Olive Thorne Miller One of the most interesting birds who ever lived in my Bird Room was a blue jay named Jakie. He was full of business from morning till night, scarcely ever a moment still. Poor little fellow! He had been stole... Read more of THE BUSY BLUE JAY at Children Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational

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Human Personality And Human Nature


What is human personality? It is a psychic entity whose most important
function is to unify the parts of a man's nature. It is the principle
of unity and the instrument of unity. A man's thought, will and
feeling are distinct and real entities. His intelligence takes various
forms from perception to abstract thought; it may be directed to
outward things, to thoughts of things, or to pure idea. He wills many
things, and wills them in different modes and with varying degrees of
intensity. A wide range of feeling is found in him, from physical to
mental, from organic to ideal feeling. His nature is tripartite. Each
part admits of variation in itself and in its interaction with the
other parts. Each of the three expresses the man at the moment. No
one of the three gives the whole account of his being. Nor do the
three taken together. Though his nature is tripartite the man himself
cannot be resolved into component parts. He has his faculties and
states, but he is more than their sum. He may lose himself in thought
or activity, or abandon himself to feeling, but when he is fulfilling
his true function, when he is most himself, all parts of his nature are
concentrated to a point. Partial activity of thought, will, or feeling
is then replaced by activity of the personality. Personality is the
synthetic unity of all parts of a man's nature. It has the wonderful
power of compressing to a point a medley of psychic elements. Moods
and memories, perceptions and ideas, wishes and purposes, it tensions
them all up, merges them and expresses them in characteristic acts
representative of the man.

Personality differs from nature also in respect of relation to
environment. It is relatively independent of circumstances. Habit and
education mould the nature, but if they touch the person they do so
only indirectly. The nature must be deeply affected before a change in
the person is registered. Personality is not synonomous with inherited
disposition; but it bears a similar relation to nature as inherited
disposition does to acquired habit. It is to nature what character is
to action. It is to nature what in Weismann's theory the germ plasm is
to the somatic cell. Changes in it are mediated by nature and are
almost imperceptible in a life time.

Again, nature is the superficies of the soul. It is the part that
comes in contact with the world of things and people. A man's nature
is what he is for other people; what he is in and for himself alone is
personality. There is a substance or self-existence of the psychic
states. Thought, will and feeling have all and each an external
reference. The internal reference of the whole is the core of being.
Our perception of personality in other people is a subtle thing. In
the ordinary give and take of life we are not aware of it. It is when
we realise the subject as a self-existent unity that we recognise
personality. We judge a man's nature by his thought or will or
feelings as conveyed through the ordinary channels of communication.
Personality is felt. It is a magnetism that influences, but remains

Person and nature differ also in respect of relation to the body. The
co-existence of heterogeneous natures in the same body is a fact of
experience. Different universes of thought, different levels of will
and feeling can be lodged in one organism. The higher the development
of the individual, the more clearly marked is the duality or plurality
of nature. It is otherwise with personality. In normal cases no two
personalities can tenant the one body. The unity of the organism is
the outward expression and guarantee of the unity of the person. There
are of course pathological cases which form exceptions to this rule.
Such cases, however, only serve to emphasise the distinction between
person and nature. In cases of dual personality the occupancy of the
one body is not simultaneous. Jekyll alternates with Hyde. Dual
personality is a totally different phenomenon from duality of nature.
Duality of nature is relatively superficial. In dual personality the
divergence in mental and moral outlook is so radical that
responsibility for the acts of the one entity cannot attach to the
other entity.

Personality then is the synthetic principle in man's being. Psychology
reveals it as unifying the parts of a man's soul and welding into an
indivisible whole the various elements of conscious and subconscious
experience. The student of Christology welcomes this account of
personality, but he requires more. He seeks a parallel for the union
of two whole and perfect natures. He demands some reason for holding
the central dogma of the incarnation to be intelligible and probable.
The next step in the argument accordingly is to ask, "Why limit the
synthetic power of personality?" If personality can synthesise parts
of a nature, why should it not also synthesise natures? If human
personality can unify such heterogeneous psychic elements as thought,
will and feeling, and present them as a harmonious whole, is it not
credible that divine personality should carry the synthesis a step
further and harmonise in one being the thoughts, wills and feelings of
God and man? The hypostatic union of natures in Christ is a phenomenon
not psychologically improbable, and one which can be paralleled from
human experience. There is in man what is tantamount to a conjunction
of the two natures. Man is rather diphysite than monophysite. We
pointed out above the extensive modifications that can be produced in a
man's nature by environment. There is in him a deeper duality which we
can only characterise as an association of divine and human. Man is an
inhabitant of the earth, of earthly descent and finite destiny; yet the
divine is not totally foreign to him. He has hopes of heaven, moments
of supraconsciousness, at times vision, resolve and emotion that are
supra-normal. The divine is an element in him. It is more than an
aspect of his nature. Its influence operates often in opposition to
the human element. He is, as Bergson puts it, at the meeting-point of
the upward and the downward currents. He can know God, can do the will
of God, can be filled with the love of God. Here are the three factors
of his nature, raised to a higher power. His experience may lie and
often does lie on two planes. He is "double lived in regions new."

In applying this human analogy to the ideal man caution is necessary.
The duality of natures is a fact in both cases, but there is one
essential difference. The personal substratum of the natures in one
case is human, in the other case divine. In man the divine element is
part of his nature, but not part of his person. The ego remains human
through all spiritual development. "The best of saints is a saint at
the best." The secondary element in him is a fact, but it is part of
his nature, not of his person. It is otherwise in the case of Christ.
He came from the ideal world and returned there. The background of his
experience was and is divine. The secondary element in Him was the
human, the primary the divine. He shared man's experience and shared
it really, but it did not form part of the core of His being. When He
thought or willed or felt as a man, it was a kenosis, a limiting of
his natural mode of self-expression. Divine and human are both present
in the experience of Christ and of mankind, but with this
difference--man rises to the divine; Christ condescended to the human.

Next: Value Of Bergson's Psychology To Orthodox Christology

Previous: Kant And The Dual Character Of The Ego

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