Jan 9, 2013

Reexamining Socionics: Introduction

I'd now like to begin an ambitious and open-ended intellectual exercise — to critically reexamine the foundations of socionics and look for errors. I have a few ideas, but I honestly don't know where this is going to lead. It could be great, or it could be pathetic.

As explained in previous posts, this idea only came to me recently after a critical mass of disqualifying counter-examples to socionics theory had accumulated. Until then, I had kept the original theory intact in my mind, but had tacked on increasing numbers of "additional factors" that influenced interaction and relationships. The sum of these efforts is presented in my post on "My Personal Typology."

Just so you know, this whole way of writing about people and their interaction feels increasingly ridiculous to me. Feel free to laugh with me at the level of intellectualization coming through in the previous paragraph. So, I will try to break free of this mold (pun intended) over the next few posts. After all, that's part of why I've decided to put socionics behind me. 

So, what are the foundations of socionics? Turns out I listed them in 2007. We have information elements or "aspects of information," which are a kind of logical necessity once you state that different functions (I previously called them "IM elements," following Augusta's nomenclature) perceive different types of information about reality. Then you have Model A with its 8 different positions, or "functions" (yeah, the double meaning of "functions" can be confusing), and the 8 functions/IM elements that can occupy the different positions, each of which describes a way of perceiving information, and a kind of state of mind. That's three sets of highly interrelated concepts, the core of socionics theory. These concepts come with some assumptions that I hope to look at as well. And they combine together to form a system of 16 types that can be broken down into dichotomies, 16 intertype relations, quadras, etc.

Yes, I understand that not everyone sees socionics as being about this stuff. But that's their choice to disregard classical socionics and reframe the field in their own peculiar way. I "grew up" on Aushra Augustinavichiute's texts, so that's what socionics is to me. I encourage you to revisit my presentations/discussions of some of her foundational works. Unfortunately, I only got partway through my write-ups, but enough work was done that you can get a good taste of things.

Augusta also gives the best presentation of socionics, in my opinion. She explains why she introduces concepts and starts with broad premises. Subsequent authors either write in a blatantly non-explanatory style (e.g. "Socionics divides information processing into 8 different varieties...") or pass over the broader ideas superficially (e.g. "Information can be divided into 8 types..."). Some make new broad idea inventions of their own, but they seem too detached from reality. Skimming over some of Augusta's writing now, I am still impressed with the boldness and freshness of her intellect. Take this for example (source):

'Direct' interaction of bodies — or collisions — are a rare phenonemon. 'Catastrophes' in space are rare only because heavenly bodies interact "from afar," by means of fields. Living organisms also interact through fields. From an observer's viewpoint, an organism's field is the sum of all interrelations between one object and other objects. The individual psyche perceives this interaction as all manner of internal feelings.

Even if I no longer "do" socionics, this stuff is still pretty cool to think about. Or how about this for something to mull over (source):

The human brain, in reflecting external and internal reality, serves not only the individual himself, but society as well. To satisfy his own needs, a person needs to have an idea of the entire reality around him. People cooperate in serving the needs of society; individuals communicate to the community their impressions of only certain aspects of reality. The mechanism for this phenomenon, in our present understanding, is quite simple: various aspects of reality are reflected in the human brain with differing degrees of differentiation and awareness. Aspects that the individual only uses for himself are reflected in general, composite form and are remembered as images, experience, and skills. Other aspects, which the individual communicates information about to society, are perceived in well-differentiated form with an accuracy that allows the individual to relate information verbally.

I personally love these kinds of broad-stroke descriptions. "Well, that's because it's typically extraverted intuition," you might answer. But I can assure you that different IEEs or ILEs will have different reactions to these texts. Some will say, "duh," some will find them annoyingly vague, others will question their validity (which I may do later). Others will read through them several times and be unable to understand what the author's saying. It's this kind of variation in response that has led me to stop looking for the "needle in the haystack" that is the "essence of extraverted intuition" and start interpreting things based on simpler proximate causes, or at least on personality traits with some kind of identifiable physiological basis. Or, actually, just not interpreting them at all if I'm not interested.

So, enough with the introduction.

No comments: