The Philosophy Of Energetic Personalism, 1927

excerpts The surface of the earth allows such an interesting insight into the interdependency of labor and personality. If one picked some recently published book on the topic of scientific geography, Karl Sapper's[1], say, and took a look at the areas where different types of labor are carried out around the globe – gathering, hunting, fishing, tillage by dibber, tilling by hoe, plowing, gardening and industry – one could, with but a slight stretch of the imagination, superimpose upon the map a composite representation of the areas corresponding to the different potentials of human personality. Personality is akin to the fir tree requiring certain temperature and moisture conditions in order to grow. Its roots can only find appropriate support in the soil of organized labor. Personality types, regardless of the country of their origin, fall under the same headings as the types of labor performed. Primitive agriculture relates to a quasi-telluric personality. In the manifestations of such a personality it is hard to tell the personal apart from the cosmic. The most intimate desires of the heart are entwined with natural processes in such a way as to appear part of one and the same whole. "Green, green leaf, grass on the ground, I am bound for yonder mound, where the pipes of blackbirds sound, and my love is to be found." "Lord, I pray, add to my days, to go up those mountain ways with my flocks when summer sways, and my horned sheep bleat and graze, on his pipe the shepherd plays. Let me hear the water spring, the approaching lasses sing as their wind-blown aprons swing, hear the cuckoo on the wing, the rain in the forest ring, let me see the green grass spring."[2] The one singing after this fashion has a personality akin to a flower that's hard to tell apart from the grass of the field. In the perception of such a personality, human life and the life of the earth merge into a spiritual whole. To such a personality, therefore, a belief in omens, either good or bad, comes quite naturally. The whole of nature participates in man's joy, as well as in his sorrow. The category such a personality belongs to, provided its conscience is kept undefiled, is made up of breathtakingly beautiful instances. It is in these instances that such elements as innocence, gaiety, all-encompassing love for all things human and a sense of goodness are to be found. However, only for as long as conscience is kept undefiled; which is only possible when life unfolds over a long period of time within the same area. It is only with autochthonous populations, nevertheless, that such requirements are met. Yet how many are the populations we might rightly call autochthonous, or at least the populations entitled to call themselves autochthonous as a consequence of having lived for a sizable amount of time within the same area? Very few, indeed. Therefore, the beautiful instances pertaining to the personality type discussed earlier occur with striking scarcity. On the whole, even the most primitive of agrarian populations, due to emigration or to mingling with foreign elements, have shed the awareness of being autochthonous. As a consequence, the instances making up this category occur as a rule as ethnic types and only infrequently as personality types. The labor associated with primitive agriculture has given way to specialized labor – a rather shapeless system of organization to begin with, and altogether hazardous as far as man's soul is concerned. For man is a naturally born worker, yet not willingly so – he won't work unless he has to. The first attempt at organizing labor was brought about by hunger and misery. It was only later, much later, that the organization of labor was willingly resorted to by human intelligence. The first stages of labor organization bear testimony to the shoddy encounter between the inclinations towards industry and those towards sloth. The inclinations towards industry had a hard time winning, indeed. Oh, the amount of subterfuge, oh, the amount of self-deceit, oh, the hypocrisy, oh, the cowardice of primitive man in order to avoid labor at all costs! The scorching heat Carlyle refers to had to be very scorching indeed to succeed in purging the human soul from the amount of dross inherited alongside original sin. Each victory of labor over sloth brought about new types of personality: brilliant yet unsustainable types, curious mixtures of the divine and the beast. They account for the category of protean, anarchic personality. This has finally given way to the completed personality corresponding to labor organized according to professions. The instances pertaining to the last two categories are easily recognizable. All those half-baked louts are exponents of anarchic personalism. And their numbers are large. The faulty way schools are run further contributes to turning out even larger numbers of them. The school failing to endow the child with a loving inclination towards labor, at the expense of instilling into the unformed horizon of his intelligence the desire for gain, is a school inducing anarchy. Its effects are clearly discernible today. The whole of Europe groans with the sheer amount of half-baked louts today's schools keep adding to. The advent of full-fledged personalities follows chronologically the division of labor. Each degree of specialization occurring in the labor of human society has its corresponding type of new personality. The witch doctor's personality is unfailingly present in all primitive societies. It stands for the original technique of organized labor: the endeavor to reveal the intentions of evil spirits. It is followed by the healer's personality, at first barely distinguishable from the personality of the witch doctor since the technique of his labor was in its turn barely distinguishable from witchcraft. The law-giving despot's personality was next, then the warrior's, then the artist's. These initial types are distinguished from each other more through rank rather than through actual attitudes of the soul, since the labor they were based upon was only incidentally driven by conscience-rooted will. The organization of conscience-driven labor brought along an organization in the structure of cultured personalities. However, the priest, the despot, the warrior, the scholar, the doctor and the artist further dominated ancient and mediaeval societies on account of rank, with the educator, the merchant, and the manufacturer assigned to an unglamorous background. It was only with the dawning of the modern world that the conditions emerged for a normal personality to develop. That's when the professional enters the stage, that is the individual whose will is adapted to the technique of labor. The modern world comprises as many types of personality as it does professions. At least in theory. In actual fact, though, the modern world is still far from equating each professional to a personality, mainly because modern labor is not yet fully free. Many are those barred from professing their vocation. There's many a laborer acting out of constraint. A professional in the true sense of the word is the man whose inner being is satisfied with the labor he has chosen himself, i.e. the man regarding his profession not as a gateway to gain, and as such no different than any other gateway, but rather as a calling decisively shaping the entire course of his life. The true professional is always creative in his profession. It is the love for his profession that always enables him to approach perfection. Such a professional has been termed by us an energetic personality. A type of personality once associated indissolubly with a profession becomes invariable. The person accustomed to think and perceive in accordance with a professional method will maintain its manner of thinking and perceiving even outside its profession. A member of the armed forces, whom circumstances charge with governing, will govern in military fashion. Likewise an artist, a merchant, an educator will persevere in their acquired skills regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in. To many this invariability is the cause of progress in their social life. It is a cause democrats in particular rely on. They appoint to the government professionals far removed from the actual knowledge of government, hoping for this very reason to find in their professional skills a remedy against the selfishness of routine governors. Their hopes sometimes come true. This is a proof that governing as a profession, ancient though it may be, has as yet failed to attained legitimate status in the modern world. Come to think of it, democracy itself would cease to grace the political movement of our days if only a professional elite of law-giving governors finally took over. One last word on the education of energetic personalities… education as such consists of the influence we exercise on a person's development (as a rule, during childhood) with a view to turning his or her potential to account for the benefit of society. Education is hard work, to be sure. Only those with a fair knowledge of the laws governing human development can carry it out successfully. The mere fact that the educator himself was once a child and thus experienced directly the laws of human development is not enough. Personal experience does not make an educator out of a person, anymore than it can make a doctor out of the same person. Educating others, like any other profession, has to be learned. Everyone agrees so far. Yet agreement comes abruptly to an end as soon as the issue of the educator's necessary training is brought up. The laws of human development are not self-revealing. Quite the opposite, they are highly obscure. If industrial labor has taken ages to become initiated in the laws of nature, so that it could finally intervene successfully in their unfolding to the end of securing material products, the labor of education, in order to reach its goal, will take even longer. Material nature is quicker to reveal its secrets than spiritual nature. Many a misconception has plagued the understanding of material nature, yet the number of misconceptions plaguing the understanding of the soul in the past as well as in the present is far greater by comparison. That is why education is not only hard labor, but also the hardest of all labors. With regard to shaping human personality, it is an exact replica of the Sisyphean challenge. Just how many accomplishments in shaping personalities can educators boast to date? There have been as many accomplishments as there have been failures. The cause of these failures resides primarily in the enticing illusion inherent in the self. The self is a tentacle-like form of intuition. It identifies easily with the most egregious of situations. In dreams it takes the form of enchantment. In his dreams man is sometimes a king, sometimes a beggar. No holds are barred when the self is bent on identification. This illusion has been from the beginning a stumbling block for personality-related sciences. Personality and the self have been mistaken for each other. Desire has been mistaken for reality, and the meaning of the voluntary act has been utterly forged. This forgery has not only lead to exaggerated optimism, but also to exaggerated pessimism. Buddhist sages were pessimists. What could endure amidst such overpowering transience? A happy self today, tomorrow – afflicted by misfortune: eternal peace, nirvana, is a much better choice. Europe's moralizers tended towards optimism. The illusion of the self lent wings to their ideal of education. They aspired to make a perfect being out of man, in accordance with the model of supreme good or with the example of Christ. However man revealed little, if any, potential for perfection attainable by means of moral sermons. Present day educators have been cured from this kind of optimism, due to the deeper knowledge they have acquired on the topic of human personality. They do know that personality is made up of hereditary inclinations and bends that cannot be turned around in response to the educator's intentions. They also know about pathological cases, which should be better left alone. Present days educators, therefore, have been given a fair warning. Nonetheless they are not safe from a stumbling block of their own. The admiration they are stirred to by praiseworthy acts in human history, an admiration kept aflame through literature, legends and the visual arts, causes them to mistake the hero forged in the heat of the imagination for a perfect personality. Our educators mistake the poetry of heroism for the reality of personalism. They regard heroic instances, backed by history and the arts, as types of personality. This confusion is quick to bring them to their stumbling block. Education ceases from being a science or, at best, an applied science, and ends up as an art. The educator no longer acts on the laws of soul development in order to give direction to shaping the natural personality, but starts carving at the raw material of the inclinations to obtain something new, something worth standing next to the ideal. The hero substitutes the person. The educator is no longer concerned with nurturing the roots connecting man to his life-giving soil, neither is he concerned with labor techniques and other life-determining conditions, thus neglecting the very roots that sustain the personality with their sap. His main concern is finding the purest, most sublime model for the personality with utter disregard for time and space. The outcome of such education is predictable. He who sows heroism, reaps anarchism. The energetic personality plays a lesser, yet more enduring part. Energetic does not mean heroic. What the hero stands for is a fracture of life, a sublime leap into the unknown. The person is an instance of organized life, an impulse fed into the rhythm resulting from the yearning towards labor. The hero is a fleeting occurrence against the human background, equally devoid of the past and of the future, whereas a personality is a specially prepared form of energy that can be transformed into other forms of energy…
[1] Karl Sapper, Allgemeine Wirtschafts- und verkehrsgeographie (Teubner, Leipzig, 1925).[2] Folklore from the Mehedinţi area (Datina, 1927, p. 20).

by Constantin Rădulescu-Motru (1868-1957)