Eduardo Pérez Pueyo
DOI:  10.17421/2498-9746-05-18

From Karol Wojtyła’s works (mainly, The acting person, 1969), the spanish philosopher Juan Manuel Burgos (1961) proposes in his works La experiencia integral (2015) and La vía de la experiencia o la salida del laberinto (2018) a new conception of human experience that is radically separated from empiricism and stands out for structuring at all times the sensitive and the intellectual. This understanding of experience is called the “integral experience method” and helps to build a personalist philosophy in which, based on experience, the human being is revealed as a unity in which both the corporeal and the spiritual occur simultaneously. First, we will comment on the vision of modernity about experience (n. 1), and then a brief presentation of the personalist philosophy will be made (n. 2). Next, the “integral experience method” will be presented (n.3); and it will be shown how, from this vision of experience, the human person reveals himself as a bodily, psychic and spiritual unit (nn. 4-5). Finally, an assessment of Juan Manuel Burgos’ proposal will be made (n. 6).

Keywords: experience, person, body, spirit, Juan Manuel Burgos, Karol Wojtyła

1. Introduction

Experience is a typically human phenomenon, because it has this being as its centre: it is its protagonist, and experience helps it to know itself and the world in which it lives. However, throughout the history of thought there have been several ways of understanding human experience. Here it is not a question of enumerating them all, but one could assert that one of the most widespread in the present moment is that which comes from modern philosophy (especially that of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries). In front of it, surpassing it and picking up some of its achievements, Juan Manuel Burgos has developed a new conception of experience, which he describes as “integral” and which he presents mainly in two works: La experiencia integral (2015)[1], and La vía de la experiencia o la salida del laberinto (2018)[2].

2. Modern conception of experience

“Modern” proposals are often divided between rationalists and empiricists. Beyond how far they may seem at first sight, however, both schools agree that the human subject as such loses prominence in the elaboration of experience because it becomes a receptacle for stimuli. These stimuli serve, either to awaken the ideas that the human being possesses in an innate way (rationalism), or to awaken the mental machine that will elaborate the stimuli to form the ideas (empiricism)[3]. Either one or the other, it is interesting to note that both schools promote an understanding of experience as an accumulation of stimuli, which stands out for several aspects:

  • The stimuli appear as punctual moments without a temporal connection between them.

  • The stimuli appear qualitatively equal, and only have a higher value according to their quantitative intensity.

  • There is no real interaction between the human subject and the world where it lives, because other beings have only a stimulating value, so that they remain external to human subjectivity: once they stimulate, the inner machine is put into operation, whether to remember, whether to build.

  • The experience can be qualified as “richer” the more stimuli it accumulates.

Consequently, in the modern understanding of experience, this one appears as a point moment at the beginning of knowledge, and stands out for the role of sensitivity at this time. On the other hand, the human being remains external to reality, since it stimulates the human subject, but later it is not necessary[4].

Precisely because the distinction between the personal subject and the world is so marked, some doubts arise: if the stimuli are so punctual and disconnected, it will have to be the human mind that organizes them, so that human subjectivity is involved in the experience[5]. How is this possible if the interiority of the human person is so different from the material presented to him? How to know that this material is real and not the result of pure fantasy? On the other hand, how does the human person know itself? The knowledge that it has of itself, will it not be rather the fantasy image that it has elaborated of itself? It is as if the person did nothing but experiment, and yet remain in a nebula[6].

3. The personalism of the twentieth century

The twentieth century saw the birth of a deeper reflection about the human person, giving rise to all kinds of thinkers who could be qualified as “personalists”. They come from diverse traditions, but it seems as if the experience in a world torn by wars would have led them to try to recover that interest for the person. In short, it is legitimate to think that perhaps the blurring of the person between the panorama of stimulating experiments would have led to the explosion of so much warlike conflict.

In a certain way, the following parallelism could be drawn: just as the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America and the encounter with the people who lived there, forced to reflect on the human being and his rights[7]; the scientific and technological achievements of the twentieth century, together with its constant world and local wars, have brought the person back to the forefront. Indeed, it is surprising that the same being that experiences, builds, improves and grows, is also the one that degrades and annihilates the world where it lives and its inhabitants. Who is this being? How does it appear so disconnected from its congeners?

Many are the reflections about the person in the twentieth century, but in the twenty-first century Juan Manuel Burgos seems to have gone further to develop a method for personal philosophy starting from Karol Wojtyła’s philosophy, and specifically his work The acting person (1969)[8]. This method supposes a new conception of the experience that he has called integral experience.

4. The integral experience method

The proposal of integral experience understands that “experience is the primary and living process by which the person relates to the world”[9], and intrinsically linked to it is the comprehension of that experience, which consists of “cognitive consolidation, elevation to express knowledge of the experiences that every person accumulates”[10].

4.1 Experience: significant personal activity

In experience, “the whole person is involved in experimentation: the body, the senses, the emotions, the intelligence, the heart”[11]. And thus, by means of its daily action, it is confronted “with existence in its significant dimension. I live, and as I live, I experience myself and reality as structures of meaning that make up my existence”[12]. Therefore, Burgos can define the experience as a “significant personal activity”[13].

When making experience, or “experiencing”[14], the subject lives and coexists in a world, so that, through its livings, it is already linked at all times with reality in a direct and primordial way. The livings already “have a cognitive load, but initially, it is not objectified, but given in a primary and original way”[15]. The objectification will be carried out later, when the subject understands its experience.

In experience there is already a discovery of the complexity of the real, because we can distinguish some more subjective aspects, more intimate and personal, from others more objective and external; but at the same time the subject lives it all in a simultaneous way, in which the subjective and the objective are interwoven, the intimate and the external, so that they influence each other. An example of this may be affections, in which there are contact with reality, corporeality, personal history with their relationships, insertion into a culture and tradition, and other aspects.

This happens because in the livings are given both “the experience of the self and the experience of man”[16]: the experience that the human being has of itself, of its interiority and its subjectivity (of its self: “I”); and the experience it has of its contact (as a man) with the world, with other people. This interconnection is performed through the own corporeity of the subject, in which both its affectivity (where the biological and the spiritual intertwine[17]) intervene, as well as the empathy it establishes with other human subjects, which allows somehow to enter into their interiority[18]. In this way, “man never experiences anything external to it without, in some way, experiencing itself simultaneously”[19].

In experience, the human person is living the reality, since it already “grasps the real in all its essential, objective and subjective depth”[20]. This capture is possible because in the human process of knowledge, there is already from the beginning a vertebration between sensitivity and intelligence. Thus, the experience’s integral conception of which we are speaking, “moving away from the classical scheme that considers that the knowledge begins with the contents provided by the senses on which the intelligence acts afterwards; understands that, from the beginning, it is, together, sensitive and intellectual”[21].

4.2 Comprehension: from living experience to explicit knowledge

The experience, which has a living character, only leaves a mark on the person when this person returns to it, reflects and tries to comprehend it. The comprehension consists, then, in the cognitive formulation of the livings[22], and is carried out through a process of “consolidation”[23], which, to put it in a simple way, makes the livings “settle”, so they can be compared with each other, recognizing common elements and forming certain “units of meaning”[24], which help to communicate with other people. In short, the process of comprehension is about “transforming the living experience into explicit knowledge”[25], which is done through two operations: induction and reduction (or inquiry, or exploration)[26].

4.2.1 Induction

Induction consists of “the discovery of the essential elements that distinguish or identify certain type of realities”[27], so that the person finds a “qualitative identity”, or “essential sameness”[28], among a multiplicity of facts. Here we must point out (Burgos does so) that Wojtyła understands induction in a sense more akin to that of Aristotle than that proposed by modern positivism, so that it is about discovering the unity of meaning internal to the facts themselves, and not so much of a generalization. So the experience would not be richer for the accumulation of facts, but for the meaning those facts offer:

It is not about Mill’s positivist induction, which is based on an argumentative process of generalization: if this has happened so many times, it will generally be so; but of an intellectual comprehension of the unity of meaning, that is, of the discovery of an internal unity in the facts that, therefore, does not depend numerically on the quantity in which they occur. [For example,] to capture the proper relationship or unity between the person and its action is not a matter of repetition or accumulation of facts of experience, but of intellectual comprehension of the internal relationship that binds them[29].

The discovery of units of meaning is key when it comes to communicating and sharing one’s experiences among subjects. Certainly, a person cannot fully transmit everything that happens inside itself, but the power to find the units of meaning that identify the experiences, helps intersubjective communication[30].

4.2.2 Reduction, inquiry or exploration

After induction, where the subject has found the units of meaning of its livings, it comes the process of reduction or inquiry, which penetrates “deeper and deeper into the content of experience”[31], explains, clarifies and interprets it[32]. This moment of reduction does not consist in an operation of abstraction because, for the integral experience method and for Wojtyła, this entails a separation of experience[33]. Reduction is, rather, an exploration that delves into reality, plunging into experience to comprehend the units of meaning that induction has provided. If in induction, the subject has grasped the unity of meaning, in reduction it tries to clarify it and interpret it in relation to individual experiences. In this way, it is always in relation to experience, and it is never abandoned[34]. This is what Burgos declares in La experiencia integral:

In experience, everything is there. Experience is not a superficial-sensitive fact, experience gives us reality in all its depth; therefore, we should never leave it (hence the immanent character not only of induction but of reduction). But, in spite of this, and paradoxically, to a certain extent there is no other way but to ‘leave’ the experience to interpret it or clarify it. It is not the same to understand that to experiment. Comprehension is outside of experience, maintains a distance with it and, in that sense, transcends it. But this exit, necessary and beneficial, because it allows to interpret and clarify the experience, can only be provisional and partial. We leave the experience, but to analyze the experience (that is why we are never completely out) and to return to it, to comprehend it better and more deeply[35].

And he reasserts in La vía de la experiencia:

The comprehension is immanent and, at the same time, transcendent to the experience. This paradoxical expression has a very concrete meaning, although it may be difficult to specify the structural details. It means that comprehension is different from experience, but not radically different. We are not facing an independent intellectual step. It is only a different way of dealing with the significance that experience brings us. It does so in a vital, existential, continuous way, while comprehension elaborates, fixes, explains and clarifies this significance through its two basic processes, induction and exploration. But it does not produce, ultimately, more than elaborate or reworked experience. The Original Source [experience] always has the last word[36].

Once the reduction is made, the cognitive aspect of experience ends somehow, but the person continues living from experience, because the intersubjective communication that was already beginning in induction, needs to express to other people what it has understood, and get rich with what they express[37].

Next, we will try to see how this vision of experience reveals the complexity of personal unity, which can be understood in terms of corporeal-spiritual unity.

5. The integral experience method reveals the complexity of personal unity

To understand how experience shows the person as a bodily and spiritual being, it is convenient to go to the work that serves as the beginning to the proposal of the integral experience method. In particular, Karol Wojtyła concludes The acting person’s Chapter VI with a section entitled: “The person’s integration in action and the soul-body relation”[38].

When the person acts, it shows how it is addressing other beings. This indicates that there is a movement of transcendence in it, through which it comes out of itself and goes beyond itself, either because it needs it to fill some gap, or because it is the logical conclusion of its inner richness (and the latter seems to us to be the most radical foundation of transcendence in action). On the other hand, together to that movement of transcendence, Wojtyła points out that another movement of integration can be detected, by which the person, through his action, manages to internally vertebrate itself. This dynamism of integration reveals how human unity is full of complexity, and although in birth there is already that unity, however, that unity must be worked throughout life to integrate all the somatic, psychic, consciential, affective and spiritual dimensions of the person. The discovery of human being’s inner complexity does not imply for Wojtyła that the existence of the soul and the body is necessarily concluded[39]:

Integration not only brings into view the unity of various dynamisms in the action of the person but also discloses the structures and layers of the complexity of the human being. The different layers of the psychosomatic complexity were mentioned on various occasions in the course of the analysis of integration, but obviously to show the psychosomatic complexity in man is by no means equivalent to disclosing also the proper relation of soul to body and inversely[40].

But on our part we can admit that the discovery of personal complexity through the integration of its dimensions, gives us a very reasonable indication of the existence of soul and body. In fact, it is what can be concluded from the Wojtyłian presentation, in which he comes to recognize that, although from a phenomenological analysis of the person its enormously rich and complex unity is discovered, but one cannot get to talking about soul and body; on the other hand, the reflection about this experience leads us in a natural way to philosophical research, specifically metaphysics, where the existence of soul and body can be determined[41]:

The experience of integration (in connection with the transcendence of the person in the action) cannot be identified with the experience — the direct discovering and experiencing — of the soul-body relation. Both the reality itself of the soul and that of the soul’s relation to the body are in this sense transphenomenal and extraexperiential. Nevertheless, the total and comprehensive experience of man shows the soul as real and as staying in relation to the body. They have been both discovered and are continuously being discovered in the philosophical reflection resulting from human experience.

We may add that the soul-body relation is also intuitively given — in an implicit way — in the experience of man as a real being. In this respect the subordination of the system of integration of the human person to the transcendence of the person in the action is revelatory.

Intuition indeed appears to pave the way for, and lead us near to, an understanding of the soul-body relation, but as we have mentioned, it does not allow us to grasp this relation. We may approach it solely in terms of metaphysical categories. All the more so as the full meaning of this relation appears as a philosophical issue once the notions of soul and body receive a metaphysical interpretation. However they also have a current sense. This current sense of the ‘soul’ and its relation to the ‘body’ is a fruit of commonsense experience. It is this relation to experience in which is firmly grounded the essentially metaphysical significance of the notions of ‘soul’ and ‘body’, and only in which they acquire their complete meaning for metaphysics[42].

Consequently, the analysis of personal experience itself prepares the discovery of the relationship between soul and body in the human being. Moreover, it seems difficult to explain how the person expresses its transcendence and seeks its integration through action, if it is not postulating the existence of a soul that gives “form” to those bodily movements[43].

Considering this, Juan Manuel Burgos, on the other hand, expresses the complexity of the human corporeal-spiritual unity by proposing an anthropology in three dimensions: body, psyche and spirit[44].

6. The three-dimensional anthropology of Juan Manuel Burgos’ integral personalism

In several publications[45], Juan Manuel Burgos proposes that the integral experience method leads to discovering that the person is an “I” in which the corporeal and the spiritual are intermingled, and that this complex unity can only be adequately expressed from a three-dimensional anthropology: body, psyche and spirit.

The classical division into two dimensions (body and soul) is very clear, but at the same time it involves the slide towards a dualism that would end up disintegrating the unitary vision of the person (even though the soul is seen as “substantial form of the body”), since each of the human aspects ends up being attributed either to the body or to the soul. On the other hand, we know from experience that there are human realities where the corporeal and the spiritual occur simultaneously, as, for example, dreams, the unconscious, or the memory archives:

Thomas [Aquinas] fought very hard to propose a unitary vision of the person through his vision of the soul as a substantial form of the body, but the problem is that division or distinction of man in two unique dimensions ends up generating, almost inevitably, a certain ‘factual’ dualism because, inevitably, we can only attribute each human quality or faculty either to the body or to the soul, what nourishes that dualism in fact. [...] The person is an integrated and unitary being in which all their structures are connected and work harmoniously. [...] The tripartition of the person wants to give reason for this fact for what it takes into consideration that, in man, there are some structures and realities that are neither properly corporal nor properly spiritual[46].

These intermediate realities between the corporeal and the spiritual would enter into the dimension of the psyche, while the third dimension, that of the spirit, would encompass intelligence, freedom and the “heart”. Juan Manuel Burgos himself recognizes that this suggestive distinction, so in agreement with the experience data, nevertheless poses a challenge to the theologians, and is the one to know what remains of the person after death: the spirit remains, but is the psyche still? This is a question that Burgos leaves open to further development[47]:

The disadvantage of the MOP [modern ontological personalism] with respect to the classical position at this point is that it is more complex to determine or understand what would remain of the person after death and, above all, what would happen to the psychic dimension. We understand, however, that the fact that the resolution of this question (which, on the other hand, barely corresponds to the philosophical sphere) becomes more complex, should not prevent the recognition of the psychic level, since this is an experimental data hardly deniable once its existence is targeted[48].

This three-dimensional structure of the person is enriched by Juan Manuel Burgos, with a tripartite distinction of human faculties also (following Max Scheler and Dietrich von Hildebrand[49]). To the already traditional intelligence and will, would be added the affectivity, represented by the “heart”, and these three would simultaneously have corporal, psychic and spiritual aspects[50].

This complexity that the unity of the person presents must not make us forget that it arises from the analysis of experience itself, in which there is both the sensitive, the affective and the intellectual.

7. Evaluation of the integral experience’s epistemological proposal

In every novel proposal there is a lot of freshness, and also many aspects that have to be deepened and explained, and the integral experience is not alien to this. About it there have already been some debates, and it is not of interest for our subject to enter them[51]. Perhaps it would be enough to recognize that Burgos’ work in this field is developing and will need further clarification[52].

Indeed, some leak could be observed in the understanding of the experience that Burgos proposes, such as, for example, if it is certainly a “method”, or if the critique of abstraction has to be qualified. Regarding the first, it must be recognized that Burgos uses the term “method” in a broad sense[53]. And as for the second, it is worth remembering that the Thomasian abstraction includes both a formal abstraction and a metaphysical “abstraction”, which is of another nature and is usually called separatio. This separatio does not have to constitute an escape from experience, since it consists precisely in recognizing that things are. But it is true that it is easy to lose sight of this second type of abstraction and remain at a formal level, so although the critique of Burgos has to be more precise, however, there is no lack of reasons[54].

Another more profound aspect, and one that can draw more attention, is the three-dimensional anthropology (body-psyche-spirit) that emerges from the person’s integral experience. It is indeed a novel proposal that, on the one hand, takes root within a very old biblical tradition (Philo of Alexandria, Saint Paul, Tatian, and others), and on the other, expresses very well the complexity of the human person. However, as Burgos himself acknowledges, he raises doubts to Catholic theology when it comes to explaining what survives of the human being after death[55].

To resolve this anthropological question, both from Burgos’ philosophical point of view and from the theological one, perhaps it would be good to deepen in the use and in the sense that was given to the notions of body, soul, and spirit between the first and the fifth centuries, both in Christian and non-Christian authors. This research would help to understand the reasons why Christian writers were evolving towards a dual anthropology (body-soul) that already occurs, for example, in the second century with Justin (master of Tatian) and that appears consolidated in Augustine of Hippo. It would take a deeper study of the subject, but when one looks thoroughly at the development of the terms in that period, it is intuited that the understanding of the soul is no longer the same over the centuries, so that, although Augustine expresses human complexity in terms of body and soul, following a Greek scheme, the understanding he has of these terms, and especially the soul, is not the same as in Aristotle, for example[56].

It could be said that Christianity made the concept of soul evolve from a purely intellectualist vision to a more integrative one, in which the will, the feelings and the affections enter more fully. In this way, it would be necessary to consider whether the use of a dual anthropology (body-soul) is simply due to the assumption of a “Greek burden”[57], or is due to a more complex process. Anyway, something similar to what happens with abstraction happens in this subject: although the critique that Burgos makes of dual anthropology (body-soul) needs to be deepened, his attention call is still true. Certainly a disintegration of the personal unity could slide, which, on the other hand, would be safeguarded with a description of the human being that includes a spiritual dimension as well as a psychic one, and in which the affective is more valued than perhaps has been done so far.

Finally, a very positive aspect of the integral experience’s proposal is that there is no kind of staggering between sensibility and intelligence, but essentially a personal act in which at all times the sensitive, the intellectual and the affective intertwine[58]. Having said that, in order for this personal act not to fall into an isolation of the subject itself in his consciousness, but rather to be a truly intersubjective (and therefore personal) act, it becomes necessary an understanding of the reality in which this personal subject, at the same time it is different from all other entities, however it is linked to them, participating in some common coordinates. In this way the livings, which are the most nuclear aspect of the experience, would have to contain information in which both the interiority of the “experiencing” subject and the world where it lives and its inhabitants are intertwined. In short, reality will have to be charged with meaning for the subject, so that the living is a synergy between the meaning that is offered to the subject, and the meaning that this subject is forming[59]. This is suggested in the whole Burgos’ proposal, but surely needs to explain the ontology that is presupposing[60].

8. Conclusion

Juan Manuel Burgos’ proposal about a new understanding of experience is expressed in terms of integral experience, which consists of a significant personal activity. This epistemological proposal reveals at the same time a unitary and complex vision of the human being, in which the unity is neither uniformity nor superficiality, but an intertwining between a bodily dimension, a psychic, and a spiritual ones. These dimensions cause that any human act is at the same time sensitive, affective, intellectual and spiritual; in short, an act of the whole person.


[1] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, Palabra, Madrid 2015, 364 pp.

[2] J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia o la salida del laberinto, Rialp, Madrid 2018, 136 pp.

[3] Cfr. E. Pérez Pueyo, La intencionalidad de la experiencia humana en la filosofía de Joseph de Finance, Dissertationes – Series Philosophica 45, EDUSC, Roma 2015, pp. 50–52; G. Castillo, Experiencia, in A.L. González (ed.), Diccionario de Filosofía, EUNSA, Pamplona 2010, pp. 437–439; N. Abbagnano, G. Fornero, Experiencia, in Id. (eds.), Diccionario de Filosofía, Fondo de Cultura Económica, México D.F. 2008, 4 ed., pp. 450–456.

[4] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 31–35; P. Markie, Rationalism vs. Empiricism, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL: [accessed 18.05.2019].

[5] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 35–40.

[6] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 9–17.

[7] Cfr. N. Martínez Morán, Filosofía práctica y compromiso personal de fray Bartolomé de las Casas, in I. Murillo (ed.), El pensamiento hispánico en América: siglos XVI-XX, Bibliotheca Salmanticensis – Estudios 302, Publicaciones Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, Salamanca 2007, pp. 461–488.

[8] K. Wojtyła, The acting person, Analecta Husserliana 10, english translation A. Potocki, Reidel, Dordrecht-Boston-London 1979, 367 pp.; Persona y acción, spanish translation R. Mora, Palabra, Madrid 2011, 430 pp. We will also cite this Spanish edition because it is the one that Juan Manuel Burgos regularly uses in his writings.

[9] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 26: “la experiencia es el proceso primario y vivencial por el que la persona se relaciona con el mundo”.

[10] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 26: “la consolidación cognoscitiva, la elevación a conocimiento expreso de las experiencias que toda persona acumula”.

[11] J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 57: “Toda la persona está involucrada en la experimentación: el cuerpo, los sentidos, las emociones, la inteligencia, el corazón”.

[12] J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 58: “con la existencia en su dimensión significativa. Vivo, y al vivir, me experimento a mí mismo y a la realidad como estructuras de sentido que conforman mi existencia”.

[13] J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 55: “actividad personal significativa”.

[14] J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 56: “experienciar”.

[15] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 27: “las vivencias del sujeto […] tienen una carga cognoscitiva, pero que, inicialmente, no está objetivada, sino dada de forma primaria y originaria”.

[16] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 28: “la experiencia del yo y la experiencia del hombre”. Cfr. K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., pp. 5–6 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 33–35).

[17] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, Antropología: una guía para la existencia, Palabra, Madrid 2017, 6 ed., 422 pp., here p. 114: “Vamos a distinguir tres niveles esenciales en el mundo afectivo de la persona. El primero lo constituyen las sensaciones corporales: siento frío o calor, estoy relajado, tenso o irritable. Son, en cierto sentido, sentimientos, pero de un nivel ontológico muy bajo. En segundo lugar, encontramos lo que se considera normalmente sentimientos y que consiste fundamentalmente en reacciones psíquicas: ira o miedo, tristeza o alegría, pesadumbre o decepción. Y, por último, está aquella parte de la afectividad que alcanza al hombre en el centro de su alma, en el corazón, y que por eso tiene un decidido carácter espiritual” (“We will distinguish three essential levels in the person’s affective world. The first is the bodily sensations: I feel cold or hot, I am relaxed, tense or irritable. They are, in a sense, feelings, but of a very low ontological level. In the second place, we find what is normally considered feelings and which basically consists of psychic reactions: anger or fear, sadness or joy, grief or disappointment. And finally, there is that part of the affectivity that reaches man in the centre of his soul, in the heart, and that is why it has a determined spiritual character”).

[18] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., pp. 28–29.

[19] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 29: “el hombre nunca experimenta nada externo a él sin que, de alguna manera, se experimente simultáneamente a sí mismo”. Cfr. K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., pp. 7–8 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 36–38).

[20] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 31: “capta lo real en toda su profundidad esencial, objetiva y subjetiva”.

[21] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 31: “alejándose del esquema clásico que considera que el conocimiento comienza con los contenidos que proporcionan los sentidos sobre los cuales después actúa la inteligencia, entiende que, ya desde el principio, es, conjuntamente, sensible e intelectual”. This conception of knowledge approaches in some way Xavier Zubiri’s proposal about “sentient intelligence”, although he places the experience at the end of knowledge, as a result, and not at the beginning, as it happens with the integral experience: Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., pp. 215–225; X. Zubiri, Inteligencia y razón, Alianza Editorial, Madrid 1983, pp. 222–257.

[22] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 32; Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 71–72.

[23] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 32; Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 72: “consolidación”.

[24] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 32: “unidades de sentido”. Burgos also calls them “nuclei of meaning” (“núcleos de sentido”), “units of meaning” (“unidades de significado”), “identities of meaning” (“identidades de significado”): Cfr., Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 72–78.

[25] J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 72: “transformar la experiencia vital en conocimiento explícito”.

[26] In La experiencia integral, Burgos uses the terms “reduction” and “exploration” (Cfr. cit., pp. 37–41: “reducción”, “exploración”), following the terms used by Wojtyła (Cfr. The acting person, cit., pp. 15–17; Persona y acción, cit., pp. 48–50). But in La vía de la experiencia, he prefers to change the term “reduction” to that of “inquiry” (“indagación”), which seems to lead to less equivocation (Cfr. cit., 78-82). Everything becomes clearer if we understand that Wojtyła takes the term “reduction” from the phenomenological tradition, but with it he wants to speak of “exploitation, in the sense of extracting all the riches of something” (K. Wojtyła, Persona y acción, cit., p. 48, translator’s note: “explotación, en el sentido de extraer todas las riquezas de algo”).

[27] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 33: “el descubrimiento de los elementos esenciales que distinguen o identifican determinado tipo de realidades”. Cfr. Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 72–73; K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., pp. 14–15 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 46–48).

[28] K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., p. 14 (Persona y acción, cit., p. 47: “identidad cualitativa”). Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 33; Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 76.

[29] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., pp. 33–34: “No se trata de la inducción positivista de Mill, que se funda en un proceso argumentativo de generalización: si esto ha sucedido tantas veces, generalmente será así; sino de una comprensión intelectual de la unidad de significado, es decir, del descubrimiento de una unidad interna en los hechos que, por lo tanto, no depende numéricamente de la cantidad en que estos se presenten. [Por ejemplo,] captar la adecuada relación o la unidad entre la persona y su acción no es una cuestión de repetición o acumulación de hechos de experiencia, sino de comprensión intelectual de la relación interna que las liga”. Cfr. Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 76–77; K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., p. 14 (Persona y acción, cit., p. 47).

[30] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 35; Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 77.

[31] K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., p. 15 (Persona y acción, cit., p. 49: “penetrar cada vez más profundamente en el contenido de esa experiencia”).

[32] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 37; Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 78–79; K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., pp. 15–16 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 48–49).

[33] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 37; K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., p. 17 (Persona y acción, cit., p. 51).

[34] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., pp. 37–38.

[35] J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 40: “En la experiencia está todo. La experiencia no es un hecho sensible-superficial, la experiencia nos da la realidad en toda su profundidad; por eso, nunca deberíamos salir de ella (de ahí el carácter inmanente no sólo de la inducción sino de la reducción). Pero, a pesar de ello, y de manera paradójica, en cierta manera no queda más remedio que ‘salir’ de la experiencia para interpretarla o aclararla. No es lo mismo comprender que experimentar. La comprensión está fuera de la experiencia, mantiene una distancia con ella y, en ese sentido, la trasciende. Pero esta salida, necesaria y beneficiosa, pues permite interpretar y aclara la experiencia, no puede ser más que provisional y parcial. Se sale de la experiencia, pero para analizar la experiencia (por eso no se está nunca completamente fuera) y para volver a ella, para comprenderla mejor y con más profundidad”.

[36] J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 81: “La comprensión es inmanente y, a la vez, trascendente a la experiencia. Esta paradójica expresión tiene un sentido muy concreto, aunque pueda resultar complejo precisar los detalles estructurales. Significa que la comprensión es distinta de la experiencia, pero no radicalmente distinta. No estamos ante un escalón intelectual independiente. Se trata tan solo de un modo diverso de enfrentarse a la significatividad que nos traslada la experiencia. Esta lo hace de un modo vital, existencial, continuo, mientras que la comprensión elabora, fija, explica y aclara esa significatividad mediante sus dos procesos básicos, la inducción y la exploración. Pero no produce, en última instancia, más que experiencia elaborada o reelaborada. La Fuente Originaria [la experiencia] tiene siempre la última palabra”.

[37] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La experiencia integral, cit., p. 42; Id., La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 87–88; K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., p. 18 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 51–52).

[38] Cfr. K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., pp. 255–258 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 367–372: “La integración de la persona en la acción y el descubrimiento de la relación entre el alma y el cuerpo”).

[39] Cfr. K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., pp. 255–256 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 367–368).

[40] K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., p. 256 (Persona y acción, cit., p. 368: “La integración nos permite no solo observar la unidad de los diversos dinamismos en la acción de la persona, sino que a la vez nos abre las estructuras y los niveles de esa complejidad propia del hombre. Durante el análisis de la integración hemos hablado varias veces sobre esas capas y sobre la complejidad psico-somática. No obstante, es sabido que el descubrimiento de la complejidad psico-somática en el hombre no es aún el descubrimiento de la relación propia del alma con el cuerpo”).

[41] Cfr. K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., pp. 256–257 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 369–370).

[42] K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., p. 257 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 370–371: “La vivencia de la integración junto a la trascendencia de la persona en la acción no es equivalente a la vivencia — esto es, al descubrimiento directo y a la experiencia — de la relación del alma con el cuerpo. Tanto la propia realidad del alma, como la realidad de su relación con el cuerpo son en este sentido una realidad trans-fenoménica y extra-experiencial. Sin embargo, a la vez, la experiencia global y multilateral del hombre nos dirige hacia esa realidad, tanto hacia la realidad del alma como también a su relación con el cuerpo. Y no por un camino distinto del de la experiencia del hombre; y ambas realidades son permanentemente descubiertas mediante el método de la reflexión filosófica que es propio de la filosofía del ser, o sea, de la metafísica. Se puede decir que, aunque ni el alma en sí misma, ni tampoco en su relación con el cuerpo son directamente dadas en la experiencia del hombre y en la vivencia de sí, puesto que no constituyen el contenido de la misma visión, sin embargo este contenido visual las señala y, de esa manera, contiene implicite cada una de esas realidades: tanto la realidad del alma como la de su relación con el cuerpo. Bajo este aspecto, la subordinación de la integración a la trascendencia de la persona en la acción es muy significativa. […] Parece que todas estas categorías de la intuición fenomenológica preparan las bases inmediatas para captar la relación del alma con el cuerpo en el hombre, aunque no la capten. Eso se realiza en categorías metafísicas, y los conceptos de ‘alma’ y de ‘cuerpo’ tienen propiamente ese significado, aunque simultáneamente hayan ido adquiriendo un significado popular. […] Sin embargo, la acepción corriente del alma y de su relación con el cuerpo nos parece más cercana a la experiencia. Y es justamente esta proximidad a la experiencia la que fundamenta el contenido básicamente metafísico del concepto de ‘alma’ y de ‘cuerpo’”).

[43] Cfr. K. Wojtyła, The acting person, cit., pp. 257–258 (Persona y acción, cit., pp. 370–372).

[44] Another author who proposes a tripartite understanding of the human person is Fernando Rielo: Cfr. F. Rielo, Concepción mística de la antropología, Fundación Fernando Rielo, Madrid 2012, 142 pp., here pp. 43–51 (chapter I, section 2: “El ser humano es, formalmente, un espíritu psico-somatizado” — “The human being is, formally, a psycho-somatized spirit”).

[45] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, El personalismo ontológico moderno. II. Claves antropológicas, «Quién. Revista de filosofía personalista», 2 (2015), pp. 7–32, here pp. 14–18. In this article and in La experiencia integral, both published in 2015, Juan Manuel Burgos proposes that the integral vision of the experience be the method of his line of research that he calls “modern ontological personalism”. He has recently decided to change this name to “integral personalism”, and this is how it appears in a work presented by Rosa Estela Zapién Trueba: El funcionamiento psicológico integrativo personalista, Trabajo Fin de Máster en Antropología Personalista, directed by J.M. Burgos, Asociación Española de Personalismo & Universidad Católica de Valencia San Vicente Mártir, Valencia 22.02.2019,, pp. 4–7 [accessed 08.06.2019].

[46] J.M. Burgos, El personalismo ontológico moderno. II, cit., pp. 14–15: “Tomás [de Aquino] luchó muy a fondo por proponer una visión unitaria de la persona mediante su visión del alma como forma sustancial del cuerpo, pero el problema es que esa división o distinción del hombre en dos únicas dimensiones acaba generando, de modo casi inevitable, un cierto dualismo ‘fáctico’ porque cada cualidad o facultad humana, inevitablemente, solo podemos atribuirla al cuerpo o al alma, lo que alimenta ese dualismo de hecho. […] La persona es un ser integrado y unitario en el que todas sus estructuras están en conexión y funcionan de manera armónica. […] La tripartición de la persona quiere dar razón de este hecho para lo que toma en consideración que, en el hombre, existen estructuras y realidades que no son ni propiamente corporales ni propiamente espirituales”.

[47] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, El personalismo ontológico moderno. II, cit., pp. 17–18.

[48] J.M. Burgos, El personalismo ontológico moderno. II, cit., pp. 17–18: “La desventaja del POM [personalismo ontológico moderno] con respecto a la posición clásica en este punto se cifra en que resulta más complejo determinar o llegar a entender qué restaría de la persona después de la muerte y, sobre todo, qué ocurriría con la dimensión psíquica. Entendemos, de todos modos, que el hecho de que la resolución de esta cuestión (que, por otro lado, apenas corresponde al ámbito filosófico) se torne más compleja, no debe impedir el reconocimiento del nivel psíquico, ya que este es un dato experimental difícilmente negable una vez que se apunta su existencia”.

[49] Cfr. D. von Hildebrand, The Heart. An analysis of human and divine affectivity, St. Augustine’s Press, South Bend (Indiana) 2007, pp. 3–19 (El corazón. Un análisis de la afectividad humana y divina, tr.esp. J.M. Burgos, Palabra, Madrid 2001, 4 ed., pp. 31–56).

[50] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, El personalismo ontológico moderno. II, cit., pp. 18–20.

[51] Cfr. J. Seifert, J.M. Burgos, Debate sobre la experiencia integral, «Quién. Revista de filosofía personalista», 4 (2016), pp. 139–179. In the first part (pp. 141–159), Josef Seifert presents his objections to the integral experience method; and in the second (pp. 161–179), Juan Manuel Burgos offers his answers.

[52] Juan Manuel Burgos continues working on it through the activities and publications proposed by the Asociación Española de Personalismo, founded by himself:

[53] In fact, in a similar way to how Xavier Zubiri uses it. Cfr. X. Zubiri, Inteligencia y razón, cit., pp. 204–209.

[54] Cfr. E. Pérez Pueyo, La intencionalidad de la experiencia humana, cit., pp. 134-139.

[55] Cfr. Catechism of the Catholic Church, URL: [accessed 04.12.2019], n. 997: “What is ‘rising’? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection”; n. 1005: “To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must ‘be away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Cor 5:8). In that ‘departure’ which is death the soul is separated from the body (Cfr. Phil 1:23). It will be reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead”. Cfr. Ibid., nn. 990, 992, 996, 1004; P. O’Callaghan, Christ Our Hope. An Introduction to Eschatology, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington D.C. 2011, pp. 93-114, 309-326; J. Ratzinger, Eschatology. Death and Eternal Life, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington D.C. 1988, pp. 157–161; J.L. Ruiz de la Peña, La pascua de la creación. Escatología, Sapientia Fidei 16, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid 1996, pp. 171–174, 276–278.

[56] Cfr. R. Spaemann, Persons. The Difference between “Someone” and “Something”, Oxford University Press, Oxford-New York 2006, pp. 148–163; F. Copleston, A History of Philosophy. II. Medieval Philosophy: From Augustine to Duns Scotus, Doubleday, New York 1993, pp. 13–39, 74–80; É. Gilson, La filosofía en la Edad Media. Desde los orígenes patrísticos hasta el fin del siglo XIV, Gredos, Madrid 2014, pp. 18–34, 125–134.

[57] “Lastre griego”. Cfr. J.M. Burgos, Repensar la naturaleza humana, Ediciones Internacionales Universitarias, Madrid 2007, pp. 58–64; Id., El personalismo ontológico moderno. I. Arquitectónica, «Quién. Revista de filosofía personalista», 1 (2015), pp. 9–27, here p. 20; Id., La experiencia integral, cit., pp. 281–289.

[58] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., p. 82.

[59] Cfr. J.M. Burgos, La vía de la experiencia, cit., pp. 17–24.

[60] Cfr. E. Pérez Pueyo, La intencionalidad de la experiencia humana, cit., pp. 139–149.



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