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Dr. John F. Crosby and Dr. Daniel Kuebler on Purposeful Lab Podcast.
Purposeful UniverseMarch 19, 20243 min read

Purposeful Lab: Personalism, The Philosophy We Need Today

In this episode of Purposful Lab, Dan interviews philosopher Dr. John F. Crosby on the new and exciting research in the field of personalism, a philosophy that highlights the importance of the human person. Personalism offers a fresh perspective on human existence, shedding light on life's mysteries, including the mysteries of life and death and the ultimate purpose of the human person in the cosmos.

Dr. John F. Crosby is a Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He has written extensively on Personalism, including his book "The Personalism of John Paul II."


Personalism and the Uniqueness of Humans

Dr. Cosby explains that one of the primary things that set humans apart is the fact that although we share a universal nature, there is no repeatability of persons. Meaning that each individual person within the world will only occur once. There will be only one YOU, and when a person leaves the world, no one else will take their place. This reality is one of the primary reasons why humans are driven to love. We love individuals deeply, not a universal type of person.

What is Personalistic Philosophy?

When describing what Personalistic Philosophy is, Dr. Cosby references the words of Cardinal Henry Newman. Cardinal Newman said that it had not pleased God to redeem us through dialectical reasoning but rather through that which appeals to the heart. Meaning, logic and reason alone cannot bring us to God, we need to be able to encounter Him through the warmth of nature, His love, and the love of others. In this way, true knowledge of God does not come through deducing His existence but rather through the warmth of His love in existence. This principle forms the basis of Personalistic Philosophy.

Personalism was a reaction to the degradation of persons which the world experienced during the 20th century. Two world wars, abortion, widespread conflict, and blatant disregard for human life prompted many Catholic thinkers to make the individual subject an important part of philosophy. Through Personalistic Philosophy, we can begin to listen to the human subject without moral subjectivism. We can understand the truths of reality in light of human subjective experience.

Precursors to Personalism in Nature

Dr. Cosby claims that even in one-celled living organisms, we find precursors to the type of freedom that humans embody. All living organisms exhibit levels of direction, instinct, and even some human-like qualities. However, true freedom fulfills the hints that we can find in nature. The world is never purely mechanistic, and in a real sense, everything is proto-personal. However, man is a microcosm that embodies the highest form of freedom within nature. Human persons are not foreigners within a mechanistic universe. Rather, we have a uniquely priestly role within the universe due to the fact that we can act in a way that can unify and harmonize with the universe.

Complexity and Risk in Personalism

Within human freedom, there is always a risk to our actions. However, it is a risk which brings about purpose in our lives. God sees any choice we make for the good as something ultimately precious and worthy of creating. This ability within us to choose the good is why it is important to understand the subjective experience of the person; we can understand the other through the heart, rather than reason alone. Just as we cannot come to know God through reason alone, the same way we cannot truly know the other without the warmth of love, which starts with understanding the individual subject.

Take a Listen

This episode demonstrates that within the modern polarized world, the need to understand the individual human subject without moral subjectivity is of utmost importance. One can take a philosophically personalistic approach without rejecting absolute moral laws. By understanding the subjective experience of the person, reason can collaborate with the heart to bring about a world rooted in the love of Christ.  




Purposeful Universe

The Purposeful Universe seeks to explore and present, through award winning videos, the abundant order in nature that funnels biological systems toward increasing levels of complexity and sophistication—suggesting that human life is the purposeful outcome of a complex, ordered system.