Carl Jung’s Myth of the West

We’ve been reading Catfalque. This is Peter Kingsley’s most recent take on the Presocratics but this time explored through the life and work of Carl Jung. It is a satisfying read and gives one a sense of the depth that goes missing in many other Jungian views.

However, there was one thing that bothered me. Kingsley kept on insisting on the uniqueness of the West, that Westerners must focus on their own culture instead of looking to the East or elsewhere. For a scholar of the ancient world, this seems simplistic and naive. East and West, as we now know it, is not a distinction ancient people would have made. The Greeks were more concerned with differentiating themselves from Barbarians, including the tribal people of Europe that were to the west and north of their own lands.

Those Presocratics never thought of themselves as Westerners, except in a relative sense in talking about those to the east of them, but certainly not as a monolithic identity. In fact, they were part of a syncretistic tradition that was heavily influenced by the far and near East, often by way of Egypt. Some early Greek thinkers gave credit to African-ruled Egypt as the original source of great art and philosophy. This would be more fully embraced later on in Hellenism. Greek medicine, for example, may have been shaped by Eastern teachings.

We know that many Greeks had traveled East, as had many Easterners traveled to the Greek and Greco-Roman world. This included Buddhists and Hindus. This was true into the period of the Roman Empire when supposedly there was a Buddhist temple on the Sea of Galilee. The North African church father Augustine was originally a Manichaean before he converted to Christianity, and his early faith was an amalgamation of Judaic baptismal cult, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism. Besides, the Greeks themselves were a wandering people who originated from somewhere else, and throughout their history they kept wandering about.

In following Jung’s own cultural defensiveness, Kingsley argues that we Westerners have to look to our own sacred origins and that there is a danger of doing otherwise. But Kingsley is an American, a culture of a thousand influences. And Jung was a northern European. Like most other supposed ‘Westerners’, neither probably had any ancestral roots in the ancient people of Greece nor the Greco-Roman Gnostics that Jung and Kingsley see as the heirs of the Presocratics.

The Gnostics were essentially the original Christians which formed out of Judaism which in turn was from the Near East. Judeo-Christianity, Gnostic or otherwise, was a foreign introduction to the Greco-Roman world and even more foreign to the far west and north of Europe. If Jung was looking for sacred origins of his own ancestral inheritance, he would’ve been more wise to look to the tribal paganism that was wiped out by the onslaught of Greco-Roman thought and imperialism. Christianization of Europe was a genocidal tragedy. Paganism held on in large parts of Europe into the Middle Ages and some Pagan traditions survived into modernity.

Our criticism isn’t with the respect given to these non-Western influences that took over the West. We are likewise fascinated by the Presocratics and Gnostics. But we feel no need to rationalize that they belong to us nor us to them. They are foreigners, both in space and time. The ancient Greeks were never a single people. As with the Celts and Jews, to be Greek in the ancient world was a very loose and, at times, extensive identity (Ancient Complexity). Many of the famous Greek thinkers technically weren’t ethnically Greek. It’s similar to how the Irish adopted the trade culture of the Celts, even though they are of Basque origins.

So, what is this fear* of the East seen in Jung’s reluctance while in India? And why has Kingsley adopted it? We are typical American mutts with some possible non-European ancestry mixed in, from African to Native American. And we were raised in a hodge-podge of New Age religion with much Eastern thought and practice thrown in. We have no sacred origins, no particular ancestral homeland. Even our European ancestry originated in different parts of Europe, although none from Italy or Greece, much less the Levant. The Presocratics and Gnostics aren’t our people.

So, it doesn’t bother us to seek wisdom wherever we can find it. It doesn’t cause us fear, in the way it did for Jung. He worried about losing himself and, as he had experienced psychotic breaks earlier in his life, it was a genuine concern. He needed a sense of being rooted in a tradition to hold himself together, even if that rootedness was an invented myth. And that doesn’t really bother us. We are still admirers of Jung’s work, as we appreciate Kingsley’s work.

We understand why Jung, having lived through the world war catastrophe that tore apart the Western world, sought a vision of a renewed Western tradition. It may have seemed like a useful and necessary story, but it poses its own dangers. Even if it really was useful then, we question that it is useful now.

* Why didn’t Carl Jung visit Ramana Maharshi after being told by both Zimmer and Brunton?, from Beezone. It has been argued that Carl Jung borrowed his notion of ‘the Self’ from Hinduism, and this notion was key to his own teachings. Maybe this was the fear, that the meeting point between the two cultures would simply overwhelm his own view and overwhelm his own psyche.

“Individuation is not the culmination of the person; it is the end of the person.”

Julian Jaynes and the Jaynesian scholars have made a compelling argument about where egoic consciousness originated and how it formed. But in all the Jaynesian literature, I don’t recall anyone suggesting how to undo egoic consciousness, much less suggesting we should attempt annihilation of the demiurgic ego.

That latter project is what preoccupied Carl Jung, and it is what Peter Kingsley has often written about. They suggest it is not only possible but inevitable. In a sense, the ego is already dead and we are already in the underworld. We are corpses and our only task is to grieve.

The Cry of Merlin: Carl Jung and the Insanity of Reason
Gregory Shaw on Peter Kingsley

Kingsley explains that Jung emulated these magicians, and his journey through the Underworld followed the path of Pythagoras, Parmenides and Empedocles. Jung translated the terminology of the ancients into “scientific” terms, calling the initiation he realized in the abyss “individuation.” For Jungians today, individuation is the culmination of psychic development, as if it were our collective birthright. Yet Kingsley points out that this notion of individuation is a domestication, commodification, and utter distortion of what Jung experienced. Individuation is not the culmination of the person; it is the end of the person. It is the agonizing struggle of becoming a god and a person simultaneously, of living in contradictory worlds, eternity and time.

Kingsley reveals that although individuation is the quintessential myth of Jung’s psychology, it is almost never experienced because no one can bear it. Individuation is the surrendering of the personal to the impersonal, and precisely what Jung experienced it to be, the death of his personality. Jung explains that individuation is a total mystery; the mystery of the Grail that holds the essence of God. According to Henry Corbin, Jung saw “true individuation as becoming God or God’s secret.” Put simply, individuation is deification. To his credit, over twenty years ago Richard Noll argued this point and wrote that Jung experienced deification in the form of the lion-headed Mithras (Leontocephalus), but Kingsley gives the context for deification that Noll does not, and the context is crucial. He shows that Jung’s deification was not an “ego trip” that gave rise to “a religious cult with [Jung] as the totem,” Noll’s assumption; nor was it a “colossal narcissism,” as Ernest Jones suggested, but precisely the opposite. Individuation cuts to the very core of self-consciousness; it is the annihilation of the ego, not its inflation. […]

What is fundamentally important about Catafalque is that Kingsley demonstrates convincingly that Jung recovered the shamanic path exemplified by Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Socrates. Jung tried to save us from the “insanity of reason” by descending to the underworld, serving the archetypes, and disavowing the impiety of “the Greeks” who reduce the sacred to rationalizations. There is much in Catafalque I have not addressed, perhaps the most important is Kingsley’s discussion of the Hebrew prophets who raged against a godless world. Kingsley here appropriately includes Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, that draws from the rhythms of these prophets to wail against the “insanity of America,” its mechanized thinking, suffocating architecture, and the robotic efficiency that is the child of Reason. This almost verbatim mirrors the words of Jung who, after visiting New York, says “suppose an age when the machine gets on top of us …. After a while, when we have invested all our energy in rational forms, they will strangle us…They are the dragons now, they became a sort of nightmare.

Kingsley ends Catafalque with depressing prophecies about the end of western civilization, both from Jung and from Kingsley himself. The great wave that was our civilization has spent itself. We are in the undertow now, and we don’t even realize it. To read these chapters is to feel as if one is already a corpse. And Kingsley presents this so bluntly, with so much conviction, it is, frankly, disturbing. And even though Kingsley writes that “Quite literally, our western world has come to an end,” I don’t quite believe him. When speaking about Jung giving psychological advice, Kingsley says “make sure you have enough mētis or alertness not to believe him,” and I don’t believe Kingsley’s final message either. Kingsley’s message of doom is both true and false. The entire book has been telling us that we are already dead, that we are already in the underworld, but, of course, we just don’t understand it. So, then he offers us a very physical and literal picture of our end, laced with nuclear fallout and images of contamination. And he forthrightly says the purpose of his work is “to provide a catafalque for the western world.” It is, he says, time to grieve, and I think he is right. We need to grieve for the emptiness of our world, for our dead souls, our empty lives, but this grief is also the only medicine that can revive the collective corpse that we have become. Kingsley is doing his best to show us, without any false hope, the decaying corpse that we are. It is only through our unwavering acceptance, grieving and weeping for this, that we can be healed. In Jung’s terms, only the death of the personal can allow for birth into the impersonal. Into what…? We cannot know. We never will. It is not for our insatiable minds.

“Consciousness is a very recent acquisition of nature…”

“There are historical reasons for this resistance to the idea of an unknown part of the human psyche. Consciousness is a very recent acquisition of nature, and it is still in an “experimental” state. It is frail, menaced by specific dangers, and easily injured. As anthropologists have noted, one of the most common mental derangements that occur among primitive people is what they call “the loss of a soul”—which means, as the name indicates, a noticeable disruption (or, more technically, a dissociation) of consciousness.

“Among such people, whose consciousness is at a different level of development from ours, the “soul” (or psyche) is not felt to be a unit. Many primitives assume that a man has a “bush soul” as well as his own, and that this bush soul is incarnate in a wild animal or a tree, with which the human individual has some kind of psychic identity. This is what the distinguished French ethnologist Lucien Lévy-Brühl called a “mystical participation.” He later retracted this term under pressure of adverse criticism, but I believe that his critics were wrong. It is a well-known psychological fact that an individual may have such an unconscious identity with some other person or object.

“This identity takes a variety of forms among primitives. If the bush soul is that of an animal, the animal itself is considered as some sort of brother to the man. A man whose brother is a crocodile, for instance, is supposed to be safe when swimming a crocodile-infested river. If the bush soul is a tree, the tree is presumed to have something like parental authority over the individual concerned. In both cases an injury to the bush soul is interpreted as an injury to the man.

“In some tribes, it is assumed that a man has a number of souls; this belief expresses the feeling of some primitive individuals that they each consist of several linked but distinct units. This means that the individual’s psyche is far from being safely synthesized; on the contrary, it threatens to fragment only too easily under the onslaught of unchecked emotions.”

Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
Part 1: Approaching the Unconscious
The importance of dreams

What is the Blank Slate of the Mind?

In Dark Matter of the Mind, Daniel Everett contrasts Plato and Aristotle. He sides with the latter, specifically in terms of a blank slate view of the human mind. But most people wouldn’t understand what is meant by a blank slate in this context. He explains that (Kindle Locations 1140-1143),

Like Aristotle, Locke did not believe that the absence of knowledge on a tablet means that the tablet has no other properties. It has the capacity to receive and store information and more. Neither philosopher thought of the tabula rasa as devoid of capacity to be written on, not even of capacity to write upon itself. In my reading, they meant by tabula rasa not that there were no innate abilities, but that there were no innate specific concepts.

This is hard to grasp the exact distinction. It’s not an argument that nothing is preexisting. All that it means is nothing is predetermined, as already formed (i.e., Platonic forms). So, what exactly might be already present at birth and innate to all human minds?

I’m still not entirely sure about Everett’s answer to that question. He is critical of someone like Jung, based on the claim of Platonic error or overreach. Here is his description (Kindle Locations 971-973):

Jung (1875– 1961), another of the leading dark matter theorists in the Platonic tradition, was the founder of “analytical psychology” (Jung [1916] 2003). Fundamental to this form of therapy and the theory behind it was, again, Bastian’s elementary ideas, which Jung reconceived as the “collective unconscious,” that is, innate tacit information common to all humans.

It’s the last part that is relevant, “innate tacit information common to all humans”. But is that an accurate interpretation of Jung? Let’s turn to Jung’s explanation of his own view (“Concerning the Archetypes with Special Reference to the Anima Concept”):

It is in my view a great mistake to suppose that the psyche of a new-born child is a tabula rasa in the sense that there is absolutely nothing in it. In so far as the child is born with a differentiated brain that is predetermined by heredity and therefore individualized, it meets sensory stimuli coming from outside not with any aptitudes, but with specific ones, and this necessarily results in a particular, individual choice and pattern of apperception. These aptitudes can be shown to be inherited instincts and preformed patterns, the latter being the a priori and formal conditions of apperception that are based on instinct. Their presence gives the world of the child and the dreamer its anthropomorphic stamp. They are the archetypes, which direct all fantasy activity into its appointed paths and in this way produce, in the fantasy-images of children’s dreams as well as in the delusions of schizophrenia, astonishing mythological parallels such as can also be found, though in lesser degree, in the dreams of normal persons and neurotics. It is not, therefore, a question of inherited ideas but of inherited possibilities of ideas.

Everett says that Jung is claiming “innate tacit information” and speaks of this in terms of Bastian’s “elementary ideas”. That seems to be the same as inherited ideas. If so, Jung is denying Everett’s allegation before it ever was made. “It is not, therefore, a question of inherited ideas but of inherited possibilities of ideas.” That doesn’t sound all that different in how Everett discusses the topic (Kindle Locations 349-355):

The theses of learned tacit knowledge and nativism need not be opposed, of course. It is possible that both learned and innate forms of tacit knowledge are crucially implicated in human cognition and behavior. What we are genuinely interested in is not a false dichotomy of extremes but in a continuum of possibilities— where do the most important or even the most overlooked contributions to knowledge come from?

I am here particularly concerned with difference, however, rather than sameness among the members of our species— with variation rather than homeostasis. This is because the variability in dark matter from one society to another is fundamental to human survival, arising from and sustaining our species’ ecological diversity. The range of possibilities produces a variety of “human natures”

That in turn sounds much like Jung. A variety of “human natures”. Well, Jung developed an entire theory about this, not just a variety through archetypes as inherited possibilities but more specifically a variety of human personality types (i.e., “human natures”). The potentials within humanity could constellate into many patterns, according to Jung. And his book about personality types was directly influential on anthropology in developing a modern understanding of the variety of cultures, of which Everett writes much about.

So, if a supposedly Platonic thinker like Jung can make a basic argument that isn’t necessarily and clearly distinct from a supposedly Aristotelian thinker like Everett, then what precisely is the distinction being proposed? How does one differentiate innate ideas and innate possibilities of ideas? Is anyone “genuinely interested in… a false dichotomy of extremes”?

The Psychology and Anthropology of Consciousness

“There is in my opinion no tenable argument against the hypothesis that psychic functions which today seem conscious to us were once unconscious and yet worked as if they were conscious. We could also say that all the psychic phenomena to be found in man were already present in the natural unconscious state. To this it might be objected that it would then be far from clear why there is such a thing as consciousness at all.”
~ Carl Jung, On the Nature of the Psyche 

An intriguing thought by Jung. Many have considered this possibility. It leads to questions about what is consciousness and what purpose it serves. A recent exploration of this is the User Illusion by Tor Nørretranders, in which the author proposes that consciousness doesn’t determine what we do but chooses what we don’t do, the final vote before action is taken, but action itself requires no consciousness. As such, consciousness is useful and advantageous, just not absolutely necessary. It keeps you from eating that second cookie or saying something cruel.

Another related perspective is that of Julian Jaynes’ bicameral mind theory. I say related because Jaynes influenced Nørretranders. About Jung, Jaynes was aware of his writings and stated disagreement with some ideas: “Jung had many insights indeed, but the idea of the collective unconscious and of the archetypes has always seemed to me to be based on the inheritance of acquired characteristics, a notion not accepted by biologists or psychologists today” (quoted by Philip Ardery in “Ramifications of Julian Jaynes’s theory of consciousness for traditional general semantics“), although to be fair to Jung he didn’t so much argue for the “inheritance of acquired characteristics” but rather the inheritance of the possibility of acquired characteristics, a fundamental and important distinction about which Daniel Everett also wrongly interpreted — as Jung put it, “It is not, therefore, a question of inherited ideas but of inherited possibilities of ideas” (What is the Blank Slate of the Mind?). What these three thinkers agree about is that the unconscious mind is much more expansive and capable, more primary and important than is normally assumed. There is so much more to our humanity than the limits of interiorized self-awareness.

What interested me was the anthropological angle. Here is something I wrote earlier:

“Julian Jaynes had written about the comparison of shame and guilt cultures. He was influenced in by E. R. Dodds. Combined with the earlier philological work of Bruno Snell, Dodds in turn based some of his own thinking about the Greeks on the work of Ruth Benedict. She originated the shame and guilt culture comparison in her writings on Japan and the United States. Benedict, like Margaret Mead, had been taught by Franz Boas. Boas developed some of the early anthropological thinking that saw societies as distinct cultures.”

Boas founded a school of thought about the primacy of culture, the first major challenge to race realism and eugenics. He gave the anthropology field new direction and inspired a generation of anthropologists.This was the same era during which Jung was formulating his own views.

As with Jung before him, Jaynes drew upon the work of anthropologists. Both also influenced anthropologists, but Jung’s influence of course came earlier. Even though some of these early anthropologists were wary of Jungian psychology, such as archetypes and collective unconscious, they saw personality typology as a revolutionary framework (those influenced also included the likes of Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, both having been mentors of Boas who maybe was the source of introducing linguistic relativism into American thought). Through personality types, it was possible to begin understanding what fundamentally made one mind different from another, a necessary factor in distinguishing one culture from another.

In Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology, Sonu Shamdasani describes this meeting of minds (Kindle Locations 4706-4718):

“The impact of Jung’s typology on Ruth Benedict may be found in her concept of Apollonian and Dionysian culture patterns which she first put forward in 1928 in “Psychological Types in the cultures of the Southwest,” west,” and subsequently elaborated in Patterns of Culture. Mead recalled that their conversations on this topic had in part been shaped by Sapir and Oldenweiser’s discussion of Jung’s typology in Toronto in 1924 as well as by Seligman’s article cited above (1959, 207). In Patterns of Culture, ture, Benedict discussed Wilhelm Worringer’s typification of empathy and abstraction, Oswald Spengler’s of the Apollonian and the Faustian and Friedrich Nietzsche’s of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. Conspicuously, ously, she failed to cite Jung explicitly, though while criticizing Spengler, she noted that “It is quite as convincing to characterize our cultural type as thoroughly extravert … as it is to characterize it as Faustian” (1934, 54-55). One gets the impression that Benedict was attempting to distance herself from Jung, despite drawing some inspiration from his Psychological Types.

“In her autobiography, Mead recalls that in the period that led up to her Sex and Temperament, she had a great deal of discussion with Gregory Bateson concerning the possibility that aside from sex difference, there were other types of innate differences which “cut across sex lines” (1973, 216). She stated that: “In my own thinking I drew on the work of Jung, especially his fourfold scheme for grouping human beings as psychological ical types, each related to the others in a complementary way” (217). Yet in her published work, Mead omitted to cite Jung’s work. A possible explanation for the absence of citation of Jung by Benedict and Mead, despite the influence of his typological model, was that they were developing oping diametrically opposed concepts of culture and its relation to the personality to Jung’s. Ironically, it is arguably through such indirect and half-acknowledged conduits that Jung’s work came to have its greatest impact upon modern anthropology and concepts of culture. This short account of some anthropological responses to Jung may serve to indicate that when Jung’s work was engaged with by the academic community, it was taken to quite different destinations, and underwent a sea change.”

It was Benedict’s Patterns of Culture that was a major source of influence on Jaynes. It created a model for comparing and contrasting different kinds of societies. Benedict was studying two modern societies, but Dodds came to see how it could be applied to different societies across time, even into the ancient world. That was a different way of thinking and opened up new possibilities of understanding. It set the stage for Jaynes’ radical proposal, that consciousness itself was built on culture. From types of personalities to types of cultures.

Here is an additional context to consider. Where did the bundle theory of mind originate in the first place? And how did it take hold in a small number of Western thinkers? Of course, the bundled mind itself probably goes back into the earliest of hominid evolution. As for the earliest written source, the ancient Buddhist texts are the first known example of an articulated bundle theory of mind, in having extended and deepened the psychological insights from even older Hindu texts.

So, how did it go West? The apparently first Western thinker to write about it was David Hume, soon to be followed by Friedrich Nietzsche (The Psychology and Anthropology of Consciousness). Some speculate that Hume heard of this view of the mind from Buddhist texts and ideas carried back with Christian missionaries returning from the East. I don’t know where Nietzsche picked up on it from, although it is true there was a flood of Eastern texts at that time. As a philology scholar and professor, one would suspect Nietzsche would’ve been quite familiar with the new thoughts circulating among Western intellectuals.

There is one thing we can state with certainty. Jung was heavily influenced by Nietzsche, as could be seen in many of his works, including his writings on psychological types. Nietzsche formulated thoughts on the Dionysian and Apollonian. Related to that distinction, Jung also drew upon “Wilhelm Ostwald’s classical and romantic attitudes; Carl Spitteler’s differentiations of Prometheus and Epimetheus; and Goethe’s diastole and systole, terms coined to indicate expansion and contraction” (Deirdre Bair, Jung: A Biography).

One can sense the resonance in the opposition between the bundled mind and egoic mind. To emphasize this point, Nietzsche linked the Apollonian to the visual, i.e., sculpture and dreams; whereas the Dionysian was understood as auditory, i.e., music (Stephen H. Knoblauch, The Apollonian Eye and the Dionysian Ear). Jaynes’ bicameral mind is primarily defined by voice-hearing and his post-bicameral consciousness took form around the visual metaphor of mind as container, as an inner space. This is partly a distinction between oral cultures and literary cultures.

But in various ways, such comparisons had been made by many thinkers. It’s hard to say who originated thinking about the bundled mind, since supposedly everyone has access to it. It’s obviously far from being a new idea exactly. It’s just that, when it was more dominant in the culture, no one bothered to analyze it because it was simply the social and psychic reality that was taken for granted — there was nothing with which to compare and contrast. The bundle theory of mind, as overtly articulated, suddenly pops up in late modern writings.

We are only able to follow the direct lines of influence with the 20th century scholars who were more fastidious about detailing their references. Even then, I’m not sure about all of Dodds’ sources. Where did he first come across this kind of thinking? Was he familiar with Hume, Nietzsche, and/or Jung? Did he know about Buddhist psychology? Dodds was a classical scholar and so one would think he might have had some knowledge about how such ideas developed over time.

All of that is just something that caught my attention. I find fascinating such connections, how ideas get passed on and develop, how they spread like mind viruses. None of that was the original reason for this post, though. I was doing my regular perusing of the web and came across some stuff of interest. This post is simply an excuse to share some of it. Such topics are often on my mind. The human psyche is amazing. It’s easy to forget what a miracle it is to be conscious and the power of the unconscious that underlies it. There is so much more to our humanity than we can begin to comprehend. Such things as dissociation and voice hearing isn’t limited to crazy people or, if it is, then we’re all a bit crazy.

* * *

Other Multiplicity
by Mark and Rana Mannng, Legion Theory

When the corpus callosum is severed in adults, we create separate consciousnesses which can act together cooperatively within a single body. In Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), as it is now known, psychological trauma to the developing mind also creates separate consciousnesses which can act together cooperatively within a single body. And in both cases, in most normal social situations, the individual would provide no reason for someone to suspect that they were not dealing with someone with a unitary consciousness.

The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible
by John Geiger
pp. 161-162

For modern humans generally, however, the stress threshold for triggering a bicameral hallucination is much higher, according to Jaynes: “Most of us need to be over our heads in trouble before we would hear voices.” 10 Yet, he said, “contrary to what many an ardent biological psychiatrist wishes to think, they occur in normal individuals also.” 11 Recent studies have supported him, with some finding that a large minority of the general population, between 30 and 40 percent, report having experienced auditory hallucinations. These often involve hearing one’s own name, but also phrases spoken from the rear of a car, and the voices of absent friends or dead relatives. 12 Jaynes added that it is “absolutely certain that such voices do exist and that experiencing them is just like hearing actual sound.” Even today, though they are loath to admit it, completely normal people hear voices, he said, “often in times of stress.”

Jaynes pointed to an example in which normally conscious individuals have experienced vestiges of bicameral mentality, notably, “shipwrecked sailors during the war who conversed with an audible God for hours in the water until they were saved.” 13 In other words, it emerges in normal people confronting high stress and stimulus reduction in extreme environments. A U.S. study of combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder found a majority (65 percent) reported hearing voices, sometimes “command hallucinations to which individuals responded with a feeling of automatic obedience.”

Gods, voice-hearing and the bicameral mind
by Jules Evans, Philosophy for Life

Although humans evolved into a higher state of subjective consciousness, vestiges of the bicameral mind still remain, most obviously in voice-hearing. As much as 10% of the population hear voices at some point in their lives, much higher than the clinical incidence of schizophrenia (1%). For many people, voice-hearing is not debilitating and can be positive and encouraging.

Sensing a voice or presence often emerges in stressful situations – anecdotally, it’s relatively common for the dying to see the spirits of dead loved ones, likewise as many as 35% of people who have recently lost a loved one say they have a sense of the departed’s continued presence. Mountaineers in extreme conditions often report a sensed presence guiding them (known as the Third Man Factor).

And around 65% of children say they have had ‘imaginary friends’ or toys that play a sort of guardian-angel role in their lives – Jaynes thought children evolve from bicameral to conscious, much as Piaget thought young children are by nature animist

Earslips: Of Mishearings and Mondegreens
by Steven Connor, personal blog

The processing of the sounds of the inanimate world as voices may strike us as a marginal or anomalous phenomenon. However, some recent work designed to explain why THC, the active component of cannabis, might sometimes trigger schizophrenia, points in another direction. Zerrin Atakan of London’s Institute of Psychiatry conducted experiments which suggest that subjects who had been given small doses of THC were much less able to inhibit involuntary actions. She suggests that THC may induce psychotic hallucinations, especially the auditory hallucinations which are classically associated with paranoid delusion, by suppressing the response inhibition which would normally prevent us from reacting to nonvocal sounds as though they were voices. The implications of this argument are intriguing; for it seems to imply that, far from only occasionally or accidentally hearing voices in sounds, we have in fact continuously and actively to inhibit this tendency. Perhaps, without this filter, the wind would always and for all of us be whispering ‘Mary’, or ‘Malcolm’.

Hallucinations and Sensory Overrides
by T. M. Luhrmann, Stanford University

Meanwhile, the absence of cultural categories to describe inner experience does limit
the kinds of psychotic phenomena people experience. In the West, those who are psychotic sometimes experience symptoms that are technically called “thought insertion” and “thought withdrawal”, the sense that some external force has placed thoughts in one’s mind or taken them out. Thought insertion and withdrawal are standard items in symptoms checklists. Yet when Barrett (2004) attempted to translate the item in Borneo, he could not. The Iban do not have an elaborated idea of the mind as a container, and so the idea that someone could experience external thoughts as placed within the mind or removed from it was simply not available to them.

Hallucinatory ‘voices’ shaped by local culture, Stanford anthropologist says
by Clifton B. Parker, Stanford University

Why the difference? Luhrmann offered an explanation: Europeans and Americans tend to see themselves as individuals motivated by a sense of self identity, whereas outside the West, people imagine the mind and self interwoven with others and defined through relationships.

“Actual people do not always follow social norms,” the scholars noted. “Nonetheless, the more independent emphasis of what we typically call the ‘West’ and the more interdependent emphasis of other societies has been demonstrated ethnographically and experimentally in many places.”

As a result, hearing voices in a specific context may differ significantly for the person involved, they wrote. In America, the voices were an intrusion and a threat to one’s private world – the voices could not be controlled.

However, in India and Africa, the subjects were not as troubled by the voices – they seemed on one level to make sense in a more relational world. Still, differences existed between the participants in India and Africa; the former’s voice-hearing experience emphasized playfulness and sex, whereas the latter more often involved the voice of God.

The religiosity or urban nature of the culture did not seem to be a factor in how the voices were viewed, Luhrmann said.

“Instead, the difference seems to be that the Chennai (India) and Accra (Ghana) participants were more comfortable interpreting their voices as relationships and not as the sign of a violated mind,” the researchers wrote.

Tanya Luhrmann, hearing voices in Accra and Chenai
by Greg Downey, Neuroanthropology

local theory of mind—the features of perception, intention, and inference that the community treats as important—and local practices of mental cultivation will affect both the kinds of unusual sensory experiences that individuals report and the frequency of those experiences. Hallucinations feel unwilled. They are experienced as spontaneous and uncontrolled. But hallucinations are not the meaningless biological phenomena they are understood to be in much of the psychiatric literature. They are shaped by explicit and implicit learning around the ways that people pay attention with their senses. This is an important anthropological finding because it demonstrates that cultural ideas and practices can affect mental experience so deeply that they lead to the override of ordinary sense perception.

How Universal Is The Mind?
by Salina Golonka, Notes from Two Scientific Psychologists

To the extent that you agree that the modern conception of “cognition” is strongly related to the Western, English-speaking view of “the mind”, it is worth asking what cognitive psychology would look like if it had developed in Japan or Russia. Would text-books have chapter headings on the ability to connect with other people (kokoro) or feelings or morality (dusa) instead of on decision-making and memory? This possibility highlights the potential arbitrariness of how we’ve carved up the psychological realm – what we take for objective reality is revealed to be shaped by culture and language.

A puppet is a magical object. It is not a toy, is it? Here they see it as puppet theatre, as puppets for kids. But it’s just not like that. These native tribes — in Africa or Oceania, etc. — the shamans use puppets in communication not only with the upper world, with the gods, but even in relation when they treat a sick person. Those shamans, when they dress as some demon or some deity, they incarnate genuinely. They are either the totem animal or the demon. (via Matt Cardin)

What Gives You a Lift

My dad gave me a clear example of extraversion, in the Jungian sense.

He gave a short introductory speech at a gathering of the local Kiwanis chapter. There was nothing special about the occasion, but I can imagine my dad was quite professional about it. Afterward, another member said that in the 10 years he has been a member that was the best speech he has heard. My dad told me that gave him a ‘lift’.

That is Jungian extraversion. It is when social activities give you energy, on a regular basis. That is why my dad belongs to Kiwanis, even having been the president last year. It’s why he is often in leadership positions in whatever church he belongs to. It’s why he was a professor, before that a manager, and before that an army officer. He seeks out social situations that will give him that ‘lift’. It makes him feel good.

He claims he didn’t used to be an extravert. I doubt that is the case. It’s probably that he didn’t used to have the social skills and so was more shy, a separate issue from Jungian extraversion/introversion. But if he hadn’t been an extravert, he wouldn’t have been motivated in the first place to learn those social skills.

As an introvert, I have less desire to learn them. That is because if someone gave me a compliment like that it wouldn’t likely give me the same kind of ‘lift’. Social situations are more tiresome than uplifting for me.

It’s not a matter of liking or disliking people. An introvert may like people just fine. And an extravert may despise people.

These psychological traits can express in many ways, someteimes in stereotypical ways but not always. An extravert, instead of giving speeches, may quietly volunteer at a soup kitchen or play on a sports team. Being an extravert doesn’t necessarily mean taking on leadership positions and being the center of all attention, any more than being an introvert means hiding from people and always avoiding social situations.

Most basically, it’s about what gives a person energy versus what tires them out. It’s that simple.

From Horror to Gnosis: Pessimism, Culture, Monomyth

I’ve had many ideas rolling around in my head this past week or so. I’ve at least mentioned most of them in my recent blogs, but there are still some I’ve been meaning to get around to.

Even though I’ve mentioned Ligotti, I haven’t ever written about the one nonfiction work (besides textbooks) that I’m aware of him writing. Only an excerpt of it has been published so far and its in a recent volume of Collapse journal which also included some nonfiction by the well known fantasy writer China Mievelle. Anyways, he writes about the philosophy known as Pessimism in relationship to suffering.

He uses as one of his primary inspirations the ‘The Last Messiah’ by Peter Wessel Zapffe. Zapffe called his type of thinking biosophy and its my understanding that he had major influence on the deep ecology movement. The basic idea is that humans have certain over-developed functions, specifically consciousness, which cause humans to not easily fit into their environment.  More importantly, for my purposes, are the problems it causes with a hyper-sensitivity to suffering, and hence the necessity to counter it with various methods that Zapffe puts into 4 categories: isolation, anchoring, distraction, and sublimation. Zapffe was actually a rather life-embracing guy who liked to climb mountains (for the very reason that it was pointless) and wrote humorous stories, but Ligotti takes his ideas in a much more cynical direction.

I get the sense that Ligotti is a failed idealist.  My idealism has likewise failed in many ways but not entirely (and maybe correspondingly my faith has increased in certain ways). I think I’ll always have some of the hopeless idealist in me. Its hard to tell what Ligotti’s personal experiences or views are as he keeps his philosophizing mostly on the level of the abstract. He claims this is intentional because his arguments aren’t based on his moods, but he does admit that the experience of horror is something most people will never understand. He seems to accept that he is in the minority and that his writing will probably never be widely read (despite the fact that he is one of the better writers alive today and is highly respected by other writers).

I can agree with Ligotti in many ways. Humans are naturally optimistic and we avoid the experience of suffering as if our lives depended on it… because our lives probably do. I imagine that most people would go insane or kill themselves if they ever felt suffering fully. In all actuality, I doubt humans are capable of experiencing suffering without various psychological filters and buffers limiting our consciousness.  Its the double-bind of being human… the inability to either fully avoid or fully face suffering.

The problem is that Ligotti seems to leave this Existentialist insight on the level of biological horror. I don’t know that he has never had any experiences that he’d deem “spiritual”, but if he has he leaves them out of the equation. I’ve had experiences that went so far beyond (or within?) suffering that my experience was transformed… or, if not exactly transformed, I did touch upon something that felt entirely Other.

Because of this, I prefer to go the route of something like Gnosticism.  So, in this way, I can accept that the world is filled with suffering and yet not simply resign myself to it. Gnosticism is also a way I can give meaning to why the deep experience of suffering is so rare. Some have criticized Gnosticism as elitist, but I think that Gnosticism was simply observing the rarity of true gnosis (maybe similar to some early forms of Protestantism).

Its not an attitude of judgment because I wouldn’t claim true gnosis for myself as I’m way too confused for all that.  But I will say that I feel there is much superficiality and falseness in most claims of spirituality… and I can sense this even in myself whenever I try to speak of spirituality. I don’t believe gnosis is about being saved and so its not that the unworthy are left behind. Gnosis is just an insight and that is all and serves no greater purpose beyond that. Unlike the Gnostics, I have severe doubts about the notion of escaping suffering and prefer something more akin to Buddhism. Suffering, when felt deeply enough, can open one to understanding and potentially compassion.

As far as pure rationality goes, I consider Pessimism to be one of the most objectively accurate assessments of human experience that we are capable of coming up with.  For sure, its at least as reasonable as any other philosophical or theological position, not that reasonableness is the primary standard by which people choose their beliefs.

In light of Pessimism, there are the criticisms towards mainstream notions of freewill which interests me very much. Its without a doubt, in my mind, that the lack of freewill is the more scientific hypothesis given the scientific standard of parsimony. Rationality is important because all discussion (ie shared understanding) is of almost no use or merit without it, but when it comes to personal experience I don’t limit my understandings to mere rationality. Even someone like Ligotti with his very rational arguments is fully aware of the extreme limits of the human intellect.

I may have lost most of my audience by now with this dreary philosophizing during this time of “holiday cheer”, but I shall continue with another set of ideas.

When I think of Gnosticism, it automatically brings to my mind Jung… probably from whose writings I first learned about Gnostic-type of ideas. Also related to Jung are theories such as Myers-Briggs typology and Campbell’s Monomyth, but most Jungians dislike it when Jung’s ideas are systematized. The type of books that often reference Jung usually won’t reference the MBTI or the Hero’s Journey. This is the case with the books of Victoria Nelson and Eric G. Wilson.

I, of course, consider all of these to be related. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the Monomyth in how Jesus fits the typical Hero’s Journey and thus the corelation to the Gnostic interpretation of the Christ figure.

Even with the vastness of the internet, its still hard to find much writing about these connections. The best source I always seem to come back to is Tim Boucher in his extensive blogging. He has lots of interesting thoughts, but here are just a few quotes from his site that I found relevant:

The Hero With A Thousand Faces

the hero is basically synonymous with the ego. the ego is sort of the main part of the mind that we identify with as a culture. the “hero’s journey” to me seems like a story about what happens when the ego encounters parts of the mind besides itself. looking at how various cultures portray the archetypal “hero” can shed a lot of light on how their minds work, and the values they cherish. alternatively, i think that looking at the types of heroes and stories that you personally are drawn to can shed a lot of light on what’s important to you, what you’re struggling with, and possible symbolically encoded outcomes that could be achieved.

Demiurge and Ego

The Jungian concept of ego/Self dovetails nicely with gnostic theology as well. In it, the Demiurge is a false god who brashly and wrongly believes that he is the creator and most powerful being in the universe. Usually associated with the Judeo-Christian Yahweh, he is a jealous, egotistical god who is violent, capricious and authoritarian. Consider the first of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other god before me.”

The Joseph Campbell of Conspiracy Theory

I’ve wondered before why Campbell didn’t talk more about “pop culture as mythology”. I mean, he did, but it wasn’t the focus of his work. I only realized very recently the sleight of hand that he really pulled. What he did was use pop culture as a vehicle. I think he realized that traditional religions were essentially dead in the water, or if not dead then at least declining in people’s lives. Certainly they still play a role, but nowadays the real grunt-work is done by pop culture. It provides us with a story-system which binds us as a culture, and which acts as a vehicle or vessel for the symbolic contents of our subconscious minds.

I think he realized this, but he also realized that there was a danger here. Namely, that our archetypes were being clothed in pop culture, and we didn’t even know it. Since it was happening mostly outside the context of organized religion, with traditions of ritual and symbolism, most people were missing out on the important lessons learned in those traditions. So what he did, the real genius of his work, was to strip out the symbolic messages out of all world religions, and inject them directly into the bloodstream of the new religion, pop culture. And he essentially trusted that through the chaos of the mediasphere, these messages would ultimately find their place on their own and go right to where they were needed.

His speaking about pop culture returns me to the genres. Ever since Star Wars, the Monomyth has become a standard model for making movies in Hollywood… a model that even mainstream religion has had to come to terms with, however reluctantly. Parallel to the Monomyth, Neo-noir has brought Gnosticism into the public view. These two strains have come together in many movies such as The Matrix. So, I’m back in the territory of Philip K. Dick and the cultural analyses of Victoria Nelson and Eric G. Wilson.

What I was thinking about is the narrative structure of Gnostic films. They often end with the door in the sky. The narrative must end there because that is where rationality ends. Is there something beyond that door? What might it be? Any answer given won’t satisfy. We’d be disappointed if we followed Truman to the world beyond the Demiurge’s false reality.

This makes me wonder. The Monomyth is circular without any apparent escape. The traditional hero leaves just to return, but the Gnostic hero leaves without returning… or, if you prefer, his leaving is his returning to the real world… or in Jungian terms to his real Self. His boon is self-transformation (or else ananmesis) which is rather intangible.

This is where my personal sufferings and doubts come in. I recognize the limits of rationality.  At its best, fiction can (potentially) at least point beyond itself in a way that philosophy doesn’t seem as capable of doing.

Nonetheless, the narrative ends with the Gnostic hero’s accomplishment and yet we the audience are stuck in this endless loop of Monomyth’s repetition. Stories can be just as much distracting entertainment as mode of insight. The Monomyth is a circle, but traditional religion offers us the hope of either escape from the enclosing periphery or otherwise to bring us deeper to the center around which it all revolves.

Can we only worship the hero as most Christians do or like Gnostics can we become the hero? Or is identifying with the hero part of the ego’s trap of endless misery? How does the story truly end? Does the story ever end? Will people still be telling ever new versions of the Monomyth far into the distant future (assuming we’re still around)?

The whole finger pointing at the moon comes to mind. What is the point of studying stories? What is the point of worshipping the Monomyth hero even if you believe him to be the Son of God? Does turning to religion offer us any further insight or guidance?

I don’t know the answer to all of that. My questioning here is partially in response to similar thoughts that Eric G. Wilson writes about which I might go into more detail about sometime. For now, I’ll just end with my wondering about all things archetypal.

What are the archetypes? Mere biological mechanisms of Darwinian evolution? A good case can be made for that, but it doesn’t satisfy me personally. I’d like to believe that archetypes, if not the moon the finger is pointing at, may at least be the trajectory of the finger pointing. If I follow the archetypes in contemplation, where shall they lead me?

To use the sea as a metaphor for the vastness of suffering, is there any reason to leave the shore?

* * *

BTW I’m not despairing beyond hope or anything. I still find life amusing. When I typed that last question about whether to leave the shore, I was smiling. Its a silly question. Yes, life is suffering, but I don’t think anyone gets the choice of sitting on the shore. I like the image though… sunbathing on the beach of human misery… don’t forget to bring the sunscreen.

The most important aspect of this blog for me is that of storytelling.  A religion is only as successful as its story.  Certainly, the Judeo-Christian tradition doesn’t lack stories.  Every large-scale world religion will have its imperialistic tendencies, but that isn’t enough to ensure the conversion of the masses.  Even an empire needs a good story to convince people to accept oppression.

Also, any good story will get re-used and retold again and again.  There is no original story.  This is partly about the Monomyth which is based on human psychology (such as the relationship between men and women) and observation of the physical world (such as the solar year).  But this also largely cultural transmission.  Pretty much every story in the Old and New Testament can be found in various versions in the cultures that preceeded and surrounded the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Those stories survived because they were good stories.  Don’t underestimate simple entertainment value.

Simply put, stories are powerful.  Nations and religions live and die by them.  On the personal level, we need stories to make sense of it all.  Humans couldn’t live without stories.  Many stories are seen as fact because good stories are very convincing.  Stories work mosty on the unconscious level and we are probably barely aware of most stories that rule our sense of reality.

Okay, all that is easy enough to understand.  Considering stories, we must take seriously archetypes whatever they may be.  I doubt stories could exist without archetypes, but archeytpes aren’t limited to story.  Story is just one way of conveying story.

Also, we have a limited notion of story in our culture.  Stories, traditionally, were inseparable from religion, cultural identity, ritual, song, environment, etc.  Stories still carry some of this, but we have seemingly become somewhat disconnected from their true potential.

I’d go so far as to suggest the possibility that reality itself is a story.  If so, who is the storyteller?  And exactly what are we living, individually and collectively?

I’ve had a desire to get at the heart of my own story which obviously includes the larger story of the culture I’m immersed within.  This is partly why I like to write stories because its a way of bringing consciousness to the fore.

Closely related to stories are dreams.  Over the years, I’ve begun to see repeating themes in my dreams.  This fascinates me because it feels like a glimpse into some underlying structure of my psyche.  Dreams are spontaneous narratives.  Dreams give us insight into the nature and limits of narrative.  Its tempting to say that dreams are purer forms of primal narrative structure, but I think that would be a simplification.  The stories we’ve been influenced by will of course influence our dreams in turn.

Childhood is particularly interesting form an adult perspective.  I have many recollections that I can’t determine the source of.  Memories?  Dreams?  Something I heard othes speak about?

I don’t know where my thoughts are going with this.  I’m just pondering.

Integral and Types

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 5, 2008, 5:42 AM:  

  I’ve looked around for information about types within integral theory, but I couldn’t find much of anything beyond some brief mentions.  I wonder why that is.  This came up in a discussion I was having recently with Balder.  I have an interest in integral and I have an interest in types.  How do they relate?  Is it possible to create an integral theory of types?I have my own thoughts on this matter, but let me hear what others have to say first.
Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 5, 2008, 11:19 AM:  

Thanks for starting the thread.The other day I referenced Stanley Fish and sparked a little debate. So I do so again in regard to a phrase he used that bears on typology: “the furniture of the mind.” He spoke briefly of its arrangements, perhaps its styles in the context of his disagreement with the liberal humanistic ideal that given the right arguments about the right facts, or the right inspiration, the right chemicals in the water, the right charismatic leadership, the perspectives of all the population in a culture or across cultures could be managed into greater and great integrated unity. He evidently thinks that far easier dreamed of than done because the furniture of our minds is fundamentally arranged in too many different patterns and styles. I have to agree. And I have to think this is more because of typological differences rather than transcendable and developmental lines and levels.It is no surprise to me that typology does not get much air time in Integral. I think there are several reasons:  1. The other day I came across a rare Integral forum discussion about types and it turned out that most of the participants were Introverted (I) and Intuitive (N). There was a tendency toward Feeling (F) and Perceiving (P) with a sprinkling of Thinking (T) and Judging (J). No surprise; the first time I stumbled into Integral Naked three years ago, I had to say, almost out loud, “These guys are all I-Ns.” (It was sort of easy to spot. I used to hang with the radical Transpersonal Psych. crowd in Santa Fe, NM, and they were all I-Ns. Intuitive people are sharp to spot possibilities and their temporal preference is the Future. Developmental lines and levels come easily for them. Hold this thought…  

2. The first time I stumbled into Integral Naked I had to say, almost out loud, “This is a just barely noticeable difference, a tiny tweak, on 160-year-old, standard, middle class, Euro-American liberal humanism.” (It was sort of easy to spot, I had published cultural critiques on that phenomenon as far back as 1969.) These are the believers who idealize the potential unification of perspectives that Fish and I find questionable. Hold this thought.  

3. Jungian personality typologies of the kind that Myers-Briggs, Dr. Keirsey, and Lenore Thomson deal with, tend toward horizontal analysis and throw a lot of confounding factors into a more vertical, developmental matrix like the W-C Lattice. For example, from a typological perspective, it is a real possibility that a moderately conscious I-N could be describing the spiritual wonders of such manifest givens as the Causal, the Subtle and the Non-Dual to a highly conscious E-S (Extroverted-Sensory) and get a response like “Been there, done that, wanna shoot some snooker?”  And of course the I-N will think at that point that the E-S is unconscious, uncaring and totally ignorant of the states the I-N perceives and relates to in the same manner as the E-S perceives and relates to her custom made cue stick. So from a developmental perspective, the I-N will never believe that the E-S has actually truely experienced those states, or really knows their literature, but finds it of trivial value when compared to a round of snooker– the best three out of five.  

Now you connect the dots.  

I think that it is interesting that beginning in the mid-70s, the Myers-Briggs Test and Dr. David Keirsey’s “personality sorter” became the Latest Big Thing in the personnel management consulting racket. And there are a lot of consultants still working with them. But you won’t find those consulting firms that have offices in the Integral Mall, central Integral Province, using these measurements. The consultants that bring us The Integral Review and The Integral Leadership Review and Integral Praxis, don’t do typologies. They do developmental theory and their sites are spilling over with what Richard Rorty called ‘universalist grandeur,” and progressive stepping stones to redemption, humane relationships and more favorable cost-benefit ratios.  

Another thought: Intuitive types, particularly introverted ones, have trouble with detail and discreet facts because they are the distracting trees that get in the way of perceiving the direction the forest is taking. For example, it is probably clear to many versed in typology that Hegel was an Intuitive thinker. And as Schiller pointed out once, Hegel never dealt with a solid fact in his entire career. And though they might not be quite so hard on the man, I understand there are critics who say Wilber’s view from 50,000 ft. doesn’t serve them any better and will never lead to any better specific results than Hegels’s. (That does not mean one should lose faith in the nuts and bolts achievements of Integral’s parent stock, liberal humanism.)  

You asked about the possibilities for the development of an Integral theory of types. I doubt such a possibility could exist.  I think its more probable to put forward a typological theory of Integral, the systems would be more compatible for moving in that direction.  

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 5, 2008, 5:14 PM:  

  Nickeson,“furniture of the mind” – Thats an awesome phrase.I can see the challenge this creates, and part of me agrees with you.  It does seem there is no way of getting around the endless variances that make individuals unique.  That was why I was wondering about an integral theory of typology.  If we could find overarching patterns amidst all the differences, then the furniture could be arranged in an orderly fashion.  lol   A “typological theory of Integral” sounds good to me.  What would that be?  Would this be related to the differences between a Theory of Everything(TOE) vs a Theory for Anything(TFA)?  

1. This is part of my interest in types.  The predominant type of a group of people says a lot.  BTW how about linking to that “ rare Integral forum discussion about types”.  

2. I’d like to hear more about your views on the “160-year-old, standard, middle class, Euro-American liberal humanism.”  

3. I completely get what you mean by the confounding factors issue.  I’d really like to understand this further in terms of the integral community.  

I have some things I want to add, but I’m about to go somewhere.  


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 5, 2008, 7:51 PM:  

  1. The other day I came across a rare Integral forum discussion about types and it turned out that most of the participants were Introverted (I) and Intuitive (N). There was a tendency toward Feeling (F) and Perceiving (P) with a sprinkling of Thinking (T) and Judging (J). No surprise; the first time I stumbled into Integral Naked three years ago, I had to say, almost out loud, “These guys are all I-Ns.”I don’t know if you remember, but I test as an INFP.  I’ve spoken before about the major difficulties NFs and NTs can have in communicating especially when it comes to intellectual discussions.  This is important to consider as I’ve had a strong suspicion for some time that most integralsts are NTs.  As fo Introversion and iNtuition, I’d say you find high percentages of those all over the web, but maybe its especially emphasized in an integral forum.On a different note, I’m not sure why Wilber speaks about the Ennagram the most.  Actually, I do understand.  The Ennagram has its roots in a spiritual tradition and so fits in with the spiritual vision of integral theory.   The problem with this is that the Ennagram isn’t a scientifically accepted theory.  MBTI has had lots of research to back it up, and it has strong correlations with the academic research into personality traits(FFM, Big 5, etc).  As the MBTI and FFM are based on scientific research, I think they would be better systems for integralists to focus on.  

In saying this, I’m not dismissing the Ennagram.  I’m just saying its a totally different type of system.  We need to differentiate between different typology theories.  

One other thing is that integralists might not be aware that many typology systems include development.  So, it shouldn’t be so difficult to integrate to some extent.  For instance, the definitions of Jungian Thinking and Feeling fit closely with the gender studies that integralists are already familiar with.  


Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral and Types

Balder said Jul 5, 2008, 7:57 PM:  

  Hi, Marmalade,Just a quick note for the moment – Wilber doesn’t talk about the Enneagram the most.  I mentioned on your blog that I have used it more than other typologies, since it is the one I am most familiar with (I do Diamond Approach work and DA uses the Enneagram), but it is not something that I’ve heard Wilber mention very often.  Usually, he talks about types only in a rather general way, mostly referring to masculine and feminine types by way of illustration. I’m glad you started this thread and look forward to participating – as well as to learning more about other typological systems from you or others.  Best wishes,  


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 3:11 AM:  

  Balder,I wasn’t directly referring to any of your comments.  When I said that Wilber talks about the Ennagram the most, I was referring to the only example that I’m aware of where Wilber went into some detail about types and he used the Ennagram to illustrate his point.  You are correct that gender is the type that Wilber refers to the most.  But gender isn’t the exactly the same kind of types sytem as Myers-Briggs or Ennagram.  I should’ve been more clear as I was thinking of types in a more narrow sense when I made that statement.  Blessings,
Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 5:40 AM:  

  I’ve been reading the book The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen.  He goes into some detail about the ideas of the psychiatrist Ernest Hartmann who wrote the book Boundaries in the Mind.pp 48-49
“Thick-boundary people strike one as solid, well organized, well defended, and even rigid and armored.  Thin-boundary types tend to be open, unguarded, and undefended in several psychological senses.  Women tend to have thinner boundaries than men, and children thinner than adults.  People with thin boundaries tend to have higher hypnotic ability, greater dream recall, and are more lkely to have lucid dreams.  People with thick boundaries stay with one thought until its completion; whereas those with thin boundaries show greater fluidity, and their thoughts branch from one to another.  People with very thin boundaries report more symptoms of illness; however, compared with thick-boundary types, they are able to exert more control over the autonomic nervous system and can produe greater changes in skin temperature when thinking of hot or cold situations.  Thin-boundary persons are more prone to synesthesia, blending of the senses (e.g., seeing colors when certain sounds are heard).  Differences are found in occupations as well.  Middle managers in large corporations tend to have thick boundaries, and artists, writers and musicians tend to have thinner ones.  People with thick boundaries tend to be in stable , long-term marriages; whereas thin types are more likely to be, or have been, divorced or separated.”The author goes on to say that thin-boundary types tend to report more unusual experiences including psychic experiences.  He then lists the correlations between thin-boundary types and the traits of the Trickster archetype (as described in Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Gods in Everyman).  Archetypes in general fit in with this discussion of types.  

I was thinking of this particular passage because of discussions elsewhere.  Obviously, many new agers are thin-boundary types.  The beliefs of the new ager make no sense to the more skeptically-minded because skeptics are probably most often thick-boundary types.  Skeptics don’t realize that its not just an issue of belief but an issue of experience.  Both the skeptic and the new ager trust their experience, but they simply have different kinds of experience.  


Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 6, 2008, 12:30 PM:  

  Marmalade,I don’t have a lot of time, thus, briefly:1) I’ve lost sight of the link to the “rare integral based site/forum” but I think it was one of the Gaia conglomerate.  2) The 160-year-old tradition of E-A liberal humanism traces back to the American Transcendentalists and now resides in what is called the Cultural Creatives, a term coined by a management consultant (of all people) who seems to think that only now have those in this tradition become a large enough bloc to having an effect, but if he had just spent a day or two with a comprehensive American History book he would have found out that people of this persuasion were largely responsible for: the end of the American era of slavery, Prohibition, the introduction of sanitation and public health into local and state governments, pure food and drug laws, and the implementation of public based social service programs. The fact that the Native American population was not entirely eradicated in the 19th Century is largely due to this tradition.  

3) Not only does typology throw a lot of confusion into a system like developmental studies, it tends to confound itself except when broadly applied. There are just too many variables to make individual applications anything stronger than tendencies that might be a little more concrete if they were subjected to longitudinal studies not geared to taking tests but making discreet, everyday choices. Of course the same can be said of developmental theories.  

4) I think Bolen’s two books on Everyman, and Everywoman are good resources, particularly for clinical work, but the best literature on Jungian types is still Jung’s Psychological Types.  

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 10:28 PM:  

  I’d like to note one common theme here.  Gender is a very important type.  It broadly relates to many different theories.  Just in this thread I’ve noted how both Myers-Briggs personality types and Hartman’s boundary types have a gender component.  I’d be curious to know if there is any gender preference in the Enneagram.
Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 10:37 PM:  

  Criticalness, Integralism, and Type

This is in response to the thread titled ‘Should Integralists Storm The Religous Battlefield’.I’ve been involved in a thread at IIDB, an atheist discussion board. Its a thread about Acharya’s theories about astrotheology which is related to comparative mythology, and Acharya has posted in response some. She has received much criticism and nitpicking which is common on atheist forums. She hasn’t taken it well and probably won’t post anymore in the thread or maybe even in the forum. Recently, the same thing happened with Earl Doherty who is another biblical scholar. He posted on IIDB for a long time, but now has declared he will never post there again.I find it a bit annoying and I don’t know if I could ever entirely get used to this kind of behavior. However, not everyone there is like this, and I do enjoy forums where there are many intelligent and knowledgeable people. I have a few thoughts about harsh criticalness.  (1) I do think some people there could use an integral perspective. Critically challenging new theories is important for scholarship, but being nice is important for human relations. Also, I feel this critical attitude is narrow and often misses the point the central issue or the bigger picture. Disproving a single claim or piece of evidence doesn’t disprove a theory or discredit the entire scholarly credentials of the theorist. There are many ways to think about a theory, and criticism by itself often lacks insight and can miss the larger context.  

Anyways, if actual scholars start avoiding such a forum, that would severely hamper open discourse. In what way is this actually being helpful?  

A forum like IIDB may be a more extreme example of this attitude, but its far from unusual. Scholars such as Acharya and Doherty have also received plenty of harsh criticism from mainstream scholarship as well. Peer review tends to reinforce conventional opinions and discourages innovation. Any new theory is seen as suspect. Only the alternative views of people like Robert M. Price get some respect because they came to those views after already being established in the mainstream. Even so, Price’s ideas have received harsh criticism from some of the amateur scholars on the board. There is this attitude amongst some there that if they disagree with a theory, then they automatically dismiss it. Something is either true or false, and uncertainty or mere probability is never to be admitted.  

It makes me understand why Wilber has been so committed to getting his work into academia.  

(2) My experience at IIDB reminds me of my experience on an INTP forum. INTP types(and NT types in general) can be very combattive and nitpicky. An INTP has Introverted Thinking as a dominant function which means Extraverted Feeling is their inferior. A less developed or less balanced INTP can really suck at relating well to other people, and this is multiplied when you get a group of NTs together. What INTPs are good at is looking for logical consistency and honing in on any discrepant details. Introverted Thinking is largely hidden as its turned inward and so its difficult for other types to see the internal standard they’re using to judge. All that is seen directly is their secondary function Extraverted Intuition which allows them to see all of the possibilities. In the case of nitpicking, Extraverted Intuition is serving Introverted Thinking and thus they relentlessly seek out all potential errors.  

This is what an INTP is good at. They honestly feel that they’re being helpful and they are to an extent. But if they haven’t developed other aspects of themselves, this talent can be problematic for relating well.  

Atheist forums tend to attract many INTPs partly because of an NT interest in computers and debate, partly because Introverts spend more time doing solitary activities such as web browsing, and partly because NPs(Ne) love to discuss ideas endlessly. So, quite probably most of the critical people on IIDB are INTPs or some NT type, but also possibly some INFPs trying to conform to an NT environment. On top of their possible personality types, many of them have spent their whole lives studying ancient texts and biblical studies. Its what they know and its what they’re good at. They feel so certain because they’ve dedicated their lives to it and so they’re personally invested in the conclusions they’ve come to.  

I have become more used to personality styles different than mine. I’m much better than I used to be at relating well with those I conflict with or disagree with. I have tried to stay evenhanded in the IIDB thread and have been mostly successful. I’ve tried to redirect the discussion back to the core issue and away from nitpicking, but that has been less successful. I’ve observed Acharya in videos and other places on the web, and I’d guess she is an NF type like me which would explain why she doesn’t have a thick skin towards criticalness, and why she gets critical in return when she is emotionally worked up.  

I’m an INFP and Extraverted Thinking is my inferior, and as such my judgment of criticalness is very biased. Criticalness really gets to me after a while, and it takes great awareness on my part not to get emotionally pulled into it. I’d rather discuss possibilities rather than debate details. I’d rather find where I agree with someone rather than look for reasons that the other person is wrong. But this is a typical NF attitude and so I realize that others are different.  

If I understand why someone acts the way they do, then its easier for me to accept their behavior. There is a person on the INTP forum who always annoyed me. I couldn’t understand why he was accepted there even to the point of being a moderator. An INTP finally explained it to me in a way that I could understand. This guy wasn’t a psychologically healthy person, but he was psychologically disturbed in a typical INTP way. They accepted him because they could understand him. As I wasn’t an INTP, it didn’t matter that I didn’t get along with him on an INTP forum.  

I see IIDB in a similar light. Some people there are not perfectly balanced people, but neither am I. However, they’ve found their niche in the world. They can be respected for being critical on an atheist board. So, why should I let it bother me. They’re only doing what they know how to do, and I admit that they do it well. Maybe such people serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things.  

I just came across a typology poll at IIDB.  

67% are NTs
23.35% are INTPs
37% are INTJs  

20% are NFs
approximately equally divided between the four NF types
except less than 1% of ENFPs  

12% are one of the 8 Sensation(S) types  

So, why would an NT be so much more likely to belong to this kind of forum?
Are NT types more likely to be atheist?
Or are NT types more likely to want to debate about atheist views?  

[QUOTE=ApostateAbe;5070973]I believe that the correlation between atheism and INTJ/INTP is not a trivial thing (I am an INTP).  

[*]INTJ forum poll on religion: [url][/url]
[*]INTP forum poll on religion: [url][/url]
[*]Christian forum poll on MBTI: [url][/url]  

The Christian forum poll is less clear, since it neglects the E/I. It does at least indicate that the N types predominate. But the members of are split between NF and NT. INTJ/INTP are 43% at a max at, but here it is a whopping 60%. The polls at the INTJ forum and INTP forum are even more striking. Majority of both are atheist or agnostic.[/QUOTE]  

I was just thinking about how a higher percentage of Thinking types are male.
Accordingly, the majority of people on IIDB are probably male.  

There is a reason this came to mind. I’ve suspected a higher percentage of people on Integral boards are NT. And I’ve heard it said several times that there are more males than females around this place which isn’t something I can personally verify. Also, there is way more heated debate here than on forums I belong to that have a majority of NF types.  

So, what is the correlation between intellectuality, heated debate, atheism, NT personality types, and the male gender?  

Why shouldn’t atheism and integralism appeal to SF females?  

I was just at Richard Dawkins forum and came across a poll for gender.  

Males are 72% of the population there.
IIDB is the same kind of forum and so it would probably be similar.  

I’m wondering how true this is for most people who are on the web.
I’m uncertain about what forums would attract more females… maybe spirituality/religious forums?  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 10:52 PM:  

  Type and DevelopmentI’m fascinated by both horizontal and vertical models, but most integral discussions emphasize the vertical. What I’m curious about is how the whole picture becomes more complex when the two are combined.  Introduction to Volume 7 of the Collected Works  

As for types, see figure 3, which uses the enneagram as an example. What I have done here is take only one developmental module or stream (it can be anything–morals, cognition, defenses, etc.), and I have listed the eight or so levels or waves of development through which this particular stream will tend to unfold (using Spiral Dynamics as an example of the waves). At each level I have drawn the enneagram as an example of what might be called a horizontal typology, or a typology of the personality types that can exist at almost any vertical level of development. The point is that a person can be a particular type (using Jungian types, Myers-Briggs, the enneagram, etc.) at virtually any of the levels. Thus, if a person is, say, predominately enneagram type 5, then as they develop they would be purple 5, red 5, blue 5, and so on (again, not in a rigid linear fashion, but in a fluid and flowing mesh). [20]
Figure 3



And this can occur in any of the lines. For example, in the moral line, a person might be predominately enneagram type 7 at the green wave in the context of the workplace; under stress, the person might move to type 1 at the orange wave (or even blue wave); cognitively, the person might be type 4 at turquoise, and so on. Notice, however, that what the enneagram alone cannot spot is the shift in vertical levels; an orange 7 under stress might go to orange 1, but under real stress, the orange 7 will regress to blue, then purple. These are not just different types, but different levels of types. Again, by combining horizontal typologies with vertical typologies, we can make use of second-tier constructions for a more integral view.  

For many radical feminists, male and female orientations also constitute a type. Based mostly on work by Carol Gilligan and Deborah Tannen, the idea is that the typical male orientation tends to be more agentic, autonomous, abstract, and independent, based on rights and justice; whereas the female orientation tends to be more permeable, relational, and feelingful, based on care and responsibility. Gilligan, recall, agrees that females proceed through three (or four) hierarchical stages of development, and these are essentially the same three (or four) hierarchical stages or waves through which males proceed (namely, preconventional, conventional, postconventional, and integrated).  

The reason that many people, especially feminists, still incorrectly believe that Gilligan denied a female hierarchy of development is that Gilligan found that males tend to make judgments using ranking or hierarchical thinking, whereas women tend to make judgments using linking or relational thinking (what I summarize as agency and communion, respectively). But what many people overlooked is that Gilligan maintained that the female orientation itself proceeds through three (or four) hierarchical stages –from selfish to care to universal care to integrated. Thus, many feminists confused the idea that females tend not to think hierarchically with the idea that females do not develop hierarchically; the former is true, the latter is false, according to Gilligan herself. [21] (Why was Gilligan so widely misread and distorted in this area? Because the green meme eschews and marginalizes hierarchies in general, and thus it literally could not perceive her message accurately.)  

As you will see in The Eye of Spirit , contained in this volume, I have summarized this research by saying that men and women both proceed through the same general waves of development, but men tend to do so with an emphasis on agency, women with an emphasis on communion.  

This approach to gender development allows us to utilize the extensive contributions of developmental studies, but also supplement them with a keener understanding of how females evolve “in a different voice” through the great waves of existence. In the past, it was not uncommon to find orthodox psychological researchers defining females as “deficient males” (i.e., females “lack” logic, rationality, a sense of justice; they are even defined by “penis envy,” or desiring that which they lack). Nowadays it is not uncommon to find, especially among feminists, the reverse prejudice: males are defined as “deficient females” (i.e., males “lack” sensitivity, care, relational capacity, embodiment, etc.).  

Well, we might say, a plague on both houses. With this more integral approach, we can trace development through the great waves and streams of existence, but also recognize that males and females might navigate that great River of Life using a different style, type, or voice. This means that we can still recognize the major waves of existence–which, in fact, are gender-neutral–but we must fully honor the validity of both styles of navigating those waves. [22]  

Finally, a person at virtually any stage of development, in virtually any line, of virtually any type, can have an altered state or peak experience , including those that are called spiritual experiences, and this can have a profound effect on their consciousness and its development. Thus, the idea that spiritual experiences can only occur at higher stages is incorrect. However, in order for altered states to become permanent traits (or structures), they need to enter the stream of enduring development. [23]  

Wilber uses the Enneagram as his example. As a side note, I’ve heard a theory that the personality aspect of this system may have been borrowed from Jung, but I don’t know if this is true. I have see other correlations between the two systems also. However, the Enneagram doesn’t have much research behind it. Most Enneagram theories focus on it as a model of defense mechanisms. Whereas, the MBTI is looking at deeper cognitive structures that are largely inborn. Wilber shows how a person may have different Enneagram types in different situations depending on such things as which level of which line… but, theoretically, someone’s MBTI type should remain the same. I’d like to see how development over a lifetime influences how people test on the MBTI.  

Here is a research paper that compares MBTI with the AMSP. I’m not familiar with the AMSP, but it says that it focuses on the propensity of people to change with situations. So, it seems comparable to how Wilber is presenting the Enneagram here.  

This paper doesn’t go into any developmental models, but the focus on changeability in the AMSP gives room for a developmental perspective. However, there are some theories in typology about development.  

First off, a brief primer. There are 8 Jungian functions. According to some theorists(eg Beebe), all types use all functions, but simply use them in different ways. There is the matter of whether a type is used consciously or not and this relates to development, and there is a specific order that each type will likely develop each function. This is highly theoretical and I don’t know what research has been done on it. Another theory presents how each function itself develops which is equivalent to saying that each function represents a separate line of development. There is some correlation of MBTI with models of psychological development.  

For instance, how the Judging functions(Thinking and Feeling) have much similarity with Gilligan’s work on gender differences and the hierarchy of development that either gender will tend to follow. Typology brings a slightly different slant to this. Statistics have shown that their is a slight preference of males for Thnking and females for Feeling. Also, Thinking males tend to have stronger Thinking preferences than Thinking females, and Feeling females tend to have stronger preference for Feeling than Feeling males.  

However, this gender preference is only around 60-70%, and that leaves a good portion that doesn’t fit the social expectations. David Deidda recognizes that gender patterns are only general. He says that his advice for men doesn’t apply to less masculine men and does apply to more masculine women. As a Feeling guy, I don’t entirely resonate with his advice.  

I’ve looked at Gilligan’s work before, but not lately. Going by the above quote of Wilber, it seems her description of gender also incorporates a Intuition function bias for males(ie abstraction). But research has shown that men are no more likely to be abstract than women. Its only been in recent time that our society has started to idealize the man who is capable of abstraction. So, I’m not sure about this part of this model.  

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 11:07 PM:  

  I had a hard time getting into the thread Translation versus Transformation.  But I’m reminded of this topic because translation came up in my thread Type and Development. Reply by Andy Smith  

“I’m fascinated by both horizontal and vertical models, but most integral discussions emphasize the vertical. What I’m curious about is how the whole picture becomes more complex when the two are combined.”I won’t address the rest of your post right now, but there is a very simple answer to this opening statement. The vertical occurs through horizontal or what Wilber calls translational interactions. Molecules emerge through translational interactions of atoms, cells through translational interactions of molecules, tissues through cell interactions and so on, including societies emerging from translational interactions of individuals. At every level, emergence of the next higher level begins with translational interactions of holons at that level.  Your post, which I take it is a quote from Wilber, treats types as properties of individuals, but of course they are social properties as well, in fact, first and foremost social properties. Any type by any classification one cares to mention is basically a description of the way an individual interacts with other individuals, and even more, with society. These are translational interactions, the glue so to speak which holds societies together.  


Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 11:16 PM:  

  From my comments in my recent blog Integral, the Paleolithic, and the LIminal.BTW there is a particular theorist within the typology field who interests me the most.  Her name is Lenore Thomson.  She wrote the book Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual, and there is a wiki about her work.  Her view of typology touches upon my own thoughts about a TFA.  Basically, a TFA to me is a perspective of perspectives.  Some relevant pages from the wiki:  Rhetorical Stances  

Beyond Personality  

Philosophical Exegesis  

Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 11:56 PM:  

  There is a thread I started on a type forum.  I was speculating about the differences between NT types and NF types in terms of how they’d relate to theorizing.  Here are some tentative conclusions I came to:What is communicated?
The dominant is what is literally communicated especially for an Extravert, but for an Introvert the way of communicating(ie auxiliary) is part of what is communicated. The tertiary assists what is being communicated. Possibly, the inferior helps to clarify the message of the dominant even if only by simple contrast.  Why is it communicated?
I’d partly say that once again the dominant, but as communication is an external event so maybe the motivation might be dealt w/ using the Extraverted function. The functional pairings of the first two preferences would create the essence of the motivation.  

A theory is ultimately a conclusion and so would primarily use the Judging function. Those w/ Extraverted Judging functions would be the most interested in a clear theory. Those w/ Introverted Judging may or may not be as interested in an external conclusion, but probably have an internal one. Even if they felt certain inside, they may feel uncertain of what they express or what others express. Ne as auxiliary would particularly tends towards endless speculating w/o ever coming to a final theory.  

Let me break this down(partly based on Lenore Thomson’s ideas):  

NF: understanding subjective experience
NT: understanding objective reality  

NP: creative, non-linear, expanding possibilities
NJ: similar to NP but more focused and grounded, and more clear ideas  

F: lateral thinking, theories about subjects, collaborative discussion
T: categorical thinking, theories about objects, competitive discussion  

IP: direct experience, underlying patterns
IJ: predictable reference points in world, represented experience
EP: direct experience, improvising
EJ: rational predictability, take in more info only when necessary  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 6, 2008, 11:59 PM:  

  In case anyone was wondering, my posting lots of info in this thread is an example of Extraverted Intuition.  🙂
Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 7, 2008, 11:45 AM:  

  Marmalade,So, you’ve been busy.  From what I have read from Andy Smith, a critic of Wilber, and Wilber, a critic of Smith, I conclude they both tend to be structuralists. Both seem to discount types and subordinate them to their own favorite transcendents. Do you think that Ns are particularly structuralist or transcendentalist? Do you think there is anything social, or spiritual that transcends your own being?  

Your statistics are fascinating, but not surprising. This is why on these boards 99.63% of all topics involve “I think” or “she/he thinks” or “they think,” and only 0.39% involve “I etc. did/do.”  

Here are some things “doing” and “did” that might have a bearing on types:  

1) In that part of my developmental process (mid-teens) when I started doing important things that would define me as an adult, among them were: driving fast cars over long distances, hitchhiking to unknown destinations (when without a car), striking lefty leaning revolutionary postures, attracting interesting and beautiful women, avoiding educational institutions, studying the aesthetics of the well turned phrase, and having mind-bending, ecstatic mystical experiences (unbidden, drug free).  

2) In that part of my development process (mid-childhood, 11-ish) when spirituality and religion became real enough to be seriously considered for “truth,” I seriously considered them long enough (a few hours) for me to conclude they were no longer worthy of serious consideration. The whole subject was just beside all the valuable points of my life. So when the mystical revelations of Cosmic Wholeness began to show up a few years later I did enough research to find out that some people thought these states had something to do with Spirit (a.k.a. God). I did not.  My hubris told me that Spiritual and Godly considerations were for less-advantaged folks than me. (There have been times when I might have momentarily consider myself either an atheist, or an agnositic or maybe even a believer. But that eventually matured into a position of being reconciled to not knowing and not caring enough to figure it out. An example is that until you mentioned it I had never heard of IIDB, so I googled and dropped by and thought, “this is really dull…”)  

3.) In my late 20s and early 30s, the mystical experiences of cosmic integrated unity, the apprehensions of the “divine” omniscient state, became more and more profound and began to color all my other perceptions. By this time I was one of the leading (investigative) journalistic experts on Native American legal and political issues in the USA, and beginning a career as a private legal investigator. Under fairly heavy psychological pressure as a result of these visions I made the decision to investigate for evidence that an overarching “really real,” integral and unifying principle existed. From my experience I had learned that theory was little more than insubstantial words, blue smoke and mirrors. Law, for example is the theory that attempts (poorly) to regulate the present and future by regulating (poorly) perceptions and interpretations of past facts. Facts are created by what people do. The rule of thumb for lawyers is that one never argues the law unless a really bad circumstantial case prohibits them from arguing the facts. So I went out to find the facts of this matter–are there facts here on the ground that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an overarching, really real, unifying principle. I spent about five years at it. I took it seriously, I had to if I was going to maintain my reputation as a highly skilled investigator, and hope for any credibility in writing the obviously best-selling, revelatory book that would follow a positive conclusion.  

4. Along the way, quite by accident, I stumbled across the writings of Carl Jung that sparked: a) my first more than passing interest in psychology; b) an interest in psychological types; c) an 18-month period in which I began dreaming three or four “big” dreams a week. Also quite by accident, I began study of Taoism and the benefits of contemplative practices particularly those that developed and enhanced phenomenological awareness, internally and externally. (Both of these contributed to my investigation and resulted in a continuing 31-year-old dream journal and meditation habit.)  

5. At the end of the five years  I had not found one single mote of irrefutable evidence for the really real unifying principle that I, as a reputable, self-respecting investigator, would even consider taking to my client/attorney with the expectation that they would put it to a jury. There went the dream of fame, fortune and beautiful lovers that would accrue from writing that book. The best thing I could come up with was a theory lifted out of Jung: the visions of the divine unification-through-omniscience Hoo-Ha were a self-reflecting glance at, and projection of, the perceptual organizing functions of my mind, a satisfying conclusion in that it tended to confirm rather than diminish hubris. (One of the reasons why I tend not to take Wilber all that seriously is that I have found no evidence in his writing to show that he ever seriously considered or researched the possibility that AQAL might be a manual and map for the form and functions of his psyche and nothing more.)  

6. Early in 2005, while waiting a week or so for a client couple to finalize design and budget approval for a proposed sculpture, I googled “enlightenment” and got some Andrew Cohen hits that lead me to Wilber-land. I studied up on his latest (I hadn’t read any of Wilber since about 1989) and wrote my first lengthy Integral Naked post that proposed–based on the findings of my own search as a bad example–and the fact that Wilber had managed it (good example) that most anyone with a few years in a liberal arts school and a facility for words, blue smoke and mirrors could undertake the development of a Unified Field Theory for the Human Condition if not Everything itself.  And I urged folks to not worry in the least about their theory being right or wrong because that’s not the point. The point is to publish an interesting book, make a little money and attract beautiful lovers. I should have pointed out then, and do so now, that the chances for one’s success will be enhanced if they are iNtuitive, preferably Introverted iNtuitive. Part of the reason my effort failed was that I went about my grand search in the way I tested out on the typology scales: ESFP. So I make my money these days doing art. And as for beautiful lovers? I’ve got mine, Jack.  

theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral and Types

theurj said Jul 7, 2008, 2:03 PM:  

  Nickeson: I see you’re a blacksmith-artist. One of my New Mexico dancing associates, Ward Brinegar, is also into this type of art. See his site at this link.
Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral and Types

Balder said Jul 7, 2008, 2:19 PM:  

  Thanks for providing that link, Nickeson.  I loved having a chance to see your work – and to see you at work.  The railings you’ve wrought strike me as similar to you in spirit:  strong and unruly, with a graceful flair.
Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 7, 2008, 2:32 PM:  

Ward is a friend of mine, though I haven’t seen him for years. Last time I heard he was living broken-hearted in Albuquerque.  I learned the art in Santa Fe, spent eight years doing it there. I can see by his web site that he is doing good work and doing well. This is really good to know.Balder, thanks for the kind words.  S.  

p.s. I just remembered that I wrote a piece here on my other blog that goes directly to this typological difference thing. (Part of it has been excerpted to the Kabiri site.)  

theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral and Types

theurj said Jul 7, 2008, 5:03 PM:  

  Ward has been in SF for many years, living and working. I know he got a divorce years ago but he’s gone through a number of girlfriends since then. Not sure of his current love life status. I see him once a year at the Albuquerque Dance Fiesta, the next of which is at the end of September. I’ll try to remember to say hello for you. Or you could do so yourself at his website and tell him I referred you.
Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 7, 2008, 3:12 PM:  

  Nickeson,Nice iron work.  I had a great interest in art growing up, but as an NP I was more interested in the creative possibilities than the finished product.  🙂  Do you think that Ns are particularly structuralist or transcendentalist?  

I wouldn’t think Ns would particularly be structuralist as I’d think that might have more to do with whether the person was Judging… to put it simply, whether they seek out conclusion.  I would think, though, that Ns are particularly transcendentalist as N is about abstraction, imagination, and possibilities.  Ns look past the obvious data of physical experience, but also Ns are less satisfied with the world as it is because they’re so capable of seeing how the world could be otherwise.  

Do you think there is anything social, or spiritual that transcends your own being?

Going by the gist of your question, I’d answer in the affirmative.  But I don’t think of it exactly as transcending.  That reality isn’t based on isolated individuals feels like a basic immanent experiential truth to me.  However, as an INFP, N (Extraverted Intuition) is my secondary function.  My direct sense of reality has to do with Fi (Introverted Feeling).  

Your statistics are fascinating, but not surprising.  

They didn’t surprise me either. Based on type theory and on personal experience, it was what I was more or less what I was expecting to find.   One interesting discovery I made was that INTJs are more prevalent on atheist boards than they are on type boards.  Typology is probably a bit too woo woo for many INTJs.  The INTPs, altough Thinking types, are one of the most active groups in the online typology community.  INTPs are a bit more open to the soft sciences because they enjoy endless speculation, enjoy considering possibilities without a need to come to an absolute conclusion.  

This is why on these boards 99.63% of all topics involve “I think” or “she/he thinks” or “they think,” and only 0.39% involve “I etc. did/do.”



I agree.   

Interestingly, though, my ISTJ mom would take a different perspective from both you and most integralists.  To her, life isn’t about enjoyment, but is instead about responsibility and routine.  Your ideal of making some money and attracting beautiful partners would be utterly alien to her worldview.  

Another interesting example is my ENTJ dad.  He does like to think and speculate, but first and foremost he is an Extraverted Thinking type.  He wants to do things and accomplish things.  He wants to help, inspire, and organize people.  He might find Integralism mildly interesting, but he wants to know the hard facts and the practical application.  He can think outside of the box, but in many ways he is contented with conventional thinking (he is very status conscious as TJ appreciates hierarchy and authority).  

Both of my parents are very action-oriented, but in very different ways.  The only commonality they have is that they’re both Judging types, and they both have Te as their preferred Judging function.  But neither is action-oriented like you although my dad comes closest to you in wanting to enjoy the good life… I suspect for totally different reasons though.  


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 8, 2008, 2:42 PM:  

  I find it curious that so far the only significant response I’ve had to this thread is from Nickeson and he is critical of integral theory.  I have great interest in types and I have likewise used it as a critical perspective of integralism.There is obviously a lack of integration of type into integral theory, but is there also a lack of interest?  Do integralists perceive types as less important than lines of development or the quadrants?  Why have integralists focused so little upon something that has more scientific backing than other elements of integral that have less scientific backing?  Do integralists simply not know how to integrate types?  Or is it merely a paradigm bias of integralists idealizing transcendence?  Is personality not all that significant if your goal is transpersonal?  Could it be that most integralists simply don’t know much about types and they just don’t know what to make of them?  Or are many integralists actively critical of thinking too much in terms of types?  If so, what is the criticism of types from an integral perspective?  I don’t see types and integralism as being in conflict.  If anything, I think this might be one of the most fruitful avenues that integralism hasn’t yet explored.  

I’ve focused on Myers-Briggs in this thread because that is what I know best, but of course there are probably thousands of different kinds of type theories.  If Myers-Briggs doesn’t interest you, what type system does?  Beyond the brief summary of Wilber, how might the Enneagram be more fully integrated into integral theory?  

If you don’t like type theories whatsoever, then what do you think of trait theories which is a slightly different take on personality (and academically more respectable)?  Does Wilber or any other integralist speak much about personality traits?  


Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral and Types

Balder said Jul 8, 2008, 3:06 PM:  

  Marmalade, unfortunately, most members of this pod are actually critical of Integral theory!  I am probably more strongly supportive of it than most of the other active members here.I am interested in this topic, and believe it actually is a very fruitful area to explore – particularly since I think greater sensitivity to types may help lessen the current tendency to almost impulsively evaluate everything in terms of “rank” or “level.”  I think the level-distinctions are valid, but as you and others point out, factoring “types” in may complicate those evaluations in significant ways.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m trying to write a blog entry in between my work and school duties, and I’m almost done with that.  That is what has kept me away from active participation here.  But I will be back!  

Best wishes,  


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 8, 2008, 5:12 PM:  

  Balder,Yeah.  From comments you’d made, I was assuming you were probably busy.  But there are other active members in this pod.  I was just wondering what people thought even if it was merely to say they’re not interested.  Even though many here are critical of integral or at least Wilber’s integral, they obviously have enough interest in integral to post here.  

As I said, the only significant response I’ve had has been from Nickeson.  And he doesn’t see much merit in integral as its presently forumlated.  But I do get the sense that he isn’t dismissing integral theory entirely.  Nevertheless, he certainly doesn’t seem hopeful about integrating types into integral, and maybe he is right.  

I like integral theory for the most part, and I like type theory for the most part.  Both systems have their flaws, but they’re good enough for basic understandings.  I’d like to think that the two can somehow inform eachother… and maybe even be included within a single theory.  

I don’t know.  I’d like to explore this some more.  At the moment, I was purposely focusing on only one aspect of types.  There are two other aspects that are more directly related to integralism, but I wanted to feel out the waters first.  One of those aspects is types not as types per se but as perspectives (eg Lenore Thomson).  The other aspect is the developmental.  Many type theories (eg Myers-Briggs and Enneagram) explicitly theorize how development commonly occurs.  

I guess I’ll just sit on it for the time being.  

I appreciate what you’re trying to do here with this pod.  I realize its difficult.  I hope that discussion can get past criticisms (even if insightful) and point towards new possibilities.  That was my hope for this thread anyways.  How might types allow new innovation within integral theory?  


Re: Integral and Types

Jim [no longer around] said Jul 8, 2008, 6:55 PM:

  Hi Marmalade. You wrote to Balder: “I was just wondering what people thought even if it was merely to say they’re not interested.” 

I’m well familiar with Jung’s typology (I had to study Jung in depth and was tested by teachers who’d trained at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich as part of my training in Arnold Mindell’s Process Work). I took the Myers-Briggs type test in the eighties. I read Almaas’s book, Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas, and I’ve had people who are into the Enneagram as Helen Palmer teaches it talk to me about my Enneagram type. 

But I’m not interested in reading about, studying, or discussing type theory any more than I already have, and that’s why I haven’t commented on your posts where you discuss typology. 



  Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 12:43 AM:

  Hey Jim,Your post makes me curious all the while making me a bit sad.  You know about types and seemingly have an opinion on the matter, but for whatever reason don’t wish to share.. or maybe you just don’t have any clear thoughts on the matter.  My sense is that you see no value in types for the time being or maybe entirely.

Oh well… if you don’t feel like participating, then you don’t.  But if you ever do feel like sharing, I’d love to hear about your doubts or criticisms… or about your lack of interest for whatever reason.  I’ve enjoyed your views in other integral discussions.

I wonder if there are many integralists like you… people who know a fair amount about typology but it simply doesn’t relate to their interest in integral theory.  Its good to keep in mind that a lack of dicussion about types in the integral community doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of knowledge.  If that is the case, then what is the disconnect between the two?

Anyways, thanks for the reply.  Even though you didn’t say much, it still gives me some feedback.



Re: Integral and Types

Jim [no longer around] said Jul 9, 2008, 11:41 AM:

  Hi Ben (if I may call you Ben),

Your post makes me curious all the while making me a bit sad.
I’m sorry to hear that my post makes you a bit sad.

You know about types and seemingly have an opinion on the matter, but for whatever reason don’t wish to share.. or maybe you just don’t have any clear thoughts on the matter.  My sense is that you see no value in types for the time being or maybe entirely.

It’s not that I don’t wish to share, it’s that I’m not interested in getting into a discussion on types and typology. I’m happy to share my opinion that a working understanding of Jung’s typology is important for anyone who wants to work in a helping capacity within a transpersonal – or integral if one prefers – context.

I had a private therapy practice working with individuals, couples, and small groups. My approach, largely based on my training in Process Work (which as I think you know was created by Jungian analyst Arny Mindell – his initial research into what he calls PW or Process Oriented Psychology was funded by the Jung Institute in Zurich where he trained budding Jungians to be Jungian analysts), was hands-on, experiential, and non-interpretive. Talking about types, thinking about types, and typing clients and participants in group work simply played no role in the work I did, just as my beautiful, expensive watercolor brushes played no role in the electrical and plumbing work I did no my house last week.

Oh well… if you don’t feel like participating, then you don’t.  But if you ever do feel like sharing, I’d love to hear about your doubts or criticisms… or about your lack of interest for whatever reason.

In addition to a lack of interest in the topic, my focus of late has been on neuroscience (among a few other things), the learning curve is steep, and I only have so much time. I don’t have doubts about typology (beyond my general doubts about “folk psychology”), and my lack of interest is no different to me than my lack of interest in spectator sports. I’m not against spectator sports any more than I’m against typology, but I’m not interested. I don’t know the names of sport teams or players, I don’t know what sport season it is, I don’t watch spectator sports on TV and I don’t attend live spectacles (I always fell asleep at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium whenever I was taken there when I was growing up in NY), and to me Superbowl Sunday is just another Sunday and a good day to go grocery shopping because the markets are usually empty during the game.

I wonder if there are many integralists like you… people who know a fair amount about typology but it simply doesn’t relate to their interest in integral theory.

I don’t consider myself an “integralist,” and I’m definitely not a Wilberian (and I find it difficult to hear the word “integral” without thinking of Wilber; IMO he has appropriated the word). I think that Wilber gets a lot of things right (and some things incredibly wrong), I participated in a series of Integral Institute meetings at his home in late 2000 and I corresponded a bit with him before that, but being into Ken Wilber’s integral theory of everything is just not a part of my path.

(I parenthetically mentioned having doubts about “folk psychology.” Some cognitive scientists and philosophers maintain that our “commonsense” or “folk” understanding of mental states constitute a theory that enables us to predict and explain the behavior of ourselves and others. Ken Wilber borrows the term “myth of the given” from Wilfrid Sellars. It so happens that Sellars’ ideas on the myth of the given are a source of the idea that folk psychology is a theory and is therefore subject to revision or even replacement.)

I hope that makes where I’m coming from at least a bit clearer.


Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 2:37 PM:

  Jim,Sure… call me Ben if you’d like.  Call me almost anything you want as far as I care.

Neuroscience, eh?  I’ve come across research on neuroscience and personality.  Traits research goes into this quite a bit.  What kind of neuroscience are you interested in?

I would agree “that folk psychology is a theory and is therefore subject to revision or even replacement.”  That is why I like to study and research the subject.  Also, its the reason I prefer Myers-Briggs over the Enneagram.  I haven’t found any academic research about the Enneagram, and so I have no way of making sense out of all the differing opinions.  Myers-Briggs is closer to traits theory than to the Enneagram, and traits theory has been researched to a great extent and across cultures. 

So, to the extent that Myers-Briggs correlates with this academic research, it isn’t folk psychology.  However, there is still much research that needs to be done on Myers-Briggs theory.  For example, there is good reason to question the orthogonal view of the functions which traits theory disagrees with.

If you ever feel so inclined, it would be nice to see a thread about what you’ve learned from your neuroscience studies.



Re: Integral and Types

Jim [no longer around] said Jul 9, 2008, 5:10 PM:

  Ben, I’ve been working, as time allows, on a response to Balder’s request (to any members of this pod) for “a positive formulation of your own spiritual vision,” and I may touch on neuroscience in that. Blessings to you too, Jim 
Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 8, 2008, 5:54 PM:


1)  “…my ISTJ mom would take a different perspective from both you and most integralists.  To her, life isn’t about enjoyment, but is instead about responsibility and routine.  Your ideal of making some money and attracting beautiful partners would be utterly alien to her worldview.”

Your mom is not just an S, she’s an SJ! Keirsey says this is the “Guardian temperament.” 

  • Guardians pride themselves on being dependable, helpful, and hard-working.
  • Guardians make loyal mates, responsible parents, and stabilizing leaders.
  • Guardians tend to be dutiful, cautious, humble, and focused on credentials and traditions.
  • Guardians are concerned citizens who trust authority, join groups, seek security, prize gratitude, and dream of meting out justice.

(For more read here.)

But then here, for comparison, is a Keirsey run-down of SPs, the “Artisans,” a category more like me–

  • Artisans tend to be fun-loving, optimistic, realistic, and focused on the here and now
  • Artisans pride themselves on being unconventional, bold, and spontaneous.
  • Artisans make playful mates, creative parents, and troubleshooting leaders.
  • Artisans are excitable, trust their impulses, want to make a splash, seek stimulation, prize freedom, and dream of mastering action skills.

(For more read here.)

And then there are the NFs, the “most integralists”–

  • Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom.
  • Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic.
  • Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials.
  • Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders.

(For more read here.)

On almost every site here in the on-line Integral Province one finds evidence that the ideal person is an Idealist, every site is preaching to this choir, seeking their approval  love. Novelist James Mitchner, speaking of everybody, once said to the effect of “It is not that everybody wants to be a writer, everybody wants to have been a writer.” Here one could say similarly “Its not that every Integralite wants to be Ramana Maharshi, every Integralite wants to have been Ramana Maharshi.” On these overviews (I left one out) the word “spiritual” only shows up as an Idealist quality. And descriptions of the ideal citizen of Yellow or Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna or whatever the popular, upper-berth color here in the Province is this season boils down to the ideal Idealist; run-of-the-mill Idealists are still stuck in Green. Maybe in a Type Theory of Integral the first thing to do is factor out the cultural confounders and run a horizontal analysis of the colors.  How different would that look from the Jungian types, or as someone pointed out on the Integral Praxis Sosh Ntwrk site, how different would that look from the primary and recombinant qualities of the Zodiac?

I guess all of the long posts I have made on this thread have just been wordy ways of backing into the same question…one that has been implied in each, and since failing to get an answer I will ask it directly: Do the precursory qualities for transformation and enlightenment favor NFs? From a blending of what we see of types and the Integral givens it would appear that would be the the logical working hypothesis. Does this mean that Bio-spiritual and cultural evolution as defined by what is generally considered core Integral Theory promote NF, or at least the top cut of the catagory, as more evolved than any other type?

There are times when I, as an SP in the land of NFs, feel like an itinerant anthropologist, or wandering writer a la Paul Theroux or Peter Matthiesson, sending dispatches back to a home far, far away. As you know I have been writing from the virtual sovereignty I call Integral Province. If the answer to my question can any way be construed toward the positive then I might have to rethink this name, perhaps drop “Province” and adopt “Ghetto.” 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 1:55 AM:

  Nickeson,Yep, my mom is an SJ.  I brought it up as a counterexample to your SP slant on the differences between S and N.  I’m willing to bet that a SJ would feel like even more of an outsider in the integral community than an SP would.

How I see all of this is that Wilber is more likely an NT than not and so there is a NT bias at the heart of integral theory… whether or not NFs are also attracted to integral idealism.  Of the NFs, INFJs have the most interest in systematic theorizing.  But even INFJs don’t come close to most NTs when it comes to systematic theorizing.  I know INFPs particularly well and few would be interested in integral, but maybe the ideal Idealist… I don’t know.  So, its true that integralism is idealistic and NFs are known as the Idealists, but Thinking has its version of idealism in its focus on principles.  And the hierarchical structure of integral theory is more in line with the Thinking function as I understand it.

Here is the breakdown in terms of religion.  Most theology professors are probably NTs.  Most ministers are probably NFs.  Most of the congregation is probably SJs.  I don’t know where the SPs might be… probably doing missionary work in a third-world country.

So, Wilber and other integral theorists are probably NTs.  However, many of the advocates of integralism in a forum may be NFs.  In a pod like this maybe its pretty even between NTs and NFs, but I’d say that there is still an NT bias to integral theory overall.

MBTI was created by an INFP.  Even though it took a lot of intellectual thought (ie statistical analysis), its a very NF model.  Its not hierarchical for one thing.  Instead, its about seeing the good in everyone exactly as they are.  It has its developmental aspect, but the equality aspect is emphasized more.

Integral as the ideal from the top cut of Idealists?  It could be.  I do have the suspicion that many spiritual visionaries are NFs.  But how many of them would turn their spiritual vision into an all-encompassing hierarchical abstract theory?

Your viewpoint is intriguing.  Even though integral theory came from the mind of a probable NT, maybe its slowly being hijacked by NFs.  But of course the NTs see it as corruption from the green meme.

So, how would you create an integral theory from an SP perspective?  Or is your SP perspective that such theorizing is pointless?  If you could somehow organize your SP brethren, how would you attempt to hijack the integral movement?  🙂


Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 9, 2008, 10:16 AM:

  Maramalade,I’m just going to jump around here a little:

And the hierarchical structure of integral theory is more in line with the Thinking function as I understand it.

This might be debated. I think it might have more to do with N aligned with J.  Jung was a Thinking type (INTP, I believe) and he wasn’t big on hierarchies except cultural and moral ones.

Most ministers are probably NFs.  Most of the congregation is probably SJs.  I don’t know where the SPs might be…

Have you ever read Sinclair Lewis’s novel Elmer Gantry? It mostly concerns the relationship between an SP evangelist and an NF faith healer.

I do have the suspicion that many spiritual visionaries are NFs.  But how many of them would turn their spiritual vision into an all-encompassing hierarchical abstract theory?

Excellent point!

Even though integral theory came from the mind of a probable NT, maybe its slowly being hijacked by NFs.  But of course the NTs see it as corruption from the green meme.

This is one of the reasons I sometimes wonder about the depth of Wilber’s here and now consciousness. In one aspect of the theory he gives the NFs what they need because they are NFs and they will support him. But in another aspect he bites the hands that feed him because they aren’t intuitively rational enough, and they in turn will forgive him because they are who they are. Co-dependence, no?

If you could somehow organize your SP brethren, how would you attempt to hijack the integral movement?

I don’t think most would consider it worth hijacking. It isn’t effective enough, it doesn’t do anything,  its too academic. That is why politicians might give it a nod and then move on. It is void of solutions for the here and now. But it is a good place to stock-pile NFs until they are needed to march in the streets.

So, how would you create an integral theory from an SP perspective?

I’ll have to give that more thought. I have been thinking of  whipping up a little something vis a vis Balder’s call for papers on a ”positive formulation of your own spiritual vision.” Maybe I can organize it about this question…we’ll see.


Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 3:43 PM:

  And the hierarchical structure of integral theory is more in line with the Thinking function as I understand it.This might be debated. I think it might have more to do with N aligned with J.  Jung was a Thinking type (INTP, I believe) and he wasn’t big on hierarchies except cultural and moral ones.

I understand why you’d say J and I would add the Judging functions of Thinking and Feeling.  I’m surprised by your thinking it would be N aligned with J (ie Ni).  From my understanding of Lenore Thomson, Ni wants to free an idea from larger contexts especially external contexts… because Ni wants to focus more narrowly.  However, within their own personal understanding, their thoughts can be more structured (depending on how well their Judging function is developed).  My ENTJ dad can be more structured and hierarchical in thinking, but I always interpreted that as a result of his being Te dominant (ie EXTJ).

I was basing my statement largely on personal observation of an INFP forum and some NT forums (in particular an INTP forum).  Its somewhat of an issue of debating style.  NFs (especially Feeling dominants) can have a hierarchical side, but its a hierarchy of values.  NFs don’t seem overly hierarchical with ideas and abstract theories.  However, to the extent that an idea stands in for an Idealist value, an NF could become attached to a hierarchical theory.

I’m not sure what type Jung was.  I’ve heard of him being an INTP, but Beebe thinks he was an INTJ.  I know that he didn’t like social hierarchies, and that may have more to do with his Introversion than with anything else (although my ISTJ mom likes social hierarchies).  I think Beebe’s assessment makes sense.  An INTP’s dominant Ti gives them a strong internal sense of structure and also a tendency towards methodical analysis.  Jung seems more Ni dominant to me.  He was a deep thinker, but there is somewhat of a looseness to all of his thinking.  Jung never had an overarching systematic theory as Wilber does and I see Wilber as being more of an INTP.

Have you ever read Sinclair Lewis’s novel Elmer Gantry? It mostly concerns the relationship between an SP evangelist and an NF faith healer.

No, never read it.  Sounds interesting.  What did you think of it?

In one aspect of the theory he gives the NFs what they need because they are NFs and they will support him. But in another aspect he bites the hands that feed him because they aren’t intuitively rational enough, and they in turn will forgive him because they are who they are. Co-dependence, no?

The social dynamics of the situation is very intriguing.  I could imagine that Wilber’s most loyal followers might be NFs, and maybe he has encouraged this to an extent.  An NF could be very forgiving about Wilber and his ideas if they projected their idealistic values onto the ideal of integralism.  Most NFs don’t care about a theory being perfect and they might be willing to ignore any gaps that aren’t too obvious.

BTW INFPs are very individualistic, but they also are considered the most idealistic of the Idealists.  If a theory captures their sense of idealism, they very well might throw themselves into it without reservation.  INFPs more than any type want something overarching to believe in.

But it is a good place to stock-pile NFs until they are needed to march in the streets.

Very good point.  NFs can be pacifists and passivists, but once their idealism is challenged its a different story.  I’ve had an interesting discussion on why INFPs would make good terrorists and guerilla fighters.  The discussion started because bin Laden seems like a possible INFP.  He combines cultural analysis with fiery righteousness, and a patient indirect way of challenging authority.  INFPs, when the situation is right, can make good leaders of small groups.  They inspire the loyal SJs to put the NF’s ideals into action.

So, how would you create an integral theory from an SP perspective?

I’ll have to give that more thought. I have been thinking of  whipping up a little something vis a vis Balder’s call for papers on a ”positive formulation of your own spiritual vision.” Maybe I can organize it about this question…we’ll see.

I look forward to whatever you may come up with.


Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 13, 2008, 6:18 PM:

  Maramalade,Not long ago you asked these questions of me:

So, how would you create an integral theory from an SP perspective?  Or is your SP perspective that such theorizing is pointless?

And I answered that I would address that question in a post re: Balder’s request for papers on a positive Spiritual vision. But I’m not going to do that now, times have changed. However there still might be an indirect answer to those questions in various excerpts from the following blog posts. Most people around here might have read them by now, but since you asked–

First, the last five or six paragraphs of ”Integral Dissipation” are pretty explicit on the matter.

Second, the whole of ”To One in the Dark V” looks at the same thing from a slightly different perspective

Third, the implications of ”No Reason to Believe” add nuances, and,

Fourth, so do the implications of ”Vultures Copulating on the Roof” particularly this bit:

M has been reading Bhagavan Das and thinking back. The two of us are easing toward sleep, her head, my shoulder conjoined. She wonders why he or anyone else wants things to have meaning when meanings just enforce limits.  

From M—Wholeness: no limits, no meaning. Make a note of it. 


Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral and Types

Marmalade said Jul 9, 2008, 5:49 PM:

  I don’t want this discussion about types to be limited to typology.For instance, what does anyone think of archetypes as horizontal types?  I realize that archetypes also can be seen vertically and the pre/trans fallacy can be invoked.  But for the moment what do you think of archetypes as general categories of human cognition and experience?  And can archetypes be a part of Integral theory?


Nickeson : Easy  

Re: Integral and Types

Nickeson said Jul 10, 2008, 6:35 AM:

  Marmalade,I understand why you’d say J and I would add the Judging functions of Thinking and Feeling.  I’m surprised by your thinking it would be N aligned with J (ie Ni).  From my understanding of Lenore Thomson, Ni wants to free….

You are no doubt correct and also way ahead of me here. I am not familiar with the details of Thomson’s work and I’ve never heard of Beebe before your mention of him. I believe the last theory I read with anything more than passing curiosity was Bolon’s and that was long ago. I can see why there is equivocation on Jung’s J or P as those two seem to be the most mercurial and culturally mutable aspects. My statement on the matter was remembering what one or another of his student/colleagues, like von Franz, et al, wrote of him. Speaking of archetypes and hierarchies in this light, Jung’s intellectual position on the basic quaternary of personal archetypes (Hero, Wise Old Man, King, Puer, etc) was fairly horizontal but as a conscientious Swiss by culture he elevated the Wise Old Man and the King (to a lesser extent) and was disparaging of the Puer. This is where theory and training diverge after a time from experience and folk psychology. I am with Jim who said a working knowledge of the types is a good thing for liberal humanist style therapists. I suspect that in five years or so following training most of these clinicians are practicing folk psychology to some extent. (To me folk psychology is of a difference order than pop psychology which is just out there for its entertainment value.) Whether it is positively effective or damaging to the client is a function of the therapists’ abilities and not the source of the style/theory. Of course it is not going to play well for the theorists or those in the labs, but the same can be said of anthing that arises outside of their immediate venues.

Elmer Gantry is probably as entertaining, instructive and thought provoking as any professionally written 82-year-old novel is these days. I read it when it was only 33-years-old so it had different things to say at that time.

And can archetypes be a part of Integral theory?

I think anything that can be said of types can and should be said about archtypes. And by definition anything and everything can be a part of Integral Theory and that drops the hint that Integral might not qualify as a theory at all.

Psychology of Politics, Development of Society

I’ve been thinking out some complex issues and data.  In particular, my mind has been stuck on the issue of liberal and conservative. 

This relates to personality types and traits, but furthermore it relates to genetics.  Scientists have discovered specific genes that correlate with specific tendencies of political attitudes.  That isn’t exactly surprising as trait research has already determined many psychological differences are passed on from parent to child.  But this is particularly paradigm-shifting on the level of politics.

I plan to write more about this, but I just wanted to outline my thinking for the moment.  There are multiple facets that interrelate in ways I’m trying to determine.

There does seem to be an evolutionary angle that would be very important.  Different genetics enhanced species survival as humans developed ever more complex societies.  One theory I came across proposed that liberal genetics are a more recent evolutionary adaptation.  As humans spread out from Africa, specific traits became more desirable: curiosity, openness to new experience, adaptability, empathy, diplomacy, ability to imagine new possibilities and consider multiple perspectives, etc.  These are all traits that research has proven are correlated with each other, and they together seem to create the framework for the liberal attitude.  Still, the older genetics remained useful because any given society would still need the majority of its population to be fairly conservative in order to create social stability and cohesion.

This development happened when humans were still hunter-gatherers, and so at that time the genetic differences wouldn’t have been as magnified.  With the rise of settled agrarian cultures, an entirely new way of social organization became possible.  This was a traumatic time in the devlopment of the human species.  It’s been a while since I’ve read Paul Shepard, but as I recall he saw this era as being pivotal where something irreversibly switched in the human brain.  This was the beginning of civilization.

I was just tonight reading again some of Derrick Jensen’s The Culture of Make Believe.  I consider him to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century.  I’d forgotten much of the specific ideas in this book, but one particular thing stood out.  He goes into great detail about how civilization rests on the back of slavery.  Every civilization was built with slave labor (including the early democracies).  Even the modern industrialized nations with their supposed democracies and free markets are dependent on slave labor and sweatshops in the third world countries.  Many of the earliest immigrants to the Americas were indentured servants and slaves.  Civilization as we know it would collapse if there wasn’t some class of people enslaved or in oppressed servitude. 

(I also wonder how this fits in with prostitution as the oldest profession and temple prostitutes who lived in servitude.  In early civilization, prostitution represented the civilizing of primitive desire as the temple prostitutes served the highest ideal of their societies and the temples they worked in were at the center of those cultures.  The example that comes to mind is “The Epic of Gilgamesh” where the wild man is civilized by a prostitute.)

Jensen’s explanation of all of this is just brilliant.  Combined with Shepard’s work, this explains a lot about how we became this way.  The earliest records of humans are about the laws upholding civilization and these laws speak about slavery (e.g., Code of Hammurabi).  The Old Testament in various stories and the 10 commandments promotes slavery.  The Christian Gospels even promote slavery.  The Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans all were dependent on slavery.  Until modern times, few people even thought too much about slavery being a bad thing.

However, some people back then began to question such issues.  During the Axial Age, the origins of modern Enlightenment ideals began to take root.  Those early ideals were in complete conflict with the very structure of civilization and that conflict persists to this very day.  So, where did this conflict come from?

Earlier in social development, humans perceived the world animistically.  According to Julian Jaynes, the very understanding of the individual as clearly separate from the world didn’t even fully exist throughout much of early civilization.  It was a slow shift while individuality formed.  As division of labor in society became more important, so division of labor within the human mind became more important.  The world and the gods stopped being experienced as immediately alive realities.  The world became objectified and so did humans.  Individuality and objectivity go hand in hand, and this is what allows for the objectivication of humans in the form of slavery.

This growing sense of individuality came to a crisis point during the Axial Age.  The brutality of slavery had become very apparent, and people began hoping for something more.  People were less satisfied to simply be in servitude whether to other people or to the gods.  The divine had become distant within hierarchical society, and in response the desire for divine closeness became extremely strong.  Humans started to perceive the divine as being among humans which is reminiscent of the animistic past, but this divine closeness was now built on a relationship of individuals as equals.  The first communes formed which was out of which Christianity took root.  However, Christianity and all of the Axial Age religions were brought back in line with hierarchical slave society, and the brief glimmer of the Axial Age prophets was almost entirely forgotten for the next thousand years.

However, it was never entirely forgotten.  The Axial Age ideals were the liberalism of their day.  I wonder if that liberal urge that kept popping up relates back to the genetics that first formed when humans left Africa?

It seems like there has always been this push and pull within human society that is shown in the the earliest historical records.  Since civilization began, this concept of progress formed.  Civilization is dependent on endless progress and this seems to relate to its dependence on slavery.  In order to maintain a slave population, the early civilizations (as well as later civilizations) were forced to be constantly at war by attempting to conquer other people.  Enslave or become a slave.  Endless progress, endless growth, endless conquering, endless usurpation… which continues to modern civilization as well (even if endless wars now have a larger global context). 

This is where I’m feeling a bit murky.  Civilization is simultaneously built on this ruthless progress, but civilization wouldn’t have been possible without those early liberal traits of diplomacy and whatnot.  This seems to be a part of that internal conflict that is the very fabric of civilization.  As society became more hierarchical and more divisioned, the liberal traits of curiosity and experimentation were focused towards technological innovation.  Even fairly early in Greek society, a well-educated leisure class had already taken hold (with Socrates being the ultimate representative).  The liberal instinct in some ways became even more important as empathy and diplomacy would’ve been absolutely vital during this time of cultural clash.

There was a shift that happened after the Axial Age.  The liberal instinct had a temporary burgeoning in society, but the liberal instinct was looked upon with ever greater suspicion as Empire building became the central impulse.  The Roman Empire as it was inherited by Christianity was quite oppressive, and it didn’t take long for the heresiologists to oppress the liberal impulse within Christianity itself.  This is where many see the proper beginning of Western civilization.

Ever since that time, the conflict between the liberal and conservative impulses has led to much violence.  But, with the Protestant Reformation and the Renaissance, the liberal impulse began to have greater influence than it had in a long time.  Also, progress began to happen more quickly.  The liberal impulse is the gas pedal of civilization, but this is balanced with the brake of the conservative impulse.  The fight between the two hasn’t been pretty.

The main issue isn’t specific beliefs or values.  Liberalism and conservatism are relative tendencies.  What was liberal during the Axial Age has become the norm for modern Western civilization.  Generally speaking, even modern monotheists have forsaken their own texts in denying slavery.  The conservative impulse wants to hold on to what has become the norm which is perceived as being traditional.  It’s not important, however, that the perceived traditional values actually correspond to the actual historical tradition.  For example, family values have been centrally important for all of Christian history, but what Christians today consider as family values isn’t what the early Christians considered family values (and Jesus himself didn’t value family at all).  So, liberal and conservative are dependent on the historical context which is always changing with the endless progress that we call civilization.

This has served us moderately well up to this point.  Even so, we find ourselves at a new crisis point and so some people conjecture that we’re experiencing a new Axial Age.  It does seem that the level of cultural mixing in modern society hasn’t been seen in Western civilization since the earlier Axial Age.  The religious sensibility forming now is to Christianity as Christianity was to Judaism, and I think this would explain why fundamentalists have essentially created a new religion that has little to do with early Christianity (which fits into the ideas of Karen Armstrong).

Much of what I’ve talked about can be explained using the model of Spiral Dynamics which would add a lot of much-needed detail.  The history following the Axial Age I somewhat explained in my post Just Some Related Ideas and Writers which basically follows a Jungian view of Western development.  But there is a further aspect that is more central to my thinking at the moment.  Along with Jensen’s The Culture of Make Believe, I’ve also been re-reading Compass of the Soul by John L. Giannini.  The two books make for good companions as they both analyze Western society from different perspectives. 

Giannini’s book is helpful because he is coming from the Jungian tradition, and more importantly he combines his roles as Jungian analyst and MBTI practitioner.  He carefully considers Jung’s view on personality as it fits in with Western sociohistorical development.  He sees a split in our society between tendencies towards the personality types of ESTJ and INFP with the former dominating the Western psyche since sometime shortly after the inception of Christianity.  Essentially, ESTJ and INFP are just a more complex way of saying conservative and liberal.

However, this more complex language is helpful because it’s grounded in decades of psychological research.  Also, it brings me back to where I began this post.

(I want to note one other book: The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen.  The author discusses two issues relevant to this post.  He discusses Max Weber’s theory about how rationalization and bureaucratization increases as society becomes more complex and hierarchical.  He also discusses Ernest Harmann’s boundary types.  He mentions research that shows thick boundary types with their conservative attitudes tend to promoted to upper management in hierarchical organizations.  Any major organization is hierarchical and so our society in general is ruled by thick boundary types which is just another way of stating the theory Giannini puts forth.  These highly promoted people tend to have thicker boundaries than even the average person and so the people at top perceive and behave differently than the lower classes.  A seeming implication of this is that even Washington Democrats will be more conservative than the average liberal.) 

The reason I’m so interested in all of this is two-fold. 

The most obvious reason is that the conflict between liberals and conservatives is the most intense that I’ve seen in my lifetime.  And it’s a rather personal issue as I’m liberal and my parents are conservative. 

Secondly, I suffer from obsessive curiosity syndrome.  I feel compelled to try to understand the society I was born into.  There seems to be a narrative to our culture and I suspect that it’s our collective unawareness of this narrative that keeps us stuck in it.  We play these roles we are given and we come to identify with them.  Some of this is genetics and so can’t be changed, but genetics are just predispositions.  I want to believe that the liberal and conservative impulses don’t have to be eternally at odds.  Maybe I’m just a dreamy-eyed liberal with my head in the clouds.

 – – –

Let me give this some more contemporary context.

I’ve been doing some web research on personality types/traits, political attitudes, and career predispositions.  Here are some of the ideas I’m tossing about at present:

The problem with liberal and conservative as labels is that they’re highly relative.

The vast majority of scientists and journalists identify as liberal (or at least they do in the US), but it just means that these groups of people identify as more liberal than how they perceive the general population of their particular society.  In the most general usage, conservative means what is traditional or conventional and liberal means what is not limited to the traditional or conventional.  As such, liberal journalists are only moderately liberal.  They’re liberal because they aren’t perfectly aligned with the average person (or rather they don’t perceive themselves as such), but they’re clearly moderate in their being closer to the mainstream than they are to radicals on the fringe.

However, different societies will vary greatly in their political spectrum.  It’s probably true, though, that scientists and journalists in any society will be comparatively more liberal because those professions seem to demand a liberal mindset (at least liberal in terms of personality traits).

The further issue is how close is the correlation between liberal as political self-identification and liberal as personality trait.  Research on personality traits show that they can’t be categorized as either/or, black/white.  Some people are on the extreme ends, but most people are near the middle.

There is no one way to define these terms.  Liberal and conservative can apply to many issues, and so a person can be simultaneously liberal on some issues and conservative on others.  And any given issue can only be labelled as liberal or conservative relative to the context of the societal norms and the historical era.  Many political positions that seem conservative in a modern industrialized society would be deemed liberal (even radically liberal) in pre-modern and non-industrialized societies.  Liberal and conservative are labels that are inseparable from confounding factors of individual and collective development.

With development, other issues such as intelligent and morality have to be considered as both of those relate to intelligence.  There is a correlation between liberalism and IQ (i.e., traditional methods of testing intelligence), and so that probably explains much of the reason for scientists and journalists identifying as liberals.  As a personality trait, liberalism signifies openness towards new experiences and curiosity towards new information.  Higher education is largely defined by new experiences and new information.

Nonetheless, plenty of people with more conservative personalities go to college as most of the population is fairly conservative personality wise (or rather according to MBTI statistics the conservative SJ temperament represents the largest portion of the population; the question then is how well does the SJ temperament represent the normal definition of political conservatism).  These college educated conservative types tend to be drawn to careers in law, politics, and business.  Most interestingly is the fact that policymakers tend to identify as conservative.  But, even in liberal fields, the top administrators in hierarchical organizations (which includes every major private and public organization) will be more conservative than what is the norm even for the general population.  Scientists may be liberal, but the administration of scientific labs and the corporate funding for science likely is controlled by conservatives.  Journalists may be liberal, but the editors, owners and CEOs of media companies are generally more conservative. 

(The so-called liberal media bias is false.  It may have once been true when newsrooms were independent and reporters were more free to do their own thing.  But in recent decades (because of pressures to increase profits) reporters have been increasingly told what to do by upper management (this is based on a lot of research I’ve done and isn’t an just an ideological claim).  However, this isn’t to say that media is precisely conservative biased in any simple sense.  Let us just say there is conflict of biases where the conservative bias at the moment has gained the upperhand.)

Social liberals are going to be more interested in intellectual inquiry and social conservatives will be more interested in ideological norms.  Because of this, most social scientists and those interested in social science will be moral liberals (research supports this conclusion).  As for moral conservatives, they’re either less interested in or else actively mistrust social science research and theory.  For example, the evidence that certain psychological traits and types (personality, moral inclinations, political ideology, behavior, etc.) are largely inheritable undermines the idea that everyone is completely responsible for themselves as individuals (which is a major aspect of moral conservatism).  The tendency to see human nature as complex is more attractive to the social liberal, and so the liberal attitude is more open to the possibility of nature being equal to or greater than nurture (which could explain why they have a more open view of family values).  The reason why evolution vs creationism seems so central to the culture wars may be because it reflects on the large-scale the same issues of nature vs nurture (I’m a bit unclear on this point).

I’ve come across the theory that conservatives tend to look at media and art in terms of how it serves or undermines their ideology (i.e., the perceived ‘norm’).  This would be supported by the Christian cultural critic who I heard speak a few years ago.  She discussed the need of morally conservative Christians to use film and pop culture to promote their views.  Immediately after this talk, I went over and looked at a William Blake exhibit which presented his vision of the relationship between religion and art.  

There couldn’t have been a better contrast between the conservative and liberal views.  Blake’s art was inspiring because it didn’t represent ideology in any simple way (i.e., no overt political messages, no promotion of group norms).  Instead, Blake’s art pointed towards truths that transcended mere politics.  I sensed that Blake wasn’t limiting himself to his own preferred bias.  

Is the conservative view of art as ideology comparable to the conservative view of news as ideology?  I’ve noticed that many conservatives don’t see a difference of the bias of Fox News from the bias in more liberal news, but to many liberals this is an insult.  I’ve noticed that quite a few liberals seem to idealize intellectual objectivity as a moral value, and they’re not content with the cynical view of extreme conservatives.  The social conservative tends to see humanity as fallen and traditionally this fallen nature included the failure of human reason.  Social conservatives are more mistrusting of reason which explains why they mistrust science (be it Darwinian evolution or climate change).

By the way, this also relates to the tendency of most comedians to be liberal.  Humor is very much related to curiosity and openness to experience.

Anyways, it’s all very interesting.  Journalists, Scientists, and comedians all are dominated by self-identified liberals and Democrats.  I remember offhand that only 6% of scientists (including in the hard sciences) identify as Republican.  That does seem to be saying either something about human nature (psychology, genetics, etc) or something about modern culture… or, as I suspect, a bit of both.

 – – –

I’m, of course, speaking of liberal and conservative in their most extreme manifestations (i.e., exaggerated stereotypes).  It’s important to keep in mind that as personality traits the population distribution is found mostly in the middle rather than on the polar opposite ends.

Also, liberal and conservative don’t always equate with Democrat and Republican.  For example, earlier last century Republicans were the liberal party especially in the South.  So, when I speak of liberal I’m talking about an attitude based on personality traits and not party affiliations which represent shifting labels of shifting demographics.  I was looking at data from the Pew Research Center.  Their definition of liberal corresponds with Democrat only slightly more than it corresponds with independent.  I’m willing to bet, though, that if Democrats dominated for a couple of decades the number of liberals identifying with independent would increase just as how recently many have left the Republican party.

As for psychological attitudes, I do wonder if the way society is structured is causing these genetic traits to become increasingly magnified.  I was thinking that this possibility could be a contributing factor to the present intense political conflict.

Here is a theory I’ve been thinking about the last couple of years.

I’ve looked at mappings of demographic data.  Liberals are concentrated in urban areas in and around cities.  Conservatives are spread out in rural areas.  However, a confounding factor is that ever since the Industrial Age began people have been slowly migrating to cities.  This is how liberals became concentrated in cities in the first place, but the population in general has now become concentrated in cities.  For this reason, cities are more ideologically diverse and so liberals have been forced to adapt to diversity which happens to be one of their talents anyhow. 

The other result is that rural areas have become less diverse and more extremely conservative.  This makes me wonder if conservative politics has become more radicalized partly because of this concentration.  Even the moderate conservatives would tend to move to the cities leaving behind the most extreme conservatives (those who are so resistant to change that they’d rather remain even in poverty-stricken areas).

Ignoring the possible genetic component, our political system by itself would magnify the concentration of extreme conservatives in the rural areas.  American democracy is representative.  In an attempt at fairness, sparsely populated rural areas get more representation per capita.  What this means is that extreme conservatives get more representation per capita.  The result of this is that public debate gets pushed to the right.

This is important as sometimes presidents get elected even though the majority of the population voted against them.  How does a president lead a country when he doesn’t represent a majority of the population?

Also, the media focuses on the extremes.  The rural areas represent the far right-wing.  The Republican politicians tend to be moderate conservatives, but the more radical conservatives of rural areas hold great sway.

 – – –

I don’t know what to make of this, but it’s very interesting.  It seems our entire political system is rather messed up.  I’m hoping by placing US politics in a larger context that I’ll be able to see beyond the polarizing tendency of public debate as it gets shown in the media.

Anyways, it goes without saying that all of this is largely speculation and hence tentative.  I am basing my speculations on actual data, but it is very complex.  Trying to disentangle the threads is difficult if not impossible.  The challenge of making sense of it is only slighly lessened by the fact that some great minds before me have written some insightful books.

MBTI: Functions vs Traits, Criticism & Correlation

I have an interest in psychology in general, but anyone who reads my blog knows that I have particular love for all things Jung (specifically Jungian typology as it was more fully developed with Myers-Briggs).  I came to MBTI through my studies of Jung and esoterica.  I was studying Tarot and noticed some correlations people had made between the card suits and Jungian functions.

However, like Jung, my interest in the esoteric is rooted in my desire for truth and so I’m not content to look at pretty diagrams of possible correlations.  So, I’ve studied the theoretical and scientific side of it well enough that I have a broad grasp of all the details and different viewpoints.

Anyone who has been on a type forum or checked out the variety of info available on the web quickly will realize that there is much debate and disagreement.

There is Myers-Briggs versus Kiersey, and then there are Berens’ Interaction Styles that attempt to bridge the two (also, Berens based her model on that of DISC which is something entirely else).  There is Beebe’s function roles which puts the functions in one order versus Thomson who puts them in another order.  Then there is the Russian field of Socionics which (mixing in some other theories) interprets Jung entirely different than Myers-Briggs (and some of the Socionics supporters claim that Kiersey fits their model the best).

The real interesting debate, though, is those who claim that the MBTI isn’t scientific and that Trait Theory (the favorite Trait Theory being FFM, aka the “Big Five”).  It’s this last area of disagreement that I was just now considering in some recent web-searches, but it’s something I’ve considered off and on these last couple of years.  I would gladly give up MBTI if it proved entirely or mostly false an unuseful, and so it’s an important to determine what is presently known.

There are several criticisms often stated:

  • Limited peer review research
  • Bimodal theory is disproven by trait research
  • Unreliability because of low incidence of test result repeatability
  • Neuroticism is excluded

Well, I don’t plan on answering all of those criticisms.  I’m not an expert and so my opinion isn’t all that important, but I am a very curios cat.  I will say that I doubt at present any absolute conclusions can be made.  These are worthy criticisms to consider, but further research is required.  Also, even if the MBTI is imperfect and requires improvement, that isn’t a reason to scrap it.  Research improves theories and so thinking of MBTI as a static belief system is far from helpful.  Furthermore, Jungian typology goes beyond just the MBTI (in more than a half century, numerous theories and tests have been created, and some of these are based on different premises such as not forcing bimodal results).

Here are some things that I found interesting which support various aspects of the MBTI:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Wikipedia)

What Did Isabel Do? Insights into the MBTI

A “Big Five” Scoring System for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Hierarchical Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Score Reliability Across Studies

Reliability of the MBTI® Form Q Assessment

Myers-Briggs and Four-Type Structure

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: Mapping to Circumplex and Five-Factor Models

MBTI is NOT a pseudoscience. Check your facts, nay-sayers!