That this book has seen the light of day is due to the concerted efforts of the authors to produce a text that responds to the urgent need of the time. At the outset, I wish to congratulate the authors who greatly contributed to the success of this ambitious project. Indeed, our hard work and sleepless nights spent for those seemingly unending review process paid off! We have produced a work of such unprecedented degree of scholarly thoroughness and rigor.

This book primarily aims to cater to the needs of the senior high school students by providing them with a basic understanding of the meaning, nature and characteristics of Philosophy as a humanistic discipline, and, most importantly, the nature and dynamics of the human person. It is hoped though that at the end of the course, students understand and appreciate the human person as such―as a being who is not only endowed with mind and body, but a being who is condemned to be free, a being who is fated to be in communion with others in society and the environment, and a being with endless possibilities in the face of death. Armed with this most valuable knowledge, it also hoped that students are able to reflect about the meaning of their very own life. This has been the chief guiding principle in writing this book.

Equally, this book is designed as a resource learning material for teachers of the course Introduction to Philosophy of the Human Person, especially for those teachers who do not have a strong background and orientation in philosophy. With carefully presented chapters and topics organized in accordance to the requirements prescribed by the Department of Education, this book will surely help teachers plan their lessons and prepare their exams and class activities in the most efficient manner.

The book begins with a chapter on doing philosophy. Here, Ryan Calica and Jay Michael Cordero introduced the students to the general nature of philosophy by discussing its meaning and different branches. They also provided a discussion on how to do philosophy the proper way. More importantly, Ryan and Jay discussed the nature of the course Philosophy of the Human Person and the need for it. For sure, Ryan and Jay set out in Chapter 1 the background to the overarching question of this book: What does it mean to be human?

In Chapter 2, Gerry Arambala and Rhiza Mae Damasin-Arambala discussed the four common yet very important methods of philosophizing, namely, the Socratic, phenomenological, hermeneutic, and analytical methods. Gerry and Rhiza’s discussion implies that students need to learn and master these methods as they help them enhance their capacity to think critically. As we can see, Gerry and Rhiza argued that critical thinking is one of the skills that students need to possess in order for them to fully make sense of the most baffling questions in philosophy of the human person.

It is pretty obvious that we possess “a body” animated by energy or by some mysterious entity, or however one calls it. Yet, and perhaps due to the obviousness of this fact, individuals failed to realize that everything that happens in their life happened as a result of the dynamic interplay between the physical and spiritual dimensions of their being. Indeed, individuals failed to realize that they are not simply “having” or “possessing” a body, but they are “their bodies”. This is what, inter alia, Chapter 3 attempts to address. Thus, in this chapter, with the aid of Aristotle and Aquinas’s philosophy, Ferdinand Mangibin led the students to the understanding of the human person as an embodied spirit. Ferdinand argued that the unity of our experiences does not happen in a vacuum, but in the self-conscious mind. Ferdinand also argued that while the body sets some limits to our potentialities as human beings, the soul or spirit enables us to transcend these limits and attain a higher form existence, indeed a meaningful one.

Just as we forget to really reflect upon our own being as an embodied spirit, we also failed to think how much our irresponsible actions have damaged the environment. For sure, the unprecedented technological advancement in the last 50 years or so have made life more comfortable than what it was before. However, it did not come to be without a price too high to pay. As a matter of fact, the same technological advancement had destroyed the world. In Chapter 4, John Paul Petrola engages these issues with the hope of enabling us to become fully aware of our responsibilities toward the environment. In doing so, John Paul discusses in great detail the different environment problems that we are facing today vis-à-vis the different philosophical approaches to the environment. John Paul hopes that these philosophical insights will inspire us to formulate some alternatives to these problems.

Speaking of transcending our limits as human beings in order to attain a meaningful existence (as Ferdinand discussed in Chapter 3) and the deep consequences of our irresponsible actions toward the environment (as John Paul discussed in Chapter 4), we notice that these acts are directly connected to the issue on freedom―for we cannot transcend our limits or destroy the environment if we are not free to do so in the first place. Thus, in Chapter 5, Ismael Magadan, Jr. discusses the nature of freedom and the necessity of recasting its relevance to our existence. In doing so, Ismael presents the common understanding of freedom and its different types before proceeding to critically engaging the different conceptual guises of freedom. In the end, Ismael argues that these different conceptual guises of freedom will guide us on how to meaningfully conduct our own freedom.

In Chapter 6, Arvin Revagorda discusses one of the most important attributes of the human person―that is, the human person is always a being with others in the world. Indeed, human beings are deeply related to each other. However, as Arvin shows, relating with others is not easy; sometimes, if not most of the time, relationships are strained given our differences. Thus, Arvin presents ways on how human persons relate more meaningfully to each other through a critical engagement with the philosophies of Habermas, Buber and Levinas. Arvin concludes this chapter with a claim that the only way for peace to reign in our relation with fellow human beings is for us establish a genuine relationship them through love and respect.

In Chapter 7, Benjiemen Labastin expands and deepens the claim that Arvin Revagorda laid down in Chapter 6. Benjie shows that being-with-others-in-the-world points to the idea that humans are social by nature. Thus, following Aristotle, Benjie argues that those who live alone are not truly humans. Benjie then presents different philosophical traditions that talk about the sociality of the human person in order for us to make sense of his very strong claim. In the end, Benjie emphasized that we are indeed social and political beings who are doomed to be with others in the world.

Lastly, in Chapter 8, Karl James Villarmea addresses the most scary, yet extremely reflective, question: What is death, and what has it got to do with the meaning of life? In order to drive his point more convincingly, Karl thinks with some of the most famous philosophers who emphasize the importance of reflecting upon the “impendingness” of our very own death, namely, Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, and Gutierrez. Along with these philosophers, Karl argues that death is the ultimate basis of a meaningful existence. In other words, for Karl, we cannot project our endless possibilities as human persons if we do not reflect about our very own limitations as finite beings. Thus, for example, it is only when we realize that we can die anytime, that our time in the world is extremely short, that we resolve to make our present existence meaningful. At the end of it all, Karl recommends that we treat our experience of [a] death [to come] as constitutive of human life―indeed, “as that which makes life authentic”.

Now, while students can read each chapter independently, we suggest that they first read Chapters 1 and 2 before they immerse themselves in the rest of the chapters. This is because, as already mentioned, Chapters 1 and 2 provide the background to the overarching question, which is at the core of this course: What does it mean to be a human?

It is hoped then that students find this book helpful.


Jeffry Ocay
October 2017