Fundamental Ambivalence Of The Modern Individual (Humanitarian Christian Psychological Paradigm)


The article examines the problem of fundamental ambivalence of a modern person from the perspective of a humanitarian Christian psychological paradigm. The theoretical basis is the philosophical and psychological heritage of Zenkovsky V.V. and his conceptual provisions on the “metaphysical” and “empirical” personality. Reflection is substantiated as a mental formation that arose as a result of the fall of man; personal reflection is considered as the ability of a soul to look at itself. It is characterized by “Ego” and “Altera”, arising as a result of reflection, and reflecting the fundamental ambivalence of human soulfulness, presented in personal modality of a “Modern human”. The spiritual development of a person is presented in the light of spiritualization of a human soul: positive and creative – spiritual and moral; negative and destructive – spiritually immoral. In the first case, the movement from egocentrism to altruism is substantiated, which in general constitutes the dialectic of personality development. In the second case, it is immersion in the Ego, in oneself as an absolute primary, as a basic value. The article reveals the contents of the development of the personal modality "Modern human" on the path from egocentrism to altruism through the development of personal reflection.

Keywords: Personality, personal reflection, metaphysical personality, empirical personality, egocentric personality, altruistic personality


In the third millennium, the problem of preserving civilization is becoming more acute for humanity. Social crises, ecological cataclysms, numerous natural disasters are the result of human life, whose very existence is paradoxical. On the one hand, one can observe the greatest human creations. On the other hand, it is destruction and self-destruction. Scientific discoveries vs. ignorance. The desire for creative transformation of reality and inability to avoid chaos are attributes of human life. Ensuring social progress directly depends on the development of spirituality in a person. The imperative of time is a person who is capable of creative and moral reality transformation.

Fundamental versatility of man and multifaceted nature of his existence led to the emergence of a large number of theories and concepts of personality (Slobodskoy, 2008; Slobodchikov, 1995) and a number of others). In each of these theories and concepts, the definition of personality, its composition, properties, levels, etc., patterns and mechanisms of development depend on the author's worldview and are limited by the specifics of tasks he is solving, i.e. are very conditional. At the same time, materialistic worldview, which is realized in natural science paradigms, is common to most psychological theories and concepts of personality. Here the man is the top product of evolution of living matter, and his personality, in many respects, is reduced to social determinacy of development of biological prerequisites. Obviously, only one side of a person's life is taken into account, connected with the natural (physical) basis of his essence. The internal inconsistency of the subjective being of a person associated with transcendental existence remains beyond the boundaries of consideration. The foregoing makes it necessary to draw the attention of researchers to religious philosophy and anthropology, including Christian one.

The identification of a spiritual "substance" in man, along with natural (physical) is traditional for Russian philosophy, psychology and pedagogy. The philosophical and psychological heritage of Zenkovsky (as cited in Kondratyev et al., 2017) is important for the formation of Russian humanitarian psychology. The conceptual provisions on the “metaphysical” and “empirical” personality are presented by him. The conceptual provisions on the “metaphysical” and “empirical” personality, as well as on the bivalence of the human essence make it possible to determine basic psychological formations and develop on their basis multilevel psychological phenomena, to determine personality modalities and to reveal the essential ambivalence of the spiritual identity of the personality of a modern person.

Problem Statement

The existing theories and concepts of man and personality do not remove the problem of the ambivalence of personal identity. The processing and refinement of some provisions that characterize the personality of a modern person should be largely carried out from the standpoint of metaphysical mental formations, which takes place in the humanitarian paradigm (including the Christian one). It is here that it is possible to find an answer to questions related to solving the problem of internal inconsistency of personal identity, essential transcendence; come closer to determining the true cause of a person's ability and inclination to be creative; define personal development as a condition and method for the development of society, and a solution to the problem of human survival, etc. Despite the fact that recently there has been a tendency to consider the human essence integratively, supplementing natural scientific concepts with metaphysical ones, there is a lack of theoretical substantiations and conceptual developments of phenomenology and psychological unites that contain ontological formations of a metaphysical nature. That poses the problem of identifying essential contradictions in many respects leading to the ambivalence of personal identity.

Research Questions

The object of the research is the psychological integrative of metaphysical and empirical personality of a modern person. The subject of the article is the study of fundamental ambivalence of the personality of a modern person, as a projection of metaphysical in empirical identities.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the article is to theoretically substantiate fundamental ambivalence of the personality of a modern person from the standpoint of the humanitarian Christian paradigm.

Research Methods

Analysis of the Bible text, Holy Father's creations, theological, scientific-psychological, philosophical, journalistic literature and Internet sources, generalization, and systematization of theoretically and empirically obtained data.


The concept of personality in Christian psychology, built within the framework of the Orthodox paradigm, is most holistically presented in the psychological heritage of Zenkovsky (1996) In this case, we are talking about two centers (layers) of personality: metaphysical and empirical. The metaphysical in the personality is presented as a given, as a spiritually determined human integrity, as a kind of “hypostasis” (Zenkovsky, 1992). An empirical personality is a product of ontogenetic development; it carries a certain “empirical composition” (Zenkovsky, 1992). Based on the foregoing, from the standpoint of Christian psychology, the personality of a person can be represented, with a certain degree of convention, in the form of three modalities: “Adam”, “Cain (Modern man)” and “Jesus”.

Adam was created by God as a completely self-sufficient person. His metaphysical personality “included” all the necessary content of psychological formations necessary for the realization of all spiritual attributes of a person: reason, creativity, freedom, will, strength. It should also be noted that Adam was not created as a baby, but as a fully mature man. At the same time, he had the opportunity to communicate with God, i.e. existed in the system of relations “Man – God”. The life of Adam in Paradise was fully consistent with God's plan for the creation of man.

Cain was not only a “creation of God” but also a born human being. He came to this world as an infant, dynamically developing in the process of life. In this case, the personality of Cain is largely identical to the personality of modern man. The metaphysical personality of Cain was given to him by the fact of creation. She defines his spiritual potential according to God's plan, presented in the individual. However, the metaphysical personality of Cain, in contrast to the personality of Adam, does not have sufficient psychological education (knowledge, skills, etc.) necessary for the realization of all the spiritual attributes of a person. These formations are formed in the process of Cain's communication with the outside world, i.e. through the formation of an empirical personality. Moreover, the possibility of building relationships with God in Cain (as in a modern person) depends on how his orientations towards God are formed by the surrounding world (for a modern person, this is primarily a sociocultural environment). Thus, modern man can come to God only through the system of relations “Man – World”, and the empirical personality is a condition for the realization of God's plan in man, represented in the metaphysical personality.

Unlike Adam and modern man, Jesus Christ is born of God. And as the Son of God He embodied the Divine Essence. Based on the foregoing, Jesus Christ did not have a metaphysical personality, since He is God. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and in this respect he was a man. He came to this world as an infant and grew up in certain socio-cultural conditions, and in this regard, an empirical personality was formed in Him. However, that His empirical personality reveals the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the human race.

Considering the personality of modern man, it is impossible not to touch upon the essential changes that took place in the soul of the “first people” as a result of their fall. What did Adam and Eve not have after their creation, and what arose in their souls as a result of “eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”? What kind of mental transformation was the result of original sin? Let us turn to the Holy Scriptures: “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise during the coolness of the day; And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of paradise. And the Lord God called to Adam and said to him: [Adam] where are you? He said: I heard your voice in paradise, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And [God] said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you not eaten from the tree from which I have forbidden you to eat? Adam said: the wife you gave me, she gave me it from the tree, and I ate it” (The Bible New Testament, 2001). What happened to Adam? Why didn't he realize that he was naked before? What has arisen in his soul? Obviously, it is self-awareness. The latter in psychology is interpreted through the concept of reflection. From a psychological point of view, a person, by the fact of his creation, lacked reflection, which arose as a mental neoformation (a neoformation in the soul) as a result of the Fall.

Reflection in psychology is often interpreted as a process of self-knowledge by the subject of internal mental acts and states (Shilkov, 1992). In other words, it is “... the generic ability of a person, manifested in the turning of consciousness on himself, on the inner world of a person and in his place in relationships with others, on the forms and methods of cognitive and transformative activity” (Slobodchikov & Isaev, 1995, p. 201). Reflection expresses the functionality of consciousness to follow certain symbols, the meanings of which can be revealed in “terms” of the life of the subject himself (Slobodchikov & Isaev, 1995). Thus, reflection manifests itself in self-awareness. In other words, reflection is not a sin, it is a new mental formation that arose in a person's soul as a result of his fall. Appearing in the soul, she made a “split” in human spirituality, defining two mutually exclusive facets – “good” and “evil”.

Following the Orthodox paradigm in science (church and secular) and philosophy, the spiritual source of sin should be noted. Sin arose long before the creation of man; it arose in the angelic world when there was a bright angel. Spiritual in nature, sin is always the result of the greatest temptation of the “being with free will” to be equal to God, its creator. This can be traced both in the Fall, which took place in the angelic world, and in the fall of man. “... And the serpent said to his wife: no, you will not die, but God knows that on the day you taste them, your eyes will open, and you will be like gods who know good and evil” (The Bible Old Testament, 2001). In the human soul, this ensures the experience of one's own greatness and is expressed in pride.

Based on the foregoing, the reflection that arose as a result of the fall of Adam determined the person's gaze “inside” his own spirituality and gave rise to two poles in the person's personality “Alter” and “Ego” as a projection (imprint) in the soul of a person of good and evil. At their core, “Alter” and “Ego” oppose each other, express the essential ambivalence of human spirituality, represented in the personality. Proceeding from this, it is possible to consider the spiritual development of a person (spiritualization of the human soul): positive constructive – “spiritual and moral”; and negative destructive – “spiritually immoral”. In the first case, there is a movement from egocentrism to altruism, which in general constitutes the dialectic of personality development, in the second – “immersion” in the “Ego”, in oneself as an absolute primary, basic value, in this case there is a dynamics of the fall of man.

Based on the foregoing, can it be argued that the “Ego” initially carries sinfulness and is the expression of evil in the spiritual sphere of man? I think not. The “Ego” only concentrates a person's awareness of himself as a subject different from other people. The emergence of the “Ego” is associated with the emergence of “self” in a person as an active life position, the desire of the subject to realize his will in relation to the object (everything that exists outside the person). From this point of view, “Ego” is associated with the emergence of self-awareness and is inherent in modern man as a person. It determines the volitional regulation of any social activity of a person (activity, cognition, communication, behavior) from the standpoint of purpose, content, process. Thus, essentially the “Ego” does not yet contain a person's striving for sin, sin is always associated with the development of the personality on the basis of egocentrism. In this case, “Ego” opposes the subjectivity of man to objective reality, creates a personal antagonism in the relationship “man – the world” and “man – God”. This antagonism is based on the contradictions between man and the world, man, and God, in the resolution of which priority is given to the human personality. In this case, a human personality is generally of primary importance, and the main meaning of its existence is reduced to self-realization and satisfaction of the human “Ego”.

The connection between “Ego” and sin can be clearly seen if we consider the relationship between “absolute” and “relative” in human essence, taking as a starting point the idea of ​​“the creation of the world”. According to this idea, the world does not have its roots in itself,” it “arose thanks to a certain transcendental force (Zenkovsky, 1992). In relation to the human essence, what has been said is expressed in the fact that “... in a person, Absolute Being could unite with the created sphere – and unite so that all the qualities inherent in the created sphere retain their strength” (Zenkovsky, 1992, p. 62). In other words, the absolute and the relative are integrated in a person, forming a human essence. Man is created, and therefore he belongs to the “relative” world. However, he is the image of God, and therefore his spiritual existence is possible even in the “Absolute being”. Yet how relative is a person and how absolute is he? Can the human essence “embrace” the Absolute being? How identical are the “Image of God” in man and God? The answers to the last questions still indicate that a person is more relative than absolute. Man was created by God, and he can never become equal to his Creator. Man is “the image of God”, and as an image he only partially embraces the Absolute, manifested in his individual spiritual uniqueness, which is present in the personality. There are many people, and each carries a “piece” of God as an “image of God’. Consequently, the absolutization of the human person is the deepest error.

Based on the foregoing, the connection between the “Ego” and sin is that a person becomes absolute, he becomes equal to God. In this case, the human “Ego” replaces God, the main meaning of a person's life is reduced to the satisfaction of his own “Ego”. Everything around him acquires significance for a person only if it is “useful” for his “Ego”. Such immersion in oneself leads to alienation of both the world and God. Entering into a relationship with the world and God, and not satisfying his self-dominance, a person begins to feel dislike for everything that does not satisfy his needs. Comparing his personal and life achievements with the achievements of people around him, the self-dominant personality, as a rule, experiences envy, dislike, etc. The “peak” of the fall of personal ego-dominance is hatred of everything around us (at the spiritual level, this is the opposite of love, the ego is the edge of sinfulness). This is the case with selfishness. With selfishness, a person can reach such a depth of “fall into sin” that he begins to feel hatred of himself as a representative of the world and as an “image of God”. Here, feelings such as despondency, complete despair, hostility, etc. arise. In the extreme form of egoism – “militant egoism”, a person is capable of suicide.

“Alter” in the human personality objectifies human self-consciousness – “I” as another. In this case, the transcendence of the human "self" takes place, the personality goes beyond the boundaries of its own “I” and begins to feel responsibility for everything that happens around the person, for other people. All this is associated with the formation of tolerance, sensitivity, responsiveness, etc. The development of “Altera” in the personality determines the development of internality, the ability to look for the cause of the events in oneself, and not in external conditions. The development of “Altera” in the “man – God” system ensures the development of personal morality. At the same time, the ability to treat other people as to oneself, the ability to self-sacrifice for the benefit of other people, etc. is formed in a person. All this ensures the attainment of the heights of spiritual freedom, when a person is not only capable, but also ready to submit his will to the will of God. It is in this case that the basic meaning of the personal identity of a Christian is realized through co-crucifixion with his Savior Jesus Christ. It is at the level of altruism that one can experience the highest spiritual feeling – love. Consequently, the development of personality along the path of “Altera” ensures the striving of a person for God, it is the movement from “Ego” to “Alter” that is the struggle with sin and overcoming the latter.


The essential ambivalence of the personality of a modern person is largely determined by the contradictions between “Ego” and “Alter” in the human soul. Public morality, especially built on liberal ideology, when the boundaries between “good” and “evil” are blurred, when there is a focus on the priority of national, sexual, gender and other minorities in state legislation, when selfishness becomes the basis of the identity of the individual, and satisfaction “instinctual needs” acts as the meaning of life comes into conflict with individual morality. The resolution of this contradiction in everyday life situations, as a rule, leads to the simplification of the spiritual in a person. Based on the foregoing, there is a need for the spiritual and moral development of a person in the context of personal reflection. Such development is the dynamics of the spiritual improvement of an individual along the path from egocentrism to altruism.


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Kondratiev, S. V., Kondratievа, O. V., Gusev, V. E., & Ratushnyak, G. Y. (2021). Fundamental Ambivalence Of The Modern Individual (Humanitarian Christian Psychological Paradigm). In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2228-2234). European Publisher.