The Problem in Typology
October 24, 2021 | By Auburn


Hey, welcome back everybody this is video number two in the series on Cognitive Typology's Model 1. So, last time we talked about the physical definitions of extroversion and introversion as maybe extracted from Carl Jung's original psychological types, and here I have some images where you can see the conclusions of the previous video placed in one diagram. So, this is introversion. You can define it as eyes disengage downward or zoned out - so the eyes are just kind of not attentive or focused to the environment whether that means they are just dropped down or if they may be facing forward but not engaging so they're just kind of zoning out as they're facing forward either way is a form of disengaging. The arms retreat closer to the chest or in other words they leave the object. There's sparse or no articulation because that's also a kind of outward expression, and in general the body in a sense tends to take up less space around it. And in saying that, the opposite would be extroversion. So, invert that all around and you say: extroversion would be eyes engage with the environment, you know tracking things and noticing things and responding visually to those things. Arms expanding into the environment, so articulating. So for example what I'm doing now is an instance of extroversion because i'm speaking even if I might be natively more introverted what I'm doing at the moment is extroverting, as a function of the oscillation between the two that we all undergo. And also, taking up more space with the body, taking a kind of liberty, instead of shrinking from it. Spreading oneself in it, having influence over it. Having these physical definitions allows us to make some elementary distinctions between people, but by itself this doesn't paint the full picture of human differences. There are more nuances in human nature and human psychology than what this single dichotomy can produce. Jung understood this too and the way he puts it is as follows, he says here that: "The hypothesis of introversion and extroversion allows us first of all to distinguish two large groups of psychological individuals. Yet this group is of such superficial and general nature that it permits no more than this very general distinction." And I think we can all agree that there's more to human beings than these two groups, but then the question is what are those groups? How do we get a greater resolution of our understanding of human differences? Jung had a personal opinion about this, and this is what he felt was the next level of resolution that divided people naturally, he says here that: "Experience has taught me that in general individuals can be distinguished not only according to the broad distinctions between introversion and extroversion but also according to their basic psychological functions... thinking feeling sensation and intuition... each of these types may more so be either introverted or extroverted depending on its relation to the object as we have described above." So first of all I love how Carl Jung says here "experience has taught me" as a kind of disclaimer. So, those of you who have read psychological types know that Carl Jung based his theory on the impressions that he gathered from decades of clinical practice, and he had to defer to that personal experience as his main argument when writing this book, which he knew was not ideal or scientific, but it was the best he could do. So, you'll see in the psychological types book, constant references where he says "in my experience", "experience has taught me", "in my professional practice" - he uses these disclaimers because that's exactly where all this comes from. And we'll come back shortly here to his personal experience, but first let's at least sketch out what his experience showed him. So when we take what he just said and represent it visually what we get looks something like this. So, here you have introversion and extroversion as the main clumps. Underneath that, that has intersections with either feeling thinking sensation and intuition, which goes down one layer and produces eight total combinations, which is introversion with feeling, introversion with thinking, introversion with sensation, introversion with intuition, and the same also for the extroverted counterparts. And the two letters there - those are the abbreviations - so IF would be introversion with feeling, IT would be introversion with thinking, and so on. Later typologies that branched from him prefered to flip the two letters so then we get Fi, Ti, etc. But it's the same general concept as this, just a different way of writing it. So, in the broadest way possible, this little snippet here I think captures how he thought about the four functions. He says: "The essential function of sensation is to establish that something exists, thinking tells us what it means, feeling what its value is, and intuition surmises whence it comes and whether it goes." Again, we can't get into the details of what these four meant but as you can see here it's a form of relating to reality in terms of quantifying things as factually existing, using kind of a reason technique to define it, choosing values relative to what that thing is, and then reading into the thing before us where it might be headed into the future, kind of an extrapolating process. And sorry again, we're going to be breezing through this next part as well, in order to get through this video, but there's another aspect of this that he describes. He says that: "Sensation and intuition I call irrational functions because they are both concerned simply with what happens and with actual or potential realities. Thinking and feeling, being discriminative functions are rational." So, what he's saying here is that rationality could be either thinking or feeling, and that's also called judgment, so you can judge either in an intellectual sense or you can judge in a values sense. And Jung did use language that differentiated the two, and he allotted thinking to intellect, which I disagree with, and we'll get into that later because I think both are based on intellect, and they just have different ontologies to them that they register, but I'll get into that more later as we make some refinements to his concepts. But for now let's just say this is how he put it together. Sensation and intuition are both perceptual processes and they're irrational because they document what happens, never mind if it makes sense to us, never mind if it's rational to us, never mind if it's intellectually sound as an argument or if it conforms to our values or doesn't conform to our values. This was the structure Carl Jung was describing. You have a kind of inverted tree here at the base. So, there's eight types and those types fit into four categories which are the intersections between judgment and perception and introversion and extroversion. So, in Model 1 we call those the four energetics and we'll talk more about those in a sec. But, introversion & extroversion are the primary category, they divided up into four to make eight total, and then those eight kind of clumped back from the base into four again, which clumped back into two again. And that's kind of how he saw - so in a way you could approach either type from both ends. You could say that, you know, introverted feeling is a kind of introverted judgment, which is a kind of judgment. But you could also say introverted feeling is a type of feeling that is introverted, right? And spoiler alert, the bottom-up approach in this tree seems to have more empirical evidence behind it than the top down approach. But we'll get into that later in this video. But I actually left something out. So we're not quite finished yet. This diagram here isn't the totality of what Carl Jung's model was about. There's another dimension to this which is missing from this diagram, and he describes it like this: "I regard the attitude of unconsciousness as compensatory to consciousness. According to this view the unconscious has as good a claim to an attitude as the latter." What he's saying here is that in an individual person the unconscious attitude has just as much reality as the conscious attitude. What we are aware of and what we are not aware of are just as real as each other, we just don't seem to pay attention to the unconscious, but it forms part of the entire picture. And in this particular quote he's describing how extroversion has a compensatory introverted character, but he does this in his book across various other dualities including thinking having a compensatory feeling and vice versa and sensation having a compensatory intuition and vice versa. And so now we have another side of this diagram here which we can model like this. So here you can see the tree that we drew which comes in from top and bottom, but behind it there's a kind of shadow which is everything that is not that thing. So for example, behind extroversion would be introversion, behind introversion would be extroversion. The right side up and the upside down are both part of the whole according to Carl Jung, and then the whole thing - including the unconscious reverse - are the entirety of the model. And just for the sake of theoretical completion I'll say that Carl Jung saw that there were these eight types but he saw that each one of these eight types had as a compensatory unconscious the inverse of that. So, introverted feeling had a compensatory inverted extroverted thinking and these formed a kind of polarity, top and bottom, and that was the whole type. And then the extroverted thinking type had a polarity of a bottom introverted feeling and that was the whole structure of the actual type. And this is what we call a function hierarchy. Here you see in the conscious attitude introversion with thinking, in the unconscious, extroversion with feeling. Now, he was famously much more vague about where the other two processes fit into the picture because there are four in total and we all have all four but we have one that's primary and the repressed polar is at the other pole of that extreme. But the other two sit somewhere in the middle, also unconscious but not as unconscious as the very bottom one. And we'll talk a little more about Harold Grant and how he laid this out, but basically the two middle process are called auxiliary - one is the auxiliary process of the conscious function (the lead function) and the other is a kind of auxiliary function to the bottom function. So kind of like a hero and a sidekick and then the nemesis and the nemesis's sidekick. That's kind of a way you can mythologically depict this in in your mind to make sense. Again we're getting way ahead of ourselves here, but i just have to breeze through all these concepts real quick in order to proceed with the rest of the video. But we're going to go through all this again in much more detail in the rest of the series. And so now we have our full diagram. I added in the intermediary two unconscious processes as well, so now we have the four all put together. So one being conscious and the other three being unconscious. That's the general way Carl Jung saw it. The other three are there in the unconscious and one is conscious. So even though the sidekick (the auxiliary process) was a friend to the dominant process, it doesn't mean that it was at conscious levels. He saw it as a bit more close to the surface of the water but not really over the surface. All right, so this is what he saw in his personal practice as a doctor with over decades of experience with his patients. It's a very symmetrical structure if you think about it. It's a very elegant structure, except there are a lot of problems with this structure, more than I can name but let's just capture some of the few problems with this structure. First of all Jung didn't provide any physical proof or evidence for his structure according to our 21st century scientific practice. But not even according to the 20th century scientific practice. As I mentioned, he simply said this was what I saw, this is my personal experience, and what it amounts to. He didn't provide any data, like no corpus of studies on it or anything like that. There were no studies done on it. Basically we have zero proof for this structure's existence being real other than taking Carl Jung's word for it. But you know, in the early 1900s when psychology was so new, it might have been acceptable to take someone's word for it if there were very few experts around the area, but that's not enough anymore. There has to be independent reproducibility of these concepts and they need to be seen as valid in a way that stems beyond the word of mouth of the founder. So, Carl Jung having experience in his practice is not really an argument. Otherwise every psychologist with decades of experience could put forth the same argument, and there are thousands of doctors out there with decades of experience in the field. It doesn't mean anything in itself. And that brings us to the next problem which I find even more troubling - and that's that Jung provided no quantitative measure or even a conceptual way of measuring this structure. He didn't propose any kind of test that could be performed in order to prove this structure's reality. And, specifically for the purpose of this lecture as a vultology lecture, we can say that he didn't provide any physical descriptions of the functions that he was talking about. So, unlike with introversion and extroversion, where he laid out a kind of mind-body correlation and he explained how the mind and body would follow from each other and produce effects, we don't see him describe anything like that when it comes to thinking feeling intuition and sensation or judgment and perception. So, problem number one tells us that he didn't provide proof or data or studies to back his clinical experience, but problem number two tells us that he didn't even provide us with a method of getting that data to begin with. So this puts the whole enterprise of Jungian typology on very shaky ground. As I mentioned before, Jung thought of himself as a scientist, and so he knew that this was not good enough for scientific practice. And yet he couldn't deny the innate differences that he saw and even though he couldn't do better than providing the proof that he personally had in his subjective experience, he felt compelled to share it anyway as a kind of personal testimony of what he saw, never mind whether or not he had the studies to go along with it. But he did feel very self-conscious about this, and you can read that self-consciousness in some of the quotes in the book. And I want to read to you some of those quotes just so you see what I'm talking about. So Jung says here: "I've often been asked, almost accusingly, why speak of four functions and not more or fewer. That there are exactly four was a result I arrived at on purely empirical grounds. But as the following consideration will show, these four together produce a kind of totality." So, when somebody asked him why four why not five ,,why not six, why not three, he said basically "I just see four" - it doesn't mean that there couldn't have been three or five, there just happened to be four. And that's what he means by empirical grounds, remember we talked about how the perception functions are empirical in the sense that they're data driven and and this is the data that he saw. But by empirical he doesn't mean that he actually provided the studies or that he actually provided the data. It was empirical to him in the sense of an experience that he had. But then he says something else where he says that when you put these four together they produce a kind of totality, a nice round phenomenology, that covers pretty much the whole of our interaction with the world. And here's the round circle, and this is what he says: "In this way we can orient ourselves with respect to the immediate world as completely as when we locate a place geographically by latitude and longitude. The four functions are somewhat like the four points of the compass; they are just as arbitrary and just as indispensable. Nothing prevents our shifting the cardinal points as many degrees as we'd like in one direction or the other or giving them different names. It is merely a question of convention and intelligibility." So in essence Jung here is explaining that when we put thinking and feeling, sensation and intuition together they create a nice round phenomenology that covers pretty much the whole of our interactions with the world. This is not a fundamentalist argument, this is a heuristic argument - and basically saying that it's a good tool to use. But then he says that although it may be arbitrary, we still need it and it's indispensable to us because we need a navigation map for psychology. But I think you can see from these texts that he doesn't necessarily think that his specific model is absolutely right. And you can see this even more clearly in the next quote: "In my book I have put together everything I could find in support of my views, though I expressly stated that I do not imagine mine to be the only true or possible typology." So, here Jung acknowledges that other typological formulations may be possible and true, and he does not state his typology as being decisive or definitive or fundamental. And I know this is a lot, but let me just share one more quote to you just so you really see what I mean. This happens to be the last paragraph of psychological types and so this is how he ends the book. Basically he says: "The typology system I have proposed is an attempt, grounded on practical experience, to provide an explanatory basis and theoretical framework for the boundless diversity that has hitherto prevailed in the formation of psychological concepts. In a science as young as psychology, limiting definitions will sooner or later become an unavoidable necessity. Some day psychologists will have to agree upon certain basic principles secure from arbitrary interpretation if psychology is not to remain an unscientific and fortuitous conglomeration of individual opinions." There's a lot to unpack there but basically Jung openly states that his typological system is an attempt to place a sense of order in a disorder situation. He clearly understands that his formation is "a" formation, not "the" formation, and he alludes to the fact that in the future there will need to be psychological definitions that are more standardized and which are free from the arbitrary personal formulations of individual psychologists like himself. That was Jung's hope for the future but that's not what Jung himself was able to accomplish. He only managed to provide us with a useful heuristic to help us orient our psychological lives. Now, I say all of this despite the fact that internally, subjectively, he really did believe that his typology was essentially true in a fundamental sense. But, when it came to explaining it in his book he more often than not deferred to it as a functional, pragmatic solution. The problem is that it's actually very easy to create an arbitrary system to describe human nature. There are literally hundreds of theories out there each of them having a different definition of what they consider the most important elements of human nature - different ways of cutting up the pie, so to speak. And here on screen you see about a dozen of those but there are way more out there and making a new one is not difficult at all. All it takes is you sit down with a pen and paper and you slice up the pie of humanity differently and you get a bit of publicity for it, and then you can pass yours off as another model. It's it's so easy to create a personality theory but it's so difficult to prove it. And so without any data, without any proof for his definitions Carl Jung's model simply fell into the big soup of other models with equal claim or lack of claim to the truth. And, added to that, we're no longer at a shortage of language frameworks for describing psychology. Back then when Carl Jung was around maybe we needed a specific language framework because there weren't that many around - although they were - but what we are at a desperate shortage of is evidence for why we should believe any one of these above the others, including Carl Jung's. Where the shortage really lies is in the proof that any one of these is anything more than just a different way of highlighting specifics in an infinity of human character and human personality. And by the way I don't think that the Big Five model actually solves this problem of arbitrariness, since it just amounts to humanity's collective subjectivity not an objectivity - there's a difference. Essentially, the Big Five tells us what five categories are most relevant to us collectively, by how we describe people in adjectives. So it clusters the adjectives we use to describe people and they cluster into these generally five clusters - these are linguistic clusters. So it's kind of an objective tracking of how we talk about each other collectively, at the planetary level even, but that does not make the five categories fundamental beyond human construct. It just means that they are the global average of how we talk about each other, and how we talk about humanity. Which, in a sense, if what you're doing is you're being a scientist and wanting to use a model of personality - one that aligns with how universally we talk about each other - it seems to make sense as a scientist because then you're in alignment with the global consensus about what we define personality as being. But it still is a definition of personality that that we've all come up with. And it's honestly quite depressing to me when I think about the Big Five being the best science can offer right now. It really tells me how little we have figured out about human nature, and just how primitive we still are in our understanding of personality even now. My personal interest in typology has always been to answer this question: "Are homo sapiens as a species intrinsically and discreetly divided into psychological types?" Now, what I mean by intrinsically can be thought of as genetically and what I mean by discretely divided is what i would call a "true dichotomy" - so that you're either one type or another in a kind of genetic, biological sense. A good example of this is blood types. So, blood types are intrinsic and they are discrete; there's a limited number of blood types and they're not on a spectrum, you either have a given antibody or you don't. It's something that's not on a spectrum, but it's something that is fundamental to personhood. So, is there something like this in human psychology? That's the question I want to answer. And according to the current mainstream understanding of psychology, that answer seems to be "No." Nobody has been able to provide evidence for discrete psychological types, not even the Big Five. Instead, the only game in town seems to be trait psychology, which basically describes human traits, which are natural traits that we all have, on a spectrum, and people either on one side or the other of a spectrum which usually is divided down the middle with equal amounts of people on both sides. So, to give an example of this, what you see here is the Big Five personality traits, but this applies pretty much to any personality theory out there right now. So, I'm picking on the Big Five because it's considered the best model right now, just to show you how far along, or not far along, we are. So what you see here are a series of bell curves - the five bell curves here are the five big five traits. And I'm gonna zoom into just one of them just to show you what they're all like. Here we have Big Five's introversion and extroversion spectrum. It follows a normal distribution, which is that bell curve in the middle. Now, what this bell curve tells us is that the vast majority of people fall somewhere within the middle of introversion and extroversion, and from a scientific perspective what this bell curve shows is that there's no discrete reality to Big Fives introversion and extroversion definitions. Why? Because a true dichotomy would be what's called a bimodal. In other words, if introversion and extroversion were really two separate groups, what we would see is something more like this. What we see here is what we would like to see if introversion and extroversion were discrete typological realities. You would see two spikes, what are called local maxima, and then you'd see a trough in the middle, suggesting it's more common to be one or the other, rather than being in the middle. And that structure of being more likely to be either one or the other means that the two categories would be organically emergent in nature. It means that there's something maybe biologically innately about people that separates them into two camps. But that is not what we see we don't see an organic separation into two camps we just see a spectrum in which most people are in the middle, which means - if most people are ambiverted it kind of nullifies the meaning of the category in the first place. And so this ambiversion applies to introversion and extroversion but also to all the other five traits, where most people lie in the middle of them, which means all these Big Five traits don't seem to fundamentally divide people into two camps, at least not in any way that shows a truly dichotomous situation. So, the Big Five is not really describing fundamental aspects of your personhood, it's just describing where you sit on five spectra - it doesn't say anything about your fundamental essence, your genetic reality, your biological reality or anything like that. And mind you this is the Big Five! Any other typological system out there that's personality trait based does worse than the Big Five. Now I want to tell you something that may surprise you - but basically all psychometrics, so that would be personality tests, they all show normal distributions or bell curves when they are scientifically tested - and that's if they're scientifically tested to begin with. And so to my knowledge there isn't a single typological system that consistently reproduces bimodality, meaning that all these systems are not true dichotomies, and we don't know of any true bimodalities in humans except for when it comes to biological sex, which is actually a great example to look at because it shows us what we'd want to see. So, here you see a diagram showing sexual dimorphism in humans. Dimorphism refers to morphology, which includes everything from genital morphology to hormonal physiology. This is kind of a meta-study which took a lot of morphological traits together into what is typically the morphology of men and typically the morphology of women, and plotted them on the graph. And what you see is bimodality with a very small section of intersex in the middle. And so this paints us an example of a true dichotomy. You're either one or the other but not likely to be both. But that's not what we see in personality trait theories. And we see this represented in lots of ways but here's one about height as well. So, here you see males and females have different local maxima for their height creating this bimodal distribution once again. But again, there are dozens of graphs like this that I could show you to support the idea that humans are bi-modal when it comes to sex, however there is no personality system to date which shows that humans are truly bi-modal when it comes to psychological categories.

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