Personalism

In the 1930’s during the same time the Catholic Worker newspaper was launched, a literary magazine titled ‘Esprit’ was founded in France by Emmanuel Mounier. This magazine articulated the thoughts of the personalist school of philosophy. It identified capitalism and communism as arising out of the same metaphysics. While opposing the two, personalism is not a compromise in the middle but an alternative third way utterly distinct from capitalism or communism.

Every student of philosophy will come across the greatest known cogito ‘cogito ergo sum’ (I think therefore I am) by Rene Decartes, because our society is so immersed in this individualistic, non-personal, dualistic Cartesianism. According to Mounier this is not what defines what it means to be a person, it is rather in what one loves.

“the communion of love, in liberating him who responds to it, also liberates and reassures him who offers it. Love is the surest certainty that man knows; the one irrefutable, existential cogito: I love there I am”. 

In this understanding of humanity our person hood is constituted in social relationships by love.

Other seminal figures also influenced by personalist philosophy were Martin Luther King and Blessed John Paul the Great. The centrality of personalism founded in their Christian anthropology can explain why the radical humanism of John Paul, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King was so often despised.