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John Crosby

Persons Are Unrepeatable

Dec. 28 at 7:00am


Editor’s note: What follows is the fourth of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


We know how dangerous it is to think of human beings in terms of general types or patterns. We think of someone as a typical Serb, a typical woman, a typical adolescent. If we think that this is all there is to them, that there is nothing else of significance about them besides being a typical this or that, then we lose sight of them as persons. We have only to consider the point of view of people who are viewed through the lens of general types and patterns; they feel ignored as persons. Just when I think someone is taking a personal interest in me, I painfully realize that the interest is based only on my being a typical something or other. This means that the one taking the interest in me would take the same interest in any other equally typical man or woman, and so his interest is not really in me as a person. In other words, I am replaceable in his eyes by any other equally good instance of the type that interests him. This is why I feel offended: I know that as a person I am in fact more than just a replaceable instance of a type.

There are, of course, beings that are nothing more than replaceable instances of a type. Take, for example, the thousands of copies of each issue of Lay Witness. Each is only an instance of a given issue of the magazine. If you lose the copy that came in the mail you can completely recover your loss by getting another copy; you will find everything in the second copy that you had looked for in the first. Any one copy completely replaces any other copy of a given issue.

With persons it is just the opposite: No person is replaceable by any other, because no person exists in the first place as a mere instance or specimen of a type or pattern. This amazing irreplaceability, or unrepeatability, lies at the heart of what it is to be a person. This truth receives particular attention in the personalism of Pope John Paul II. It is closely connected with the interiority of persons and also with each person being his or her own end, aspects of personhood discussed in previous installments. Pope John Paul II writes:

We speak of individual animals, looking upon them simply as single specimens of a particular animal species. And this definition suffices. But it is not enough to define a man as an individual of the species Homo sapiens. And why not? Because each human being is more than just an instance of the human kind; we do not know a human being as person if we know him only in terms of that which is common to all human beings.

The Holy Father continues:

The term "person" has been coined to signify that a man cannot be wholly contained within the concept "individual member of the species," but that there is something more to him, a particular richness and perfection in the manner of his being, which can only be brought out by the use of the word "person."

This "something more" is what makes each person unrepeatably himself or herself. Let us bring in here the great philosophical question of whether an individual human being in any sense lives on after death. Now, if each were just a specimen of the human kind, if this were the whole truth about each, then there would be no point in each individual living on; an unending succession of different individuals would provide all the continuity of existence that could be desired. After all, if human beings were repeatable, the ongoing existence of any one individual is not really necessary.

It is only because each human being is more than an instance of the human kind or a mere specimen of any particular type or quality-but rather a person, unrepeatably himself or herself-that each individual human being ought to exist forever. If a person were to go out of existence altogether, then something would be lost to the world that could never be recovered in any subsequent person. Humanity would suffer an irretrievable loss. This loss is averted only if there is not an unending succession of human beings, but the continued existence of each individual human person.

Here is a good way of recognizing this mysterious unrepeatability of each human person. The more you come to know and love some person, the less you find yourself able to express what it is that you know and love. You find something in the other that is unutterable, ineffable, unspeakable. You can describe well enough the various qualities of the other, the types and kinds that he falls under, but there is something else, something deeper in the other that escapes your expressive and descriptive powers. You see and experience this something else as you come to know and love the other as person, but you cannot render it in clear concepts, and you just stammer when you try. What you are encountering is precisely the other as unrepeatable person. The problem is that our language is only suited to expressing properties that are common to many; it fails us when we try to give expression to that which is unrepeatably some person's own.

A famous French writer once said: "If I am entreated to say why I loved him, I feel that this cannot be expressed except by answering, ëBecause it was he, because it was I.'" This is, of course, not much of an answer to the question why I love someone, but it's all we can say when we reach beyond the genus and species of the other, beyond all the qualities he has, beyond all the stereotypes that he fits, all the kinds that he belongs to, all the classes that he can be gathered into, and reach for the unrepeatable person that he is.

Here we have the reason for the awe that Pope John Paul II feels before human persons, for the way he stresses each human person, none excluded, when he speaks of personal dignity. It all comes from his strong sense of the unrepeatability of each person. As everyone knows, Pope John Paul II has a particular concern for those who suffer, for the helpless, for the unborn. Whereas the world sees little in these people, since it is looking for outstanding instances of human qualities, Pope John Paul II bends down with the mind of Christ to each of them, recognizing the unrepeatable person in each of them.

Let us glance back at the second installment, where we explained why each person is his or her own end and is never rightly used as an instrumental means. This is obviously closely akin to being unrepeatable. It makes little difference whether you violate persons by using them in a purely instrumental way, or by treating them as replaceable specimens. Sometimes these two ways of violating persons seem to coincide. For example, suppose an employer meets with someone applying for a job; if he sees the applicant only in terms of the job description, that is, only as a good or bad specimen of the job description, if he acknowledges nothing more in the applicant, then he is at one and the same time treating the applicant as replaceable and using the applicant as a mere means for the functioning of his enterprise. He is failing to treat the applicant as one who is his own end and also as one who is an unrepeatable person. These are simply two aspects of what it is to be a person.

We can also cast a glance back at the interiority of persons. Recall how we distinguished between looking at someone from the outside and looking at someone from the inside. Well, as long as we look from the outside, talking about him in the third person, seeing him as an object, we tend to see him in terms of qualities that he has in common with many others. But as soon as we change perspectives and realize that this person has his own hopes and fears and sufferings, as soon as we practice a certain empathy toward him, enter into his interiority, and understand him when he says "I," then we see him as unrepeatable person. If the employer interviewing the applicant will only take a little interest in how the applicant experiences the world, a little interest in what makes him anxious and what makes him happy, he will begin to see the candidate as person. By being sensitive to the applicant's interiority, the employer begins to encounter him as unrepeatable person.

Pope John Paul II has no intention of belittling our common human nature. Through our common nature we exist in a profound solidarity with one another. As Christians, we believe that human nature is the channel through which the redemptive work of Christ is communicated to us. Christ restored human nature in Himself, and we can be restored for the very reason that we share human nature with Him. Pope John Paul II affirms all of this in its place, but he also affirms that as persons we are never mere instances or specimens of this common nature, for persons are truly unrepeatable.


 

Tim Cronin

Orthodox Theologian John Zizioulas locates Person in the tropos hyparxeos, the mode of being, the how someone exists in relation to others. The person is constitutively relational and finds his identity in relationships with others and the Supreme Other of the Trinity. While we all share a common human nature and can find solidarity in this nature it is through how we are with others that are identity as a person is formed.  -Tim 

#1 - Dec. 28 at 9:08pm | quote

 

Tim Cronin

As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God. Hence these relations take on fundamental importance. - Pope Benedict XVI Caritas in veritate

#2 - Dec. 28 at 9:41pm | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

"The more you come to know and love some person, the less you find yourself able to express what it is that you know and love...there is something else, something deeper in the other that escapes your expressive and descriptive powers."

This point reminds me of a line from Kierkegaard (from memory):

"The more love, the less 'why.'"

I remember a vivid experience of the phenomenon.  In the middle of my courtship with Jules, when I was intensely experiencing  the bliss of in-loveness, I met a friend I hadn't seen in a few years.  She said with eager friendliness, "I hear you're in love.  What's he like?"

I was completely tongue-tied.  I seemed to have nothing to say.  She was clearly a bit disappointed by my response.  Maybe even a little concerned.  But I couldn't help it.  The thought of trying to describe him in the terms we had used in telling each other about our high school crushes was impossible, abhorrent even.  Better to just say, "He's great," and leave it at that.

#3 - Dec. 29 at 11:20am | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

I'm also remembering a line from a Shakespeare sonnet:

Who is it that says most, which can say more,
Than this rich praise, that you alone, are you?


#4 - Dec. 29 at 11:23am | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

Tim Cronin, Dec. 28 at 9:41pm

As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. 

What I resist in this is the suggestion that a person's individuality could be something that doesn't actually reside in the person.  Or am I misunderstanding?

UPDATE: I originally wrote "does" when I meant "doesn't. Glad you still seem to have gathered my general drift.

#5 - Dec. 29 at 11:25am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

Katie van Schaijik, Dec. 29 at 11:25am

Tim Cronin, Dec. 28 at 9:41pm

As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. 

What I resist in this is the suggestion that a person's individuality could be something that does actually reside in the person.  Or am I misunderstanding?

What this is denying is the concept of an individual. A person is utterly unique but that uniqueness is established through constitutive relations. There are no individuals as everyone is a gift from persons and finds their identity in being gifts to persons. Solitary confinement is such a cruel punishment because it goes against what a person is. So person is established in relationship. The how (mode of being) someone is through the what (nature) they are. 

#6 - Dec. 29 at 9:38pm | quote

 

Tim Cronin

Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church

Persons in Relation

These two books speak about the person as a constitutively relational.

#7 - Dec. 29 at 9:41pm | quote

 

Tim Cronin

I think one possible explanatin for not being able to explain the one we love is that the best way to describe (him in your case Katie) is: husband of Katie, father of ..., friend of..., servant of .... Church, son in the Son, etc... A person living for others, and thus experiencing true personshood, is probably best described by the relationships he (she) is living for.

#8 - Dec. 29 at 9:47pm | quote

 

Jules van Schaijik

But if there are no individuals, one could not say "husband of Katie."  What's worse, one could not BE husband of Katie.  Instead, I would have to describe myself as the husband of the daughter of the son of the son of the son of ... ad infinitum.  And that description would only be the beginning because it leaves out Katie's relation to her mother and siblings, not to mention friends, etc.

Don't you think this shows the absurdity of denying the existence of individuals?

#9 - Dec. 30 at 7:08am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

I guess what I'm saying is an individual can't be thought of in isolation. You could not be defined apart from the relationships that shaped you and the ones that continue to shape you.

#10 - Dec. 30 at 7:51am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

Certainly Boethius' definition of person as an individual substance of a rational nature is incomplete...

#11 - Dec. 30 at 7:58am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

The Persons of the Trinity share One Divine Nature. The way we speak of them as Persons is "Son of the Father", "Father"-relational terms. We don't define them as Persons based on qualities of their nature as these are shared, As we come fully into our ersonhood in Christ and each other I think somethin analagous happens. 

#12 - Dec. 30 at 8:06am | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

Finding Boethius' definitition incomplete is different from finding it wrong.

Nor does a belief that persons are individuals entail believing that individuals can exists in radical isolation from all relationships.

#13 - Dec. 30 at 8:22am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

I just started reading "Contemporary Ethical Issues - A Personalistic Perspective" today by Walter G. Jeffko. He puts it this way: "The unit of personal existence is not I in isolation, but You and I as inherently related to each other. ...In contrast to the mutuality of the personal, individualism holds that the human being is fully constituted as a person in himself or herself, indepenent of relations with other persons. The solitary I is the unit of personal existence. Sociality, culture, and community are external to personhood rather than constitutive of it. Rene Descartes cogito and the social contract theories of Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Janques Rosseau, and John Locke are major exaples of individualism."

Any definition or attempted description of the mystery of the person that excludes "the other" is inadequate.

#14 - Dec. 30 at 9:02pm | quote

 

Jules van Schaijik

Tim Cronin, Dec. 30 at 9:02pm

Any definition or attempted description of the mystery of the person that excludes "the other" is inadequate.

Agreed.

#15 - Dec. 30 at 10:06pm | quote

John Crosby

I think Jules and Katie are right to resist the view that dissolves a person into his or her relations to others (not that Tim Cronin means to say this).  If you go too far in reducing persons to their relations to others, then how can you make sense of the personhood of a human embryo, which has as yet no conscious relations to anyone?  I-Thou relations are indeed essential for the full flourishing of a person, but if they are essential for the very being of a person, then embryos are not persons. Furthermore, in our enthusiasm for I-Thou relations we have to take care not to make non-sense of authentic self-love.  There is such a thing as accepting oneself or hating oneself.  There are relatively few people, I think, who achieve a well-ordered self-acceptance.  This means that the relations by which a person establishes himself or herself are not just relations to others, but to oneself as well.  We should, I suggest, affirm a polarity of self and other, and take care to avoid a reduction of self to other.  This has nothing to do with the individualism that Tim Cronin rightly opposes.

#16 - Jan. 1 at 9:26pm | quote

 

Tim Cronin

An embryo is the love between husband and wife that has become so real as to become a third person, thus imaging the Trinity. If we removed the embryo from this context and thought of him as an isolated subject we would fail to see him for who he is. I think this is one of the underlying causes of abortion. The mother fails to recognize who she has become by this relationship. She is forever the mother of that child whether she chooses to destroy the child or not.

I think the best way to an authentic self love for a developing child is the affirmation of the parents and ultimately of God. Without the affirmation of these relationships the child will likely not form a good self-concept/self-love. 

My point is not to reduce the person to pure relationality but to recognize the person as constituted by communion and fulfilled in communion. 

#17 - Jan. 2 at 9:17pm | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

Tim Cronin, Jan. 2 at 9:17pm

My point is not to reduce the person to pure relationality but to recognize the person as constituted by communion and fulfilled in communion. 

You are right that we need to deepen our appreciation of "the communitarian dimension of the person".  But we also need to deepen our appreciation of the unique and irrepeatable selfhood of each and every individual.

I've been thinking a lot lately of the phenonemon of co-dependency, and the distortions that come into human relationships, and to our sense of identity, when persons are not recognized as persons—as their own unique center of being—but only in relation to someone else's center: their parents, or their spouse, say.  

In such a case (and they're all over the place these days), focusing on the way our identity is constituted by our relationships can be horribly destructive--just like a stress on "rugged individualism" can be destructive for a person who's sunk in selfishness.

A right philosophy of the person involves holding all the truths of personal existence in proper balance.

#18 - Jan. 3 at 8:42am | quote

 

Samantha

There are no individuals as everyone is a gift from persons and finds their identity in being gifts to persons. ...So person is established in relationship. The how (mode of being) someone is through the what (nature) they are. 

Regarding the "normativity" of love, especially in marriage, would the will not override our natural inclination to love one person over another? In Katie's example, say Jules was the object of her love, but she was not "sold" on the practical element of her love. If he was not a match to her goals in career, spirituality, family, so on, would she then be obliged by the will to not choose him, to find another love?

This brings me back to a quote from Nussbaum: "The choice between one potential love and another can feel, and be, like a choice of a way of life, a decision to dedicate oneself to these values rather than these."

A more existential approach to the act of love, this statement has resonated with me. Would you say that is a a fair description of the role of choice in love? How does it relate to love and personalist philosophy? 

#19 - Jan. 4 at 12:08am | quote

 

Samantha

John Crosby, Jan. 1 at 9:26pm

 If you go too far in reducing persons to their relations to others, then how can you make sense of the personhood of a human embryo, which has as yet no conscious relations to anyone?  I-Thou relations are indeed essential for the full flourishing of a person, but if they are essential for the very being of a person, then embryos are not persons. Furthermore, in our enthusiasm for I-Thou relations we have to take care not to make non-sense of authentic self-love.  

You touched on a question that Cronin's idea of the relational self led me to ask: the status of self-love in a necessarily other-oriented concept of the self. It would seem that self-love prior to the love of/from others would be impossible, as would the personhood of embryos, according to that logic. What do you consider "authentic self-love?" I would affirm that my sense of self-care, of self-respect and esteem undoubtedly increase when my love for another is requited, but can I "love" myself in a way that is anything more than "merely analagous," to reference von Hildebrand, to the love of others?

#20 - Jan. 4 at 12:16am | quote

 

Samantha

Tim Cronin, Jan. 2 at 9:17pm

An embryo is the love between husband and wife that has become so real as to become a third person, thus imaging the Trinity. 

I agree on your point that a "failure" to recognize this premise is a common cause for abortion. This is a very controversial claim to be made in today's society. Citing specifically "husband and wife" leads to immediate exclusion of many embryos formed by couples today. For many, this premise would be considered "idealistic" and even "unrealistic-" I can think of many pro-choice individuals who cite exceptions to the "rule" of loving creation as justifications of abortion, like rape. Many like to point to the "reality" of procreation as accidental or instrumental, leading to abortion or surrogacy, but I think this basic premise is a justification for the Catholic teaching on procreation. It is interesting to break down the teaching into this principle of personhood, formed by man and woman through love. In affirming the natural miracle of God, one excludes the "unnatural" creation of human life through artificial means. This beautiful premise reminds me that "idealistic" does not have to be pejorative.

#21 - Jan. 4 at 12:31am | quote

 

Samantha

Tim Cronin, Jan. 2 at 9:17pm

I think the best way to an authentic self love for a developing child is the affirmation of the parents and ultimately of God. Without the affirmation of these relationships the child will likely not form a good self-concept/self-love. 

I agree; love is best learned from a very young age. What children are surrounded by imprints in their minds as "normal." So, if the child is surrounded by "authentic" love, it is likely that his/her concept of love will inform their relationships and friendships in the future in a wholly positive way. As many learn unconsciously about family, love, and the self from early childhood, those from a home in which love and stability is absent would be fighting "against all odds" to learn what self-love and stability "authentically" is. We should all feel blessed to be born into a world in which such concepts are intuitive- In my life I have close friends who have to seek archetypes of loving parents and relationships outside of their family.

For you, what constitutes "good self-love," and how does it relate or differ from a good "self-concept"?

#22 - Jan. 4 at 12:48am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

Katie van Schaijik, Jan. 3 at 8:42am

Tim Cronin, Jan. 2 at 9:17pm

My point is not to reduce the person to pure relationality but to recognize the person as constituted by communion and fulfilled in communion. 

A right philosophy of the person involves holding all the truths of personal existence in proper balance.

Agreed we need to think of persons as relation and substance. We are neither pure relationality nor pure substance. I think it always helps to think of the Trinity. We call the Father, Father - a relational term. The Father and the Son are defined by relational terms to each other. Yet each is a unique Person. Codependency is an absorption. On the other hand people who seek to be unique by being independent are still defining themselves in relation to others but it is a relation of opposition. In Aristotle's philosophy relation is an accident...this is incorrect.

#23 - Jan. 5 at 7:57am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

Samantha Schroeder, Jan. 4 at 12:08am

There are no individuals as everyone is a gift from persons and finds their identity in being gifts to persons. ...So person is established in relationship. The how (mode of being) someone is through the what (nature) they are. 

A more existential approach to the act of love, this statement has resonated with me. Would you say that is a a fair description of the role of choice in love? How does it relate to love and personalist philosophy? 

We recognize the good  and truth of the other person and and transcend ourselves in love by going towards the other person. It is a covenant decision so it should result in a permament transendence through continual covenant acts. In this way we are constituted by our spousal relationships.

#24 - Jan. 5 at 8:05am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

Samantha Schroeder, Jan. 4 at 12:48am

Tim Cronin, Jan. 2 at 9:17pm

I think the best way to an authentic self love for a developing child is the affirmation of the parents and ultimately of God. Without the affirmation of these relationships the child will likely not form a good self-concept/self-love. 

For you, what constitutes "good self-love," and how does it relate or differ from a good "self-concept"?

I'm not sure..is self-concept what we think about ourselves and self-love how we feel about ourselves? If so self-love would be whether we value ourselves and look at ourselves as good. God created us "very good" and in His Love we can truly love ourselves. Self-concept maybe related to whether we understand ourselves as we truly are.

#25 - Jan. 5 at 8:13am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

From Communion and Otherness, Zizoulas - In the fourth century..hypostasis ceased to denote substancd and became synonymous with..person.   The ontological question is not answered by pointing to the 'self-existent', to a being as it is determined by its own boundaries, but to a being which in its ekstasis breaks through these boundaries in a movement of communion...Such a being free from these boundaries is free, not in a moral but in an ontological sense..Therefore a particular bein is itself and not another one because of its uniqueness which is esbalished in communion and which renders a particular being unrepeatable as it forms part of a relational existence in which it is indespensable and irreplaceable.... That which therefore make a particular personal being be itself and thus be at all is in the finaly analysis communion, freedom and love....When we say therefore God is, we do not refer to a being as being but to the Father, a term which denotes being in the sense of hypostatsis, that is, of person.

#26 - Jan. 5 at 11:56am | quote

 

Tim Cronin

From Zizoulas page 141: There is not and should not be personal existence which is self-existent, self-sufficient or self-explicable. A person is always a gift from someone. It is demonic to attribute one's own personal identity to oneself or to an a-personal something. Persons have a cause, because they are the outcome of love and freedom, and they owe their being who they are, their distinctive otherness as persons, to another person. pg 89: The beloved one is unique because he or she is the beloved of someone, his or her beloved one. This o the only identity that makes him ore her unique: it is a relational identity.

#27 - Jan. 5 at 12:03pm | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

Tim Cronin, Jan. 5 at 7:57am

Agreed we need to think of persons as relation and substance. We are neither pure relationality nor pure substance. I think it always helps to think of the Trinity. We call the Father, Father - a relational term. The Father and the Son are defined by relational terms to each other. Yet each is a unique Person. 

The concept of person emerged from theological debates, but there are limits to a Trinitarian conception of human personhood.  Human persons are not "con-substantial" with one another.  Nor are their wills harmoniously united.  In fact, they often clash painfully.  Wojtyla called another person's will an "impassable frontier" between him and me.  There is no such frontier between the Persons of the Holy Trinity.

#28 - Jan. 5 at 1:39pm | quote

 

Jules van Schaijik

Tim, have you seen the lecture given by John Zizioulas at the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project's 2010 conference in Rome?  If not, and you have a free hour, here is the link:

An Ontology of Love: A Patristic Reading of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s “The Nature of Love”

(It is the last video on the page.)

#29 - Jan. 5 at 1:41pm | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

Samantha Schroeder, Jan. 4 at 12:08am

Regarding the "normativity" of love, especially in marriage, would the will not override our natural inclination to love one person over another? In Katie's example... If he was not a match to her goals in career, spirituality, family, so on, would she then be obliged by the will to not choose him, to find another love?

Yes.  I think so too, Samantha.  Or rather, I would not say "obliged".  If I understand your questions rightly, I would say we are not determined by the gift of love we receive.  We have to choose what we will do with it.  Will we return it?  Cultivate it?  Forsake all others? Commit ourselves to it in marriage?  Or will we decline to do those things?

Sometimes we ought to decline, because we judge that pursuing that love would interfere with other values that have a priority in our lives, or because we think it wouldn't be good for other reasons.

Sometimes it's just a choice.  Like pursuing a career in music rather than medicine.

#30 - Jan. 5 at 1:48pm | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

It's also true, as Kierkegaard says, that "we move in the direction that love calls."  But sometimes we are torn between loves and directions for a time.  It can be painful and bewildering.

#31 - Jan. 5 at 2:05pm | quote

 

Katie van Schaijik

Tim Cronin, Jan. 5 at 12:03pm

The beloved one is unique because he or she is the beloved of someone, his or her beloved one. This o the only identity that makes him or her unique: it is a relational identity.

I agree with Zizoulas on the point that every person is created through love and freedom.  That every individual stands in objective relation to others; that such relations are constituative of our being; that it is false, arrogant, destructive and demeaning to imagine that we can account for our own uniqueness and live in isolation from others.

But, again, I balk at the suggestion that our uniqueness comes from our relations.  We have a reality of our own.  We received our being as a gift, but it is something, not nothing, and not nothing other than our relationships.

#32 - Jan. 5 at 2:11pm | quote

John Crosby

Tim Cronin, Jan. 5 at 12:03pm

The beloved one is unique because he or she is the beloved of someone, his or her beloved one. This o the only identity that makes him ore her unique: it is a relational identity.

This does not sound right. Whoever loves another is drawn to the other in the consciousness that the other is unrepeatably beautiful. This means that the unique beauty of the other grounds my love: but this is the opposite of saying that my love grounds the uniqueness of the beloved person. You eliminate the uniqueness of a person as a motive for loving that person, if you make this uniqueness a result of loving that person. The idea that a person, considered apart from being loved, is replaceable by any other, and that he is constituted as unreplaceable only by being loved, is incoherent. What one really wants to say, and what is quite coherent, and indeed very true, is that a person flourishes in his or her unique personal identity, he or she manifests it fully, only in the giving and receiving of love.

#33 - Jan. 5 at 4:43pm | quote

 

Tim Cronin

Jules van Schaijik, Jan. 5 at 1:41pm

Tim, have you seen the lecture given by John Zizioulas at the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project's 2010 conference in Rome?  If not, and you have a free hour, here is the link:

An Ontology of Love: A Patristic Reading of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s “The Nature of Love”

(It is the last video on the page.)

That's funny I just posted it on the site and then saw your comment...

#34 - Jan. 5 at 8:50pm | quote

 

Tim Cronin

Katie van Schaijik, Jan. 5 at 1:39pm

Human persons are not "con-substantial" with one another. Nor are their wills harmoniously united.

Yes, according to our nature we are seperate. And our nature is orientated toward the division of death. The ascetical effort allows our person to transcend our nature and enter into personal communion. Our nature is not what makes us particular but general. Yes are wills are not united, it is through love that our particularity is found and our wills united. Zizioulas:

The person cannot exist in isolation...Love is a relationship it is the free coming out of oneself, the breaking of one's will, a free submission to the will of another..the logos of our being lies in the relationship of love that makes us unique and irreplaceable for another..As images of God we are persons, not natures: there can never be an image of the nature of God, nor would it be a welcome thing for humanity to be absorbed in diveine nature...persons can neither reproduced or perpetuated like species..death dissolves us all into one.

#35 - Jan. 5 at 9:30pm | quote

 

Tim Cronin

cont'd from #35..

death dissolves us all into one indistinguishable nature. What gives us an identity that does not die is not our nature but our personal relationship with God's undying personal identity.

#36 - Jan. 5 at 9:32pm | quote

 

Tim Cronin

John Crosby, Jan. 5 at 4:43pm

The idea that a person, considered apart from being loved, is replaceable by any other, and that he is constituted as unreplaceable only by being loved, is incoherent.

We are loved and therefore we are. We are not replaceable by any other as persons.

#37 - Jan. 5 at 9:47pm | quote

 

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