos, other persons. To treat them as persons and not as ‘projects’ or ‘means’ we have to go out of ourselves, to reach the level of acceptance and donation, that for Polo are two ingredients of personal love. This is Spitzer’s third level of happiness, which is the first level where the person is unselfish, and where beatitudo is achieved. This can also be Maslow’s level of love. Maslow’s love is not as precisely described as Spitzers’ and Polo’s though he clearly does not reduce it to sex.

        “One thing that must be stressed at this point is that love is not synonymous with sex. Sex may be studied as a purely physiological need. Ordinarily sexual behavior is multi-determined, that is to say, determined not only by sexual but also by other needs, chief among which are the love and affection needs. Also not to be overlooked is the fact that the love needs involve both giving and receiving love.” (Maslow, 1943, p. 382).

        Lastly Spitzer’s fourth level of happiness gaudio can be linked to the person to person relationship between the person at the personal level and God as a person. Polo speaks of a double way a person can know God: one through the intelligence, through the arguments of the existence of God, the second in a personal relationship as the fulfillment of the intimate desire at the personal level of finding the plenitude of the personal relationship both as origin and end. These arguments allow us to relate with God as creator, unique, omnipotent, first cause uncaused, perfect good and perfect truth, perfect beauty and its own being, where there is no distinction between His act of being and His essence, and the personal God who can be “touch” as a person, through the innate habitual knowledge of wisdom.




        Abraham Maslow gives a psychological dymanic view of human motivation, based on the analysis of the needs and their satisfaction. He affirms that they are hierarchical and interconnected and that in no time man is fully satisfied. He gives accurate facts, good descriptions and valuable hypothesis. He does not attempt to find the causes, which is beyond his discipline.

        Robert Spitzer gives a cultural classification of the levels of happiness based on very valid and vivid observations of society, and the works of classic philosophers. His ranking is based on the spiritual nature of human beings and their desire for what is permanent and transcendent. Beauty, good and truth, can only be achieved in a direct relationship with God at the highest level of happiness, which encompasses the other three levels.

        Leonardo Polo suggests an ontological structure of the person that can explain well the valuable findings of the two previous authors, and help us understand more in depth the causes and consequences of the descriptions given by them. Polo’s explanations require a deeper knowledge of his theory of knowledge and his Anthropology, not an easy task but full of rewards because even if unknown by most, is one of the philosophers that has the potential to contribute more to the development of a deep philosophical anthropology and theory of knowledge in the XX century.



Hoffman, E. (1988). The Right to be Human: A Biography of Abraham Maslow. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Intellectual Trajectory of Leonardo Polo - Leonardo Polo Institute of Philosophy. (n.d.). Leonardo Polo Institute. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from

La coexistencia del hombre (L. Polo). (n.d.). Instituto de Estudios Filósoficos Leonardo Polo. Retrieved January 31, 2013, from

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370–376.

Polo, L. (1994). Ética socrática y moral cristiana. Sevilla: Not published.

Polo, L. (1999). Antropología trascendental I. Pamplona, Spain: Universidad de Navarra, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras.

Polo, L. (2003). Antropología trascendental II. Pamplona: EUNSA.

Polo, L. (2008). Ethics : a modern version of its classic themes. Manila: Sinag-Tala.

Spitzer, R. (2000). Healing the Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of Happiness, Freedom, and the Life Issues (First Edition.). Ignatius Press.

Spitzer, R. (n.d.). Magis Center of Reason and Faith. About Fr. Spitzer. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from





La dualidad filiación-paternidad.

Estudio según la antropología trascendental de Leonardo Polo[2].

Juan Assirio. (Buenos Aires, Argentina):

Disponible en este sitio de la red





        BARRIO, J.M.

        La innovación educativa pendiente: formar personas.

        Erasmus Ediciones, Barcelona, 2013.


        Después de leer el libro en cuatro o cinco tragos, y dejado pasar un “cooling period”, que es la denominación inglesa del periodo de prudente enfriamiento para decantar cualquier determinación, la impresión inicial es muy favorable en el aspecto de su redacción, su claridad expositiva, su recurso a fuentes relevantes, y por el tratamiento de los conceptos nucleares de una idea de educación, concebida como “conocer a las personas y ayudarlas a crecer” (p.15). En este sentido, sinceramente tengo que decir que he disfrutado durante la lectura, he refrescado viejas categorías y conceptos, y equilibrado su importancia, tanto en relación con una propuesta filosóficamente bien fundada del significado de educación, como en relación con los errores de quienes sostienen un significado torcido. Con una metáfora, podría decir que la lectura del libro ha sido como asistir a la interpretación de una pieza musical ya consagrada por la historia de la música, o volver a ver la película que marcó un cambio de época en el cine, y que el Prof. Barrio hubiese sido un gran intérprete o un gran cineasta, si hubieran sido éstos los ámbitos de su dedicación profesional.

        Sin embargo, paralelamente al gozo que me ha proporcionado la lectura del libro, en lo profundo me late una cierta decepción, como si fuera una tentación a toda luz perversa, que no acabo de sofocar. Este sentimiento creo que se debe a que el trabajo adolece de la falta de originalidad que se espera de un pensador de la categoría de José María Barrio, como lo demuestran sus publicaciones y en sus reiteradas intervenciones en el foro académico. Ello se aprecia principalmente en la primera parte del libro, en el que sumariamente aborda el concepto de persona y su crecimiento a través de los hábitos, como fundamento antropológico de los desarrollos posteriores sobre los déficits del discurso pedagógico moderno, y sobre el diálogo significativo como la herramienta esencial del proceso educativo.

        En esta fundamentación, nuestro autor recurre a las consabidas nociones que la filosofía tradicional ofrece en su indagación sobre el ser humano, como son el de “naturaleza”, o el de “segunda naturaleza” en función de un inacabamiento en dependencia de las operaciones del sujeto y de la adquisición de “hábitos”, con la consiguiente identidad sobrevenida del sujeto. Digo nociones consabidas, como lo muestra el hecho de que el propio autor suelta en su texto términos sin explicar, cuyo sentido supone que el lector ya conoce, como cuando dice que “la naturaleza primaria es hipóstasis e hipóstasis sustancial de la segunda” (p.27). Amparándose en las limitaciones del trabajo para ahondar en el concepto de persona, el Prof. Barrio asume la conocida definición de Boecio: rationalis naturae individua substantia, destacando en ella un centro ontológico subsistente, intrínsecamente indiviso, unido a su posibilidad de autotrascenderse, por su capacidad de abrirse al horizonte potencialmente irrestricto de lo otro. En el plano de la operación, estos dos polos, señala Barrio, son constitutivos de un “yo” capaz de entender y querer, esencialmente dotado para la intimidad y la extraversión. Se alude también a la conexión del alma y el cuerpo como unión “hilemórfica”, y, en base a lo que denomina “permeabilidad ontológica” del ser humano (p.36), se asume sin objeción el afán del pensamiento clásico de identificar al sujeto en co-actualidad con su dinamismo operativo, que está abierto a la totalidad de lo real bajo la doble formalidad de lo verdadero y de lo bueno. Así se trae la antigua idea de que el hombre es un microcosmos, pues debido a su naturaleza intelectual puede posesionarse de todo lo real como horizonte objetual, adquiriendo con ello forma sustancial como elemento ontológico radical por el cual la persona subsiste. Igualmente, la propuesta que se ofrece sobre la formación de hábitos, como la clave del crecimiento de la persona, no es más que una reiteración del planteamiento clásico.

        Estoy convencido de que un pensador de la categoría de José María Barrio puede y debe aspirar a algo más que a divulgar o actuar de vocero de lo ya sabido, por muy arduo y exigente que ya sea este trabajo. Se espera de él un avance en la solución de problemas planteados por el pensamiento moderno, que revelan cierto agotamiento de las categorías clásicas. Pienso ahora en el de si es aceptable reducir el ser del hombre únicamente a la categoría de “sustancia”, para resolver después la cuestión de su identidad como “segunda naturaleza” al haz de relaciones que mantiene con el universo. Porque es evidente que la repetición que el hombre mantiene respecto al mundo, por la que se concibe como un microcosmos, ha de redundar por fuerza en su principio constitutivo. La repetición no puede ser solo relativa y simétrica con el universo, en cuanto la persona lo repite desde sí, y, en este sentido, la persona está fuera del mundo, se sale de él. Consecuentemente, su determinación esencial no puede entrar de lleno en la categoría de “sustancia”, pues ésta es indicativa de una principiación radical fija, propia de la estructura óntica del universo.

        Si el alma es en cierto modo todas las cosas, ese “cierto modo” indica que no hay confusión o unicidad entre hombre y cosas, sino que el ser del hombre tiene su propia prioridad, distinta del sentido físico de prioridad que domina el “ente”, que no alcanza a cubrir la riqueza del “ser personal”. Cabe decir que el universo es creado, y que la persona también es creada, pero no como parte del universo, sino como “segunda criatura”, y, por ello, más allá de su consideración como sustancia, la persona ha de pensarse en el orden del Origen, ya que su radicalidad no se consuma en su operar, en cuanto el mundo lo repite desde sí, como ya se ha dicho. Consecuentemente, en la persona el significado de “relación” ha de ser más profundo que el de “subsistencia” que es lo propio del orden sustancial. Lo contrario sería antropoformizar la naturaleza, haciendo depender el estatuto de lo real de la objetualidad pensada o querida, o declarar el naturalismo del antropos como ocurre con cualquier panteísmo causalista[3].

        El fijismo en lo que se ha venido a denominar la “filosofía perenne” encuentra dificultades para afrontar algunos problemas, o para avanzar cuando se plantean otros nuevos, que suelen ser agudos en el terreno de la teoría de la educación. Ello se aprecia en cómo afronta Etienne Gilson, en su destacado libro El espíritu de la filosofía medieval[4], la acusación de incoherencia en la doctrina de San Bernardo sobre el amor. En esta doctrina se encuentran dos tendencias enfrentadas: la del amor “natural”, como tendencia de los seres creados a buscar su propio bien, y la del amor “extático”, que corta todos los vínculos que parecen unir el amor a las inclinaciones egoístas, según el precepto divino amarás a Dios sobre todas las cosas. En la Epistola de Caritate (1125) San Bernardo incurre en la incoherencia de juntar ambas tendencias en una pretendida visión unitaria de amor, al afirmar que nuestro amor “comienza necesariamente por nosotros mismos”, y que el fin de ese amor de sí mismo es entrar en la dicha de Dios, de entrar “como olvidándose de sí de manera maravillosa, y como separándose enteramente de sí” (p.388).

        En su defensa, Gilson aduce que el amor “natural” no es un mandato de Dios, pero tampoco una falta, sino el resultado de la falta debida al pecado original: “porque nacemos de la concupiscencia de la carne es menester que nuestro amor, o nuestra codicia, pues es lo mismo, comience por la carne” (p.390). Gilson toma así la “naturaleza” del hombre en su estado histórico concreto, después de la caída, pero la caída, continúa diciendo, solo se mide en relación con la “gracia”, que también se incluye en la naturaleza, pues Dios creó al hombre en estado de gracia, y aun cuando el hombre la perdió, todavía puede recuperarla porque todavía guarda su forma, y aun en sus miserias sigue siendo etiam sic aeternitatis capax. Y, confusamente, añade: “sin duda, la grandeza del alma no es idéntica al alma, pero es como (¿?) su forma, (…) de modo que el alma es distinta de lo que hace su grandeza, pero, por otra parte, no puede perder su forma sin dejar de ser ella misma, de suerte que no se puede concebir que se la separe nunca” (p.391).

        El pensamiento resbala cuando se hace depender la “naturaleza” del hombre de una contingencia histórica, si se alude a ella en el plano metafísico, y el golpe es rotundo al constatar el malabarismo con que Gilson maneja la “forma”, que es indicativa del sustrato por el cual el compuesto hilemórfico permanece siempre único e idéntico a sí mismo, prescindiendo de las particularidades exteriores. ¿Cómo es posible que el alma no pueda perder su forma sin dejar de ser ella misma, a la vez que la forma del alma, en tanto que conserva su grandeza, no sea idéntica al alma? Al decir que la grandeza es la forma del alma, a la vez la excluye si afirma que la grandeza del alma no es idéntica al alma, pues el alma no puede perder su forma sin dejar de ser ella misma, y por eso Gilson se ampara en el adverbio “como” para aludir a la forma que incluye la grandeza, como también podría haber dicho que “más o menos” es su forma, o que lo es “aproximadamente”.

        Estamos hechos a imagen y semejanza de Dios, en quien esencia y existencia se identifican. No hay más que un Dios y este Dios es el Ser, dice Gilson en otro lugar de su libro. Y si Dios es el Ser y el único Ser, todo lo que no es Dios no puede recibir la existencia sino de Él. Consecuentemente, producir el ser pura y simplemente es la acción propia del Ser mismo como consecuencia de un acto creador, que no solamente ha dado existencia al mundo, sino que la conserva en cada uno de los momentos sucesivos de su duración. El mundo se encuentra en una dependencia tal de su Creador que le afecta de contingencia hasta en la raíz de su ser.

        Gilson prosigue su argumento en favor de San Bernardo reiterando que lo que permanece semejante a Dios, después del pecado, es la grandeza del alma, su “forma” (p.392). Lo desemejante es su encorvadura hacia la tierra, constitutiva de una esencia que es “falsa”, si se interpreta a sensu contrario su calificación de “verdadera esencia” del alma la que incluye su grandeza. Se repite el malabarismo en el uso de la noción de forma, pues si antes afirmó que el alma no puede perder su forma sin dejar de ser ella misma, y la forma del alma es su grandeza, se concluye no somos reales mientras no la lleguemos a alcanzar.

        Gilson califica de sorprendente y admirable la semejanza que acompaña a la visión de Dios, con la que el alma se identifica, como si fuera una misma cosa ver a Dios y hacerse semejante a Él. Entre Dios y el hombre habría entonces una perfecta unión espiritual, mutua visión y amor recíproco. Entonces el alma conocerá a Dios como éste la conoce, le amará como Él la ama (p.393). No se entiende bien cómo un ser contingente, como es el hombre, pueda identificarse con un Dios que es principio y raíz de su ser remitiendo dicha identidad al nivel de la operación. Sin salirse del límite “sustancialista” que impregna su pensamiento, Gilson reitera más adelante que amar a Dios es “estar unido a él de voluntad, reproducir en sí la  ley divina, vivir como Dios”, y añade: “en una palabra: deificarse” (p.394). Éste término podría insinuar que la radicalidad de la persona desborda la radicalidad propia de la sustancia, y que su relación con Dios se resuelve en el orden de la principiación. Por eso el hombre se “deifica”, se relaciona con Dios al modo de una intensificación y perfeccionamiento de su acto de ser, por encima de su dinamismo operativo. Consecuentemente, el pecado se diría “original”, no por su emplazamiento temporal al comienzo de la historia, como sostiene Gilson, sino como resultado de una caída de su “entidad” relativa al Origen, es decir, relativa a la principiación radical de su ser en el estado inicial de gracia con que fue creado. Se podría decir que su distanciamiento de Dios no es “orográfico” sino “esencial”, en cuanto Dios es más radical en la persona que ella misma en su intimidad. Por consiguiente, la vuelta a su estado primigenio no es función de su dinamismo operativo sino el resultado de una transformación “tabórica”, se podría decir, cuyo  término, en cuanto está en el ámbito de la donación del ser, no lo puede por ella misma alcanzar.

        Las reflexiones que se han hecho hasta aquí, en relación con el libro del Prof. Barrio, me llevan a afirmar nego maiorem en relación con presupuesto básico en que se  inspira, como es el concepto “sustancialista” de persona. De ello no se sigue ergo nego consequentiam, ya que considero válidos los desarrollos derivados un saber ya consolidado y justamente calificado como “perenne”, pero que están a la espera de recibir un enriquecimiento derivado de la profundización en dicho concepto nuclear en la antropología filosófica.

        Este tipo de cuestiones, capaces de avivar el potencial de la mente, y entusiasmar a los aficionados, son las que desearía encontrar en los escritos e intervenciones de mi amigo José María, a quien leo entretenido y muy a gusto, pero con la nostalgia de saber que no voy a encontrar sino una reiteración, con añadidos y ornamentos, de lo ya sabido. Estoy convencido de que un pensador de raza como es él podría conquistar horizontes que aún están sin explorar, y por ello le animo a que deje el regazo de su maestro y se encarame a sus hombros, aun con el riesgo de caer, para ver lo que él no vio, y que asuma su parte en la responsabilidad de desvelar la verdad, aunque sea solo la suya.


Guillermo Díaz Pintos





            CHOZA, Jacinto

            Historia cultural del humanismo

            Colección Pensamiento, nº 5

            Themata/Plaza y Valdés, Sevilla 2009; 325 pp.


            Historia cultural del humanismo es un documentado estudio antropológico sobre la esencia del hombre, es decir, sobre qué es ser hombre, escrito de una manera clara y que, además, sostiene unas tesis teóricas dignas de atención. La obra, por otro lado, encaja perfectamente en la producción filosófica de su autor; y de él recoge la brillantez expositiva, solidez argumentativa y rigurosa documentación que le caracterizan.

            El libro está dividido en seis capítulos. Los dos primeros un poco más generales: sobre la noción de historia cultural, o sobre el carácter histórico de la cultura (c. 1), y sobre la progresiva extensión, ampliación en el tiempo, del humanismo, de la noción de lo humano (c. 2). Los cuatro capítulos siguientes son más particulares, pues estudian lo humano, figuras de lo humano dice, en las relaciones económicas de producción, de propiedad (c. 3), y en la comunicación lingüística, especialmente en la escritura (c. 5); así como la evolución de los asentamientos y organizaciones de la convivencia humana, desde la cueva y el poblado, hasta el estado y las organizaciones supranacionales (c. 4). El capítulo final es conclusivo, y justifica la posición teórica del autor; especialmente importante entiendo su apartado 2: la infraestructura de la definición del hombre.

            La tesis global del libro, bien expuesta y justificada en él, me parece que se percibe ya en el prólogo. Y creo que se podría exponer, con frases del mismo, de esta manera.

            Al ser humano se le llamó "hombre" en el mundo grecorromano clásico, "persona" en el mundo cristiano medieval, "sujeto" en el mundo ilustrado moderno; y, tras la liquidación de la modernidad, se le llama "existente", y no se le interpreta como subsistente y autónomo, sino como inmerso en la vida o como inscrito en el tiempo. El hombre se ha entendido a sí mismo, y ha establecido qué es lo humano, de muy distintas maneras a lo largo del tiempo. Desde la variación histórica de estos enfoques es como este libro estudia el ideal de humanitas que ha tenido vigencia en los diversos momentos de la cultura occidental.

            La consideración de estos cambios acontecidos en la historia, encuentra un cierto punto medular en la observación aristotélica según la cual sin ciudad, sin polis, no hay propiamente hombre, porque el hombre es social por naturaleza. Esa observación abre el campo a las preguntas sobre cómo era el hombre y lo humano antes de la aparición de la polis, en el paleolítico; y sobre cómo podrá ser tras la desaparición de la polis (período postneolítico que, según reconocidos autores, puede haber ocurrido y estar ocurriendo ya, desde la segunda mitad del siglo XX). De acuerdo con esas preguntas cabe examinar el humanismo en una escala temporal inédita.

            Por lo demás, ese examen no sólo tiene un interés histórico, sino temático. Porque, si la plenitud de la esencia humana es correlativa con la polis, el examen de los factores determinantes de la aparición y la desaparición de la ciudad (que el autor ubica en la economía de producción, la propiedad inmobiliaria y la escritura, a ello obedecen los capítulos mencionados), o la indagación de en qué medida convergen o colisionan estos factores, determinará también las condiciones de aparición y disolución de la misma esencia humana. Con todo, ni muerte del hombre, ni disolución de lo humano, ni antihumanismo; sino más bien una nueva comprensión de lo humano vinculada a una escala temporal más amplia.

            La lectura de este libro, no sólo para especialistas, sino para cualquier persona culta, universitaria, interesada en el tema, arroja un neto balance: no hay conflicto entre naturaleza humana e historia, sino, en todo caso, flexión de aquella en ésta. Pero además suscita alguna otra cuestión. Porque también cabe distinguir persona y naturaleza, y entonces sospechar que el hombre como persona es algo más que un ser humano: de aquí la historia del humanismo. No es difícil sospechar que la libertad personal es ese plus. Y entonces la historia de su humanismo una buena muestra del ejercicio de su libertad.


Juan García González

Málaga, 24.VII.2013


[1] Paper read at the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy in Athens on 11th August 2013.

[2] Trabajo de investigación de doctorado (dir. J. F. Sellés) defendido en la universidad de Navarra el 21.VI.2013.

[3] POLO, L.: “La coexistencia del hombre”. Conferencia de L. Polo en las XXV Reuniones filosóficas, Pamplona (1988).

[4] GILSON, E.: El espíritu de la filosofía medieval. Rialp, Madrid, 1981.