Personalism

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(from L. persona, mask, person). A philosophical theory that regards the human being and human freedom as the highest spiritual values. The notion of p. itself is much broader than some of its particular manifestations, or than the mode of behavior of one person. In reality, the personalism aspect is an integral part of all social, religious and psychological sciences, as well as the ideological or political sciences, and predominates in culture and art as well. The key to the philosophy of p. lies in the following problems: the problem of the individual becoming a personality; the problem of the individual and the collective; and the problem of the individual, society and human liberty, and responsibility toward other human beings. In the religious current of p., the primary emphasis is placed on the problem of the individual and God, as reflected in the variants of religious existentialism (*Existentialism). According to many personalism, the individual is a natural-biological category, while the personality is a social and historical category. An individual is an integral part of society, group, class, clan, or nation. The personality constitutes a whole; it is not an organic category. The personality is made up of certain intellectual and spiritual qualities, their stable combination, as well as a structure of firm supra-individual, valid orientations. The strength and character of those qualities is what distinguishes one person from another. Every human being is an individual, but not every individual develops into a personality. Many people live mechanically, either passively adapting themselves to the environment or opposing society. According to p., the human being is free and occupies a place above the State, the nation and the family. But the spiritual and moral life of a person is intertwined with the life of society, and so the personality runs the risk of becoming alienated by society and its demands (*Alienation). That the human being may lose its independence, or be subjected to the will and interests of others – whether Party, Church, or State – is the foremost concern of personalism. A depersonalized being is the greatest sin of all in society or any human organization, and so the objective of p. consists in defending the self-sufficiency and independence of the personality, its full freedom to live out its own course. Today more than ever, however, while there exists a supposed “freedom of thought,” in reality people typically follow and obey values that are produced by manipulation, as if these were their own opinions. While p. cultivates ideals close to those of N.H., it differs from the latter by discounting the importance of collective solidarity and by letting itself be drawn into individualism, becoming isolated from active processes and instead preferring digressions that are purely abstract and philosophical. N.H. goes beyond p., contributing to the self-development of each person in a process in which individuals create their own lives, in union and accord with other human beings, until they produce a free society with solidarity, in which it will be possible to realize the ideal of p.