Wednesday, 28 December 2016
Albert Einstein (ILE): Personality Type Analysis
His early work can best be summarised in his 'Annus Mirabilis' papers of 1905, where four separate writings in the same year made substantial changes to modern physics and our understanding of space, time and matter. For these
1. He solved a puzzle of the photoelectric effect, i.e. the phenomenon where electrons are emitted when light is shone on an object, by theorising that light existed in discrete quanta, later called 'photons'.
2. He explained the findings of particles appearing to move randomly in liquids, a phenomenon known as 'Brownian Motion', saying that this was due to atoms, too small for the eye to see, colliding with the particles.
3. He was able to reconcile Maxwell's equations on electricity and magnetism with the laws of mechanics by introducing a new theory of 'Special Theory of Relativity', whereby the laws of physics are the same for all observers travelling at the same speed, and that the speed of light is the same for every observer. Previously, Maxwell's equations had run up asymmetries when applied to moving objects.
4. He formulated the 'Mass-Energy Equivalence', i.e. E=Mc2, which set out how matter itself contains energy, irrespective of the potential and kinetic energy that comes with movement.
These papers serve to illustrate the clear breadth focus that is consistent to Einstein. Not only did his writings on the Photoelectric effect make important contributions to the later formulation of 'Quantum Theory', something Einstein later has close involvement in, but in his later work, Einstein created the 'General Theory of Relativity', a direct addition to his Special Theory. Together, Quantum Theory and the General Theory of Relativity make up the two great pillars of modern theoretical physics, describing the laws governing the very small and the very large. In this regard, Einstein cannot be limited to any single area in his field. Indeed, on top of the more than 300 papers published on science in his lifetime, Einstein wrote a further 150 on other subjects.
In his approach to theory, Einstein was also notable in his desire, not to focus on any particular field, but rather bring together multiple fields in understanding a problem. Instead, Walter Isaacson writes that " "He had an urge -- indeed a compulsion -- to unify concepts from different branches of physics." This desire to not be tied down to one area, but to instead look into a multitude of branches and perspectives in theoretical physics, is typical of someone who actively seeks to increase the number of possibilities open to them, rather than limit them to a probable path. Indeed, out of all of Einstein's positive traits, he took greatest pride in his imagination and the desire to seek out and explore new ideas, as seen in his most famous quotes:
"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
The combination of Einstein's remarkable breadth-approach towards theroretical physics, as well as his clear appreciation of imagination, curiosity and trying new things, serves as a strong indicator for Einstein having had I as the dominant focus in his life (I1), while rejecting T (T7).
Other than his numerous accomplishments in physics, Einstein was also involved in the realm of politics. He consistently occupied the Left-wing, Liberal corner of discourse and did not shy away from radical perspectives, such as the preference that countries should eventually be abolished and replaced with a single government to protect its world citizens. The pacifistic Einstein abhorred war, seeing it as an extension of aggressive instincts in humanity that needed to be avoided and that only by bringing all nations and peoples together could this happen.
This aversion to aggression and support for a system that protects people from violence appears in his support for Socalism, where he thought that placing the means of production into the hands of society would discourage the aggressive competition between individuals that drives economic booms and busts. He wrote that such competition resulted in a "crippling of individuals" as people educated themselves and worked to advance one's career over others, rather than nourishing human creativity.
At the same time Albert Einstein supported Labour Zionism, i.e the establishment of a Jewish homeland through cooperative efforts of the working classes through kibbutzim. Despite the Nationalism this may imply, Einstein was against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine "with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power." Instead, Einstein only got on board with creating the state of Israel as late as 1948. His rationale for Zionism was to him a means of protecting Jews from persecution, following the Holocaust. Einstein's desire was for Jews and Arabs in the area to occupy the historically-meaningful area in peaceful cooperation, rather than compete for territory.
These quotes suggest someone who approaches politics from the view of fostering harmony and peaceful coexistence between people, actively avoiding the use of aggression to achieve one's ends except as a last resort, e.g. signing the letter for the American government to create an atomic bomb only as a means of preventing NAZI Germany from utilising a similar weapon. Additionally, there is a view towards people being given the means to best realise their individual potential and that competitive environments limit this. This sort of peaceful idealism is more to be expected of a type that rejects F in favour of S. This observation, along with Einstein's clear preference for I over T, presents sufficient evidence to say that Einstein had World-Accepting values.
Throughout his work in theoretical physics, Einstein relied largely on thought experiment and the application of mathematical proofs to aid exposition. There was a notable absence of attempt to support his positions empirically, and usually his theories were vindicated later by more empirical scientists. This tendency towards reaching logical propositions through the imagination is typical of types that combine I with L, rather than P.
Furthermore, although an agnostic, Einstein's approach to theology and the existence of God can be seen as a veneration of L in the absence of belief in an anthropological deity. He claimed to share the views of Baruch Spinoza (LII), i.e. the "admiration for the beauty of and belief in logical simplicity of the order...".
Furthermore, Einstein was quoted as saying this:
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.
Additionally, despite making a pivotal contribution to the development of Quantum Theory with his work on the Photoelectric Effect, Einstein never felt comfortable with its basic tenet. To Einstein, the idea that the fundamental laws of the universe were based on probability, rather than something more set and absolute, was disturbing to him. This was likely due to his quasi-religious belief in a "rational" structure behind the universe:
"I have not found a better expression than religious for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason."
Until his death in 1955, Einstein tried to disprove the theory he had helped to create, saying that "God does not play dice". When faced with evidence in favour of a universe fundamentally without rules, and instead random, Einstein felt determined to look for the opposite.
These quotes give the impression of someone who believed in an underlying order or structure to the universe, and who possessed a motivation to uncover whatever that structure was. In addition, the sign that there might be no such structure was a disturbing proposition for Einstein, and he could not accept it despite the lack of counter-evidence. This motivation likely drove Albert Einstein towards theoretical physics in the first place and clearly shows, due to its focus on L over P, the presence of Clarity-Seeking values.
The above combination of World-Accepting and Clarity-Seeking values culminates in a type of the Alpha quadra. Within this quadra, it is also apparent that Einstein was moreso in his element coming up with new theories and ideas with the rationale to explain them, than maintaining emotional and physical harmony in his immediate surroundings, suggesting someone with greater confidence in I+L over S+E.
Einstein being a Researcher can be seen in his attraction to the field of theoretical physics for his career, but more importantly, the genius with which he revolutionised this field, utilising non-empirical, thought experiment-based theories that constitute an I+L approach.
Socially, Albert Einstein was no genius. He never felt himself around other people and would imagine a glass plane separating him from them. This lack of social confidence was part of his reasoning for turning down the presidency of Israel, saying:
"All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions,” Einstein’s said, according to the report."
Furthermore, Einstein was notably absent minded over day to day tasks. Together, these observations make him being a Socialite much less likely.
From these observations, an Alpha Researcher is clear, leaving ILE and LII as the two most likely options. These can be narrowed down through further assignment of IM Elements to functions. It is clear that in his research, Einstein very much preferred the breadth approach to that of the depth, writing on four very different areas in physics during his Annus Mirabilis and proceeding throughout his life to publish over 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific works. Einstein's approach of contributing in one place, then rapidly switching to a very different area of contribution, is consistent with a type that is content with jumping to whatever is interesting in the moment, keeping open the possibility of moving onto anything else. At the same time, the ability to rationalise and explain through formulating a consistent structure, while employed expertly by Einstein, seems to support the whimsical dance of his interests, rather than lead his motivations. His approach to physics has been described as 'capricious', with him appearing convinced of his theories before suddenly becoming convinced of a different position when feeling that his position had been disproved. Furthermore, Einstein preoccupation with breadth over depth is consistent with someone who pays little attention to matters of T. While LIIs frequently use T8 to zone in on a subject worth of depth, so that every perspective and angle on that specific area can be explored (I2), Einstein's approach is far less fluid, i.e. one of maximising all breadth at the expense of much depth. This is all very consistent with I1 and T7, with L2. It can also be said that to support such a breadth of areas in which to apply one's thoughts, and to be able to change one's positions capriciously in each of them, as and when another explanation seemed preferable, would have required the ability to easily and confidently process incoming factual information and assimilate it with what is already known. This dynamic of acquiring new data and organically re-shaping L to explain the data is typical of the L2, P8 combination, where a fluid interplay exists between L and P. Because such a fluid interplay exists between the Logical elements, but not for the Intuitive elements, it is quite clear that ILE is the preferred type for Einstein over LII.
Einstein's weaker IM Elements can also be assigned to functions. It is notable that Einstein's approach to matters of S was seen by many as eccentric. Einstein decided to stop wearing socks, because he did not enjoy the feeling of holes he got from them and reasoned that it would be simply better if he ceased to wear them at all. This, in addition to his generally dishevelled look gives the strong impression of weak S. Despite this, it is clear that Einstein valued S with his preoccupations for smoking his pipe, playing his violin and sailing being methods by which he sought a calm relaxation. It seems most likely that Einstein saw the maintenance side of S as something to be outsourced to another person, a tendency typical of S5. This is especially clear in the letters towards the end of his first marriage to Mileva Maric:
"'A. You will see to it (1) that my clothes and linen are kept in order, (2) that I am served three regular meals a day in my room. B. You will renounce all personal relations with me, except when these are required to keep up social appearances.'' And: ''You will expect no affection from me . . . You must leave my bedroom or study at once without protesting when I ask you to.''
Not only does the letter reveal that S needs, i.e. having his day-to-day, physical requirements satiated, are the one thing Einstein demands fulfilment of in exchange for staying in a marriage, but it is notable that he considers in this letter a life where S is provided for completely at the expense of R, e.g. intimacy with a significant other. Indeed, it is in matters of R where Einstein shows his greatest area of neglect. Einstein had 10 different mistresses throughout his life, having 6 alone during his first marriage. Not only was he unfaithful to his wife, but he openly flaunted this betrayal. Such behaviour towards his supposed closest relationship would be most unusual for a type that understood the importance of R. Even his second marriage, to his cousin Elsa, could be described as a 'marriage of convenience'. This unashamed ineptness in his marital relationships can be added to a lack of closeness with his own family members, suggesting someone who readily failed to establish appropriate psychological closeness, serving as good evidence for R4.
While willing to outsource S matters to other people, Einstein invested more of his own efforts in matters of E. In the 19th century, a common avenue for such emotive expression was in chamber music, which Einstein adopted as his great love, aside from physics. It is important to note that where Einstein stood out was in the expression of himself through the medium of music, rather than in a meticulously perfected technique with his doctor János Flesch candidly observing:
“There are many musicians with much better technique, but none, I believe, who ever played with more sincerity or deeper feeling.”
Einstein saw himself as naturally musical, remarking that:
"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music."
This suggests someone who was perhaps more engaged with with emotive and expressive kinds of information, than one would expect from a 1D function. Not only this, but Einstein aspired to perform pieces of music to a public audience. While more often seen in comedy or some more active performing art today, Einstein's attraction to music serves as mild evidence of E6 in historical context.
To conclude, Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist with Alpha values who took a predominately I1+L2 approach to his theories, ignoring T7 and likely drawing from P8. While he seems to have made a public effort at his musical hobby with E6, he seemed to prefer S5 to be outsourced to others. Furthermore, with a clear disregard for R4, it makes sense to say that the best fit for Einstein would be the ILE.
To learn more about ILE, click here.
If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.
Capricious with theories and with his love life
Letter to his first wife