[Introverts] Are you an essentialist?

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  • This topic has 9 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Pine.
  • Auburn
    Keymaster
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    How do you approach your methodology for truth-seeking? Are abstract objects real? Are they more real than physical objects?

    Or are you a materialist or empiricist instead?

    I suppose more broadly — how do you determine what is real?

    perhaps helpful:

    Spoiler:

    Essentialism is the view that every entity has a set of attributes that are necessary to its identity and function. In early Western thought Plato’s idealism held that all things have such an “essence”—an “idea” or “form”. In Categories, Aristotle similarly proposed that all objects have a substance that, as George Lakoff put it “make the thing what it is, and without which it would be not that kind of thing”

    Plato’s Idealism — Platonism refers to the philosophy that affirms the existence of abstract objects, which are asserted to “exist” in a “third realm” distinct both from the sensible external world and from the internal world of consciousness.

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Auburn.
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Auburn.
    bella
    Participant
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Directive

    Are you an essentialist?
    To an extent but not in a strict/absolute sense.
    [Confession: It’s true that it often feels natural/comfortable for me and in alignment with my essence (hehe), probably because abstractions ‘make sense’ and ‘feel real’ to Ji,  but that might be more of a personal bias than an intellectual agreement and I am aware of that.]

    How do you approach your methodology for truth-seeking? 
    If I’m forced to narrow down my truth seeking into a single methodology I would say rationalism (i.e. logic; deduction).

    Are abstract objects real? 
    Sure.  I’ve never seen, felt or tasted the number 2 yet I think it’s a real number.

    Are they more real than physical objects?
    As I mentioned above, subjectively/phenomenologically to me – often yes.  Objectively – no.  They are a different type of real.

    Or are you a materialist or empiricist instead?
    I am not strictly an empiricist nor materialist although I definitely value these as some of the main methodologies of truth seeking.  However, like all isms they are not without their problems.

    For instance, the empiricist axiom that knowledge is sensory-based only, and that there are no innate ideas is not true.  History shows that great minds will often have an initial hazy-intuitive idea, and then use their mind to look for intellectual pathways to articulate it or prove it. For example, Democritus spoke of the atom and believed that matter consists of invisible particles called atoms and there is a void within them at around 400 BCE, way before he had any modern scientific means to test such a theory empirically.  Also the first Pythagoreans were very mystical, Einstein spoke of his intuition, and I doubt Jung used empiricism as his main methodology for arriving at the archetypes etc. (And iirc I think @Auburn you’ve said something similar about the formation of CT?).

    I suppose more broadly — how do you determine what is real?
    Descartes style (i.e. using rationalism)

    More pointedly, the way I view it is that if we are speaking in absolutes, the only thing we can call real is ‘absolute reality’ or ‘absolute objectivity’ (a.k.a Truth). Absolute-objective truth holds no contradictions and divisions. (History is in a process of discovering the ‘ultimate truth’ and advancing towards it, but it hasn’t fully acquired it yet).
    Subjectivity on the other hand is ‘partial truth’, and while everything we perceive is “infected” with subjectivity, I think our fragmented perceptions also reveal something of the ‘real reality’  (absolute objectivity).  Ideally, we’d be able to see how subjectivity is embedded is the collective objective truth.  Or for instance, how abstract concepts (if they are correct) are embedded in physical reality, but that’s not always the case.  So we can speak of a ‘soul’ as the emergent property of all a person *is* materially speaking, but that would still be ‘true/real’ that this emergent state is what we view as their essence.  Yet, the fact that we are not always able to do that doesn’t disqualify all abstract concepts.  And so if we are not speaking in absolutes, both abstractions and physical reality are real in their own way.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by bella.
    Elisa Day
    Participant
    • Type: TiSe
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    I believe feelings, ideas, dreams, imaginings, and fantasies are just as real as anything physically tangible. However, I’m aware that most others don’t believe this. While conversing with humans I maintain an awareness that when they say “real” they tend to mean what can be experienced with the senses and/or what can be verified by agreement with multiple people as to the meaning and validity of the thing. I tend to refer to such things as “manifestations” since I believe all that we experience begins with a spark of an idea. The best example I can come up with right now may be too controversial and I can already see it opening a can of worms, but I already consider myself a mother ever since I decided to plan to have children and imagined their potential manifestations. I’ve never physically given birth, but the idea has been born. Thus, the dominos have already begun toppling, but I can’t tell anyone that I’m a mother though (especially considering the political associations).  They’ll argue with me over not having any physical evidence or insist I can’t be certain how future events will unfold, and I know nothing I say can persuade them. Still, most of the major decisions I make every day are made based on what I consider conducive to manifesting the visions I have of my child. This makes it a very real and prominent part of my present life.

    That being said I’m often quite confused about what even is real and can end up lost in a fog fairly often, so perhaps this isn’t the most grounded way of going about life.

    Is this essentially what you mean by essentialism then? Have I answered your question? How do I know something is real? I suppose I know it’s real if I can clearly imagine it. I don’t know how else to describe what I’m trying to say. There’s subjective reality and objective reality, and I consider subjective reality to be quite obvious and remain skeptical that an objective reality even exists at all. People tend to get quite angry at me when I say things like that.

    Chiron
    Participant
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: ll-l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    Are You An Essentialist?

    When it comes to deciphering concrete reality, I’m not an essentialist at all. However, to say this is at least somewhat inaccurate, since by being human (and prolly especially an Ne user!) I will conceive of things in an ‘essential’ sort of way, or as I would put it, we tend to interpret the world symbolically. And so always my concepts and explanations of things will be representative/abstract.

    Getting to the Core Reality

    I believe if you study the psychology surrounding a topic – why we as humans think about something the way we do – then you can be better equipped to see the underlying reality of it (at least as far as the mind is capable of such).

    Essentially I have a deductive approach to understanding reality. But being that I am my initial point of reference and subject to the nature of my thoughts, my focus is on checking my own perception. I begin by analyzing the way I am thinking about a topic in order to identify and peel away the layers of misinterpretation and symbolic representation.

    What is left is my closest approximation of concrete reality, and I can use this as a basis for which to associate and deduce further concepts.

    Essence as Symbol

    I think that essentialism emerges from the fact that we have a finite capability to perceive and form concepts about the world. We will project a general/fuzzy image which includes enough detail for us to get an overall picture of the object/process, and perhaps especially how it is relevant to us.

    Now what I’ve described here is basically the analytical explanation for why humans create symbols. What is a symbol except a condensed/simplified representation of a larger, more complex concept? “A picture is worth a thousand words” <– This, I believe, sums up in principle why we think the way we do. It’s about using the limited sensory and cognitive resources we have in an efficient way.

    And so ‘essences’ are really no different than the other types of symbols/characters we generate in order to efficiently understand and interface with the world. It helps to think of a thing as being that thing in a characteristic, singular sense.

    But What is Reality?

    I would describe my viewpoint as Determinist. I think that everything in this reality boils down to the particular arrangement and association of physical constituents in an object/system. All things are causal, and if we could know the precise cascade of a process, all of the objects involved and how they’ve interacted/effected each other and the outcome, we would truly understand it.

    The world around us is quite geometric, I believe. This is why mathematics works so well to describe reality, numbers represent concrete values, their relationships, and can be used to project the causalities of their interactions.

    Are Abstract Objects Real?

    This is essentially the question ‘Are Thoughts Things?’ and I’m still in the process of contemplating it fully. But I think very much along the lines of what Peterson writes in his Maps of Meaning. He describes ‘two worlds’ – concrete reality and the world of meaning and narrative. The second, of course, is referring to the human experience, and really how the application of our instincts plays out based on our symbolic interpretation of reality.

    Peterson is a brilliant man, and I can’t do his explanations justice.. But overall I share the same viewpoint. Just because our concepts aren’t discreet physical things, doesn’t mean they aren’t part of reality. I liken them to being real-yet-intangible in the same way that software is.. Our central nervous system is the hardware, and the complexes of concepts formed by its chemical workings are the software. Software defines how a system operates, just as our concepts motivate our behavior.

    The Edge of My Understanding

    Now on this topic of thoughts as things, there is something I’ve come across that takes the question in a bit of a different direction. This is the apparent reality of the ‘collective unconscious’ and the formation of archetypes.

    It is my thought at this point that the psyche does have a transpersonal nature, i.e. that at a subliminal level we can sense the emotions and intentions of others. This sounds very woo, and indeed this is not something I fully understand. But the more I see of the way we interact on a collective level, the more convinced I am that there is a sort of hive-mind effect going on.

    In my study of chaos magick I was especially struck by a certain aspect of the practice which is essentially the intentional creation of an archetype. As described on Wikipedia:

    “In modern chaos magic, when a complex of thoughts, desires and intentions gains such a level of sophistication that it appears to operate autonomously from the magician’s consciousness, as if it were an independent being, then such a complex is referred to as a servitor. When such a being becomes large enough that it exists independently of any one individual, as a form of “group mind”, then it is referred to as an egregore.”

    Servitors and egregores could be called personal and collective archetypes. It seems to me that when enough focus is put into a certain concept, it not only changes the disposition of the one focusing, but also that of others who are in proximity to them, or who’s underlying intent already aligns with theirs in some way. Another example of this sort of thing are cases where numbers of online searches for certain keywords predict disasters or other events. I think this is likely a cascade effect of a few people registering a change in the environment, then their disposition effecting the disposition of others nearby.. until the concept becomes so ‘charged’ that many are effected.

    Does this mean that the thought becomes an independent object? No, I don’t think so. But I think that impressions of thoughts can be shared and can influence us from the outside-in, so to speak.

    Quin
    Participant
    • Type: NiTe
    • Development: l---
    • Attitude: Seelie

    I’ve been staring at your question for the last couple days and having trouble answering it. I think I finally figured out why —

    My reality is process oriented. It is not thing oriented.

    I care less whether simple objects in the world are considered “real” or not. There is a very dense, “real” world of wires, switches, routers and other devices which connect computers and other devices on the Internet of Things, and provide data that allow the computers the appearance of live functionality and update. This world is backboned on the procedural work of many dedicated people who built and implemented the protocols to make them work together, but nothing about this world is nearly as real to me as the process by which things happen over the wires and generate a result.

    So to me, I suppose you could the elements of reality are everything involved in the process and the process itself, culminating in the resulting state. This means, in effect, that anything that can be boiled down to process must have some level of reality, as there was an event that happened to make it so. And anything that cannot… well, that’s hard to conceive of when sheer existence is process.

    Humans are events in this same way. They are conceived, born, and defined through the processes of life, they impact the world around them, and they are each individually an ever-evolving result. Never complete, never done, perhaps even when “dead”.

    And I’m beginning to suspect that consciousness is too.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Quin.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Quin.
    Auburn
    Keymaster
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    @quin-cognitivetype – Just fascinating. I hadn’t thought about the question itself being skewed in formulation, but your response really does reflect my J bias. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of your Ni-lead contemporaries (Iain McGilchrist) says quite identically: “There are no things… only processes.” I’d like to share with you this short clip if you have some time to look at it?

    Spoiler:

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Auburn.
    hackphobia
    Participant
    • Type: FiSe
    • Development: lll-
    • Attitude: Unseelie

    To me, truth is how things could be or could have been, not how they can be shown to be.
    The possibility that Tottenham had chance to win the soccer champions league, is as real as the fact that Liverpool actually won the champions.

    when it comes to process vs structure. I like both equally.  Maybe because I’m a programmer?  in object oriented software, code is separated between ‘Function vs State’.
    but if I had to choose one, I’d say structure is the realist between the two. because you can view anything as a structure, including all its possible forms. I also view being as a structure, which is the same as ‘Quality’ itself.
    Furthermore, to describe the structure of something, is to say something has the quality A.
    A step further, for something to be a process. it has to have the quality of being a ‘process’.

    How do you approach your methodology for truth-seeking?

    I’m a hardcore Reductionist. I’m attracted to things like:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_thought

    and:

    Are abstract objects real?
    Yes. Every possibility as real. Because change is the only constant, nothing is forever.

    Are they more real than physical objects? 
    there’s no difference between the two.  physical objects have the quality of being ‘physical’

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by hackphobia.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by hackphobia.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by hackphobia.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by hackphobia.
    bella
    Participant
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Directive

    @Quin -Oh wow! That’s fascinating, and very fitting for Ni 🙂

    I could actually easily see how you would come to equate ‘realness’ with ‘process’ as everything in the world in confined by time, and time is essentially change.  Even if we take things that outlast the universe itself, i.e. atoms, they too go through change that from our relative viewpoint may be undetected and irrelevant but is nonetheless happening. So how do we know if something is real by that definition? If it goes through transformation, evolution; a process.

    I also find it interesting that this is simultaneously an objective observation — everything in the world decays, nothing is static, and change is an axiom that rests at the basis of existence; yet this is fundamentally a phenomenological perspective that is taking into consideration the human being as being part of a system that is confined within the boundaries of time and acknowledges that we register reality that way.

    Ivory
    Participant
    • Type: TiSe
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    Honestly, I have never thought of this question. I don’t think I have ever questioned if anything is real or not, whether its the extraverted agreed-upon world or inner thoughts or feelings.. I assume all of it is real. It is real because it exists.

    The concept of one thing being ‘more’ or ‘less’ real than another puzzles me. I’m reminded of people saying that certain typologies are hard if not impossible to prove, so [insert type justification].. so what? Anything goes? No. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I see types of people, so types are real. Type operates around universal principles that are not limited to the human psyche and that govern the very fabric of reality – psyche being just one manifestation of it. As above so below.

    This is as real as me sitting in the sofa making my fingers work on this colorful laptop.. in my lap.. while eating some oatmeal because I’m too tired to eat a ‘decent’ meal at almost 3 am. One is not any more real than the other, there is just a difference in where I focus my attention. The deepest reality (capital-t Truth, the One Rule, Logos) that makes up the bowl containing the oatmeal is directly linked to the human psyche as well. There is no difference. All of it is real. All of it is true.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Ivory.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Ivory.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Ivory.
    Pine
    Participant
    • Type: FiNe
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Seelie

    Re: Essentialism or nominalism

    I don’t think that reality is a bunch of closed systems. At least not from a higher dimensional perspective. Objects are influencing each other, so they must be present within the same system, without hard boundaries. Plurality is simply a perceptual feature; a concept, and the basis of all other concepts. The mind slices reality up into pieces of interconnected qualities. Taxonomy is therefore just a way of describing reality (the description of reality is a part of reality, but that’s a whole other story). I don’t think human concepts or archetypes are pure, referential mind-bodies to an outer-human reality. But they ought to emanate from actual patterns of properties in the vast object of observation. I think I’m having a hard time seeing how there could exist a pattern-making mechanism in a nominalistic soup.

    Reality in its wholeness has similarities spread all over its ontological landscape. Similarities can imply 1) equal appearances of differing causations/components, 2) equal appearances of equal causations/components, 3) differing appearances of equal causations/components.

    1 is formalism, thus considered a nominalistic view, while 2 and 3 goes into essentialism. I believe all 3 forms of similarities exists, so I guess that makes me an essentialist (who also believes in secondary abstractions that can be referred to, thus be considered universals located on a certain phenomenological layer of reality).

     

    Re: Epistemological style

    I see physicality as a complex material and therefore not the primary substance of existence. The only thing I know for certain is that every component of reality shares the attribute ”existence”, and I can actually see how that single attribute could unfold to all other attributes. <- This kind of reasoning seems highly abstract, rationalistic, linguistic. My axiom is monistic.

    How do you determine what is real?

    This whole phenomenological terrain is real. However, things can be more or less real, meaning they can be congruent with many or few dictums. My epistemological duty is to create a coherent map of reality by testing dictums, and to kind of ”peel” the truth of those that don’t quite fit, so that they do fit. As I mentioned above, mental representations are not equivalent to what they represent. We’re bound to be subjective (= being perceiving entities) in the process of defining objects.

    My empirism has become intimately connected to feeling my way through life. I’ve noticed that when I listen to my gut, things fall into their rightful places. Good is true and true is good.* As I step into my personal essence, my epistemological instrument becomes fine-tuned, and the other way around.

    I want to clarify that when I talk about personal essence, I’m referring to the optimal organization of information within a certain dimensionality of consciousness. The optimality is a measurement, in theory, of the level of connectivity and amount of integrated information. Feeling states are indications of whether the system of consciousness is organized or not. I imagine truth to show itself most clearly when information is synchronized, hence my striving for acceptance/resonance/integration of information rather than discrimination/dissonance/disintegration of information.

    *I know there’s existence=truth. Existence has the attribute of existing. Every particle of reality shares this property, so my body and mind aim to exist. For something to exist, it must have definition (basically, a thing in existence must be a particular thing). I’m assuming that my emotional apparatus, as any system within this universe, is developed under the strains of the universal aim to define truth.

    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Pine.
    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Pine.
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