Dec 17, 2009

Philosophical Phun - Personalism :o)

Personalism posits ultimate reality and value in personhood. It emphasizes the significance, uniqueness and inviolability of the person, as well as the person's essentially relational or communitarian dimension.  Personalists investigate the experience, the status, and the dignity of the human being as person, and regard this as the starting-point for all subsequent philosophical analysis. Personalism tends to focus on practical, moral action and ethical questions.

The term person comes from the Latin persona, whose origins are traceable to Greek drama, where the πρόσωπον, or mask, became identified with the role an actor would assume in a given production. Such usage is carried over today in the word “persona,” referring to characters in fictional literature or drama, or second identities which people adopt for behavior in given social contexts. Its introduction into the mainstream of intellectual parlance, however, came with theological discourse during the patristic period, notably the attempts to clarify or define central truths of the Christian faith. These discussions focused primarily on two doctrines: the Trinity (three “persons” in one God) and the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity (the “hypostatic” union of two natures—divine and human—in one “person”).
At the center of this personalism stands an affirmation of the dignity of the person, the quality, insisted on already by medieval thinkers, which constitutes the unique excellence of personhood and which gives rise to specific moral requirements. Dignity refers to the inherent value of the person, as a “someone” and not merely “something,” and this confers an absoluteness not found in other beings.

For personalists, human dignity as such does not depend on variables such as native intelligence, athletic ability or social prowess. Nor can it result merely from good conduct or moral merit. It must rather be rooted in human nature itself, so that on the deepest level, despite the variations of moral conduct and the resultant differences in moral character, all members of the species share this dignity.

For the source, head on over to Stanford Encyclopeida of Philosophy.

I cannot think of a better argument for being bipartisan in politics, for recognizing marriage as a union of two persons, for treating each other with dignity and respect.  Human dignity is inherent in being human, it is that simple.


  1. Couldn't have said it better myself!

  2. As an actor I played many different persons who never sacrificed their dignity even if they were villainous, but adapted to whatever was threateneing it. I had to determine what was natural and what was the mask (Persona).

    RD Laing writes very well about the psychiatrists dilemma of having to handle a constellation of mental disorders and do it clinically while at the same time dealing on a basic level with another human being, a person, who is suffering.

    As for the theologians I think the end of their road wil come to a fork. Either there is only one "Person," God, or there are an innumerable multitude of persons.



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