The Place of Lived Experience in Karol Wojtyla’s Account of the Person: A Case Study



Karol Wojtyła, lived experience, metaphysics, phenomenology, pastoral outreach, person, anthropology, same-sex attraction, sexual disorders


It is manifestly evident that the category and the language of “subjective personal experience” is the idiom of our era. This modern obsession with personal “subjectivity” has contributed substantially to our public and private quandaries, including subjectivism and its well-known twin, relativism, as well as the elevated status now afforded any individual point of view, no matter how ill informed. All this has resulted in the widespread view that the only “truth” that exists is the “truth” of one’s own experience. Claims about the existence of universal truth or an objective moral order often cannot find a foothold when confronted with the argument that such realities do not resonate with a particular individual’s personal “experience.” It seems clear that, if we have any hope of evangelizing the culture concerning the truths of the faith – or minister to the pastoral or therapeutic needs of those the Church is called to serve – we must find a way to articulate the proper place of lived experience in a fuller account of the person. The thesis of this paper is that the account of the human person proposed by Karol Wojtyla provides the answers we need. I will demonstrate that his approach permits us to acknowledge the experience of actual existing persons without compromising the more properly “ontological” framework that we know reveals the unchanging truth about human personhood. I will show that his account gives us the foothold we are seeking in a culture convinced that subjective personal experience is the criterion of truth. And since, in the contemporary context, such criteria are often invoked on questions concerned with human sexuality, we will concentrate our analysis on that sphere of human action, specifically those experiencing same-sex attraction. Surely a tougher test case would be difficult to find. The underlying aim of the paper is to provide a framework for addressing the pastoral needs of those suffering from the epidemic of sexual disorders spreading throughout Western society.


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How to Cite

Savage, Deborah. 2024. “The Place of Lived Experience in Karol Wojtyla’s Account of the Person: A Case Study”. Wojtyła Studies 1 (1):41-77.