Notions of character, temperament, vocation, nature, or finally previous situations that determine human behavior and motivation are a constant in the layman’s thinking and unfortunately also in psychological thinking. The attempt to understand human problems, in general, is based on causal ideas, on elements that determine reality, having antecedence and substantiality as the explanatory foundations of present events, generating typifications, prejudices, and justifications.
Perceiving and understanding what exists through its evidence is a phenomenological attitude espoused by Edmund Husserl, but little understood and accepted in this universe of elementarist causal explanations. For Husserl, what exists shows up, becomes evident, bringing the whole configuration, the whole physiognomy which identifies, individualizes, and characterizes it.
Understanding character as a stigma has led to biased theories, and to classifications which were not scientific at all, although long adopted by science. It is the case of Cesare Lombroso, who defined the superiority and inferiority of beings and races by variations in the frontal lobe, occipital lobe, and other measures of the skull, creating a classification which would lead to character traits. His studies have influenced, for decades, Western criminology and legal systems, with a priori explanations regarding "criminal personalities" and "character predisposed to crime".
The idea of temperament is also responsible for the a priori explanation of human behavior. Nowadays, the concept of temperament is one of the pillars of the DSMs (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), a manual that is a worldwide reference for the classification and diagnosis of psychiatric disorders, which in recent years has received numerous criticisms and accusations that its definitions of mental disorders vary depending on the best market setting to increase the sale of drugs.
The difference between men does not lie in their physical or racial aspect, nor in their social and economic condition. The difference between men lies in their humanization and dehumanization. Becoming cruel, inhuman, happens anywhere in the world, in any social and economic system; it always results from transforming relational possibilities into necessary contingencies, where survival is imposed, and this process occurs both with the lumpen (miserable, social scum) and with those who possess the greatest riches, usually fortunes built by the use and appropriation of the other. Currently, we still see, in several parts of the planet, the trafficking of people; individuals who take advantage of hunger, fear, ignorance, who use human beings as waste, as raw material, and as a means to earn money, transporting them in ferries, selling their work, turning them into slaves, prostitutes, organ donors etc. Such cruelties do not derive from “character traits”, neither from a “weak character”, nor from temperamental variations or innate aspects; but rather from the dehumanization created by greed focused on survival and satisfaction of needs.
Human strength or weakness does not result from a gift, from an innate characteristic (character, temperament). They result from how we relate to each other and to the world. Accepting limits, integrating possibilities, questioning uses and abuses creates new perspectives, establishes relationships that set the mood, the consistency, the acceptance of frustrations and the transformation thereof.
To be strong is to accept oneself as human; to be weak is to want recognition as human by instrumentalizing this recognition, this human trait. To live the contingency, the ferocity of systems as continuity, without fragmentary positions, prevents the construction of bunkers that isolate the individual and make difficult the participation of the other, creating depersonalizing mirrors.
Strength is to accept the impasse, for example; weakness is to flee from it, creating justifications and displacements impeding the antithesis that transforms, that brings the new when impasses, limits, difficulties are faced.