Jesus and Eastern Influences

By Ryan Smith

It is, as a rule, very hard to uncover the historical facts of the Christian inception, and whatever we can say must be stated with great reserve. On the other hand, it is easily demonstrable that many pertinent and illuminative facts are left of most Christian accounts. In this article, I shall attempt to supply some of these facts, so as to give the reader a full understanding of the doctrines of Jesus. As with my articles on Buddhism and Hinduism, I shall not say anything about the spiritual truth of these doctrines, for I could not settle that question even if that had been my aim; it is a matter that everyone must decide for themselves.

First, it is almost completely certain that Jesus existed; that he was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by the Romans (probably while he was in his early or mid-30s). But beyond these facts, almost nothing can be known for certain of him. This paucity of information has caused considerable division in the modern interpretations of Jesus’ life and works. Did he preach a coming apocalypse? Did he identify himself as the Jewish Messiah? Was he a charismatic wonder-worker akin to Empedocles? Was he simply a moral teacher and social reformer? Or was his aim to preach a Jewish variant of Cynicism?...

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Functions for Beginners, Part 2

John Barlow is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Barlow’s piece represents his own insights and assessments and not necessarily those of the site. In this piece, Barlow attempts an informal and colloquial exposition of basic function theory. 

By John Barlow

In my last article, I talked about the functions. I also put up some disclaimers about my articles not being academic, which are still in effect. In this article, I’m going to talk about the difference between dominant and inferior functions, and I’m going to be stealing — uhm, I mean paraphrasing — a lot of stuff from a student of Jung’s called Marie-Louise von Franz (you can read more about her stuff here)....

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Functions for Beginners, Part 1

John Barlow is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Barlow’s piece represents his own insights and assessments and not necessarily those of the site. In this piece, Barlow attempts an informal and colloquial exposition of basic function theory. 

By John Barlow

In this article, I will try to explain function-based typology to newcomers and beginners. Similar to Mary Arrington’s sweet piece here, I will try to make my presentation colorful and entertaining. So if you’re already an expert, or if you’re a stickler for academic references and precision, I suggest you read some of the other (excellent) articles on the site instead. Still here? Okay, let’s go!...

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The Anaximanderian Conception of Function Axes

“The Boundless is the first principle of things that are. It is that from which coming-into-being takes place, and into that which things return when they perish by mortal necessity, giving satisfaction to one another and making reparation for their injustice, in accordance with the order of time.” – Anaximander: Fragment DK12 B1 

By Ryan Smith

From the get-go, our conception of function axes has been imbued with a Heraclitean scaffolding, akin to the one foreshadowed by Jung.[1] However, as I have pointed out in previous articles,
anaximandersome of the framework that Jung attributed to Heraclitus should more properly be credited to Anaximander.[2] Jung himself did not appear to be aware of this....

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Determining Function Axes, Part 9

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, Lee seeks a tighter, Wittgensteinian definition of the function axes. 

By Lee Morgan

  1. The Quiddity Perception Axis (Se/Ni): This axis yields a cognitive preference for perceiving in terms of quiddity (that is, whatness, essence, usage). This preference expresses itself in two distinct ways, namely as appearance and immediate reality, which is the specialty of Extroverted Sensation, and extrapolations from givens and the archetypical thing-in-itself, which is the specialty of Introverted Intuition.
  2. The Abstraction Perception Axis (Si/Ne):This axis yields a cognitive preference for perceiving in terms of the abstractions they evoke. This preference expresses itself in two distinct ways, namely as compilation and continuity, which is the specialty of Introverted Sensation, and as possibility and analogy, which is the specialty of Extroverted Intuition.
  3. The Rounded Judgment Axis (Fe/Ti):This axis yields a cognitive preference for judging in terms of qualifications. Just as all points on a circle may lead to its center, so every initial viewpoint, if undertaken in earnest and apprehensive of the right qualifications, may eventually lead to the truth. This preference expresses itself in two distinct ways, namely as courtesy towards, and validation of, the viewpoints of others, which is the specialty of Extroverted Feeling, and as qualification, or the doubting of and continuous precision-seeking with regards to existing judgments, which is the specialty of Introverted Thinking.
  4. The Angular Judgment Axis (Fi/Te): This axis yields a cognitive preference for clearly stated and definite judgments. Just as a square is defined by its four angles, giving structure and form to the whole edifice (and other ways of defining a square would be less categorical), so each judgment is posited in opposition to competing judgments, with each judgment being irrevocably different from its counterparts. This preference expresses itself in two distinct ways, namely as sincerity and candor in the presentation of one’s own judgments, which is the specialty of Introverted Feeling, and the forceful and compelling marshaling of facts, which is the specialty of Extroverted Thinking.

Star Wars Big Five: Darth Vader

By Sigurd Arild, Eva Gregersen, and Ryan Smith

This series of articles analyzes the characters from ‘Star Wars’ (original trilogy only) on the basis of the Big Five system of personality which is the most widely used personality test in social science and which has sometimes been referred to as “the only truly scientific personality test.” Compared to Jungian typology, the Big Five is more empirical and ‘external,’ positing a straightforward relationship between personality and observed behavior, which makes it easier to achieve consensus.

Below Average Openness...

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Star Wars Big Five: Emperor Palpatine

By Sigurd Arild, Eva Gregersen, and Ryan Smith

This series of articles analyzes the characters from ‘Star Wars’ (original trilogy only) on the basis of the Big Five system of personality which is the most widely used personality test in social science and which has sometimes been referred to as “the only truly scientific personality test.” Compared to Jungian typology, the Big Five is more empirical and ‘external,’ positing a straightforward relationship between personality and observed behavior, which makes it easier to achieve consensus.

High Openness...

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Star Wars Big Five: Obi-Wan Kenobi

By Sigurd Arild, Eva Gregersen, and Ryan Smith

This series of articles analyzes the characters from ‘Star Wars’ (original trilogy only) on the basis of the Big Five system of personality which is the most widely used personality test in social science and which has sometimes been referred to as “the only truly scientific personality test.” Compared to Jungian typology, the Big Five is more empirical and ‘external,’ positing a straightforward relationship between personality and observed behavior, which makes it easier to achieve consensus.

Above Average Openness...

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Star Wars Big Five: Han Solo

By Sigurd Arild, Eva Gregersen, and Ryan Smith

This series of articles analyzes the characters from ‘Star Wars’ (original trilogy only) on the basis of the Big Five system of personality which is the most widely used personality test in social science and which has sometimes been referred to as “the only truly scientific personality test.” Compared to Jungian typology, the Big Five is more empirical and ‘external,’ positing a straightforward relationship between personality and observed behavior, which makes it easier to achieve consensus.

Low Openness

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” While individuals who are high in Openness are prone to hold unusual or bizarre beliefs, low-Openness individuals are more likely to have a keen eye for reality and both of their feet more on the ground. Whereas Luke Skywalker was a romantic dreamer, and Leia a political revolutionary, Han Solo was a man of no illusions who preferred to place his trust in real-world tangibles such as cold cash, a good blaster, and a few “special modifications” that he had made to the Millennium Falcon himself. Furthermore, while open individuals may often lose touch with real-world practicality on account of getting lost in “big ideas,” Solo did not place much stock in Ben Kenobi’s ancient teachings (“It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.”), and nor was he keen to let himself get dragged into the political conflict between Republic and Empire, preferring to focus on more clear-cut considerations instead (“I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.”).

Low Conscientiousness

“Yeah, but this time I got the money.” Whereas high-Conscientiousness individuals are likely to follow the tried-and-true way to the top (doing one’s homework in school, working hard and obeying authority, etc.), individuals who are lower in Conscientiousness are more likely to procrastinate, to go their own way, and to rely on thinking outside the box when it comes to achieving results in life. From smuggling himself in the Millenium Falcon‘s hidden compartments in Hope, to hiding said Falcon in an asteroid field (and slipping away in the garbage stream of an imperial Star Destroyer) in Empire, Solo repeatedly demonstrated an aptitude for solving problems through improvisation rather than through by-the-book thinking. Additionally, where high-Conscientiousness individuals are less likely to get in trouble with the law (since they tend to obey authority and aim to be responsible citizens), people who are lower in Conscientiousness are statistically more likely to view rules and regulations as guidelines rather than as absolute laws. In Solo’s case, he makes a living smuggling contraband, fraternizes with criminals (such as Jabba the Hutt), and openly admits to having had to “outrun imperial starships” – and not just the local “bulk cruisers” either.

High Extroversion

“I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other.” While extroverted individuals are outgoing, adventuresome, and socially assertive, introverts tend to be more reserved and solitary and to have less of a need for adventure. Not only has Solo flown “from one side of the galaxy to the other,” he also has many acquaintances and “old buddies” (such as Greedo and Lando Calrissian) scattered throughout its various systems. Furthermore, while introverted individuals are likely to be homebodies, extroverts are more prone to seek out opportunities for excitement and thrills (such as volunteering to lead dangerous missions, or making romantic passes at attractive people in their vicinity, even when they stand a chance of rejection), indicating that Solo is again an extrovert on these parameters. Finally, while introverted individuals tend to be less socially self-confident, Solo was clearly assertive in social situations, haggling with Jabba at gunpoint (“Fifteen, Jabba. Don’t push it.”), and hastening to neg and ascribe nicknames to anyone who came within reach (Luke is a “kid,” Leia is a “sweetheart,” and Obi-Wan is a “fossil”). This was done as an act of social one-upmanship, and as Princess Leia also admits, Solo’s high levels of Extroversion and social assertiveness make him a natural leader of men.

Average Agreeableness

Luke: “I knew you’d come back! I just knew it!” / Han: “Well, I wasn’t going to let you get all the credit and take all the reward.” Whereas Agreeable individuals tend to be kind, cooperative, and concerned with the welfare of others, disagreeable individuals are often more cynical and more exclusively focused on their own affairs. On the face of things, Han appears as a low-Agreeableness individual who is selfishly unwilling to help the Rebellion and who doesn’t mind being the one to shoot first in a confrontation over unpaid debts. Upon closer inspection, however, Han comes back to help the Rebellion in Hope, ventures out to rescue Luke from the Wampa in Empire, and volunteers to lead the strike team in Jedi. The harsh life of a smuggler and rogue has taught him not to trust others, but as his actions make clear, he is possessed of a deeper-lying altruism that goes against the rough facade. In this way, much of Solo’s personality can be seen as a conflict between his low Conscientiousness (which prompts him to resist commitment and to put his own needs ahead of those of others) and his average Agreeableness, which provides him with a compassionate and generous (if also well-hidden) heart of gold.

Below Average Neuroticism

“Don’t get jittery, Luke.” While neurotic individuals often have a hard time absorbing setbacks and tend to be prone to excessive worry and guilt, individuals who are lower in Neuroticism tend to remain composed and unflappable in the face of frustration. Neurotic individuals also tend to be interpersonally insecure and vulnerable to feeling overlooked or rejected, whereas non-Neurotic individuals tend to be less concerned with how others perceive them. With Solo, we have already mentioned how he managed to keep his cool and haggle with Jabba at gunpoint, and throughout the trilogy we see many examples of him taking setbacks in stride (such as Leia’s rejections, or the Falcon’s failures to go to lightspeed). On the other hand, a closer look reveals that Han does have some interpersonal vulnerabilities, such as a reluctance to be the first to express his feelings to Leia (“Come on! You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me!”) or his concern that he is being left out in Jedi (“Did you tell Luke? Is that who you could tell?”). However, while Solo does have a mildly neurotic disposition, he has in the main learned to cover it up and to hide his vulnerabilities behind his unflappable alpha persona.

***

The idea of intermixing Star Wars and the Big Five was first conceived by the website Outofservice.com, to which this series of articles pays homage.

Spiritual Star Wars: Luke Confronts Vader

By Ryan Smith

Watch this piece as a video here.

George Lucas has said that “Star Wars is a synthesis of all religions.” But which religions inspired what? What religion inspired this?

VADER: The Emperor has been expecting you.
LUKE: I know, father.
VADER: So, you have accepted the truth.
LUKE: I’ve accepted the truth that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father.
VADER: That name no longer has any meaning for me.
LUKE: It is the name of your true self. You’ve only forgotten. I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn’t driven it from you fully. That is why you couldn’t destroy me. That’s why you won’t bring me to your Emperor now.
VADER: I see you have constructed a new lightsaber.
VADER: Your skills are complete. Indeed, you are powerful, as the Emperor has foreseen.
LUKE: Come with me.
VADER: Obi-Wan once thought as you do.
VADER: You don’t know the power of the dark side. I must obey my master.
LUKE: I will not turn… and you’ll be forced to kill me.
VADER: If that is your destiny.
LUKE: Search your feelings, father. You can’t do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate.
VADER: It is too late for me, son. The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now.

In Vedanta – or what some might prefer to call Hinduism – the true self is indestructible, eternal, and unchanging. However, a person might get cut off from his true self, causing him to live a life of suffering and bondage, being a slave to illusions and false self-knowledge.

This conception of the self is decidedly not Buddhist, since Buddhists don’t believe in an unchanging self (that is, with the exception of the Pudgalavada school, which did believe in individual personhood, but was unanimously condemned as a heresy by all other Buddhist schools).

There are clear allusions to a Vedantic conception of the self in this scene: Though Vader has certainly changed, being “more machine now than man,” the good man that was Anakin Skywalker is still postulated to be the “true self,” still awaiting Vader in unchanged form beyond the veil of ignorance. Like the Vedantins who claim that the true self is unchanging, all of the bad deeds that we have seen Vader commit throughout the movies have presumably not changed this true self. This is a major contention between the Vedantins and the Buddhists: The Vedantins essentially consider the self to be outside the realm of cause and effect, while the Buddhist believes that there is no ‘self’ as such and that whatever we call a ‘self’ is affected by cause and effect exactly like everything else is. With the Vedantins, the self is the innermost and unchanging truth about a person, just like Anakin Skywalker is the innermost and unchanging true identity of Darth Vader. But to the Buddhists, whatever it is that we falsely call the ‘self’ is just as changing as everything else. Thus, in the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha says that everything about the human being is conditioned and that all conditioned things are like that: Impermanent, changing, and not lasting.

At the intersection between these teachings, the Christian doctrine of an immortal soul (which is really not in the Bible, but which the church fathers took from Plato) is decidedly closer to Vedanta than Buddhism. Indeed, almost all religions have taught some variation of the doctrine that the soul is immortal and lives on after death, and it is Buddhism that stands out when taking a grander view of these things. However, most Christian teachings on the soul have traditionally been dualistic, that is to say, they’ve posited the soul to be different from the material world. Vedanta is not dualism but monism: The self is not different from the material in any way, it is all one substance. The monism has traditionally posed some problems for the Vedantins, since if everything is all one substance, how could it be then possible to lose contact with the truth, the way Darth Vader has lost contact with his true self? The Vedantic answer involves turning the tables on the questioner, and to point out how his experience of multiplicity begets adverse effects. Thus the Vedantic text, the Katha Upanishad says “he who sees multiplicity runs after things on every side, but he who sees oneness becomes one with true wisdom.”

In Star Wars, Vader lives in bondage since he has lost contact with his true self. In the scene where Luke surrenders to him, he says that he must obey his master, thus giving the audience a concrete allusion to bondage. In other scenes of the trilogy too, Vader preaches the doctrine of giving in to a variety of intense feelings (as does Palpatine).

VADER: Now release your anger. … Only your hatred can destroy me.

EMPEROR: Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Let the hate flow through you.

These scenes give credence to the Vedantic doctrine that those who have lost contact with their true self “run after things on every side”; they are at the mercy of their emotions and thus to the external conditions that give rise to them.

By contrast, Luke is at liberty to control his hatred; to back down from destroying Vader and to reject the Emperor’s attempt to turn him to the dark side. In contrast to Vader, Luke’s liberty is the liberty of someone who has retained contact with the true self and who has therefore gone beyond the tyranny of external conditions.

EMPEROR: Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father’s place at my side!
LUKE: Never! I’ll never turn to the dark side. You’ve failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

As the Katha Upanishad says, to be in contact with the true self is equal to “the renouncement of all desires that surge in the heart” and the means by which “the mortal becomes immortal.” And in Star Wars, Vader becomes immortal in a quite concrete way after having re-established his connection to Anakin Skywalker – “the name of his true self that he had only forgotten.”

This scene must therefore squarely be credited to Vedanta.