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The psalmist:"You are totally miraculously made!"

Anthropology of Personality

D1. Finally this entire "building" of intersecting behavioral aspects is steered by the personality, which consists of a superimposed structure of the conscience, the will, and the "heart." These three superior "essences" interact as well and have each also their introverted and extraverted elements, viz.:










moral balance


personality/ ego


the cherishing of personal moral principles

personal volition; the awareness one has one's own will

the pure 'ego'; the sources of life; seat of wisdom and language

the pursuit of personal moral goals

the personal direction/ exercise of one's will; personal volitional goals; active ambitions

"I-ness"/ personality; highest identifications (people identify with their most cherished beliefs/ ideologies/ idols)


the aptitude of the conscience to be controlled by the will introvertedly or reflectively in contemplation of one's morals

will as pure 'essence'

the capability to control one's will reflectively in personal contemplation of one's ambitions

the aptitude of the conscience to be directed outwardly by the will in making all one's aspects comply to one's standards

the will to will something; the capacity to act

the capability to control the direction of one's ambitions


the conscience as pure 'essence'

the will to be conscientious

awareness of general morality across the various aspects of the underlying structure

the conscience as expression of and link to the underlying structure

the will to act conscientiously

forming & learning of moral principles in the various aspects of the underlying structure

D2. The three main aspects of the heart may be compared with the id, ego and superego of Freud; or the child personality, the adult personality and the parent personality of a person (with their extravert and introvert sides), according to Eric Bernstein. The same holds true for the heart, the will and the conscience. One could substitute, in a less serious way, these terms with Freud's and so come to a better understanding of his generalizations. Although these ideas are still very much alive in our society, in modern psychology and psychiatry they play hardly any role anymore. I am afraid modern scientists have thrown out the baby with the bath water.

I am afraid I have to conclude that Martin Luther pictured the will as a marionet, either played by the devil or by God. However Erasmus, I am sure, exaggerated the liberty of the will. The Bible teaches that we are dead in trespasses and sins and that we are slaves of sin, as a power, and that only when we become slaves of Christ, the truth will set us free. But that does not mean that a sinner cannot decide whether he will steal from this or that neighbor. Even a kleptomaniac has such liberty of will, even though he is slave of a sick and sinful tendency. Only God has an absolute will with an absolute power and liberty. Animals have very limited wills and humans have less freedom than angels. A well developed creature wills what he can and can what he wills. But only God is infinite in power and liberty of will.

Modern scientists are divided on this issue. The one says that the brain 'decides' in advance what the hands do and that this is proof that we have no real will and that there is no ghost in the machine. The other says that the same brain scans prove that the will is located in a higher region of the brain and that we have the liberty to change our mind. I elaborate on the latter view and remind the reader of the biblical view of the heart. Also, when a person speaks, he forms a sentence in the brain, before consciously speaking all its words. In this one's will freely draws upon one's memory and it is not some kind of deterministic memory that leads me to speak. Although it is also true that The mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart. But it is a person that, during a long period, has allowed his heart to be filled with the thoughts that appeal to him. Therefore Solomon teaches us: Watch over your heart more than over anything that is worthy to be guarded.



The process in which the conscience is rendered sensitive and also in which the heart is changed. It stands over against a cauterized conscience.


The utterances of one's conscience.


The consequent acts of one's conscience as visible in one's life. (Cf.: 'Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks'). It is a well-known saying that a Christian should not just learn with his mind, but with his heart (conscience, will and heart). It must sink down a foot!

Sense of Moral Balance

Even though according to the bible the wise man bears his heart on the right, there must be a question of balance; as it also says that one must not veer off either to the right or the left. In order to make a straight path one must be able to balance one's conscience.


A good definition of conscience is 'the moral awareness of something with oneself.' The problem is that we have a tendency to darken our conscience with the result that we are unconscious of our negative sides.


The will may be defined as the power to exercise or steer an aspect of one'e being towards realization, including the will itself.


One's heart is the very center of one's being. Depending on how one translate, the bible says that from (preserving) your heart come all the sources of life.


Perhaps the ego/personality might be defined as that set of characteristics that makes an individual unique.

D3. The very heart of a person, or pure "ego" is supposed to be the very essence of the human. It is also the most elusive of all elements. Perhaps it is best compared to white light before dissected in a prism, the spectrum, then, consisting of all the aspects; to use a Dooyeweerdian allegory.

E. It is argued that each of the 32 aspects in the basic anthropological structure, as well as the 18 aspects in the personality structure, has its own right of existence. One must not try to reduce say perception to the physical level. However, it is maintained that somehow all the aspects of the basic structure result from the interplay of the four basic "essences." And so the 18 aspects of one's personality grow to be in one's life through the interaction of one's conscience, will and heart.

F. The conscience is often at odds with the heart, with the will left in the middle; as may be clear in the case of an addiction.

See our chart on the heart of human personality consisting of memory, language and consciousness.

The apostle Paul: "Let nobody deceive himself, if somebody thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise (1 Cor. 3.18)!"

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