Personality as a creative act


  • Mykola Berdiayev



In the context of the worldview understanding of philosophy as a non-stop spiritual struggle, the development of personally rooted existential philosophizing and defending the superiority of cultures of spiritual freedom, the author offers an original, a universally centered, complete philosophical theory of personality, according to which «human is a personality not by nature, but by spirit», which only «but can contain universal content, be a potential universe in an individually unique form, constitutes «the existential center of the world» and embraces the universum as its own trait-quality. At the same time, personality is not a givenness, but a task, an ideal of development, a way of a person’s self-construction, that is, an exception, not a rule, not a substance, but a creative act, and therefore activity, living existentialization, «effort and struggle, mastering oneself and the world, victory over slavery, liberation.» Therefore, the person cherishes themselves and «carries out their destiny, finding a source of strength in a being that exceeds them,» and affirming through original creative actions themselves as a subject among subjects on the basis of ancestral and hereditary material available from nature and the environment. Hence, in fact, the thinker’s m a x i m appears: «personality is independence from nature, independence from society and the state,» it is an «absolute existential center» rooted in the internal (extra-deterministic) plan of existence – in the impeccable sphere of freedom and the secret and unlimited spiritual light – and containing a «sensual predisposition to suffering and joy.» In any case, «the human personality is the apex value,» therefore «the victory of the spiritual center means not the subordination of human to the universum, but the disclosure of the universum in the personality,» its constant, free from any causation and source-pure, transcendence, a way out of closed subjectivity into unexplored existential dimensions of transsubjectivity and movement-progress along the paths of existential communications and, finally, volitional walking on the road of true self-fulfillment. In general, «the unity of personality is created by the spirit,» its strengthening and self-expansion marks «the victory of the spirit over nature, freedom over necessity,» and then «the s p i r i t forms the personality, its integrity, which includes both the body and the face of human.» So «personality is not a naturalistic, but an ethical and spiritual c a t e g o r y.» This means that it is «independent of the material world, which is the material for the work of the spirit,» and is «a universum that is filled with an all-encompassing content and, most importantly, is the nodal point of intersection of the two worlds, where there is a struggle between spirit and nature, freedom and necessity, independence and dependence.» In other words, personality is universal and at the same time specific: «space, humanity, society are in it, and not vice versa.» And God, as the talented thinker convinces, is a personality when exists as an existential encounter with human, as transcendence, that is, as its going beyond the limits, seemingly paradoxical combination of the personal and the superpersonal, the finite and the infinite, the existing and the changing, freedom and fate. It is noteworthy that «a personality from their own depth creates their c o n s c i o u s n e s s as a strengthening, as a boundary that prevents the mixing and dissolution of «I» and «not I,» nature and spirit, earthly and Divine, individual and personality.» In addition, «the freedom of personality is the obligation to fulfill the vocation, the realization of God’s idea of a person, the answer to God’s call.» That is why the quintessence of the personality lies in the freedom of the spirit, the existential expansion of creative spiritual energy combined with conscious vocation, true austerity as a spiritual skill and as a heroic inner deed, and active resistance to the power of the world, objectivity. And here the idea of the god-like nature of human and the humanoid nature of God, who himself is a creation, a person, is crucial. Whereas at the level of a person, the personality in it awakens as an existential center-fire, overflowing with various affects and feelings – love and hatred, suffering and joy, horror, longing and delight, ecstasy. In addition, the person, standing in front of the abyss of nothingness and realizing itself activistically and actionably precisely as a soulful personality, performs transcendence, experiencing horror as a borderline state of standing before eternity. Moreover, the way out of the personality to the fullness of eternity implies death, catastrophe, a leap through the abyss,» therefore it is natural that it «is formed through a collision with evil inside and around itself,» appears in the existential design of the three actualization rhythms of consciousness – master, slave and free, where the latter, functioning in itself and for itself, has a free way out from itself to the other and to all. At the same time objectivity is the source of slavery, and «objectification is always a statement of domination that counteracts the dignity of personality» and «the enslavement of another is also a yoking of oneself.» Besides «there is an eternal tendency to tyranny» – either large (on the paths of history) or small (in the family, institution, etc.); and jealousy is «a manifestation of despotism in a suffering form.» Man tyrannizes himself by false consciousness of guilt, fears, complexes, envy, selfishness. «A tyrant is the creation of the masses who fear him,» and his «will for power is insatiable.» Moreover, «psychological violence is often more destructive than physical abuse, where hatred is the energy of death,» and l o v e, sadly, «enslaves no less than hatred»; there is still violence by the press and most of all by the power of money. Violence is resorted to through powerlessness, where its ultimate manifestation «in relation to another person finds expression in his murder.» In return, f o r c e, of course, not in the ordinary sense, but in the existential sense, «is the transformation, enlightenment, resurrection of another.» It is noteworthy that «slavery is waiting for man from all sides,» and the true explanation for this is: «man is a slave because freedom is heavy, and slavery is light»; in addition, «the highest values   in the world are weaker than the lowest, and when the former crucify, the latter triumph.» Unfortunately, the truth is perished in the world, although the true power is inside as in God’s truth of life realization of the highest value – the human personality, who, showing creative activity and the power of a free spirit, lives in existential time, at every moment fills subjectivity with universal content, consciously commits the most essential «kingdom of pure existence» and assumes full responsibility for personal existence.

Author Biography

  • Mykola Berdiayev

    Mykola Berdiayev (1874 – 1948) is a world-famous philoso­pher, litterateur, publicist, founder of existential-personalist philosophy, honorary professor of Cambridge University.




How to Cite

Berdiayev , Mykola. “Personality As a Creative Act”. Psyhology & Society, vol. 89, no. 1, July 2024, pp. 49-80,