Concept of “Person” 4

“…’person’ signifies the irreducibility of man to his nature…”

While Lossky warns us that we cannot make a complete and direct analogy between “hypostasis” or “person” as it applies to the Holy Trinity to the idea of “person” in humankind, some useful conclusions can be drawn.  He tells us that, “Under these conditions, it will be impossible for us to form a concept of the human person, and we will have to content ourselves with saying: “person” signifies the irreducibility of man to his nature— “irreducibility” and not “something irreducible” or “something which makes man irreducible to his nature” precisely because it cannot be a question here of “something” distinct from “another nature” but of someone who is distinct from his own nature, of someone who goes beyond his nature while still containing it, who makes it exist as human nature by this overstepping and yet does not exist in himself beyond the nature which he “enhypostasizes” and which he constantly exceeds.”

O.K., so Vladimir Lossky can be a little deep and dense at times.  Let’s get some help from some other very gifted contemporary theologians who can help explain and round out the concept of the “person” for us.

We’ll start with contemporary Orthodox theologian Christos Yannaras (1935 –    ) to further explain and expand on Lossky’s thinking:

“In everyday speech, we tend to distort the meaning of the word ‘person’.   What we call ‘person’ or ‘personal’ designates rather more the individual. We have grown accustomed to regarding the terms “person” and “individual” as virtually synonymous, and we use the two indifferently to express the same thing. From one point of view, however, ‘person’ and ‘individual’ are opposite in meaning (see V. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (London, 1957), p. 121f.) The individual is the denial or neglect of the distinctiveness of the person, the attempt to define human existence using the objective properties of man’s common nature, and quantitative comparisons and analogies.”

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