Karol Wojtyla published his book Love and Responsibility in 1960 in Polish, and later it was translated into English in 1981. It is a fantastic work and, naturally, a philosophical book on human sexuality, love, and marriage. It contains five chapters, each of them dealing with the mentioned topics. This paper presents a summary of Wojtyla’s book taking into consideration the author’s ideas considering love and sex.
As a bishop and a priest, Karol Wojtyla had written the work from his pastoral experience before being ordained as the Pope John Paul II. His work is an eloquent and extraordinarily speech in defense of the traditions of Catholic belief system, particularly, in the scope of sexual morality and family life. Karol Wojtyla asserts that such branches of science as psychology, biology, sociology, and the like can give useful information regarding relation aspects between sexes, but he maintains that a full comprehension can be acquired only through the study of the human person in its entirety. His central arguments focus on the contrast between utilitarian and personalistic opinions regarding sexual relations and marriage.
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The first section deals with a categorizing a person as the object and the subject of action. Karol Wojtyla claims that people as subjects have their own personality and life. As objects, they are “somebodies”, “entities” and not “some things” (p. 21). Wojtyla confirms that human beings differ from animals since they have “interior life” and “inner self” (pp. 22-23). As persons, they are inalienable and incommunicable (p. 24). He claims that even the unborn children are persons and so dispels the views that they become individuals only during development (p. 26).
The second subsection deals with the definition of the verb “to use”. Karol Wojtyla asserts that the relationship of a man with other creatures is one of the meanings of this word. For instance, an individual’s treatment of the animals should not be in the form of physical torture or suffer (p. 25). In the third subsection, Wojtyla dwells on love being the reverse side of using. He pursues to obtain a favorable solution to the problem concerning the appropriate attitude that one should have toward another person. He affirms that love is only possible when a “bond of a common good” exists to unite people.
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The capacity of love for a man is dependent on his conscious willingness to find goodness with others and to have him subordinated to the good for the sake of others. The author says that love is the portion of human persons (pp. 28-29). Wojtyla writes that love starts with an idea or a principle that must be lived up to by people. The most crucial area for the application of this principle is marriage. The author says that in the union between a man and a woman they become “one flesh” and a common subject, implying a sexual life. To prevent them from becoming just means of pleasure in the eyes of each other, they have to share similar end. By “the end” the writer means the future generation, procreation, a family, and the growth of the relationship between the two individuals including conjugal life (p. 30). Wojtyla concludes by considering the relationship of a man and a woman in its broadest sense and insists that love is the value an individual represents irrespective of the sex (p. 31), and the value refers to the “common good.” The second meaning of “to use” according to Karol Wojtyla is enjoyment or pleasure (p. 32). Here, the author asserts that people themselves are the source of fun and satisfaction, and he also brings the aspects of sexual immorality (p. 33). He claims that one can “use” a person for pleasure. His postulation is that love is subordinate to enjoyment (p. 34). This statement makes him critically analyze utilitarianism.
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The utilitarian norm provides another view on the topic of the relations in marriage. It claims that actions should produce the greatest pleasure for the most number of people with very minimal levels of pain or discomfort (pp. 35-36). In utilitarian concept, love is a union of “two egoisms” which holds together on condition that people have confrontations with nothing unfriendly and without conflicts (p. 39). Wojtyla insists that there is compatibility between utilitarianism and the personalistic norm and the love commandment. According to him, love is a prerequisite of justice, although it goes past justice as the only concern for justice is mainly with relationship things while love is a direct care of persons (p.42). Karol Wojtyla believes that the urge for sex is inborn in all human beings, is a natural drive (p. 46), and that people are sexual beings. He claims that, from another point of view, sex can be defined as a particular attributes’ synthesis that manifests in the physiological and psychological structure of a man. However, love is defined by a person’s acts of will. A man’s sexual urge is dissimilar from that of animals’, where instinctive actions play a role. The human’s existence and the sexual urge form a link that gives meaning and objective importance to the sexual urge.
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Wojtyla asks a question concerning the values possessed by each sex for the other partner. He claims that the best option would be to have the attributes possess values due to the existence of sexual urge. He believes that the sexual urge is necessary as much as it is the basis for the physiological and psychological attributes of a woman and a man. The sexual urge’s natural direction is toward an opposite sex. When the sexual urge is directed toward a particular person, it gives the framework and the basis for the chances of love to arise. In Chapter two, Wojtyla focuses on the love essential elements in humans: goodwill, desire, and attraction. He asserts that love is a mutual relationship between individuals (p.73). The author maintains that attraction love consists of subject cognitive commitment, and that appeal involves emotions.
The writer asserts that attraction is not only an element of love but also its component. One gets attracted to a value found in an individual that is sensitive (pp. 76-77). He reflects love as a desire known as amor concupiscence in medieval ages. He believes that humans are not self-sufficient and therefore are in need of one another, particularly, a male is in a need of a female and vice versa, and they are complementary (p.81). Wojtyla talks about amor benevolentiae where love is regarded as the realization of a man’s inborn possibilities. He claims that genuine love would have a real understanding of true essence (pp. 82-83).
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The author notes that since love exists among both women and men, particularly the interpersonal love, then it does not exist in a man or a woman alone but in both of them. Since love resides in the subject, therefore, it is a subjective thing as well as objective because of the subject that is rooted in friendship. Wojtyla refers to interpersonal love (Betrothed Lov) as “spousal love.” Sensuality is among the responses in women and men who are sexual beings. It is a response to an individual as the object of enjoyment and to the values of the sex of the person. In chapter three, Wojtyla notes that chastity is met with hostile resentment resulting from misleading values like laziness exhibited by humans. Wojtyla confirms the necessity for self-giving love for a genuine relationship between a man and a woman.