Personalism Revisited: Its Proponents and Critics

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This book presents selected addresses presented before the Personalist Discussion Group meetings held in conjunction with the annual meetings of The American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. It includes the central ideas of American Personalistic Idealism developed during the twentieth century, its major criticisms, and recent developments by philosophers who are either Personalistic Idealists or sympathetic to the position.
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About the author

Thomas O. Buford is the Louis G. Forgione Professor of Philosophy at Furman University, where he has taught since 1969. He is the author or editor of eight books, including Essays on Other Minds (U. Of Illinois Press), Contemporary Studies in Philosophical Idealism (with John Howie; Claud Stark, Publishers), and In Search of a Calling (Mercer University Press). In 1985 he founded The Personalism Forum, which he edited until 1998; the journal is now edited by Randall Auxier at Southern Illinois University. And in 1989 he and Charles Conti of the University of Sussex founded The International Conference on Person, which meets every other year, alternating between Europe and the United States. From 1985 though 1999 he was the Secretary of the Personalist Discussion Group, an organization which has met at the Eastern Division Meetings of The American Philosophical Association every year since 1938.
Harold H. Oliver is Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Theology, School of Theology, Boston University. A graduate of Samford University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Princeton University, and Emory University, Professor Oliver has held an American Association of Theological Schools Faculty Fellowship and at Cambridge University he was the Fellow of Cross-disciplinary Studies. He has contributed to scholarly journals, including Journal of Bible and Religion, Perspectives on Religious Studies, Zygon, Journal of Religion & Science, and the Journal of The American Academy of Religion. Harold is best for known for his seminal work, A Relational Metaphysic, Nijhoff, 1981. He now lives in Deatsville, Alabama.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rodopi
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Published on
Dec 31, 2002
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Pages
399
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ISBN
9789042015197
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Ethics
Religion / Theology
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This content is DRM protected.
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Know Thyself: An Essay in Social Personalism proposes that social Personalism can best provide for self-knowledge. In the West, self-knowledge has been sought within the framework of two dominant intellectual traditions, order and the emerging self. On the one hand, ancient and medieval philosophers living in an orderly hierarchical society, governed by honor and shame, and bolstered by the metaphysics of being and rationalism, believed persons gain self-knowledge through uniting with the ground of their being; once united they would understand what they are, what they are to be, and what they are to do. On the other hand, Renaissance and modern thinkers such as Pico della Mirandola, Copernicus, Descartes, Locke, and Kant shattered the great achievement of the high middle ages and bequeathed to posterity an emerging self in a splintered world. Continuing their search for self-knowledge, the moderns found themselves faced with the dualism of the emerging self of the Renaissance and the natural world as understood by modern scientists. New problems spun out of this dualism, including the mind-body problem; the other minds problem; free will and determinism; the nature and possibility of social relationships; values, moral norms and their relationship to the natural and social worlds; and the relationships between science and religion. Finding self-knowledge among these splinters without a guiding orientation has proven difficult. Even though luminaries such as Spinoza, Berkeley, and Hegel attempted to bring order to the sundered elements, their attempts proved unsatisfactory. We contend that neither order nor the emerging self can adequately provide for self-knowledge. Since those culturally embodied “master narratives” lead us to an impasse, we turn to social Personalism.
Self-knowledge developed in this book shows how persons in relation to the Personal learn who they are, what they are to become, and what they must do to achieve that goal. It also shows that the achievement of self-knowledge is supported by a natural, social, and cultural environment rooted in trust. In this humane and timely discussion, Thomas O. Buford offers a personalist understanding of self-knowledge that avoids the impersonalisms that erode the dignity of persons and their moral life which characterize modern life.
The thesis of this book is that only a social personalism and no form of impersonalism can adequately account for the solidarity and stability of what we individuals share with all other members of our society, our second nature. In the ancient world the discussion of society, at least since Plato and Aristotle, began with the social nature of individuals as found in families and proceeded to topics such as the formation and the well ordering of societies according to eternal principles grasped by reason. Since the beginning of the modern world, at least since Hobbes and Locke, the discussion of society began with the relation of persons and society and then moved on to other topics, usually political and legal ones. The central problem was to find the basis on which individuals formed societies and how they could do so. Buford's question is with a more basic issue: 'What do individuals and society share in common?' or what philosophers since Cicero have called our second nature, and how to best understand its unity and stability. The crisis of our culture in the erosion of both solidarity and stability pointedly manifests itself in our second nature. There the culture in which we live is felt, lived, and shared. Buford asks how we can lay bare our second nature, revealing the extent of the crisis. Our second nature is the form of social actions of persons in triadic relations, and Buford argues that it is there that we find that trust unifies a society and provides the basis for the institutions that stabilize it.
Know Thyself: An Essay in Social Personalism proposes that social Personalism can best provide for self-knowledge. In the West, self-knowledge has been sought within the framework of two dominant intellectual traditions, order and the emerging self. On the one hand, ancient and medieval philosophers living in an orderly hierarchical society, governed by honor and shame, and bolstered by the metaphysics of being and rationalism, believed persons gain self-knowledge through uniting with the ground of their being; once united they would understand what they are, what they are to be, and what they are to do. On the other hand, Renaissance and modern thinkers such as Pico della Mirandola, Copernicus, Descartes, Locke, and Kant shattered the great achievement of the high middle ages and bequeathed to posterity an emerging self in a splintered world. Continuing their search for self-knowledge, the moderns found themselves faced with the dualism of the emerging self of the Renaissance and the natural world as understood by modern scientists. New problems spun out of this dualism, including the mind-body problem; the other minds problem; free will and determinism; the nature and possibility of social relationships; values, moral norms and their relationship to the natural and social worlds; and the relationships between science and religion. Finding self-knowledge among these splinters without a guiding orientation has proven difficult. Even though luminaries such as Spinoza, Berkeley, and Hegel attempted to bring order to the sundered elements, their attempts proved unsatisfactory. We contend that neither order nor the emerging self can adequately provide for self-knowledge. Since those culturally embodied “master narratives” lead us to an impasse, we turn to social Personalism.
Self-knowledge developed in this book shows how persons in relation to the Personal learn who they are, what they are to become, and what they must do to achieve that goal. It also shows that the achievement of self-knowledge is supported by a natural, social, and cultural environment rooted in trust. In this humane and timely discussion, Thomas O. Buford offers a personalist understanding of self-knowledge that avoids the impersonalisms that erode the dignity of persons and their moral life which characterize modern life.
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