Colección: La Educación
Número: (119) III
3. How did you personally and epistemologically arrive at the concept of personalism?
There are two aspects to be considered: the biographical and the epistemological. The first is much easier. When you speak of your biographies, you speak either of chance or of divine providence. I am grateful to the divine providence that I have been fortunate to study with important teachers who opened my mind to the personalistic view of man, culture and education. In particular, there are three that I would like to mention. The first is my teacher of philosophy, Rudolph Berlinger. He taught me about the famous Copernican change that Augustine brought to Greek philosophy when he said, let us no longer study man in the world, but let us study that great miraclethat every man has a whole world within himself. So let us start the world in man. How is it possible for man to keep all the world in his heart and for man to create his own world? That is a tremendous question. After this lecture by Berlinger, I have never ceased to see or use this perspective. I can never see education as a way of putting something into the child, but rather as how a young child can begin to create his own world. I once gave a lecture at an international congress about moral education. Afterwards, a colleague asked me why I hadnt spoken about the internalization of values. I was a little surprised at the question and I did not know immediately how to answer. After reflecting a moment I said, I am an educator, and as an educator I am not interested in how values can be internalized in a child. For me, it is much more interesting to question how values can be externalized, how a young child, or even a child within his first year of age, makes it clear that he values and evaluates. When he cries, he means I want this and not that. The externalization of values is much more interesting and valuable to study than pure internalization of values.
Romano Guardini is the second teacher I want to mention, and he taught me a very simple thing. He taught me that any philosophy starts with a certain world view. Science has its insuperable, insurmountable limits and when science reaches its limits, there is another way to move forward. It may be faith, or intuition or something else. Guardini taught me that we should never look for any neutral science or aseptic science because to neglect the Christian point of view does not mean to become neutral, it means that you change one point of view for another. I think it was very helpful to listen to Guardini and see how he presented his vision of the Christian world. If I were not a Christian, I would be a Socialist, or a Marxist, or a functionalist, or a liberalist or something else. You have to be yourself; no one can be neutral or valueless.
My third teacher was the Italian pedagogue, Giuseppe Flores dArcais. I once wrote a lengthy book about Marxism which earned me my libra docencia. Afterwards, I studied with Flores dArcais and I think he did nothing else but show me that personalism was not a new idea. He said that personalism was not a recent invention in France, but that it has been at the core of occidental culture since Socrates, and I found that very interesting. I learned that studying and supporting personalism means going back to the true, authentic roots of our culture. That is the Greek concept of humanism and the Christian concept of man as a person (which means being created according to the image of God and being created as a co-creator). And there is also the concept of reason that was elaborated or manifested in illuminism. So the concept of person is Greek, Christian and modern.