Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dr. King's Time in Boston . 4 | Paths to the Past

Personalism posits that the person is central, both the starting and end point, for understanding the world, indeed the universe. It believes that all moral truth begins with the absolute value of the person, the sacredness of the individual's being, consciousness and personality. Personalism is a philosophy which, applied to theology as it is in the Boston school, strongly affirms the existence and importance of the soul in each human and sentient being and reaffirms the existence and essense of God in a rather complex, nuanced and unique relationship with each person. It also is quite critical of impersonalistic theories and thought - social Darwinism, Communism, etc. Martin explained Personalism this way.

I studied philosophy and theology at Boston University under Edgar S. Brightman and L. Harold DeWolf. ... It was mainly under these teachers that I studied Personalistic philosophy - the theory that the clue to the meaning of ultimate reality is found in personality. This personal idealism remains today my basic philosophical position. Personalism's insistence that only personality - finite and infinite - is ultimately real strengthened me in two convictions: it gave me metaphysical and philosophical grounding for the idea of a personal God, and it gave me a metaphysical basis for the dignity and worth of all human personality.

A key to understanding King is that he was a philosopher, by far the most important of the 20th century, a philosopher who shook society to its core and changed the world. Dr. King's was professionaly trained, over many years, in philosophy. As a child he was immersed in the Baptist fundamentalism of his father's church. But he developed deep doubts and began studying philosophy as an undergraduate at Morehouse College, then continued at Crozer, University of Pennsylvania, Boston University and Harvard. His life and actions were animated by a deep love, understanding and use of philosophy. King's six books mention many philosophers and philosophical concepts. In fact his first book, Stride Toward Freedom (1958) sites 18 different philosophers just in telling the story of the 381 day Montgomery bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks.

... Continued from January 12, 2010.

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