Ethical Action and Consciousness

Philosophical and Psychiatric Perspectives
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 7)


In this essay I wish to present and to compare two conceptions of consciousness and action and of their place in the structure of man, namely, that of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła and of Henri Ey;1 one a philosopher, the other a psychiatrist.


Thetic Function Human Person Acting Person Ethical Action Mirror Function 
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  1. 1.
    Cardinal Wojtyła’s position is best presented in his Osoba i czyn, Polskie Towarzystwo Teologiczne, Kraków; 1969. A revised English translation of this work will shortly be published as The Acting Person. Ey’s analysis of our problem may be found in his La conscience, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1963 (2d rev. ed. 1968); there is also a German translation: Das Bewusstsein, de Gruyter, Berlin, 1967. There exist also a Spanish and a Japanese translations.Google Scholar
  2. I quote The Acting Person from the typescript of the English translation which may not be identical with the final edition of the text. Ey’s work is quoted from the second edition, and I should like to thank Indiana University Press who are preparing the English translation for the permission to quote from La conscience. The translations are mine.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    This essay is a rewritten and expanded English version of my article ‘Czyn a swiadomosc’ (‘Human Action and Consciousness’), published in Logos i Ethos, Polski Towarzystwo Teologiczne, Krakow, 1971, pp. 83-113.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    Karol Wojtyła, The Intentional Act and the Human Act that is, Act and Experience,’ Analecta Husserliana, Vol. V, 269. Cardinal Wojtyła’s conception of man’s self-determination has been introduced to the English-speaking public by Hans Kochler, Analecta Husserliana Vol. VI, p. 75 (The Editor).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Ibid., p. 269f.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Cf. Karol Wojtyła’s book about Scheler: Ocena mozliwosci zbudowania etyki chrzes’cijariskiejprzy zalozeniach systemu Maksa Schelera (On the Possibility of Creating a Christian Ethics Based on the Assumptions of the System of Max Scheler), Towarzystwo Naukowe KUL, Lublin, 1959.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Ibid., p. 271.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    The Acting Person consists of four parts: the first treats of the relation of consciousness to efficacy, the second and the third are devoted to the transcendence and to the integration of the person in action respectively. The fourth part is an outline of a theory of participation as a person’s relation to the humanity of other people. In my presentation I shall concentrate on the first part of the book as it analyzes the role of consciousness in human action and self- development which is the topic of this study.Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    The first edition of La conscience consists of four parts; the first is devoted to the conscious being — man, in particular to the problem of the definition of consciousness. In the second part Ey analyzes the field of consciousness, describing in the first chapter the dissolution of it in sleep and in psychopathological states, and presenting in Chapter 2 an outline of a phenom- enological description of the field of consciousness, Chapter 3 (which takes up more than one- fifth of the book) is devoted to neurobiology of the field of consciousness; the author tries to develop a theory of an isomorphic correlation between the functional substructures of the brain and the levels of integration of the field of consciousness. In Part 3 Ey proceeds to a discussion of the human subject as a being conscious of himself, starting once again from pathological phenomena (Chapter 1) in order to describe in Chapter 2 the self-constitution of the human person. Part 4 is devoted to a discussion of the unconscious. In the second edition of this work Ey expanded the fourth paragraph of this part. “The Unconscious in the Conscious Being: The Structure of the Conscious Being,” into Part 5 of the book, entitled ‘Becoming Conscious (The Organization of the Conscious Being and the Problem of Human Values)’.Google Scholar
  10. I shall not dwell in this essay upon the author’s neurobiological considerations or on his discussions of the views of different authors and schools, nor shall I present in detail the psychopathological considerations by which he substantiates his final analyses. I want to concentrate on the core of his descriptions: his idea of consciousness and his description of the structure and development of man as a conscious being.Google Scholar
  11. In his discussions of different philosophical, psychological, and psychiatric views, Ey treats them mainly as material for his own synthesis, often not using their terms in precisely the same sense in which they had been used by their creators nor entering into detailed discussion of the respective differences (one of the important exceptions in his careful analysis and criticism of the basic ideas of Freud).Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    The Acting Person, Introduction, para. 2c.Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    Ibid., para. 2b.Google Scholar
  14. 10.
    Ibid., para. 2c.Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    Ibid., para. 4b.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
  17. 13.
  18. 14.
    Ibid., chap 1, para. 2aGoogle Scholar
  19. 15.
    Ibid., para. 2b.Google Scholar
  20. 16.
    Ibid., para. 2a.Google Scholar
  21. 17.
    Ibid., para. 2c.Google Scholar
  22. 18.
  23. 19.
    Ibid., para. 3a.Google Scholar
  24. 20.
  25. 21.
  26. 22.
    Ibid., para. 3b.Google Scholar
  27. 23.
  28. 24.
    Ibid., para. 2c.Google Scholar
  29. 25.
    Ibid., para. 4a.Google Scholar
  30. 26.
  31. 27.
    Ibid., para. 4b.Google Scholar
  32. 28.
    Ibid., para. 4c.Google Scholar
  33. 29.
    Ibid., para. 4d.Google Scholar
  34. 30.
    Ibid., para. 4e.Google Scholar
  35. 31.
  36. 32.
  37. 33.
    Ibid., para. 6a.Google Scholar
  38. 34.
  39. 35.
  40. 36.
    Ibid., para. 6b.Google Scholar
  41. 37.
    Ibid., chap. 2, para. 2a.Google Scholar
  42. 38.
    Ibid., para. 2b.Google Scholar
  43. 39.
    Ibid., para. 2c.Google Scholar
  44. 40.
    Ibid., para. 3d.Google Scholar
  45. 41.
    Ibid., para. 6c.Google Scholar
  46. 42.
    Ibid., para. 7a.Google Scholar
  47. 43.
    Ibid., para. 7c.Google Scholar
  48. 44.
  49. 45.
    Ibid., para. 7d.Google Scholar
  50. 46.
    Ibid., para. 7e.Google Scholar
  51. 47.
    Ibid., para. 8c.Google Scholar
  52. 48.
  53. 49.
    Ibid., para. 8d.Google Scholar
  54. 50.
    Henri Ey, Etudes Psychiatriques, 3 vols, ed Desclee de Brouwer, Paris, 1948-1954.Google Scholar
  55. 51.
    Henri Ey, La conscience, 2d ed., p. 1.Google Scholar
  56. 52.
    Ibid., p. 35.Google Scholar
  57. 53.
  58. 54.
    Ibid., p. 37.Google Scholar
  59. 55.
  60. 56.
    Ibid., p. 39.Google Scholar
  61. 57.
    Ibid., p. 40.Google Scholar
  62. 58.
    Ibid., p. 121.Google Scholar
  63. 59.
    Ibid., p. 122.Google Scholar
  64. 60.
    Ibid., p. 25.Google Scholar
  65. 61.
    Ibid., p. 127.Google Scholar
  66. 62.
    Ibid., p. 127.Google Scholar
  67. 63.
    Ibid., p. 129.Google Scholar
  68. 64.
    Ibid., p. 130.Google Scholar
  69. 65.
    Ibid., p. 131.Google Scholar
  70. 66.
    Ibid., p. 133.Google Scholar
  71. 67.
    Ibid., p. 136.Google Scholar
  72. 68.
    Ibid., p. 137.Google Scholar
  73. 69.
    Ibid., p. 138.Google Scholar
  74. 70.
    Ibid., p. 139.Google Scholar
  75. 71.
    Ibid., p. 141.Google Scholar
  76. 72.
    Ibid., p. 142.Google Scholar
  77. 73.
    Ibid., p. 143.Google Scholar
  78. 74.
    Ibid., p. 145.Google Scholar
  79. 75.
    G. E. Störring, Besinnung und Bewusstsein, Thieme, Stuttgart, 1953.Google Scholar
  80. 76.
    Ey, La conscience, p. 350.Google Scholar
  81. 77.
    Ibid., p. 351.Google Scholar
  82. 78.
  83. 79.
  84. 80.
    Ibid., p. 352.Google Scholar
  85. 81.
    Ibid., p. 354.Google Scholar
  86. 82.
    Ibid., p. 354.Google Scholar
  87. Ibid., p. 365.Google Scholar
  88. 84.
  89. 85.
  90. 86.
    Ibid., p. 420.Google Scholar
  91. 87.
    Ibid., p. 421.Google Scholar
  92. 88.
    Ibid., p. 457.Google Scholar
  93. 89.
    Ibid., p. 470.Google Scholar
  94. 90.
    Ibid., p. 480.Google Scholar
  95. 91.
    John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, bk. 2, chap. 21, para. 4. Cf. an interesting discussion of Hume’s polemics against Locke in Lorenz Krüger, Der Begriff des Empirismus, W. de Gruyter, Berlin, 1973. pp. 89 - 99.Google Scholar
  96. 92.
    Roman Ingarden, ‘Człowiek i czas’ (‘Man and Time’), Ksiqzeczka o czlowieku, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Krakow 1972. Part of this essay was Ingarden’s contribution to the Ninth International Congress of Philosophy (Congrès Descartes) in Paris: ‘Der Mensch und die Zeit,’ in Traveaux du IXe Congrès International de Philosophie (Congrès Descartes), Paris, 197.3, VIII, 129–36.Google Scholar
  97. 93.
    Roman Ingarden, Ueber die Verantwortung, Ihre ontischen Fundamente (On Responsibility: Its Ontological Foundations) Reclam, Stuttgart, 1970.Google Scholar
  98. 94.
    Cf. a discussion of The Acting Person by T. Styczen in Analecta Cracoviensia, V-VI, 107–15 (in Polish).Google Scholar
  99. 95.
    E. Tugendhat, Der Wahrheitsbegriff bei Husserl und Heidegger, 2d ed., de Gruyter, Berlin, 1970, pp. 194ff, 208f.Google Scholar
  100. 96.
    E. Husserl, Formale und transzendentale Logik, Halle, 1929, pp. 139ff, 25 lf, 254, Cf. Tugendhat, op. cit., p. 207.Google Scholar
  101. 97.
    Cf. Husserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie, bk 1, sec. 24, Das Prinzip aller Prinzipien.Google Scholar
  102. 98.
    Cf. above, p. 7ff.Google Scholar
  103. 99.
    Cf. above, p. 140Google Scholar
  104. 100.
    Cf. above, p. 119. This conception of act was not completely alien to the later Husserl’s Cf., e. g., G. E. Holenstein, Phänomenologie der Assoziation. Nijhoff, The Hague, 1972, 213, 218f.Google Scholar
  105. 101.
    Cf. above, n. 70.Google Scholar
  106. 102.
    The ambiguity implied in this seems to be an important point in any discussion of consciousness, but a broader analysis of it and of other ambiguities and problems connected with different aspects of consciousness would demand a separate essay.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1978

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