On Personhood and Love

Professor Haldane himself illustrates the present state of mind very well. He thinks that if one were inventing a language for ‘sinless beings who loved their neighbors as themselves’ it would be appropriate to have no words for ‘my’, ‘I’, and ‘other personal pronouns and inflexions’. In other words he sees no difference between two opposite solutions of the problem of selfishness: between love (which is a relation between persons) and the abolition of persons. Nothing but a Thou can be loved and a Thou can exist only for an I.

A society in which no one was conscious of himself as a person over against other persons, where non could say ‘I love you’, would, indeed, be free from selfishness, but not through love. It would be ‘unselfish’ as a bucket of water is unselfish.

C.S. Lewis, Other Worlds (1975), 83–84.

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