Ed Hudgins

Scientology, Seizures, and Science

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Not so. The statement "I am in Plainsboro N.J. visiting my grandchildren" was true last night but it is not true at this moment. I am at home in Monroe Twp. N.J. in front of my computer. That previous statement is true at 07:30 EST on Jan 27 2009.

Ba'al Chatzaf

How do I know any of this is true?

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In simple terms I would say that in objectivism you say someone is wrong but in general semantics you say something is wrong with them, ie. it's a behaviour modification issue not a moral issue.

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Not so. The statement "I am in Plainsboro N.J. visiting my grandchildren" was true last night but it is not true at this moment. I am at home in Monroe Twp. N.J. in front of my computer. That previous statement is true at 07:30 EST on Jan 27 2009.

Ba'al Chatzaf

How do I know any of this is true?

You can't. It's a story. The question should be how can he know it's true?

--Brant

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GS,

Of course truth exists. Why is there a constant need to preach that it doesn't?

The word "truth" means something specific in the way Kelley and Hudgins (and I) use it, which apparently is not the same meaning you understand, and the concept did not come into human cognition as an act of silliness.

It really would would help if we talk about the same things before preaching something like that as a critique.

Michael

I don't doubt that you believe in "truth" that applies to all people at all times but that does not make it so. Any statement can be argued against. If you accept that absolute "truth" exists then that amounts to a priori knowledge which is the same as religion. If something is the "truth" then it can never be modified because modifying it would make it not true.

Here you are using truth as a stolen concept. You are implicitly claiming truth for your statements about truth.

--Brant

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We as Objectivists often think that if others will just listen to reason, they'd see the truth. The problem is that many people don't. While they are morally culpable for their evasions, there still remains the practical question of how we might change people for the better.

The problem here is the word "truth" because there is no such thing - there are only degrees of correspondence or, as we say in general semantics, similarity of structure. If we encounter someone who refuses to change their beliefs in spite of overwhelming evidence we do not make it into a moral issue but rather a sanity issue. This diffuses the animosity which 'taking the moral high ground' seems to promote.

You are claiming two things with no evidence for either: There is no truth and correspondence is true. As for diffusing animosity, I suppose that would have to happen if one spent his time trying to figure out what he and you are talking about.

--Brant

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GenS- Perhaps you've been reading too much Wittgenstein!

Actually, none. :) Pretty well all Korzybski.

Edited by general semanticist

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Here you are using truth as a stolen concept. You are implicitly claiming truth for your statements about truth.

--Brant

Here you are committing the 'vicious circle' fallacy. If one makes a statement about all statements you cannot apply it to itself. For example, "all generalizations are untrue, except this one".

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Here you are committing the 'vicious circle' fallacy. If one makes a statement about all statements you cannot apply it to itself. For example, "all generalizations are untrue, except this one".

It's the old fallacy that is brought up again and again ad nauseam. It doesn't take into account what kind of statements are meant, by ignoring the difference between logical truths and the empirical truths of universally quantified statements. See for example here.

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Here you are committing the 'vicious circle' fallacy. If one makes a statement about all statements you cannot apply it to itself. For example, "all generalizations are untrue, except this one".

It's the old fallacy that is brought up again and again ad nauseam. It doesn't take into account what kind of statements are meant, by ignoring the difference between logical truths and the empirical truths of universally quantified statements. See for example here.

Petitio principii or begging the question. True, if you guys are right. False, if you guys are wrong.

--Brant

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It's the old fallacy that is brought up again and again ad nauseam. It doesn't take into account what kind of statements are meant, by ignoring the difference between logical truths and the empirical truths of universally quantified statements. See for example here.

I believe we are saying the exact same thing in different terminology.

Statements such as ‘a proposition about all propositions’ have been called by

Russell ‘illegitimate totalities’. In such cases, it is necessary to break up the set into

smaller sets, each of which is capable of having a totality. This represents, in the

main, what the theory of types aims to accomplish. In the language of the Principia

Mathematica, the principle which enables us to avoid the illegitimate totalities may

be expressed as follows: ‘Whatever involves all of a collection must not be one of

the collection’, or, ‘If, provided a certain collection had a total, it would have

members only definable in terms of that total, then the said collection has no total’.1

The above principle is called the ‘vicious-circle principle’, because it allows us to

evade the vicious circles which the introduction of illegitimate totalities involve.

Russell calls the arguments which involve the vicious-circle principle, ‘vicious-

circle fallacies’.

As an example, Russell gives the two-valued law of ‘excluded third’, formulated

in the form that ‘all propositions are true or false’. We involve a vicious-circle

fallacy if we argue that the law of excluded third takes the form of a proposition,

and, therefore, may be evaluated as true or false. Before we can make any statement

about ‘all propositions’ legitimate, we must limit it in some way so that a statement

about this totality must fall outside this totality.

Another example of a vicious-circle fallacy may be given as that of the

imaginary sceptic who asserts that he knows nothing, but is refuted by the

question—does he know that he knows nothing? Before the statement of the sceptic

becomes significant, he must limit, somehow, the number of facts concerning which

he asserts his ignorance, which represent an illegitimate totality. When such a

limitation is imposed, and he asserts that he is ignorant of an extensional series of

propositions, of which the proposition about his ignorance is not a member, then

such scepticism cannot be refuted in the above way.

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Bill and Frank are looking at the grass. Frank says "the grass is green" but Bill is colour blind and says "the grass is brown" . Which statement is "true"? Statements cannot be absolutely true they can only be relatively true. In this case Frank's statement is more true than Bill's because most people aren't colour blind.

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Bill and Frank are looking at the grass. Frank says "the grass is green" but Bill is colour blind and says "the grass is brown" . Which statement is "true"? Statements cannot be absolutely true they can only be relatively true. In this case Frank's statement is more true than Bill's because most people aren't colour blind.

Even a grade-schooler would understand that each is saying, "the grass looks COLOR to me," and that each is (presumably) telling the full truth. You have to jump through hoops not to understand this.

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Ted,

They actually use the same concepts but put different words on them and try to ignore what Objectivists mean by "context."

Then they get pleasure from engaging in competitive wordplay and saying things like "there is no such thing as truth," or "there is only empirical truth from universally quantified statements outside of word games (er... "logical truths)," which, btw, is neither an empirical truth from a universally quantified statement, nor a logical truth, but simply a proclamation presented as if it were true. I call it a premise you have to accept on faith when it gets to the level of denying the existence of truth.

I guess this stuff adds drama and meaning to the same old same old and makes the person appear so intellectually fearless that he can face uncomfortable "truths." That's the only reason that makes sense to me for why there is such insistence on this kind of rhetoric.

Michael

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They actually use the same concepts but put different words on them and try to ignore what Objectivists mean by "context."

Ed said ;

We as Objectivists often think that if others will just listen to reason, they’d see the truth. The problem is that many people don’t. While they are morally culpable for their evasions, there still remains the practical question of how we might change people for the better.

This does not sound like the truth is contextual it sounds like there is one and only one truth. If there is a problem that many people don't see the truth it could be that many are colour blind, as per my example. So again, what is wrong with their truths? They are only calling it the way they see it.

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Then they get pleasure from engaging in competitive wordplay and saying things like "there is no such thing as truth," or "there is only empirical truth from universally quantified statements outside of word games (er... "logical truths)," which, btw, is neither an empirical truth from a universally quantified statement, nor a logical truth, but simply a proclamation presented as if it were true.

No, it is a logical truth, as I've shown in the post I mentioned. The only assumption is that man is not omniscient. Do you disagree?

I guess this stuff adds drama and meaning to the same old same old and makes the person appear so intellectually fearless that he can face uncomfortable "truths." That's the only reason that makes sense to me for why there is such insistence on this kind of rhetoric.

O sure, if you have no argument, you can always start the usual psychologizing.

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Ed said ;
We as Objectivists often think that if others will just listen to reason, they’d see the truth. The problem is that many people don’t. While they are morally culpable for their evasions, there still remains the practical question of how we might change people for the better.

This does not sound like the truth is contextual it sounds like there is one and only one truth. If there is a problem that many people don't see the truth it could be that many are colour blind, as per my example. So again, what is wrong with their truths? They are only calling it the way they see it.

GS,

This is actually a very good example of dropping context and infusing words that mean one thing with your own meaning. Let's put Ed's words into context. It's not hard. Just go one sentence before and one after. This doesn't work in all cases, but it does in a lot of them, and it works here:

And it might help us to develop strategies for how to deal with and change the irrational and malevolent aspects of our culture and, perhaps, even particular individuals.

We as Objectivists often think that if others will just listen to reason, they’d see the truth. The problem is that many people don’t. While they are morally culpable for their evasions, there still remains the practical question of how we might change people for the better.

We also have the problem of individuals who hold sound beliefs and have a critical and rational approach in some matters and, therefore, allow these facts to somehow justify irrationality in other areas.

The "others" Ed is talking about in the phrase you quoted are those who endorse the "irrational and malevolent aspects of our culture." Notice that in the sentence following the phrase you quoted he mentions of another whole set of "others" (individuals who hold sound beliefs...).

"Irrational and malevolent" are and always will be "irrational and malevolent," even for the blind.

Michael

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No, it is a logical truth, as I've shown in the post I mentioned. The only assumption is that man is not omniscient. Do you disagree?

Dragonfly,

Actually there are quite a few assumptions.

But OK. I'll play by these rules for a sec.

Jupiter could be made of green cheese. (The assumption is that man is not omniscient and has not been there yet to verify it.)

Is that a "logical truth"?

Michael

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When she [Hsieh] posted her “break” with TAS discussion on her blog, I posted a measured and courteous response. The nastiest thing I said was that I thought the dramatic way she announced her break was sort of “silly.” One of her allies, Don Watkins, posted that I should not even be considered human.

Folks occasionally send me stuff from her blog indicating that she has dumped on me from time to time in the years since. What’s notable is that she doesn’t just express an intellectual disagreement. She exhibits the kind of personal contentious and malevolence that would suggest that either I had done her some personal injury or that I’d done something morally reprehensible.

We might simply put this down as an isolated case of a personality with serious problems except that this sort of behavior has been a perennial problem in Objectivist circles. I could give other examples of individuals treating intellectual differences as if they were serious moral failings and responding in emotional, irrational, and malicious ways, making the differences into personal vendettas.

This sort of behavior results, in part, from a very serious misunderstanding and application of Objectivist moral principles, characterized particularly by dropping the full context.

Ed,

You mean you actually are human?

:)

I believe you are being overly-generous when you claim and insinuate that people who demonize others so hotly and with such glee do so because they misunderstand a philosophical principle. Even though I fully agree about the value of benevolence, I see something deeper.

I think some people are just plain nasty because they like being that way. It makes them feel good. They actually like hating qua hating. It is beyond choosing or understanding a principle and it is beyond any specific target. It is sense of life in the purest and deepest level Ayn Rand ever meant.

In their world, a state of hatred is a state of grace, not just an emotional reaction against threat or evil. It is metaphysical. Perennial hatred is how man could and should be to them.

Notice that the tribe can change with these people, but the behavior always stays the same. There is no spiritual growth. When they cannot find a scapegoat somewhere to flush their hatred into existential manifestation, they go nuts and start targeting those next to them.

Unfortunately, the reality of online communication encourages them because it is easy to be openly malicious from behind a computer monitor. People often write nasty things that they would never say face-to-face.

These folks don't worship principles, or the big picture, or man qua man. They worship actual human beings like Rand and Peikoff (or, hell, even Lanza or Obama for examples in other contexts). Their hatred is directed toward critics of their human gods, and the people/things their human gods dislike. Notice that they hate very little else with full intensity.

There is a character in one of Stephen King's books, The Stand, a half-crazy pyromaniac called The Trashcan Man. One of the things that most impressed me about him was his total devotion to a satanic figure, "The Walkin' Dude" (or "Dark Man" or Randall Flagg).

I am going from memory, but I can still see in my mind's eye (from reading the book) the Trashcan Man limping doggedly along a road toward some goal, hurt, imagining all sorts of strange things, and chanting to himself about Flagg, "My life for you! My life for you! My life for you!"

This is the closest I have seen depicted to what I imagine goes through the minds of people who worship other people.

Michael

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When she posted her “break” with TAS discussion on her blog, I posted a measured and courteous response. The nastiest thing I said was that I thought the dramatic way she announced her break was sort of “silly.” One of her allies, Don Watkins, posted that I should not even be considered human.

Folks occasionally send me stuff from her blog indicating that she has dumped on me from time to time in the years since. What’s notable is that she doesn’t just express an intellectual disagreement. She exhibits the kind of personal contentious and malevolence that would suggest that either I had done her some personal injury or that I’d done something morally reprehensible.

We might simply put this down as an isolated case of a personality with serious problems except that this sort of behavior has been a perennial problem in Objectivist circles. I could give other examples of individuals treating intellectual differences as if they were serious moral failings and responding in emotional, irrational, and malicious ways, making the differences into personal vendettas.

This sort of behavior results, in part, from a very serious misunderstanding and application of Objectivist moral principles, characterized particularly by dropping the full context. This is one of the problems that David Kelley wanted to deal with when he founded our organization and that shows the crucial importance of benevolence, whether you consider it a cardinal Objectivist virtue or not.

It seems a great pity. I check out her web site every now and then, and in so many ways she seems like a great person -- reminds me of myself in my early 20s. And then she comes out of left field with this malevolent nonsense. I think Nathaniel Branden somewhere expressed the hope that perhaps someday she'll grow up.

We as Objectivists often think that if others will just listen to reason, they’d see the truth. The problem is that many people don’t. While they are morally culpable for their evasions, there still remains the practical question of how we might change people for the better.

We also have the problem of individuals who hold sound beliefs and have a critical and rational approach in some matters and, therefore, allow these facts to somehow justify irrationality in other areas. I learned much of my Aristotle and philosophy of science from excellent Catholic priest professors. Great in some areas; not so great in others.

One insight that grows in importance as I explore these issues is need for an objective perspective. How can we make certain we don’t fall into the pathologies found the Diana types?

It’s really exciting work and I hope later in the year to have something publishable.

I look forward to seeing it. I know that as soon as I began to understand Jungian personality types it became very clear to me that the majority of the world would not become convinced of the the validity of the objectivist world view by the kind of argumentation that most of us use. We tend to be Promethian, NT types for whom specific intellectual and emotional approaches work, and we are also a minority of the world's population (about 12 percent). If we ever hope to convince the world at large of the validity of our ideas, we need a plurality of approaches that address the intellectual and emotional makeup of many different kinds of people and convince them on a gut level the way Rand convinced us. (We may SAY that it was a purely intellectual approach, but how many people say things like, "Reading Rand for the first time felt like coming home!"? It also FELT right to us.)

Judith

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If we ever hope to convince the world at large of the validity of our ideas, we need a plurality of approaches that address the intellectual and emotional makeup of many different kinds of people and convince them on a gut level the way Rand convinced us. (We may SAY that it was a purely intellectual approach, but how many people say things like, "Reading Rand for the first time felt like coming home!"? It also FELT right to us.)

Judith,

Not to mention "the curse." This, in Rand's work, is an innate way of being, of passionately seeing things as they ought to be. When it collides with the world of others, she called it a "curse" as a way of highlighting the fact that other people disapprove of it and are afraid of it. But she never was able to come up with where it came from in a child growing up. Some people just have it and others do not. This is a theme in a lot of her fiction.

Leo talking to Kira in We The Living, p. 74.

It's a curse, you know, to be able to look higher than you're allowed to reach. One's safer looking down, the farther down the safest—these days.

Equality 7-2521, writing a diary in Anthem, p. 13.

We were born with a curse. It has always driven us to thoughts which are forbidden. It has always given us wishes which men may not wish. We know that we are evil, but there is no will in us and no power to resist it. This is our wonder and our secret fear, that we know and do not resist.

Henry Cameron, speaking to Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, p. 63.

Look, Roark, there's one thing about you, the thing I'm afraid of. It's not just the kind of work you do; I wouldn't care, if you were an exhibitionist who's being different as a stunt, as a lark, just to attract attention to himself. It's a smart racket, to oppose the crowd and amuse it and collect admission to the side show. If you did that, I wouldn't worry. But it's not that. You love your work. God help you, you love it! And that's the curse. That's the brand on your forehead for all of them to see. You love it, and they know it, and they know they have you.

By the time she got to Atlas Shrugged, she expressed this idea differently, but the principle of the innateness of being emotionally different (and misunderstood) is evident in her descriptions of the childhoods of Dagny, Francisco, Eddie and James. Even after Atlas Shrugged, look how she described her heroine in notes to a projected new novel:

The Journals of Ayn Rand, p.709, "First notes for: To Lorne Dieterling." (November 30, 1957)

Hella's dedication to the "curse" of always seeing things "as they ought to be." ("The Archer" prologue.)

I think people who have had a feeling of blinding recognition on first discovering Rand have suffered from this same "curse" since childhood and have paid a harsh price for it. But then again, the rest of mankind did not and you are right. We have to find a way to put the message across in a way they can relate to on that level.

btw- By itself, growing up with this "curse"—and even discovering Rand—is no guarantee that the person will not develop the nasty side of conceit and vanity within themselves. Nor does it impede them from grouping into hostile tribes of like-minded individuals that bear many striking similarities to cults, irrespective of all the individualist tempering in the literature. Although this does not apply to all (or even the majority) within our subculture, just look at some of the more vocal ones for plenty of proof...

Michael

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O sure, if you have no argument, you can always start the usual psychologizing.

Dragonfly,

This rang a sour note in my mind, so I started reflecting on it. Psychologizing is starting to become the politically incorrect thing in discussions involving Objectivism and it is now a charge you can level at anyone to show that they are not being objective.

But like any speech people try to make politically incorrect in an across-the-board manner, this is a vast oversimplification and it does not apply a great deal of the time. Let's look at it briefly. (I may do a more extended essay on this later.)

Trying to discern motive and psychologizing are two different things. When you try to discern motive, you do three things:

1. You look at patterns of behavior and pronouncements,

2. You try to understand the context of the person you are analyzing, and

3. You try to discern a person's values from both his/her behavior and pronouncements, and his/her context.

Sometimes, with certain values like large sums of money, you measure motive against a general behavior pattern observed throughout human history. This is how it works in law enforcement activities and criminal court cases.

I find the idea comical of telling a judge that he cannot condemn you because when the prosecution established motive in the body of proof, he was "psychologizing." Try it and see how far that gets you.

One of the good things about discussion forums is that posts are recorded. So it is easy to examine them and even measure behavior from summing them up.

When I gripe about why people insist on posting (in a preaching manner) certain contrary ideas on a discussion board devoted to Objectivism, I have a legitimate object of study before me.

For instance, a person who comes out and says "Rand was wrong about most everything" on a board like this is going to get a certain response. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out. (I am using an extreme example on purpose to illustrate the point as clearly as possible.) But if the person keeps on saying it over and over, the very minimum you can conclude about such person is that the point is not as important to the person as bickering is. He likes to bicker. Otherwise, if the point really were all that important to him, he would interact with people who agree with him and start producing a body of work to prove his point.

This isn't psycologizing.

This is drawing conclusions from actual data.

Now here is what psycologizing is: It is deducing a person's motives from philosophical principles alone and/or very scant observed behavior and/or almost no context.

Here is a good example of psychologizing. I have read in several places that David Kelley "hates the good for being the good" because of his views on judging ideas and actions with different moral weight. Anyone who has ever met the man or read anything by him knows this evaluation has nothing to do with reality. Frankly, I don't think David stews in hatred over anything, not even "the bad for being the bad." I can imagine him being confronted with something disgusting, so he might hate it enough to get it out of his way or do something to counteract the damage such evil might cause. But after that time passes and the problem is dealt with, he would go back to his serene and happy productive nature.

What would make a person say that David "hates the good for being the good" and believe it? The only thing would be trying to deduce his motives from a principle—totally blanking out behavior and context—and maybe aping some behavior the person observed from others around him who don't like David.

At times I engage in speculations about what makes people tick. I might occasionally skirt near the deep end, but I always try to base my thinking on observing patterns of behavior and pronouncements and trying to get into the head of the person. I want to see the world from his eyes and understand what he finds important. Often I can even bring my own experiences to bear because I have felt and/or thought certain things under similar circumstances. Whenever I start digging in for real, I almost always claim or insinuate that this is my opinion or speculation.

Outside of any other consideration about the objectivity of discerning motives from behavior, pronouncements and context versus improperly attributing motives from faulty observation and faulty reasoning, I am a writer. Trying to figure out what makes people tick is part of my homework.

I do not expect to cease anytime soon.

Psychologizing is not the same as trying to figure out why people do what they do. It is a mistake to say, "there you go psychologizing again" every time someone tries to figure out why a pattern of behavior exists.

Michael

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This sort of behavior results, in part, from a very serious misunderstanding and application of Objectivist moral principles, characterized particularly by dropping the full context.

Ed,

You mean you actually are human?

:)

I believe you are being overly-generous when you claim and insinuate that people who demonize others so hotly and with such glee do so because they misunderstand a philosophical principle. Even though I fully agree about the value of benevolence, I see something deeper.

...

Michael

Michael - Yes, I'm actually human, last time I checked!

I wanted to bring the particular question Judith raised to a more generic level and to focus on the wider issues of belief and behavior. This isn't to deny the also-generic observation that there are individuals who get a perverse pleasure from demonizing others, for which they are morally culpable. I would add that such an obsession would be anathema to a morally and, using the word in a non-religious way, spiritually healthy individual. Remember that it was Toohey who was obsessed with Roark and Roark who told Toohey "But I don't think of you."

Also, dropping context can result from an intellectual error, from sloppiness or laziness, from willful self-blindness, or a combination. I suspect that it is more often cases of the self-blindness that lead individuals to unjustly demonize others. This is because such blindness usually involves engaging one's emotions to drown out one's inner voice of reason.

On another thread I asked, concerning Jeremiah Wright’s congregation: “But what of the other members of this, the largest black church in Chicago? What of those thousands who over the years have screamed ‘Hallelujah’ at … [Wright’s] nonsense?” My implication was that they are not thinking but emoting, blinding themselves to the rubbish coming out of Wright’s mouth. I say the same for those at the 1995 Million (or few hundred thousands) Man March in Washington who listened to the even more lunatic ravings of Louis Farrakhan.

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Judith – Watching willfully self-destructive or harmful behavior is indeed a pity.

You’ve often heard me say that while we should foster a culture that encourages individuals to make judgments based on reason, in reality we will need to appeal to λογος, εθος, and πάθος (reason, the moral sense, and emotions).

Even though individuals might have certain personalities (I’m an INTP) one can recognize these aspects of one’s self and compensate when necessary.

We have lots of interesting work ahead of us!

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Even though individuals might have certain personalities (I’m an INTP) one can recognize these aspects of one’s self and compensate when necessary.

I'm also INTP. I find the model quite useful in understanding and valuing others who are unlike myself, since "understanding others" is not an inherent INTP characteristic! :lol:

I'm curious: does this model, or anything like innate personality, form any part of the current work you mentioned?

Judith

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