Principles of personalism

The fundamental values of Personalism are the following: First of all humans are relational beings who are in need of a close and engaged interplay with other humans in order to thrive and develop their potential. Secondly, humans have unlimited value and are free to create their own lives, and they have inherent dignity that can never be relativized or reduced.

Personalism, thus, stands in opposition to both individualism and collectivism (and thus to the political ideologies of socialism and liberalism alike). Personalism emphasizes the individual person’s freedom and responsibility for his or her own life, while simultaneously stressing the fact that humans can realize this responsibility only in relation to our fellow humans. Thus, the collective can never come before the individual. Institutions and systems, including states and civil authorities, are only of use in as far as they serve to help individuals unfold their lives.

Furthermore, humans are beings that engage and are capable of creating and shaping their lives through the opportunities and challenges given to us. Human creativity and initiative are resources that are expressed through our personality and can lead to great achievements. According to personalism, human potential is therefore inexhaustible.

Fundamental to personalism is an understanding of humans as both nature and spirit. Humans are more than pure matter. We possess “a spirit” – a potential to unfold at a level that is above the merely animal. If one claims that humans consist of nothing more than what can be seen and measured, then we fail to capture human existence in its full complexity and creativity. At the same time it is important to acknowledge human nature so as not to end up in a utopian escape from reality.


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