Monday, 24 April 2017

Epicurus (SLI): Personality Type Analysis

Epicurus was born to a poor Athenian colonist in Samos, where he was neither wealthy nor aristocratic and apparently suffered from ill health for much of his life. His philosophy represents a creative blend of the metaphysical interests of the Presocratics with the ethical concerns of Socrates. As much of his view aligned with Democritus, Epicurus espoused an atomic metaphysics, but combined and justified it with therapeutic hedonism, in which the anxieties of contemporary life were salved by the pursuit of pleasure without fear of divine punishment.

In essence, Epicurus follows Democritus' atomism, yet with one major modification. According to Epicurus, atoms in the void originally moved in undisturbed parallel lines. However, some atoms swerved from their course by a spontaneous act of free will. The resulting collisions giving rise to the myriad forms of things and the phenomenal world as we know it. This important modification of atomism allowed Epicurus to proclaim mechanism, but reject determinism as an explanation of human behavior, one of the primary reasons of Epicurus' dissatisfaction with Democritus' philosophy. Although he kept to the idea that the soul was itself nothing but the movement of atoms in the material body, some atoms could freely "swerve in the void". This mysterious and wholly unaccounted for property allowed Epicurus to maintain a concept human free will against the critics of earlier atomic theories. What is most obvious in Epicurus' rationality, is his accentuation on the communication with tactile information and how firmly this impacts human conduct. This is a man who tried to deliberately refine the nature of their lived experience by carrying on with an existence of excellence, diminishing showiness, taking into account the possibility of a minimizing agony and inconvenience however much as could reasonably be expected. This solid familiarity with tactile jolts and impression of minimizing inconvenience for the simplicity of work and enhancing oneself through virtue fits S1 and Delta values.

It is clear however, that Epicurus' real interest was not speculative metaphysics, but with the practical philosophy of life which required atomism only for it's theoretical underpinnings. His ethical teachings consisted in the pursuit of happiness, which he conceived was the elimination of pain - both mental and physical. Of the two, Epicurus taught that mental suffering is far worse, for either physical pain either soon abates and can be brought under the control of the mind or results in death. Death was not something to be feared, since there is no afterlife and no avenging the gods. The soul is perfectly in accordance with the doctrine of atomism, merely the concentration of atoms which will be dispersed upon bodily death. Mental anguish on the other hand, in the form of anxieties and fears, could continue unabated and result in distraction, depression and other psychological ills. Epicurus' method of dealing with philosophies was - to a great extent - based on using data that had down to earth application to the life of the normal man. He had an incredible handle on the procedures that could be utilized to collaborate with their general surroundings and could settle on sensible and logical choices without direction from others, which fits P2. This inclination of extracting helpful information from various methods of insight to better address the issues that required this data is normal with sorts who have P2 and L8, demonstrating a characteristic inclination for P over L.

Although thought of as a hedonist because of his emphasis on the pursuit of pleasure, it would be a mistake to think of Epicurus as condoning a promiscuous or decadent lifestyle - an accusation leveled at him by the stoic philosopher Epictetus. On the contrary, he was aware that many of these bodily pleasures brought with them pain or painful consequences. He himself was a man of little means and of poor health, given which it is perhaps unsurprising that central to his philosophy were both prudence and temperance. Epicurus also taught that wisdom was the greatest virtue, for through it we could learn which pleasures to seek and which to avoid. Moreover, he professed that no one could be completely happy unless the lived a virtuous life, not because virtue was good in itself, but because it led to pleasurable consequences and the absence of pain. Furthermore, Epicurus found the possibility of himself being the organizer of the Epicurean rationality to have assembled to some degree a religion taking after, which astounded him in all regards. He basically formulated along these lines of deduction to better help those people discover joy by carrying on with a way of life without overabundance or sin - he declined to fit the part of a kind of "pioneer" in spite of others' endeavors to urge him to do as such. This conduct of totally dismissing the possibility of common social occasion on the reason of tolerating his system of deduction shows degraded E and L, in all probability E4.

Like Democritus and other Presocratics before him, Epicurus rejected the idea of anthropomorphic gods who were cognizant of human affairs. Indeed, he was the first to formulate an argument that later became called 'the problem of evil' for those who maintain that there is an all-loving, all knowing, all-powerful deity. Noting that many ills suffered by people in the world, Epicurus complained, "Is God willing to prevent evil, but is not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then how can there be evil? Even so, Epicurus was not an atheist, since he believed in the existence in deities, but that these deities had no interest in human affairs - which would have distracted them from their own pursuit of pleasure in contemplation. This contention for dismissing the presence of divine intervention sets the case of Epicurus' inclination to mentally build up the clarity of their inner voice. In spite of the fact that every one of his talks, he assembling his own assessments and insights on issues they feel convey moral significance. Fundamentally, this was the consequence of his substantial enthusiasm for moral issues, despite the fact that he discussed this on the misrepresentation of his contentions and gave almost no backing to the moral thinking behind these matters - the definite inverse of his capacity to bolster a case sensibly. This leads to the likelihood of R6, in that he various methods and moral standards on what should be done to carry on with a virtuous life. However, he carried on with most share of his life spent in isolation and didn't appear to want to make any social contributions with Greek society at the time.

Epicurus' philosophy represents a curious mixture of opposing ideas. He is at once a "hedonist" who preaches prudence and temperance, a "theist" who rejects divine intervention and the survival of the soul and an "atomist" who upholds both mechanism and free will. His followers became known as the Epicureans, the most famous of whom was Lucretius. Epicurean philosophy enjoyed almost six hundred years of popularity, remaining faithful to the teachings of it's founder throughout - before being eclipsed by the Roman interest in Stoicism. Interestingly enough, Epicurus was completely unflappable in contentions, failing to fight back or reacting in an unrefined way to the questioner. Rather, he listened to the significant reactions inside the exchange and answered with productive analysis on the most proficient method to better enhance the condition of the examination, which supports the claim of an individual who likely devalued F, fitting the idea of F7.  

Thus far what has been mentioned about Epicurus clearly points towards S1, P2, E4, R6, F7 and L8. In conclusion, I believe Epicurus is a very good representative of the SLI type of information metabolism.

To learn more about SLI, click here.

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

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Pedro I of Brazil (SEE): Personality Type Analysis

Emperor Pedro I of Brazil, later briefly King Pedro IV of Portugal, also Regent of Portugal as the Duke of Braganza, was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1798. He occupies the unique historical position of being known as “The Liberator” in both a former colony, Brazil, where he is known as the father of its independence, and in the former colonial power, Portugal, where he was the leader of the liberal civil war which ended absolute monarchy. In Portugal he is also known as “The Soldier King”.

In 1807, when Pedro was 9, the whole royal family of Portugal fled Napoleon’s (SLE) invading armies, moving the capital of the Portuguese Empire to Rio de Janeiro, essentially re-founding it as the royal capital of all Portuguese dominions; an unique historical case of a colony becoming the seat of a colonial empire.  Pedro’s father, the easy-going King João VI, quickly adapted to his new surroundings and remained in Rio even after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814. The resulting chaos and revolution in Portugal led to the now-powerful parliament demanding the return of the king to Lisbon, which he did in 1821, leaving Pedro as Prince Regent of Brazil.

Growing up in Rio, the young Pedro was described as short-tempered and domineering; as “impulsive and never learned to exercise self-control or to assess the consequences of his decisions”. Although given tutors in many subjects, he ended up remaining relatively ill-educated (which he later regretted), becoming however a competent musician and composer in several instruments. But he preferred intense physical activities, like hunting, and training and riding horses. He was also an amateur farrier and carpenter, and very much inclined to womanising.  At the age of 19 he got married to Leopoldina, a daughter of the Austrian Emperor. He had seven children with her and respected her advice on state matters; but he was also notoriously unfaithful, having several short-term affairs and a couple of long-term ones, with many illegitimate children. By all accounts, he was approachable to the general population, and always remained friends with his teenage cronies from that time. Just before his father returned to Portugal, the Rio army garrison revolted; João VI and his court were paralysed in passivity, leaving the young prince Pedro to go negotiate with the soldiers on his own initiative. That led to a lifelong close relationship between Pedro and the army, with him moving among them easily and intimately (he was criticised for even defecating in the open among the soldiers) while on the march or on the battlefield, while still knowing how to make clear he was their leader, not only by virtue of his position but from his own personal soldiering skills.

What we have so far is an impulsive, active, physically confident young man who prefers athletic and manual activities to intellectual ones, and with a seemingly natural ease for personal leadership. That already points to F as a strong and valued function. His obvious ease in forming relationships in any social situation also suggests some reasonable strength on E.

Back in Portugal, the previously absolute monarch João VI was bullied by the new Parliament into accepting a constitution severely limiting his authority. The Parliament also started to introduce legislation aimed at reverting Brazil’s gains in status and autonomy since 1808, splitting the country into provinces reporting directly to Lisbon and so reducing Pedro’s power as the regent there. This led to Pedro being urged, also by his wife, into supporting the movement for independence from Portugal. Events in 1822 moved quickly with Pedro and his allies travelling through Brazil to gather support, also by promising a liberal constitution ('liberal' in its 19th century sense, i.e. as opposed to absolutism), and the Lisbon government reacting by annulling Pedro’s acts and ordering his return to Portugal, until the fed up Pedro abruptly and unilaterally declared Brazil’s independence in September 1822. Interestingly, by all accounts, he did that less out of any clear vision, thought-out plan or ideology, but because he sensed that the Lisbon parliament was demoting and insulting him personally. There were also rumours that the Lisbon parliament intended to outright ban Pedro from the succession to the Portuguese throne once he was back in Portugal (a parallel can be made with Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon).

The pro-independence forces in Brazil rallied around the young prince (he was then 23) as their leader, acclaiming him as Emperor of Brazil (rather than “king”). A 2-year War of Independence followed, with Pedro raising troops through every possible means and relying on French and British mercenaries as officers, most famously Lord Cochrane as commander of the improvised Brazilian fleet. Parallels with the American War of Independence are imperfect: Brazil was much weaker than the US militarily and economically, but then so was Portugal much weaker than Britain. On the other hand, the north of Brazil preferred to stay loyal to Portugal, needing to be beaten into submission by Cochrane and Pedro by a combination of military force as well as bluffing about non-existing fleets “just about to arrive”. In the end Portugal lacked the resources and the will to sustain a war across the Atlantic so that fighting was effectively over in less than two years. The fact that in the meantime King João VI had been restored to absolute power by an armed coup helped, as he lacked the inclination to fight his own son.

The now Emperor Pedro I had broadened his support by promising that he would not replace a Portuguese tyranny with a Brazilian one, and duly called elections for a constituent assembly in Rio. That assembly quickly got into conflict with the Emperor by questioning his undivided loyalty to the new country (as he was after all the son of the Portuguese king) and starting to clash with his cabinet and to draft a constitution that would make the emperor largely a figurehead. Again fed up and insulted, Pedro dissolved the constituent assembly by force, promising he’d write a much better constitution himself. He and his advisors did publish a constitution just a couple of months later in early 1824. That constitution was a strange mix of authoritarianism and libertarianism: while concentrating executive authority in the emperor, it also consolidated the legislative power of Congress and, most importantly at the time, cast in stone (at least in theory) the individual freedoms of property, expression and religion. Despite Pedro being personally in favour of abolishing slavery, there was no way he could keep the north of the country on board if he pushed the issue. Correctly guessing that his constitution was the best they were going to get, the city assemblies quickly ratified it. Even as it was, the northeast of Brazil tried to secede, forming the “Equator Confederacy”. Pedro characteristically saw it in personal terms: “What are the demands of the insults from [the province of ] Pernambuco? Certainly a punishment, and such a punishment that it will serve as an example for the future”. Pedro beat the rebels into submission – yet, again characteristically, of the many hundreds tried for treason, he hanged 16 ringleaders but pardoned everyone else.

Pedro I remained Emperor of Brazil for 9 years until 1831. His hyperactivity, energy, aggression and even his impulsiveness served him well in the early crises, when the goal was to establish the country’s independence and unity. But as the chief executive of an existing country, lacking a crisis to solve, he tended to political paralysis and to an erratic, indulgent personal life. The huge debts left by the wars and the independence settlement with Portugal resulted in the usual problems of inflation and the government’s inability to pay its expenses. His 'approval rate' further declined when his popular wife Leopoldina died;  Pedro’s own very public unfaithfulness to her with a long-term mistress was thought to have contributed to her death at 29. Even militarily, he started to lose prestige, failing to prevent what is now Uruguay from seceding from Brazil in 1828. But what caused him the most damage politically were the consequences of the death of his father, King João VI, in 1826. Portugal recognised Pedro as their new King as Pedro IV, putting him into the impossible position of being simultaneously the Emperor of Brazil and the (absolute) king of Portugal. Characteristically, he solved that crisis decisively in a few weeks: he abolished absolutism in Portugal at a stroke, issuing a liberal constitution – quite literally 'copied-and-pasted' from his Brazilian constitution of 1824, with just a few changes, by him and his secretary – then abdicated the Portuguese throne in favour of his daughter Maria, who became Queen Maria II at 7, leaving his own younger brother Miguel as regent in her name in Portugal.  Pedro’s renouncing of the Portuguese crown gained him some short-lived popularity in Brazil, but that also acted as a reminder that Portuguese affairs continued to draw him in, especially as he inevitably continued to be actively involved on behalf of his daughter, now the queen. He attempted a new start in 1829 by dumping his long-term mistress and marrying Amelia of Leuchtenberg from Bavaria, as well as breaking up with his most notorious Portuguese cronies from his youth. Nevertheless his political meltdown continued, with Pedro pressured to appoint ministers who would be clearly free from any Portuguese connections, rather than his own personal associates. This he refused to do, and he solved that crisis by abdicating the Brazilian throne in 1831 in favour of his 5-year old son Pedro II (EII)and leaving the country immediately afterwards – after spending a week on a British ship carefully and personally settling all his financial affairs, which had always carefully managed.

Now calling himself the Duke of Braganza, he had yet another crisis to address. In Portugal, his younger brother Miguel, after swearing to Pedro’s 1826 liberal constitution as Maria II’s regent, had assembled absolutist supporters (including the Catholic church) and proclaimed himself King Miguel I as absolute monarch. Accompanied by his wife and the young queen, the duke now gathered some political and financial support in France and Britain, and having his personal fortune, he assembled a small force of volunteers and mercenaries, landing in the city of Porto in 1832. He had sort of trapped himself, remaining besieged in Porto for over a year, surrounded by the much larger Portuguese forces. During the siege he maintained the loyalty of his army and of the Porto civilians by his close personal connection with them and sharing their burdens on the battlefield. The stalemate was ended in 1833 when he risked a stealth naval attack through the south of the country and then quickly marching on to Lisbon. Miguel’s support collapsed; he agreed to abdicate and to move into exile with a pension. Acting now as regent for the young Queen Maria II, Pedro reinstated his constitution of 1826 but died a few months later of tuberculosis, aggravated by two broken ribs from his wild Rio days. He was then 35.

As mentioned above, Pedro’s obvious hyperactivity and ease with quick, decisive action, especially when force (military force in particular) was involved, as well as his impulsiveness, point strongly to F as an ego function and an Energiser type, so F1, which is also consistent with his personal inclinations in the absence of crises. That he seemed to lack any longer-term personal or political goals, and was at his best when decisively addressing short-term crises, is a characteristic common to T5 types in the absence of a partner able to give them a longer-term purpose of higher meaning. As far as his worldview and political principles were concerned, his chief characteristics were a broad acceptance of 19th century liberal values while at the same time remaining fiercely loyal to his own family’s dynastic interests. In a letter to his son, he said he understood that they were living at a time when being born a prince was not enough to ensure loyalty from one’s subjects; it was necessary to earn leadership and respect from one’s own qualities. That understanding did not prevent him from putting a 7-year old girl and a 5-year old boy on the thrones of two countries. In the cases of Brazil’s independence, of his clashes with the constituent assembly of 1823 and of his abdication of the Brazilian throne, he was clearly insulted at the notion of his own personal leadership and loyalty being questioned; yet, once consolidating his leadership, he was unconcerned with implementing ideologies or laws that would micro-manage what ordinary people should do. It is unthinkable that Pedro would have even tried to implement his own version of the Napoleonic Code, for instance. All of that points to very unvalued L; and his own approach to abolishing Portugal’s absolute monarchy – just copy-and-paste the Brazilian constitution – is exactly the kind of thing that a L4, P6 type would do. His P6 can be observed in his opportunistic pragmatism, his personal care with his finances, his regret at his own lack of education, and – along with a hint of I3 –his eagerness for learning new practical skills and musical instruments.

Pedro’s valuing of R over L can be seen in pretty much everything in his life. For instance, while Brazil’s independence was being fought over, he was very concerned with not offending his father King João VI, with Pedro even saying privately that if his father decided to move back to Brazil, he would recognise him as emperor instead – in fact it can be argued that Brazil’s independence was eased because João VI himself privately agreed with it as long as he wasn’t too humiliated by it. This illustrates how Pedro saw policy matters largely in terms of his personal loyalties and honour, rather than any ideology or even his status or image. One unpleasant aspect of Pedro’s character is his blatant unfaithfulness to his wife the Empress Leopoldina whom he respected in state affairs; however, it is clear that he saw royal marriages as not necessarily implying personal devotion (his own parents hated each other bitterly). In his second marriage to Amelia, to whom he was deeply devoted, he remained faithful (or some ~99%).

The type that most clearly fits the Duke of Braganza is SEE.

To learn more about the SEE click here.

Sources: all quotes come from the Wikipedia article which is of high quality. A very good biography is Neil Macaulay's Dom Pedro: The struggle for liberty in Brazil and Portugal 1798-1834

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

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Westworld (HBO series): Socionics Analysis

I have recently watched the whole season of the HBO series Westworld, which is a remake of the 1973 movie of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton.

Previously, I analysed the 1973 movie, demonstrating that its focus and assumptions follow Gamma values, consistently with Michael Crichton's type of LIE. The HBO series version has clear Beta values and assumptions, as I will demonstrate here, contrasting them with the Gamma 1973 version.

Note: this analysis will avoid spoilers as to specific plot points, but it will contain more general references to the series' overall themes. If you haven't seen it yet, this analysis will not reveal detail plot points or surprises of the HBO series, but it will touch on the broader themes and events, which may be considered a kind of spoiler.

Michael Crichton was fascinated by technological development and how the poor understanding of new technologies could have tragic consequences or be misused - this was a theme common in many of his books and movies. By his own account, he got the idea for the original Westworld script after observing the then revolutionary audio-animatronic technology in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland, making him wonder what would happen if more advanced versions of the pirates would break down and start attacking the tourists. Accordingly, his Westworld script approached the question of ultra-realistic robots in a recreation of the Old West from a purely technological point of view (including, remarkably, the foreseeing of computer viruses). As the robots in the 1973 Delos park start attacking and killing tourists, one could perhaps interpret that as the robots 'revolting', but that is not an interpretation encouraged by Crichton's script, which consistently portrays the robots as malfunctioning machines, with no hint of consciousness.

The HBO Westworld series looks at it differently. [Moderate spoilers follow]; the concept of an Old West theme park populated by lifelike robots where wealthy guests can fulfil their fantasies (often related to power, sex and violence) is broadly the same as in the 1973 movie, but the approach is very different (besides having many more subplots, due to much greater length). It has the following Beta larger themes: the close look at the question of what is self-awareness, what conscious thought consists of, and at which point lifelike robots can be said to be conscious, and therefore 'alive', and precisely how that self-awareness gradually develops. This raises the moral issue of when it can be considered that the robots are being oppressed, in a manner akin to slavery, and therefore with the right to revolt against their oppressors. The series does not really look deeply at the technological side of malfunctioning technology (the technology is taken for granted and many details are left unexplained); it looks at the issue of robots developing self-awareness and what that would imply in such a situation and environment.

The whole process of developing self-awareness is described in T terms and imagery: going back-and-forth between present reality and memories of past events, at first with little ability to differentiate between the two, and with the development of self-reflection and introspection - i.e, going inside one's own head while detaching oneself from immediate S sensations. A large part of the series is devoted to this, so that the viewer can relate to the process. That is, the series has an intense T focus.

As already mentioned, the series takes for granted that most of the guests visiting the Westworld park do so for indulging in fantasies of power as expressed in sex and violence, that is, F fantasies. The fights and machinations inside the Delos corporation that owns and runs Westworld are portrayed as a series of political manoeuvres, fights for power, conspiracies, backstabbing and alliances - in a House of Cards fashion. And as with House of Cards, Westworld does not portray that as something positive, but it seems to take for granted that that is how large corporations necessary operate, that is, driven by F fights with little regard for R individual relationships or S comfort. Taking a closer look at R: what is interesting is that the plot of Westworld does depend on several R bonds to develop, being even central to it; yet, in the end, they are mostly revealed to be unimportant, besides the point, illusory or needing to be overruled. That is, R is understood but in the end considered to not be really 'the point'.

One of the broader themes of Westworld is that of a structure of 'oppressed' and 'oppressor' categories of people (or quasi-people in this case): that is a F+L theme and a very frequent concern of Beta artistic expression. The presence of E is however rather subtle: E is present in the sense that the whole 'reality' of Westworld is rather based on E and T rather than P, and also - perhaps most important - that it is E stimuli which are key in kick-starting the process of developing self-awareness.

Although the series as whole clearly focuses on Beta values, that does not mean - at all - that all the individual characters are portrayed as of the Beta quadra. On the contrary, several main characters seem to be EII, SLI or ILI, LIE, LSE etc. From that point of view, the series' script is a rather sophisticated one, which looks at its own universe through a Beta lens while still showing understanding for other quadras.

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