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  being person-al: beyond what They say

gary e. davis
May 1, 2024
A person—having a proper name—is like everyone else in some general sense
of ‘person’. We’re all persons. Our lives are person-al. We all show person-ality (personhood, personness, personity).

There’s a philosophical literature about how ‘person’ might best be understood, prompted by public controversies about psychological integrity or entitlement. “Person” as such normally worries theorists of public life: inquiry into “moral” (more than ethical?) standing and legal standing (the real weight of “moral”?). Discourse on person-ality tends to focus on notions of “personhood” which meld into issues of “personal identity.”

Especially important for scientific inquiry is that person-ality is about Our kind of intelligent life (anthrogeny), which is even intimated by the standard definition of ‘personality’: a potential for individuation (ontogeny, i.e., genesis of being: begeny), which I mentioned about ‘personality’ earlier (¶ 16 here).

Part of philosophical worry has been that we, as mere organisms, may (to some minds) qualify as a person, such that psychological foci unduly exclude the innate personhood of our biological “nature.” But that’s a confusion. It’s a retrojective personification of biology (projecting adult appreciation of developmentality)—
which, by the way, derivatively shows in anti-abortionist claims that a non-sent-
fetus is a “person” (contrary to medical consensus).

Anyway, such person-ality (anthropological, moral, conceptual) isn’t what we normally mean by ‘personality’, of course. “Personality” (i.e., a use of ‘person-
ality’) normally distinguishes persons from each other, especially relative to what can be said of “me.” I’m more than what can be said of my self by others, and I’m especially more than I so far understand self-reflectively (relative to individuated being in futural Time).

Thinking of my personality is the same as thinking of my self—my selfidentity, including what others can say about me, along with I being self-reflectivity (re-
flectability). There may be a showing of implicit, lifecycal Self to myself (psych-
ality of this singular life) which distinguishes living “I” to myself as integral being: “this” person.
(William James’s I/me difference—Flow of being, which is representable (being)—is well established by research on child and teen development of self understanding; and is integral to “positive” psychology and creativity.)
Difference between self and personality is obvious, relative to others, i.e., relative to interpersonal life, even though nebulous (s/p difference). And self-differenti-
ability is obvious, relative to my self-reflective potential. Lifepsychality is always more than current selfidentity: being Self-differentiable, which is integral to higher individuation, creativity, and therapeutic analysis.

So, the s/p difference has potentially profound importance because we feel our lives, know our lives, and aspire apart from what others or a public cares to recognize. And the S/s difference has potentially profound importance in the sense that depth-psychological (or self-reflective) dwelling is integral to actual-
izing our potential.

There’s a boundless horizon to what can be said generally about being a “person,” oneSelf, because academic understanding can be so protean about oneSelf. Prospecting high cohering appeals because, for inquiring minds, it reflects Our protean “nature.”
(A recent philosophical analysis of personal identity begins by noting that “the topic is sometimes discussed under the protean term self…[but] without any clear meaning[; so, it] will be avoided here.” But that decision conceals the Self / self / [inter]personal reality of being a manifold person, resorting—for that auther—to a manageable scholasticism, which may tend to conceal the reality of person-ality for distinct persons as intelligent potential.)

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  Be fair. © 2024, gary e. davis