God is mystery, beyond all truth, beauty, and goodness that we can comprehend. God eternally chose/chooses to be a person, to relate with other persons. Personality is a mystery, too. Year after year, we go through changes, and yet we are the same person. No matter how well you know someone, you could never define that person. When you love someone, it is not just about the mind and body. There is something indefinable, something wonderful beyond words.
Philosophy is in the business of interpreting the meaning of major concepts, but mystery goes beyond meaning. Wisdom recognizes mystery; wisdom does not try to reduce mystery to something explainable. But wisdom does not fall into permanent silence in the face of mystery. For example, there are still some things that we can say about personality.
For Nikolai Berdyaev, each personality is unique, mysterious, wonderful, and constant through change. The mystery of personality is never fully predictable or comprehensible; it is beyond everything worldly that can be treated as an object by biology or the human sciences. “Personality is the unchanging in change, unity in the manifold.” Human personality transcends itself by relating to God, to other people, to supreme values, and to the “interior existence of the world.” Personality is connected with the mystery of free will. Personality is victory over all mere belonging to a hereditary or social type—victory in effort and conflict, victory over slavery, conquest of self and world. Personality includes reason but is not governed by reason. Nor is personality the soul. Personality encompasses spirit, soul, and body. “Personality, which is not a sum of parts, acts always as a whole . . . on the way to perfectly accomplished unity and wholeness.”
On the basis of this concept, reason can draw a conclusion. If personality is constant throughout change, it cannot be like the body and mind, which change as we grow. A personality that remains constant no matter how perfect we become cannot be a product of evolution; it must have come straight from God. Therefore, each human personality is a masterpiece of the Creator’s art.
Do you find that there is something to the persons you know that is not the same as the mind, the body, or the soul? Do you recognize a unique and indefinable constant through change? How would you express this mystery?
This post concludes our series on philosophical living and begins a transition to spiritual living.
Nikolai Berdiaev, chapter 1, “Personality,” in Slavery and Freedom (London: G. Bles, Centenary Press, 1943). http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/17/Berdyaev2.jpg/95px-Berdyaev2.jpg