Monday, June 1, 2009

Types and Consciousness

The study of types is often used to help understand human nature. There are many different systems that classify individuals. There are systems that focus on physical qualities. One of these systems characterizes people based on their physique. This system popularized by William Shelton classifies individuals into three categories, ectomorphs (thin, angular, little body fat), endomorphs (chubby, rounded, high body fat) and mesomorph (muscular, wide shoulders, narrow waist).

There is another system expressed in an interesting book, "Body Types" by Robert Friedlander that identifies seven body types each associated with a planetary body. These types, lunar, solar, mercurial, saturnine, jovial. martial, and venusian have very distinct temperaments, and strengths and weaknesses. Each type has one type that they are especially attracted to and another that repels them.

Jung classified individuals into thinking, feeling, and sensing types based upon their primary method of relating to the world. The ancient greeks and modern psychologists like Erich Fromm favored dividing people based upon four temperments, sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Then there are the twelve astrological types, and Chinese typology, right-brained and left-brained and on and on.

Many people find the study of types very interesting. I myself, have spent time checking out these various typologies to try to determine their value. (If you are interested in learning more there is tons of material that can be googled on the multitudes of systems.) All the systems and tests that tell you your type can be amusing and it is easy to find some truth in all of them.

What is misleading is that there are definitely different types but so what. There are tall and short, fat and thin, shy and outgoing, smart and dumb, aggressive and passive, social and hermetic, religious and atheistic, and verbal and mathematical. There are unlimited ways to classify people and there are millions of people who fall into each category.

All these systems and methods for typing people assume your type will determine your behavior, your inclinations, your tastes, and your abilities. This may be true to some extent and it may be useful in helping you observe yourself to try and determine your type based on one or more of these systems. But looking at the world in this way tends to create more separation and even worse can justify weaknesses or negative behavior. It is very easy to excuse yourself by assuming that there was nothing you could do about your negative behavior or thoughts because you were acting within the realm of your typology.

I believe that there is only one distinction that matters. This is the degree to which you are conscious or not. When you are working on yourself and trying to gain real freedom you are not subject to the limitations of type. You can overcome any inclinations or programming and choose your behavior. Without consciousness there is no freedom, there is no choice. For most people this idea of consciousness is a mystery. The most important thing you can do to improve your life is to begin the journey of understanding what it means to be more conscious. The starting point for this journey is to realize the degree of your unconsciousness.

No comments:

Post a Comment