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Type and Opinion

By Lee Morgan

Part One: Wittgenstein; Or, the Platonist

Positivists argue that all truths are verifiable through scientific experimentation, or mathematical deduction. The philosophy of positivism is best expressed today among the so-called New Atheists. Writers like Sam Harris[1] argue that the scientific method alone can establish truthfulness. Such hardline reductionism has sparked controversy among academic philosophers like Roger Scruton[2]. Thinkers like Scruton criticize positivism for denying the possibility of the sacred. While Scruton agrees that the sacred is immeasurable, he still asserts its truthfulness. Moreover, he argues that positivism denies what is essential to a meaningful life. That being the transcendental dimension of the sacred. Without the sacred, Scruton argues, life degenerates into a disenchanted mess. Without the sacred, why should we even bother with the sciences? Schopenhauer’s notion that scientific inquiry is of a therapeutic nature no longer applies[3]. After all, therapy presupposes a patient. A bag of neurons will not cut it.

When one audits modern positivism, one cannot overstate Ludwig Wittgenstein’s influence. The Vienna circle’s interpretation of his Tractatus kick-started the logical positivism movement. With Wittgenstein’s theoretical groundwork, positivists found a basis for moving forward. It took years for philosophers like Karl Popper exposed the holes in their thinking. Holes that Wittgenstein accounted for, mind you. The problem with the logical positivists was that they misinterpreted Wittgenstein.

Wittgenstein was a foxhole Tolstoyan[4]. His fellow soldiers nicknamed him “the man with the book.” What book? Tolstoy’s heterodox ethical treatise, the Gospel in Brief. But did the Tractatus not rule against the existence of moral facts? And did Wittgenstein not jab a fire-poker at Karl Popper for daring to suggest otherwise? The answer is semantic but important nonetheless. No, Wittgenstein did not assert the existence of ethical facts. But that does not imply that he rejected ethics. Quite the opposite, in fact. “What is good is also divine. Queer as that sounds, that sums up my ethics.” That much Wittgenstein wrote in Culture and Value. But what does it mean?

Wittgenstein was a platonic thinker. That is, at least when it came to the sacred. He admired the scientific method for its efficacy. But he was rather indifferent to its findings. What else is there to find interesting, bursts forth the positivist? Did the limits of his language not limit his world? Again, the answer is a semantic one. Wittgenstein is actually rather clear about this in the Tractatus. “The world divides into facts.” So with regard to facts, yes, the limits of his language were the limits of his world. But we must not assume that Wittgenstein was a naturalist for the simple fact that he wrote about the world. Recall his two statements on ethics. That there are no moral facts and that ethics are divine. A contradiction only arises when we assume that Wittgenstein was a naturalist. When I first presented his quote on the divinity of ethics, I abridge it. It ends as follows: “Only something supernatural can express the Supernatural.” This in itself does not imply that Wittgenstein accepted the reality of the sacred. But his certitude that he was a “moral failure” does.

When I said that Wittgenstein was a platonic philosopher I meant it. Like Plato, Wittgenstein accepted the reality of a higher realm beyond the world of facts. His famous passion for aesthetics attests to this fact. Wittgenstein was never a positivist. I can often no greater proof of this than the Tractatus itself. Above I mentioned that logical positivism was not without its theoretical holes. Holes that Wittgenstein sidestepped. What am I referring to? The logical positivists were unable to justify their own philosophy. Their famous verification principle was only useful when accepted on faith[5]. Which, of course, violates every principle they claimed as their own. The Tractatus, mind you, outright addresses its inability to explain itself. “There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical.” The Tractatus itself is the mystical. It participates in the supernatural in that it describes the world from without. Hence, its famous comparison to a ladder. Wittgenstein outright tells us to throw away the Tractatus once we understand it. Not because it belongs in the trash, but because it is inexpressible. The Tractatus cannot be a text for positivists. But it was never meant as one. The holes of logical positivism vanish once this is understood. So much for the limits of language.

My comparing Wittgenstein to Plato was not single in its purpose. The parallels between the two do not stop at the philosophers themselves. They also extend to their interpreters. I maintain that logical positivism is to Wittgenstein as Aristotle was to Plato. Both profaned the supernatural aspects of their predecessor with crude reductionism. The third man argument reduced the forms to objects and thereby abused them[6]. The verification principle reduced reality to the world of facts. In both cases the reduction resulted in inexpressible absurdities. That is, absurdities that were inexpressible precisely because of their reductionism.

It took a thousand years to realize that Plotinus best understood Plato. Scruton understands Wittgenstein better than Carnap ever did. I hope it takes less time for us to recognize who knows what.

Part Two: Opinion and Type

I need not reiterate why the holding of a given opinion has no typological significance. A quick consideration of the problem of induction should suffice. That said, it does not stand to reason that no relationship exists between type and opinion.

It goes without saying that opinions are dependent upon evidence. That is to say that one’s experience, in no small order, determines one’s opinions. Now, how does this relationship inform our understanding of typological questions of opinion? It would involve an uncomfortable reification to restrict particular experiences to the types. That is not a commitment that I am willing to make. So let us proceed our enquiry under the assumption that the alternative holds. That being that type in no way limits one’s experiences. If this were not true, individuation would no doubt be impossible. What more, the alternative follows from our definition of type as a cognitive habit. So let us proceed.

All that said, I do not consider it a leap to suggest that type informs opinion. What do I mean? In my last article, I tried to establish four fundamental types of judgments. These I deduced from two axes. The first, that a statement does or does not depend on experience. The second, that the basis for asserting an opinion is either personal or common. The first axis divides into a priori and a posteriori statements. The second into subjective and objective starting points. These archetypes I then connected to the four judgment functions. By which I mean that each function corresponds to a habit of formulating one of the four archetypes. Again, this is not to suggest that a habit toward one archetype negates the possibility of others. That would be absurd and was in no way my meaning. Rather, I meant that our habits guide our investigations. Kant’s psychological habits predisposed him to a priori philosophical criticism. But that is not to say that he was incapable of producing a posteriori statements. Only that the habit existed and presented itself as a preference for certain enquiries.

This in itself still falls short of explaining the relationship enumerated above. That being that between type and any particular opinion. Rather than attempting an outright definition, let us first examine an example. I have already compared Wittgenstein to the logical positivists. But the comparisons I made above were more philosophical than typological. Nietzsche and Jung both established an unconscious relationship between the two[7]. Let us explore that relationship.

There is indeed a distinction I must make before continuing. Earlier I compared Wittgenstein’s philosophy to logical positivism. That is, I compared the Tractatus to logical positivism in particular. But the Tractatus’ influence, that is, its misinterpretation, extends throughout positivism in general. Its influence, for example, had a profound impact on behaviorism. It is for this reason that moving forward our comparisons will focus on behaviorism. Not logical positivism. If the reader objects, I can only ask for her patience. As Lars Von Trier once said, “There will come a point to this.” Forgive the introverted intuition[8].

Behaviorism is the application of positivistic thinking to human psychology. That is to say that the behaviorist acknowledges only the world of facts. The mystical does not exist for him. He wants the facts and only the facts. H.J. Eysenck best expressed the defining principle of behaviorism. “If it cannot be measured, it does not exist.” Readers familiar with Wittgenstein may recall the similar sentiment that ends the Tractatus. “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” Again, the differences are semantic, but worth noting.

First, let us consider Eysenck’s statement: “If it cannot be measured, it does not exist.” In today’s academic culture of scientism, most people would presuppose Eysenck’s position. But what are the consequences of this line of thought. Upon closer analysis, Eysenck’s position becomes rather circular. And not without some intriguing implications, might I add. First, the statement is incredibly redundant. What exists? Whatever we measure. What can we measure? Whatever happens to exist. This is the same fundamental problem that all positivists suffered from. There is nothing external to the scientific method. Wittgenstein’s mystical dimension does not exist. If it did, we would have measured it. In that case, the distinction between the mystical and the mundane would disappear. Everything would exist within the world. But this is exactly what fascinates me about this line of reasoning. Everything in the Eysenck’s world is contingent upon scientific measurability. That is to say that there are no a priori restrictions on what can and cannot exist. All that matters is whether we can detect a given concept’s presence. Ghosts, gods, extra-sensory perception, reincarnation. Science could embrace it all, provided the proper measurements. Parapsychology could get the respect the ghost hunters pine after. If they could only get the data.

Eysenck’s statement is an example of what I call objective a posteriori judgments. It is an empirical statement about the external world. It is the stuff of Aristotle and his disciples. In the broader typological sense, it corresponds to extroverted thinking. And indeed we can detect its signs. Like Aristotle’s third man argument, it reduces reality to the world of facts. What could be a better example of extroverted thinking? Indeed, if Aristotle perverted the forms, then Eysenck reduced personality to behavior. Another comparison worth making is that of Carl Sagan. Sagan, another extroverted thinker, expressed a real interested in the paranormal. But only insofar as was measurable. But in any case, the supernatural ceases to be supernatural if naturalists can measure it. And this exactly what Wittgenstein’s statement tried to get across.

If Eysenck rejected the a priori, Wittgenstein indulged in it. Indeed, the Tractatus devoted its entirety to establishing the very limits Eysenck ignored. Recall Wittgenstein’s supernaturalism, as enumerated above. He believed in the mystical, in the supra-factual. Again, the paradox of a higher reality is a function of naturalism. The super-naturalist need not obsess over it. He need only mind the semantics. It was thus most fitting that Wittgenstein ended the Tractatus with a call to silence. Indeed, “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

Wittgenstein reflects another archetypal judgment. While his thoughts still tends toward objectivity, they are a priori in nature. What do I mean? Wittgenstein, like Plato, strives toward what I would term ideals. Idealism in this sense corresponds to extroverted feeling. Of all the archetypal judgments, this idealism I find most the difficult to explain. But Wittgenstein would expect as much. Hence, the Tractatus. Let me try giving a clearer example. Martin Luther King Jr. appealed to the better angels of our natures. These “better natures” are a priori. That is to say that they are not the product of nurture. Rather, they have always been there. Actualizing them was only a matter of  realizing that we already believed in them. That we only needed to look a little higher, so to speak. Dr. King changed America’s heart not with facts, but with an appeal to truths no less objective. What Wittgenstein and Plato talk about is no different. The mystical and the forms are cousins in the realm of the higher spheres. It would be perverse to drag them down into language and the world of facts. This I believe to be the meaning of Wittgenstein’s statement. And we can find countless other examples among extroverted feelers. Plato’s unwritten doctrine, for example, may have remained unwritten for this very reason. What more, readers of Wittgenstein’s wartime hero should know another example. Tolstoy completed his second epilogue to War and Peace with a similar call to silence. In his case, he was urging historians to stick to the facts, and leave human subjectivity out of it. Not only would that preserve its sacredness, but its exclusion is benefits history. So too does the Tractatus establish the positivist’s tongue, in excluding the mystical.

One last example should suffice. I have hitherto cited INFJs. This might lead one to disagree that this all this is a matter of extroverted feeling. After all, this is all usually explained as an introverted intuition thing. But if that were the case, why didn’t Hegel restrain himself? Why did Nietzsche always go for the jugular? What about Heraclitus? In fact, Eysenck himself used introverted intuition. Where was his restraint?

In the first part of this essay I compared Wittgenstein to Roger Scruton. It was to Scruton, and not Carnap, that I said Wittgenstein’s legacy belongs. Well, Scruton, an ISFJ, displays the very reverence we’ve been looking for. In a recent article[9], Scruton criticized scientism for the same reduction Eysenck made. In particular, he criticized the practice of analyzing the pigments of famous paintings. In a phrase, he did not think it appropriate to experiment on the sacred. Now, does that not sound familiar? Now, if the reader will grant as much, I can make one further point. That being that Scruton’s conception of the sacred shows us something in itself. Unlike the above mentioned introverted intuitives, Scruton views the sacred as an experience. It is not a higher reality beyond experience, but experience itself that is sacred. The transcendental isn’t lurking somewhere behind the painting. Rather, the sacred is an encounter with the painting itself. And the experience is no less sacred for it. Here, I maintain, subsides the key difference between the two introverted perceiving functions. Whereas introverted intuition looks beyond experience, introverted sensation delights in it[10]. Now, regarding the sacred, experience may be an inappropriate use of language. After all, the sacred is not something in the world. Rather, it might be said that it is a way of encountering the world. But alas, we’re already at the limits of our language. And we all know what that means.

Conclusion

I meant none of this as a wholesale endorsement of either position, much less as a ranking of the functions. Typology is solipsistic, and the reason why is clear. The problem of positivism more or less apply to every philosophical system. Does Wittgenstein sidestep them? Only if you take a leap of faith, and indeed this is the basis of his fideism. But I can no more fault you for believing him than I can for disagreeing with him. Systems are always incomplete. All we can ever do is acknowledge as much, and consider the alternatives. Does extroverted thinking profane the sacred? One could make that argument. But one could also accuse extroverted feelers of running away from the facts. Again, solipsism forces us to admit that we can never know for sure. And herein lies the ethical necessity of individuation. Intellectual honesty behooves us to break our cognitive habits. Empathy no less so. This is not to say that extroverted feelers must abandon their ideals. Neither that extroverted thinkers ought to abandon their facts. Only that both sides must acknowledge their natural inclination toward psychic partisanship. In the beginning of this essay’s second part, I suggested that type in no way limits experience. If that is true, individuation is not only possible, but essential.

I set out to explore the relationship between type and opinion. Whether I achieved my goal, I leave to my readers to decide. Myself, I will be content if I find that others have thought similar thoughts. In that case, the burden will become a little lighter. There is still much to explore here, and much of importance. If we can show that contraries are not so much opposed as related, we can further dialogue. Above, I focused on scientism and fideism in the easiest way possible. I neglected certain irregularities. Sam Harris, for example, is a positivist, extroverted feeler. What more, there are plenty who ground their faith in facts, no matter how erroneous they may be. Creationists anyone? For now I think it sufficient to address my own short comings and leave the rest to fate. But hey, that’s just me.

 NOTES

[1] Harris, S. (2010) The Moral Landscape. New York, NY: Free Press.

[2] TheNewAtlantisdotcom. (2014, Apr 30). Roger Scruton on scientism, communism, and freedom. [Video File] Retrieved from https://youtu.be/BtwjdaQuagY

[3] Schopenhauer, A. (2004) On the Suffering of the World. New York, NY: Penguin.

[4] Schardt, B. Wittgenstein, Tolstoy and the Gospel in Brief. Retrieved from http://www.newphilsoc.org.uk/OldWeb1/Wittgenstein/Christmas%20Investigations/Gospels.htm

[5] Scruton, R. (1996) An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy. New York, NY: Penguin.

[6] CelebrityTypes. (2017, Jan 27). Critique of Extroverted Thinking (Te) and the Third Man Argument. [Video File] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLBsDDj2ZkQ&feature=youtu.be

[7] Nietzsche, F. (1990) Beyond Good and Evil. New York, NY: Penguin.

[8] Smith, R. (2017, Jan 18) Plato’s Discursive Defense. Retrieved from http://www.celebritytypes.com/blog/2017/01/platos-discursive-defense/

[9] Scruton, R. (2014, Aug 15) Roger Scruton’s quotes on nonsense: Richard Dawkins, original sin, Islamism and more. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/15/roger-scruton-notes-on-nonsense-richard-dawkins-original-sin-islamism-and-more

Published in Lee Morgan