Thursday, June 08, 2017

Social Life and Personality

Deprive a concrete human personality of all that is in any way due to its relations with social and collective wholes, and the only thing left will be an animal entity containing only the pure possibility or empty form of man--that is, something that does not really exist at all....

Social life is not a condition superadded to the individual life, but is contained in the very definition of personality which is essentially a rationally-knowing and a morally-active force--both knowing and acting being only possible in the life of a community. Rational knowledge on its formal side is conditioned by general notions which express a unity of meaning in an endless multiplicity of events; real and objective universality (the general meaning) of notions manifests itself in language as a means of communication, without which rational activity cannot develop, and, for lack of realization, gradually disappears altogether or becomes merely potential.

[Vladimir Soloviev, The Justification of the Good, von Peters, ed. Catholic Resources (Chattanooga, TN: 2015), p. 221.] This clearly is influenced by the arguments of nineteenth-century traditionalists, but it looks like Soloviev has generalized some of the ideas slightly.

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