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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.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Constantine the Great (EIE): Personality Type Analysis

Constantine the Great, his official name Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, also known as Saint Constantine, was the 57th Emperor of the Western Roman Empire from 306 to 324 and from 324 to 337 as ruler of the whole empire. Constantine is famed for uniting the western and eastern halves of the Roman Empire, presiding over the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church, founding Constantinople on the ancient trading colony of Byzantium and formally ending the persecution of Christians following the defeat of Licinius in 324. 

Constantine was born in Naissus, a military settlement where at the time of his birth, the current emperor Claudius II Gothicus died of a severe illness (likely smallpox). Constantine's mother Helena, was tolerant of Christianity and even converted before Constantine did, while his father never converted to Christianity, he was tolerant to Christians and ignored orders from his superiors to behave otherwise. However, the time when exactly Constantine became a Christian isn't clear to most historians, but the following facts are well established by the written history of Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen. One of the reasons Constantine embraced Christianity was to guarantee his success on the battlefield by praying to God. It brought him honor and pride to fashion himself with Christian symbols that represented divine power, such as the labarum and the chi-rho (the first two Greek letters of Jesus Christ's name). He uniquely desired to be venerated as a "demi-god" after his victories in battle and sought to restore the glory of the Roman Empire's past. 

What little is known about Constantine's youth is that he was in a position of moderate political influence as his father Constantius Chlorus (LSE) who served as imperial bodyguard to Aurelian (SLE) at the time. At around the age of thirty, Constantine was already an experienced solider who fought against the Sarmatians and Persians in the 290s and was a member of Diocletian's inner circle, where he had received a formal education at his palace. In the year 303, preparations were being made to celebrate the successes of the Tetrarchy and all four emperors were required to attend this celebration. Diocletian (LSI) said that he would abdicate the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire, which in turn, would make it all the more easier for Maximian of the Western Roman Empire to retire. Maximian was enraged by this proposal and instead let the promotion of both emperors from Caesars to Augusti to proceed. The date of the abdication was rescheduled to next year and the emperor's sons were to be associates of Galerius (SLE) rather than immediately assume the position of Caesar in their respective empires. A conversation between Diocletian and Galerius concerning their sons was reported by a Christian author a decade later:


Diocletian: "What shall we do then?" 
Galerius: "Maxentius is not worthy of it... If he has shown such contempt for me as a private citizen, what will he do as an emperor?" 
Diocletian: "But Constantine is popular and will rule in such a way that he will be judged better and more merciful than his father." 
Galerius: "But in that case I shall not be able to do what I want. We must appoint men who will be in my power, who will fear me and do nothing but what I command." 

Now, Galerius may have claimed the position of Augusti, thus assuming that Constantine had lost the possibility of becoming Caesari, but this was far from the truth. Constantine's father Constantius had claimed the position of Augusti as well, meaning that Constantine would succeed him as emperor upon his passing. The situation quickly undid itself in 305, when Constantius requested to Galerius to have his son come with him to fight against the Picts beyond Hadrian's Wall. Galerius denied the request at first, thinking it would be too dangerous for Constantius to put his life at risk when the Tetrarchy had already been arranged in his favor, but he eventually agreed after a night of drinking and when he woke up the next morning, Constantius and his son had already fled to the campaign. However, Constantius was gravely ill during the time of his reign in 306, he arrived at the battle much later than the energetic Constantine did and right before he died, Constantius wished for his son to be promoted to the full rank of Augustus (essentially saying that his son were to replace him). 

Constantine was quick to actualize his accession upon recognition as Caesar in 306, he struck coins identifying himself as the "Prince of Youth" (princeps iuventutis). While Constantine was busy crafting his image, Maxentius seized the title of Augustus and gained the support of the army and senate to resist Galerius' harsh plans for the Praetorian Guard (Galerius planned to disband the remaining cohorts of Praetorians and transfer them to the frontier garrisons on lower wages). Galerius was overwhelmed with having to fight back the Sarmatians, so he had to dispatch Severus to take care of Maxentius' usurpation. Upon marching to Rome, Severus didn't anticipate that his own troops would change sides, forcing him to withdraw and was subsequently captured. Constantine took note that since Galerius was left with little option but to accept defeat, he saw the opportunity to advance join Maximian (SLE) at Trier and assume the title of Augustus like his father originally promised.

During the early years of his reign, the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy had decimated all those who had previously been in power before Constantine. By 310, Maximian was sick of Constantine's apparent luck and rebelled against him during a campaign against the Franks. Constantine captured him, but he still retained his imperial titles. A few months later, Maximian was reported to have hanged himself on Constantine's orders. With Maximian dead, the tensions grew with more people claiming the title of Western Roman emperor and the only remaining "valid" claimants were Maxentius and Constantine. The night before the Battle of Milvian Bridge, a battle that would determine who would be the next Roman Emperor and end the civil wars - Constantine was advised in a dream to mark the shields of his soldiers with the heavenly sign of god (the Chi-Rho) and then engage in battle. Maxentius sat anxiously in Rome, growing more tense upon hearing the news of Constantine's victories in northern Italy. When Verona fell, Maxentius marched out of the city to battle him to avoid the possibility of Rome's siege. Afraid that Constantine had actually been blessed with divine support, he consulted the Sibylline Books and found solace upon hearing that the time was right for Rome to be liberated from a tyrant. The outcome of the battle only demonstrated that he was the tyrant. (The italicized portion is actual propaganda from Constantius to make the public believe that Maxentius was addicted to superstition).

His early reign shows more than it tells about Constantius, it portrays a guy who was greatly skilled in matters of diplomacy, i.e. his natural disposition to win people over to his side through charisma. It also shows his sheer sense of courage and determination when rising through the ranks in the army, it is clear that having to climb a social ladder or hierarchy of sorts to achieve an end goal is in his values. He made deep alliances of connection and support to those who were loyal to him and short strategic ones (like with Maximian) as a means to an end. All of that points to, stronger E than R, visible T, valued F and Beta values.

Characterizing the latter part of his reign, i.e. after the Tetrarchy ended and the Edict of Milan was put into place, will be shorter, but evident in confirming the typing of EIE

In 330, Constantine had chosen the Greek settlement of Byzantium as a victory city because of its proximity to the battlefield of Chrysopolis, but secondarily to revive the previously profitable trade colony that had been active in the seventh century BC. This strategic thinking was hardly unique to Constantine, but his sweeping monetary reforms had secured the restoration of the city as a center of trade five centuries later. Constantine assumed the role of a city-planner reluctantly, only working with P when he had to.

Upon the construction of Constantinople, it soon became the second metropolis of the Roman empire, it's strategic placement to the east meant that diplomatic envoys from other "barbaric" civilizations could reach the emperor faster and more efficiently. When Constantine wasn't amusing himself with the souvenirs from other empires, he surrounded himself with intellectuals - members of his coterie - who offered their latest philosophical and historical insights. For instance, Sopater was an orator and Neoplatonist philosopher who became a member of his court, he swiftly became a court favorite of Constantine and his patronage of the philosophical tradition hardly went unnoticed, pointing to weaker valued L and strong I in the "free-thinking" sense of the function.

Furthermore, the emperor in his personal life was a bit different from his benevolence that is venerated in Christianity. He was of choleric temperament, stubborn, short-tempered and vain about his appearance. In fact, there were even rumors surrounding that he was sensitive about his hair and his balding in old age. He would ignore the physical complaints of his body that came with aging or long periods of time, believing that his aging would bring him closer to death and subsequent salvation. On his deathbed, he cast aside his robes of purple and crimson, wearing only pure white robes so that he might "die and live forever". This alone places S at the lowest value.

Constantine the Great is a model EIE, everything fits from E1, T2, P3, S4, L5, F6, R7 to I8.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Contempt (1963): Socionics Analysis of a Case Study of Conflict and Duality


Contempt (Le Mépris) is a 1963 French film directed and written by Jean-Luc Godard (IEI), the most "conventional" and most expensive of his films, with the script following closely the general plot of the novel Il disprezzo by Alberto Moravia. Godard was reportedly unhappy with the whole experience of making a conventional movie with his freedom limited by the producers; he also thought little of the novel. Be that as it may (or maybe because of it), I have found that the insights of the film and the points it seems to make, although not immediately explicit and often confusing for audiences, are made clear by socionics analysis.

The basic story is simple (spoilers follow): the French couple Paul and Camille Javal (played by Michel Piccoli and Brigitte Bardot) live in Rome.  Paul, whose goal is to establish himself as a serious playwright, still needs to make a living by writing crime novels and as a screenwriter-for-hire for the Italian film industry, having written a script for the commercially successful "Toto against Hercules". That leads to an invitation by Hollywood producer Jeremy Prokosch (played by Jack Palance) for Paul to re-write the script of the film he is currently shooting in Italy, a version of the Odyssey, directed by the master of German expressionism, Fritz Lang (played by Lang himself). Prokosch fears that Lang is making it too "artsy" and not commercial enough. Paul accepts the job, with Lang not objecting, because his fees will allow him to pay off the apartment in Rome where he and Camille live. Several encounters between Paul, Camille, Lang and Prokosch (and his assistant/interpreter, Francesca) take place in Rome and finally in Capri, where the Odyssey is being shot. The relationship between Camille and Paul is shown as very loving at first, but gradually cooling off each time they encounter the other characters, culminating in Camille clearly telling Paul in Capri that she no longer loves him; on the contrary, now she only feels contempt for him, and it is suggested that she may be starting a relationship with Prokosch.


The script itself does not make it easy for the audiences to understand exactly why Camille's feelings towards Paul shifted from love to contempt in just a couple of days. A large part of the dialogue is of the increasingly exasperated Paul asking her precisely that, with Camille initially either denying it or giving vague answers, until making it brutally clear in the final sequences in Capri that she indeed now detested him but refusing to explain why: that I will never tell you, until I die. Brief lines of dialogue suggest that Paul does suspect her true reasons and they are hinted at throughout the film, but still not in a very explicit way or explaining precisely why Camille's attitude towards her husband would change so drastically.

A fully consistent explanation is given by looking at the socionics types of the characters. Camille is a very clear and consistent IEI (which is Godard's own type and perhaps also Bardot's); Jeremy Prokosch is an equally clear and consistent SLE, although one whose need to brag about himself points to a clumsy use of E6 not unlike Donald Trump's (also a SLE). Paul is less consistently portrayed but he can be typed as a LSE.  That is, Camille and Paul's relationship was one of LSE-IEI Conflict, and the inherent issues with that relationship were brought to the surface in the presence of Camille's Dual, the SLE Prokosch.

Camille and Paul, although married, did not really understand each other's motivations. Paul was utterly captivated by Camille's beauty and her apparently solid love for him, which he assumed was a "fixed" thing: that is a manifestation of R5, a difficulty with understanding the status of others' relationships to oneself and how stable they are. From her side, Camille admired in Paul what she saw as his artistic integrity and independence, as well as his efforts to provide for her and thus protect her - appreciation of apparent L in others as well as a sign of her F5, the appreciation of others using assertiveness and power on her behalf.

That started to collapse with the entrance of Jeremy Prokosch. First, Paul decided to "sell out" to a vulgar Hollywood producer for the sake of the money he would have to finish paying off their apartment - a "mercenary" P motivation which however may be seen as corrupt by an IEI putting idealistic integrity (higher focus on L) first. Second, Paul, a LSE with very strong but devalued F8, clearly was not intimidated or impressed by Prokosch's overbearing use of F1, essentially not taking him seriously. That however caused precisely the wrong impression on Camille when, on two occasions, Prokosch (not very appropriately) offered Camille rides on his car and later boat, without her husband, with Paul not objecting and even encouraging her to accept, despite her expecting him to object and so "protect" her. But Paul was not taking Prokosch seriously as far as a threat to his relationship with his wife was concerned, due to his dismissive attitude to Prokosch's F and his obliviousness to risks to his R status with Camille - probably also aggravated by LSEs's difficulties in perceiving trends due to their T4. Also, from a practical P perspective, Paul saw no reason to object to her accepting rides from Prokosch.

From a F perspective though - the one that would be natural for the SLE-IEI Dual pair of Camille and Prokosch - what was going on was a high F man making clear his dominance of those around him, extending that to another man's wife. Paul's reaction was perceived not as obliviousness or not taking it seriously, but as submission to Prokosch's F, even to the point of letting his wife exposed to it as well. Paul's "corruption of his artistic integrity" - giving priority to P concerns over L principles - was not enough to make Camille despise him; but his apparent refusal to exercise F on her behalf was too much for her F5. He failed to show precisely what she most expected from him. Hence, her attitude to him became one of contempt. If Paul had used his F to "mark his territory" and said he would take a taxi with Camille, the first time, Prokosch might have taken the hint and Paul might have saved his marriage - at least for a time. As it was, the obvious manifestation of his R5 - his insistent asking of Camille for an explanation as to why she now despised him - would be as puzzling and irritating to her own R8 as her own desire for F had been to him.

There is a good-quality full version of Contempt on YouTube here - unfortunately not with English subtitles. The trailer of the 2016 restoration and re-release, with subtitles in English, is here.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Caligula (EIE): Personality Type Analysis

Caligula, official name Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, also known as the Emperor Gaius, was the third Roman Emperor, from 37 until his assassination in 41 at the age of twenty-eight. Along with his nephew the Emperor Nero (SEI), Caligula is probably the most (in)famous of all Roman Emperors, known popularly, for two millennia, as the archetype of the insane, depraved ruler. "Caligula" is a nickname, meaning "Little Boots", which he got as a little boy: his parents liked to dress him up in soldier's uniform while among the Rhine legions.

Caligula's "madness":  The image of Caligula as mad, in the sense of clinically insane, goes back to his own time. The most notorious story is that he appointed his horse to the position of consul (i.e. most senior magistrate); that however is an exaggeration of the historical record, which is that Caligula just said he was thinking of doing that. Nevertheless, all the existing historical records are consistent in pointing to Caligula as fond of making sarcastic, insulting, shocking remarks, as well as engaging in equally shocking and cruel behaviour, which often seemed inexplicable, and so it was easy to characterise him as insane. Nowadays the most accepted theory is that although an erratic and often capricious and irresponsible ruler, Caligula's behaviour was closer to what we'd today call a "troll" rather than that of a true lunatic.

Background: Caligula was the great-grandson of Augustus (LIE) and grand-nephew of Tiberius (ILI)Although only twenty-four years old, with no experience in government, and mostly unknown to the general public when Tiberius died, Caligula was the most suitable survivor of the "dynastic civil war" of the ruling family that took place in Tiberius' reign. He was acclaimed and accepted as Emperor of Rome by the Senate, the army, and the general population without much difficulty, above all because he had "inherited" the popularity of his late father, Germanicus.

Caligula was extremely popular at first due to feel-good gestures aimed at erasing the "gloom and doom" mood of the last years of Tiberius, especially the free (or rather reckless) spending on spectacles and public works, dissipating in less than one year the reserves built up by his predecessor. When money ran out, he had to turn to draconian measures to raise money, including higher taxes and confiscation of property of members of the aristocracy on trumped-up charges. He also executed or exiled close members of his family and inner circle, including his two surviving sisters and the Praetorian Prefect, Macro, who had been his most important supporter. A massive military expedition with the official aim of conquering Britain never crossed the Channel; instead Caligula stopped in France to remove and execute his own military governor on charges of conspiracy. Returning to Rome, he addressed the ongoing conflicts between the Greek and Jewish communities in Alexandria by ordering a statue of himself placed at the Temple of Jerusalem, since the Greeks had accused the Jews of not honouring the emperor. The local Roman governor managed to stall fulfilling that inflammatory plan until Caligula's timely assassination. That was the result of a plot involving not only members of Caligula's inner circle, but also senior members of his Praetorian Guard, fed up with the way the emperor would taunt and insult them: by giving them ridiculous and obscene watchwords and moving his finger pornographically when offering his hand to be kissed. A faction of the conspirators, and of the Senate, intended to abolish the very position of emperor and return to the system of the Republic; such dreams were completely derailed when the majority of the Praetorian Guard acclaimed Caligula's uncle, Claudius (ILI) as emperor.

Caligula's obelisk, St Peter's Square, Vatican
Caligula's behaviour:  As already mentioned above, it was Caligula's personal and public behaviour that made the theory of his lunacy seem credible. In a nutshell, he seemed to enjoy taunting, humiliating and scaring anyone of any kind of authority that was in his immediate presence; when interacting with truly humble members of the public, he tended to be more easy-going. His behaviour could be called that of a "troll" or prankster, except that his practically unlimited power, and his lack of scruples in punishing and even executing people, made his behaviour absolutely terrifying to those around him. His assassination was a backlash from that behaviour.

The most complete eyewitness description of Caligula's personal behavior was written by Philo of Alexandria, in his On the Embassy to Gaius, describing how he led an embassy of Jews from Alexandria to make their case to the emperor regarding the ongoing clashes there. Caligula received them as he was inspecting one of his villas and ordering changes in its interior decoration. Caligula seemed to only half listen to Philo's arguments as the whole group followed him from room to room, occasionally taunting them with questions like "why don't you eat pork?" As the Jews argued that different nations have different customs, and some don't eat lamb for instance, Caligula retorted "they're right, for it's not very nice". After complaining to the embassy that Jews were not paying him enough respect by making sacrifices to his statues, he ordered them to leave, saying, "these men do not appear to me to be wicked so much as unfortunate and foolish, in not believing that I have been endowed with the nature of a god".

This behavior - which is consistent with many other reports - makes clear that Caligula did not care at all about making others feel comfortable, welcome, or at ease; on the contrary, his inclination was to make others uncomfortable, scared, uncertain of whether he was joking or not. His pattern was to show in an "in your face" manner that he was far more powerful than those around him. Sometimes he would make the point explicitly, saying, "remember that I can do whatever I want to whomever I want". This very consistent pattern in his behaviour already points to F as quadra value with very subdued S, that is, to the Beta or Gamma quadras. That he also seemed very focused on the emotional response he would cause on others (whether fear, terror, or humiliation) points to a higher focus on E than on P.

Those priorities can also be seen in what is known of his actions in government. First, for someone who was emperor for under four years, the impact of Caligula's building projects in Italy is extraordinary (the tight-fisted Tiberius had built next to nothing in twenty-three years). Caligula brought to Rome the famous obelisk in St Peter's Square, weighing 326 tonnes, ordering the design and construction of a giant ship specifically for that purpose (it would remain the longest recorded ship for centuries, surpassed only in the 19th century). The obelisk was originally placed in Caligula's circus, or race-track, also built by the emperor on his private estates there. Even without knowing the actual sums, it is clear that they must have been astronomical. He also built a vast palace on the Palatine Hill (until then the so-called "imperial palace" had been a network of previously existing private houses), extending it down towards the Forum, behind the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Archaeological evidence confirms that Caligula actually connected the back of the temple to his palace, and it's recorded that he joked that the twin gods were now his "doorkeepers" - yet another example of his sense of humour aimed at making others uncomfortable or at being "edgy". Those building projects, focusing on the biggest, largest, most shocking etc., regardless of cost, are physical manifestations of a higher focus on F and E than on P, pointing to the Beta quadra (or if Gamma, only to SEE).
Caligula's palace on the Palatine hill, with the columns of the Temple of Castor

Much more bizarrely, and defying rational explanation, in the year 39 AD Caligula assembled the available ships (disrupting the grain supply in the process) besides building more for the purpose, in the bay of Naples. He ordered a pontoon bridge, over 2 miles long, built on the ships, connecting the towns of Baiae and Puteoli. Then, wearing Alexander the Great's armour, he spent two days riding his horse back and forth across the bridge, followed by soldiers and cronies, alternating that with wild drunken parties at night, with lots of people falling or being thrown into the sea, with a few drowning in the process. A contemporary, Seneca, wrote that the diversion of merchant ships to that purpose caused a disruption in the grain supply to Rome and its surroundings, with even a short-lived famine.

To the extent that this bizarre and hugely expensive spectacle had any purpose, it can only have been a combination of Caligula's personal amusement, and some kind of "message" he intended to convey with that spectacle, in an "artistic" way; and that message would be somehow related to Caligula's power. The problem is that contemporaries were all baffled at the precise reason for that exercise, demonstrating that Caligula did not bother announcing it. Since it preceded Caligula's (never completed) expedition to Britain, it has been speculated that it was meant as a symbol of his mastery of the seas and of his future conquest of Britain. But whatever Caligula had precisely in mind, the fact that its precise purpose remained unannounced and was almost certainly of symbolic meaning, points strongly to T as in one of Caligula's stronger functions, and T + E in particular. That Caligula again did not care about the expense of that project (and was seemingly unconcerned with the disruption of ship traffic caused by it) points again to P as a subdued and not very strong function.  This combination of functional preferences points more strongly to the Beta quadra, and to EIE or IEI in particular.

Caligula seemed to find it easy to think of cutting, witty remarks, and his approach to policies, projects and even interior decoration seemed more quirky and impulsive than settled; the historian Tacitus (LSI) summed that up with, "his impulsive ideas shifted like a weather-cock". This points to an ease with I and maybe to an Energiser. Finally, what sealed Caligula's fate was his inability or lack of concern with how the attitude of those around him was being shaped by his behaviour.  By making his inner circle, and even his personal armed guard, hate him more than they feared him, he was opening himself to his eventual assassination, yet he did not seem to realise that. That points not only to R as subdued in relation to E, but to R as more like an Ignoring rather than Background function, that is, R7 rather than R8, and I8 rather than I7. Finally, his approach to F - constantly reminding others of how powerful he was in an over-the-top way, which should be unnecessary - fits perfectly F6.

That is, the type that fits the evidence best on Caligula's functional preferences and strengths is EIE.

To learn more about EIE, click here.

Sources: the scholarly work on all aspects of Caligula's reign, referencing all the available historical and archaeological evidence, is Anthony Barrett's Caligula: the corruption of power