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v2.1 Reference

The Irreducibility of the Human Person

A Catholic Synthesis

Catholic philosophical anthropologists have defended views of the human person on which we are irreducible to anything non-personal. For example, it is not the case that we are nothing but matter, souls, or parts of society. But many Catholic anthropologies have overlooked ways in which we are irreducible and so have not given an adequate account of the uniqueness of each human person. This book presents a philosophical portrait of human persons that depicts each way in which we are irreducible, with the goal of guiding the reader to perceive, wonder at, and love all the unique features of human persons. It builds this portrait by showing how claims from many strands of the Catholic tradition can be synthesized. These strands include Thomism, Scotism, phenomenology, personalism, nouvelle théologie, analytic philosophy, and Greek and Russian thought. The book focuses on how these traditions' claims are grounded in experience and on how they help us to perceive irreducible features of persons. While many metaphysical claims about persons are defended, the picture of persons that ultimately emerges is one on which persons are best grasped not through abstract concepts but through aesthetic perception and love, as unique kinds of beauty.

This book also explores irreducible features of our subjectivity, senses, intellect, freedom, and affections, and of our souls, bodies, and activities. It includes discussions of divine simplicity and causality, and of the nature of angels, matter, organisms, and artifacts, all of which must be understood to fully grasp our irreducibility. In showing how to synthesize various traditions' claims, the book also offers new solutions to a number of debates in Catholic philosophy. These include debates over natural law, the natural desire to see God, the separated soul, integralism and personalism, idealist and realist phenomenology, and scholastic accounts of the act of existence.

About the Author

Mark K. Spencer is associate professor of philosophy at the University of St. Thomas, MN.


"I can think of few if any books so comprehensively synthetic. Spencer draws from traditional – and nontraditional – Thomism, the personalist tradition, phenomenology (which overlaps with but is not identical to personalism), the Fathers, the work of thinkers in Eastern Christianity, and several contemporary secular sources; it is a work of extremely impressive breadth and learning."—Christopher Tollefsen, University of South Carolina

9780813235202 : the-irreducibility-of-the-human-person-spencer
Paperback / softback
March 25, 2022
$34.95 USD

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