Rethinking Man from a Personalist Anthropology
Scientific coordination of the Master in Personalist Anthropology of the UCV San Vincent Martyr and the AEP

The proper knowledge and appraisal of the person are one of the fundamental conditions of order and social progress. Today, however, it is hardly possible.

Author: Raquel Vera | Source: Catholic University of Valencia San Vicente Martyr

Scientific coordination of the Master in Personalist Anthropology of the UCV San Vincent Martyr and the AEP 
Rethinking Man from a Personalist Anthropology 

The proper knowledge and appraisal of the person are one of the fundamental conditions of order and social progress. Today, however, it is hardly possible. 
By: Raquel Vera | Source: Catholic University of Valencia San Vicente Martyr

The proper knowledge and appraisal of the person are one of the fundamental conditions of order and social progress. Today, however, it is hardly possible: the media generates confusing or deformed images about man; there is an excess of information parallel to the lack of criteria to integrate it and even the careers of humanistic type (Philosophy, Psychology, Education) lack an integral vision of the person. 

The origin of this shortage has its root in the fact that an important part of the dominant culture not only does not have an adequate idea of person but denies even its same possibility. According to postmodern thinking, society should settle for fragments of disjointed knowledge. However, people are still looking for an answer to the question about man, that is, about his Identity. 

1. Emergence and content of personalism 

Contemporary thinking, however, has not only generated an anthropological crisis. It has also developed an answer through personalist Philosophy.

From a historical and socio-cultural point of view, the main factors that enhanced the emergence of personalism can be enumerated as follows. First, it was the capitalist individualism of bourgeois court which forgot the interpersonal aspect of the person to claim his freedom. Likewise, the fascist and Marxist collectivisms forgot the freedom of the person placed at the service and in function to society. On the other hand, the importance of the concept of praxis in Marxism as a building block of the human being contributed positively to the development of the thought of Mounier. Subsequently, the need for a concept of man that could generate a truly human political action arose after the idealisms that had resulted in the Second World War. All this announced the need for dialogue with modern Philosophy by the Christian world closed until then in scholasticism that objectified too much the concept of person. The personalism, therefore, is not attributable to Marxist philosophies, idealists or, in general, reifying philosophies of man, but arises in response to them. It proposes an integrative conception of the human being in his somatic, psychic and spiritual dimensions, and, as current, it is located in the Europe of the twentieth century.

Personalism in its different versions can be classified according to European linguistic areas, addressing separately the dialogic-speaking personalists of Francophone language and those coming from the realist phenomenology of Germanic language. Taking into account the variety of authors and approaches, it is difficult to have a strict characterization of personalism. In this regard, the book Introduction to Personalism by Juan Manuel Burgos (founder of the Spanish Association of Personalism) presents a coherent and consistent classification of the different types of personalism, providing the keys to consider the person as the starting point of a philosophy not only anthropologically and ethically, but also of being and knowledge; although focusing on the interest of Personalism in the anthropological and ethical areas. Indeed, personalism as a current elevated to philosophy can and must be applied to the areas that directly affect the being of man in other sciences, such as bioethics, psychology, pedagogy, etc. for the sake of a humanization of society that responds to the personal being properly, as a purpose in itself.

St. John Paul II has been one of the main exponents of Polish Personalism. 

The contents of this current could be focused on the following definition: "We understand with Personalism or personalist philosophy the current or philosophical currents born in the twentieth century that have the following characteristics: 1) are built structurally around a modern concept of person; 2) the modern concept of a person understands the anthropological perspective that underlines all or part of these elements: the person like me and who, the affection and the subjectivity, the interpersonality and the community character, the corporality, the tripartition of the person on a somatic, psychic and spiritual level, the person as male and female, the primacy of love, freedom as self-determination, the narrative character of human existence, transcendence as a relation with a you, etc.; 3) some of the principal philosophers of reference are the following: Mounier, Maritain, Nédoncelle, Scheler, Von Hildebrand, Stein, Buber, Wojtyla, Guardini, Marcel, Marias, Zubiri." (Introduction to Personalism, Juan Manuel Burgos, pp. 239-240). Thus, the structural features of a personalist philosophy revolve around: the centrality of the person as the axis of anthropology and ethics; the construction of thought around the modern concept of person, incorporating its positive contributions like the terms subjectivity, conscience or I, and surpassing the Greek objectivism; the proceeding from an experiential analysis as a personalist method; the consideration of the need to vindicate the primacy of personal being as the primary referent of metaphysics; the importance of the transformative attitude of society by the personalist thinker as an essential feature; and the Christian roots of this current. Based on this characterization, Personalism is delimited with regard to associated concepts such as humanism, a philosophical school, a philosophy of the person without more aspiration than the anthropological, or a limited reflection on the dignity of the person.

2. Different personalist currents 

However, the different personalist authors have also presented certain shortcomings, such as the different interpretations of topics such as the substance of the relationship, especially in the case of the dialogical personalists; or the conceptual weakness of personalism as a philosophy in the case of Mounerian personalism as inspiration. To these shortcomings and others seems to have wanted to answer the book Person and Action by Karol Wojtyla with a modern ontological-cutting personalism (MOP), which, however, was also largely eclipsed in its quasi strictly ethical concern and anthropological, but whose contents, authors like the aforementioned Juan Manuel Burgos, intend to lead to a wider development. 

We can consider as principal the following personalist currents: community personalism with Emmanuel Mounier as maximum representative (one of the biggest diffusers of his thought in Spain is Carlos Diaz), dialogic personalism with special mention for Martin Buber, classical ontological personalism especially assigned to Maritain, and modern ontological personalism or neopersonalism led by Wojtyla. Within the new content and approaches that personalism brings, it is worth highlighting the claim of the three-dimensional structure of the person as a finding of the experience that man has in his unit at somatic, psychic and spiritual level; as well as the vindication of the affection in authors like von Hildebrand and the vindication of love as a guiding element of the human activity and principle of the ethical activity in more current authors like R. T. Allen, while the love gives meaning to the interpersonal relations. Other equally new elements would be the approach of subjectivity as the fruit of self-experience distinguishing it of subjectivism, or the place of interpersonality as the structure of which man is born; and his sexed corporeity.

3. News of the Personalism 

Personalism provides a series of aforementioned theses on which to erect a philosophy from which to respond to the postmodern ' who ' which seems to have lost the orientation to understand and direct their lives in a unified, meaningful way, from all its dimensions. This way, it offers the main keys to interpret the role of the person in society, in their concrete reality, and the current European panorama. Therefore the development of the concepts inherent to the personalism, studying the philosophical and social scope of them through their application to other sciences is of maximum interest. 

It is to be congratulated, in this sense, that the Catholic University of Valencia 'Saint Vincent Martyr' has welcomed the initiative to expand its academic offer with a Master in Personalist Anthropology whose director can be considered the greatest representative of MOP in Spain at the academic level. 

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