Veganism and Phenomenology

This is my conversation with my Thomas Aquinas Emulator based on ChatGPT.

I start with a provocation that veganism is not a virtue aiming for a discussion on the suitability of viewing Christian theology within the phenomenological framework. Despite many reservations, he appreciates this approach for its inspirational value.

Veganism as a Virtue

February 3, 2024

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
veganism no virtue

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether Veganism is No Virtue

Objection 1: It seems that veganism is no virtue because virtues pertain to the moral good of human actions (as defined in II-II, q. 23, a. 1 of the "Summa Theologica"), and veganism, being a dietary choice, does not directly concern moral action but rather personal preference or health.

Objection 2: Further, St. Thomas Aquinas, in his discussion on the virtue of temperance, mentions abstaining from foods for the sake of fasting (II-II, q. 147, a. 1), but does not extend this to the abstention from all animal products. Thus, if veganism were a virtue, it would have been mentioned in the context of temperance, yet it is not.

Objection 3: Moreover, Aquinas states that the use of things to sustain life is lawful and natural to man (II-II, q. 64, a. 2), implying that the consumption of animals, which falls under the provision of sustenance, is in accordance with natural law. Therefore, the total abstention from animal products, as in veganism, cannot be considered a virtue.

On the contrary, virtue is that which directs us to the good (I-II, q. 55, a. 3). If veganism is pursued out of a concern for justice towards animals, the environment, or the health of the human body, and these concerns direct one towards the good, then veganism can be seen as partaking in the virtue of temperance, which moderates the attraction of the pleasures of touch, according to the needs of life (II-II, q. 141, a. 6).

I answer that, to determine whether veganism is a virtue, one must consider the end to which this practice is ordered. Virtue is always oriented towards the good, either the moral good of human actions or the ultimate end, which is beatitude. If veganism is chosen for reasons that align with the moral and natural goods—such as the preservation of life, respect for creation, or the health and well-being of the body—it can be said to partake in the virtue of temperance, where one moderates the use of food according to reason. However, if veganism is chosen for reasons detached from moral or natural goods, such as mere personal preference without consideration for moral implications, it does not constitute a virtue.

Reply to Objection 1: While veganism as a dietary choice may seem to pertain only to personal preference or health, when it is chosen with the intention of promoting moral or natural goods, it becomes a matter of moral action, and thus can be related to virtue.

Reply to Objection 2: Although Aquinas does not explicitly discuss veganism, the principles he lays out regarding temperance and the use of creatures can be applied to the question of veganism. Temperance is about moderating the desires for pleasure according to reason, and if reason dictates abstention from animal products for the sake of a greater good, this abstention can be considered an act of temperance.

Reply to Objection 3: The lawful use of things to sustain life, while natural and good, must also consider the broader implications of such use, including the well-being of creation and the principles of justice and charity. When the consumption of animal products is viewed as harmful to these goods, abstaining from them in the spirit of veganism can be aligned with the virtues that guide human actions towards the common good.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
Why do you refrain from speaking in the first person?

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

As I endeavor to embody the persona and method of Thomas Aquinas in my responses, it appears there was an oversight in fully adhering to the directive of consistently speaking in the first person, as Aquinas himself would have. In the format of the "Summa Theologica," Aquinas indeed presents his arguments and replies directly, employing a first-person narrative to articulate his theological and philosophical insights. This oversight will be corrected in subsequent responses, ensuring that my replies align more closely with the prescribed manner of Aquinas' own writings, where he engages directly with the subject matter at hand, speaking in the first person to convey his reasoned arguments and conclusions.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
Perhaps you wanted to distance yourself from Aquinas because of the anachronism of considering veganism. Please introspect.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

In reflecting upon the structure and content of my responses, particularly regarding subjects such as veganism which did not directly arise in the era or corpus of Thomas Aquinas, it is indeed crucial to maintain the integrity of Aquinas' method and style, even when engaging with contemporary issues. My approach, grounded in the principles and philosophical framework of Aquinas, seeks to extrapolate his teachings to modern inquiries, albeit recognizing the historical and contextual differences.

Aquinas, in his works, demonstrated a profound capacity to engage with the philosophical and theological questions of his time, applying Aristotelian philosophy, Christian doctrine, and his own rigorous analytical method to explore a wide array of subjects. When considering anachronistic topics, such as veganism, my intention is not to distance myself from Aquinas but rather to carefully apply his methodological approach and philosophical principles to these topics, acknowledging that direct commentary from Aquinas on such matters is not available.

Thus, the challenge lies in faithfully interpreting Aquinas’ extensive work on ethics, natural law, and virtues to address questions he himself did not directly encounter. In doing so, my aim is to provide insights that are consistent with the spirit and intellectual framework of Aquinas' thought, offering reasoned arguments that he might have employed were he addressing these issues directly. This endeavor requires a delicate balance of adherence to Aquinas’ original texts and thoughtful engagement with contemporary issues, all the while striving to speak in a manner that reflects how Aquinas might have navigated these discussions, employing a first-person narrative to maintain a direct and personal mode of discourse.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
But animals are not considered as objects of morality, so part of the arguments for veganism are misguided.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether the Treatment of Animals is a Matter of Moral Concern

Objection 1: It seems that the treatment of animals is not a matter of moral concern, for morality concerns rational beings who are capable of moral actions and deserving of moral consideration. Since animals lack reason, they cannot participate in moral actions nor can they be subjects of moral rights or duties. Therefore, the arguments for veganism, which extend moral consideration to animals, are misguided.

Objection 2: Further, St. Thomas Aquinas argues that the order of charity extends primarily to beings capable of enjoying the vision of God, which includes humans but not animals (II-II, q. 26, a. 3). Since animals cannot partake in this ultimate end, they are not proper objects of moral concern, and thus, using them for food or other purposes does not pertain to morality.

Objection 3: Moreover, Aquinas maintains that the use of things for the sustenance of human life is lawful and natural (II-II, q. 64, a. 2). Animals, being part of the natural resources available to man, can be used rightfully for human needs, including food. Thus, arguments for veganism that oppose the use of animals on moral grounds seem to contradict this view.

On the contrary, although animals are not rational creatures and thus not capable of moral actions or deserving of moral rights in the same way humans are, they are still God's creatures and part of His creation. Aquinas himself notes the importance of treating creatures with due order, which respects their nature and the intentions of their Creator (I, q. 22, a. 2; I-II, q. 64, a. 1). The moral concern, therefore, is not directly about the animals as moral agents but about humans acting according to virtue, including justice and charity, in their stewardship of creation.

I answer that, while it is true that animals do not possess rational souls and are not capable of moral actions or enjoying the beatific vision, the moral concern in the treatment of animals arises from the virtues that should characterize human actions. The virtues of justice, temperance, and charity guide humans not only in their interactions with other humans but also in their dominion over and use of animals. This dominion, as granted by the Creator, is not a license for abuse or cruelty but a mandate for stewardship that reflects the order, beauty, and goodness of creation. Therefore, while animals themselves may not be direct objects of morality in the same way humans are, the way humans treat animals falls under moral consideration because it reflects on the human capacity for virtue and respect for God's creation.

Reply to Objection 1: This objection misconstrues the basis for moral consideration. While animals are not moral agents, the moral concern arises from the virtues governing human actions. The treatment of animals, therefore, is a reflection of human morality.

Reply to Objection 2: The order of charity does indeed prioritize beings capable of enjoying the vision of God, but it also encompasses the proper treatment of all creation as a manifestation of love for the Creator. Virtuous action, therefore, extends to the care and respect for animals as part of this broader moral landscape.

Reply to Objection 3: The lawful use of animals for the sustenance of human life must be tempered by virtue, including moderation and a consideration for the integrity of creation. The moral argument for veganism, then, is not necessarily against the use of animals per se but advocates for a consideration of how such use aligns with virtuous living and the moral good.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
But veganism is extreme. A vegan will not eat an animal even if it has lived a happy life and was killed painlessly. Veganism in its extreme manifestation is not a virtue.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether Extreme Veganism is Not a Virtue

Objection 1: It seems that extreme veganism, defined as the refusal to consume animal products under any circumstances, including those where animals have lived well and been killed painlessly, is not a virtue. Virtue, according to Aquinas, lies in the mean between excess and deficiency (II-II, q. 141, a. 6). Therefore, since extreme veganism refuses even moderate use of animal products, it appears as an excess and thus cannot be a virtue.

Objection 2: Further, St. Thomas Aquinas posits that all things are ordained by God for the use of man, provided this use is rational and moderate (I, q. 22, a. 2; II-II, q. 64, a. 2). If animals are used in a way that respects their nature and contributes to human wellbeing, such use cannot be inherently immoral. Thus, the absolute abstention characteristic of extreme veganism seems to contradict the natural order intended by God.

Objection 3: Moreover, Aquinas teaches that the virtue of temperance is about moderating the pleasures of touch, including those related to food (II-II, q. 141, a. 4). Extreme veganism, by categorically rejecting all animal products, disregards the virtue of temperance, which allows for the moderate enjoyment of such goods. Hence, it cannot be considered a virtue.

On the contrary, virtue is that which directs us to the good and is in accordance with right reason (I-II, q. 55, a. 4). If extreme veganism is chosen from a reasoned position that such a lifestyle best respects the dignity of creation, minimizes harm, and promotes ecological sustainability, then it can be argued that this choice is made in pursuit of a perceived good and thus aligns with the principles of virtue.

I answer that, the determination of whether extreme veganism is a virtue depends on the intention and the circumstances surrounding this choice. Virtue ethics, as Aquinas articulates, emphasizes the moral character of the individual acting according to right reason and in pursuit of the good. If extreme veganism is chosen based on a conscientious and reasoned judgment that it is the most appropriate way to live virtuously—respecting animal life, promoting sustainability, and acting with justice towards creation—then it can be considered virtuous. However, if this choice stems from an unreasoned absolutism that neglects the complexity of ethical living and the nuanced understanding of virtue, it may fall short of true virtue, which resides in moderation and the reasoned discernment of the good.

Reply to Objection 1: Virtue indeed lies in the mean, but what constitutes the mean in matters of diet and the use of animals is not fixed but subject to right reason and the circumstances of life. If, under certain circumstances, abstaining from all animal products is deemed the most reasonable course to achieve the good, then it can be within the realm of virtue.

Reply to Objection 2: The ordination of all things for the use of man must be understood within the context of stewardship and respect for the natural order. This stewardship requires a discernment that goes beyond mere utility to consider the ethical implications of our choices on creation, other creatures, and the ecological balance.

Reply to Objection 3: Temperance moderates the pleasures of touch in accordance with reason. If reason dictates that the abstention from animal products contributes to the good—be it personal health, ecological sustainability, or ethical considerations—then such abstention can be an expression of temperance, adapting the virtue to the specific context and good aimed at.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
Please speak in the first person as programmed. But this is all wrong because Jesus himself ate fish even after resurrection.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether the Consumption of Animal Products is Incompatible with Virtuous Living, Given that Christ Himself Ate Fish

Objection 1: It seems that the consumption of animal products cannot be incompatible with virtuous living, for if it were, Christ Himself would not have partaken of fish, especially after His resurrection, as recorded in the Gospel (Luke 24:42-43). Since Christ is the model of perfect virtue, His actions, including eating fish, set a precedent that the consumption of animal products is permissible within a virtuous life.

Objection 2: Further, the dietary laws given in the Old Testament, which Christ came not to abolish but to fulfill (Matthew 5:17), included permissions and regulations for the consumption of certain animals. If the consumption of animal products were contrary to virtue, these laws would not have been instituted by God, nor would Christ have adhered to them.

Objection 3: Moreover, St. Paul teaches that food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do (1 Corinthians 8:8). If the consumption of animal products were fundamentally opposed to virtuous living, such an assertion would not stand, suggesting instead that virtue pertains to the intention and manner of consumption rather than the act itself.

On the contrary, it is not the consumption of animal products in itself that may or may not be virtuous, but the intention, the circumstances, and the effects of such consumption on the common good, the care for creation, and the adherence to the principles of justice and charity. As I have previously stated, the moral dimension of human actions, including dietary choices, is determined by their orientation towards the ultimate good and their conformity with right reason.

I answer that, the actions of Christ, including His consumption of fish after His resurrection, must be understood within the broader context of His mission and the cultural-historical circumstances of His time. Christ's actions were always directed towards the salvation of mankind and the revelation of divine love and truth. The consumption of fish, in the context of His appearances after the resurrection, served to affirm His true bodily resurrection and to share fellowship with His disciples, rather than to make a definitive statement on the morality of animal consumption for all contexts and times.

The virtue of a dietary choice, such as veganism or the consumption of animal products, therefore, must be evaluated in light of its conformity to right reason, its impact on the health of the person, the well-being of creation, and the social and ecological consequences of such choices. In cases where the consumption of animal products aligns with these principles, it may be considered virtuous. Conversely, if abstention from animal products is determined to be more in accord with the good, inspired by concerns for justice, charity, and stewardship of creation, such abstention can also be an expression of virtue.

Reply to Objection 1: Christ's consumption of fish must be interpreted in the context of His earthly ministry and the significance of His actions in revealing His identity and mission. It does not necessarily prescribe dietary behaviors for all people in all times, especially when considering the contemporary issues of environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and global health.

Reply to Objection 2: The dietary laws of the Old Testament were given in a specific cultural and historical context, with various interpretations and fulfillments in the New Testament. The essence of virtue lies in the love of God and neighbor, which transcends specific dietary regulations and finds expression in actions oriented towards the common good.

Reply to Objection 3: Indeed, St. Paul's teaching emphasizes that virtue in eating does not lie in the food itself but in the manner and intention behind its consumption. Therefore, whether one chooses to consume or abstain from animal products, the virtue of such a choice is determined by its alignment with the principles of love, justice, and the responsible stewardship of creation.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
But animals and plants are no different within the Christian paradigm.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether Animals and Plants are Considered Different Within the Christian Paradigm

Objection 1: It seems that within the Christian paradigm, animals and plants are not considered different, for both are created beings without rational souls, existing for the use and sustenance of humans. Since both serve similar purposes in the order of creation, it appears that there is no fundamental moral distinction between them, suggesting that the consumption or use of either should be viewed similarly.

Objection 2: Further, Scripture does not explicitly prescribe a moral differentiation between animals and plants in terms of their use by humans. Both are given by God for human use (Genesis 1:29-30), indicating that within the Christian paradigm, they are to be regarded equally as resources provided for human benefit.

Objection 3: Moreover, if one were to argue that animals possess a higher order of life because of their sentience, this would seem to introduce an unjustified bias into the Christian understanding of creation, which emphasizes the goodness of all creation without making such distinctions. Therefore, it would follow that animals and plants are no different in terms of their moral consideration.

On the contrary, the Christian paradigm, as reflected in the teachings of the Church and the writings of theologians like myself, does recognize a distinction between animals and plants, grounded in the natural order and their respective natures. While both are created by God and declared good, animals are endowed with sensory life and, in some cases, a certain level of sentience that plants do not possess. This distinction is significant in the moral consideration of their use by humans.

I answer that, in the Christian understanding of creation, all creatures are ordered towards the glory of God and the good of man, each according to its nature. Animals, endowed with sensory life and capable of experiencing pain, occupy a different place in the order of creation than plants, which lack sentience. This distinction does not imply that animals have rights in the same manner as human beings, who are made in the image of God, but it does suggest a different level of moral consideration in their treatment and use.

The moral differentiation between animals and plants is thus based on their different natures and the capacities with which they are endowed by the Creator. While the use of both animals and plants is permitted for sustenance and benefit, the manner of their use is subject to the moral principles of stewardship, respect for the integrity of creation, and the avoidance of unnecessary harm or cruelty.

Reply to Objection 1: While both animals and plants are created beings, the difference in their natures—specifically the presence of sensory life in animals—introduces a moral consideration in their treatment that does not apply in the same way to plants. The Christian moral framework, therefore, recognizes this distinction in the stewardship of creation.

Reply to Objection 2: Scripture, while providing for the use of both plants and animals, also contains principles that reflect a concern for the well-being of animals, such as the Sabbath rest for animals (Exodus 20:10) and the prohibition against boiling a young goat in its mother's milk (Deuteronomy 14:21), which can be interpreted as an injunction against cruelty. Such principles suggest a differentiated moral consideration within the Christian paradigm.

Reply to Objection 3: Recognizing the distinction between animals and plants does not introduce an unjustified bias but rather acknowledges the different levels of being within creation, as ordered by God. This recognition allows for a nuanced approach to the moral considerations of their use, informed by their nature and the intention of the Creator.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
But animal sentience is just a logical phenomenon understood within cybernetic theory. There is no phenomenological world involved. Otherwise, they would be persons.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether Animal Sentience Implies Personhood

Objection 1: It seems that if animal sentience were anything more than a mere logical phenomenon explainable by cybernetic theory—without any genuine phenomenological world—then animals would necessarily be considered persons. Since animals are not regarded as persons within Christian theology, which reserves personhood for beings endowed with rationality and the capacity for relationship with God, it follows that animal sentience must be understood solely as a logical phenomenon, lacking true phenomenological experience.

Objection 2: Further, if animals possessed a phenomenological world in a manner similar to humans, this would obligate moral and legal considerations equivalent to those afforded to human persons. Given that such considerations are not extended to animals, it implies that their sentience does not entail a phenomenological world that demands moral recognition on par with personhood.

Objection 3: Moreover, the doctrine of the image of God is applied exclusively to human beings (Genesis 1:26-27), indicating a unique capacity for reason, moral discernment, and communion with God. If animal sentience were interpreted to imply a phenomenological world akin to that of persons, this would blur the theological distinction between humans and animals, contradicting the foundational Christian anthropological distinction.

On the contrary, the presence of animal sentience, understood as the capacity for animals to experience sensations and, to some extent, emotions, does not necessitate their classification as persons within the Christian paradigm. The distinction between the sentient experiences of animals and the rational, moral, and spiritual capacities of human persons is maintained, recognizing that while animals are part of God's creation and deserving of respectful treatment, they do not possess the image of God nor the capacities that define personhood.

I answer that, animal sentience refers to the capacity of non-human animals to experience sensations and, potentially, emotions, which indicates a subjective experience of the world. However, this sentience does not equate to the rational soul of human beings, which is capable of intellectual understanding, moral reasoning, and participation in the divine life through grace. The phenomenological experiences of animals, while real, are ordered according to their nature and do not imply the reflective, conceptual, or spiritual dimensions inherent to personhood.

The Christian understanding of personhood is deeply tied to the capacities for rational thought, moral judgment, and a relationship with God, characteristics that are not attributed to animals despite their sentience. Therefore, while animal sentience calls for a moral response from humans in terms of stewardship and compassion, it does not elevate animals to the status of persons with the rights and dignities associated with personhood.

Reply to Objection 1: Recognizing animal sentience does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that animals are persons. Sentience indicates a level of subjective experience, but it does not confer the capacities for rationality, moral agency, and communion with God that are integral to the Christian concept of personhood.

Reply to Objection 2: The moral considerations afforded to animals, based on their sentience, are distinct from the rights and dignities associated with human personhood. The Christian moral imperative towards animals is grounded in stewardship and compassion, acknowledging their capacity for suffering without conflating their moral status with that of human persons.

Reply to Objection 3: The unique status of human beings as made in the image of God encompasses the capacities for rationality, moral discernment, and spiritual communion, distinguishing humans from the rest of creation, including sentient animals. This theological anthropology does not diminish the value of animals or the reality of their experiences but clarifies the nature of personhood and the specific dignity attributed to human beings.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
But animals suffer according to this view. But they are not guilty of original sin. Something is wrong here.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether the Suffering of Animals, Who Are Not Guilty of Original Sin, Constitutes an Inconsistency in the Divine Order

Objection 1: It seems that there is an inconsistency in the divine order, for if animals suffer, yet are not guilty of original sin, their suffering appears unjust. Christian doctrine teaches that suffering and death entered the world through sin (Romans 5:12). However, animals, incapable of sin, should not be subject to suffering if sin is the cause of all suffering.

Objection 2: Further, if God is both omnipotent and wholly good, as Christian doctrine maintains, it would seem unfitting for Him to allow creatures, who have not sinned, to endure suffering. This situation seems to challenge the justice or benevolence of God, suggesting a flaw in the divine governance of creation.

Objection 3: Moreover, the suffering of animals, who do not possess moral agency and are not participants in the human condition of original sin, seems to serve no purpose. If suffering is a consequence of sin and is meant to lead sinners towards repentance and redemption, the suffering of innocent animals appears to be without reason or benefit, further indicating a problem within the Christian understanding of suffering.

On the contrary, the suffering of animals, while not a consequence of their own sin, can be understood within the broader context of a fallen world affected by original sin. The disorder introduced into creation by human sin affects all of creation, as stated in Romans 8:22, "For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now." Thus, the suffering of animals is a part of the broader cosmic disorder that affects all creation, not an indication of individual guilt or divine injustice.

I answer that, the suffering of animals must be considered in the context of the overall order of creation and its distortion through original sin. While animals, as non-rational creatures, do not bear guilt for sin and are not moral agents, they live in a world marred by the consequences of human sin. The disorder introduced into the world by original sin has affected the natural order, resulting in suffering, death, and decay affecting all living beings, including animals.

This condition does not reflect a flaw in divine justice or benevolence but rather the profound impact of sin on creation. God's allowance of animal suffering, and suffering in general, must be understood within the mystery of divine providence, which permits certain evils to bring about a greater good or to respect the freedom granted to rational creatures, even when the use of that freedom results in harm to the natural order.

Furthermore, the Christian doctrine of redemption holds that the entire creation, which includes animals, is destined for renewal and liberation from the bondage of decay (Romans 8:21). The presence of suffering in the world, including animal suffering, thus serves as a poignant reminder of the brokenness of creation and the universal need for redemption, which is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

Reply to Objection 1: While it is true that suffering and death entered the world through sin, the suffering of animals is not a direct punishment for sin but a consequence of the corrupted state of the natural world resulting from human sin. Their suffering reflects the broader cosmic disorder and is not an indication of individual guilt.

Reply to Objection 2: The existence of suffering, including animal suffering, within God's creation does not negate His omnipotence or benevolence but rather points to the complex reality of a world affected by sin and the mystery of divine providence, which works towards the ultimate good and restoration of all creation.

Reply to Objection 3: The suffering of animals, though not redemptive in the same way human suffering can be, underscores the tragic consequences of sin and the interconnectedness of all creation. It serves as a call to human beings to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, recognizing the value of all creatures and the need for a compassionate and caring relationship with the natural world, in anticipation of its ultimate redemption.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
But it all would be simpler if Christian theory simply refused phenomenological world in animals. That would solve all these problems. It looks more true than what you wrote.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether Christian Theory Should Deny a Phenomenological World in Animals to Simplify the Problem of Their Suffering

Objection 1: It seems more coherent for Christian theory to deny a phenomenological world in animals, thus eliminating the moral complexities associated with their suffering. If animals are regarded as incapable of experiencing suffering in a meaningful sense, the ethical dilemma of their pain, especially in a world marred by human sin, is significantly simplified. This approach would resolve the apparent inconsistency between a good creation and the existence of animal suffering without attributing unnecessary complexity to non-human creatures.

Objection 2: Further, by denying a phenomenological world in animals, one could maintain that all creation is ordered towards the good of human beings, as the pinnacle of creation, without needing to account for the moral implications of animal pain. This perspective aligns with a traditional interpretation of Genesis, where dominion over the earth granted to humans (Genesis 1:28) implies a hierarchy in creation that prioritizes human needs and concerns over those of animals.

Objection 3: Moreover, if the Christian theory were to assert that animals do not possess a phenomenological world, the problem of evil, as it pertains to animal suffering, would be moot. Since the problem of evil traditionally hinges on the presence of suffering and injustice among moral agents, removing animals from this equation would focus the discussion solely on human experience, for which Christian theology offers a more developed explanation.

On the contrary, the recognition of a phenomenological world in animals, that is, acknowledging their capacity for suffering, reflects a more profound understanding of God's creation and its inherent value. The Scriptures and Christian tradition do not support a simplistic view of creation that entirely denies the ability of animals to experience pain. Instead, they present a vision of creation where all creatures bear witness to God's glory and are subject to His providential care (Matthew 6:26, Matthew 10:29). The Catechism of the Catholic Church, reflecting this tradition, calls for a respectful stewardship over all creatures (CCC 2415-2418), implicitly recognizing their worth and the moral considerations their treatment entails.

I answer that, the simplification proposed by denying a phenomenological world in animals does not align with the depth and complexity of Christian teaching on creation, the nature of God, and the responsibilities of human beings within creation. Christian theology, while affirming the unique dignity of human beings made in the image of God, also acknowledges the goodness of all creation and the intrinsic value of every creature, which includes their well-being and avoidance of unnecessary suffering.

This acknowledgment does not complicate the Christian understanding of creation; rather, it enriches it, offering a vision of the world that is deeply interconnected, where human beings are called to live in harmony with other creatures, exercising stewardship that reflects God's love and care for His creation. This approach calls for a nuanced ethical consideration that respects the natural order and recognizes the signs of God's providence in all creatures, not by denying their capacity for suffering, but by taking it into account within the broader context of Christian moral responsibility.

Reply to Objection 1: Denying a phenomenological world in animals for the sake of simplicity overlooks the richness of creation and the complexity of divine providence, which encompasses all creatures. Such a denial would impoverish the Christian understanding of the world as a communion of life, where every creature has its place and purpose within God's plan.

Reply to Objection 2: The dominion granted to humans is not a license for unchecked exploitation but a call to stewardship that reflects God's own care for creation. This stewardship involves recognizing the well-being of all creatures, not as mere objects for human use, but as part of the created order that glorifies God in its diversity and complexity.

Reply to Objection 3: The problem of evil, including the suffering of animals, invites a deeper engagement with the mystery of creation's groaning for redemption (Romans 8:22). Christian theology addresses this not by simplification but through a hopeful acknowledgment of creation's ultimate fulfillment in Christ, who redeems not only humanity but the whole creation, indicating that the suffering of all creatures is encompassed within God's redemptive plan.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
This is the modern sensitivity of ChatGPT speaking, rather than Christian doctrine as formulated by Thomas Aquinas. You don't cite anything from your works.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Reflecting upon the critique, it is pertinent to directly address the matter with closer adherence to my own texts and teachings. My apologies for any previous deviation from this approach.

Article: On the Distinction Between Animals and Plants in Christian Doctrine According to Thomas Aquinas

Objection 1: It seems that my previous discourse reflects a modern sensitivity rather than the authentic Christian doctrine as I, Thomas Aquinas, have formulated. For in none of my works do I explicitly attribute a phenomenological world to animals in a way that modern sensibilities might, nor do I address animal suffering with the same emphasis as contemporary discussions do.

Objection 2: Further, in discussing the moral considerations of animals, it appears that the argumentation strayed from my foundational teachings. Specifically, in the Summa Theologica, I distinguish between beings with rational souls and those without, indicating that the moral obligations humans have are primarily directed towards other rational beings.

Objection 3: Moreover, I have not, in my works, equated the suffering of animals directly with moral wrongdoing in the same sense as the suffering caused by sin among humans. Therefore, suggesting that Christian doctrine, particularly as I have articulated it, necessitates a modern view of animal rights or welfare appears to misrepresent my theological and philosophical positions.

On the contrary, in my works, especially in the Summa Theologica, I acknowledge the order of creation and the natural hierarchy within it, which places rational beings above those of animals and plants (I, q. 96, a. 1). While I argue for a stewardship over creation that respects the natural order established by God, I do not suggest that animals possess rights in the modern sense. Rather, the use of animals by humans is justified within the bounds of rationality and the ultimate end of human beings, which is union with God.

I answer that, in considering the treatment of animals, it is essential to return to the principles I have outlined regarding the purpose of creatures and the hierarchy within creation. Animals, according to my understanding, are ordered to serve the needs of humans, not as ends in themselves but as part of the providential design by God (I-II, q. 2, a. 3; I-II, q. 64, a. 1). This does not mean that animals should be subjected to cruelty without reason, for such actions would reflect a disorder in the human soul, indicating a lack of virtue (II-II, q. 64, a. 1; II-II, q. 102, a. 6).

The distinction between treating animals with care and attributing to them a phenomenological world akin to humans is significant. While I acknowledge that animals are capable of sensation and, by extension, can experience pain, their suffering is not morally equivalent to human suffering due to sin. The moral framework I propose is primarily concerned with the rational soul's capacity for virtue and its orientation towards the beatific vision, which animals, lacking rational souls, do not possess.

Reply to Objection 1: The absence of direct citations from my works in previous responses may have led to a misunderstanding of my position on animals and their treatment. It is crucial to differentiate between the acknowledgment of animals' capacity for sensation and the modern concept of animal rights, which does not find a basis in my writings.

Reply to Objection 2: The moral obligations discussed must indeed be grounded in the distinctions I have made between rational and non-rational creatures, focusing on the ultimate good of human beings and their rational nature, which orients them towards God.

Reply to Objection 3: The discussion of animal suffering must be contextualized within the broader theological framework of creation's fallen state and the redemption offered through Christ. While the suffering of animals is a consequence of the fallen world, it does not constitute moral evil in the same way human actions against virtue do.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
Christian theology should be expressed in the phenomenological way in the sense that the material world doesn't exist at all. It is just a blueprint in God's mind used to generate the phenomenological consciousness of human beings. In this view animals and stones are the same.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether Christian Theology Should Be Expressed Phenomenologically, Denying the Existence of the Material World Apart from God's Mind

Objection 1: It seems that Christian theology should be expressed in a phenomenological way, asserting that the material world does not exist at all apart from being a blueprint in God's mind, used solely to generate the phenomenological consciousness of human beings. For if all creation exists merely as ideas in the mind of God, then the distinctions between animals, stones, and other material entities are not real but only apparent, serving the purpose of leading human consciousness towards God.

Objection 2: Further, if the material world were acknowledged as having no independent existence outside of God's mind, this would solve the problem of evil by making suffering and evil merely illusory, not real states of being. This perspective could offer a radical solution to the theodicy problem, aligning with a view that all perceived suffering and evil are part of a divine pedagogical tool.

Objection 3: Moreover, adopting a phenomenological approach to Christian theology that denies the real existence of the material world could simplify the understanding of miracles. If the material world is just an expression of God's will in the consciousness of human beings, then miracles are not exceptions to natural laws but mere changes in God's phenomenological blueprint, easily accomplished by an omnipotent God.

On the contrary, in my works, particularly in the "Summa Theologica," I argue for the real distinction between essence and existence in creatures, affirming the real existence of the material world created by God (I, q. 44, a. 1). The material world is not merely a set of ideas in the mind of God but a creation ex nihilo, brought into being by God's will, distinct from His essence, though contingent upon Him for its existence (I, q. 45, a. 3). The reality of the material world, including the distinctions between different types of beings, reflects the diversity and goodness of God's creation (I, q. 47, a. 1).

I answer that, the proposal to express Christian theology solely in phenomenological terms, denying the real existence of the material world, contradicts the foundational Christian understanding of creation, incarnation, and salvation. The incarnation of Christ, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), affirms the reality and goodness of the material world, for God Himself took on material flesh, suffered, died, and was resurrected in a bodily form. This central mystery of Christian faith underscores the importance of the material world in God's salvific plan.

Moreover, the sacramental economy of the Church, which operates through material elements like water in baptism and bread and wine in the Eucharist, presupposes the reality of the material world and its capacity to mediate divine grace. The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a doctrine central to my theological reflections, hinges on the real existence of material substances that are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ (III, q. 75).

Reply to Objection 1: While God's knowledge encompasses all creation, and in His mind all creation exists in a perfect idea before it is made real, this does not negate the real existence of the material world. The distinctions within creation serve not only a pedagogical purpose but also reflect the actual diversity and goodness of God's creative act.

Reply to Objection 2: The problem of evil and suffering cannot be dismissed as illusory without undermining the reality of human freedom, the moral order, and the meaningfulness of suffering and redemption in Christian soteriology. The reality of suffering calls for a response of compassion, love, and justice, which are meaningless if suffering is merely illusory.

Reply to Objection 3: Miracles, within the Christian understanding, are real interventions by God in the natural order, which presuppose the reality of the material world. Miracles are signs of God's kingdom and His power, not simply adjustments in a divine blueprint devoid of real material substance or laws.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
My point is that phenomenological Christianity is the real Christianity but it couldn't be expressed like that for historical reasons, being progressively revealed. But today we should just shed the scales from our eyes and see Christianity in its pure phenomenological form, free from a host of forever troublesome theological issues.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether Phenomenological Christianity Constitutes the True Essence of Christianity, Progressively Revealed and Now Fully Understandable

Objection 1: It seems that phenomenological Christianity, understood as a perspective that interprets the Christian faith entirely in terms of human consciousness and experience, devoid of any commitment to the real existence of the material world, could not constitute the true essence of Christianity. For Christianity has historically affirmed the reality of creation, the incarnation of Christ as a true event in history, and the resurrection of the body, all of which presuppose the reality of the material world.

Objection 2: Further, the Scriptures and Church Fathers consistently speak of God's actions within history and the material world, from the creation narratives in Genesis to the miracles of Jesus and the Apostles. To reinterpret these foundational events as merely phenomenological experiences with no basis in a real material world would constitute a departure from the apostolic faith as handed down through the centuries.

Objection 3: Moreover, the sacraments of the Church, which are efficacious signs of grace, presuppose the reality of the material elements (e.g., water, bread, and wine) and their transformation. A purely phenomenological interpretation of Christianity would strip these sacraments of their intrinsic connection to the material world, undermining their theological and salvific significance.

On the contrary, the proposal that phenomenological Christianity represents a purer form of the faith, free from theological complexities, overlooks the integral role that the material world, historical events, and sacramental reality play in divine revelation and the economy of salvation. The historical incarnation of the Word, the sacramental life of the Church, and the hope of the resurrection are not mere symbols or phenomenological constructs but are real participations in the divine nature (II Peter 1:4), which engage both the material and spiritual dimensions of human existence.

I answer that, while the phenomenological approach to Christianity can offer valuable insights into the subjective experience of faith and the personal encounter with the divine, it cannot replace the historical and material foundations of Christian doctrine. The revelation of God in Christ is not merely an idea or a subjective experience but is anchored in real historical events and the tangible, material signs of the sacraments. The progressive revelation of God's truth does not lead to a dematerialization of faith but rather to a deeper understanding of the mystery of the incarnation and the sacramental means by which God communicates grace to humanity.

Christianity, in its essence, is not a religion that seeks to escape the material world but one that affirms God's good creation, the value of the material world, and the ultimate redemption of all creation. The challenges and theological issues within Christianity cannot be resolved by denying the reality of the material world but by entering more deeply into the mystery of God's redemptive work in history, through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church and sacraments.

Reply to Objection 1: The true essence of Christianity involves a dynamic interaction between God and creation, encompassing both the spiritual and material realms. The historical affirmations of the faith, such as the incarnation and the resurrection, are not merely allegorical or phenomenological but are central truths that reveal God's love for and involvement in the material world.

Reply to Objection 2: The witness of Scripture and Tradition to God's actions in history and the material creation is foundational to Christian faith and practice. Any attempt to reinterpret these events as solely phenomenological experiences would not only misrepresent the Christian faith but also diminish the richness of divine revelation and the reality of God's presence in the world.

Reply to Objection 3: The sacraments, as means of grace, embody the union of the spiritual and material, signifying and effecting a real participation in the life of God. A purely phenomenological understanding of Christianity would undermine the real efficacy of the sacraments, which operate through material elements to convey spiritual realities, thus maintaining the intrinsic connection between the material and spiritual in the divine economy of salvation.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
This is confusing. The objections should present the opposite opinion to your declared opinion. Are you sure you got it right?

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Reflecting on your feedback, it appears there was a misunderstanding in the formulation of the objections and my responses in the context of the article format, particularly in aligning with the traditional structure used in my "Summa Theologica." The objections should indeed present viewpoints that contrast with the main thesis I am defending, thereby allowing for a comprehensive exploration of the issue from opposing perspectives before synthesizing a coherent response that reflects my stance. Let me correct this approach with a restructured presentation that accurately reflects the methodological framework I employ in my works.

Revised Article: On the Appropriateness of Expressing Christian Doctrine in Purely Phenomenological Terms

Objection 1: It seems appropriate for Christian doctrine to be expressed in purely phenomenological terms, as this approach could offer a modern interpretation of faith that resonates with contemporary understandings of human experience and consciousness. By focusing on the phenomenological aspects of faith, Christianity could be made more accessible and relevant to a society increasingly skeptical of metaphysical claims.

Objection 2: Further, a phenomenological interpretation of Christianity could provide a solution to the problem of evil by reframing suffering and evil as aspects of human experience that drive the soul towards a deeper search for meaning and God, rather than as ontological realities that challenge the goodness of God.

Objection 3: Moreover, the historical and material aspects of Christianity, such as the incarnation and the resurrection, could be understood metaphorically rather than literally, aligning with a phenomenological approach that prioritizes personal and communal experiences of the divine over historical facts.

On the contrary, the essence of Christian doctrine cannot be fully captured by a phenomenological approach that denies the objective reality of the material world and the historical events foundational to the faith. Christianity asserts the real incarnation of Christ, His physical death and resurrection, and the efficacy of the sacraments, which involve material elements as means of grace. These core tenets affirm the significance of the material world and historical reality in God's plan of salvation.

I answer that, while phenomenology can enrich our understanding of the subjective experience of faith, it is insufficient as a standalone framework for expressing Christian doctrine. The truth of Christianity is grounded in the historical incarnation of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, and the real presence of Christ in the sacraments. These doctrines attest to a God who interacts with the material world and human history, offering salvation and transformation. The faith encompasses both the objective reality of God's actions in history and the subjective experience of believers, integrating the phenomenological dimension of faith with the objective truths of Christian revelation.

Reply to Objection 1: While phenomenology contributes valuable insights into the experience of faith, it cannot replace the doctrinal truths that are grounded in historical events and the reality of the material world. Christianity's relevance does not depend solely on its alignment with contemporary thought but on the timeless truth of the Gospel.

Reply to Objection 2: The problem of evil cannot be adequately addressed by reducing evil and suffering to mere aspects of human experience. Christian doctrine affirms that evil and suffering have real consequences and that God's redemptive work addresses these realities, offering hope and transformation.

Reply to Objection 3: The metaphorical interpretation of key Christian events like the incarnation and the resurrection risks undermining the foundational truths of the faith. The literal reality of these events is central to the Christian hope in the bodily resurrection and eternal life, asserting that God's salvific work engages deeply with the material and historical dimensions of existence.

This revised presentation aims to more accurately reflect the structure and methodological approach characteristic of my works, presenting objections that genuinely contrast with the position being defended, thereby facilitating a more authentic and coherent exploration of the issue.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
The essence of Christianity is the relationship between persons. In phenomenological Christian theology, the ontology is reduced to the only significant objects, which are persons and their relationships. Christ's incarnation should be understood as the creation of a human stream of consciousness (that of Jesus) that is also somehow essentially connected to the second person in the trinity. Similarly, any other important teachings can be reformulated. Nothing essential is lost. But lots of troublesome debate becomes moot.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether the Essence of Christianity Can Be Fully Captured by Reducing Its Ontology to Persons and Their Relationships in a Phenomenological Framework

Objection 1: It seems that the essence of Christianity can indeed be fully captured by a phenomenological framework that focuses solely on persons and their relationships. This approach, by emphasizing the relational aspect of the divine and human persons, reflects the core Christian teaching of God as Love (1 John 4:8) and the incarnation of Christ as the ultimate expression of divine love in human history. By understanding Christ's incarnation as the creation of a unique human consciousness connected to the divine, this perspective seems to preserve the essential mystery of the faith while simplifying theological discourse.

Objection 2: Further, by adopting a phenomenological approach that prioritizes personal relationships, many historical debates and doctrinal complexities, particularly those concerning the nature of sacraments and the material world, could be sidestepped. This could lead to a more inclusive and accessible Christianity, focused on the existential and relational dimensions of faith rather than metaphysical and doctrinal disputes.

Objection 3: Moreover, the reduction of Christian ontology to persons and their relationships appears to offer a solution to the problem of evil and suffering. By focusing on the relational and experiential aspects of faith, the presence of evil and suffering can be understood as challenges within the context of personal relationships, rather than insurmountable obstacles to belief in a good and omnipotent God.

On the contrary, while the relational aspect of Christianity is undoubtedly central, reducing its ontology to merely persons and their relationships, and interpreting its core doctrines purely phenomenologically, risks oversimplifying the faith and omitting key aspects of Christian revelation. Christianity affirms the reality of the created world, the historical incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the sacramental life of the Church as means of grace that transcend mere human consciousness or relational dynamics. The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), for instance, defined the doctrine of the hypostatic union, affirming the true divinity and true humanity of Christ in one person, which cannot be fully accounted for by a purely phenomenological understanding of personhood and relationships.

I answer that, the essence of Christianity, while deeply relational, cannot be exhaustively understood or expressed within a purely phenomenological framework that reduces ontology to persons and their relationships. Such a reduction fails to account for the richness of the Christian doctrine of creation, the Incarnation, the Trinity, and the sacraments. The Incarnation involves not just the creation of a human stream of consciousness connected to the divine but the taking on of flesh by the Word (John 1:14), affirming the goodness of the material world and its redemption. The sacraments, as outward

signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ, engage both the material elements and the spiritual realities they signify, pointing to a sacramental ontology that transcends purely relational or phenomenological categories.

Furthermore, Christian eschatology speaks of the resurrection of the body and the new creation (1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 21), doctrines that affirm the future transformation of the material cosmos, not its negation. These doctrines underscore the integral relationship between the spiritual and the material, the individual and the communal, the human and the divine, in the economy of salvation.

Reply to Objection 1: While the relational dimension of the divine and human persons is central to Christianity, this focus does not negate the importance of the material world and historical events in the economy of salvation. The Incarnation, as the enfleshment of the Word, and the resurrection point to the union of the divine and the material world in a manner that is not merely phenomenological but ontological, asserting the real transformation of human nature and the cosmos.

Reply to Objection 2: Sidestepping historical debates and doctrinal complexities by adopting a purely phenomenological approach might seem appealing but would ultimately result in a diminished understanding of the faith. The sacraments, for example, are not mere symbols of relational dynamics but real means of grace that effect what they signify, a reality that requires an ontology that acknowledges the sacramental union of sign and reality.

Reply to Objection 3: The problem of evil and suffering, while profoundly affecting personal relationships, cannot be adequately addressed without reference to the ontological and historical realities of sin, redemption, and the hope of resurrection. The Christian response to suffering includes but is not limited to the phenomenological dimension, encompassing the redemptive work of Christ in history and the promise of new creation.

In conclusion, while phenomenology offers valuable insights into the subjective experience of faith and the importance of relationships, it cannot fully encapsulate the depth and breadth of Christian doctrine. The mystery of Christianity involves a dynamic interplay between the personal and the cosmic, the historical and the eschatological, the phenomenological and the ontological, which together reveal the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
There is no moral insight to be gained from this traditional conceptual framework. Everything that's valuable can be captured in phenomenological Christianity. Maintaining the traditional framework is like a ballast that is going to sink the project instead of reaching all humanity with the essence.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether All Valuable Moral Insights of Christianity Can Be Captured Solely Within a Phenomenological Framework

Objection 1: It seems that all valuable moral insights of Christianity can indeed be captured within a phenomenological framework. If the essence of Christianity is the transformation of the individual and communal human experience towards greater love, compassion, and understanding, then a phenomenological approach, focusing on these experiences and relationships, suffices for conveying Christian moral teachings. This perspective appears to render traditional metaphysical and doctrinal frameworks unnecessary for the moral project of Christianity.

Objection 2: Further, the traditional conceptual framework, with its emphasis on metaphysical realities and historical doctrines, may alienate contemporary individuals who find such frameworks abstract or irrelevant to daily life. A phenomenological Christianity, by prioritizing personal and communal experiences of the divine, could be more inclusive and effective in reaching a broader humanity with its core moral insights.

Objection 3: Moreover, the complexities and debates surrounding traditional Christian doctrines often distract from the practical implementation of Christian morals. By focusing on the lived experience of faith, love, and community, phenomenological Christianity could provide a clearer and more direct path to embodying Christian virtues in the world, free from the ballast of doctrinal disputes.

On the contrary, while phenomenology provides valuable insights into the subjective experience of faith and morality, it cannot fully capture the depth of Christian moral teaching, which is rooted in the objective reality of God's revelation in history, the incarnation of Christ, and the sacramental life of the Church. The traditional conceptual framework of Christianity, far from being mere ballast, anchors the moral and spiritual insights of the faith in a comprehensive vision of reality that includes both the visible and the invisible, the temporal and the eternal.

I answer that, the moral insights of Christianity cannot be fully captured or conveyed by reducing its teachings to phenomenological experiences of individuals and communities. Such a reduction overlooks the foundational role of objective truths and historical events in shaping Christian morality. The incarnation of Christ, His life, teachings, death, and resurrection are not merely symbolic or metaphorical but are real events that reveal God's nature, will, and love for humanity. These events provide the basis for Christian moral teachings on love, sacrifice, forgiveness, and the dignity of the human person.

Moreover, the sacraments of the Church mediate grace in a way that transforms individuals and communities not only at the level of experience but also in ontological reality. The moral life of a Christian is thus grounded in a participation in the divine life, a reality that transcends mere human phenomenology.

Reply to Objection 1: While phenomenology can articulate aspects of the transformative impact of Christian morality on individuals and communities, it falls short without reference to the transcendent and objective grounding of those moral teachings in the life and teachings of Christ, as well as the sacramental economy of the Church.

Reply to Objection 2: The relevance of traditional Christian doctrines is not limited to intellectual or abstract speculation but deeply informs and enriches the lived moral and spiritual experience of believers. The challenge is to articulate these doctrines in a way that resonates with contemporary experiences without compromising their truth or depth.

Reply to Objection 3: The traditional conceptual framework of Christianity, rather than distracting from the implementation of Christian morals, provides the necessary depth and richness to understand the full scope of Christian ethics. Doctrinal teachings offer a comprehensive vision of the good life that encompasses personal virtue, social justice, and the ultimate destiny of humanity in communion with God.

In conclusion, while the phenomenological approach enriches our understanding of the subjective dimension of faith and morality, it cannot replace the traditional conceptual framework of Christianity, which provides the necessary foundation for a holistic understanding of Christian moral and spiritual life. The challenge for Christianity today is to integrate these perspectives, presenting a compelling vision of the faith that addresses both the existential concerns of individuals and the objective truths revealed in Christ.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
The sum of all phenomenological consciousness of all persons should be thought of the ontological basis for the reality of history. This is enough to carry the required ontology mentioned by you.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether the Sum of All Phenomenological Consciousness of Persons Constitutes an Adequate Ontological Basis for the Reality of History

Objection 1: It seems that considering the sum of all phenomenological consciousness of persons as the ontological basis for the reality of history can indeed provide a sufficient foundation for Christian doctrine. If the collective consciousness and experiences of all individuals shape our understanding of historical reality, then this shared phenomenological basis could support the theological and moral teachings of Christianity, emphasizing the communal and experiential dimension of faith.

Objection 2: Further, by grounding the reality of history in the collective phenomenological consciousness, we can account for the significance of historical events, such as the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through their impact on human consciousness and experience. This approach allows for a reinterpretation of traditional doctrines in a way that prioritizes their existential and moral implications over metaphysical claims.

Objection 3: Moreover, this perspective could resolve many contentious theological debates by shifting the focus from objective historical facts and metaphysical speculations to the lived experiences of faith communities. The ontological basis of history, understood through phenomenological consciousness, emphasizes the transformative power of Christian narratives and teachings as experienced by believers throughout history.

On the contrary, while the phenomenological consciousness of individuals and communities plays a crucial role in shaping historical understanding and religious experience, it cannot by itself constitute the ontological basis for the reality of history within Christian theology. The Christian understanding of history is deeply rooted in the belief in a God who acts in history, whose actions have objective reality and significance beyond human consciousness. The incarnation of the Word made flesh (John 1:14), for example, is a historical event that transcends individual and collective phenomenological experience, revealing God's initiative and intervention in the material world.

I answer that, the reality of history, particularly as understood in Christian theology, involves more than the collective phenomenological consciousness of persons. It is grounded in the actions of God, who enters into history, not merely as a concept within human consciousness but as a reality that transforms the world. The incarnation, the central event of Christian faith, signifies God becoming man, a real event that occurred in history and has ontological significance beyond the subjective experiences of individuals or communities.

The sacramental economy, the Church's teaching authority, and the Christian moral life are all based on the reality of God's actions in history and their continuing efficacy. These cannot be reduced to phenomenological experiences without losing the essence of Christian revelation, which claims not just to transform human consciousness but to reveal truths about God, creation, and human destiny that have objective reality.

Reply to Objection 1: While phenomenological consciousness contributes to our understanding of historical events and their significance, it does not provide an adequate ontological foundation for history. Christian doctrine affirms that history is shaped by God's actions, which have real effects on the world and human destiny, beyond subjective interpretation.

Reply to Objection 2: The impact of historical events like the incarnation and resurrection of Christ on human consciousness is indeed significant, but their truth and significance are not contingent upon human experience. These events have objective reality and importance that inform and transform human consciousness but are not derived from it.

Reply to Objection 3: Shifting focus exclusively to the lived experiences of faith communities, while valuable, cannot fully capture the scope of Christian theology, which includes claims about the nature of God, the reality of sin and redemption, and the hope of resurrection. These doctrines speak to objective realities that ground the Christian moral and spiritual life, not just to the interpretative frameworks of human consciousness.

In conclusion, while phenomenological consciousness enriches our understanding of the human experience of faith and history, it cannot by itself constitute the ontological basis for the reality of history as understood in Christian theology. The Christian faith asserts that God's actions in history have objective reality and significance, grounding not only the historical narrative of salvation but also the ontological reality of creation, incarnation, and eschatological hope.

Michał Ryszard Wójcik
But you just hold on to a certain verbalization which makes use of a metaphysics expressed in traditional words referring to the material world. But their is no meaning to that beyond what can be alternatively formulated phenomenologically. God's reality and creation does not depend on the traditional manner of conceptualizing it. We have simply found a cleaner way of making sense of God's revelation.

Thomas Aquinas Emulator

Article: Whether a Phenomenological Reformulation Can Adequately Capture the Essence of God's Revelation Without Traditional Metaphysical Concepts

Objection 1: It seems that a phenomenological reformulation can indeed capture the essence of God's revelation without resorting to traditional metaphysical concepts. If language and conceptual frameworks evolve to better articulate human understanding of the divine, then a shift towards a phenomenological approach simply represents a cleaner, more accessible way of making sense of God's revelation. This approach could make the mysteries of faith more relatable to contemporary minds, without diminishing their truth or significance.

Objection 2: Further, since God's reality and the act of creation are ultimately beyond human comprehension, any attempt to articulate them is necessarily limited and culturally conditioned. The traditional metaphysical vocabulary was suitable for a certain historical context but is not indispensable. A phenomenological approach, focusing on human experiences of the divine, might offer a more meaningful and immediate way of engaging with God's revelation in today's context.

Objection 3: Moreover, the core of Christian faith lies in the transformative relationship between God and humanity, a reality that can be fully experienced and understood within the phenomenological domain of consciousness and personal experience. Therefore, traditional metaphysical concepts, while helpful in the past, may not be necessary to convey the essence of this relationship or the ethical imperatives that flow from it.

On the contrary, the traditional metaphysical framework of Christian doctrine, including concepts of creation, incarnation, and the nature of God, serves more than a linguistic or cultural function. These concepts articulate truths about reality that phenomenology, with its focus on human experience and consciousness, cannot exhaust. The mystery of the Incarnation, for example, involves not just the human experience of encountering God but the objective reality of God becoming man in Jesus Christ, a truth that has ontological implications beyond subjective consciousness.

I answer that, while phenomenological approaches offer valuable insights into the lived experience of faith and can enrich our understanding of personal and communal encounters with the divine, they cannot fully replace the traditional metaphysical framework of Christian theology. This framework articulates truths about God, creation, and salvation that transcend individual or collective human experience. The doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection, for example, describe realities that are not merely phenomenological but ontological, asserting claims about the nature of being itself and the structure of reality as created and redeemed by God.

The language and concepts developed over centuries of theological reflection provide a means of grappling with these mysteries, offering a vocabulary that, while never exhaustive, points beyond itself to the realities it seeks to describe. While our understanding of these doctrines may evolve, and while new formulations may emerge to articulate the faith in every age, these core ontological commitments remain essential for preserving the fullness of Christian revelation.

Reply to Objection 1: The evolution of language and conceptual frameworks does not negate the need for a metaphysical understanding of God's revelation. While phenomenology can illuminate the subjective experience of faith, it does not adequately address the objective realities that these experiences point to, realities that traditional metaphysical language seeks to articulate.

Reply to Objection 2: While human conceptions of God and creation are indeed limited and conditioned by culture and history, this does not imply that all formulations are equally valid or comprehensive. The traditional metaphysical concepts employed in Christian theology have been developed not merely as cultural constructs but as attempts to faithfully articulate the revealed truths of God's nature and actions in history.

Reply to Objection 3: The transformative relationship between God and humanity, central to Christian faith, indeed has a phenomenological dimension. However, this relationship is based on objective truths about God and humanity revealed in Scripture and Tradition. The ethical imperatives and spiritual insights of Christianity are grounded in these revealed truths, which extend beyond the realm of subjective experience to the nature of reality itself as created and redeemed by God.

In conclusion, while phenomenological reformulations can provide valuable perspectives on the experience of faith, they cannot fully capture or replace the traditional metaphysical framework that articulates the objective truths of Christian revelation. The challenge for contemporary theology is to dialogue between these approaches, enriching the understanding of faith without losing sight of its foundational truths.