A couple of friends have commented on the extrovert/introvert divide: (to do gross injustice to what they actually said) that’s all very interesting, and possibly true, but it’s also a very vast generalization, and like many generalizations, it quickly becomes so general as to be nearly useless. How do those preferences work on a continuum? What does that say about brain chemistry? What does that mean in the particularity of a given person’s situation? How can these categories be helpful in action, and not only in theory?
Unsurprisingly, I can’t answer these questions better than anyone else. That hasn’t stopped me from wondering about it. So I was reading more on jungian typology — I’ll try to spare you the navel-gazing part of things — and after spending a while going: ah! that does work to explain a peculiarity I have noticed and wondered about in myself! I have arrived at the conclusion that the most interesting consideration of all this isn’t how my mind works. I already have a very close acquaintance with the workings of my own mind, and I don’t know that the psychology does much other than suggest that the seemingly arbitrary often adheres to an ordered pattern. The more interesting question is, I suspect: once one has begun to explain the thing oneself or others insist upon, and the way in which we do things, in psychological terms, then how does one go about sorting questions of psychological preference from questions of truth, beauty, and goodness — especially beauty?
Beauty is a problem when one gets into psychology because there really is such a thing as beauty and ugliness — but the different temperaments are sensitive to different sides of it, and to different emphases within it. I happen to be way sensitive to beauty and ugliness in how people order their thought — when I was in college and I came across an ugly (i.e. haphazardly organized) list in education classes, I would get so distracted that I would start re-writing it there and then. Some people can’t stand litter. Some people can’t stand comma-splices. Some people can’t stand educational standards written by committee. It’s reasonable to suppose that this sensitivity is a temperamental thing — the type descriptions predict something like it, as well as the fighting relationship with “extroverted thinking” — charts, graphs, time-tables, lists, managing, organizing, etc.
And the question? Something like: so, given this temperament, I am especially sensitive to this particular possibility of ugliness (and beauty; certain philosophers write beautiful logic, and some theologians speak likewise). You have some other sensitivity — perhaps you’re sensitive to social actions of grace and rudeness that I have no clue about, for instance. But, then, how do we communicate with one another? How does that communication work. I can’t necessarily just read you passages of Tolstoy and say: it’s beautiful! That Tolstoy’s writing is beautiful is not only something personal to me, but is also true.
Or to take something I’m bad at — if you are orderly, organized, punctual — if you like managing and are good at it, how do we communicate about that? How do I not just check out, and say: I don’t care? I don’t see the beauty and ugliness of these different ways of organizing time? If the educational professional I’m taking classes from is tone deaf to nuances of language and I’m antagonistic from the start to his research and statistics — how do we ever learn from one another? How do we work so that he can see the beauty that I’m looking for, and I his? I have no idea what beauty he might possibly see in his statistics — but perhaps there is some? How would I get at that? I can’t see the beauty in the structured, up-beat, activity oriented classroom schedule — all I see is imprecision of meaning, mixed intentions, and perhaps manipulations. And to the extent that you’re thinking about me as educators often seem to think about those under them — as something to be managed by yourself — then perhaps I’m right. But it’s not the entire truth. How do we save the beauty in your temporal order without losing the beauty of my theoretic order? Or is that possible? Do they necessarily conflict? Is it too much to ask for both, and we have to choose?