Date of Award

Spring 1941

Document Type





In common language and even in philosophical circles, the terms person, character, and personality are greatly confused. Indeed there are those who would deny that man is a person properly so-called. There are philosophers in our universities who take all the meaning and romance out of life by teaching that man is not better than an animal subject to the stimuli of his surroundings or a machine linked irresistibly to circumstance.

This latter fact makes it all the more necessary to restate a philosophy of person which is the inheritance of Scholastic philosophy. Our definition of person, based as it is on a strong metaphysical foundation, cannot be weakened by the sundry definitions of the day. Even the man on the street, though he may not be able scientifically to formulate his belief, recognizes that person is so-called because it is peculiarly the property of a rational being. The basic principle of the dignity of person, for even the unlearned, consists in the fact that person is an autonomous being.

Recently, modern psychologists have begun to question the claims of experimentalists, and to demand recognition of other methods of approach to their problems. Thus, several schools of psychology have arisen. Though differing among themselves as to the nature of person, they all agree that person is not to be explained by experimental methods alone. In assuming this attitude, these psychologists are at one with our view. Yet, because they treat of man as a "thing" whereas he is essentially a person, they are deprived of any fundamental principles that would support a true definition of person.

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