More on subjective freedom

Yes, each person must decide for himself what is fit for him to do. Yes, personal behavior is inevitably always subjective. By subjective I do not mean biased or prejudiced. I simply mean that our thinking and deciding and acting are rooted in the self, the person who is an acting subject. Hence the term subjective. All personal behavior is subjective because it is rooted in the self.


And this subjectivity is a wonderful gift from God. He made us capable of deciding about ourselves. He granted us the great gift of freedom, which is a double-edged sword. We can use it to do good, to construct, and to edify. But we could also use it to do evil, to destroy and to cause harm and misery to ourselves and to others. But whatever happens, the self is in control of his inner freedom always. We can either subjectively do good or subjectively do evil. Either way, our behavior is always subjective or personal.


Human beings are not like animals that cannot decide for themselves. Animal behavior is determined by the nature of the animal and its environment. An animal is not free. A dog cannot help but behave like a dog. Birds always behave like birds. They have no choice. They build their nests always in the same way, mate always in the same manner, and eat food always in exactly the same way. Their behavior is objectively determined, not by themselves, but by their nature and environment. Properly speaking, an animal is not a self: it is not a person.


Personal behavior is indeed determined by the self, a human person who is a subject of powers that he himself and he alone is in control of. This is how Pope John Paul II defines the person: “a subjective being, capable of acting in a planned and rational way, capable of deciding about himself, with an inclination towards self-realization.”


Pope John Paul II clearly emphasizes the subjectivity of the human person. The powers that the human self is in control of are the intellect (“capable of acting in a planned and rational way”) and the will (“capable of deciding about himself”).These are the twin spiritual powers of man whose actions are rooted in the self. The intellect thinks of what is truly fitting for man in his behavior. And the will decides to do it or not. The will and the intellect must always work together. The will without the intellect is blind, while the intellect without the will is powerless. The intellect guides the will by showing him the truth about moral behavior, and the will implements that truth, moving the self to live the truth here and now.

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