Truth and person
place in which in a completely direct way the overcoming of the fallen
existence, as described previously, is the reality of the person. The
importance of the person lies in the fact, that it states at the same time
two things, which at first glance seem to contradict: the particularity and
communion. Being a person is something completely different from being an
individual or a "personality", because a person cannot be observed onto
itself, but only in its relationship. Under the accusations of the fallen
existence, we usually identify the person with the «ego» and in this way
with all the characteristics and the experience that it holds. The
philosophers remind us justly, that this is not what distinguishes a person.
But what is the relationship of the person with the truth and especially
from the view of the particularity as much as the society?
substance of the person lies in that the being is a revelation of the truth
of being and rather not as "substance" or "nature", but as a "way
This deep perception of the Cappadoceans[ii]
indicates, that the real knowledge is not knowledge of the substance or the
nature of things but of the way, with which they refer to the fact of the
communion. We saw previously, that the matter of ecstasy has a function-key
in the understanding of the truth of the Greek Fathers. If one transfers it
to the sense of the person, then it should be added from another matter,
that of hypostasis. Ecstasy means that the person is the revelation of the
truth and even more, by being in communion (relationship); hypostasis on the
contrary means, that the person in communion (relationship) and through it
validates its identity and individuality, "lies under its very nature" (hypostasis)
in a special and unique way. In this sense the person is the horizon, on
which the truth is revealed of being and not just a simple nature, subject
to the individualization and the combination, but as a unique image on the
completeness and "universality" of being. So, if we see a being as a
person, then we see in it the entire human nature; but destroying a human
person means reversibly a murder against the entire humanity, in a final
analysis, against the truth of the human being.
mystery of the person lies in the fact, that in it differentiation and
communion do not contradict but one encounters the other. The truth as
communion does not lead to an abolishment of dissimilarity of the beings in
the infinite ocean of being, but in its confirmation in love and through it.
The difference between that and the truth of "nature itself" lies in
this: Nature is subject to dismemberment, individualization, perception and
understanding, etc.; love on the contrary is not it. Thus, in the relevance
of communion, the opposite of difference is division[iii].
this identification of difference and unity is incompatible with the fallen
existence, in which we are born as beings with the clear tendency to
perceive, dominate and possess the being. This individualized and
individualizing Adam within us is our forefathers' sin and at the same
time the cause for the fact that the "other", meaning each individual
being next to us, becomes in the end our enemy and our "forefathers' sin"
If the human existence remains released into itself, then it cannot be a
person. The ecstasy of the being towards the human or the created leads to
the "being towards death"[v].
All efforts to define the truth as the "being towards life", should
demand at the same time the sense of the being beyond the created being.
On this subject see Chr. Yiannaras,
Το οντολογικό περιεχόμενο της
θεολογικής έννοιας του προσώπου, 1970. The
differentiation he presents between substance and presence (ουσία
is particularly illuminating.
See above, Part II, 3.
Maximus developed the discernment between «difference» and «division»
on the base of the Christology of Chalkedon. On these terms and their
synthesis on Maximus see L. Thunberg, Microcosm and Mediator. The
Theological Anthropoogy of Maximus the Confessor, Lund 1965, p. 54 and
on. See Yiannaras, as above, p. 73 and on.
J.P. Sartre, L' etre et le Neant, 1949, p. 251.
This observation by M. Heidegger has a great importance on the ontology
of the world in the exact situation in which it is, that is, without a
reference to something more.