Follow up on Words and their Applications and now Math

So.. I got some really interesting feedback from people on the last post (see here)–but a lot of it was over on facebook…

Anyway, a comment from a friends (Looking at you Jean) about mathematics got me thinking and reflecting on my ideas about introverted and extraverted applications of words…

… and I think I want to make some revised thoughts as well as briefly applying some of these insights/upsights to the realm of mathematics.

What I want to revise is this:

In the previous post I basically talked about the differences in an introverted/extraverted approach to words and argumentation–about how the extraverted approach tends to take the words as given and premade bundles of meaning that are the basic indivisible atoms of communication–whereas an introverted approach to words doesn’t make such an assumption and will often take words as merely congealed and contextual bundles of meaning.

To that point–I still hold.  But, where I think I was careless in the last approach was to assume/relate implicitly–and maybe explicitly–that these approaches were easily mapped onto the more broad introverted/extraverted personality types.  Concretely, I implied that someone who’s IXXX in the MBTI system would use an introverted approach to words, whereas someone who is EXXX would use the extraverted approach.

On that point–I think I am wrong and that revisions are needed.  In particular, what I want to revise and state is something more subtle–namely that while I do think my observation about introverted/extraverted approaches to language still holds, these approaches are more dependent upon which particular mbti function an individual uses with regard to language, rather than whether their primary/dominant function within the MBTI classification is introverted or extraverted.

This point–which does require one to be a bit more familiar with the MBTI system itself–complicates the situation, but probably makes it more accurate and consistent with what is known about extraversion/introversion and with the heterogeneity of humans.

Specifically, what I want to convey is that if you take the 4 primary functions–Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling–of MBTI (and Jung) seriously–and I do (with modifications that I will explain in a later post)–then one has the components of a system that can be both flexible and comprehensive.  However, to make this so, one should also cast a wide net with regard to ideas about human intelligence.  Additionally, I’ve  often where I’ve found various MBTI/Jungian adherents (such as Lenore Thomson who I’ve written about earlier) to be overly reductionist or simplistic.  Rather than just assuming, as Thomson does in her book on pg 72, that certain capacities of the human brain–such as verbal abilities, or mathematical abilities, or musical abilities, etc…–are tied to particular main functions (although there may be some associations–bear with me..) in hard and fast ways, I think it is more fruitful to assume that with regard to the overall populace,  there is probably some relative degree of independence between these aspects of intelligence and the different Jungian functions–or at least that it is possible that one’s approach to, say, language might be more correlated with the thinking (either Te or Ti) function in some people whereas it might be correlated with the Intuitive function (Ni or Ne) or Feeling (Fi or Fe) or even Sensing (Si or Se??)…

In this way, you might have an introverted approach to language even though you were nominally an extravert–say if you were an ENTJ and you approached language with your introverted Intuition (which is your aux function)–rather than your dominant Te (extraverted thinking)…

Now.. how would you know this… well that’s an interesting question that I’m not quite sure that I know how to answer.  I can say that my approach to language has always been rather introverted–but it was also something that was not natural to me.  Writing and using words was never an interest to me as a kid–I didn’t like language arts and hated writing… and I just generally avoided it.  In high school I actually had good english teachers and I finally started to pick it up–but I know, for example–that I long resisted “analyizing stories.” (a Te thing..)

Okay–a thought just occurred to me.. If I were to go back and think over my real entrance into seriously integrating or improving my language skills, the first thing I did was memorize names of stuff–such as dinosaurs–as a kid.. (very Si…).  The next thing I did was read science fiction as a young teenager, which I enjoyed because it gave me new perspectives on the world (Ni) and fulfilled my angsty teenage fantasies and shaped my values (Fi)..  Thereafter, when I really started getting into languages, it was through my experience with foreign languages and trying to grok the entire system and understand translation–both very Ni things–that I embraced words, because I figured that if I could understand the system, then I would have a better feel for how to speak it…

Anyway–in this way–one can see a possible story for how my approach to language–at least in my particular history–was very introverted.  I can now analyze language really well.. (a Te thing)–but I do that in a way that serves my greater Ni purpose of interpreting bigger pictures…

So.. that’s my thought here… and I think that you could do something similar with different abilities–whether mathematical, or musical, or maybe interpersonal skills… I know that with regard to math, what was important for me was getting the answer and/or visualizing particular geometric relationships or patterns in the real world(Ne)–something that was very externally (extraverted) in nature–rather than trying to understand more pure mathematics—where the connections to external reality may become strained or fail entirely.  Thus, while I am introverted in my approach to language, I’m extraverted in my approach to math–which is something that comes a lot easier to me–but which I only really care about with regard to certain, more objectively oriented (extraverted) concerns.

So.. those are my nights’ thoughts..  Have fun with them!





About Prof. Woland

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5 Responses to Follow up on Words and their Applications and now Math

  1. Keith Graves says:

    Language and personality develop concurrently. I think each has an equal effect on the other.

    • tricstmr says:

      How so? My language developed a lot later and delayed–especially in contrast to things like my mathematical, spatial, and other skills. Language and interpersonal skills, especially, were something I had to consciously CHOOSE to develop–and as I look around me–there are lots of people who I can point to who’s skills–be they language, mathematics, interpersonal, musical, etc–may or may not be developed at all..

      Why do you think language is co-linked with personality? Do you believe that thinking is verbal?

      I don’t. Not at all. While neuro-linguistics, for example, does describe some interesting things that happen to people’s linguistic ability–It’s not something hard and I know too many people who want to argue that thinking=verbal ability, mainly because, as I would note, they are REALLY INTO VERBAL ABILITY and they want to assign that a much higher status. I even had people like my ex tell me that math skills were just “a talent” while speaking–that’s what real intelligence was…

      Hogwash… That’s a bias of verbally gifted people. And yes–I’m ranting.. but I know you appreciate them.. 😉

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