what is personality

reading for m of care – apr 27 – A TALK ON EVALD VASILYEVICH ILYENKOV “PERSONALITY AND COLLECTIVE” WITH KYRILL POTAPOV AND CORINNA LOTZ – [https://museum.care/events/a-talk-on-evald-vasilyevich-ilyenkov-personality-and-collective-with-kyrill-potapov-and-corinna-lotz/]:

“…The power of personality is always individually expressed as the power of the collective, that “ensemble” of individuals which were ideally represented, the power of the individualized universality of aspiration, needs, goals controlling it. This is the power of the historically accumulated energy of many individuals, concentrated in it, focused, and therefore capable of breaking the resistance of the historically obsolete forms of human relations, opposing the rigid templates, stereotypes of thinking and action, fettering the initiative and energy of people.”

Evald Ilyenkov, “What is Personality”

In this forthcoming translation of an essay from 1979, Ilyenkov critiques a number of traditional approaches to personality in psychology, philosophy, and popular culture, and presents his own synthesis. His essay is a rich exploration of Marx’s suggestion that a person is “an ensemble of social relations”. In this session we explore this essay, with questions and examples from a range of sources. Together we will try to grasp what it could mean to be a self in a collective.

brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown

in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows


  1. E. V. Ilyenkov. What is personality? translated by Giuliano Vivaldi
  2. Finding Ilyenkov: How a Soviet Philosopher Who Stood Up for Dialectics Continues to Inspire by Corinna Lotz, 2019
  3. Who Are The International Friends of Ilyenkov by Corinna Lotz

Kyrill Potapov is an organiser at the International Friends of Ilyenkov. He is a researcher in Human-Computer Interaction at University College London with an interest in social practice, agency and learning.

Corinna Lotz co-founded International Friends of Ilyenkov and wrote Finding Evald Ilyenkov: how a Soviet philosopher who stood up for dialectics continues to inspire. She helps organise the Real Democracy Movement.


Evald Vassilievich Ilyenkov (Russian: Э́вальд Васи́льевич Илье́нков; 18 February 1924 – 21 March 1979) was a Marxist author and Soviet philosopher.

Evald Ilyenkov did original work on the materialist development of Hegel’s dialectics, notable for his account of concrete universals. His works include Dialectical Logic (Russian, 1974; English trans. 1977), Leninist Dialectics and the Metaphysics of Positivism (Russian, 1980 (posthum.); English trans. 1982) and The Dialectics of the Abstract and Concrete in Marx’s Capital (Russian, 1960; English trans. 1982). Ilyenkov committed suicide in 1979.

notes/quotes from 30 page google doc:


E. V. Ilyenkov. What is personality?

What is “personality” and where does it come from? To ask oneself this question once again, to turn to an analysis of the concept of “personality” (specifically the concept, that is, an understanding of the essence of the subject matter, and not of the term) does not encourage scholastic considerations. The fact is that the answer to this question is directly connected with the question of the formation on a mass scale of a new communist type of personality, a coherent personality, an integrated one harmoniously developed which has now become the practical task and explicit goal of social transformation in socialist countries. After all, communism is a society where the free development of each is a condition for the free development of all..t

none of us are free.. unless all of us have restored/uncovered missing pieces

until all are free et al

In the world there is a rather widespread opinion (which is also commonly held also amongst highly educated people) which, if one were to outline it schematically, can be reduced to the following: Marxist teaching, brilliantly justifies itself when it talks about events of world-wide historical significance, that is about the fate of the multi-million masses, classes, parties, peoples and states, in short, about the cumulative destiny of humankind, whereas it is said to have *offered nothing (or almost nothing) and, moreover, cannot ostensibly offer anything for a rational comprehension of the inner system of the personality, individuality, the self- this kind of molar unit of the historical process. Here its powers, its theoretical possibilities come to an end and the sphere of concerns of some other scientific agency begins, the sphere within which those methods of thinking characteristic for socio-historical scientific research as a whole turn out to be of little use.

gabor on authenticity & attachment et al

*don’t think it can offer for one and not the other..can’t separate them.. organism as fractal et al

The most distinct and consistent of these representations were expressed by the need to “supplement” Marxism with a certain special, relatively autonomous ethical theory, placing personality as such and the interests and happiness of the individual self, the issue of freedom and human dignity and similar topics at the centre of attention. Classical Marxism ostensibly consciously and intentionally overlooks such narratives with the express aim of revealing the general laws of aggregate historical processes, that is, strictly scientifically, to outline those objective “frames” within which (whether they want it or not, whether they like it or not) the living participants in history (individuals) are compelled to act.

aka: sea world


On the basis of such a representation some people have proposed to Marxism a kind of division of labour: the objective conditions and laws which do not depend on will and consciousness and are assigned by nature and history, this, they say, is the monopoly of, and can be taken care of, by Marxist theory, but when we are talking about how and what one should do in these conditions, then let the specialists of the human “soul” and those theoreticians focusing on the existential be the judges.    

rather the itch-in-the-soul

need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature so we can org around legit needs

imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness)


Human personality, sometimes called by that old-fashioned term “soul” which each person knows as their self, as something unique and unrepeatable, indivisible into any common constituent parts and, hence, fundamentally elusive of scientific and technical definitions and even inexpressible in words (after all, the word only expresses the “common”), in this way, declares a kind of forbidden zone not only for Marxist doctrines about the human, but also for an objective study as such, for any scientific thinking about it..t

yeah.. all that


This is why existentialists *prefer to write about this delicate theme not in the language of science but in an essayistic and novelistic genre, and for that matter also in the form of novels, tales and plays. This is a far from coincidental detail but an expression of their essential position- a fundamental rejection of the very possibility of creating a materialistic conception (theory) of personality, that is, a materialist psychology as science. **After all, psychology is the science “of the soul”, of the human self, and not about anything else

*actually need to quit writing about it.. quit telling other people what to do about it

**actually no science of soul

The question arises whether it is possible for there to be a materialistically-oriented psychology at all. If it is, then it is obliged first of all to outline one’s subject matter, that is, to explain what personality is.

Two logics- two approaches

The essence of man is no abstraction inherent in the individual.  In reality it is the ensemble of (all) the social relations

Karl Marx

There is no reason to dispute the assertion that “personality” is a unique non-reproducible and singular formation, in a word, something individual. The “individual” in philosophy is understood as an absolutely inimitable existence in this point of space and time and differing from any other “individual”, and thus just as infinite within itself as both space and time themselves are. A complete description of singular individuality would be the same as a “complete” description of all the infinite totality of individual bodies and “souls” in the cosmos. Descartes, Spinoza, Hegel and Feuerbach, all skilled philosophers, all understood this, independently of which camp they chose in the confrontation between materialism and idealism.

For this reason, the science of the “individual” as such is truly impossible and unthinkable. Solving the mysteries of the “individual” is simply beyond the realms of science precisely because any partial chain of cause-and-effect relationships leads the researcher away into the “bad” infinity of the past’s endless universe.

science scientifically et al


Not without reason did Hegel also use the word “bad” (and not in a censorious but in a purely logical sense) for human individuality, insofar as it entailed an absolute, inimitable uniqueness, an inexhaustibility of detail and a non-reproducibility of their given combination, the *impossibility of predicting in advance with mathematical precision its condition and behavior under specified circumstances..t **The inimitability inherent in each individual is so organic, that if it were to be removed, personality itself would vanish..t But this inimitability is inherent in personality not due to the fact that it is a human personality, but insofar as it is a certain singularity as such , “an individual as such”, something “indivisible”.

*graeber unpredictability/surprise law.. fromm spontaneous law.. et al

**maté trump law.. brown belonging law.. et al

In the world it is not just impossible to find two absolutely identical personalities..t You will not even find perfectly identical leaves on a tree or even in an entire forest: they will, nonetheless, differ from each other in some way. An eye will not be able to differentiate them- the difference will be captured by a microscope, not a simple one but an electronic one. Even two grains of sand on a seashore will always differ, however slightly. Even two water droplets. Modern physics has excluded the very possibility of there existing in the world two absolutely identical microparticles (electrons, photons, protons and so on). The singular is singular and there is nothing that can be done about this.

discrimination as equity et al..

But a human personality with all its inherent “inimitability” cannot be transformed into a simple synonym of the purely logical category of the “individual as such”. In this case, the concept of the “personality” becomes thoroughly meaningless.

Existentialist “defenders of the personality”, taking issue with Hegel for his seemingly “arrogant” attitude to “bad individuality” themselves replicate the “original sin” of vulgar Hegelianism. By diluting the concrete problem of the uniqueness of human individualities (personalities) into the abstract logical problem of the relationship between “the common and the singular”, they reduce it to the question of the relations between “uniformity and non-uniformity”. By showing solidarity with Hegel over what constitutes his flaw (his manner of reducing every concrete problem to its abstract logical expression and discovering therein an answer, “the absolute solution”), they reject what is intelligent and dialectical in his approach, an understanding of the fact that the “universal” is not the “uniform”, is not a feature inherent in each separate individual. *Therefore, any attempt to define “the essence of the human” through a search for a “common attribute” which each separately considered human individual possesses, is fruitless.

*but do have essence/universal needs.. let’s org around legit those.. maté basic needs

The universal from the point of view of dialectical logic is a synonym of the law controlling the mass of individuals and being realized in the motion of each “of them despite their non-uniformity and even because of it; a synonym of concrete mutual relations amalgamating to a single unity, in one concreteness (Karl Marx designated this as “unity in multiplicity”) an infinite multitude of infinitely different individuals (no matter what they are- people or leaves on a tree, goods in the market or microparticles in an “ensemble”). *The universal thus understood is comprised of the essence of each of them,. t the concrete law of their existence. **And their uniformity is merely a prerequisite, merely a precondition of their “concrete universality”, that is, the amalgamation into a concrete whole of a multiplicity internally disarticulated.

*in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

**beyond the monastic self.. i’m never just me.. undisturbed ecosystem

Ruled by precisely this logic, Karl Marx posed and resolved the question of the “human essence”, of the concrete-universal definition of the human individual, the personality, as a totality of all social relations. In the original it is even more expressive, referring to an ensemble, that is not a mechanical aggregate of identical units, but the multiplicity of all social relations represented as a unity..t

brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman 


The “essence” of each individual, relating to this ‘species’ resides, according to the logic of Marx’s thought, in the fully concrete system of mutually-interacting individuals, *which only makes each of them what they are. In this case, this belonging to the human species, understood not as a natural, biologically assigned “mute connection”, but as a **historically-emergent and historically developing social system, that is, a ***social-historical organism as a disarticulated whole. 

*rather.. brown belonging law

**nothing to do w history.. history to date has only created whales in sea world

***hasn’t been this because we haven’t used legit organism as fractal

The biological connection, expressed in the identity of a particular species of morphophysiological organization, the “homo sapiens”, is merely a prerequisite (albeit an absolutely necessary and even proximate one), merely a condition of the human, of the “species” in the human, but not at all the “essence”, not an internal condition, not a concrete commonality, not a social-human commonality, not a commonality of personality and personalities.

? not sure what this is saying.. doesn’t resonate with me though.. unsettling sounding.. ie: prereq ness et al

A misconception of this Marxist position will, in the best of cases, lead to socio-biological dualism in the interpretation of the essence of human individuality (personality). If one were to continue further on the logical voyage of this path then one would arrive at its pluralistic end, including in the understanding of the “human essence” all the other – and not merely proximate prerequisites of the emergence of the “species”, of the humanity in the human being. *The logic of reduction leading us further and further away from that concrete “essence”, which we wanted to understand, the logic of a disarticulated concreteness into the non-specific (for it) component parts, finally inevitably leading it to a **“socio-bio-chemico-electrophysical-microphysical-quantum-mechanical” understanding of the human essence.

*maté trump law.. and gabor on authenticity & attachment et al


*Such representatives of a similar mechanical logic imagine themselves as materialists without having any justification of doing so. The problem of human individuality (personality) is precisely that problem whereby mechanical materialism becomes converted into its very opposite, into the flattest form of idealism- into a physiological idealism, to a position where an archaic representation of the “soul” is retold **in a vulgar physical language, translated into the terminology of brain physiology or biochemistry, cybernetics or information theory, without essentially changing all this by one iota.

*rowson mechanical law et al

**language as control/enclosure et al

*To truly scientifically resolve the problem of personality, the problem of the individual mind one can only do so in the framework of a materialist-oriented psychologya science “about the soul”, about the mystery of its generation and the laws of its development. And in no way can this be sought in the physiology of the brain and the nervous system. The reduction of the problem of the mind in general and of the individual in particular (that is, the problem of personality) to that of researching the morphology of the brain and its functions is not materialism, as some represent such a reduction, but merely its clumsy ersatz version, a pseudo-materialism under whose mask is concealed physiological idealism.

masks and measures and naming the colour ness of thinking we have to knowness

perpetuating wilde not-us law et al

With a consistent deployment of such a position, the conflict between Mozart and Salieri would acquire its “scientific” explanation as the result of a fine (but decidedly innate) morphophysiological distinction between the brain of a genius and the brain of an evildoer. One would have to discern the same distinctions as the source of opposition in the systems of Democritus and Plato, the creative methods of Raphael. And the reasoning would appear something like this: Raphael perceived the surrounding world differently from Goya, which means that their ocular organs and brains were already organized differently at birth


Instead of the materialistically oriented science in such conversations, there lurks the naïve illusion similar to which would have befallen the analytical chemist, *who, chipping off a piece of marble from the Nike of Samothrace statue, would have produced a chemical analysis of its composition and decided that he can obtain a scientific understanding of the “essence” of the immortal image in the guise of such an analysisRidiculous, isn’t it? But after all, no less ridiculous than the striving to discern a “scientific” understanding of the essence of the human mind and personality as a result of an anatomical and physiological study of the brain, its structure and their functional mutual dependencies. It is of no importance whether one is speaking of the peculiarities of the brain as such (or of the peculiarities of its species, distinguishing it from the brains of any other mammals) or whether it is about individual variations of the morphology of a common species, about the peculiarities of this individual.


In the most complete results of such studies one can obtain knowledge (understanding) of no more than one of the material pre-requisites of the emergence of personality and its mind,one of the necessary external conditions of its generation and existence. One could not even discover any clues in these results as to the personality as an entity of mental life.For the very reason as to why one cannot reveal the mystery of value by physical and chemical analysis of gold coins or paper money. After all, both gold and paper are only physical material in which something else is expressed, a fundamentally other “essence”, absolutely dissimilar to it, albeit a no less real, concrete reality but precisely a system of concrete, historical interrelations between people, mediated by things.


In just the same way a knowledge of the peculiarities of the human brain does not reveal us the mystery of a person’s personality. The existence of a medically normal brain is one of the material prerequisites (let us repeat this once more) of personality, but in no way is it personality itself. After all, personality and the brain are fundamentally different, in their “essence”, “things”, even though they are, in their effective existence, directly connected with each other just as inseparably, as the image of the ‘Sistine Madonna’ and those paints with which Rafael composed on his piece of the canvas are inseparably merged into a certain unity, and just as a trolleybus is inseparable from those materials which it is made from in the factory. Try to separate one from the other. What remains? Iron and paints. The “Sistine Madonna” and the trolleybus would disappear without trace. While the iron and the paints would remain precisely because they are only prerequisites, merely external (and thus indifferent) conditions of the existence of the given concrete thing, and in no way the thing itself in its concreteness.

The same is true of the relation between personality and the brain. The fact that the brain is, in no way, personality, is proven already by that simple fact that personality without a brain cannot exist, but a brain without any hint of personality (that is of whatsoever mental functions) does exist (in a purely biological sense, as a biologically reality).

From all this it follows that to scientifically (materialistically) comprehend, understand personality, to reveal the laws of its emergence and development one can only do so if one leaves the study of the brain to the physiologists and address oneself to the study of a completely different system of facts, a completely different concreteness, another unity in multiplicity other than that unity which is designated by the word “brain”.


The Organic and the Non-Organic Body of the Human. 

Only in society his natural existence is for him his human existence…

K. Marx

That concreteness, that unity of multiple phenomena, within which personality really exists as something integral and is (as mentioned above) “an ensemble of social relations”. Personality, from start to finish, is a phenomenon of a social nature, of social origin. The brain is only a material organ with which personality is realized in the organic body of a human being, transforming this body in to an obedient, easily managed tool, an instrument of its (and not of the brains) life activity. A completely different phenomenon than the brain manifests itself, its activity, in the brain’s functions, it is the personality which manifests itself. And only in this way, and not vice versa, as the reductionists, who merely see the external manifestations of the brain’s work in personal and mental phenomena, aver.  

Let us analyze these facts in rather more detail with the following objection in mind beforehand: why, they will say, are we opposing one thesis with another?. Is it not the case that the assertion, according to which an individual mind is none other than the totality of the “mental functions of a brain”, the totality of the phenomena conditioned by its structure is incorrect? As long as a physiologist remains a physiologist, that is, as long as he remains interested in the brain, and not in the personality, he, too, should reason in this way. We can quite understand this: if you study the brain, then all the rest is of interest only insofar as there emerges, in some way or another, the structure and work of the brain. *But if your aim is to study personality, then you must look at the brain as one of the organs through which personality is realized, and which represents a much more complex formation than the brain and even more than the whole aggregate of organs shaping the living body of the individual.

*we need to quit thinking we have to study and look at and rep everything

The physiologist studies all that which occurs within the organic body of the individual, within the biological unit. And this is their monopoly. But to understand what personality is, one should research the organization of all those totalities of relations of concrete human individualities to all the other similar individualities, that is, the dynamic ensemble of people, connected by mutual ties, always and everywhere having a socio-historical and not a natural character. The secret of the human personality has, for this reason for centuries, remained a mystery to scientific thought: the search to unveil this enigma has been conducted not where this  personality really exists. In an altogether erroneous space: whether in the heart, or in the “pineal gland”, or altogether outside of space, in a special “transcendental” space, in a special incorporeal ether of the “spirit”.

Yet it existed and exists in an entirely real space- in the same space where mountains and rivers are located, stone axes and synchropasotrons, huts and skyscrapers, railway lines and telecommunication lines, where electromagnetic and acoustic waves circulate. In a word, one has in mind the space where all these things are located and in respect of which and through which the human body is connected with another human body “as though in one body” as Spinoza said in his time, or in a single “ensemble” as Karl Marx preferred to put it, in one cultural and historical formation as we today say, in a “body” created not by nature but by the labour of people transforming this nature into their own “non-organic body”.

In this way, the “body” of a human being, appearing as a personality, is his organic body together with those artificial organs which he creates from the matter of external nature, “lengthening” and strengthening many times the natural organs of his body and thus making more complex and variegated the mutual relations with other individuals, manifestations of its “essence”

Personality not only exists but it is also born precisely as a “node”, emerging from a network of mutual relations which arise between individuals in the process of collective activity (labour) concerning things, produced and created by labour.


And the brain as an organ directly realizing personality, manifests itself only there where it actually performs the function of managing the “ensemble” of relations between people, mediated through those things created by humans for humans, that is, there, where it transforms itself into an organ of human relations, or, in other words, of the human being to itself. 

The personality is the totality of human relations to itself as to some “other”- the relation of the self to itself as to some ‘non-self’. Therefore its “body” is not a separate body of the «homo sapiens» species, but, at a minimum, two such bodies – “I” and “you”, merged as it were in one body of social and human ties, relations, interrelations.

Inside the body of an individual, there actually exists not a personality but its one-sided (“abstract”) projection on the biological screen, realized by a dynamic of nervous processes. And the fact that in common parlance (and in previous materialist traditions) it is called “personality” or “the soul”, is not a personality in a genuine materialist sense, but only its one-sided and not always adequate self-feeling, its self-consciousness, its self-perception, its self-opinion about itself and not itself as such.

As such it is not within an individual body but precisely external to it, in the interrelations of this given individual body with another like body through things located in the space between them and locking them “as it were into one body”, controlled “as it were by one soul”. In this case, it is necessarily through things, and not in their natural determination, but in their determination which is given to them through the collective labour of people, that is, it possesses a purely social (and therefore a historically transient) nature. 

Understood thus, personality is far from a theoretical abstraction, but a material and tangible reality. This “physical organization” of this collective body (“an ensemble of social relations”), is a fraction and “organ” of that represented by each human individual.    

Personality as such is the individual expression of the life-activity of the “ensemble of social relations as such”. This personality is the individual expression of the need of a limited aggregate of these relations (not all), with which it is directly connected with other (with certain others, not all) individuals- “organs” of this collective “body”, the body of the human species. 
The difference between the “essence” and the “existence” of human individuality (personality, the self) is not the difference between that “abstract and general” which is inherent in “all” individuals (more exactly, in each of them taken separately), and individual deviations and variations from this “abstract general”. This differentiation between the whole totality of social relations (which is the “essence of the human as such”) and that local zone of these relations where the concrete individual resides, and whose limited aggregate, to which through direct contacts he is immediately connected.

Indirectly, through an infinite quantity of relations, each individual on the globe is actually connected with every other, even with those whom he has never, and will never, immediately come into contact with. Peter knows Ivan, Ivan knows Tom, Tom knows Jeremy and, although Peter does not know Jeremy, they nevertheless are mediately (through Ivan and Tom) connected with each other both through direct and reciprocal connections. And it is precisely for this reason they (these specific fractions) are organs of one and the same collective body, one and the same social ensemble, organism, and not at all because each of them has an amount of identical (each taken separately) innate attributes.


An understanding of the Marxist solution of the problem of the “human essence”, the essence of human individuality (personality, the “soul”) is precisely that which interferes with the archaic logic of thought according to which the “essence” of all the people should be one and the same, this being the biological uniformity of the system of their bodies whereas the “difference” between them is determined by individual variations in this biological nature. 

In order to do away with the dualism of the biosocial explanation of personality and the mental as such, one should first of all part with this outdated logic, with its understanding of the relation of “essence” to individual “existence” (towards “existenz”) and to adopt a directly converse logic of thinking. The same logic of thinking developed and adopted by Karl Marx.

According to Marxist logic, the “essence” of each individual is seen not in their abstract uniformity but, on the contrary, in their concrete totality, in the “body” of the actual ensemble of their mutual relations, multiply mediated through things. The “existence” of each individual is understood not as a “concrete distortion” of this abstract “essence” but, conversely, as an abstract and partial realization of this concrete essence, as its fragment, as its phenomenon, as its incomplete and inadequate embodiment in the organic body of each individual. Personality here is understood in a fully materialist way, in a fully material and physical way as a real physical and material totality of material and physical relations connecting this individual with any other suchlike individual by cultural and historical, and not natural, ties. 

Given this understanding of personality, there vanishes not only the necessity but also the very possibility to explain the inimitability of human individuality, the inimitability of its biological individuality, the specific nature of the morphology of its organic body. Conversely, the specific nature of the actual morphology of the body will have to be explained here by the peculiarities of its socio-historical status by social causes, the specific nature of those interrelationships, in the system in which this personality was shaped. Only upon this path can we find an answer to the question of how and why one and the same biological unit can become such or another personality, acquire such personality traits (or one’s directly contrasting them), why the “composition” of personality is in no way assigned and cannot be assigned beforehand, let alone unequivocally. 

Marxist logic commits one to a train of thought contrary to that issuing from notions of the biological predetermination of all the specific features of personality, ostensibly only discovered in (and not emerging from!) the field of social relations with other people and things. And it is the totality of real, material and physical specificities of these relations in which an individual human body is postulated, that there one discovers also inside this individual body, in the guise of the particular nature of those dynamic “cerebral structures” their individual and inimitable combination, and subject to consideration as the morphophysiological projection of personality, but not as personality itself. 

Only on such a path can one remove the dualism of the “soul” and the “body” in a materialist way: there is and there can be no interrelation between the “soul” and the “body” of a human being, for this is- directly- one and the same, only in different projections of it, in its two different dimensions; the “animated body” – the totality (“ensemble”) of fully physical and material processes, realized by this body. 


Personality is not inside the “body of an individual” but inside the “body of a human being”, which is in no way reducible to this individual body, is not constrained by its framework, but is a “body” much more complicated and spatially wider, including in its morphology all those artificial “organs” which humans created and continue to create (tools and machines, words and books, telephone networks and radio and television channels connecting individuals of the human species), that is, all this “common body” within which individuals function as its living organs.

This “body” (its internal articulation, its internal organization, its concreteness) should also be considered to understand each of its separate organs, and in their vital function, in the totality of their direct and converse ties with other similar living organs, moreover ties which are fully substantive, physical and objective and not those ephemeral “spiritual relations” in the system which always attempted and attempts to consider personality through any idealistically oriented psychology (personalism, existentialism and so on).

How Personality is Born

The object as being for man, as the objectified being of man, is at the same time the existence of man for other men, his human relation to other men, the social relation of man to man. Karl Marx, (https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/holy-family.pdf page 60)

In 1844 speaking about the future materialist psychology, about a science which at that time had not yet been created, Karl Marx wrote that it was the “history of industry and the established  objective existence of industry [that] are the open book of man’s essential powers, the perceptibly existing human psychology“ and that “a psychology for which this book, the part of history existing in the most perceptible and accessible form, cannot become a genuine, comprehensive and real science”2

Considering personality as a pure social unit, as a concrete ensemble of the social qualities of human individuality, psychology is compelled to disregard the relation of personality with those things which have no internally necessary relation to it, and to study only those relations and ties which mediate personality with itself, that is one personality with another suchlike personality. We must take into account the “external things” in this study only insofar as they prove to be a mediating link between two (at the very least) human individuals. 

As an example of such an “external thing” one can point to the word- created by humans for humans (“for itself”) as a form of communication. But the word is far from the only, and not even the first of such forms. The first (both in essence and in time) are those direct forms of communication which bind individuals in acts of collective labour and are jointly realized operations for the production of necessary things. This latter also appears in this case as the mediating link between the two individuals producing it or at least individuals who commonly use it.

In such a manner, human relations also presuppose, on the one hand, a thing created by a human for a human, and on the other hand, another person who relates humanly to this thing and through it, to another person. And human individuality exists only there where one organic body finds itself in a particular (social) relation to itself, mediated through the relation to another such-like body with an artificially created “organ”, an “external thing” with the aid of a communication tool.


Only within such a system consisting of “three bodies” does there prove to be possible the phenomenon of the unique and mysterious human capacity “to relate to himself as he would to a certain other”, that is the emergence of personality, of a specifically human individuality. There where such a system from “three bodies” does not exist, there is only a biological individuality, there is only the natural prerequisite of the birth of human individuality but never in any circumstance is there personality as such

The morphological necessity of the appearance of human individuality in an individual biological body of the «homo sapiens» species is not “built in”, it is not envisaged genetically. It is “built in” only in a more complex and extensive “body”- in the collective “body of the human species”. In relation to the organism of an individual it, therefore, appears as an “external” necessity pressing on it “from outside” and quite forcibly transforming his/her body in such a way that it would never have transformed it by itself.

The biological (anatomical and physiological) human individual is not even designed for walking upright. Left to itself, an infant will never stand on its own feet and would never walk. Even this needs to be taught. For the organism of the infant to learn to walk is an excruciatingly difficult act, for there is no necessity dictating to it from “within” but there is an invasive change to his innate morpho-physiology produced from “without”. 

yeah.. i don’t know.. model another way et al

Left to its own devices, the organism of the infant would have remained a purely biological organism- that of an animal. Human development proceeds as a process of displacement of organically “in-built” biological functions (insofar as they have still been preserved) by fundamentally different functions, by methods of life-activity, the totality of which is “built in” the morphology and the physiology of the collective “body of the species”.

The infant is compelled to stand on his/her hind limbs not as a result of some biologically justified expedience at all nor because two limbs are better suited for movement. An infant is compelled to walk upright precisely for the fact (and only due to the fact) to free his/her front limbs from “unworthy” work for labour, that is for the function imposed by cultural conditions, the forms of objects created by human beings for humans and the necessity to humanly manipulate those objects. 

Biologically (anatomically and physiologically, in a structural and functional manner) the front limbs of a human being are not arranged for holding spoons or pencils, buttoning up one’s clothes or running one’s fingers over the key of a piano. Morphologically, they have not been intended for all of this. And it is because of this that they are capable of assuming the performance of any form (manner) of work. The freedom from any type of a previously “embedded” way of functioning in this morphology also comprises its morphological advantage due to which the front limbs of a newly born infant can be developed into organs of human activity, can be transformed into human hands

The same is the case with the articulated apparatus and with organs of sight. From birth they are not organs of human personality, human life activity. They can only become so, be rendered such, and only in the process of their human, social and historical (in the “body of culture”) programmed manner of consumption.


Insofar as the organs of an individual’s body transform themselves into the organs of a human life activity, then there emerges personality itself as an individual totality of human and functional organs. In this sense, the process by which personality emerges appears as the process of transformation of the biologically assigned material through the forces of social reality, existing prior to, beyond and completely independently of this material. 

Sometimes this process is called “the socialization of personality”. In our view, this title is a misnomer because it already assumes that personality somehow exists even before its “socialization”.  Actually, personality is not what is socialized but the natural body of the newly-born child who has yet to become a person in the process of this “socialization”, that is, the personality which has still to emerge. And the act of its birth coincides neither with the time, nor with the essence of the act of giving birth of a human body, with the day of the physical emergence of the person in the world.

Insofar as the body of the infant from its first minutes is included in the totality human relations, potentially s/he is already a personality. Potentially, but not actually, for other people “relate” to him/her in a human manner but s/he does not do so. Human relations in the system of which the little body of the infant is included, here do not bear a mutual character.  They are one-sided, for the infant still long remains the object of human activity addressed to him/her, but s/he her/himself still does not appear as their subject. S/he is swaddled, bathed, fed, given drink and it is not s/he who clothes her/himself, take a birth, eat or drink. S/he still “relates” to everything surrounding her/him not as a human being but merely as a living organic body who has yet to be transformed into a “body of personality” in the system of organs of personality as a social unit. In essence, s/he has still not separated from the mother’s body, even biologically, although the umbilical cord, physically joining her/him with her/his mother’s body has already been cut off by the surgeon’s knife (please note in a human way and not by the teeth). 

Personality is a social entity, a subject, a bearer of social and human activity; the infant will become a personality only then and there where and when s/he begins to perform this activity. Initially through adults and then later without them. 

We will underscore once again, the child assimilates from without, all human activity addressed without exception to another human being and on any other object.

if all this.. then not from w/in like said in beginning of essay.. not itch-in-the-soul ness

Not one, not even the most trivial of specific human actions emerges from “within”, for only those functions of the human body (and the brain in particular) which guarantee a purely biological existence (and not in any way the social and human forms of existence) are programmed in the genes.

Personality emerges, then, when the individual starts autonomously, as a subject, to realize external activity according to the norms and standards assigned to them externally by that culture in the womb of which the infant awakes to human life and human activity.

oh my.. counter to beginning..

In the meantime, human activity is addressed to it, and the infant remains its object, its individuality which, of course, it already possesses is still not yet a human individuality. And only insofar as the infant assimilates, adopting them from other people, human manners of relating to things, within her/his organic body there emerge, are being shaped, formed specific human organs, tied around neurodynamic structures, managing her/his specific human activity (including that nervous apparatus which controls muscle movement, allowing the infant to stand on its two legs), that is, structures which realize personality.


In this way, the function assigned externally creates (forms) a corresponding organ necessary for its realization by “morphology” – it is these, and not any other connections between neurons, precisely these, and not any, other “diagrams” of their mutual direct and opposing ties. Therefore, any of these “diagrams” are possible, dependent upon which functions need to be realized by the human body in the external world, in the world beyond the limits of its skull and skin cover. And the agile “morphology” of the brain (or more precisely, the cortex and its interrelations with other departments) will be formed exactly as required by external necessity, by the conditions of the external activity of human beings, by that totality of relations of this individual with other individuals, within which this individual has emerged immediately after its appearance in the world, via that “ensemble of social ties” which immediately transformed him into a “living organ”, and immediately posited it in that system of relations which compel him to act thus and not otherwise.

don’t think i’ll copy any more.. or read anymore.. have barely even read to here.. too many words and repetitions and unsettlings