Personalists view the personality (and I would add, the nature and consciousness of the person) as the key to understanding reality. Everything by way of meaning, purpose, and significance basically boils down to the self, individual, or personality. Notions of value, existential meaning, morality, and beauty, too.
Much as Kant suggested, individuals are reservoirs of intrinsic value. (Some would add, infinite.) That is why, as in my previous “The Law Is an Ass” blog entry, we should all bemoan the unjust punishments meted out in kangaroo courts today. Nothing is of sufficient value, say the Personalists, to replace a human being. (Shades of Donne’s “No man is an island.”)
My life, changed significantly, forever, when I first encountered the writings of the Existentialists in university. In later years, I would teach Camus`s “The Guest” and L’Etranger, and share with students their views re. choice. It was not difficult for an only child and individualist to identify with their views that man is alone, isolated, and alienated to a large degree.
Much like a tabula rasa we add to, man is not born with any given nature per se, and develops it as he goes through life, much like Meursault in L’Etranger, making choices and decisions. So life is a process and man is very much always in the making, Existentially speaking. Man makes himself through his choices; in that sense, he chooses himself, his life.
For the Existentialists, as for me again on many days, life is largely subjective, irrational, chaotic, and absurd. Truth can only be found inside, in the self (an idea which echoes with my earlier points in this entry). The act of thinking and consciousness are central to finding whatever meanings, purpose, and significance. (Again, as discussed previously, truth is subjective.)
In conclusion: This review of what I consider to be some of the best and wisest ideas of Western philosophy accords with much of what I basically, finally, believe in making sense of my own life. I am pleasantly surprised that there is as much coherence and connectedness as there is throughout these three entries. For me, this confirms, again, a fundamental rightness to many of the choices I have made and the views I have toward myself, others, and the world.