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Thursday, 17 January 2019

Jordan Peterson (LIE): Personality Type Analysis

Jordan Bernt Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist who currently holds a professorship in psychology at the University of Toronto. Dr. Peterson has conducted research in a wide range of psychological sub-fields. However, his main areas of study include personality psychology, as well as abnormal & social psychology, with an emphasis on personal self-improvement and the psychological role of mythological belief systems. Throughout his career in academia, Peterson has also maintained a clinical practice treating up to 20 patients per week.

For much of his professional life, Jordan Peterson was not well-known outside his field of study. However, that all changed in 2016 when he gained international notoriety for his very public criticisms of political correctness, and opposition to the Canadian government's Bill C-16 which, among other things, permitted the legal compulsion of preferred gender pronoun usage. Since then, Peterson has continually been in the media spotlight for the controversies surrounding many of his sociopolitical views. As a result, his YouTube channel (to which he's uploaded his lectures for years prior) has also garnered an up-swell in public attention, with subscription numbers reaching well over 1 million. He's also received an enormous surge of support in the form of tens of thousands of dollars in crowdfunded donations each month. This has allowed Peterson to step back from University work to travel the globe, be interviewed by numerous media outlets, give public talks & lectures, and write books -- among other projects. Fortunately, his large media presence provides a wealth of information from which to deduce his sociotype.

Particularly in his talks on the Psychological Significance of the Bible, Peterson often expresses his fascination with the concept of sacrificing in the present for future gain being a common mythological theme. He also frames many insights gleaned from his psychological studies in terms of the role certain psychopathologies played in the formation of infamous totalitarian regimes of the early 20th century. What's more,  Dr. Peterson's "Self Authoring" program also emphasizes reflection on past errors in order to plan long-term, practical strategies for self-improvement. Even some of Peterson's objections to Bill C-16 largely stemmed from concerns over the long-term societal consequences stemming from such a legal precedent. Judging from the above, and his oft stated desire to gain greater historical understanding despite his already extensive knowledge, it's safe to say that Peterson values -- and has a strong facility with -- T.

Throughout Jordan Peterson's academic lectures and public talks, there's a heavy emphasis on drawing empirical data from scientific studies across numerous fields to form the basis of his arguments on a wide range of issues. When referencing his experience in clinical practice, Peterson has spoken of using methodologies from varying schools of thought, based on whatever happened to be most effective for a given client. He also personally favors trait based personality metrics (namely the “Big 5”) over typological systems inspired by Jung, despite his general admiration for the man's works, citing the superior empirical backing and performance prediction value of the former. When pressed on the nature of his general worldview, Peterson has stated that he's a philosophical pragmatist, judging beliefs based on their personal & practical utility -- which accounts for his identification as a Christian despite being agnostic. He also frequently emphasizes the importance of assuming personal responsibility, gaining competence, and generally being of use to the people around you. The above, combined with other aspects of Peterson's career as a clinical researcher, indicates strong and valued P -- likely his base function -- with a probable L7.

In keeping with his aforementioned P valuation, Jordan often expresses his strongly held view that it's best to speak the truth (or at least honestly voice one's understanding of the truth) even if it's harsh and causes great discomfort in the moment. Given that his own public notoriety originally stemmed from refusing to shy away from controversial speech despite personal risk, and that he's exhibited consistent showings of such an inclination since then, it's apparent that Peterson has an overall Gamma style of communication. Despite this, Peterson has oft times shown himself to be adept at maintaining diplomatic composure and good humor in exchanges with contentious -- even hostile -- parties. The most famous example of this is displayed in his interview with journalist Kathy Newman. This indicates likely E3 usage, given his overall adequate facility with the element despite not holding it as a Quadra value.

Even before Peterson's rise as an internationally recognized public figure, he maintained a hectic work schedule, dividing his time between university lectures, research, and juggling multiple clients each week in his clinical practice -- often to the neglect of his health. Recently, Peterson has transitioned into an all meat diet at the recommendation of his daughter as a way to ameliorate certain chronic health issues, after she herself gained significant positive results in dealing with her own depression and crippling arthritis. Peterson has since maintained a strict adherence to the diet, despite the lack of culinary variety, citing only its effectiveness as sufficient justification. His general neglect of leisure and sensory pleasures in favor of doing the bare minimum required to keep his health up to task with his relentless workload strongly suggests an S4.

In a good many of the talks & lectures where he explains the "Big Five" personality traits, JP has stated that he himself scores high on the trait "openness" which, based on it's technical definition and some informal studies, highly correlates with I. In fact, when describing his own favored brainstorming method of simultaneously generating multiple, alternative possibilities, and then mentally simulating how they'd likely play out in practice, Peterson provides powerful evidence of I8 in the service of T2. Also in reference to his own big five rating, Dr. Peterson's explicitly expressed his valuing of trait "assertiveness", and frequently laments that he's not as strong as he'd like to be with the trait. Since the technical definition of trait “assertiveness” clearly coincides with extroverted sensorics (i.e. “Force”) in Socionics, and given Peterson's valuation & background usage of the faculty in the service of maintaining his heavy workload, it would be reasonable to conclude that he's a likely F6.

In his public debates with Sam Harris (LIE), the topic of discussion between the two intellectual figures constantly gravitates back to the ontological relationship between empirical facts and moral values, indicating their common valuation of R as seen from a P-heavy perspective. Further evidence of R valuation can be seen in Peterson's conviction that the best way to ameliorate social ills is by individuals focusing on the development of their character and personal relationships, rather than rushing to make sweeping systemic L changes at the level of societal institutions. Considering his own overwhelmingly prominent usage of P eclipsing L, intellectual fascination with a barely visible R, a desire to be more assertive despite having a relentless work drive (mobilizing F), a strong facility with an obviously valued T, adequate but subdued E, heavily neglected S, and his demonstrative usage of I, it seems certain that Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is an LIE.

To learn more about LIE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Ben Jones - Diagnostic Report (IEE)


Leading function – Ideas (I1) 
The most prevalent theme throughout Ben’s answers to this interview is the sheer breadth of interests he has. From Socionics to music, poetry, education, running, anthropology, linguistics and political debate, Ben repeatedly drew attention to those things that interested him, regardless of whether they were beneficial or not. Furthermore, it became clear that his motivations can be traced back to this capture of interest, and the desire to explore or find out whatever is unusual or new. For instance, his taking on a more authoritative role as a Resident Assistant is described as an exploration of role-play.; his exercise routine of running and weight-lifting, experimenting with music and meditation, a means of seeing potential effects on his body; the variety of different languages and musical instruments he can speak and play, a clear sign of variety even within his interests; his playing devil’s advocate in Twitter debates, a means of exploring how those with strong political opinions are likely to react. A clear pattern emerges of someone who rapidly takes on new interests, finds out whatever he can about the interest, then as its novelty depreciates, he piles it on an increasing back-burner. It is perhaps most notable that in his political discussions, Ben is oddly described as ‘stubborn’, in that he is stubbornly unstubborn. He is described as being unwilling to accept that other people will not accept alternative viewpoints, as if intellectual openness is a fundamental quality of approaching the world. This is characteristic of the Leading function, which by nature imposes its expectations, even with a characteristically indirect IM Element like Ideas.

Creative function – Relations (R2) 
While the Leading function is clear to Ben, the Creative function was harder to tease out mid-interview. This is not unusual, as while the Leading function is supposed to be obvious and imposed on our surroundings, the nature of the Creative function is more subtle in aiding the fulfilment of the Leading function. For Ben, this subtle aide to the exploration of his interests is the forming of friendships with those central to the pursuit of his various interests, whether that is attending poetry class or playing video games. He is confident that he can connect with almost anyone he meets, a sign of Relations being a strong function, but rarely does he draw attention to this being a motivating force in and of itself. As such, this area is flexible for Ben. He makes friends wherever his interests take him, even reaching out to native Russian speakers and spending hours talking with them over weekends to help him get a grip of the Russian language. Beyond his interests, he seems to have no difficulty keeping as friends those he especially likes the qualities of and feels that he can have a good relationship with, or feels he can learn from. This can be seen with his church friends whom he has retained for many years. However, there is little sign that he proactively does this for its own sake or pushes an expectation of greater intimacy or loyalty in conversation. This is perhaps most clear in his hesitancy to pursue and stick with a romantic relationship, one that exists entirely for its own sake of intimacy, rather than aiding pursuit of interesting projects. While this absence of romantic relations has made identifying Relations as his Creative function more tricky, it is also not inconsistent with having Relations as a Creative function. The ‘flavouring’ effect of the Creative on the Leading can also be seen in how his interests are more often creative and interpersonal, rather than logical or structural. After mentioning what is ‘interesting’ to him, the mention of what is ‘meaningful’ is next in frequency, and Ben seems to direct his interests more often than not to the exploration of the human condition, whether these are the intentions and signifiers of meaning/importance of others in a variety of cultures, or his own nature and development.

Role function – Force (F3)
 It is apparent from the interview that Ben is largely a friendly, easygoing and curious person, more interested in getting to know and understand interpersonal differences than to confront them. Nevertheless, his time working as a Residential Assistant at his university exemplifies the Role function perfectly. Ben is required to play the part of an authority figure in his dormitory, checking up on students and ensuring no noisy disruptions at late hours. For Ben, adopting a confrontational stance and asserting his authority on students feels unnatural to him and he describes it as a persona he has to ‘fake’. Perhaps due to his Leading function, Ben frames this act as yet another exploration of his own capabilities and his differences with other RAs who are more confrontational, and as such, is curious enough to keep trying it out for the time being. Nevertheless, beyond this particular job, a general reluctance to engage with Force can be seen, such as his non-judgmental, tolerant nature, his aversion to tense, dramatic work environments and his unwillingness to work on less interesting tasks for greater financial reward or other material resources. From this, we can see that Force is something Ben can ‘put on’ when aligned to his desires and needs, but is not something he likes doing, or something he does particularly well.

Vulnerable function – Laws (L4)
 The nature of the Vulnerable, rather like a black hole, is to be observed via its absence from behaviour, rather than its appearance. This makes it rather counter-intuitive to identify. For Ben, the one approach to information that refused to appear after repeated questioning was its formation of into coherent structures. When answering questions for which there was no anecdote or clear factual example, rather than offer a general rule, Ben would adopt vague, subjective language, defaulting to talking about how something felt to him. In answering questions this way, Ben passes over Laws in favour of Intuition and Ethics. An example of this can be seen when Ben was asked about his moral principles. Instead of clearly articulating a rule or maxim, Ben said that any such principles are abstractions of the feelings he experiences when something he does not like is done to him. At the same time, he appreciates that there is nothing to make another person, with a very different set of views, more or less moral than he is. As such, where another might use Laws to help them clearly articulate their thoughts, Ben passes this information over in favour of subjective feelings and attitudes. In addition, the absence of Laws can be seen in how Ben approaches his various interests, such as learning Russian, taking a trial-and-error approach with a chaotic mix of different phone apps and conversations with native-speaking Russians . He tries out an eclectic range of different approaches to learning or mastering an interesting skill, without any sign of a linear, logical progression. The one point where Ben did acknowledge the existence of structure in his life was when talking about the strict religiosity of his upbringing, which were clearly characterised in his description as unwanted and restrictive, easily fitting into the Super-Ego. 

Suggestive function – Senses (S5)  
Ben readily prioritises the importance of health, wellness and well-being in his values, with a philosophy of ‘becoming whole’ and maintaining balance. In addition, he prefers to maintain a calm, accepting manner with other people, not looking to upset his relationships with others. There is also a ‘flavouring’ of Senses in his approach to learning, creating environments of ‘passive learning’ where integrating knowledge becomes a byproduct of other activity, rather than an active pursuit. Nevertheless, there is little evidence that Ben embodies harmony in the present moment over and above his ravenous intellectual curiosity. Attention to detail and the satisfaction of daily needs is not brought up in the interview, while other regular trivia, such as the managing of one’s finances, are described as too much of a strain to adequately handle. When possessed by an interesting idea or enthused by a project, Ben is quite willing to put comfort to one side, being happy to wake up at unusual hours in the fulfilment of his Resident Advisor role and to uproot his life to take up a job in a different country. However, it is also clear that an ongoing disruption to the harmony and calm of the moment takes a great toll on Ben’s happiness, as seen which his description of the ‘soul-killing’ job, where an atmosphere of not being able to sit down, ever-present drama and high turnover were seen as hygiene factors that profoundly reduced his satisfaction. From this, we can identify Senses as a value and a need, rather than something that Ben actively brings to his surroundings, and something that when deprived of, can have an adverse impact on Ben’s psychological well being.

Mobilising function – Pragmatism (P6) 
While the exploration of interests constitutes Ben’s main aim, the development of the self through accumulation of factual knowledge offers a clear secondary motivation. Ben’s interests frequently involve learning new things and rather than simply absorb interesting information, Ben takes an active interest in trying to find the most efficient way of increasing how much he is learning. This can be seen very clearly in his faster-than-expected learning of Russian, where he made use of multiple phone applications and regular conversations with native Russian speakers to fast-track his learning, as well as placing himself in situations where he needed to develop his grasp of Russian to progress. Similarly, Ben’s approach to exercise is very much about trying out different methods to become a better runner, whether using meditation or music to create a more resilient mental state, or building up strength in the gym, or even running with weights to increase running power. In addition, Ben repeatedly emphasises the value of being able to learn from his friends, and is more likely to keep people close if he feels that they have special knowledge or a unique perspective that he may grow and develop from knowing about. Ben aspires to be an educator for a living, among a range of other careers, showing a clear desire to spend his life learning and eventually passing that knowledge on to others. For Ben, understanding does not come from comprehending the fundamental rules of something, but rather the ability to apply it in some beneficial way. As such, while failing to metabolise Laws, Ben readily attempts to metabolise Pragmatism in his understanding of how things work. Despite this, Ben gives little sign that he currently sees himself as a teacher of others, while readily portraying himself as a learner of others’ teachings. These different observations, when held together, make a strong case for Pragmatism as his Mobilising function.

Ignoring function – Time (T7) 
 Early into the interview, Ben displayed confidence in his ability to look ahead and foresee likely outcomes to current events. Nevertheless, he reveals a tendency to inadequately manage his time, frequently taking on many more projects than he can fully complete. In this way, we see a disjunction between capability and value, with Ben being able to visualise likely outcomes, while refusing to commit to any particular outcome, preferring to keep open and explore a variety of possibilities available to him. This is especially apparent when asked about his preferred career path, giving a list of potential jobs based on combinations of his interests, rather than a particular route he would like to take. Similarly, Ben is ready to criticise the notion that negative future outcomes are inevitable, rejecting both the beliefs of his religious background of an end-of-days and the political assumption that the society is in the process of deterioration, in each case, displaying an optimism that human ingenuity could overcome such challenges. Similarly, he expresses a desire not to be limited by the path prescribed to him by his family and religious upbringing. As such, Ben shows a capability with Time, but holds values contrary to it, and frequently resists embodying it in his thoughts and actions. 

Demonstrative function – Emotions (E8) 
While more inclined to draw attention to his many interests and the processes he has employed to aid his continued self-education, Ben consistently displays a confidence in his ability to appeal to and come across well to other people, and similarly, despite being largely calm and in control of his emotional states, is able to express these emotions to others ‘down to a T’, effortlessly communicating how he feels to others. Similarly, he is highly attuned to the emotions of others, being able to quickly pick up on unusual reactions and manage how people respond to him, easily picking out the correct response in each situation. This is backed up by his behaviour throughout the interview, readily employing emotive language, referring to his own feelings and enthusiasm. Similarly, it is backed up by his interests in music and poetry, feeling a greater affinity to expressive arts rather than practical sciences. For these reasons, Ben’s relationship with Emotions is as if they are second-nature, being easily shown and demonstrated, despite Ben not actively trying to draw attention to this or align it with his stated values or life philosophy.

 If you would like a diagnostic interview, please email worldsocionics@hotmail.com.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

School of Associative Socionics Diagnostics (Olga Tangemann) -- A Review by Aleesha Lowry

Recently I was a guinea pig in an opportunity for Olga Tangemann to demonstrate her diagnostics method to the World Socionics Society. Years ago Olga types me as LSE based on her methodology. My self-typing is SLI.

I was very sceptical at the outset, being of the opinion that things like art and music preferences are largely accidents of exposure, and finding it difficult to take her previous typing seriously. But I'm willing to be proven wrong so here we are. Olga was very pleasant to interact with and for the most part I enjoyed the novelty of such a different method, regardless of my scepticism.

The diagnostics process was quite long and involved; Olga is very thorough. Then she previously typed me as LSE it was based on nonverbal preferences alone, but this time she took me through the full process which included taking online tests and a video questionnaire. You can see my submissions and Olga's analysis here.

Nonverbal Preferences

I was asked to provide examples of my art and music preferences, examples of art and music that I disliked, photos of the art on my walls at home, photos of art I had created, and also photos of my outfits. This was quite fun and I have to admit to being charmed by diagnostic methods that are interested in my aesthetic sensibilities. This may just be my favourite test.

It was difficult to provide few enough examples of my favourite music; even after paring it down I still had too many. Olga very kindly did not complain. My taste is both very eclectic and dominated by metal; my understanding of her method led me to predict that she'd call half of it Ego music and the rest something incoherent. Her analysis ended up more nuanced than that (though not nearly as detailed as would satisfy my interest in the subject) and not incoherent, so I was pleasantly surprised.

It's a shame that paintings specifically are necessary for the art component. I don't have especially strong aesthetic responses to paintings compared to other visual arts and I was a little bit disappointed that I wasn't able to share images that I really liked. You can see the results of this in that I chose paintings that largely looked like each other because I really don't care much about paintings and I struggled to find enough of them for the exercise. I would be inclined to consider this a weakness in the test but Olga was actually able to get information from it that was similar to the information she got from the music so perhaps my relatively weak response actually didn't matter that much.

The analysis of my photos was a bit questionable; I don't know how much confidence you should really assume from mostly staged selfies. It was also a bit unfair; my friends and family have been pestering me to wear colour for most of my life and I only started adding bright colours, very slowly and with much prodding, about 4 years ago. So how much my current outfit formulas really have to say about my personality, I'm not sure, but without being familiar with the context it would probably not be appropriate to assume too much. This was really a missed opportunity to ask further probing questions to learn more about my personality. I think my wardrobe does have a lot to say on the matter though, and is probably as worthwhile to look at as any other nonverbal preference.

The analysis of 5 of the categories I was asked for (not including the disliked art/music) contradicted each other to some extent but there was also a clear theme of Logical, Sensing, and Dynamic. This sounds similar enough to my own self-typing and I now have a clearer idea of why Olga believed I was LSE, enough to make me less dismissive about the process even though the type is very clearly wrong. One of Olga's colleagues chimed in as well with very different results. This is an issue in Socionics anyway and only one other contribution is hardly enough to form an opinion but nonetheless it calls into question whether analysing nonverbal preferences is a real "method" or just something that Olga personally has a talent for.

Psychometric Tests

Nonverbal & Subtype tests: They involved selecting multiple choice options between images/colours/patterns. It was interesting to see a personality test where I couldn't predict the outcome, but I'm not convinced anything useful came of them. I don't believe Olga used them when eventually making her diagnosis.

Associative test: This was a more straightforward Socionics test with forced choice between different dichotomies etc. You're also asked to choose between colours and such, but with the overlapping nonverbal questions but very different results between this test and the Nonverbal test, I have to question how much weight they actually have in the test's algorithm. If you're sufficiently savvy you may still be able to get whatever results you like.

Type-Subtype Analyser: It was never very clear as to how to correctly use this tool or what to expect from it. I think ranking IMEs in this way is just a bad idea and the qualitative features of functions are considerably more useful than any exercise like this. It produced somewhat confusing results and I can't take it very seriously. I don't believe it was weighted very highly in the end.

Video Questionnaire

I am really not a fan of the questionnaire. As a client I felt like I was being made to do all of the work, like I was basically spoon feeding her my IMEs. I'm sure Olga's interpretation of the answers must be more sophisticated than that. It was actually a bit tedious. Interviews like Jack's with more "innocuous" questions and organic follow-up/clarifying questions are generally more pleasant to participate in and easier to take seriously at the end of it.

As a socionist, I think asking another experienced socionist directly about their IMEs is probably going to result in getting a predetermined outcome, particularly because unless you're Socionics-naive these questions are extremely transparent. There is a temptation to answer in such a way that addresses the questions you know she's really asking. I tried to avoid "helping" too much so it would be a truer demonstration, trying to answer based only on the words that she gave me. You can gauge my success for yourself.

With both those roles in mind I was also very aware of moments which could have done with some rescuing  by the extra questioning you'd get from an interview format, but again I was trying not to "help" too much.

As of this writing she hasn't yet released her analysis of the video so I can't make any comment on that.

The Diagnosis

After all the nonverbal preferences and test results had been submitted, Olga believed I was LSE, like the last time she analysed them. The consistency is promising, even if the type was wrong. it may well be that, due to superior aesthetic sensibilities, Olga is able to glean meaningful information about peoples' personalities from their nonverbal preferences... but not necessarily information that has a straightforward relationship with Socionics and quite possibly not replicable by others. Judging by her literature and participation in Socionics forums she seems to use Socionics terminology in somewhat idiosyncratic ways so it may well be that "dynamic music" and related concepts in the Associative School may or may not have a strong relationships with traits of the same name in mainstream Socionics.

After watching the video questionnaire, she changed her mind and agreed with my self-typing of SLI. Indeed I think it would be hard for anyone to maintain the opinion that I was an Energiser based on those videos; you can see my demeanour for yourself. It's not clear how much weight Olga gives the questionnaire and nonverbal preferences relative to each other.

One of the problems raised before I was invited to take part in this process was Olga's reliance on Visual Identification (VI) in type. I have already made some comments about the limitations of this in the still photos she analysed, but she didn't seem to weight them very highly in the end. It's hard to know what role VI played in her analysis of the videos until she releases it. Watch this space for amendments when she does get around to it.

Sub-types

After the final diagnosis, I was asked to choose a sub-type. Her sub-type system is quite interesting. I chose the Dynamic sub-type very easily, which would make me LSE sub-type. I think that's a nonsensical and misleading way of expressing it but it was easy enough to relate to the sub-type description itself.

I suspect the sub-types do represent stable traits found in people but I don't think characterising them as sub-types does credit to either them or Socionics. At present I consider them to possibly represent factors that may influence one's personality without having much to do with information metabolism.

Conclusion

This exercise hasn't really reduced my scepticism. Though I'm not intrigued by it as a stand-alone system that may or may not have some kind of relationship with Socionics, I did learn something about myself regarding my relationships with art and music and I thought that was valuable. If you care about art and you're able to look past the Socionics-like terminology you may wish to seek Olga's insight yourself.

The relationship that nonverbal preferences may have with Socionics is something interesting and I don't think Olga's insights are valueless. However, I think it would be best to investigate Olga's theories on their own merits before seriously considering them in terms of Socionics. I also suspect that if they're valuable for Socionics it's going to be in limited contexts. For example it may be that she has more success applying her method for clients she can interact with personally than for typing public figures (she doesn't seem to do so well at that by our standards at the World Socionics Society).

There's also a major problem in how much the diagnostics process relies on self-report and it likely has all of the attendant problems. I think it probably successfully thwarts the kind of people who can get anything they like on a test in all but the Associative test, Type-Subtype Analyser and the video questionnaire, but all other problems still remain and I think things like art and music preferences are very likely going to attract answers based on what people think it would be socially desirable to admit to.

I would recommend against going through this process if you're new to Socionics or don't have a good grasp on the theory. Whatever interest or potential there may be in this method, the process is actually quite opaque and won't aid in your understanding of Socionics theory in general, and the idiosyncratic terminology will likely prove confusing.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Ayn Rand (LIE): Personality Type Analysis

Ayn Rand (born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum) was a Russian-American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, newspaper columnist, and philosopher, best known for her two bestselling novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), and for the philosophical system she developed, called Objectivism. The Fountainhead gave her widespread "mainstream" success and even acclaim, but Atlas Shrugged and her non-fiction writings on Objectivism made her a polarising political and cultural figure, even after her death at 77 in 1982. To some extent that remains true to this day - at least in the United States, where she remains a household name. Her cultural impact in other countries seems to be negligible; on the other hand her two main novels remain in print in the UK and can be found even in smaller bookshops.

Life and work: Born in St Petersburg in 1905 in a Jewish family of upper-middle-class means - her father owned a small business - Rand's worldview was, by her own account, shaped by her experiences in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent communist, Bolshevik rule. Not only was her family's property confiscated, but she also faced on-off discrimination, both as a Jew and as of "bourgeois" origin, when trying to enroll at the State University. She also experienced the arbitrary and often chaotic Bolshevik government on a daily basis, as she described in her first, semi-autobiographical novel, We the Living. So in 1925, at 20, when she was granted a visa to visit relatives in Chicago, she immediately took the opportunity. It is worth noting that at this point she had no real knowledge of English. After spending a few months with her relatives in Chicago, improving her English, she moved to Hollywood, following her dream of working in the film industry. Surviving with odd jobs, she eventually got her foot in the studio system, first as an extra, then as junior screenwriter, and later as head of the costume department of RKO Studios. During this period, she met and married a struggling actor, Frank O'Connor, who remained her husband until his death in 1979.

In 1934, Rand had her first break with a play, a courtroom drama, Night of January 16th, which opened in Los Angeles and then had a 7-month run on Broadway. Soon afterwards she published her first novel, We the Living. Partly autobiographical, the plot focused on the struggles of a young woman in Bolshevik Russia. It was not a success in the US but some of its European editions were more successful. Rand finally had a big commercial hit with The Fountainhead in 1943. After working for a few more years in Hollywood as a screenwriter, also on the 1949 film version of The Fountainhead, Rand and her husband Frank relocated to New York, where she devoted herself full-time to write her longest and most ambitious novel, Atlas Shrugged, which she published in 1957. Despite its huge commercial success, its critical reception was mostly negative.

One of Rand's purposes with Atlas Shrugged had been to reach out to people who would understand her ideas and heed her warnings as to where US society seemed to be heading. Deeply depressed by what she saw as the failure of the book in achieving that, she supported the initiatives of her close friend, "apprentice" and on-off lover, Nathaniel Branden (EIE), to whom she had originally dedicated Atlas Shrugged. Branden's concept was that they ought to focus on the spread of her ideas through more direct means than novels. Branden concluded that it was necessary to present Rand's ideas in the form of a fully consistent philosophical system - which they called Objectivism - and to present it to the public in the form of lectures and non-fiction articles and books. Although Rand endorsed Branden's efforts, that remained his own project rather than hers. He founded a company called NBI (Nathaniel Branden Institute) and was its main lecturer. Rand preferred to involve herself less directly, contributing articles and appearing at NBI's Q&A sessions on occasion. Branden, supported by his wife Barbara Branden (ESI), managed to turn Objectivism lectures into a business with a large number of  devoted "followers". That gave the Objectivist movement a reputation of being a "cult" around Rand that persists to this day. Ayn Rand's own personality, which became increasingly impatient with intellectual "inferiors" as she aged, contributed to that reputation. However, by all accounts, she herself had no interest in being any kind of cult leader.

That is confirmed by what happened after 1968, when Branden and Rand's messy personal relationship ended with her abruptly severing all ties with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. That included the dismantling of NBI (and the"revoking" of her dedication to him of Atlas Shrugged). Without the Brandens, Rand herself had next to no interest in keeping the Objectivist "movement" going. Withdrawing into solitude (especially after her husband Frank died in 1979), she still occasionally wrote articles and made personal appearances, and attempted to get a film or TV version of Atlas Shrugged done. Those efforts failed due to her insistence on having the final word on the script, which prospective producers were not willing to grant. She was halfway into writing her own script for a proposed mini-series version when she died in 1982 in her Manhattan apartment.

Socionics analysis:  the sources on Ayn Rand are vast: not only are her own writings and interviews extensive, but she also has been described in books of memoirs by both Brandens, and more recently in two more scholarly biographies. A collection of many interviews with individuals who had known her, at several stages in her life, has also been published and these provide insight on her consistent traits as a person.

Taking a look at her functional preferences, in perhaps counter-intuitive order:

L: Ayn Rand's development and promotion of what she saw as a fully consistent philosophy, or ideology, Objectivism, would seem at face value to point to L not only as a strong function but as a valued one, and so Rand's type would seem to be most obviously a L1 or L2.

The problem with that is that Ayn Rand herself had shown no interest at all in putting her ideas together as a consistent ideology - let alone giving it a name and presenting it as such - before she was 53. By all accounts, that was the initiative of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. Rand herself was little interested in the concept at first. Nathaniel Branden, aiming at presenting Rand's ideas to the world more persuasively than via novels, concluded that that could only be effective if presented as a consistent ideology. So, with Rand as the source of ideas and information, Branden put it all together in a way that seemed L consistent. That was done with Rand's approval, and she later embraced the name "Objectivism" and also called it a "consistent philosophy". But, she never showed any inclination to lecture on it as such, preferring to attend Q&A sessions where she would respond to questions on pretty much any subject. Revealingly, she took every question as such, in isolation, hardly ever responding with specific references to Objectivism and its stated principles, unless specifically asked about them. Finally, the concepts of Objectivism were later systematised by Ayn Rand's last remaining close associate, Leonard Peikoff, rather than by Rand herself, albeit with  her guidance and approval.

That suggests that L was something with which she was very much at ease but did not really value. Revealingly, those who sparred with her intellectually - such as Alan Greenspan -  found that she was more inclined to find flaws in their logical reasoning than push for her own. This also points to L as a strong but subdued function, likely L7 or L8.

R:  Throughout her life, Ayn Rand described herself primarily as a novelist of Romantic inclinations. Her often-stated goal with her novels was to "describe the ideal man (i.e. human being), man as he should and could be". She wrote novels centred around heroic individuals: Kira in We the Living; Howard Roark in The Fountainhead; John Galt, Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged. Conversely, the antagonists in her books are what she saw as deeply flawed human beings, like Peter Keating in The Fountainhead and James Taggart in Atlas Shrugged. She consistently used her fictional characters as reference points to judge the worth of herself and others. When depressed, she would lament not being as perfect as John Galt, and she would admit that one of her less perfect characters, Dominique Francon of  The Fountainhead, was based on herself "in a bad mood". During her final "defenestration" of Nathaniel Branden, the worst put-down she could think of was to say he was no Howard Roark, but a Peter Keating or James Taggart.

This focus on qualities of individuals as reference points, rather than on impersonal principles, to judge people's worthiness or lack thereof, points to a preference of R over L - yet, at the same time, to a R that is weaker than L. It is a R that needs to he "helped" by the L of relatively well-defined traits present in her fictional characters, such as integrity, competence, creativity, and courage.

Ayn Rand's complicated personal life also shows evidence of valued but weak R. Her relationships with individuals were at the same time very cautious and conservative, as well as passive, and yet very intense. Her longest and most stable relationship was with her husband Frank O'Connor: they were married for 50 years and she remained, by all accounts, both devoted to, and emotionally dependent on him - yet, at the same time, very often oblivious to his inner feelings. She apparently took for granted that her R relationship with Frank was cast in stone and immutable - from both sides, no matter what the strains, without nuance. That is a trait of valued but very weak R.

As a person, by all accounts, Ayn Rand could be far more approachable and friendly to casual contacts than her public image might suggest. But she was extremely cautious as to whom she let into her inner circle, especially the group of intimates with whom she had weekly discussions about Atlas Shrugged while it was being written, a group she came to call "The Collective" as an inside joke. What is revealing is that the composition of that entire group stemmed from her initial, core friendship with the Brandens: "The Collective" consisted of relatives of the Brandens and their spouses/friends. Revealingly and maybe ironically, Ayn Rand's last loyal devotee, Leonard Peikoff, who became her sole heir, was introduced into her circle by Barbara Branden, Peikoff's cousin - even as Rand later severed all ties with the Brandens themselves. The impression is of a person who prefers to keep most people at a distance and relies on others' judgement as to whom to trust or not. According to Barbara Branden, Rand herself said later in life that her biggest weakness was that she never knew whom she could trust. That is a first-person account of one of the main traits of R5.

Arguably the strangest aspect of R in Ayn Rand is that she actually started a sexual relationship with her "apprentice" Nathaniel Branden, 25 years her junior -  with the full knowledge and "consent" of the spouses of both, Frank and Barbara - but not in the sense of "open marriages" or of her own relationship with Frank becoming exhausted. Rather, she saw her involvement with Brendan as the natural evolution of two minds as well-aligned as theirs were, also expecting Frank and Barbara to see it that way. In fact, according to Barbara Branden's account, Frank was deeply distressed by that situation but, being a naturally gentle man who by now had become totally dependent on Rand financially, found himself at a personal dead-end. Rand's obliviousness to the effect of her affair on Frank was not, by all accounts, due to cruelty or her not caring about him: it was rather that she took for granted that her relationship with Frank was solid as long as he did not say otherwise - which he hardly ever did. Perhaps the last word on Ayn Rand's R should be left to Frank, who one day exploded to her, referring to Nathaniel Branden: "That man's no good! Why can't you see it?"

F: Most obviously, all the "ideal human beings" in Ayn Rand's novels are strong-willed, tough, dynamic individuals who often come across as abrasive, even as lacking all personal warmth when in the pursuit of their goals. That makes F rather thanobvious as one of her quadra values. Throughout her life and in all her writings, Ayn Rand highly valued personal strength, independence, self-reliance, achievement, hard work, the accumulation of wealth. Also, in all her relationships - with her husband Frank, Branden, the other members of "The Collective" - she naturally was the dominant personality in terms of easy personal authority, and she seemed to find that natural, although not actively seeking it, except when defending her own interests. That also points to a person with valued and at least moderately strong F.

Yet, she also had some interesting, revealing traits. For instance, although keen on learning what she could about architecture while doing research for The Fountainhead, and even on how to conduct a train for Atlas Shrugged, she never felt the need to learn how to drive a car - even while living in the San Fernando Valley and working in Hollywood, needing to be driven there by Frank. Further, although living for decades in Manhattan, by all accounts she never came to feel at ease navigating its streets, more focused on her own inner thoughts than on her immediate surroundings. That would be very unusual for a person of F1 or F2, and pointing to Rand as having F6 or even F5. F as a valued yet not strong function. This is reinforced by the fact that Rand did not really feel she measured up to the strong will of her characters - revealingly, she said that she actually was more like Dominique Francon of The Fountainhead, a character with far weaker than her heroes.

S: Rand lived the last thirty years of her life in two apartments in Manhattan's East Side (36 E 36th St and then 120 E 34th St). By all accounts, she spent most of her time inside them, working, reading, watching TV, or receiving people. The apartments were always rather modest, "spartan", even after the extra income from Atlas Shrugged and, especially after Frank's death, her last apartment increasingly became rather squalid and messy, with books and papers and cats' fur everywhere. All of that points to a person with very little concern for S. Further, although she preferred to live in Manhattan, what she liked was the concept of being there - she insisted that her apartments have a view of the Empire State Building, which she saw as a symbol of the US and of human achievement: that is a symbolic T motivation rather than an aesthetic, sensorial S motivation.

In the San Fernando Valley, Ayn and Frank had lived in a spacious art deco ranch, where she had a large office for her work and Frank could happily devote himself to growing flowers and vegetables. Yet, she found the idea of living in Manhattan in comparatively cramped quarters much more appealing, although she did not have any pressing need to move there.That again points to a very low focus on S, enough to rule it out as a quadra value.

Her other motivation for moving to New York was that Nathaniel and Barbara Branden had moved there in the meantime, and she wanted to be near them as they were the only individuals close to her besides Frank. That is, a R motivation.

What we have so far is a person with R and F quadra values rather than L and S, so a Gamma type. Due to her strong if subdued L and her weak albeit valued R, the types most likely on the evidence so far are already LIE or ILI.

T: Rand's mental focus was far more on her inner thoughts than on her immediate sensory environments: on the symbolic meaning of Manhattan and the Empire State Building rather than on the realities of the place itself; on her world of fiction, with her characters as real, in a sense, to her as real individuals, and on her perception of where the world was going. All of that points to far stronger T than S, and so clearly as to confirm it as an Ego function, T1 or T2, so again ILI or LIE. This trait of creating and maintaining a world in her head, which is also visible in Emily Brontë (ILI), made an impression on her recent biographer, Anne Heller, who chose the title of Ayn Rand and the World She Made for her biography for that reason.

More specifically, at least since the 1930s, Rand was very concerned that the kind of ideological premises she saw in Bolshevik Russia seemed to be gaining strength in the US. In her mind, she could see clearly the trends towards an increasing devaluation of individual rights in favour of collectivism, with an ever-growing presence of the state in the economy as well as the politicisation of business. That vision was actually the chief motivation for everything she wrote, certainly at least from the 1940s onward. Simplistically, having survived the Russian Revolution and fled Bolshevik rule, she was terrified of her vision whereby, however slowly, the US was moving towards the same kind of society. Her artistic motivation for writing The Fountainhead was to show how the creative individualists she saw as driving innovation and prosperity were being smothered by an increasingly prevailing collectivist mindset. With Atlas Shrugged, her purpose was to showcase how dependent modern technological society was on intellectual and creative efforts of a relatively small number of individuals.With both books, what she actually intended was that at least a significant minority of capable individuals would understand her warnings and start reacting to her vision - in order to prevent it from becoming reality. Her deep depression after the publication of Atlas Shrugged was due to her warnings not being heeded. She knew that many were buying the book, but she felt that not enough "real-life people like Howard Roark or Dagny Taggart" seemed to be "getting it". She maintained that conviction - that she could clearly see where the world was going, and that she didn't like it - to the end of her life. That is typical of T blocked with P, so again of LIEs and ILIs.

E: In all existing video interviews with Ayn Rand, she maintains the same kind of E stance: a generally friendly and polite but somewhat cold, dry, emotionally reserved attitude, slightly "eccentric" and punctuated by occasional amusement, irony and irritation. Almost never she makes any attempt at humour. Late in life she would on occasion react intensively if she felt she was being personally attacked.  She preferred a low-emotion atmosphere of matter-of-fact discussion of ideas. Those traits are consistent with someone who has a conventional, even "conservative" approach to E while preferring P.

There are also hints to her approach to E and P in her novels. One of the most noticeable, and criticised. aspects of Ayn Rand's novels is that her characters very often get into conversations - in social environments - that read like deep, long philosophical monologues rather than like attempts at realistic representations of how human beings interact socially. Notable examples are Francisco d'Anconia's speech on money in Atlas Shrugged (given "casually" at a party), Howard Roark and Gail Wynand's long conversations in The Fountainhead, and many of the dialogues between romantic partners in her novels. She was not incapable of writing more conventional dialogues, but those are seen mostly with her minor characters when advancing the plot. That again shows some awareness of E but one that is always overruled by P.

As another small bit of evidence, as far as her personal appearance and style were concerned. Throughout her entire life, Ayn Rand stuck to the same hairstyle she had adopted in the 1920s, when it was fashionable (as per actress Louise Brooks for instance). Rather than an affectation, I suggest that it points to extreme conservatism in such matters, basically an unwillingness to change what "seems to have worked so far" in terms of a look, image, style, that will be acceptable socially. This is a hint to weak E along with also weak S. Conservatism and cautiousness in E are most typical of E3 although not inconsistent with E4.

I: Although the common traits in all of Rand's ideal human beings is willpower and competence, the extra important trait in her truly important characters - Howard Roark, John Galt, and Hank Rearden - is creativity, inventiveness, independence of mind when developing new ideas. Personally, she was also most attracted to creative individuals, according to Nathaniel Branden, rather than powerful and successful ones. Actually she seemed to be skeptical of people who were successful without being creative and independent - that is indeed the main theme of The Fountainhead. In herself, she seemed to take her own creativity for granted, but she thought she fell short of her own heroes in terms of capacity for hard work and discipline. These are traits of a person with stronger I than F.

The group of friends that Ayn Rand jokingly named "The Collective" met at her apartment on Saturday evenings, mostly to discuss Atlas Shrugged as it was being written, but also, according to participants, to have free-flowing conversations on every possible subject, from art and philosophy to politics and current affairs, with Rand (and Frank) happily participating. A glimpse of that can also be seen in transcripts of her Q&A sessions, with subjects going in many directions. That makes Rand's relaxed Saturday evening meetings have an Alpha flavour as far as I is concerned, although it is clear that her single-minded focus on a vision of very few novels and characters she cared deeply about points to T as more valued than I - but a strong I, albeit subdued. That points most clearly to I8, I as a Background function.

P: Objectivism, as a system or "philosophy", seems to have eventually gained the reputation of a rigid dogma as to how to live one's life, parallel to Rand herself gaining the reputation of a cult leader. This development, I repeat, has far more to do with Nathaniel Branden's and later Leonard Peikoff's efforts in making Objectivism a "consistent philosophy" than what Rand herself thought was most important about it. Simplistically, that there was an objective reality independent of human's perceptions of it; that we can receive information about this reality through our senses and our reason; that emotions are not tools of cognition, but automated responses based on premises held consciously or unconsciously, so "having a feeling" about something, in itself, provided no reliable information. That is actually a good description of P. It is worth repeating that for most of her life Rand took that understanding for granted, not bothering to define it as a philosophy until she was in her fifties, through the initiative of Nathaniel Branden.

I have mentioned that her ideal human beings, in her novels, are all strong-willed and tough, and her main characters are creative people. However, the chief trait of her "ultimate" ideal person - John Galt in Atlas Shrugged - is the superhuman, thorough understanding of physics as a science, most specifically in the fields of electricity and electromagnetic waves. Also, if The Fountainhead's theme is the focus on the mind of independent creators, Atlas Shrugged - which she regarded as her magnum opus - can be seen as a description of how it is P knowledge and efficiency that sustains civilisation and even life itself, and most clearly when wielded by strong P individuals. After Atlas Shrugged, Rand felt she had concluded what she had to conclude and said what she had to say. While she touched on the importance of I in individuals The Fountainhead, she clearly concluded that the ultimate value and reality was P. As a person, Ayn Rand herself was clearly more comfortable expressing herself in a dry P fashion rather via E, as noted above.

Ayn Rand's functional preferences clearly point to valued and strong P, valued and not so strong F, valued and weak R, strong T, little regard for S, subdued and weak E, strong but subdued L, and a strong I which is less valued than F. Those point very obviously to the Gamma quadra and to LIE or ILI in particular.

This analysis has already indicated that the evidence points to LIE rather than ILI. ILI is actually plausible as Ayn Rand's type at first glance. But Rand's R - the focus of the most bizarre and arguably central part of her life in the US - show signs of being one of her very weakest functions, so R5 rather than R6, and her approach to F was that of a person who felt she was "failing" at it - F6 - rather than of a person who accepted her own weak F and valued that mostly in others (F5).

The type that fits all the available information on Ayn Rand is LIE.

Sources: The main scholarly biography is Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns. Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne Heller is also a serious and useful work, but it has more of a journalist's feel to it. Scott McConnel's 100 Voices: an Oral History of Ayn Rand is a collection of interviews with many people who knew Ayn Rand at several points of her life, and they provide evidence for her consistent personal traits (among the interviewees are writer Mickey Spillane, actress Raquel Welch and the former Australian PM Malcolm Fraser). Both Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden wrote memoirs of their time with Ayn Rand, Judgement Day and The Passion of Ayn Rand respectively. Pretty much all her interviews for TV or radio are now available on YouTube.

To learn more about LIE, click here.

If you are confused by our Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

John von Neumann (ILE): Personality Type Analysis



John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, and polymath.  He made decisive contributions to virtually every area of mathematics outside of topology and number theory, including, but not limited to, Set Theory, Ergodic Theory, Operator Theory, Measure Theory, Geometry, Lattice Theory, the Mathematical Formulation of Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Logic, Game Theory, Mathematical Economics, Linear Programming, Mathematical Statistics, Fluid Dynamics, Cellular Automata and Digital Computing.

It goes without saying that John von Neumann was one of the foremost mathematicians of his era; he's said to be the last representative of the "great mathematicians" like Euler, Gauss, Poincare and Hilbert.  He has over 150 published papers to his name, with over 120 of those being in the subject of mathematics, despite dying at the fairly early age of 53.  His general cognitive and mathematical ability was the stuff of legends.  His mentor Gabor Szego, a renowned mathematician in his own right, was so astounded with von Neumann's ability at their first meeting while John was only 15 years of age, that he was brought to tears.  Testimonies abound of other famous scientists and mathematicians reporting their total inability to keep up with him, and of claiming that he was the most intelligent person they had ever met.  He had an eidetic memory and could memorize pages of telephone directories at will.  If Strong Logic means anything, we can surely conclude that John von Neumann possessed it.  This is because his intelligence is so logically, externally focused.

An examination of his particular style of mathematics proves even more revealing about his particular values and information metabolism:

Stan Ulam, who knew von Neumann well, described his mastery of mathematics this way: 

"Most mathematicians know one method. For example, Norbert Wiener had mastered Fourier transforms. Some mathematicians have mastered two methods and might really impress someone who knows only one of them. John von Neumann had mastered three methods." 

He went on to explain that the three methods were:
• A facility with the symbolic manipulation of linear operators;
• An intuitive feeling for the logical structure of any new mathematical theory;
• An intuitive feeling for the combinatorial superstructure of new theories.
Edward Teller wrote that "Nobody knows all science, not even von Neumann did. But as for mathematics, he contributed to every part of it except number theory and topology. That is, I think, something unique."

This bird's eye snapshot suggests that von Neumann belongs to the Researcher club, because the methods by which he displays his prodigious talent are notably intuitive whilst being oriented to logical considerations.  The chiefly structural considerations that occupied von Neumann more specifically indicate that he is L-valuing, which means he is likely an Alpha Researcher.  Moreover, the sheer breadth and volume of his contributions and interests and his bold, initiative-taking personality are highly suggestive of an Energiser.  The following quip von Neumann made to the less experienced scientist, Dr. Felix T. Smith, further corroborates his ostensibly Bold Energising and Cautious Integrating:
"Young man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them."
John von Neumann grew up in an affluent and assimilated Jewish family, and he was a child prodigy.  At a mere 6 years of age, he could converse in Ancient Greek and divide 8-digit numbers in his head.  In two more years, he had attained some mastery over the intellectual machinery of calculus, and had read through a 46-volume history book by Wilhelm Oncken.  This passion for ancient history would follow von Neumann throughout his life, and his erudition was such that a Princeton professor of Byzantine history claimed that his own expertise was surpassed by that of von Neumann in the subject.  A mind of such splendid diversity and wide-spread curiosity squarely fits I1, and the correspondingly easy command of factual knowledge, despite not making it a central focus of his life and endeavours, is characteristic of P8.

Despite von Neumann's prodigious mathematical talent, his father insisted that he pursue a more lucrative field.  Von Neumann acceded to his father's demand and received a degree in Chemical Engineering.  However, according to his friend and fellow scientist Eugene Wigner, von Neumann never had much passion for chemical engineering, and so he simultaneously completed a brilliant PhD thesis in Mathematics.  The thesis, which involved an axiomatisation of Georg Cantor's Set Theory, garnered the attention of the extremely famous mathematician David Hilbert, who took on von Neumann as a Post Doc and cemented his career in mathematics.  The value disagreement that von Neumann had with his father emphasises L, I and(von Neumann:  intellectual passions) versus P, T and(his father:  what is effective and impactful in the world and more likely to lead to a profitable career).  The flexibility of intellect and logical faculties that von Neumann required to simultaneously complete an engineering degree in a subject that he was not passionate about and a world-class doctoral thesis in mathematics points to I1L2, and P8.  Throughout his illustrious career as a mathematician, he continued to juggle pure and applied topics in the field, going against currents in the reverse direction of his father that claimed that a mathematician of his calibre should focus on pure mathematics.  Later in his life, he justified his split focus as follows:
"I think that it is a relatively good approximation to truth — which is much too complicated to allow anything but approximations — that mathematical ideas originate in empirics. But, once they are conceived, the subject begins to live a peculiar life of its own and is … governed by almost entirely aesthetical motivations. In other words, at a great distance from its empirical source, or after much "abstract" inbreeding, a mathematical subject is in danger of degeneration. Whenever this stage is reached the only remedy seems to me to be the rejuvenating return to the source: the reinjection of more or less directly empirical ideas.
A large part of mathematics which becomes useful developed with absolutely no desire to be useful, and in a situation where nobody could possibly know in what area it would become useful; and there were no general indications that it ever would be so. By and large it is uniformly true in mathematics that there is a time lapse between a mathematical discovery and the moment when it is useful; and that this lapse of time can be anything from 30 to 100 years, in some cases even more; and that the whole system seems to function without any direction, without any reference to usefulness, and without any desire to do things which are useful."
All of this points to I1L2T7, and P8.  It's emblematic of
  • the energy and curiosity to follow through on his entire diverse array of interests
  • flexible structural and aesthetic logic
  • strong awareness of temporal considerations while minimising their influence on his life
  • skepticism that anyone knows what is going to happen down the line
  • a willingness to devote himself to matters that are not yet known to be useful
  • exemplary skill and maturity when it comes to pragmatic and empirical matters.
He was even one of the first to recognise the implications of Kurt Godel's Incompleteness theorems.  This is despite many other mathematicians being much slower to recognise it, and despite the fact that it overturned the axiomatic mathematical program of David Hilbert into which von Neumann was only just initiated after completing his PhD.  He was completely unperturbed regarding this breakthrough that bore directly on his work.  This is yet another indication of I1.

Von Neumann's time at Princeton is also illustrative.  He was highly socially active, owning one of the largest private residences in the Princeton academic community.
"Von Neumann liked to eat and drink; his wife, Klara, said that he could count everything except calories. He enjoyed Yiddish and "off-color" humor (especially limericks). He was a non-smoker. At Princeton he received complaints for regularly playing extremely loud German march music on his gramophone, which distracted those in neighboring offices, including Albert Einstein, from their work... Despite being a notoriously bad driver, he nonetheless enjoyed driving—frequently while reading a book—occasioning numerous arrests, as well as accidents. When Cuthbert Hurd hired him as a consultant to IBM, Hurd often quietly paid the fines for his traffic tickets.  Von Neumann's closest friend in the United States was mathematician Stanislaw Ulam. A later friend of Ulam's, Gian-Carlo Rota, wrote: "They would spend hours on end gossiping and giggling, swapping Jewish jokes, and drifting in and out of mathematical talk." When von Neumann was dying in hospital, every time Ulam would visit he would come prepared with a new collection of jokes to cheer up his friend."
This is indicative of R4S5, and E6.  He was inattentive when it came to maintaining appropriate relations with others, engaging in antics that rubbed some folks the wrong way.  He was a bon vivant who appreciated the sensory aspects of life while lacking the ability to assess himself responsibly in the sensory realm.  Finally, he appreciated unburdened and loose emotional environments where jokes and moods could be freely shared, and had some ability to create such environments, but intellectual business was always the predominate concern over the emotional atmosphere.

He was regarded as a mediocre teacher of others on account of the fact that he was prone to write quickly and erase the blackboard before his students had time to copy it.  This is likely due to how naturally quick of a thinker that he was, and a corresponding lack of desire to slow down so that others could appropriately relate to his trains of thought.  This fits I1 and R4.  Nonetheless, von Neumann was generally well-liked and thought of as a diplomatic and modest figure given the level of genius he was capable of.
"A deep sense of humour and an unusual ability for telling stories and jokes endeared Johnny even to casual acquaintances. He could be blunt when necessary, but was never pompous. A mind of von Neumann's inexorable logic had to understand and accept much that most of us do not want to accept and do not even wish to understand. This fact coloured many of von Neumann's moral judgments. … Only scientific intellectual dishonesty and misappropriation of scientific results could rouse his indignation and ire — but these did — and did almost equally whether he himself, or someone else, was wronged."
This demonstrates some of von Neumann's F3; he wasn't prone to be a forceful personality, but could apply force boldly when it was called for, such as in cases that infringed upon his idealistic intellectual values.  His ability to be blunt when necessary could correspond to F3 and P8.  We also see Clarity-Seeking and World-Accepting values characteristic of the Alpha Quadra.  He lacked pretence in spite of his awe-inspiring abilities, and was considerably idealistic.  He generally made an attempt to be inclusive to others and to be unbiased by personal interests.  As per his Strong Logic and Strong Intuition, he was frequently in the position of understanding the impersonal consequences of what was to come much more readily than others.

Von Neumann's Alpha values can also be observed in his relationships.  His relationship to his first wife, Mariette Koevesi, ended when she fell in love with another physicist.  Their separation was largely amicable, indicating that von Neumann was not a jealous or possessive partner.  In short order, he renewed a relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Klara Dan, who was also married to someone else at the time. Klara's previous marriage ended, and her marriage with von Neumann began soon after. It is very possible that von Neumann was immersed in a sub-culture of mostly Alpha values in which relationships were generally amicable, not very possessive, and not overly serious.

Von Neumann was heavily involved in the development of nuclear weaponry both during and after World War II.
"After the war, Robert Oppenheimer remarked that the physicists involved in the Manhattan project had "known sin". Von Neumann's response was that "sometimes someone confesses a sin in order to take credit for it."
Von Neumann continued unperturbed in his work and became, along with Edward Teller, one of those who sustained the hydrogen bomb project. He collaborated with Klaus Fuchs on further development of the bomb, and in 1946 the two filed a secret patent on "Improvement in Methods and Means for Utilizing Nuclear Energy", which outlined a scheme for using a fission bomb to compress fusion fuel to initiate nuclear fusion."
This stance towards nuclear projects befits the unremitting curiosity of I1 and the cavalier attitude towards ethical appropriateness that sometimes accompanies R4.  To von Neumann's credit, he did have a considerable sense of responsibility over what was to be done with the bombs, applying his own discipline of Game Theory to develop strategies that would keep the United States in power and ensure minimal harm.
"Von Neumann is credited with developing the equilibrium strategy of mutual assured destruction (MAD). He also "moved heaven and earth" to bring MAD about. His goal was to quickly develop ICBMs and the compact hydrogen bombs that they could deliver to the USSR, and he knew the Soviets were doing similar work because the CIA interviewed German rocket scientists who were allowed to return to Germany, and von Neumann had planted a dozen technical people in the CIA. The Russians considered that bombers would soon be vulnerable, and they shared von Neumann's view that an H-bomb in an ICBM was the ne plus ultra of weapons; they believed that whoever had superiority in these weapons would take over the world, without necessarily using them. He was afraid of a "missile gap" and took several more steps to achieve his goal of keeping up with the Soviets: 
• He modified the ENIAC by making it programmable and then wrote programs for it to do the H-bomb calculations verifying that the Teller-Ulam design was feasible and to develop it further. 
• Through the Atomic Energy Commission, he promoted the development of a compact H-bomb that would fit in an ICBM. 
• He personally interceded to speed up the production of lithium-6 and tritium needed for the compact bombs. 
• He caused several separate missile projects to be started, because he felt that competition combined with collaboration got the best results."
His MAD strategy was very consistent with Alpha values and I1 in particular: make the potential for destruction so high that none would occur because no one would dare initiate it, and at the very least, the United States would not have to apply much force to deter attackers.
"Von Neumann's assessment that the Soviets had a lead in missile technology, considered pessimistic at the time, was soon proven correct in the Sputnik crisis. Von Neumann entered government service primarily because he felt that, if freedom and civilization were to survive, it would have to be because the United States would triumph over totalitarianism from Nazism, Fascism and Soviet Communism. During a Senate committee hearing he described his political ideology as "violently anti-communist, and much more militaristic than the norm". He was quoted in 1950 remarking, "If you say why not bomb [the Soviets] tomorrow, I say, why not today? If you say today at five o'clock, I say why not one o'clock?""
Yet again, we see evidence of von Neumann's I1, T7 and P8, given the accuracy of predictions against the crowd regarding the development of Soviet technological capabilities.  We also see a bold, forceful defense of humanistic values in a situation where other world powers desire to curtail them, which is a sufficient emergency to cause the F3 of von Neumann to emerge.  However, his unhesitatingly warhawkish stance could certainly be regarded as lacking ethical sensitivity in its personal consequences for others as well as being overly paranoid about the personal attitudes of the Soviets, reflecting common charges levied against R4.

It is not hard to find a variety of short quotes by and about von Neumann that demonstrate the intellectual rigor of L2 in his mathematical work and way of thinking.  Here are some examples:
"If one has really technically penetrated a subject, things that previously seemed in complete contrast, might be purely mathematical transformations of each other."
"Von Neumann's rigorous mathematical analysis of the structure of self-replication (of the semiotic relationship between constructor, description and that which is constructed), preceded the discovery of the structure of DNA. Von Neumann created the field of cellular automata without the aid of computers, constructing the first self-replicating automata with pencil and graph paper. The detailed proposal for a physical non-biological self-replicating system was first put forward in lectures Von Neumann delivered in 1948 and 1949, when he first only proposed a kinematic self-reproducing automaton. While qualitatively sound, von Neumann was evidently dissatisfied with this model of a self-replicator due to the difficulty of analyzing it with mathematical rigor. He went on to instead develop a more abstract model self-replicator based on his original concept of cellular automata."
"In 1955, von Neumann was diagnosed with what was either bone or pancreatic cancer. He was not able to accept the proximity of his own demise, and the shadow of impending death instilled great fear in him. He invited a Roman Catholic priest, Father Anselm Strittmatter, O.S.B., to visit him for consultation. Von Neumann reportedly said, "So long as there is the possibility of eternal damnation for nonbelievers it is more logical to be a believer at the end," essentially saying that Pascal had a point, referring to Pascal's Wager. He had earlier confided to his mother, "There probably has to be a God. Many things are easier to explain if there is than if there isn't.""
Overall, it seems clear that John von Neumann's best fit type is ILE.

To read more about the ILE, click here.

To find out more about our use of Socionics shorthand, click here

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Túpac Amaru II (EIE): Personality Type Analysis


José Gabriel Túpac Amaru, better known as Túpac Amaru II, was a member of the Peruvian indigenous nobility who undertook a rebellion against the Bourbonic reforms of the 17th century, which threatened the way of life his ancestors had held since before the Viceroyalty of Peru had been established, perhaps even earlier than the existence of the Inca Empire. As such, there are plenty of historical records which are possible to be gathered for his typing. 

One of the main observable features of his character was his adaptability to what the situation required of him, as he quickly changed his attire from a European one to an Inca attire when he needed the support of the indigenous populations. Also, he took under his banner the fight against slavery in order to broaden his support base. Furthermore, he built himself a messianic image that catered to what his followers were expecting of him, changing his name to that of the last indigenous Incan ruler, Túpac Amaru I and claiming direct lineage from him. This shows evidence of valued T working for a valued E, as it was all in the name of broadening the movement. This can further be seen in Túpac's insistence on his followers being committed to the goals of the movement, trying to form a cohesive group instead of a loose alliance, suggesting valued L

Túpac Amaru positioned himself as a leader of a common cause regardless of any personal connections with those he led. Even when he involved his own relatives in the movement, he always made sure that it was him in the spotlight, hence his Messianic allegories. This is good evidence that Túpac's E was valued very much at the expense of R, perhaps R7. Already, from looking at his valuing of E+T and L while not valuing R,  we can see that he was someone of the Beta quadra.

Túpac Amaru II was well-versed in the writings of French Enlightenment philosophers, which were primarily aphoristic and L-heavy. However, it never was strongly integrated into his movement, which was targeted to far less educated indigenous peasants. He instead seemed much more comfortable presenting himself as a cathartic force. The fact that it was based on him as a Messianic figure who represented the demands of his followers means that E prevailed over L, as little if any thought was directed into the details of the ideology. Here, the emphasis was placed on the goals common to all factions of his supporter base. As such, it is apparent that E was strong and L, although valued, was very weak, suggesting E1 and L5.

In contrast, we can see plenty of use of F as a valued function, not only in his energy as a military leader, but also his ruthless zeal at public executions, where he would order a slave to hang his old creole owner before the crowds. However, one difference between his expressions of F and the other valued elements is that he seldom overused his ET or L. Executing captives in this way, although contributing substantially to furthering his support, went far beyond the point of dealing effectively with the enemy, becoming more a display of vengeance to engage his followers. Thus, his use of this element again served E1. Meanwhile, the use of F seems to be typical of F6, i.e. used with enthusiasm but without nuance or control. 

His source of income was the land he had inherited and which he used to generate profits due to his serfs’ working on it. Although nowadays this job is regarded as mostly a managerial position, for Túpac Amaru it was more about mediating between the Spanish authorities and the labourers he protected. He always managed to find a common ground between his interests and those of the indigenous lower class, thus being able to earn their favour by denouncing the unpopular mit'a: compulsory work in the mines which meant his serfs having less time to work in his land, substantially lowering profits. This shows elements of him having ease in winning over others’ support and building connections, which was what he found himself doing most of the time, boldly leading them into battle as a charismatic leader, but also a some sense of pragmatic decision making. This again serves as clear evidence of very strong E1, while still retaining some use of P3.

The evidence presented here for E1, T2, P3, L5, F6 and R7 clearly indicate that Túpac Amaru II was an EIE.

To learn more about EIE, click here.