Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - August 23

The Personalism of Emmanuel Mounier

The toughness and integrity of Emmanuel Mounier, and his book Personalism, demand careful attention. Maybe of all the mean of our time he is the one we need most to understand and imitate. He is clever and hard with words. You cannot be comfortable with his language unless you think along with it, which is not all that easy. Hence he will make almost everyone uncomfortable—assuming that they even listen to him at all.

Mounier says (in showing how individualism bars communication): “A kind of instinct works within us to deny or diminish the humanity of those around us….[T]he lightest touch of the individual seems sometimes to infect a mortal poison into any contact between man and man” (Personalism, p. 18).

Mounier again: “The person only grows in so far as he continually purifies himself from the individual within him. He cannot do that by force of self-attention but, on the contrary, by making himself available.”

August 17 and 19, 1956, III.66, 68-69

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