John Zizioulas’ concept of the person: a critical appraisal
Valeriy I. Prasolov – Sergey M. Grigoriev – Elena V. Martynenko – Natalya N. Shindryaeva – Oleg A. Skutelnik
Much of John Zizioulas’ treatment of the human being as a person revolves around four crucial concepts: being, otherness, ontology, and freedom. Our critical appraisal of Zizioulas’ concept of human personhood emphasizes the importance of creative tension between (ontological) freedom and contingency as understood within the frame of reference of the human being’s intrinsic contingency as a finite, created being. According to this concept, the other (another distinct embodied personhood) is neither an object nor competition but rather a gift for one’s self who reminds me of one’s limitedness, dependence, and deep relatedness. Thus, the other helps the human self realize his/her potential in a mutual sharing of love. We examine Zizioulas’ critical stance to the modern notion that ‘otherness is necessary for freedom to exist’ against the background of his treatment of ‘otherness’ and ‘nature,’ as well as ‘otherness’ and ‘new being,’ ‘Logos,’ and ‘new nature.’ Finally, we lay out Zizioulas’ mature ontology of human personhood as a profound albeit mystical account of what it means to be human in our fragmented age.
Key words: John Zizioulas, the ontology of personhood, otherness, freedom, relational personalism