Friday, 5 February 2016

Christopher Hitchens (ESI): Personality Type Analysis

Christopher Eric Hitchens was noted for his intellectual scepticism. He made forthright and harsh critiques and had a very independent approach, not quite belonging in any camp but focusing much on his own views and tearing down populist, but inaccurate beliefs with the more negative facts of the case. This sort of approach is a strong indicator of Gamma values.

However, while even MBTI would note this independent, intellectual and sceptical nature of Hitchens (he's commonly typed INTJ), it is apparent that his focus in this field was not Intuitive-Logical, i.e. abstract and systematic issues, but Sensory-Ethical i.e. politics, personal issues and people.

It has been argued that as an intellectual he must have been Intuitive (and Logical). This is incorrect. He did indeed convey his visceral disgust in an intellectual setting, but this is not the same as intellectualising moral arguments. For someone who intellectualises moral arguments, I would contrast with Sam Harris (LIE), who takes matters to a general philosophical issue, rather than Hitchens' relatively concrete emphasis on what person X did and how depraved they are internally.

Although supported by facts that he had read, Hitchens regularly drew attention to the personal aspects of the topic being discussed. He was a writer of polemics, wilfully attacking individuals in his critiques that were abhorrent to his sensibilities and who had done things that were damaging to people. He focused on Mother Teresa (IEI), Bill Clinton (EIE) and Henry Kissinger (ILI) for instance. In each case, he drew attention to their failings as people and the critical sentiment he felt towards them. As such, although intelligent/intellectual, he was particularly conscience and principle-driven. Harsh judgement (R+F) was, I think, the most apparent theme in his intellectual work.

In general, Hitchens would talk about whatever he felt was wrong to him (R), and declare with conviction (F2) what made it unethical. There was less of the focus on trends and past experience to create a picture of bad outcomes from stupid decisions, but much more the act itself (F) as part of a deficient moral character (R). This is why, in politics, his work focused on individuals and their wrongdoing itself e.g. greed, hypocrisy, etc. rather than that something was stupid/wrongheaded (P) because of what it will lead to (T). He emphasised the question "is he really a good person?" and proceeds to show what was done that actually was quite bad of them. In comparison, David Starkey (ILI) focuses more on the long term stupidity of our actions i.e. based on how similar decisions have gone badly in the past, this new decision is very stupid. Starkey emphasises these trends and outcomes (T), showing whether our chosen strategy will work well or not (P). This is not to say that neither will attempt the other's approach at times, but that each other's alternative approach is not preferred.

In addition, Hitchens, although confrontational, was able to manage the level of confrontation rather expertly. He would calmly air his disgust and create the right level of distance to his opponent. In comparison, Starkey is unabashed in his derision of stupidity, suddenly and rudely railing against people who have said something without having thought it through properly. In this regard, Hitchens utilised R+F with far greater nuance, being civil and frank until he met someone deserving of a ruthless dressing down, where an angry Starkey can be treated as having acted unfairly harsh, open to critique by others for his rude (E4), but unmeasured and thus unconvincing attack.

These qualities, I think, make ESI the most likely typing for Hitchens.

To learn more about the ESI, click here.

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


Some clever comebacks

Polemic against Henry Kissinger

Polemic against Mother Teresa

The different approach of David Starkey

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