Personalism philosophy meaning in bible translation

T he personalist awakening in 20 th century Catholic moral thought restored the ancient and medieval priority accorded to persons—as well as to the ways of relating between them especially friendship —to the modern field of ethics and moral theology. Jesus related not only to the Apostles as friends, but to all who gathered around him as friends. Jesus says the following in John My argument is relatively modest: I am certainly not claiming that Kantian principles are inimical to a genuinely ethical life or incompatible with moral life, but simply that Kant confuses what ethical responsibility consists in and how moral deliberation ought to proceed.

In fact, Kant gives good reasons to think that to do so would be to our ethical detriment. It is this disinterested, formalistic quality of Kantian ethics that is so odd. His moral philosophy is rightly called a respect-for-persons ethic or ethic of human dignity. Furthermore, Kant is a moral universalist who believed that genuine moral truths apply to all persons.

Thus, Catholic moral thought does find substantial common ground with Kant in certain respects. In each text, John Paul is critical of Kant, yet throughout he credits Kant with clarifying moral concepts that would make a personalist ethics possible, particularly insofar as those concepts made a bulwark against utilitarianism, which both Kant and Wojtyla find repugnant.

In both Love and Responsibility and The Acting PersonWojtyla identifies in Kant a sort of formalistic personalism, which insists that human persons must be treated as ends in themselves and not merely means to other ends, though it refuses to take into account the experience of the human act as such.

The Personalist Awakening in 20th Century Catholic Moral Thought

Thus, the personalist critique of Kantian ethics is not an ideological one; it is a rather a personalist one. If Kantian ethics must be surpassed, it is precisely because they are inadequate to the phenomena of human moral activity, persons, and ends. The arc of the Catholic personalist critique of Kantian ethics centers around two main structural elements, namely, 1 the person and 2 the moral imperative.

The project of the First Critique in large part—for present purposes, this will have to be an oversimplification—was to recognize the limits of metaphysical knowledge, that is, knowledge of things in themselves, and to demonstrate that most metaphysical notions and problems are accessible only epistemologically, as beholden to our empirical perception of them, if they are not in fact epistemological concepts and problems masquerading as metaphysical ones in the first place.

For Kant, it is only the latter about which we can have knowledge. Whatever the person is an sichwe can only have knowledge of persons in terms of how they are presented to our senses. It should be clear how this view represents a massive departure from the rich tradition of Christian speculation on persons, which is both heavily reliant on the terminology of classical metaphysics, as well as the content of biblical revelation.

In his elaboration of the concept of person, Kant avails himself of neither resource, and to his credit he is ruthlessly consistent.

personalism philosophy meaning in bible translation

We can derive no genuine knowledge from metaphysical descriptions of persons, which effectively brackets nearly the entire Western philosophical tradition from Plato to Descartes, on the one hand, and the Christian theological concepts developed from the Bible through Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and the Protestant Reformers, on the other.

Yet, things are complicated. Kant is not a reductivist or a positivist, at least not in this respect; his project is one of translation rather than elimination. The result is that the imago dei becomes for him an analogy for our sensible experience of the dignity of human beings, which has its own philosophical justification, according to Kant, firmly within reason. Moreover, for Kant, the meaning of the imago dei and other metaphysical and theological concepts is completely lost if its connection to sensible perception is lost.

The first reason, which we have already mentioned, is that it is not founded in reason and sensible perception. But the other reason is more philosophically interesting. Thus we see that for Kant, as with Christian theology, human dignity is paramount and grounded in the concept of the person, but for entirely contrary reasons.Personalism is an intellectual stance that emphasizes the importance of human persons.


Various conceptualizations have been explored [ by whom? Williams and Jan Olof Bengtsson cite a plurality of "schools" holding to a "personalist" ethic and " Weltanschauung ", arguing:. Personalism exists in many different versions, and this makes it somewhat difficult to define as a philosophical and theological movement. Many philosophical schools have at their core one particular thinker or even one central work which serves as a canonical touchstone.

Personalism is a more diffused and eclectic movement and has no such common reference point. It is, in point of fact, more proper to speak of many personalisms than one personalism. In Jacques Maritain could write that there are at least "a dozen personalist doctrines, which at times have nothing more in common than the word 'person.

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It is perhaps more proper to speak of personalism as a "current" or a broader "worldview", since it represents more than one school or one doctrine while at the same time the most important forms of personalism do display some central and essential commonalities.

Most important of the latter is the general affirmation of the centrality of the person for philosophical thought. It emphasizes the significance, uniqueness and inviolability of the person, as well as the person's essentially relational or social dimension.

The title "personalism" can therefore legitimately be applied to any school of thought that focuses on the centrality of persons and their unique status among beings in general, and personalists normally acknowledge the indirect contributions of a wide range of thinkers throughout the history of philosophy who did not regard themselves as personalists. Personalists believe that the person should be the ontological and epistemological starting point of philosophical reflection. Many are concerned to 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.

Thus, according to Williams, one ought to keep in mind that although there may be dozens of theorists and social activists in the West adhering to the rubric "personalism," their particular foci may, in fact, be asymptoticand even diverge at material junctures.

Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev — was a Russian religious and political philosopher who emphasized human freedom, subjectivity and creativity. In France, philosopher Emmanuel Mounier — was the leading proponent of personalism, around which he founded the review Espritwhich exists to this day.

Personalism was seen as an alternative to both liberalism and Marxismwhich respected human rights and the human personality without indulging in excessive collectivism. The historian Zeev Sternhellhas identified personalism with fascism in a very controversial manner, claiming that Mounier's personalism movement "shared ideas and political reflexes with fascism".

He argued that Mounier's "revolt against individualism and materialism " would have led him to share the ideology of fascism. Catholicism portal. Following on the writings of Dorothy Daya distinctively Christian personalism developed in the 20th century.

This norm, in its negative aspect, states that the person is the kind of good which does not admit of use and cannot be treated as an object of use and as such the means to an end.

In its positive form the personalistic norm confirms this: the person is a good towards which the only proper and adequate attitude is love [7]. This brand of personalism has come to be known as "Thomistic" because of its efforts to square modern notions regarding the person with the teachings of Thomas Aquinas.

A first principle of Christian personalism is that persons are not to be used, but to be respected and loved. In Gaudium et spesthe Second Vatican Council formulated what has come to be considered the key expression of this personalism: "man is the only creature on earth that God willed for its own sake and he cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself".

This formula for self-fulfillment offers a key for overcoming the dichotomy frequently felt between personal "realization" and the needs or demands of social life. As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures.

It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God.

Personalism flourished in the early 20th century at Boston University in a movement known as Boston personalism led by theologian Borden Parker Bowne. Bowne emphasized the person as the fundamental category for explaining reality and asserted that only persons are real. He stood in opposition to certain forms of materialism which would describe persons as mere particles of matter.

For example, against the argument that persons are insignificant specks of dust in the vast universe, Bowne would say that it is impossible for the entire universe to exist apart from a person to experience it. Ontologically speaking, the person is "larger" than the universe because the universe is but one small aspect of the person who experiences it. Personalism affirms the existence of the soul.

Most personalists assert that God is real and that God is a person or as in Christian trinitarianismthree 'persons', although it is important to note that the nonstandard meaning of the word 'person' in this theological context is significantly different from Bowne's usage.

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Bowne also held that persons have value see axiologyvalue theoryand ethics.Personalism is any philosophy that considers personality the supreme value and the key to the measuring of reality. Yet, those roots can be traced to Europe and back through Western philosophy to the Mediterranean basin.

However, Personalism did not originate exclusively in America, Europe, the Mediterranean basin, or in the West. Personalism thrived in India through the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy scattered along the Indus River Valley of the Indian subcontinent, and developed parallel to Personalism in the West. Personalists claim that the person is the key in the search for self-knowledge, for correct insight into reality, and for the place of persons in it.

Other than giving centrality to the person, Personalism has no other set of principles or unified doctrine.

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Although many prominent personalists have been theists, this doctrine is not a requirement. There is also not a common set of methods or definitions, including the definition of person. Respecting that caution, personalists defend the primacy and importance of persons against any attempt to reduce persons either to the Impersonalism of an infrastructure, such as scientific naturalism, or suprastructure, such as metaphysical absolutism. Personalists focus on the concerns of persons living in a personal world.

Between the Scylla and Charybdis of either type of Impersonalism, personalists trace the origin of the concept of person and the development of metaphysical personalism from the ancient world to its flowering in Europe and America. Open to the richness of their philosophical tradition, personalists trace their origin and development both on the Indian subcontinent and in the West.

Broadly conceived, Personalism in India originates within the main goal of Hindu philosophical inquiry, which is the freedom from misery.

Each system of Hindu philosophy seeks to help persons to that end by giving them insight into the nature of ultimate reality and their place in it. These systems advocate self-knowledge, atmavidyawithout which the desired freedom is impossible.

The nature and destiny of individual persons is the common theme of the six orthodox Hindu philosophical systems: NyayaVaisesika, SankhyaYoga, Purva-mimamsaand Vedanta. Each system promises self-knowledge, atmavidya that bonds the systems into a single philosophical tradition. Seeking freedom from misery through self-knowledge, Hindu personalist schools of thought center on four questions.

What is the self? How is it related to the material world? What is the relation of the self to ultimate reality? And, what is the path from pain and misery to liberation? First, according to each orthodox school, persons are marked by various characteristics, including a permanent and eternal soul atman that exists behind the veil of empirical consciousness, and that possesses a physical body jiva that exists as part of a changing material world.

While it is agreed that the Atman is eternal, unchanging, independent essence, the six orthodox schools differ whether the transcendent I is conscious or unconscious, active or passive.

Each school also recognizes that by being connected to the material world persons possess other characteristics, including agency, will, thought, desire, free will, intention, and identity. Second, personalists focus on the indissoluble reality of the individual soul and on its relation to the empirical consciousness.

It cannot be the object of experience. The empirical consciousness, the experience of objects sensed or being sensed, comes to be interpreted as alien, attributive, essential, adventitious, permanent, or temporary. Hindu Personalism views the empirical consciousness as either attributive or alien, monist or dualist.

Purusa is sentient and passive; prakrti is insentient and active. As sentient, purusa experiences products of prakrti and desires emancipation.

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As passive, purusa can be understood as unaffected and secluded. In Samkhya, the material world is not an illusion; it is real and stands over against the spiritual person.Please enter your email address associated with your Salem All-Pass account, then click Continue. We'll send you an email with steps on how to reset your password. The Old Testament. Biblical philosophy is not an abstract monologue but a dialogue with God.

The Bible never attempts to prove the existence of God, bur starts from the premise that God exists i. Therefore, philosophy can be an effective tool if properly used as a means of understanding pretheological questions, but not as a method of supplanting the revelation already made available by faith through God's Scriptures.

The limitations of human reason, especially in light of the moral degeneracy in humans, requires God's help in resolving philosophical questions. The sacrificial structure of the Hebrew Scriptures reveals a simple, nonesoteric approach to the questions concerning solidarity with God and oneself. Faith was a prerequisite for abiding in the covenant.

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There is rarely a philosophical concern, although in the psalms occasionally deeper questions concerning the afterlife are considered in the light of theodicy. The New Testament. It is not surprising that Paul, "the apostle to the Gentiles, " is more philosophical and deals with the problem of onerous philosophy more than any other writer in the New Testament because of the pragmatic issues of polytheism and atheism he confronted.

The only time the world "philosophy" is used in the Bible is in Colossians The problem addressed by Paul is probably an incipient form of gnosticism. One fascinating aspect of this passage is the idea that one can be taken "captive" through philosophy. Paul is not anti-intellectual, as is evidenced by the fact that he quotes Greek poets in Acts ; also, in Acts 17 he directs his teachings toward Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, which shows that he was knowledgeable of their philosophy.

He even agreed with it where he could. But, when the apocalyptic element is understood, it becomes clearer the philosophical deficiency that Paul was pointing out. The recipients of the second-person plural pronoun in Colossians are Gentiles e. The philosophy is more clearly spelled out in "Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths" NRSV.

Food laws and calendar observance were not required for the Gentiles' newfound faith. The observance of these nationalistic requirements was synonymous with being under the influence of "elemental spirits of the universe, " that is, the evil spirits that swarmed the cosmos. To be under this demonic influence was not necessary because Christ "disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it" Col Another aspect of the philosophy was esoteric speculation.

Two examples are given: "worship of angels" and "dwelling on visions. In Colossians, Paul contrasts arrogant, earthly, speculative philosophy with humble, transcendental, and righteous philosophy derived from God.

personalism philosophy meaning in bible translation

The problem of exploitative philosophy in Colossians is not simply an aversion toward a theory of analysis underlying deportment, thought, knowledge, and the constitution of the universe. Rather, it is unwarranted speculation that encroaches on the freedom of another.

The regulations "do not handle, do not taste, do not touch" v. It is the type of conjecture that places cultural, not moral demands on one and begins with the supposition of ethnic and religious superiority. This predicament was precisely the quandary of gnosticism. The elitism that proliferated gnosticism was largely based on the philosophical premise that gnostics were superior and held a secret knowledge. The term "philosopher" literally "lover of wisdom" appears in Acts It is clear that the first time Christianity was taught in Athens, an intellectual hub of the ancient world, the message of monotheism was equated with obtuseness.In its various strains, personalism always underscores the centrality of the person as the primary locus of investigation for philosophical, theological, and humanistic studies.

It is an approach or system of thought which regards or tends to regard the person as the ultimate explanatory, epistemological, ontological, and axiological principle of all reality, although these areas of thought are not stressed equally by all personalists and there is tension between idealist, phenomenological, existentialist, and Thomist versions of personalism.

Personalism exists in many different versions, and this makes it somewhat difficult to define as a philosophical and theological movement. Many philosophical schools have at their core one particular thinker or even one central work which serves as a canonical touchstone. Personalism is a more diffused and eclectic movement and has no such common reference point. It is, in point of fact, more proper to speak of many personalisms than one personalism. Most important of the latter is the general affirmation of the centrality of the person for philosophical thought.

Personalism posits ultimate reality and value in personhood — human as well as at least for most personalists divine. Personalists believe that the person should be the ontological and epistemological starting point of philosophical reflection. Many are concerned to 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. Personhood carries with it an inviolable dignity that merits unconditional respect.

Personalism has for the most part not been primarily a theoretical philosophy of the person.

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Although it does defend a unique theoretical understanding of the person, this understanding is in itself such as to support the prioritization of practical or moral philosophy, while at the same time the moral experience of the person is such as to decisively determine the theoretical understanding.

For personalists, a person combines subjectivity and objectivity, causal activity and receptivity, unicity and relation, identity and creativity. Stressing the moral nature of the person, or the person as the subject and object of free activity, personalism tends to focus on practical, moral action and ethical questions. Some personalists are idealists, believing that reality and its sense is constituted by consciousness, while others espouse philosophical realism and argue that the natural order is independent of human consciousness.

For taxonomic convenience, the many strains of personalism can be grouped into two fundamental categories: personalism in a strict sense and personalism in a broader sense. The method of the main twentieth-century European version of this strict personalism draws extensively from phenomenology and existentialism, departing from traditional metaphysics and constituting a separate philosophical system.

In the idealistic version of personalism, it becomes more obvious, however, that the deeper sources of strict personalism are often to be found in the early critical reception of German idealism and in some aspects of moral sense philosophy. The original intuition is really that of self-awareness, by which one grasps not least values and essential meanings through unmediated experience.

The knowledge produced by reflecting on this experience is nothing more than an explicitation of the original intuition, which in turn generates an awareness of a framework for moral action.

The intuition of the person as the center of values and meaning is not exhausted, however, in phenomenological or existential analyses. These analyses often point beyond themselves, indicating a constitutive transcendence of the person himself, irreducible either to its specific manifestations or to the sum-total of those manifestations. Despite their differences, both the American school of Bowne and his first followers and the European personalism of Emmanuel Mounier represent personalism in this strict sense.

Personalism in the broader sense does not consider the person as the object of an original intuition, nor does it conceive of philosophical research as beginning with an analysis of immediate personal experience and its context.Personalisma school of philosophyusually idealist, which asserts that the real is the personal, i.

In the theistic form that it has often assumed, personalism has sometimes become specifically Christian, holding that not merely the person but the highest individual instance of personhood—Jesus Christ—is the pattern. The word person comes from the Latin persona, which referred to the mask worn by an actor and thus to his role. Eventually, it came to mean the dignity of a man among men.

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The person is thus supreme both in reality as substance and in value as dignity. There are various kinds of personalism. Though most personalists are idealists, believing that reality is either of, in, or for consciousnessthere are also realistic personalists, who hold that the natural order, though created by God, is not as such spiritual; and, again, though most personalists are theists, there are also atheistic personalists.

Among the idealists there are absolutistic personalists see absolute Idealismpanpsychistic personalists see panpsychismethical personalists, and personal idealists, for whom reality comprises a society of finite persons or an ultimate person, God. Personalism has been strongly represented in France, usually under the name of spiritualism.

Personalism in the United States matured among 19th—20th-century philosophers of religion, often of the Methodist churchseveral of whom had studied in Germany under Rudolf Hermann Lotzean erudite metaphysician and graduate in medicine.

George Holmes Howison, for example, stressed the autonomy of the free moral person to the point of making him uncreated and eternal and hence free from an infinite person.

Borden Parker Bownewho made Boston University the citadel of personalism, was explicitly theistic, holding that men are creatures of God with many dimensions—moral, religious, emotional, logical—each worthy of consideration in its own right and each reflecting the rationality of the creator. Nature, too, for him, displays the energy and rational purpose of a God who is immanent in it as well as transcendent over it. Personalism Article Media Additional Info.

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External Websites. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Personalism. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History.

personalism philosophy meaning in bible translation

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personalism philosophy meaning in bible translation

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