Who am I?—and What is Personality?
(Extract from: the human and transpersonal dimensions of personality by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos, sacred web journal 35)
“The concept of personality is central in [contemporary] Western
psychology”.31 “In the West it was Freud who began the systematic study
of personality”.32 Nonetheless, after more than a hundred years since
the inception of contemporary psychology as a separate and distinct
scientific discipline, it is still wrestling with the essential question of
“what is personality?”
Consequently, it is widely recognized that:“There is no agreement among contemporary psychologists on a definition of the term personality.’”33
In addition: “Modern theorists of personality seem to differ radically from one another in their assessment of the
importance of the identity issue.”34 The issue is not that modern and
postmodern psychology is in its infancy and will one day develop into
a true psychology; the issue is much more precarious due to the fact
that contemporary psychology attempts to study what is beyond its
epistemological and ontological scope and trespasses upon the domain
Since contemporary psychology is unable to verify either the existence of the spiritual domain or the existence of the human psyche, it has been called (as from the passage by Carl Jung, quoted below) “a psychology without a soul”35—a powerful, and yet
paradoxically puzzling assessment given that soul is the raison d’etre
for psychology’s very existence:
It was universally believed in the
Middle Ages as well as in the Graeco-Roman world that the soul is a substance. Indeed, mankind as a whole has held this belief from its earliest beginnings, and it w as left for the second half of the
nineteenth century to develop a
“psychology with out a soul.”
Under the influence of scientific
materialism, everything that could not be seen with the eyes or touched with the hands was held in doubt; such things were even laughed at because of their supposed affinity with metaphysics. Nothing was
considered “scientific” or admitted to be true unless it could be p erceived by
the senses or traced back to physical causes.36
Key representatives from within modern psychology have openly
disclosed the impasse of today’s therapeutic orientations:
“There is a tie that can unite all of us [the whole of contemporary psychology]: the
frank acknowledgement that we know very little”.37 And again: “[W]e
know so little of the earliest and deepest strata of the human mind.”38
Because it attempts to operate beyond its capacity, contemporary
psychology takes on an impossible task and is ill-equipped to comprehend
personality or anything else pertaining to the human psyche.
The chief characteristic of the last half of the nineteenth century was the
breaking up of personality into
fragments.These fragments were
symptoms of the psychological, and spiritual disintegration occurring in the culture and in the individual. One can see this splitting up of the individual personality not only in the psychology and the science of the period but in
almost every aspect of late nineteenth century culture.39
When viewed through the lens of
modern and postmodern
psychology and its materialistic science in the absence of the Sacred,
human personality becomes disintegrated and essentially dehumanized:
“[Contemporary] psychology comes in with the bulk of its theories, its
prevailing views of human personality, its images of man, obviously in
league with the objectives of the nihilist Satanic spirit. Man is a computer,
an animal, or an infant. His destiny is completely determined by genes,
instincts, accidents, early conditionings and reinforcements, cultural
and social forces.”40
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist, and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences. Although ontology as a philosophical realm is academic in the sense that it is inseparable from each thinker’s epistemology, it has practical application in information science and information technology, where it informs ontologies with chosen taxonomies.
Epistemology (Listeni/ɨˌpɪstɨˈmɒlədʒi/; from Greek ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning “knowledge, understanding”, and λόγος, logos, meaning “study of”) is a term first used by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier to describe the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and is also referred to as “theory of knowledge”. Put concisely, it is the study of knowledge and justified belief. It questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired, and the extent to which knowledge pertinent to any given subject or entity can be acquired. Much of the debate in this field has focused on the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification. The term was probably first introduced in Ferrier’s Institutes of Metaphysic: The Theory of Knowing and Being (1854), p. 46.
31. Charles T.Tart,“Some Assumptions of Orthodox, Western Psychology,” in Transpersonal Psychologies, ed. CharlesT.Tart (New York, NY: H arper & Row, 1975). p. 84.
32. A.H.Almaas,“Being and Ego ,”in The Pearl Beyond Price: Integration o f Personality into Being:An Object Relations Approach (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2001), p. 22.
33. Anand C. Paranjpe, “A Personality Theory According to Vedanta,” in Anand C. Paranjpe, David Y.F. Ho and Robert W Rieber (eds,), Asian Contributions to P sychology (New York. NY: Praeger. 1988), p. 185.
34. Anand C. Paranjpe, “A Personality Theory According to Vedanta,” in Anand C. Paranjpe.
David Y.F. Ho and Robert W Rieber (eds.), Asian Contributions to Psychology (New York, NY: Praeger, 1988),p. 197.See also Anand C. Paranjpe, S e lf a n d Identity in Modern Psychology and Indian Thought (New York. NY: Plenum Press. 1998).
35 Metropolitan of Nafpaktos H ierotheos,“Orthodoxy as aTherapeutic Method,” in The Illness
a n d Cure o f the Soul In the Orthodox Church, trans. Effie Mavromichali (Levadia-Hellas,
Greece: Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1995). p. 46.” (Psychology without a psyche.”
(George Feuerstein. “Pure Awarness.” in The Psychology of Yoga: Integrating eastern and Western Approaches for Understanding the Mind (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2013), p. 135): see also Hubert Gruender, Psychology w ith o u t a Soul:A Criticism (St. Louis, MO:
B. Herder, 1917).
36 C.G. Ju n g T h e Basic Postulates of Analitical Psychology,” in Modern Man in Search o f a Soul, trans. W.S. Dell and Cary F. Baynes (New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1933),
37 Frederick S. Peris, “Theory and Technique of Personality Integration,” American Journal
o f Psychotherapy, Vol. 2. No. 4 (October 1948), p. 586.
38 Erik H. Erikson.“The Life Cycle: Epigenesis of Identity.” in ldentity:Youth a n d Crisis (New
York. NY:W.W. Norton & Company, 1968), p. 104.
39. Rollo May, “Compartmentalization anil Inner Breakdown in the Nineteenth Century,” in The Discovery o f Being: Writings in Ex istential Psychology (New York, NY: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1983), p. 62.
40 Henry A. Murray, “Personality and Career of Satan,” Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 18. No. 4
(October 1962), p. 53.