THE INSANE INTROVERT

Natural science has claimed victory over religion since Darwin, but philosophy is still the queen of the sciences.

Facts aside, how we live is still paramount.

Dinosaurs are real.  God is not.  So says modern science.

What do dinosaurs, however, have to do with our daily lives and our happiness?

Nothing.

What does God have to do with our daily lives and our happiness?

Everything.

So what is more important?

The fact or the symbol?

The science of dinosaurs? Or the philosophy of what does this all mean and what am I here for?

None of us can deny the truth of what is not real. Not Grayling, not Sartre, not Bentham.

We’re all religious nuts—whether we want to be, or not.

The reason why philosophy bleeds into science, and why the two were once the same is because the fact of a thing is never as important as why does this thing exist?

Socrates, the greatest philosopher of his day, was also the greatest scientist of his day.  Yea, the guy in the toga.  He was a philosopher—and a scientist—because he asked questions.

Fact-collectors are great.  But first you need to ask why. And before you know the facts, you need to guess. Only then do you know what facts to look for, and see if the facts agree with your guess.

A guess without facts is worthless, true.  And yet, the very act of guessing before the facts have arrived shows a philosophical impulse—and this is probably the most important thing of all, when it comes to happiness and knowledge.

And facts that don’t agree with a guess are equally worthless.

A fact that knocks you on the head becomes more than a fact the moment it knocks you on the head and makes you go: huh? why did that happen?  Until you start guessing, facts will only hurt you, make you frustrated and unhappy, and give you a headache.  People who only care about facts are like eyes without brains.

People who only care about facts are like an endless list of words which never becomes a poem.

To be a scientist or a poet, is to be wary of facts, not embrace them.

To the poet, jumping to conclusions is a good thing—because that’s what you have to do to be a poet.

The “jumping” part?  That’s what poetry and science and philosophy is.

Well, the “jumping” isn’t everything.  And we all know that in social situations, jumping to conclusions out loud can be social death. And poetry is worthless to the degree it is nothing but a lot of jumping to false conclusions.

But without the jumping, there is nothing.  No philosophy. No poetry. No thought.

A belief in God is a concession to the facts—the fact that we will never have all the facts we need, and that facts are not finally the answer, but only a partial guide.  Not because facts as facts are not trusted. But because there is more to science and philosophy and happiness than facts. This itself is a fact that is difficult to prove. Because facts are needed to prove something. Fact and proof are synonymous.

But facts never tell you when there is enough of them.

Something else tells us that.

If you jump to a conclusion, and are wrong, well, that will happen all the time.

But that doesn’t mean you should never jump.

To jump (to a conclusion) is to think.

When it comes to introverts, natural science, the pride of Darwin, may have made a grave error.

When it comes to the personality trait of the person who values privacy, natural—or what has come to be known as social or psychological—science may have made a terrible mistake.

Human interaction, as we all know, is crucial to happiness, and everyone is always trying to categorize and track the phenomenon formally and informally, scientifically or not.

A common method is dividing people into personality types, and two of the most common are 1) Left brain/Right brain and 2) Extrovert/Introvert.

Left brain/Right brain “science” neglects the complexity of the brain and is about as accurate as phrenology.  This “expertise” claims that left brain people are good at “math” and right brain people are good at “poetry.” Everyone knows that a good poet is good at math.

Such categories are useless, and about as scientific as horoscopes.  Everyone has a birthday—therefore everyone has a horoscope.  And “horoscope experts” can provide tons of information on anyone’s horoscope (the facts of who they are).

Astrology provides endless interest to millions, but has no scientific basis, except that it makes us aware of certain extremes—and cautions us to stay within those extremes—within a middle area of wiggle-room.  Be aggressive, but not too aggressive.  Be content, but not too content.  And so on.  ‘Golden mean’ advice is sound—but hardly qualifies as science.

Psychological types, such as Left brain/Right brain or Extrovert/Introvert, may appear scientific, but only to the credulous—for this “science” plays with the same deck of cards that astrology plays with. This includes Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and all the rest. It’s the same zero-sum card game.

Everyone has likes and dislikes, and so everyone has a personality trait—which conveniently informs a type.

Creating a scale of tendencies upon which every person “fits” (surprise!) belongs to neither philosophy nor science. Nor poetry.

Taking a lump of humanity and breaking it into various extremes of extrovert and introvert is a worthless exercise—unless we find a reason for splitting the lump into these two (normal) types.

We need to understand why extroverts and introverts exist to have any understanding of these categories.

Male and female do not simply exist; they exist for a reason, and only because of this reason are the categories, male and female, valid.

Can anyone say why extroverts and introverts, these two categories exist, or should exist?

Or, can anyone say with any certainty what percentage of extroversion a person will exhibit in various stages of life-development, or in different life situations?

If you see someone shouting, will you know, simply by observing a person shouting, whether that person is an extrovert or an introvert? Of course not. Because it always depends on the circumstances, not the “science.”

The categories are worthless—not because we cannot detect the outgoing person from the withdrawn person.  Of course we can.

If someone is constantly withdrawn, we do not come to the scientific conclusion that they are introverted.  This is about as scientific as saying a person with a fever is warm.

And this is exactly how the pretense of “science,” the “science” of normalizing a whole scale of psychological types, leads us astray.

The withdrawn person is a depressed person.  To call them an introvert is a misnomer.

And if someone is extremely outgoing in situations completely inappropriate to outgoing behavior, that person, too, has something wrong with them, and to call them an “extrovert” is completely beside the point.

One hears all the time these days how “introverts” value their “privacy” and “need space.”  The general population has taken upon itself the error of psychology’s false science—to condone all sorts of highly antisocial behavior.

This is bad for both the “introvert” who has something wrong with them, but stubbornly, and even proudly, pursues their life of “privacy,” making themselves even more miserable, and for all those who watch their introverted friend sink into greater and greater depression.

Withdrawal is a natural defense mechanism.  We are not talking about this.  We are talking about acute introverted behavior by a depressed person who prides themselves on being a socially accepted “introvert.”

Women who don’t have children and hold grudges against those who do.

People who don’t speak up.

People who don’t want to get to the bottom of anything, or get to the truth of anything, and crawl off into their  holes.

People satisfied to be shallow and surly.

And all of this accepted toxic behavior allows what?  It allows the aggressive, shallow extroverts to get their way, and make things increasingly worse—creating even more resentful, depressed introverts, as society sinks further and further into an unjust morass of quiet suffering.

A long list of pathological behaviors—which are termed normal, and which go on every day, and allow all sorts of injustices, big and small, to fester and grow—are enhanced by the false science of extrovert/introvert.

We are talking about a whole population turning into zombies, in which poor communication and timid, unfriendly behavior crushes all the best impulses of human interaction.

There is nothing wrong with introverted tendencies, and everyone—who is not insane—has them.

The truth of the whole matter is this (and all of us have observed this):

An extrovert is an introvert who feels comfortable. An introvert is an extrovert who feels uncomfortable.

The categories, then, do not exist.

The “real” introvert? The one we have created? That’s just an asshole.

 

 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    March 14, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    You’re channeling Dupin here. On purpose? Carlo Ginzburg has written an article or two in which he distinguishes between the classical scientific episteme and what he calls, variously, the venatic, divinitory, or conjectural episteme. I find it tragically hilarious that Sherlock Holmes calls his thought process “deductive.” Holmes, like Dupin before him, is a supremely gifted _guesser_, a conjecturalist, an oracle. At least Dupin knew that it is the poet, and not the scientist, that solves mysteries.

    The left-brain, right-brain thing is really just a redux of the trivium, quadrivium debate. Are numbers or letters more fundamental? Which score on your SAT is more important–verbal or math? And which facility with which category is indicative of “raw” intelligence or acuity (if there is such a thing)? The ancients crowned their orators and poets with laurel–their mathematicians and geometers, not so much. The medievals taught the trivium (grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric) first, reserving the numerate disciplines for university study–I think it’s clear which they regarded as more fundamental. Grammar school before high school, right? And during the Renaissance the great thinkers of the age preferred to refer to themselves as grammarians or philologists rather than as philosophers. Letters again. I side with tradition (and so, too, does modern science, though it would be loath to admit it).

    Typing personalities is as old as the theory of humors–which is to say that it is as old as our medical tradition. Of course, humorial theory types whole persons–body+soul–and not just personalities. Who can doubt that there are “types” of people? Who can doubt the value of any theory that excuses irritating behaviors? We’re all irritating. We’re all egotistical. We all spend our alone time reciting inexcusably inappropriate inner monologues. All social lubricants–including half-baked theories of personality based on whacked out theories of human consciousness (thanks, Jung)–do important work.

    The other strength of the humorial theory was that it applied to climates, seasons, foods, and places as well as people. Humorially speaking, taking care of oneself is a matter of _living_ in a certain way. The only way to stop being an asshole, in other words, is stop living like one. And to do that, you have to figure out what part of your way of living (from diet to job to environs) is making you an asshole, and either change it or temper it.

    • thomasbrady said,

      March 14, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      I assume this is you, Powers.

      Speaking of grammar: extroverts and introverts are those who don’t use grammar. The extrovert is satisfied with simply using all caps. The introvert doesn’t want to make the effort to be understood.

      The division into types fails for me because types are never nuanced enough—and a little learning is a dangerous thing. And types also imply an excuse for not liking this and not doing that.

      Protein should be in every diet. As well as vegetables. And some carbs. And some fruit. And a little wine.

      Even when one is ill, a good diet is a good diet.

      Though I’m sure the introvert will disagree.

      And the extrovert just wasn’t listening.

      • powersjq said,

        March 17, 2016 at 8:49 pm

        Tom, sorry about that. Hadn’t logged in. Yes, it’s me. 🙂

        • thomasbrady said,

          March 18, 2016 at 12:57 pm

          Thanks for responding, Powers. Glad you’re around. 😉

  2. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    This essay has so much richness in it it’s like a philosophy cake; a real cake dense with fruit, with almond paste, possibly currants, a fairy tale cake to take with you on the road that lasts magically for days. Thank God someone in America in modern times wrote AT LENGTH about the fact that the categories do not in fact exist but we who overflow and surpass them. do.

    And about God it is impossible to marshall the facts; and to ask as only a poet a real poet can ask, why would we even WANT the facts to be the overarching reality? Facts are in fact miasma except in regard to traffic fatalities.

    As to introvert and extrovert and their popular use and understanding as not only psychological terms but condemnations, well, introvert is a condemnation as I understood from junior high school when I was labeled one and extrovert oh cheerleady America was always, always the thing to be to aim for now replaced with the word of all contexts “leader”- were just inane (but extremely hurtful in the wrong hands and under the scrutinizing inescapable (except into poetry, away, away)- gaze.

    • thomasbrady said,

      March 18, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, Mary. Poetry is how I get my extrovert on. Or maybe extroversion writes my poetry…or maybe the introvert takes the extrovert by the hand…

  3. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 18, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    That makes sense to me. So often these terms have been used to pigeonhole, surveil, and control people. But introvert or extrovert are in the end only psychological terms or paradigms we could have lived without happily in the language. The introvert takes the extrovert by the hand. I love that. Turn it upside down and inside out the words used to control to label and often, to oppress. Turn out the inside of words misapplied misused in this way and then use them in a way in a sentence that takes our freedom back and makes of the words misused something refreshing and even maybe, kind.


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