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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Heraclitus (ILI): Personality Type Analysis

Heraclitus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in the city of Ephesus, at the time part of the Persian Empire. In his most active period around 500 BCE, Heraclitus postulated a distinguishing theory which he called "Logos" or an oratorical method used to convince or persuasion through logic. He is famously known for his central dogma of philosophy, universal flux, unity of opposites and that fire is element that comprises everything in the universe. The supposed interpretation of these doctrines has been the subject of controversy for historians, since his original inference often drawn from this theory that in the world as Heraclitus conceived - that these contradictory propositions must be true.

What interested Heraclitus the most in philosophy was metaphysics and epistemology, which is a very internal subject, which thus gave way for Heraclitus to implore it with absolute confidence in detached monologues that took the form of a perplexing riddle or puzzle. The virtuous soul can survive the death of its physical body and eventually rejoin the cosmic fire. However, the process of separation and unity is continual. Heraclitus believed that opposites was the driving force and eternal condition of the universe. This is best demonstrated in this statement, "Men do not understand that being at variance it also agrees with itself, there is a harmony, as with the bow and the lyre." Heraclitus argues that equal strife and opposition are both necessary and good, because the concept of universal tension ensures that both opposites will exchange periods of alternating dominance and that none shall ever completely extinguish the other. His life's work, preference for observing the world in terms of how things will turn out and engagement in scholarly activities suggests a type with very strong T, perhaps the only feasible explanation for this would be T1


Of what little is known from his life, of what the most reliable information about him has been passed down through stories written to illustrate his character inferred from his own work. What is known for certain, is his own dogma of philosophy, "Everything is in a state of flux and strife between opposites is the eternal condition of the universe". Anyone who challenged this claim, was condemned so witless by Herclitus that they should "hang themselves and leave the city to the rule of children". His antagonism of the first order often got him in trouble with other philosophers of the time, he personally ridiculed Homer the Poet and claimed that he should have been turned out and whipped. Heraclitus only held great disdain for philosophers he personally disliked, yet he still scornfully dismissed ideas from philosophers he thought to be idiots and did not hesitate to dismantle the intellectual integrity of both Pythagoras and Xenophanes. Heraclitus emphasised much attention towards the people who he clearly liked and disliked, while simultaneously avoiding the public impression that Heraclitus unknowingly cultivated himself. The following above is consistent with a man with very weak R and E, though clearly valuing R over E. Primarily, his judgement of relations with other people was determined on the basis of resentment and gave little effort (if any) to try to improve these relationships at all. All that has previously been stated above already confirms F5 and R6 in the Super-Id, E4 in the Super-Ego, all of which point to Gamma as the most likely quadra for Heraclitus.


Heraclitus thought that the three principal elements of nature were earth, fire and water. He postulated that fire was a primary substance that contains and controls the other two substances. Heraclitus stated, "All things are in exchange for fire, and fire for all things... the transformations of fire are, first of all, sea; and half of the sea is earth, half whirlwind." In his view, the 'fire' that Heraclitus believed to be contained within all materials on earth, were in direct counterpart to the human soul. Furthermore, he believed weak men to be tainted by the 'watery' elements of nature, reflecting fatigue, stupidity and vice. Unlike other rational philosophers during his time period, Heraclitus often chose not to explain the reasons behind his thinking in great detail. Indeed, the fragments of his works that survive today are so obscure, that even those who followed in his footsteps (the Stoics were perhaps closest to uncovering the complete rationale behind his thoughts) had nicknamed him "the riddler". His works are written in aphoristic and prophetic style, with a clear contempt for those that cannot see what is clearly before them. This strongly fits strong and unvalued L, very similar to L8.


Thus far what has been mentioned about Heraclitus clearly points towards T1, E4, F5, R6 and L8. In conclusion, I believe Heraclitus is a good representative of the ILI type of information metabolism.


To learn more about ILI, click here.

If you are confused by our Socionics shorthand, click here.

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