Principles of personalism

According to personalism humans are relational, dignified, and engaged beings. The dignified and engaged human person comes into existence through relationships with others.

Personalism is thus on the one hand opposed to individualism which sees persons as independent from fellow humans – and on the other hand to collectivism which sees persons as subjected to society or community.

Personalism emphasizes the individual’s freedom and responsibility for his or her own life while simultaneously stressing how humans can practice this responsibility only in relation to others. Conversely, community may never take precedence over the individual.

Personalism is also opposed to a materialist anthropology, which claims that humans are reducible to something biological. Personalism holds that humans are spirit as well – not necessarily spirit in a religious sense, but as that which elevates humanity above nature (in the same sense that there used to be in some European languages a distinction between the natural sciences and the sciences of “spirit,” which were concerned with “higher things” or with “high culture,” conveying the notion that there is a something more to human existence, something accessible to the human intellect.)

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