Wisdom isn’t judgment. Wisdom is the relinquishment of judgment. -- A Course in Miracles
Rodney King’s lament
Rodney King wondered, “Why can’t we all just get along?’ and so do I. Here are three ways that personalities come into conflict: opposite personality types, opposite approaches to authority, and opposite values. The differences summed up in the labels that attach to the opposites: idealist and realist.
The divide between idealists and realists
How do idealists and realists differ? Realists rely exclusively on their bodies’ senses to tell them what’s real. That is, what actually exists as opposed to speculation. Idealists rely on a faculty of mind to tell them what’s real: thinking that produces ideas and feelings that value them, sometimes idealizing them. They don’t rely on their bodies’ five senses to access this faculty. They use their intuition instead, a kind of sixth sense that connects with Mind that’s distinct from the brain.
The Greek philosopher Plato, the father of Western thought, explained the difference this way: it’s not the apple that’s real -- matter that’s detected by the body’s senses. It’s the idea of the apple in Mind that thinks it. Mind that can’t be detected by the body’s senses but is nevertheless real. Plato had a choice whether to attribute reality to matter -- the apple -- or to Mind. Since he was a philosopher troubled by our world of appearances and injustice, who sought reality and valued Mind as the only means of discerning it, it wasn’t a difficult choice. Nor is it a difficult choice for realists when they trust only their five senses to say what’s real.
The difference then is “idealists” associate with Mind, “realists” with body or matter. This is the foundation for all that follows in differentiating between idealists and realists in the three categories of opposites: personality types, approaches to authority, and values.
The only explanation that makes sense
The existence of a thing implies the existence of its opposite. This is its Logic. But since contradictory things can’t co-exist opposites must exist in a state that doesn’t negate their hosts. Philosophy is concerned with reality because that state is unreality. And since our world is flooded with opposites it’s also flooded with unreality that requires philosophy to discern it. Distinguishing between what’s Real and unreal has led metaphysics, a branch of philosophy that looks behind appearances, to conclude that our entire universe is unreal. Illusory, the stuff of dreams. On the basis of Logic. Experimental physics is also being led there by its discoveries that defy understanding.
To the idealist-metaphysicist it’s not debatable. It’s a given: the only explanation for spacetime-matter and the human condition that’s logical. That makes sense.
Personalities and the Logic of opposites
Personalities are random mixtures of components that rarely reveal at first glance whether they incline toward idealism or realism. But when the two tiers of components are aligned in opposition to one another it’s clear that the logic of opposites, Reality and unreality, is expressed through personality types. It doesn’t require the contrast between INTJ and ESFP to reveal that all of us fall on one side of the divide or the other, and the falling isn’t a matter of conscious choice. If I’m an idealist it happened like everything else in the evolution of life on this planet: by accident, mistake, or just happenstance. By the guiding hand of unreality, the opposite of Logic. That wills us not to experience the perfect harmony of Logic but chaos and conflict.
Two tiers of opposites
The idealist-realist divide is plainly reflected in the way that personality types are differentiated in the Myers-Briggs system. It’s also reflected in the alternative five-factor system put forth by realists opposed to the role that Jungian intuition played in formulating Myers-Briggs.
The personality components identified by Carl Jung and expanded and interpreted by Myers-Briggs are opposites that form two tiers. Four components line up across the top: Introvert, Intuition, Thinking, and Judging. As love (values) cannot be separated from Logic (making sense), feeling or evaluation cannot be separated from thinking or reasoning. So, my system modifies Myers-Briggs by relabeling Thinking to Thinking-Feeling.
Their opposites across the bottom are Extravert, Body sensing, Feeling, and Perceptive. Feeling here is distinguished from Feeling linked to Thinking by its association with a part of the brain that’s decidedly not motivated or directed by thinking. It’s our animal brain, the amygdala, that links us to animals -- to our predatory animal ancestors who survived not on conscious, thoughtful deliberation but on instinct and emotion that drive action. Emotion that drove the will of tribes to behave like herds, to dominate in competition with other tribes. To eliminate threats and defeat opposition. To ensure winning -- the triumph of the will.
Whereas the brain’s prefrontal cortex employs thinking to socialize the predator in us its animal brain -- a force of nature -- driven by its passion to dominate and by its fear of being dominated, acts on instinct whether it’s socialized or not. Myers-Briggs makes no distinction between Feeling linked to Thinking and primal emotion that’s linked to acting on instinct without thinking. My putting Feeling in this context is a significant departure from Myers-Briggs.
The myth of unlimited power and freedom
The same distinction accounts for the opposition between Judging and Perceptive. Judging here is not what we mean by “judgmental.” Nor does “Perceptive” fit with its ordinary use. Whereas Judging employs all the capabilities of Mind to understand, to make sense of relativity and changing circumstances, placing them in context that reveals meaning and implies purpose, Perceptive adheres exclusively to the instinctive force and absolutes of will for its direction. Whereas Judging requires the discipline of discretion, Perceptive throws off all limits. Its preferred field of action is force or power without opposition and freedom without limits, two absolutes that defy the limits of choice implied by Judging.
They also happen to be the absurd promises that lured our unconscious ancestral Mind out of Reality and into self-delusion. Into its dream of an alternate “reality” -- the fantasy that is our incomprehensible world of spacetime and matter. That was supposed to deliver unlimited power and freedom and couldn’t since neither is possible, here or in Reality.
The body is the apple
Introvert Intuition Thinking-Feeling Judging
[internal] [Mind] [reason-values] [understanding]
Extravert Sensing Action-Emotion Perceptive
[external] [body] [will-force] [dominating]
The tier of personality components across the top is thus Mind-centered, concerned with choices among competing considerations -- selves, interests, ideas, and values -- that produce satisfactory results because they make sense. They’re logical. There are no absolutes that preclude discretion in choosing.
The tier across the bottom is body-matter centered. It’s concerned with success in competition among unthinking, un-choosing absolutes. Forces of nature answering to the imperatives of the animal brain, a beast that can’t be housebroken. Isolated, separated bodies bound together as one in herds or tribes. Bands of brothers revered for semper fidelis and bravery, sharing in the glory of violence.
Where the idealist and the realist dwell
The idealist dwells in the Mind-centered INTJ tier across the top where thoughts and feelings, ideas and ideals predominate. The selves served are individuals and families dedicated to developing every individual’s full potential. The main values served are individuality, originality, diversity, free will, and creativity. Plus service and support for these values by families. The idealist and the idealist’s personality type home are thus not only Mind-centered but also individual-centered.
The realist dwells, in contrast, in the body-centered ESFP tier of opposites across the bottom, where instinctive action and competition among herds or tribes for dominance predominates. The selves served are tribes made up of bodies of the same species that share tribal identity markers. The values served are sociability, conformity, and uniformity. Plus the rule of the tribe from the top down that imposes conformity by force.
The flash point: freedom of choice
The ideal served by the Mind-individual centered INTJ personality type is the individual fully enabled and empowered to play a unique role in creation with freedom of choice. Because it’s the very reason why Logic-Love gave birth to their child, our ancestral Mind, one might think of freedom of choice as sacred.
The contrasting ideal served by the body-tribe centered ESFP personality type is the authority of the tribe to impose its will without opposition on its members. That is, to rule arbitrarily instead of under the law and thus to deprive its members of a role in creation with freedom of choice, The ideal is triumph of the tribal will -- rooted in the animal brain -- over all competition whether from tribal members or other tribes. The contrast between the two personality types is nowhere more evident and consequential than their attitudes toward free choice.
Mind and brain are not the same
Realists insist that nothing can be real -- can definitely exist -- unless it can be detected by the body’s five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. To them, “mind” is interchangeable with “brain.” Bodies that can be detected all have brains that can be detected. Realists have no concept of Mind that exists without being detectable and so they insist that consciousness is seated in the brain along with spontaneous insights. Insights whose origin is unknowable, and so while realists can’t deny that insights happen they avoid inquiring into why and how they happen.
Far from being interchangeable Mind and brain are opposites. The brain equips isolated, separated bodies with the capacity to survive in a predatory, competitive environment by uniting as one in groups or tribes. It does so by subordinating individuals’ will to the will of the tribe to enforce conformity and to dominate adversaries from within and without.
All of this is a testament to the force of nature acting by instinct, socialized just enough to create a semblance of order but otherwise without deliberation or reflection. Humans are animals, bodies with brains that unmistakably belong to animals. The prefrontal cortex is there to tame the herd so that it can act in concert, but in any contest between thought and action the amygdala, a beast programmed to act, will dominate.
Mind that’s split
Idealists do conceive of Mind that’s real even though it’s not matter that can be physically detected. Where realists stop at five senses idealists experience Mind through their sixth sense that delivers insights from Intuition, the opposite of Body sensing. Where idealists associate sixth sense with a legitimate source of discovery, growth, and creativity, with authentic guidance driven by Logic and Love, realists associate it with unverifiable speculation not subject to any scientific or professional discipline and therefore prone to crackpot theories that obstruct serious inquiry. The Mind in Mind-centered INTJ personality type is one Mind that knows nothing of many body-brains or tribes. In serving the needs of individuals for learning and growth its main priority is competence in the exercise of free choice, a talent that conflicts with tribal dominance and is therefore suppressed.
The one Mind in Mind-centered INTJ personality type that’s accessed through Intuition’s sixth sense delivers guidance from Logic-Love, but the one Mind that seeks guidance through individual humans is split. Split between the Logic-Love of its inheritance and its opposite -- illogic, fear, hatred, and guilt -- that make us imperfect and also distinguish the human animal from other animals. Where bodies and their senses are idolized by realists the Mind idealized by idealists is only the one accessed through Intuition, not the split mind of the idealist.
Self that’s split
Whether a personality type is Mind-centered or body-centered it has one thing in common: it’s human and it’s imperfect. What it doesn’t have in common is the same self. The self of the INTJ Mind-centered type is the individual. The self of the body-centered type is the tribe -- a group. This essential difference accounts for the sharp contrast in the types’ conception of authority and their values.
Interpretations of Authority
Insensitivity from the top down
The earth-bound brain understands authority as it’s employed within the only self that it recognizes: not the individual soul but many bodies uniform in appearance and behavior obedient to the will of the tribe. Authority resides exclusively in those who rule the tribe from the top down. Theirs is the only voice to be heard, the only legitimate source of intelligence and feeling. Theirs are the only interests to be served with one exception: the material needs of those beneath them must be met to ensure conformity without dissent.
The central concern of this self-centered version of authority is to maintain itself by eliminating or dominating all opposition. The one and only consideration is its preservation, not the wellbeing of those it controls. The same earth-bound brain can only conceive of a supreme being, or “God,” who rules with absolute authority from the top down. Who issues commandments and judges and punishes those guilty of disobedience.
Sensitivity from the bottom up
Logic-Love accessible through Intuition holds that the opposite is true. Not only is it conceivable it’s also likely. If Logic-Love is the source of Reality and Creation then authority that’s its own objective can’t create anything by ruling from the top down. All it can accomplish is self-preservation through intimidation and force until its inevitable defeat by a superior adversary.
Authority that fosters the creation of varieties of worth -- of life, beauty, order, freedom, abundance, intimacy, and other values -- must enable and empower its creations to employ their free will and other attributes in the act of creation. Must serve from the bottom up rather than rule from the top down. Where the point of authority isn’t disempowerment to ensure conformity but empowerment to enable creativity.
Two distinctly opposite objectives, opposite means of attainment, opposite versions of authority: rule from the top down that’s unsupportive, insensitive, and cruel; service from the bottom up that’s supportive, sensitive, and kind. Which one is more conducive to the fullest development, expression, and use of a child’s competence to engage with the world on his or her own terms? With entrepreneurial imagination, ingenuity, and self-assurance? Which one is centered on the child’s welfare instead of on itself?
Governance under the law
Authority that rules from the top down is backed up by its own will. Which puts it above the law because it is the law. Arbitrary and capricious, which isn’t law at all. It’s chaos. Authority that serves from the bottom up is backed up by the laws of cause and effect that embody the values of Logic-Love and apply impartially to everything and everyone. This includes authority which cannot govern unless it governs under the law.
The discipline of alignment with laws meant to support free choice in creation contrasts with its opposite: the discipline of conformity to an arbitrary will meant to suppress free choice and creativity. Why? Because free choice and creativity pose a threat to absolute, unopposed authority. The perfect harmony of creation is achieved through the governance of Logic-Love guided by the laws that define Reality and Creation. In the absence of Logic-Love and laws authority that rules arbitrarily on its own behalf can only maintain the appearance of order through force.
Realism’s flight from Logic
The case for realism rests on the fact that who we are and where we came from -- what “life” and the universe are all about -- must involve speculation. Theories abound but none can meet accepted standards of proof. We are left as individuals each to decide what it’s all about. To decide what’s real. And if everyone has five senses but not everyone is endowed with an active sixth sense then realism rather than idealism must be our guide.
The flaw in this argument is its reliance not on Mind to persuade but on matter. On the body’s ability to detect other physical objects. Objects that belong to the same material world as the bodies detecting them. And so what’s “real” isn’t established by the objectivity prized by science; it’s nothing more than bodies detecting themselves. It’s entirely subjective. Matter proclaiming that it truly exists from a mirror. An obvious departure from reasoning acknowledged by the philosophy of science but conveniently ignored by science itself.
The flaw is the absence of a perspective not of our material “reality” that’s objective. The absence of Logic-Love, the faculty of Mind-Intuition that recognizes and rejects flawed thinking that interferes with its function, which is to support understanding with logical explanation. To help us make sense of things. Realists who find refuge in their bodies’ five senses are not only running toward unthinking, self-referential matter. They’re running away from our only means of making sense: Logic-Love that explains.
It's all bias
But whether we’re realists or idealists is just our bias. Our personality types can’t lead us to the truth but they do entrench each of us in subjective bias. So it’s just my bias when I declare that of the two categories of values -- one based on the individual, the other based on groups or tribes -- only the individual aligns with the laws of cause and effect that define Reality and Creation. The bias of my version of a Mind-centered INTJ personality type. The Logic that supports it explains that the billions of us are actually replications of one Self, one Mind not many. The many version of this one Self is the version implied by its opposite. An opposite that must in every respect be the opposite of its host, the one Mind-Self that’s real. And so its opposite must be unreal -- an illusion.
I conclude that the values associated with the individual align with Reality and Creation because the individual -- the one Mind-Self -- is real and the values associated with its opposite -- the many selves, groups, tribes -- cannot be real. I do so not because my five senses tell me so but because Logic-Love accessible through Mind’s sixth sense, not body-brain, tells me so.
Our distinctly human tribal values
The values associated with tribes are entirely the product of body-brains programmed to express a distinctly human version of our predatory animal nature, our competitive herd instinct:
- Where idealist-individual values support free choice in creativity realist-tribe values support the abdication of free choice in conformity.
- Where the individual prizes intimacy and free self-expression in loving, non-competitive relationships, the tribe prizes sociability and scripted self-expression in competitive relationships.
- Where individual values are directed toward equality and empowerment in horizontal relationships, tribal values are directed toward hierarchical relationships that empower top-down authority and disempower those beneath it.
- Where individual values above all respect individual worth and free will, tribal values inherently disrespect both.
Which may make tribal values distinctly human: they seem to define the human character judging from its inept stewardship of its natural and human resources.
It also makes them wrong, suitable for opposites opposed to Reality and Creation but not for the one Mind born of Logic-Love to play an indispensable role in the creation and reciprocation of Worth. To raise children. This is who I believe we truly are, not automatons manipulated by tyrants to dominate and destroy one another in endless conflict..
Do we really have a choice?
The split mind of humanity oscillates between these competing codes of ethics that were clearly differentiated when Niccolo Machiavelli published The Prince in 1532. So what I propose with two incompatible takes on morality is not new. Yet its implications for the human character and its propensity toward self-destruction seem not to have penetrated our awareness. Not to the point where it would make a human course correction.
Survival without functioning within groups or tribes isn’t feasible when we are born into a species that is itself a tribe. We can imagine ourselves disciplined by individual morality but, as Machiavelli showed, the realities of survival in competition often subordinate it to tribal top-down authority. We allow ourselves to go off course because there seems to be no other choice, and this applies to idealists as well as to realists.
The ESFP body-brain centered personality type is opposed to this choice as well as to choice generally since it’s a function of Mind. Realists and their ESFP apotheosis continue to serve Machiavellian tribal values without recognizing that they’re incompatible with morality. Without understanding that the mirror they hold up to us is humanity’s unreal dark side. They’re wrong because they’re immoral, the source of wrongdoing.
Why make the difference clear? So that we put the gift of free will to good use. So that in defining our character with values we will make the right choice: for respect for the laws of cause and effect and their source, Logic and Love inseparable. So that when we are divided into competing groups or tribes we stay true to our sovereignty and integrity as individuals and don’t let our values, our morality, be compromised no matter what self-serving top-down authority demands of us. So that we have a conscience that wills us to do what’s right and listen to it.
Does history offer any examples of realists stricken by conscience after they sacrificed their will to the will of the tribe? J. Robert Oppenheimer was overwhelmed by guilt for his part in producing the Bomb, Robert McNamara for prosecuting the tragedy that was the Vietnam War. Many others, then and now, wish that they had not betrayed their humanity to a false idol.
Conflicting values, conflicting stories
The Mind-centered personality type that values individuals and families, free will, creativity, and service tells one story. The body-brain centered personality type that values tribes, captivity, conformity, and top-down rule tells another. Stories with different objectives and steps for getting there. The individual storyline is culturally explicit because it puts human nature in a positive light. These are values we can be proud of. The tribal storyline is culturally implicit because it puts us in a negative light. Only a perverse pride could own the conquests of red army ants.
The two storylines are contradictory, which helps to explain the friction between their adherents.
- If Mind-centered individual values tell the story of humanity parting with appearances to help its one Mind-Self regain self-awareness, acceptance of its innocence, and consciousness, the body-brain centered tribal values of realists accept things as they appear to be and take it from there, proceeding directly to instinct-driven action without any need for mind-changing reflection or deliberation.
- If individual values affirm the worth of Creation and the competence of free-spirited individuals enabled and empowered by authority to take part in it, tribal values affirm the necessity of competition and the submission of individual wills to tribal authority to win it. “Winning” measured not by creativity and free expression but by dominance. By ownership, possession, and control.
The story told by an idealist’s values
An idealist’s values might look something like this:
The story it tells is of humanity that has a Home in Reality and a Relationship with its one Mind-Self’s parents, Logic-Love. A Home and Relationship that belong to Reality-Creation, not to our alternate “reality.” So, the central driving force behind this and the following values is the urgency of awakening to Reality and regaining awareness of Home and Relationship. A feat that humanity can pull off when the perfection and Beauty of Innocence replace guilt in its psyche -- its soul. An accomplishment that lies within the power of any individual guided by Logic-Love, not within any tribe.
The integrity of the individual is restored with the healing of the Mind corrupted and split by its mistaking its opposite -- its unreal shadow -- for an other self and by surrendering its free will to give it access. Being in a state of Wholeness and Wellness signifies that healing has taken place: the individual -- the one Mind-Self -- has regained its sovereignty and thus the capacity to choose freely. This state of Mind is prerequisite for the values that follow: Enablement of the individual to exercise free will with competence, through trial-and-error learning in our alternate reality and Empowerment of competence in Free Choice to be part of Creation when consciousness is restored.
The attributes that the one Mind-Self must have to perform in Reality are Spontaneity and Creativity. Attributes of Free Choice that cannot be compromised by external influence from any source including the Child’s parents, Logic-Love. This explains the necessity of training by experience in an unreal environment where the Child’s parents couldn’t interfere even if they wanted to and there can be no real consequences -- no harm done.
This is our mission from this idealist’s perspective. What about the realist?
The story told by a realist’s values
From the realist’s perspective its values might look like this:
Our mission would be survival through unending competition and conflict -- pointlessness. But if we look behind the mystique of the “Triumph of the Will” to what it actually implies we might find the following.
These are terms that apply across the board to the body-brain centered ESFP personality type, its exercise of top-down authority, and its tribal values. The story that it tells is of a copycat -- a parasite shadow-self. A derivation without a life of its own and therefore without originality. Entirely incapable of individuality and creativity, that borrows its attributes from its host and reverses them into their opposites. To understand its action agenda take the attributes of its host and reverse them, starting with its host’s core attribute, that it is one entity not many, an individual not a group or tribe.
Which makes the entire tribal value system unreal -- the fact that explains the copycat’s greatest fear: self-awareness. And its fanatical obsession with authoritarian control since without forced conformity its secret will be exposed: the emperor wears no clothes. The emperor is a thing made up, a forgery who has neither existence nor authority. The work of an illusionist. An apparition. A mere reflection, without substance, incapable of casting a reflection on its own.
Of the two systems only the individual system is valid. The tribalist-realist system is but a deception that distracts from the Truth by conflict and dominance. Not only unreal but dangerous and wrong. Destined to be undone and abandoned when our one Mind again chooses Logic and Love, its source and true Self. When it chooses Reality and Truth that know nothing of competition and conflict. That know only the intimacy of Love and the Logic and Reality of Creation.
Whither goest thou. . . ?
From an idealist’s perspective, these are the values of the idealist and realist that define our character. Each with a split mind, each with a light and a dark side, neither perfect. In an alternate reality of ambiguous appearances, in the presence of competing biases, can we say what it means?
In the 40s, before climate change and mass extinction were a concern, my back yard was full of fireflies. We called them lightning bugs. Little blinking lights floating silently, lazily in space. A reminder that August is for letting up, slowing down. That in the life of the cosmos one life on our little planet is one blink. Loaded with meaning and meaningless at the same time.
. . . Into the wastebasket of time
A mandala is a geometric design, symbolic of the universe, that can be intricately beautiful. One I admired was created painstakingly with colored grains of sand. After a prescribed period for display it was taken to the point where two rivers form a third river and dumped. All that work. All that talent, creativity, and beauty tossed out as if it had no value. To symbolize what? Perhaps that when a life is lived and examined for all that it means, whether it served the cause of Mind or submitted to the dictates of body, the show is over. It can be thrown away.
Into the wastebasket we call time, that never needs to be emptied because it doesn’t contain anything. What’s here and gone in the blink of a firefly or a life has meaning, but without substance, without permanence that’s only possible with timelessness, its meaning is here and gone with it. Meaning in the context of the temporal that’s meaningless in the context of the eternal.
The eternal, where there is no competition and dominance, only truth, creativity, trust, innocence, and intimacy. Where it’s Real and the Idealist is the realist.