The Diversity of the Human Soul
The human soul and relationships between people are subject to a great deal of diversity with sufficient similarities to classify behavioural tendencies by life strategy and comment on comparative functionality of relationship according to the temperament mixture it represents. Although current systems of temperament classification can be problematic they nonetheless prove a classifiable diversity of temperament as it applies to the human soul or personality. The danger of assuming psychological abnormality outside of any group of like-minded individuals is a predisposition towards economic systems and religious discourse that excludes or alienates a significant proportion. In this sense, canons of religious contemplation are neither true nor false in any absolute sense, but favour various temperaments, possibly depending on the temperament of the founder.
Introducing the Soul
The exploration of being as I've presented it on this site, also offers an introduction to some of the more universal aspects of the soul. While some might accuse me of shifting the goalposts when I decline the definition of the soul as some sort of ghost that exists in the aether, I very much favour the "misuse" of this term to describe the software that inhabits the neural network most medical practitioners call the brain. With this in mind, I reiterate the uniqueness of individual experience and derived beliefs because they are indicative of the uniqueness of human personality, which in my understanding very much defines the human soul.
I separate diversity of temperament from individuality of personality for the purpose of exploring those aspects of the human nature that we share with others but not everyone. Ironically, though the idea that there are many different species of human soul proves the existence of the soul, this well documented observation about the diversity of human emotional needs is either neglected or denied by those institutions most concerned with the reality of the human soul. It is for this reason that I find myself focusing on the diversity of human temperament as the most prominent characteristic of the soul.
Human beings have a diverse range of emotional needs driving their diverse temperament demographics, and it is well documented that failure to have those needs met in relationships is a major cause of clinical depression (Murray & Fortinberry, 2004). The meeting of human emotional need - being such relations that cannot be suppressed without causing clinical depression - is thus in my belief a legitimate purpose of a relationship. Notwithstanding the diversity of types of relationship (Palmer, 1995; Stern, 2007), there is also a great diversity of human temperament (Palmer, 1991; Kiersey & Bates, 1984; Novichov & Varabyova, 2007).
Problems with Arbitrary Temperament Delineation
Temperament systems are prone to arbitrary delineation, and lack systematic approaches to induction from the diverse array of systems that influence our behaviour. Although the Enneagram Gurdjieff attributes to the Sufis (Palmer, 1991) successfully constrains itself to purely recursive or neural reinforcement mechanisms of personality to define temperament by dominant emotional drive, he fails to differentiate survival strategies from prosperity strategies and as a result separates them into differing temperaments when in practice they coexist to characterise the same temperament. Then Gurdjieff takes a purely intellectual process such as deception and assigns it a role as a primary motivator.
Myer & Briggs in authoring the MBTI system (Kiersey & Bates, 1984), built on by Gulenko, author of the modern Socionics system (Novichov & Varabyova, 2007) failed to recognise the harmonics of genetic distribution in only some vectors of their temperament population statistics. They assumed that all their scales would be binary, when in fact only genetic influences are binary. The scales with even statistical distribution have to be missing end members because each end member represents a competing decision-making strategy whose dominance depends on the frequency with which that strategy offers support or is otherwise compatible with the interests of the majority of strategies on the scale. An evenly divisible number of strategies is prone to contextual indecision when weighing circumstances of which the system has little or no experience.
Decision systems necessarily require freedom from priority ties or "Mexican standoff" and as scales represent the degree of favour of one strategy with respect to others, such scales must, in my opinion, have a number of end members equal to an odd prime number if the outcome of the decision making process endemic to the temperament in question is to survive natural selection. Imagine being charged by a tiger while you were out jogging and not being able to decide to keep running or stop and face the tiger or what if you were approached by a large saltwater crocodile lumbering along the beach and unable to decide whether to run inland, or just keep sunbathing? Indecision in natural systems is often fatal. This is probably why evolution favours decision scales that are biased, whether by dominant-recessive aspects or otherwise by neural reinforcement.
A Cursory Exercise in Temperament Induction
The problems described in the last section have lead me to seek an alternative derivation of temperament distinction. This is only intended as a cursory exercise to demonstrate how a temperament system could be rigorously derived. To be rigorous in definition, the functional structure of the endocrine system needs to be taken into account along with the mood effect of every hormone generated by the 21 lobes of the system - and this changes to 23 lobes during pregnancy. That would entail a complete specification of endocrine axes as observed in medicine.
Pushing ahead without the vital details, we know that moods and emotions drive our desires and urges. From an evolutionary perspective, this would relate to survival and prosperity being the naturally selected urgent priorities and the naturally selected important priorities, respectively. Urgency relates to those priorities that must be addressed immediately because failure to do so will mean more important priorities will be impossible to pursue. While it is more important for the hungry gazelle to eat, it must run immediately if a predator strays too close. Thus I'd expect there to be two sets of overlapping strategies.
Fight and flight are the typical threat responses that are discussed. However, this is a little too simplistic to cover all threat responses in nature. A kangaroo, for example, will collide with a predator, or perceived predator, not to attack but to rejoin the group if the predator gets in the way. A tip for people driving in country Australia; if you see a mob of kangaroos on one side of the road, always check the other side of the road for kangaroos because when the road cuts a group of kangaroos, the smaller part of the group will cross the road to rejoin the larger part of the group. It is very easy to get blind-sided by this aspect of "flocking" behaviour. Peacocks in groups will use their advantage in numbers to mob and harass a lone tiger if it remains for too long in their vicinity. Animals that flock together will, as groups, either flee (to escape a predator), wheel (to confuse a predator), or face (to jointly intimidate a predator) in response to a collectively perceived threat. I believe that flocking is an overlooked alternative to fight and flight strategies. These are direct survival strategies whose urgency only temporarily outranks other more important prosperity strategies. The success of the fight, flight, and flock strategies as human beings experience them, may be reflected in the human emotions of anger, fear, and abandonment. On this we may model a system of reaction to perceived survival threats.
In nature, we observe a number of prosperity strategies related to improving quality of life and survival probabilities above the bare minimum necessary for survival. Long term survival or prosperity strategies offer a much greater scope for diversification, but can be generalised into seven categories.
- Annihilation Strategy whereby the "perfectionist" aggressively (IE thoroughly and without relent) pursues "defects" in her/his perceived territory for the purpose of eliminating those defects. In extremes this is described as obsessive compulsive behaviour.
- Efficiency Strategy whereby the "sleeper" conserves as much energy as possible in anticipation of intense consumption as well as extended periods without food.
- Fame Strategy whereby the "performer" promotes her/his uniqueness either by competition or special niche, to engender community support.
- Dominance Strategy whereby the "chief" leverages her/his tribal dominance to ensure that her/his needs are met immediately, "now, quickly", before it is too late.
- Accumulation Strategy, whereby the "hoarder" stocks up for hard times, or otherwise lest the possessions might prove useful one day.
- Preparation Strategy, whereby the "magister" builds devices to secure a base and access to resources or otherwise address any possible contingency.
- Liberty Strategy, whereby the "free spirit" works to ensure the maximum freedom of egress or otherwise choice, to ensure that the best option is most often available.
In any given individual, one of these prosperity strategies will be dominant with the tendency to be overridden by the dominant on of the three survival strategies when the individual feels threatened.
Human Temperament is Nonetheless Diverse...
Regardless of how we choose to derive temperament classification systems, it is clear that these constitute means by which strategies and preferences can be built into systems by which more accurate predictions may be made about human emotional response, human reactions, and behavioural patterns. The key point is that no matter how you look at humanity, not only are people unique in their experiences and beliefs, but emotional needs and behavioural patterns define similarities by which people may be classified.
Human Temperament as a Pointer to the Religion of Best Fit
Whether one adopts the MBTI/Socionics temperament models, the Enneagram temperament model, or derives a system of one's own, one cannot escape the fact that the human soul falls into any of a number of entirely different categories depending on the the life strategies that are most reinforced in the individual's behaviour. This diverse range of cognitive perspective means that given economic models will ultimately benefit some temperaments while disadvantaging others, and likewise will given political systems. It is from this perspective that I once again leap to a relatively radical conclusion that it is our temperament that dictates the belief system that suits us, because our temperament ultimately dictates our priorities. Given the well documented diversity of human temperament, the tendency of a "cause" to brand outsiders or people otherwise not sharing a belief in the creed or doctrine as a sort subclass of humanity (whether "destined" to "ignorance" or "damnation"), appears to be out of lack of recognition of human diversity as a factual reality (tautology for emphasis). Thus the attempt of the "religious" cause to impose their particular priorities or even their idea of utopia outside of their membership strikes me as highly egotistical.
It would seem that by joining a "religious" cause we can revel in the sense of making a stand with the minority of "good guys". As it turns out, this is likely to be an illusion resulting from a combination of two factors:
- The isolation of one's experience to one's own temperament creates the initial perception that other temperaments are abnormal.
- Our need for stability drives us to belong to a community with common priorities or "values".
However, for all the benefits of values-based association, religion also has its weaknesses. Just because we share common values doesn't mean we can all understand one another without some considerable effort. As it turns out, many values are shared by different temperaments and it stands to reason that not all members of a particular religious or social group would be of the same temperament. However, isolating ourselves to the contact of like-minded people only ever serves to strengthen the statistically erroneous perception that our own temperament is a measure of psychological normality.
Marriage and Other Partnerships
The error inherent in assuming the normality of like-minded people also extends to dictating that the only "legitimate" form of marriage must comply with the singular relationship type that suits the temperament of the founder, without any consideration for the relationship types better suited to other temperaments.
Just as human beings have wildly diverse beliefs, human beings have a diverse range of emotional needs, and failure to have those needs met in relationships is recognised as a major cause of clinical depression (Murray & Fortinberry, 2004). Considering the epidemic occurrence of depression worldwide, the obvious theological question is, "Are we not meant to be depressed?" This may seem difficult to respond to in light of this contemplation. However, if we consider that love as expressed by the "Golden Rule" (common to all religions) is simply to act out of empathic conscience, and that God is love; how could God intend us to be depressed if depression is not a state anyone would want for themselves? Therefore it would seem illogical to me that we should be, or otherwise are meant to be depressed, and it follows that a range of partnership arrangements diverse enough to suit the many potential combinations of temperament is what we would come to expect of a truly divine revelation.
The decay of religion into the "cause" for institutionalising belief sets ultimately alienates individuals who are true to themselves and is thus in my view what makes religion so potentially divisive. What irony, given the origin of the word, "religion", from "religare", means, "to bind together". This need not be the case if the exploration of sacred writings can be kept subject to sufficient humility so that people of unlike-mind are accepted as people, albeit with alternative perspectives to contribute.
The soul as the embodiment of human personality, is every bit as real as the software you are using to read this article. You may not be able to touch or feel the software, but you can recognise it regardless of the computer. Likewise, when dealing with human beings we may observe enough of the similarities and differences of the soul to classify it within specific temperaments that allow us to make more accurate predictions about the feelings and reactions of others, than we would without doing so. This not only proves the existence of the soul in the sense that software is the soul of the machine it controls, but also demonstrates that economic, political, and religious systems are seriously flawed by the fact that they rarely, if ever, account for more than one human temperament. This, if anything, is the strongest rebuttal of that "essential infallibility" popularly attributed to prophets and otherwise deity made manifest in the flesh. However, this is not to discount the value of scriptural contemplation in any body of religious literature. What is significant is that just as MBTI makes more sense to some than Socionics, while Socionics makes more sense to others than MBTI; religious canons can be matched to temperament, possibly depending on the temperament of the founder.
Keirsey, D., & Bates, M., 1984, "Please Understand Me: character & temperament types", ISBN: 0-9606954-0-0
Murray, R., & Fortinberry, A., 2004, "Creating Optimism", ISBN: 0-07-141785-0
Novichkov, R., & Varabyova, J., 2007, "Socionics. The Modern Approach to Psychological Types", ISBN: 1430328150
Palmer, H., 1991, "The Enneagram: understanding yourself and the others in your life", ISBN: 0-06-250683-8
Palmer, H., 1995, "The Enneagram in Love & Work: understanding your intimate & business relationships", ISBN: 0-06-250721-4
Stern, S., 2007 "Socionics Demystified: a new social psychology for understanding relationships", ISBN: 184753595X