Philosophy about the concept of personality
Published: 08-13-2015 Edited: 08-14-2015
- Are there really different types of personalities or are all types distributed on a spectrum with a distinct set of traits?
To be able to answer question that we must understand the philosophy behind types, this article will try to explain how to answer this question.
"The type" indicates a category while "the trait" indicates an attribute. At NJT our types are "fuzzy concepts" that consists of distinct collections of traits, meaning two individuals of the same type often have differences in their trait order and trait strength but overall their traits match their type. We actually expect people of the same types to have differences in their trait order and trait strength. The types are not deterministic but probablistic in the sense that people of the same type does not have an identical trait order that determins the type. This is because ultimately all people are unique, not only their story but in physical reality.
"Folk psychology" is the human capacity to explain and predict the behavior and mental state of other people and therefore personality types and personality traits are all part of the "folk psychology". Science has found that understanding "folk psychology" uses a distinct network in the brain in comparison to "understanding machines". Folk psychology is also thought to be depedent on culture so when being in a group this will affect how we mentalise and experience different personality-related adjectives.
So looking at people as they were observable machines (depersonalising) and taking an empirical stance on personality will remove any possibility of capturing the mental state of other people because that part of the brain will get silent. So understanding personality requires the mentalising of other peoples cognitive state and that is not accessible by empirical methods. That is why our methodology must involve discussions and self-report.
Overall, science tells us that all people have a "unique qualia" or experience which is determined by their unique body which is created by forces of nature (genes) interacting with forces of nurture (epigenetics, nutrition, environment). Some genes are activated by environmental factors, so the gene does not determin the gene expression even though it is highly indicative. Individual differences are found across all senses, ideologies and epistemologies.
At a neurological level the medial-prefrontal-cortex (mPFC) creates models or concepts about peoples personality to make it possible to predict what is going to happen at any moment. In this sense we can say that personality types and traits are purely cognitive constructs rather than physical constructs.
But if a personality type or trait is thought to be based on physical attributes, like genes, we can map a cognitive construct with a physical construct. This is what we are trying to do at NJT - to try to link cognitive constructs with physical attributes. We want to be able to define cognitive and physical types. At the moment we have made significant progress of doing this, though we are not finished yet.
We also want to create context-dependent or situation-depedent personality traits because we believe personality is changing from moment to moment, but still creating identifiable general patterns over time. From what we know we are the only group approaching personality with this kind of methodology.
Wikipedia about Concept
Wikipedia about Theory-theory
Wikipedia about Folk psychology
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Eliminative Materialism
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Folk Psychology as a theory
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Qualia
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Personal Identity
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