The Paleo-Buddhist Conception of Mind

By Ryan Smith

When talking about Buddhism, we must first ask: Which version of Buddhism? In this article, the answer is going to be ‘original Buddhism’: We are going to base our answer on the earliest Buddhist texts, that is, from the time when Buddhism was not yet a religion, but a matter of philosophy and existential consummation.

In original Buddhism (and Vedanta before that) the mind in its untrained state is a source of peril. According to the earliest Buddhist sources, without the proper and regular exercise of meditation, the mind will be of a constitution where it controls your mental processes, instead of you controlling them. Thus the Anguttara Nikaya says that there is “nothing which, when unbridled, uncontrolled, unwatched, untamed, brings such ruin as mental processes.”...

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An Interview with Richard Noll

Interview by Ryan Smith

Richard Noll is an Associate Professor of Psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, a clinical psychologist, and the award-winning author of two famous books on Jung, namely The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement (Princeton University Press, 1994) and The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung (Random House, 1997). A third Jung volume, Mysteria: Jung and the Ancient Mysteries, was also slated for publication (1994/1995) by Princeton, but suppressed at the behest of the Jung family. As an independent researcher delving into the history of medicine, Noll was one of the first scholars worldwide to adopt a critical view of Jung in his works. Publishing at a time when almost all biographies of Jung portrayed him in an excessively positive light, Noll’s books provoked a forceful pushback from the Jungian community. Noll never answered his critics, though, but moved on to other research interests of his, such as shamanism and dementia praecox/schizophrenia.

Dr. Noll, thank you for being with us.

You’re welcome. Your persistence paid off. You’re getting me to talk about my old mentor Dr. Jung, with whom I spent so much time 30-some years ago. He still visits me in my dreams. He wishes all your readers a fond “Howdy!” from the Pleroma.

When your books on Jung came out, you were savaged by certain pro-Jungian authors, yet (joining Nozick and Hume) you never answered your critics. Indeed you simply moved on to other fields altogether. Why did you decide to let the critics have the last word?

Once a book or article appears, it follows its own fate and speaks for itself. I feel it no longer belongs to me but instead must undergo its own ordeal in the arena – that is, if anyone reads and comments on it at all (most publications are totally ignored, by the way). I place great faith in the mechanisms of scholarship as a multigenerational project in which we all interpret and correct each other’s texts. In other words, we wash each other’s diapers because that’s our job – indeed, perversely, it’s our passion. All scholarship, including mine, has a short shelf-life.  So that’s one reason.

hqdefaultThe other is that by 1998 my interests had changed and I began researching other topics. I simply had moved on. I was “done” with Jung. I know that is not how many current readers of the books I produced 20 years ago view me, but – hey – I often feel just like William Shatner in that old Saturday Night Live skit in which he tells Trekkies at a Star Trek convention: “Get a life!” In the minds of many of today’s readers I am frozen in time as the “Richard Noll Avatar” who wrote those books in the mid-1990s, but from my perspective I was out in the real world just living my life.

Oh, and I should mention that I became a father for the first time in 1999, and my son, Wolfgang, became a beautiful distraction from the outside world. Over the past 18 years I have been vaguely aware of critiques of my work being published, but I was so detached and dissociated from anything and anyone Jungian that I just didn’t care. I often learned about the criticisms many years after they had appeared. If I had critics, they too, in time, would provoke their own critics (as is happening now in challenges to Sonu Shamdasani’s work, I see), and so on and on and on the fractal dialectics spin…

Over the years I’ve generally thought, “Well, I’ll give it 20 years or so and then check in on Jung scholarship to see if my books hold up.” And they do!  I am proud of my Jung scholarship. I raised new questions and stimulated historical interest in Jung, which had been sorely lacking. And for some of my central claims, controversial as they may have been at the time, evidence has emerged that suggests I was correct.

So you moved on to studying the history of schizophrenia (Dementia Praecox) and shamanism. How would you explain those topics to someone who does not have a lot of background knowledge of them already?

Actually, my interest in both of these topics predates any interest in Jung. Jung’s name kept coming up in texts on these topics, so I eventually looked into him. As a teenager I was deeply interested in anthropology and was fascinated by descriptions of shamans as both medical and spiritual; magical and religious figures. I was intrigued by the claims that what we generically call “shamanism” was found on all continents by ethnographers and that it was presumed to be a living survival of the original religious and medical traditions of human beings.  Interest in schizophrenia came from living on the Upper West Side of New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s and interacting with so many deinstitutionalized psychiatric patients on the streets in my neighbourhood. I then developed a scientific interest in schizophrenia and pursued it in grad school and throughout the rest of my life.  Both my experimental and historical research on schizophrenia are still central activities for me today.

Are there any particular works of yours that you would recommend as good introductions to those fields? Where should the interested reader start?

A 1985 article, Mental Imagery Cultivation as a Cultural Phenomenon, published in Current Anthropology on the techniques shamans use for learning to have visions is regarded as a sort of “classic” in anthropology because it is now regarded as offering an innovative theoretical perspective in the anthropological study of religion that contradicted the reigning explanations based on discourse analyses associated with the linguistic or postmodern turn in academia that prevailed at the time. It is also regarded today as an early seminal text in the new discipline known as the “cognitive science of religion,” which I teach. The article is available online in both and, as are two articles I wrote about the elderly Tungus (Siberian) shamans I interviewed in Northeast China in 1994. My recent (2011) book on dementia praecox, American Madness, reflects my interest in the history of schizophrenia and of psychiatry in general.

Getting back to Jung: Granting that you maintain only a limited interest in Jung these days, what is your impression of the subsequent scholarship since the days of your own work? I understand there’s a new book out which partially validates much of what you wrote about Jung’s pan-Germanic and racialist leanings in the interwar years – findings of yours which (among other things) greatly incensed the Jungians when your books came out.

Carrie B. Dohe’s new book, Jung’s Wandering Archetype: Race and Religion in Analytical Psychology, has already generated quite a stir among a wide range of scholars who admire it, particularly in the field of religious studies. Although it is not derivative of my work, her excellent scholarship focuses on themes and topics that I could only cover in an inadequate, somewhat superficial fashion 20 years ago. I tried to do too much, tried to open too many doors to raise new scholarly questions, in my books. Sometimes I cringe when I skim them. But I am my own harshest critic.

Seeing as you have now worked within multiple areas of research, would you say that the scholarly climate pertaining to Freud, Jung, and Psychoanalysis is different from other scholarly milieus in general? Some of your comments would seem to suggest that it can be extraordinarily pernicious and hostile.

I don’t know what it is like now, but in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s both scholars and analysts (Freudian and Jungian) conducted themselves as if they were members of some weird radical cell – private backstabbing, public denunciations, and atrocious manners in public. I believe that on the Open Journal of Jungian Typology you have a link to an “Open Letter to Sonu Shamdasani” regarding reports of his public behavior toward, and about, Jung’s biographer Deidre Bair. His behavior as described in that letter – if accurate – is a good example of the sort of deplorable behavior I witnessed among such scholars. I suspect it still goes on among them and nothing has changed. They tend to have a grandiose sense of entitlement and irrational proprietary claim on their scholarly subject, whether it be Freud or Jung, and cannot bear to have any other scholars as competitors. Being so thin-skinned – a bit like Donald Trump, actually – they launch vicious personal attacks rather than engage in reasoned public dialogue, complain loudly that others are “stealing” from them, claim that other scholars are fabricating evidence, and use every opportunity to malign the character of their competitors in personal interactions with their colleagues and their students. If one minor scholarly criticism is made of their work – say, challenging a translation of a word or passage – they scream bloody murder as if greatly injured and they threaten the editors of scholarly journals with legal suits for libel.

Serious scholars really have no patience for such prima donnas, no matter how “preeminent” they may regard themselves as being.  When I was in India some years ago and looking for a toilet I stumbled upon a sight I will never forget: a king cobra, erect and vigilant, perched atop a huge mound of human shit, aggressively protecting his treasure from anyone who came near it. This is how some of these prima donna psychoanalytic scholars appeared – and still appear – to me. Their male “display” behaviors are often successful in scaring off younger scholars from entering their field of expertise. And like all bullies, they tend to attract loyal followers and defenders who, as young or insecure dupes, often do the bully’s public dirty work for him. But influence is fragile and fleeting no matter who a scholar may be. O Ozymandias!

Why do you suppose that Freud, Jung, and psychoanalysis scholarship are so uniquely plagued by these unfortunate behaviors?

I put it down to extensions of the unhealthy cultic, intergenerational group dynamics that infested the psychoanalytic movement as a whole since its beginning. These are waves still lapping up on shore caused by distant events far back in the ocean of time.

It seems to me that other scholars (even those who have adopted a more neutral view of Jung) have received some of the same vicious treatment that you did. For example, as you’ve already mentioned, Deidre Bair has penned a piece in which she seems quite shocked at the treatment she received from the Jungian community and from certain pro-Jung scholars.

Bair spoke up in public, but as for other Jung scholars who have found themselves shut out of access to primary archival materials or shouted down in public, it is really their story to tell, not mine. That said, every year I get several emails from scholars, usually young ones who are starting out, who have received such treatment. I never have anything to offer them but sympathy. There is a carefully designed and executed re-mythologization of Jung taking place that makes him an ahistorical, perennialist mystic and Wise Man who seems to have escaped history, particularly the German cultural context of his era. What a Houdini!

The Jung estate, of course, has an enormous emotional and financial interest in such a re-mythologization, but so do scholars and translators and Jungian analysts associated with these projects. In other words, there is a small army of folks sucking at the nipple of the pro-Jung Industry.  Such situations are not new, as literary scholars can tell you about the proprietary concerns of the descendants of famous figures such as James Joyce, etc. But the new Jung scholarship cannot be verified by other scholars due to the denial of access to primary documents (such as happened to Bair, a respectable scholar who had previously won a National Book Award in the USA). Except for those editors and translators who are being paid by the Jung Industry to put out its propaganda, no one is allowed to access the unpublished primary sources. And it is indeed a new form of propaganda. There is a particular “spin” in the lovely – but intellectually vapid – coffee-table books produced by these new propagandists.

Truly critical scholars (“critical” in an intellectually questioning sense, not in a debunking sense) will never be able to verify many critical citations from Jung’s unpublished work nor examine the bulk of the evidence to determine if, as seems likely, a selective citation of sources from the archives is being made.  As noted scholars such as cultural historian Wouter Hanegraaff and historian of psychiatry Angela Graf-Nold have pointed out in print, there are serious problems with not only some translations from German to English in the new Jungian corpus but a lack of critical thinking and honest intellectual engagement in the scholarly apparatus that accompanies them. When a monopoly exists there is no free market for the competition of ideas. Except for interesting work by the Germanist Paul Bishop of the University of Glasgow, Petteri Pietikainen of Oulu, Finland and Carrie Dohe of Marburg, we are back to where we were circa 1990: Jung is a mediumistic New Age prophet who actually received direct revelations concerning the spiritual/psychological salvation of humankind (as he himself believed and, as I argued, acted upon to create a cult of redemption and rebirth), or – a new wrinkle – he is reframed as a “literary genius” like William Blake or Goethe.

For young scholars today, Jung scholarship is a dead-end.  The advice I give in my response emails to these perplexed young scholars is: Let the cobras reign over their shit-piles and just move on. Given the denial of open access to primary archival materials, Jung scholarship is a career dead-end.  Although Jung was fond of quoting the alchemical saying that “beneath the highest dung-heap lies the greatest treasure,” Jung was wrong. You know what? Sometimes under a pile of shit you just find more shit.

When I first read your books, I thought they were entertaining and original, but I thought it was telling that you didn’t reply to your critics (in particular, one critic dedicated a whole book to criticizing you and you never said a line in your defense). However, speaking of original documents, I learned last year that though you no longer take an active part in the Jung Wars, you deposited a cache of some 20 documents concerning the early days of those controversies at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology in Akron, Ohio. After reading those documents, I am no longer so sure that you were treated entirely fairly. In these documents, one of your most prominent critics even seems to imply that he agrees with your thesis that Jung’s therapeutic movement was really a cult.

Interested scholars can consult those original documents in the archives. Scholars can draw their own conclusions. Whether I have been treated “fairly” or not is a judgment for others to make. I frame all this material more in terms of what those documents reveal about the characters of three ambitious young men two decades ago (myself being one of them), nothing more. But, as you say, the materials verify that other Jung scholars at the time (before the September 1994 publication of The Jung Cult) who later became prominent were also viewing Jung as the founder of a cult. The recently deceased John Kerr told me in person that he and Sonu Shamdasani believed it was a “psychotic cult,” but I disagreed with the diagnosis at the time. Alas, for Kerr’s part, he makes no such statement in the archival documents I deposited so this particular claim of mine can only be regarded by serious scholars as “hearsay” (but as you say, while Kerr doesn’t voice support for the “cult” thesis in those documents, another well-known critic of mine does). So there is indeed a backstory to the controversy my book created when it appeared.

And my focus on Jung’s “deification experience” is also supported in one of the deposited letters to me as having been acknowledged as a central truth about Jung. I was more right than I realized, I was told in a letter. And the publication of The Red Book vindicates me. Jung had more than one deification experience, and no amount of chattering about how much I mistakenly take it “too literally” and refuse to view it “symbolically” or “psychologically” or in a “literary or metaphorical” fashion can diminish what was, to Jung, terrifyingly concrete, embodied and destabilizing experiences which, in a radically empirical way, he regarded as authentic and true. Jung “became divine” more than once.

Finally, a striking thing about your works on Jung is that most Jung scholars try their hand at some type of explication or operationalization of Jung’s typology. I can tell from your works that you’re familiar with the basics of Jung’s typology, of course, but even so, I’ve followed you closely enough to notice that, compared to the field as a whole, you were always comparatively uninterested in Jung’s typology, relying instead on more individualized means by which to characterize individuals. I wonder if you could share a few remarks on how you view the matter of Jung’s typology in general?

The “complex theory” that Jung hammered out with Eugen Bleuler and other associates in the Burghölzli in Zurich in the first decade of the 20th century and certain aspects of his psychological types theory (especially the extraversion-introversion and thinking-feeling dimensions) are some of his most helpful constructs and have had the most indirect scientific support from other areas of research. That said, as others (including Hermann Rorschach) have noted, Jung’s more elaborate theory is a bit wobbly (and I agree). That’s my opinion and I know many others who differ who have more expertise than I do. But as heuristics to be used in direct clinical work they have been regarded by many as valuable. They offer perspectives that can help us reflect on our experiences and behavior, but should not be enshrined as literally true or as having uncontroversial scientific support.

One interesting thing to me is that, reading your books, I would have thought you were an Extroverted Intuitive type with Introverted Feeling. But from your own reflections (and with the aid of Jungian analysts), you’re pretty certain that it’s the other way around, that is, that you’re an Introverted Feeling type with Extroverted Intuition.

Introverted Feeling type (yep – just ask my critics who deplore my intellectual work), Intuition second and, uh, I forget the rest of what my old Jungian pals used to tell me years ago. And I never took the MBTI. A great deal of work in behavioral genetics supports the extraversion-introversion trait, by the way.

Dr. Noll, thank you for taking the time to be with us. It’s been a pleasure to consider your interesting perspectives.

Thank you. You are doing interesting work on your website, as both Salman Rushdie and Steven Pinker are on record as saying. I have no idea how I found myself in such esteemed company. I feel like Peter Sellers in the movie Being There. However, with respect to Jung scholarship, no one else has ever offered a public forum for an open discussion of all aspects of the debate. When you cross over to the Pleroma, Dr. Jung will be hosting a banquet in your honor. Even now he is boiling the boar and readying the wine and together you will celebrate his Mysteries. You are a true disciple of Jung’s, in the Nietzschean sense.


Richard Noll’s books on Jung, The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement and The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung, as well as his more recent work on American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox are available through Amazon. Noll’s work on shamanism is available through academic communities such as and ResearchGate. The page proofs of the suppressed volume Mysteria: Jung and the Ancient Mysteries are available through the Open Journal of Jungian Typology.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI are trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc. is an independent research venture, which has no affiliation with the MBTI Trust, Inc.


Boye Akinwande is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Akinwande’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site.

By Boye Akinwande

Both INFJs and ISFJs tend to be soft-spoken and considerate individuals. They often have thoughtful and well-developed perspectives on the social dynamics of what’s going on around them, manifesting particularly acute insight into people, emotions, communities, and values.

Unfortunately, however, many ISFJs are often misidentified as INFJs because the nature of Jungian typology makes it easy to assume that anyone who presents an ideational or intellectual world view must necessarily be an N type. In some cases, this tendency to identify ISFJs as INFJs is but yet another expression of the tendency described by Ric Velasquez to understand N types as S types “with an extra layer.” However, this perspective fails to understand that the way typology discriminates between people is not on the basis of merit, “but broadly, in their usual ways of mental operations,” as the seminal typologist Horace Gray has said.

In my view, both ISFJs and INFJs can often seem a bit more ideational than many other types on account of their thoughtfulness, reserve, and their predilection for compassion. As I have argued in my article (and video) on the judging function axis, the Ti/Fe axis inclines the individual to perceive the world as a place of abstract, theoretical commonalities between objects. This can sometimes make ponderous or intellectual ISFJs seem like INFJs, even to trained experts. So let’s go over the two types in turn.

A good way to distinguish the two types is that ISFJs have Si/Ne, so they tend to be more cautious and meticulous in their mental processes and approach. Accordingly, the perspectives they form tend to be cross-checked with reality to a greater degree.

On the other hand, since ISFJs are more inclined to cross-reference their ideas with empirical facts about reality, and because Intuition is their inferior function, they also tend to need a lot of time to process intellectual matters before forming conclusions about them. Accordingly, ISFJs are often more realistic in their intellectual conclusions, but on the other hand, they are also frequently less radical about them.

The ISFJ’s dependence on direct experience and verifiable facts also means that they can sometimes feel uncomfortable when forced to relate to foreign and novel ideas on the fly. This discomfort means that the ISFJ is often stereotyped as being uninterested in new ideas that challenge their perspectives, but in fact, most ISFJs actually value new perspectives that lie outside of their normal frames of reference, and they are often particularly happy to talk to other Fe/Ti types about such things, in order to enlarge the sum-total of their real-life references. To many ISFJs, the real-life reference point of another person’s opinion can present a more effective way of relating to an idea than a host of theoretical qualifications and observations that all seem to reference nothing more than yet more theoretical qualifications and observations.

Now if we compare all of this with the INFJ, we will see that by comparison, the INFJ tends to come across as being almost exclusively ideational in their cognition. While they can sometimes be excluding of new perspectives, this is not so much because they are held back by attention to real-life considerations as it is because the singular and excluding nature of their dominant function – that is, Ni – only seeks to extoll one comprehensive ideational world view at a time. Rather than ideas being struck down by real-world considerations, it is ideas being struck down by other ideas.

Another point worth noting about INFJs is that they often seek to unite contradictory values and judgments within the same perspective. Instead of observing how facts contradict each other, their cognition tends to be preoccupied with pondering whether how the way we think about these facts could pave the way for some grand unification or synthesis. This predilection for synthesizing seemingly mutually exclusive perspectives is what gives rise to the stereotype that INFJs are mystical and holistic.

Because they seek to push the boundaries of what and how it is typically thought possible to think, the perspectives of INFJs are therefore sometimes touted as ingenious, seminal, and so on, which again leads many IFJs to want to identify as INFJ, or to identify their smart IFJ friends and celebrity idols as INFJs. However, one downside that’s comparatively less talked about is that the perspectives of INFJs are not guaranteed to be ingenious – they may also be nonsensical, misguided, make-believe, wishful thinking, or only make sense in the mind of the INFJ themselves. This is one danger that Jung warned of with regards to having dominant Ni.

Finally, while ISFJs have inferior Intuition, INFJs have inferior Sensation. As Jung has also said, their connection with reality is often not the best. Thus, when speaking about their ideational perspectives, INFJs don’t always devote very much attention to how these ideas are going to be implemented in practice, but rather speak with a compelling clarity and certitude about what reality will be like once these perspectives of theirs have been implemented in full. They are not “nuts and bolts” thinkers and frequently must rely on more practical types to “translate” what they have seen abstractly into factual reality. Generally speaking, they don’t exist so much in the real world, but tend to be more preoccupied with making sense of meanings and ideas in their own heads.

Moral Foundations Theory

Watch this article as a video here and here.

Jonathan Haidt is a professor at New York University. With more than 30,000 citations from other scholars, he is arguably the most prominent social scientist at work in the world today.

Haidt is especially famous for his framework of moral foundations or moral intuitions theory. The theory bypasses the traditional rationalist frameworks used by scholars and looks at how people’s morals are far more beholden to emotions and intuitions than to rational frames of mind.

In Western philosophy, Kant famously said that morality is rooted in reason – abstract moral rules that are true for everyone, always.

But before that, Hume had actually said that morality is rooted in sentiment and emotion. He also said that morality was in many ways subjective, just like aesthetic taste is subjective. To Hume, there was no “one size fits all” rule book that could describe everyone’s morals.

Social scientists have traditionally worked off of a Kantian framework that emphasized reason as the cause of human morality. Many have thought that the ability to reason clearly about moral issues is what causes human beings to be moral.

However, more recent research suggests that people aren’t especially rational in their moral judgments. There is little to suggest that the most logical people are also the most moral. And one study even found that books on ethics were more often stolen from libraries than books on other topics.

Therefore, it seems Hume was right: Morality is like aesthetic taste and varies from person to person. Rationality merely acts as a press agent, coming up with plausible reasons for why we believe what we believe, after the emotions have done their work.

There are six different moral foundations and everyone’s morality has something to do with all six scales. But the mixture of the scales is different from person to person. We’re going to do a more detailed breakdown of the scales later in this piece. For now, let’s just note that moral foundations are not just different from person to person: They also vary between different political groups.

  • Some people think that it’s very important to care for each other and for the downtrodden. These people are usually left-wingers.
  • Some think it’s important to honor their society’s traditional culture and to respect its cultural taboos. These people are typically conservatives.
  • Others still think the most important thing is that the individual has the freedom to be his own master and that he is free to reject the norms imposed on him by the group. These people are typically libertarians.

Not everyone agrees that their morality is really more emotional than rational. Be that as it may, however, moral foundations theory has certainly gained ground among researchers and has turned up a lot of evidence that people are different.

The Six Moral Foundations 

Care: This foundation pertains to our mammalian need to care for our young and to form bonds of attachment to others. It underlies the virtues of kindness and nurturance and is tied to emotions such as protectiveness and compassion. Left-wingers typically score the highest on this dimension, conservatives the second-highest, and libertarians the lowest.

Fairness: This foundation pertains to our ability to maintain cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships. It underlies the virtues of honesty, justice, and dependability. It is tied to emotions such as gratitude, anger, and guilt. Left-wingers typically score higher on this dimension than conservatives and libertarians, but the foundation is important to all political groups. The trick here is that left-wingers understand fairness as equality – for example by supporting welfare and economic redistribution – while the right understands fairness as proportionality – that is, cracking down on slackers and free-riders and letting those who work hard and do well in a market economy keep more of what they earn.

The next three moral foundations are loyalty, authority, and purity. They are sometimes grouped together under the heading “Tradition,” as they are chiefly relevant to conservatives.

Loyalty: This foundation is derived from our species’ long history of living as tribes and clans, enabling us to form cohesive communities. It underlies the virtues of patriotism, bravery, and self-sacrifice on behalf of the group. It is tied to emotions such as pride and a sense of belonging. Conservatives typically score higher on this dimension than left-wingers and libertarians.

Authority: This foundation was shaped by humanity’s long history of bonding together in hierarchical social interactions. It underlies the virtues of respect for tradition and deference to legitimate authority. It is tied to emotions such as fear, respect, and awe. Conservatives typically score higher on this dimension than left-wingers and libertarians.

Purity: This foundation pertains to our species’ need to avoid disease and parasites. It underlies the phenomenon of cultural taboos and fuels the commitment to live in a manner that abstains from indulgence in sensory desires. It is tied to emotions such as sanctity, piety, and disgust. Conservatives typically score higher on this dimension than left-wingers and libertarians.

The sixth moral foundation was added the latest to Haidt’s system, but it is by no means less significant that the preceding five.

Liberty: This foundation is related to the individual’s need to be his own master and to avoid the dominant social mores imposed by the group. It underlies the virtues of independence and autonomy. It is tied to emotions such as self-sufficiency and defiance. Libertarians typically score the highest on this dimension, followed by conservatives, who score the second-highest. Left-wingers typically score the lowest here.

The Six Moral Foundations and Three Prominent Political Groups

Left-wingers have a care and fairness-based morality: They want people to take care of the poor and the weak and to empathize with victims. But on the other hand, traditional social structures, such as in-group loyalty, authority and purity, aren’t especially important to them. With regards to liberty, many left-wingers will say that liberty is very important to them, but in empirical studies, they nevertheless tend to score lower on liberty than conservatives and libertarians. One reason for this may be that while left-wingers typically do care about liberty in relation to lifestyle choices, they tend to place less of a premium on economic liberty than conservatives and libertarians.

Conservatives have a balanced morality where all six foundations are solidly represented. Conservatives are the only political group for whom the foundations of loyalty, authority, and purity play more than an infinitesimal role. However, while conservatives are often stereotyped as stick-in-the-muds who only care about traditional morality, studies in Moral Foundations theory actually show that conservatives really have the most multifaceted morality of all political groups. Like leftists, they also care about nurture and fairness, and like libertarians, they also care about liberty. On the other hand, since conservatives have to balance all six foundations in their moral makeup, their morality is not always as clear-cut as that of left-wingers or libertarians.

Libertarians, unsurprisingly, have a liberty-based morality with a good deal of fairness thrown in as well. In fact, the zest for liberty among libertarians is so high that some studies report the liberty foundation taking up close to half of their total morality. Like left-wingers, libertarians don’t care too much about the traditional foundations of loyalty, authority, and purity, but apart from liberty, libertarians also care a good deal about fairness. But as we saw earlier, it is important to remember that libertarians don’t understand fairness as equality, but as proportionality: They tend to dislike people who – as they often put it – vote themselves more money through welfare. They also tend to think that if someone works hard and does well in the market economy, they should also be allowed to keep a big part of what they earn. Finally, libertarians tend to score lower on care than both left-wingers and conservatives. Libertarians don’t always like to hear this, but the evidence is pretty clear. On the other hand, some theorists have speculated that the reason libertarians score lower on this dimension is not necessarily because they don’t care about the weak, but because they don’t have as many emotions concerning their instinct to care as other political groups, since libertarians are, on average, less emotional people in general.

Spiritual Development in Mithraism

When I mention genders and cognitive functions in this article, I refer to them only in terms of the historical and metaphysical ways in which they were employed by Jung, Jungians, and the ancient world. The value judgments associated with these entities are invoked because they are relevant to my analysis of the Mithraic mysteries, and not because they reflect my personal views.


“Awe surrounds the [Mithraic] mysteries, particularly the mystery of deification. This was one of the most important of the mysteries; it gave the immortal value to the individual – it gave certainty of immortality. One gets a peculiar feeling from being put through such an initiation.” – C.G. Jung: Notes on the Seminar Given in 1925, Lecture 12...

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ESFP vs. ENFP, Part 2

Mary Arrington is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Arrington’s piece represents her own insights and assessments and not necessarily those of the site.

By Mary Arrington

ENFP and ESFP. We know that both are awesome types, but how can we tell the difference? The usual opinion on the internet is that anyone smart or imaginative must be an N type, but that just isn’t the case. If only it were so simple!

ENFPs and ESFPs share a lot of similarities. Both tend to take an explorative, laid-back approach to the world; both are very perceptive and tend to come up with lots of ideas; both are very quick thinkers; both are often unusually good at telling entertaining stories; both tend to be deeply fascinated by the world around them; both are easily bored and tend to feel a need for new experiences and ideas to feel alive; both tend to have a great sense of humor; both think that this list of comparisons is getting too long, and so on.

But there are also many differences, and these differences come down to the dominant and inferior functions of these types, since both have auxiliary Fi and tertiary Te.

ESFPs have dominant Se and inferior Ni

Dominant Se gives the ESPs the most realistic perception of all the types, since Se is so directly focused on objects as they appear. Se looks around and sees everything; it scans the environment and takes it all in – the people, the buildings, the weather, the… everything! Se is also extremely good at forming unconscious short-term predictions about the things it perceives. Many of the more intellectual descriptions of the functions tend to miss the full magnificence of the Sensation functions. The way Se operates in the physical world is actually a lot like how Ni acts in the intellectual world. For example, many Se sportspeople can somehow just know where they should be to best receive a flying soccer ball that has just been kicked towards them. Or Se types in general can just know from looking at two cars gliding towards each other that they are going to crash (sometimes many seconds before it happens) – something that most other people don’t realize until the loud crashing noise forces them to pay attention!

Imaginative ESFPs tend to be creativity bombs and come up with lots and lots of ideas. However, while they do come up with lots of creative ideas, their ideas tend to follow a common theme or perspective. In other words, the creative output of ESFPs tends to have more cohesion than that of ENFPs who are stimulated by not just a multitude of ideas, but a multitude of perspectives. Therefore, ENFPs constantly try to see things from radically different points of view, which they sample one after another, while ESFPs are usually more interested in developing their current perspective as far as it can go.

As creative writers, ESFPs tend to have a big advantage over ENFPs when it comes to writing realistic, thrilling stories that make the readers feel like they are really there, living the story. They are also much less likely than ENFPs to get distracted by questions about the philosophical meanings of their art, or to be interested in talking about the unconscious source that is the wellspring of their creativity. They might say: “I just find the story interesting and I felt like writing it,” or: “It’s a cool story, what more do you want?”

That was a little bit about superior Se in ESFPs. But ESFPs also have inferior Ni, which manifests itself in a couple of interesting ways. First, it can often give Se types a lot of confidence in their worldview and make them dismissive of perspectives that are too ethereal and don’t refer back to anything in the real world. This can become a problem when it leads them to dismiss views that are not based on “real” experience. However, it can also make them very good at debunking things that need to be debunked – like shady paranormal claims, for example.

Inferior Ni can also lead an ESFP to experience strange and paranoid thoughts that are similar to conspiracy theories in structure. Like INJs, they sometimes get an intense notion that they’ve figured out what’s really going on behind the scenes – something that nobody else is picking up on. Dominant Se has trouble dealing with these kinds of unconscious psychological hunches, so these premonitions often come through to the conscious mind of ESPs in a more physical form. For example, they may believe that shadowy, powerful figures are plotting to seize world power and turn the rest of us into zombies, or that aliens have injected a mysterious substance into the bloodstreams of all human beings that stops us from achieving our full potential. Of course, these are crazy and paranoid ideas, but with regards to creative story writing, these kinds of ideas can also be worth their weight in gold to writers, as they are both very imaginative and also very spooky. The TV show The X-Files is a good example of inferior-Ni-style themes and ideas being used creatively in pop culture.

ENFPs have dominant Ne and inferior Si

Dominant Ne gives ENPs the most multifaceted perception of all the types, since Ne is focused not on what the external world actually is, but all the different ways it could be, or all the different ways it could be understood. Ne wants to see every side of everything — no perspective is too far-fetched, as long as it’s fresh and new,and makes the Ne type think about the world in a different way. Because of this focus on multiple possible perspectives on reality at the same time, ENPs are actually quite poor at dealing with situations where it is necessary to engage with factual reality as it is happening here and now, and they can sometimes fail to take advantage of the opportunities they come across when compared with Se types.

In some cases, the ENP types’ quest for new perspectives can also lead to strange lifestyle choices. Especially with ENFPs you sometimes see them leaving family and friends behind in order to go off and join a religious commune or travelling abroad in exotic countries with a culture totally different from their own. However, these whims rarely last very long before the ENFP gets bored of them too and moves on to chase yet more perspectives.

Like the ESFPs, ENFPs are usually very creative and find it easy to come up with lots of ideas. Because of this, they can also be great writers, film directors, actors and artists. But one way in which they differ is that where the creative ideas of ESFPs tend to revolve around a consistent perspective or theme, ENFPs tend to throw lots of different perspectives and themes into the same mix – including them all, even within the same piece of work! For example, an ESFP might write a brilliant horror story with a creepy and exciting tone throughout, while an ENFP would be more inclined to write a story that has lots of different tones and perspectives all included, and all of which contradict each other (sad, happy, and scary might awkwardly take place, all within the same scene, for example).

That was a little bit about superior Ne in ENFPs. But ENFPs also have inferior Si, which manifests itself in a couple of interesting ways. First, inferior Si can make it hard for ENFPs to pay attention to facts and details in the sensible world since their brains are too busy swirling in different directions because of all of their perspectives and ideas. So they might forget where they put their car keys. And after eventually finding them, many start wondering where they parked their car!  On the other hand, it can also make ENFPs experience almost transcendental bliss from activities where they have to pay close attention to their own bodies or physical states – such as yoga, meditation, or even ballet.

Inferior Si can also lead an ENFP to become very interested in past eras where they have an unconscious drive to amass a comprehensive catalogue of facts about what everyday life was like in those eras, until it’s almost as if they can recall it themselves. On the other hand, while they feel this unconscious impulse very intensely, most ENPs also tend to feel an equally strong impulse to move on to something new before they ever get to the state where they amass such comprehensive knowledge. So inferior Si can also turn the ENFP into a kind of historical jack of all trades who zigzags between factoids from different eras.


I am indebted to Ryan Smith, Hannah Strachan, and Rachel Wood for their comments and ideas.


Anton P. Lepp is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Lepp’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site.

By Anton P. Lepp

INFPs and INTPs are both dominant judging types, that is to say, they compulsively evaluate things. With INTPs, this constant analysis is especially noticeable, whereas with INFPs, their version of the same tendency towards introverted judgment is more subtle.

In terms of functions, INTPs have Ti-Ne-Si-Fe where INFPs have Fi-Ne-Si-Te.

An INTP’s evaluatory pattern tends to focus around impartial models of how things work, the accuracy of said models, and statements concerning these models. Their Feeling function is inferior and repressed, often feeling like bothersome noise to this more detached and mechanical evaluation of things. Their inferior Feeling is also extroverted, meaning that it is oriented towards the atmosphere of the external situation. INTPs want everyone feel fine, but don’t really possess the fluent tact needed to take care of other people’s feelings which the FJ types so naturally develop over the course of their lives.

For the INFP, their evaluatory pattern tends to revolve more around personal authenticity, motivations, and meaning: What feels right to do; are these actions in accord with who I am; why does that person make the statements that they did; what does it say about them? Fi qualifies as ‘thinking’ in the conventional sense, but it doesn’t have the cold and detached characteristics of the Thinking functions. When compared with Ti specifically, Fi is prone to reason in a partisan way, that is to say, it isn’t as averse to taking sides as Ti.

The Thinking function in INFPs is extroverted and oriented towards the external state of things: How things are, what can be fashioned from the current situation, the manifest properties of objects and so on. In contradistinction to the TJ types, though, the Extroverted Thinking of INFPs tends to be a bit absolutist and rough. It is not always very good with “lesser of two evils,” logical trade-offs kind of thinking.

What both types have in common is an interest in new ideas, possibilities and points of view, and a tendency to solidify their evaluations into something more static (this tendency can be simultaneously a headache for them, because as much as they feel the inclination to solidify and settle things in their minds, they also tend to feel the drive to find new things, and to look for greener pastures, constantly causing them to abandon or modify their previous work or thoughts).

So in conclusion:

  • The INTP is a model-oriented systems thinker, often obsessed with truth and accuracy. They tend to have a bit of a warm, fuzzy vibe, but are often also socially clumsy to the point of “forgetting how to human.” Their motto could be summed up as Think for yourself.
  • The INFP is driven to express and be themselves and to understand what drives others and their passions. They can be very insistent on objectivity and measurable standards in sometimes silly or reality-resistant ways. Their motto could be summed up as Be yourself.

Determining Function Axes, Part 10

Lee Morgan is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Lee’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. In this article, we continue Morgan’s quest for a tighter, Wittgensteinian definition of the axes. 

By Lee Morgan and Ryan Smith

Attempting a tight definition of concepts that are very comprehensive is not always a good idea. As Martin Heidegger pointed out, just as much meaning may be lost as is gained thereby.[1] On the other hand, there are already plenty of Heideggerian attempts to define the functions (indeed, Jung himself is somewhat Heideggerian) and for this reason, the Wittgensteinian perspective may illuminate more of the puzzle at this time.[2]...

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ESFP vs. ENFP, Part 1

Boye Akinwande is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Akinwande’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site.

By Boye Akinwande

ESFPs are Se/Ni types and ENFPs are Ne/Si types.

Se/Ni types tend to be more direct and convergent in their cognition than Ne/Si types whose cognition is more indirect and divergent.

However, almost every creative artist, movie maker, or storyteller that’s EFP seems to get typed as an ENFP by typologists, even if they’re actually an ESFP. This is unfortunate. I agree with CelebrityTypes and Jung that the functions don’t inform a person’s level of creativity, but rather the way in which that person is creative.

Now, concerning the way in which ESFPs are creative, ESFPs often have a knack for entertaining and telling stories. They’re well equipped to bring the most thrilling aspects of real life into a story and can generally make that story feel very real and gripping.

ESFPs are also, all else being equal, just as good at making art as ENFPs. Where they tend to show less of an interest is in sorting through the hows and the whys – adopting meta perspective and trying to figure out what it all means from some third-person perspective that would detract from the intensity of what they are doing. This is not to say that they can’t, but simply to say that they usually don’t have a preference for it.

ENFPs tend to be more inclined to sort out all the meta-level perspectives on what they are doing. To Se types, they can often seem to be whiffling through pointless considerations, or even to come across as long-winded when trying to sort things out.

ENFPs and ESFPs tend to have many of the same qualities: They are both very perceptive and quick idea generators. Generally speaking though, here is a good way to tell the difference:

ENFPs have Ne/Si. They are continually in search of conceptual novelty, which they seek out in order to broaden the sum-total of possible perspectives on the world. On the other hand, ENFPs can also have a tendency towards the impractical, to be divorced from the empirical world – to neglect their everyday duties and to ignore established reality.

ESFPs, on the other hand, have Se/Ni. They are very quick to adapt and size up the immediate situation, and determining their course of action from there. But on the other hand, they can also be quick to dismiss or neglect perspectives that have no immediate utility value, since staying with these perspectives would hamper their quickness. Where the ENFPs tend to be divorced from the empirical world, the ESFPs are to a greater extent married to it.

Why We Made the Political Coordinates Test

The internet is crawling with free political observance tests of almost every imaginable kind. So why did we make our own?

Well, we wanted a test that gave the respondent a broad overview and wasn’t tied to specific elections or countries. At the same time, we were frustrated with all the biased tests out there. That is, tests that pretend to be neutral, but are in fact designed to make everyone come out as socialists, libertarians, or whatever.

Some people like to think that our test is the same as another well-known online political observance test. That charge doesn’t hold up.

First, both our test, as well as the alternative, are essentially variants of the Nolan Chart, proposed by David Nolan in 1969. Besides, from the 1950s onward, a long line of researchers, such as Ferguson, Eysenck, and Rokeach, had all devised similar multiaxial charts.

Furthermore, even in spite of our common reliance on the Nolan Chart, there are still essential differences between the Political Coordinates Test and the alternative in question. For example, the alternative:

  • Is calibrated towards the fringe position of anarcho-syndicalism or left-libertarianism, which almost no voters in Western democracies support.
  • Relies on findings from heavily criticized and dated surveys undertaken more than 60 years ago.
  • Sneaks moral assumptions into the questions and uses leading questions to get respondents to comply with its preferred position of left-libertarianism.

Let’s go over these points.


Left-libertarianism is an anti-authoritarian branch of socialism. It is commonly associated with political thinkers such as Noam Chomsky. It is also a fringe position which almost no voters in Western democracies support. Today most people don’t even know what left-libertarianism is and mostly associate the word ‘libertarian’ with free-market thinkers such as Milton Friedman.

Compared to the Political Coordinates Test, the alternative uses a left-libertarian baseline as a lens through which all other politics are seen. The Political Coordinates Test, on the other hand, is calibrated towards the actual center of Western democracies.

In practice, almost every contemporary political party is characterized as “right-wing authoritarian” by the alternative test. The Political Coordinates Test generally makes the correct distinction in making right-wing parties come out right-wing and left-wing parties come out-left wing on its chart. We know this for a fact since actual politicians in several different countries have taken our test and publicly shared their results.

Questionable Surveys

Quantifying politics was all the rage in the 1950s. Not in the least because a few years earlier, there had been a major political event that seemed in need of some explaining.

One such ‘explainer’ was the German socialist Theodor Adorno. Together with his associates, he conducted a large study which concluded that ordinary right-wing voters are fascists waiting to happen. His study was enormously influential, and if you were born in the 70s or 80s, you probably had teachers who actually believed that.

However, Adorno’s study had some problems. As other researchers started poking through it, things began to feel fishy. Turns out it had:

  • Leading and ideological questions: Rather than mapping actual political opinion, the items on the survey sought to confirm its authors’ idea of a big fascist bogeyman lurking around every suburban picket fence. Intelligent respondents recognized that they were not being polled in good faith and held off from answering the questions truthfully.
  • Unrepresentative sample: The people sampled in the survey were not representative. The results were therefore unsuited for drawing general inferences about politics.
  • Poor questionnaire construct: The survey did not comply with best practice standards of polling, such as neutrality, reversed scoring, and the like.

The alternative test relies on Adorno’s study while the Political Coordinates Test does not. The result is that the alternative test does not actually test for right-wing alignment, but an extreme left-wing caricature of what it means to hold such views. The Political Coordinates Test, on the other hand, was designed with input from all major political groups to make sure everyone feels they are being polled in good faith.

Leading Questions

Any question that begins along the lines of:

  • “Isn’t it sad that…”
  • “Isn’t it worrying that…”
  • “Don’t you regret that…”

Is not a neutral question, but a leading one. Studies have repeatedly shown that when you make use of leading questions, you almost certainly end up with misleading or skewed results. In other words, when you use these types of questions, you no longer measure what you set out to measure.

Related to leading questions are loaded questions. Loaded questions typically contain an assumption that the respondent is unable to get out of. For example, a 1937 Gallup poll asked: “Would you vote for a woman for president if she were qualified in every other way?” No matter how the respondent answered, he or she would be unable to disavow the notion that being a woman was disqualifying in and of itself.

The alternative test presents the user with several leading and loaded questions. For example, one question assumes that free market policies are inherently at odds with the interests of the people. But as the professor of social psychology at New York University Jonathan Haidt has shown, this belief is only held by some political parties. To others, such a question is simply nonsensical, just as it is nonsensical for a person who believes that being a woman isn’t a disqualification to be asked to answer the Gallup question above.

The creators of the alternative test have confronted this criticism on their home page, and by their own admission, they don’t see anything wrong with these types of questions – we do.


Therefore, the Political Coordinates Test is different from the alternative in at least three important ways:

  1. The alternative test is calibrated towards the theoretical position of left-libertarianism and sees all other political positions through that prism. The Political Coordinates Test doesn’t.
  2. The alternative test relies on the conclusions of studies that had severe errors in their methodologies and used skewed samples to arrive at their conclusions. The Political Coordinates Test doesn’t.
  3. By their own admission, the creators of the alternative test don’t see anything wrong with using leading and loaded questions and so they do. The Political Coordinates Test doesn’t.

Go here to take the test.