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Theses Toward a Comprehensive Theory of Type

By Lee Morgan

  1. We must consider personality under both of its aspects: the structural and the phenomenological. The practice of not distinguishing between them is the ruin of this art. To illustrate their difference, let us draw an analogy. With respect to language, a line divides between words and the pictures they paint. That is why what is shown cannot be reduced to what is said. These words of mine inhabit a category different from that of your mental representations of them. And yet they stand in a certain relation. Personality is much the same. The phenomenological approach brackets off the world. It is like a theory of language that brackets off the word. This art must be holistic[1].
  1. With regard to my previous articles, the structural aspect of personality has been my focus. Its domain pertains to the cognitive functions and their organization. These are the words and the syntax of personality. Whereas, the phenomenological aspect of personality governs the sense and the representation of its structure[2]. It encompasses all that cannot be reduced to mere definitions[3]. If Wittgenstein is not to your liking, then the aspects of personality may also be compared with the qualities of Locke’s epistemology[4].
  1. Both aspects the site has explored. The general rule for determining what aspect is under investigation is whether the writer is defining matters as though she were drafting a constitution, or describing them with a painter’s brushstrokes. The phenomenological has been described at length and with grace. This is the expertise of both Ryan Smith and Boye Ackiwande. I can only add that the ontological preferences elsewhere presented[5] must too be understood under this aspect of personality. They are the sense offunction hierarchy. But let us here explore the grammar of function hierarchy in which that sense finds its support.

Ontological Preferences and the Comparing of Types

  1. I call those preferences primary which all types of a given judgment axis share[6]. These are the preferences of the most fundamental priority. They are described elsewhere. I will only add that Michael Pierce is both commendable and correct for his applying them to sensation types. Next I call secondary the preferences that arise from the predominance of a given judgment function. These too the aforementioned article describes[7]. They are the ontological preferences common to types sharing the last two letters of their type code. These are what Freud and Nietzsche share[8] and what Jung and Adler have in common[9]. Secondary ontological preferences are the theoretical basis of the Aristotelian conception of type[10]. But there is a level of specificity beyond them and it has hitherto been unexplored.
  1. The following should refute both the Aristotelian thesis and the notion that types of the same dominant function are necessarily most similar[11]. This concept I call tertiary ontological preference. Tertiary ontological preferences arise in types whose judgment functions occupy the same relative position with reference to function hierarchy. These describe the mutual ontology of an Epictetus and a Marcus Aurelius[12]. And they are the difference between Pythagoras[13] and Plato and the divide between Plotinus and Porphyry[14]. They are common to types sharing the first, third, and forth letters of their type codes. They explain for example why the ontological preferences of introverted feelers are indistinguishable from each other while those of introverted sensors are not. The general rule is that types of the same dominant function will share tertiary ontological preferences only if that function pertains to judgment.
  1. Together with the primary and the secondary, tertiary ontological preferences give sense to the otherwise senseless type codes. Why the second letter is left unused can be ascertained from the definition of judgment given in Determining Function Axis Part 10 and its application to the present enquiry. In this sense the preferences unique to a given type are not properly ontological. They instead pertain to how and what a type perceives. This can perhaps be ascertained from the methodological differences of Nietzsche and Freud[15]. It is regardless not a question of judgment. But its answer no doubt explains the missing letter.
  1. The practical application of what has hitherto been discussed will no doubt provide a method for typing. We need only first apply the phenomenological method and thereby describe the sense of each preference. For with the necessary portraits, typing can be as quick as it is accurate. And I believe that many of us already do just this, though we lack proper language and have called it intuition. This is why we can recognize certain typological archetypes, the exuberant romantic for example, which flows from Empedocles through Byron and Shelly, past Wilde and to the present day with Shane McGowan[16]. What more, questions like the Socratic problem may find solutions in this method. The philosophies of Xenophanes and Zeno the Eleatic may for example be used as psychological references toward the search for the true Socrates.

Answering the Question, ‘What is Personality?’

  1. But what is personality? This more than any other is a question most pertinent to students of typology. That personality is a type of idolatry I will endeavor to prove[17]. There are to my knowledge two fundamental perspectives on the metaphysics of type. The first states that type is itself a complex object composed of simpler objects, namely the cognitive functions. That this position is absurd I will now make clear.
  1. Typology is simply put reflexive. That is to say that the psychologist of type is his own object of investigation. This is precisely where realist metaphysics become problematic[18]. There are two ways of conceiving of the self: the self as subject and the self as object. The subjective self both perceives and judges the world. But it is not to be found within it. Rather the subjective self frames the world. Whereas the objective self inhabits it. But where subjectivity is active, objectivity is passive and inert. That is that the objective self has no greater agency than a chair. And would it not be bizarrely narcissistic to expect otherwise? To mistake one aspect of the self for another is to make persons out of shadows. But is it not precisely this that the realist position promotes? And is this not idolatrous? I must add that the same applies to other selves, lest I be selfish. And it too is worth noting that we cannot form proper ideas of anything said to be subjective. And yet we have a faint sense. This is what Berkley called a notion[19]. Others have called it intuition but for semantic reasons I prefer the former. It should now be clear that the realist model of typology makes impotent statisticians and frustrated game theorists of its psychologists.
  1. Permit me a brief departure before continuing. Is it not manifestly clear that the unconscious mind is nothing more than the world itself?[20] Try conceiving of a scenario where this is not a sufficient explanation. Everything said against realism in typology also applies to the psychology of the mind in general. But let us continue.
  1. The second perspective is a sort of process metaphysics. This is the position that Ryan Smith and I take in Determining Function Axes Part 10. Rather than establishing theoretical objects this perspective understands type as a series of subjective processes. Here the cognitive functions are the preferences and tendencies through which the subjective self interacts with the world. The grammar of function hierarchy is here understood as a sort of rulebook for processes. But while this position avoids the nonsense of realism, it too harbors its share of difficulties.
  1. With respect to said difficulties, Sam Levey does an excellent job of addressing them in Process Vs. Orientation: A Local Theory Formulation of Typology his most crucial observation being that the process theory of type potentially unhinges the cognitive functions from their axes. And while I believe that together with Determining Function Axes Part 10 these theses sufficiently address this concern, it is still worth noting that his criticisms are valid. That said he and I do differ in our understanding of the cognitive functions. Whereas he understands them to be the actual processes that they define, I see them instead as the tendency toward performing said processes rather than the processes themselves. But these tendencies are not identical with their subject. Therefore unless we distinguish the subjective self from its personality, we again tend toward idolatry.

Individuation and Conclusion

  1. Does personality not obscure human subjectivity[21]? Does its presence not eclipse the subjective self?  And do its habits not resemble an addiction? That these are legitimate concerns Jung himself acknowledges with his theory of individuation. But as with addiction the movement from personality to the impersonal is eternally demanding. For just as sobriety is a lifelong process, so individuation is not a threshold moment in time. While the alcoholic may proudly remember his final drink, it is the eternal recurrenceof his will to sobriety that keeps him clean. The end of typology must therefore be a therapeutic one. If personality is the consistency that Emerson loathed, then the psychologist of type must encourage us to be more sincere[22]. She must abandon the sophisms and the German idealism behind the Heraclitian perspective of typology and look instead to that of Anaximander[23]. For the difference between these perspectives is the difference between a Gorgias and a Socrates[24]. Nevertheless, the psychologist of type must always remember that ‘hardly can a man become good[25].’



[1] This analogy I owe to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

[2] Why Woodrow Wilson Is ISTJ

[3] I mention this in response to criticism of my previous writing being reductive. I believe that criticism to be categorically inappropriate for this very reason.

[4] An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

[5] Though they go against the general rule stated above, I consider the propositions of NTP/NFJ vs. NTJ/NFP Ontology to be phenomenological and not structural in nature.

[6] The first eight and final four propositions fall under this category.

[7] Propositions nine through twelve. Nine should read: STP/NTP, ten: SFJ/NFJ, eleven: STJ/NTJ, and twelve: SFP/NFP.

[8] Why Freud is ISTJ

[9] Adler’s Contributions to Psychology

[10] An Aristotelian View of Personality Types

[11] An Aristotelian View of Personality Types

[12] Bertrand Russell “It is remarkable that Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius are completely at one on all philosophical questions.”

[13] Philosophical Archetypes: Pythagoras (ENFJ)

[14] Who I type EFJ by tertiary ontological preference.

[15] Why Freud is ISTJ

[16] I believe all to be ENFP. Mozart would be an ESFP.

[17] Here I draw influence from Simone Weil’s essay Human Personality.

[18] The following draws influence from Kant, Tolstoy, Wittgenstein, and Scruton.

[19] Principles of Human Knowledge

[20] The second epilogue of War and Peace makes much the same point.

[21] Simone Weil, Human Personality.

[22] See Emerson’s Self Reliance.

[23] Both are described in The Anaximanderian Conception of Function Axes.

[24] The idea of self-mastery along these lines is a reformulation of the same argument Gorgias gives for the life of flattery in Plato’s dialogue named after him.

[25] Simonides, Plato’s Protagoras.

Published in Lee Morgan