“Individuality and Human Personhood: from ‘refined observation’ to metaphysics”


   In this paper, I want to present a view of the human person that reflects insights found not only in Jacques Maritain, but in a number of other philosophical ‘schools’--including idealist schools. After some brief definitions, I provide what one might call the view of ‘refined observation’ about what it is to be a human individual and a human person. Next, I briefly discuss the role of culture and community that is involved in this view. In a third section, I move to metaphysics--discussing what kind of metaphysics follows from a ‘refined observation’ of the human being, and what this suggests about a metaphysical principle as a principle of individuality and value.

   I conclude that, on the account I provide, to be a human being is to be a being that aims at its complete realization but whose physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual character fundamentally involves others, without compromising its freedom and dignity.