POLO, L., Presente y futuro del hombre, Rialp, Madrid, 1993, 207 pp.

por Ricardo Yepes Stork

Continental philosophy, mainly after Kant and Phaenomonology, has coined the word Anthropology to cover the study of part of the area which classical philosophy designated as Philosophical Psychology. Authors as A. Gehlen (Der Mensch. Seine Natur und seine Stellung in der Welt, Berlin, 1940), H. Plessner (Die Stufen der Urganischen und der Mensch, Frankfurt, 1981), and J. Uexhüll (Streifezüge durch die Umwelten von Tieren und Menschen, Stuttgart, 1972) have opened a new path towards a metaphysical approach to man as such, with certain aristotelian inspiration and background.

The works of L. Polo started in 1963 with a very similar and definite aim: to apply the classical principles of metaphysics to a wider consideration of man, such as modern German philosophy proposed (specially Hegel and Heidegger). This task wouldn’t be a new one if this application sholud not use a new method good enough to maintain the classical principles without loosing the specifical aim and results of the modern thinking. This wouldn’t be possible if the modern principles are not substantially changed. To the exposition of this new method were devoted the first three major books of L. Polo (Pamplona, 1964-1966: Evidencia y realidad en Descartes, El acceso al ser, El Ser). But this new method, whose author calls abandono del límite, “leaving the limit” (always referring to objectivity, the limit of our thinking), leads to a new reading of the classical aristotelian and thomistic theory of knowledge. L. Polo has published four volumes offering a course on this new reading: Curso de teoría del conocimiento, vols. I-IV (Pamplona, 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1994).

Now the way is open to the Antropología Transcendental, or “Transcendental Anthropology” (the word “transcendental” is used here more as Aquinas and Leibniz did than as Kant did). The author, teaching in the University of Navarra since 1954, is now preparing this third major work, still unpublished. As a preparation to it now he offers a brief presentation of this Anthropology. Presente y futuro del hombre, edited with the aid of some of the disciples of this surprising and very vigorous Spanish thinker, presents some lectures and articles about the three main periods of philosophy: Athens (s. IV), Paris (s. XIII), Germany (end of s. XVIII-beginning of XIX), and the epistemological consequences of the philosophy of Aristotle, Scotus, Hegel in the current culture of today. These rather easy and very suggesting essays lead to the conclusion (pp. 143-207): Por qué una Antroplogía Transcendental, “Why a Transcendental Anthropology?”. We cannot give here a proper account of this rather difficult task. But we can mention the road in which it runs: liberty is the most radical(?) condition of man. Modernity has accurately pointed to the “transcedental” character of liberty. But the results of this interpretation are not good enough, neither in its theroretical formulas, nor in the practical consequences in everyday life, specially in our moral life. This press us to seek the classical principles and apply them in a new way to man: the radical(?) difference between man and nature implies a ampliación transcendental, “a transcendental….”, a transcendental treatment of liberty. This topic is not in this final chapter fully developed, of course. We receive only like a brief announcement. But indeed is very exciting for the reader to guess a very full developed philosophy which pretends to continue Aristotle and Aquinas (beginning with the historical conclusions about real distinction between essentia and esse) attending to the results of Hegel’s and Heidegger’s conclusions on man.

This is a small book of a great philosopher. As soon as we are able to obtain a further knowledge of his ideas, as soon as we will comprehend why this philosophy is increasingly recognized. Of course, L. Polo has a lot of articles on epistemological and metaphysical topics (1966-1994). Nevertheless his anthropology is already available for students in two small books (Quién es el hombre, Madrid, 1991, 2nd. ed.; Etica. Hacia una versión moderna de los clásicos, México, 1993).


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