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Who are the authors whose work most closely resembles your book series?

If I were to choose authors whose work relates to each of the book in the series, I would name Ayn Rand and Aristotle for the first book. Not only did each provide groundwork  for philosophy, but also Ayn Rand explained the real concept of the hero and leader. Concerning the second book, which is science and theory of the mind, I will point to Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins,  William H. Calvin,  David Bohm,  and Lawrence Krauss as major influences. The third book, focusing on values and drugs, is greatly based on Ayn Rand (theory of values) as well as own views and current scientific results. I drew a lot from Karen Armstrong‘s books for the fourth book about religion and theology, and the chapter about psychology is greatly influenced by the ideas of Carl JungPeter S. BeagleJoseph Campbell, and Robert Cialdini. While Ayn Rand again provided basic philosophical ideas, modern science and personality theory help us to connect with who we are and what our values actually are. Finally, for the book on art and heroism, I will draw heavily on Ayn Rand, general music theory and a number of authors of motivation books.

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What’s the most important thing you have learned in your life?

That I can positively affect and effect change and people. And the realization that I have choices and that those choices have consequences. Being aware of having a choice is very empowering.

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What is MBTI?

It goes back to psychoanalysis a hundred years ago. Carl Jung, one of the major figures in that field, found out that we basically have four cognitive functions on which we operate and that we process information in a certain sequence. There is Feeling, which refers to “global thinking,” meaning you include all your life experiences and your values (your ethical system), intuition (situational thinking, including your subconscious), Thinking (step-by-step, conscious, logical analysis), and Sensing (immediate sensations). They can be of the same intensity for someone, but they are “called up” in a certain order, i.e. e.g. “Feeling” personality types evaluate a situation usually first according to their ethical point of view.

Imagine your mind being like a small company of four people representing the four functions. The job goes to #1 always. He might pass it down to #2, etc. Employee #4 might be great, but most of the times he won’t receive any work or has to wait until the work is passed down to him. Different people have a different sequence of functions, and each function can be directed to the inside and to the outside. In the end, you have about 16 different types, with some much more prevalent than others.

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What are you (the author) doing for a living?

I’m currently working at a medical company as a software architect, connecting patients with their doctors through smart phones and the Internet. It is my day job to finance my writing. I lead a small team there, so I’m used to handling projects. The actual application in mind gives the work meaning.

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How does your book series compare to popular books on motivation and leadership?

Some of the best-known books on leadership include:

  • Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill)
  • The Greatest Salesman in the World (Og Mandino)
  • Awaken the Giant Within (Anthony Robbins)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey)
  • The 48 Laws of Power (Robert Greene)

While each of these books and others like them, provide you with tips and tricks on how to become successful, each set success as the ultimate goal. For example, Robbins’ book claims to provide “immediate control of your mental, emotional, physical and financial destiny.”

This is not the goal of the Philosophy for Heroes book series. Instead, this book series encourages you to sit down and think and reflect. Becoming a leader is not done by superimposing a code or mask on your identity or reprogramming your behavior. There are no quick solutions.

You become a hero by becoming a balanced person first – by being true to yourself and discovering your strengths and weaknesses. You have to visit all your past experiences and face your demons and bring them into line. You have to work at solving old emotional or intellectual conflicts. You have to learn about philosophy and science. This book series will challenge you to begin the journey to become a balanced person with a free mind… to follow your own dreams and express your own identity.

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Can I order in advance?

Yes! Head over to the Shop and pre-order your book of choice.

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Aren’t leaders evil?

I discuss the philosophy of Nazism – its roots – in detail in the book. National socialism was about being a part of the people sacrificing for the whole.

 

My philosophy – or the philosophy of one of my role models, Ayn Rand – is the opposite; it is against putting the values of others before your own. Other people can be your value (e.g., it is not a “self-sacrifice” to care for your child), but you shouldn’t just do what they want without any regard to yourself. Helping others is not about doing what they want, but figuring out how to actually help them. Giving an alcoholic a bottle of beer is not helpful, no matter how much the alcoholic wants it.

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When will the next book come out?

The next book (working title “Philosophy for Heroes”) will be released in multiple parts, the first one will be available in summer 2015 in English and then translated into German.

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Epistemology Philosophy

The Problem of Induction

 

Can We Acquire Knowledge?


Clemens Lode, Apr 2015*

In his Critique of Pure Reason1, Kant wished to argue against the empiricism of David Hume. He claimed that induction in relation to causality could not be a means of learning anything about nature since the justification of the validity of induction would in turn require induction. According to Hume, to posit that the identity of an entity at a future point in time (without external influence and with attention paid to internal processes) is the same as in the present is not valid.

Kant attempted to solve this problem by creating the term synthetic a priori statement2 By that, he intended to show that there are statements about the world which would not require induction:

Analytic statement: A statement whose assertion is given by the concept of the subject. As a result, measurements are not necessary to determine whether it is true or not (e.g., “Triangles have three vertices”).

Synthetic statement: A statement whose assertion is given not alone by the concept of the subject alone; i.e., measurements are required to determine whether it is true or not (e.g., “This form has three corners”).

A priori statement: A statement which can be substantiated independently of experience (e.g., mathematical statements).3

A posteriori statement: A statement which must be substantiated through experience (e.g., “Bodies are heavy”; we must first lift a body to determine its weight).5

In his work, he sought synthetic statements which were at the same time a priori statements and, as a result, could be substantiated without empirical knowledge of reality. His very lengthy explanation in Critique of Pure Reason did not help to clarify what he—knowingly or unknowingly—actually meant by his notion of analytic and synthetic statements, as well as by the distinction of a priori and a posteriori statements.4

The point is that his synthetic statements concern nothing other than measurements A synthetic statement is thus nothing other than a statement about the effect of a representation of a concept—an entity. For instance, the statement “All chairs are made of material” refers to a property of the concept “chair,” while the statement “All chairs are made of the material wood” relates to the tangible effect of the property “material.” A synthetic a priori statement thus would be nothing other than a “statement whose assertion is not given by the concept of the subject (i.e., a measurement!), but can be substantiated independently of experience (i.e., not a measurement!).” A measurement that is not a measurement is obviously a contradiction; for this reason, by the Axiom of Identity, synthetic a priori statements cannot exist.

By the Axiom of Identity, Kant’s synthetic a priori statements cannot exist. That means that there are no statements that can be shown to be true without induction.

SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF INDUCTION

Hume concerns himself with the future, and hence with the question of whether knowledge we acquire about the world can be applied to future events. “Time,” however, is ultimately merely a construct of the mind.7 In more general terms, it deals with the question of whether knowledge acquired from a past situation is also valid in a situation at different point in time. Still more generally, we can bring under criticism the use of concepts universally:

If we have established, e.g., that when dropping an apple, it falls downward, who is to say that the same must also hold for a different apple (or at a different but comparable location or point in time)?

Possible answers to this problem could be that we may have erred in constructing the concepts in question, and there are still many more significant properties we might have not yet discovered. Or, there could be a coincidental external influence, e.g., a strong gust of wind could blow the apple upward.

But that is not what Hume aims at; he is concerned about the validity of concepts, i.e., whether we can acquire general knowledge about the world when we exclude such special cases. We have defined the term “concept” in this way for the very reason that it includes entities that, for example, possess the property of falling downward. It makes no difference, whether we now consider other apples in our fruit basket or apples existing far in the future. In both cases, we speak of the same concept, “apple.” If future apples possess other properties than our present apples, we must diversify our concept “apple.” When defining the concept, we have to either restrict the selection of entities or include a dynamic component which adds, e.g., the factor of time into the description of the properties. Exactly such a discussion is currently going on in the sciences concerning the gravitational “constant.” If, for instance, in the future, the gravitational constant should change, it would say nothing about the validity of concepts per se but instead would speak to our potentially incomplete concept of gravitation where we should have included a change of the gravitational constant depending on the time and location.

Hume’s problem of induction is ultimately aimed at the fact that we are not omniscient when we establish concepts.

Ultimately, we see that Hume’s argument is a matter of nonexistent omniscience in the establishment of concepts. We can, therefore, compare him with Kant’s “thing-in-itself”: potentially, there is always a level further on, a (still?) unknown “true reality,” which was as yet unknown to us when we defined our concepts.

We could also formulate the question in more general terms: does carrying out a deduction depend on empirical facts, i.e., can we perform experiments which can determine whether we can determine things? This approach leads to an endless cycle of questioning (a so-called recursion, see below)—to answer the question we must be able to answer the question. It has come to this recursion, since we cannot ask any questions which bring into question the presupposition for the question—this would be the fallacy of the stolen concept. We could not then bring into question the validity of concepts if we pose a question that uses concepts. At most, what we owe to Hume is that we should not assume that we are omniscient; we should require proof for scientific theories and re-examine existing knowledge when gaining new insights.

RECURSION

Self-reference (recursion): If a statement or a process references itself, it is called recursive.

Working step-by-step through, e.g., a recipe usually is not recursive. But if there is a task like “Add some flour to the dough. Knead the dough. If the dough is sticky, we are complete. Otherwise, we add some more flour and knead it again…”, then we have a (possibly infinite) telescoping of the same process. Or imagine a photo of a person who holds up that very photo to the camera. A third example of a recursion would be cell division processes within a life-form. This is especially visible when looking at, e.g., tree branches or our system of blood vessels.

In that regard, you cannot say, e.g., “I cannot make objective statements” because that is an objective statement. And trying to rectify it by saying “I cannot make objective statements except for the statement ‘I cannot make objective statements’ ” is recursive because you would need infinite time to make an objective statement about objective statements. It is like saying that “something is true because because because because because …” without really providing a final argument. This is one of the many issues of the application of language which we will discuss in the upcoming first book of the series “Philosophy for Heroes.”


1.

[A comprehensive discussion of this position and its political consequences for subsequent philosophers can be found in The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America by Leonard Peikoff (978-0452011175). Especially recommended is another discussion about rationalism, empiricism, and objectivism spanning several chapters in Understanding Objectivism: A Guide to Learning Ayn Rand’s Philosophy, p. 209 – 307 (978-0451236296).]
2. [vgl. S. 55 – 67 Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 978-3-86647-408-6]
3. [Closely connected with this topic is the question about a priori knowledge, which we will discuss more closely from a scientific position in the second book of the series “Philosophy for Heroes”. Philosophically viewed, the issue is clear: we have ultimately defined knowledge such that new knowledge can be formed only from existing knowledge or from perceptions of reality. Without ever having made a perception we can thus never acquire knowledge.]
4. [On the other hand, analytic a posteriori statements do not exist.
5. [Analytische a posteriori Aussagen gibt es dagegen nicht.]
6. [vgl. S. 62ff Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 978-3-86647-408-6]

Categories
Psychology

Rethinking Gender Roles

How the MBTI Can Overlook Our True Nature


Clemens Lode, July 2014*

Widely recognized as a useful tool in understanding who we are and how we can best work with others, the MBTI, or Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, categorizes people as: Introverts or Extroverts, Thinkers or Feelers, Sensors or Intuitives, and Judgers or Perceivers. But does the test fully assess who we are? And, if not, can it reveal a deeper truth about society and ourselves?

Due to the widespread popularity of the MBTI, we have a number of statistics on the distribution of categories across the general population. From personality test results, we know that roughly two-thirds of men tend to test as Thinkers; at the same time, two-thirds of women tend to test as Feelers. This difference points to a greater truth: there is a factor influencing the individual test results, a bias. Here, I will examine the underlying causes of that bias.

There is no apparent reason that women would score differently than men. The very thing we know from the MBTI test is that people are vastly different and that the cognitive preferences of the same type are identical in men and women. A person who answers “How do you act in situation X?” and turns out – according to the MBTI – to be a Thinker will also act likesomeone who scored as a Thinker, no matter if the individual is male or female.

So why does the MBTI find a difference, in terms of propensity to be categorized as a Thinker or a Feeler, between genders? I believe it is because many people wear masks depending on the roles they play in their daily lives. The masks are created based on the daily activities of the traditional roles in which society puts men and women. For this reason, the answers to such a test reflect the roles we play. In the MBTI test, people think about how they act in their lives and answer the questions accordingly. They answer with their masks on, putting women more in the caring and nurturing (“Feeling”) role and men into the deciding, planning, and organizing (“Thinking”) role.

This misconception also reinforces itself, as Thinker women might tend to consider themselves Feelers. Likewise, Feeler men might tend to consider themselves Thinkers. Consciously or not, each group has been taught to associate the term “feeling” with women and “thinking” with men.

Having established that Feeling does not necessarily refer to femininity and Thinking does not refer to masculinity, we have to understand what Feeling and Thinking actually mean and how both are part of us, no matter what type we are.

Simply put, Feeling does not refer to emotions, while Thinking does not encompass all thought processes. Little do people know that the “feeling function” is no more feminine than the “thinking function.” Both are equally rational, just as men and women are equally rational.

A Thinker’s actions depend on the situation. Given the facts, the Thinker asks, “What is the next logical step?” A Feeler’s actions depend on the people, and morality involved: a Feeler will ask, “Given the people, what is the next logical step?”

So, we already see that thinking and feeling are both based on logic; each approach uses a different set of data to calculate the final result. Depending on the introversion or extroversion variety of the Thinking and Feeling function, one gets these data either from within himself (introverted) or from the outside (extroverted).

Men are often inclined (because they have been taught this) to meet societal standards and to behave as thinkers. Why? After all, in the end, it’s not that Feeling is “bad” or Thinking is “good.” Both types have big advantages in their field of work and certain parts of their lives. It is because Feeling is looked down upon as being the way of the “fairer” (weaker?) sex.

This raises the question: how do we evaluate the worth of morality and ethics?

The point is that it is not just an issue of sexism – i.e., connecting Feeling and femininity – but also one of long-term nihilism: Ethics and principles are generally looked down upon as having no value simply because they do not appear to have an immediate value while Thinking easily provides directly applicable results.

This is also reflected in many of the descriptions of the MBTI types where suitable careers are proposed for certain types. But Feelers can reach any position they desire. They can run businesses, work in IT, health care, finance, etc. What they care about are long-term values and principles. In many businesses, values and principles are assigned a low a priority – which is why many fail in the long-term. Compare this to successful family businesses where the worth of the next generation and the long-term respect of the family name are crucial factors.

So, what qualities do Feelers, especially Introverted Feelers, bring to the table? Introverted feeling is really about knowing who you are in the sense of your own worth and what you think is important. Thinking cannot give you that; it is too concentrated on the situation at hand, not on core principles, and values. (Thinking types need to recognize the value of this side of themselves, to exercise these functions and see where doing so takes them.) Introverted Feeling is not about whims. What INFPs can “bring to the table” are ideas, motivation, and the energy to embark on new paths. INFPs also offer a place to return, to find yourself and heal the inner conflicts you had to suppress to be effective and stand against the opposing forces in real life. An INFP can negotiate and create unity and peace between seemingly incompatible positions and people. An INFP can give you the absolute moral security that what you do is right and that no one can stop you.

An INFP can be an effective leader, but he needs someone to bring his dreams and his stance to fruition. Other people need to recognize these values and understand that they cannot expect the INFP to make decisions, tell others what to do or organize their lives. Others have to go to battle for the INFP, with him as the standard bearer. They have to accept him as the moral foundation while he has to refrain from spending all his energy attempting to make and execute decisions.

Likewise, the INFP has to value the traits of Thinkers and not float away with his intuition and feeling into dreamland. He needs to have a footing in reality.

We find a similar form of the problem in another popular “personality” indicator, namely the intelligence quotient. We can compare people with a high IQ with “T” (thinking, according to the MBTI) people. We tell people with high IQ scores that they are smart, basically telling them that they are superior. But does that help them in their development? Are we not telling them that they are far ahead of everyone else in their journey through life and that they are basically already accomplished? Add a job, a car and an apartment gotten through a first job – landed through good school grades – and according to society’s standards, that person is doing everything right. All that is left is to move up the career ladder.

I experienced this myself, and I don’t exclude myself from “typism” and sexism before I learned about this. I wanted to think of myself as an INTJ, because I thought that rationality and logic were more valuable than what I saw as “whim” (feeling)… but one day I looked back and discovered the value of passion and empathy in my life. And looking back I can see how far this brought me in my life. After an initial struggle, I embraced it wholeheartedly.

It comes down to a decision: to which power group do you want to belong? Those who do not choose are alone and shunned by both sides because both sides have found their identity in a stereotype. Anyone outside the stereotype is perceived as a threat.

The moment your mask falls, you are faced with the need to make decisions, you are faced with being responsible for all your actions, and you suddenly have to start to be the leader of your own life. Does this strike you as a frightening prospect or one filled with possibility?

The point is that people lie to themselves by feeling safe within a group, taking on the identity of the group rather than risking being themselves. Politically, we see the result in the persecution of people who do not fall into traditional gender roles. This is a complete regression into barbarism, and a clear sign of the huge insecurity individuals feel in such a society. Having nothing else to rely on, they define themselves by their group and see everyone else as an enemy.

So, what is the role of a “Feeler” woman in society? What is the role of a “Thinker” man in society? Should each be discouraged from embracing her or his other abilities?

We must remind ourselves that this tension does not affect only people who are wrongly typed or do not fit in society’s roles. Those who do fit into society’s expectations are especially affected – they are denied the other half of their being.

The notion that Feeling is weak and Thinking is strong is again a notion related to sexism. In terms of strength, this doesn’t make sense either. Just as Thinkers might be more effective in terms of execution and order, Feelers are more effective in terms of people.

If we remove the gender aspects of Thinking and Feeling (being masculine and feminine), how then do we determine our role in society? If Thinker females are just as normal as Thinker males and Feeler males just as normal as Feeler females, what is left? What is your role in society in terms of male or female, Thinking or Feeling?

To discover one’s true self, one must dissect his or her current role in society, questioning each aspect of that role as it really relates to one’s own nature. Here, we need to take a critical look at all parts where we disagree with the stereotypical roles of how society defines us. This is important because we might actually agree with part of a role, but dismiss it as a whole because we disagree with the whole package. For example, if a man finds himself not liking team sports – and team sports are associated with masculinity in our culture – he should check if he really doesn’t like team sports or if he just dislikes the connection with the male gender stereotype of the culture.

The point of finding your masculinity or femininity – or better, your identity – is to take a critical look at all your experiences and influences in life and differentiate between your true nature and what others tell you.

Who am I? I am someone who was born with INFP function preferences which has discovered that I need to exercise all functions to become a complete person. I learned that all the masks and roles of society were just obstacles on that path.

My goal is to heal the world. My journey to show others their suppressed side and their true nature reminds me a little of the quote from The Neverending Story – and it really seems to be a never-ending story: “There are people that can’t go to Fantasia. There are those who can but never return. And there are just a few who go to Fantasia and come back. And they make both worlds well again.”