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The idea of the soul was for a long time, and still is in part, the popular form of the idea of personality.1 So the genesis

of the former of these ideas should aid us in understanding how the second one was formed.

From what has already been said, it is clear that the notion of person is the product of two sorts of factors. One of these is essentially impersonal : it is the spiritual principle serving as the soul of the group. In fact, it is this which constitutes the very substance of individual souls. Now this is not the possession of any one in particular : it is a part of the collective patrimony ; in it and through it, all consciousnesses communicate. But on the other hand, in order to have separate personalities, it is necessary that another factor intervene to break up and differ­entiate this principle : in other words, an individualizing factor is necessary. It is the body that fulfils this function. As bodies are distinct from each other, and as they occupy different points of space and time, each of them forms a special centre about which the collective representations reflect and colour themselves differently. The result is that even if all the consciousnesses in these bodies are directed towards the same world, to wit, the world of the ideas and sentiments which brings about the moral unity of the group, they do not all see it from the same angle ; each one expresses it in its own fashion.

Of these two equally indispensable factors, the former is certainly not the less important, for this is the one which furnishes the original matter for the idea of the soul. Perhaps some will be surprised to see so considerable a role attributed to the impersonal element in the genesis of the idea of personality. But the philo­sophical analysis of the idea of person, which has gone far ahead of the sociological analysis, has reached analogous results on this point. Among all the philosophers, Leibniz is one of those who have felt most vividly what a personality is; for before all, the nomad is a personal and autonomous being. Yet, for Leibniz, the contents of all the monads is identical. In fact, all are consciousnesses which express one and the same object, the world ; and as the world itself is only a system of repre­sentations, each particular consciousness is really only the re­flection of the universal consciousness.  However, each one expresses it from its own point of view, and in its own manner. We know how this difference of perspectives comes from the

act that the monads are situated differently in relation to each other and to the whole system which they constitute.

Kant expresses the same sentiment, though in a different form. For him, the corner-stone of the personality is the will. Now the will is the faculty of acting in conformity with reason, and the reason is tliat which is most impersonal within us. For reason is not my reason ; it is human reason in general. It is the power which the mind has of rising above the particular, the contingent and the individual, to think in universal forms. So from this point of view, we may say that what makes a man a personality is that by which he is confounded with other men, that which makes him a man, not a certain man. The senses, the body and, in a word, all that individualizes, is, on the contrary, considered as the antagonist of the personality by Kant.

This is because individuation is not the essential characteristic of the personality. A person is not merely a single subject distinguished from all the others. It is especially a being to which is attributed a relative autonomy in relation to the environ­ment with which it is most immediately in contact. It is repre­sented as capable of moving itself, to a certain degree : this is what Leibniz expressed in an exaggerated way when he said that the monad was completely closed to the outside. Now our analysis permits us to see how this conception was formed and to what it corresponds.

In fact, the soul, a symbolic representation of the personality, has the same characteristic. Although closely bound to the body, it is believed to be profoundly distinct from it and to enjoy, in relation to it, a large degree of independence. During life, it may leave it temporarily, and it definitely withdraws at death. Far from being dependent upon the body, it dominates it from the higher dignity which is in it. It may well take from the body the outward form in which it individualizes itself, but it owes nothing essential to it. Nor is the autonomy which all peoples have attributed to the soul a pure illusion ; we know now what its objective foundation is. It is quite true that the elements which serve to form the idea of the soul and those which enter into the representation of the body come from two different sources that are independent of one another. One sort are made up of the images and impressions coming from all parts of the organism ; the others consist in the ideas and sentiments which come from and express society. So the former are not derived from the latter. There really is a part of our­selves which is not placed in immediate dependence upon the organic factor : this is all that which represents society in us.

The general ideas which religion or science fix in our minds, the mental operations which these ideas suppose, the beliefs and sentiments which are at the basis of our moral life, and all these superior forms of psychical activity which society awakens in us, these do not follow in the trail of our bodily states, as our sensations and our general bodily consciousness do. As we have already shown, this is because the world of representations in which social life passes is superimposed upon its material substratum, far from arising from it; the determinism which reigns there is much more supple than the one whose roots are in the constitution of our tissues and it leaves with the actor a justified impression of the greatest liberty. The medium in which we thus move is less opaque and less resistant: we feel ourselves to be, and we are, more at our ease there. In a word, the only way we have of freeing ourselves from physical lorces is to oppose them with collective forces.

But whatever we receive from society, we hold in common with our companions. So it is not at all true that we are more personal as we are more individualized. The two terms are in no way synonymous : in one sense, they oppose more than they imply one another. Passion individualizes, yet it also enslaves. Our sensations are essentially individual; yet we are more personal the more we are freed from our senses and able to think and act with concepts. So those who insist upon all the social elements of the individual do not mean by that to deny or debase the personality. They merely refuse to confuse it with the fact of individuation.1