The Personalism of Persons

J.M.E. McTaggart, in 1919, was the first to differentiate two theories of time. He identified the B-theory as the view that time does not exist, whilst the A-theory as an illusionary experience that time exists.

In my Extended Essay, “Temporality vs. Timelessness: Is God Inside or Outside of Time?” I concluded that if time is a subjective, psychological projection, then libertarian free will is negated. Knowledge, conation, and emotion, integrated as love, do not have epistemological significance. This entails that God is impersonal, since God’s timeless nature is beyond everything that we know of (i.e. within time, since we are time-bound creatures within a temporal universe), including personality.

Interestingly, Martin Luther King wrote a paper criticizing McTaggart’s unreality of personality, in 1951. He claims that he studied “Personalistic philosophy—the theory that the meaning of ultimate reality is found in personality… [Personalism gave me] a philosophical grounding for the idea of a personal God, and a metaphysical basis for the dignity and worth of all human personality.”

It is extremely crucial to distinguish the archaic and the modern terminology of personality. In psychology, personality is the characteristics, or mental and moral qualities, of a person. In King’s ontology, personality is the “factual quality of being a person, distinct from a thing or an animal,” as the essential, abstract, intrinsic nature of a person.

Indeed, in virtually all his speeches and writings, in the context of segregation, discrimination, or martyrdom, he explicitly and repeatedly states that every man should “respect the dignity and worth of human personality,” since every man “is an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth.” This is one idea for humanity to attain the one ideal society.

With freedom of choice (rejecting McTaggart’s determinism) comes ethical purity or depravity. Since King’s Personalism concerns the especial significance, uniqueness, and experience of personhood, it is our cosmic responsibility to nurture the ethereal status.

Hence, when King refers to the axiom that “any law that degrades human personality is unjust,” he thus formulates the standard for equilibrium—not in hierarchy, but in individuality. Equality for the blacks and the whites, dissolved into a communitarian solution, is the majestic grandeur of personality.

This is an objective, universal, transcendental law because of who we are, in reflection to who God is, in essence: a Person of infinite dignity and worth.