The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 25, 2023 - 11:49:45

Celebrating two great lives

Katie van Schaijik, Oct 12, 2012

October 12 is a big day for personalists of our stripe.  It is the birthday of both Edith Stein (1891) and Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889).

To mark the happy occasion, a characterically personalist passage from each:

In order to understand the nature of the heart, we must realize that in many respects the heart is more the real self of the person than his intellect or will.  

In the moral sphere it is the will which has the character of a last, valid word.  Here the voice of our free spiritual center counts above all.

We find the true self primarily in the will.  In many other domains, however, it is the heart which is the most intimate part of the person, the core, the real self, rather than the will or the intellect.  This is so in the realm of human love: conjugal love, friendship, filial love, parental love.  The heart is here not only the true self insofar a love aims at the heart of the beloved in a specfic way.  The lover wants to pour his love into the heart of the beloved, he wants to affect his heart, to fill it with happiness, and only then will he feel that he has really reached the beloved, his very self.

We were attempting to show that in all genuine knowledge of God it is God himself who draw near the knower, although his presence may not always be felt as it is in experiential knowledge.  In natural knowledge he draws near in images, works, and manifold effects; in faith by making himself known personally through the Word.

But in the case of any knowledge of persons, rather than disclosing oneself, one may close oneself—even withdraw behind one's own work.  In this case the work still means something, retains an objective significance, but it no longer opens up access to the person, it no longer provides the contact of one mind with another.

God wishes to let himself be found by those who seek him.  Hence he wishes first to be sought.  So we can see why natural revelation is not absolutely clear and unambiguous, but is rather an incentive to seek.