The Priority of the Person
Political, Philosophical, and Historical Discoveries
372 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268107383 | August 2020
Hardcover | 9780268107376 | August 2020
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268107406 | August 2020
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268107390 | August 2020
In The Priority of the Person, world-class philosopher David Walsh advances the argument set forth in his highly original philosophic meditation Politics of the Person as the Politics of Being (2015), that “person” is the central category of modern political thought and philosophy. The present volume is divided into three main parts. It begins with the political discovery of the inexhaustibility of persons, explores the philosophic differentiation of the idea of the “person,” and finally traces the historical emergence of the concept through art, science, and faith. Walsh argues that, although the roots of the idea of “person” are found in the Greek concept of the mind and in the Christian conception of the soul, this notion is ultimately a distinctly modern achievement, because it is only the modern turn toward interiority that illuminated the unique nature of persons as each being a world unto him- or herself. As Walsh shows, it is precisely this feature of persons that makes it possible for us to know and communicate with others, for we can only give and receive one another as persons. In this way alone can we become friends and, in friendship, build community.
By showing how the person is modernity’s central preoccupation, David Walsh’s The Priority of the Person makes an important contribution to current discussions in both political theory and philosophy. It will also appeal to students and scholars of theology and literature, and any groups interested in the person and personalism.
David Walsh is professor of politics at the Catholic University of America. He is the author and editor of a number of books, including Politics of the Person as the Politics of Being (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015).
“The reader can trace David Walsh’s own personal turn(s) as he participates in the conversation that Kant, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and others conduct. This is an intensely personal book about the person." —John von Heyking, author of The Form of Politics
"With each new book, David Walsh’s formidable project broadens and deepens. His is a rare and elegant meditative reflection, grounded in a luminous appreciation of the inexhaustible dignity of the human person, and in the priority of practice, of lived experience, to all intellectual and theoretical abstractions. All in all, an intellectual gem not to be missed." —Daniel J. Mahoney, author of The Conservative Foundations of Liberal Order
“Walsh brings his previous searching reflections on the direction and content of philosophy to a brilliant conclusion in these memorable pages. This is a work of original intellect that serves to illuminate what a person is, how it is grounded in reality, and how it relates both to God and to the political order.” —James V. Schall, S.J., author of The Modern Age
“These essays broach the topic of the person within diverse fields of academic expertise: the political, philosophical, historical, and literary disciplines. It is a comprehensive study of the person that does indeed both unfold and clarify Professor Walsh’s creative grounding of the inviolability of personhood. The book is also exceptionally informative about these fields of study. The second volume on the person as ‘beyond being’ thus is well worth the read.” —VoegelinView
"[Walsh's] core contention is profound. It is an application of Voegelin's theory of the differentiation of consciousness, the idea that the more a civilization plays with complex distinctions, the greater the likelihood of its framing a humane politics. . . . The Priority of the Person is a significant challenge to Catholic integralism, and any variety of conservatism that would think to forsake modern liberty." —Law and Liberty
"[The Priority of the Person] is united around Walsh’s ambitious philosophical project, into which he hopes this volume will provide an entry. He succeeds in this endeavor. Although the book may still sometimes challenge lay readers, it is more accessible than its predecessors. It is therefore essential reading, as Walsh’s attempted vindication of modern philosophy and political liberalism demands engagement from those debating the merits and future of liberalism." —Public Discourse
"Walsh, then, not Kierkegaard, is the culminating figure in this modern philosophical revolution. The Priority of the Person shores up an original project worth contemplating as such." —The Review of Politics
“In sixteen intellectually scintillating chapters . . . [Walsh] outlines how if you want to address different questions like liberalism, the common good, the work of Eric Voegelin, or reflect on Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Benedict XVI or the great financial crisis of 2008, the most accessible way is to inquire into 'what it means to be a person.' . . . To Walsh the answer is not a definition but is constituted as an ‘imperative of living.'” —Claritas
"Our ethics today plainly needs more reason, not less. So does our politics. And among the great contributions of Walsh’s book is to show how Christianity not only can but also must find its way home to liberalism, not the reverse." —Perspectives on Politics
"In this wide-ranging, densely written text, David Walsh captures the importance of person, dividing his narrative into three parts—'The Political Discovery,' 'The Philosophical Discovery,' and 'The Historical Discovery.' Though many of the chapters are drawn from previously published essays, each section of the book adds new context or clarity regarding key aspects of this central component of human thought." —Choice
"In this wide-ranging, densely written text, David Walsh captures the importance of person. . . . Though many of the chapters are drawn from previously published essays, each section of the book adds new context or clarity regarding key aspects of this central component of human thought." —Choice