Friday, May 30, 2008

More on Personality.

Some thoughts from Maritain concerning the reverence due to personality. It relates to Charlotte Mason's thoughts on the sacredness of personality. (If you wonder why I am suddenly blogging about this subject, I am trying to follow this reading schedule along with the CMSeries group)

In answer to our question, then, "What is man?" we may give the Greek, Jewish and Christian idea of man; man as an animal endowed with reason, whose supreme dignity is in the intellect; and man as a free individual in personal relation with God, whose supreme righteousness consists in voluntarily obeying the law of God....

From the philosophical point of view alone the main concept to be stressed here is the concept of human personality. Man is a person, who holds himself in hand by his intelligence and his will. There is in him a richer and nobler existence; he has spiritual super-existence through knowledge and love....

I should like to observe now that a kind of animal training, which deals with psychophysical habits, conditioned reflexes, sense-memorization, etc., undoubtedly plays its part in education: it refers to material individuality, or to what is not specifically human in man. But education is not animal training. The education of man is a human awakening.

Thus what is of most importance in educators themselves is a respect for the soul as well as for the body of the child, the sense of his innermost essence and his internal resources, and a sort of sacred and loving attention to his mysterious identity, which is a hidden thing that no techniques can reach. And what matters most in the educational enterprise is a perpetual appeal to intelligence and free will in the young.

...thus the prime goal of education is the conquest of internal and spiritual freedom to be achieved by the individual person, or, in other words, his liberation through knowledge and wisdom, good will, and love.
So, to paraphrase:

  • The child (man) is a person.
  • His supreme dignity is in the intellect and will.
  • Training has its place but is not the same as education.
  • Education should appeal to a child's reason and will.
Jacques Maritain is a Thomist, and his view is the traditional Catholic one. In this way, I see Charlotte Mason reclaiming a classical Christian understanding of personality which has tended to be distorted in our skeptical day and age.

While I was looking for something else, I found this old set of newsletters by Karen Glass called Magnaminity -- about CM's educational philosophy and classical education.

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