Difference between ‘Character’ and ‘Temperament’

‘It is commonly said that every living creature, every animal, insect or human being has its own particular character or, to put it in more general terms, its particular characteristics. Also, in everyday conversation, people often confuse the terms ‘character’ and ‘temperament’ although, in fact, they are not at all the same thing.

Basically, temperament is something that is related to the vital dimension of a human being. It is a synthesis of all the instincts, tendencies and impulses which humans are virtually incapable of changing or eliminating because they are rooted in their biological and physiological dimension. Temperament, therefore, is closely related to man’s animal nature.

Character, on the other hand, while it cannot be dissociated from temperament, represents the intellectual, conscious, voluntary dimension of man. A person’s character is the result of their conscious effort to modify—by addition or subtraction—certain aspects of their innate temperament by the use of their intellectual and emotional faculties and the use of their willpower.

Character is the behaviour of a conscious human being who knows what they are doing and where they are going, whereas temperament represents the impulses of their biological nature, the tendencies which lie beneath the surface of their consciousness. Character is, as it were, a synthesis of all the particular characteristics of a man’s temperament which have been conquered and brought under control.

As I have said, it is almost impossible to change one’s temperament, for every human being born into the world has received a temperament which has been clearly defined in advance. But as the character is formed by the conscious tendencies of a being who reasons and reflects and who wants to assert themself by improving—or by deteriorating—the heritage they were born with, this results in an attitude, a way of manifesting oneself which is often in direct contradiction to one’s basic temperament.

This is what we mean by character. A person’s character is, as it were, a new ‘version’ of their temperament, a version that has been coloured, modified and oriented towards a specific goal, an ideal. It is like a deliberately acquired habit and it becomes second nature. Character is not something which exists at birth, it is formed gradually, over the years. You can see this in children: they have a temperament but not yet a character.’

Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

Izvor book 221, True Alchemy or the Quest for Perfection
Chapter 3, Character and Temperament 

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