STUDIES IN AMERICAN PERSONALISM

Ralph Tyler Flewelling

Ralph Tyler Flewelling

Ralph Tyler Flewelling (1871-1960), leader of the Californian School of American personalism, founder of the international quarterly “The Personalist” (Los Angeles, 1920-1979). Ralph was born on November 23, 1871 in DeWitt, MI, he died on March 31, 1960 in Glendale, CA. Together with E.S. Brightman, leader of the Bostonian School, Ralph Tyler Flewelling belongs to the second generation of American personalists.

He wrote 15 books, about 500 articles and 1,500 reviews. Among his most prominent works are: Creative Personality (New York 1926); Reflections on the Basic Ideas of East and West (Peiping 1935); The Person; or The Significance of Man (Los Angeles 1952).

“Recently, marked with Personalism, an underground resistance movement against both fascism and communism emerged in Russia, Poland, Holland, France, Italy and partly in England” (Personalism 1955).

An account of personalism might properly begin at almost any point in the history of philosophy.

THE PERSONALIST BACKGROUND

The phrase which William James used as a subtitle for his Pragmatism might justly be used concerning it: “A new name for old ways of thinking.” Personalism might begin with Schleiermacher or Lotze, with Kant’s activity of the mind in all judgment, or with Bishop Berkeley’s theory of perception, with Descartes’ Cogito ergo sum, or with Maine de Biran’s Volo ergo sum. But such reference would be to speak only of its modern development. It is, in basic principle, as surely expressed in the affirmation of Heraclitus (536-470 B.C.) that the fundamental reality is mind because it alone, of all creation, has the power to differentiate itself from the objective world and even from its own experiences, asserting that this Logos is the permanent principle in a world of change. Anaxagoras (500-430 B.C.) showed the same personalistic trend in affirming mind to be the foundation of existence, the force that arranges and guides. Protagoras (480- 410 B.C.) named this differentiating capacity of the person as the basis of all knowledge and science, expressing it in the famous phrase: “Man is the measure of all things, of things that are, that they are; of things that are not, that they are not.”

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