Principles of a Personalist Civilisation
Emmanuel Mounier

 

A personalist civilization is one whose structure and spirit are directed towards the development as persons of all the individuals constituting it. [It has as its] ultimate end to enable every individual to live as a person, that is, to exercise a maximum of initiative, responsibility, and spiritual life.

Personalism requires an affirmation of value, viz., the affirmation of the absolute value of the human person. We are not asserting that the human person is an absolute, although for a Christian believer the Absolute is indeed a person, and in strict terminology the spiritual does not exist except as personal.

But we do assert that the human person as defined by us is an absolute in comparison with any other materials or social reality and with any other human person.

It can never by considered merely as part of a whole, whether of family, class, state, nation or even humanity.

God himself, in the doctrines of Christianity, respects the liberty of the person even while vivifying it from within.

The whole theological mystery of free will and original sin is based on the dignity of free choice conferred on man. The Christian accepts it because he believes that man was in his very nature made according to the image of God, that he is called to perfect that image by an ever increasing participation in the supreme liberty of the children of God.

Any discussion of personalism must thus begin at the basic roots of all human existence. If our efforts were confined merely to a defence of manís public liberties or to any rights not further grounded, then our position would be weak indeed; for there would then be danger of defending only individual privileges.