The Rational Personality

Less than six percent of all men and women are rational personalities. They speak of what is seen by the mind’s eye. Pleasing others and obeying rules is secondary to determining whether intended means will work in achieving their ends. Their thought and speech go from general to specific. Rationals enjoy puns, paradoxes, and word play. They abhor repeated errors, especially their own. Concerned with events, they lose track of time. Ingenuity, autonomy, and resolve govern their self-image.

Rationals keep their emotions in check, are closet romantics, value reason and logic, are goal driven, pursue knowledge relentlessly, relish chances to explain their achievements, and aspire to predict and control events, understanding and explaining their contexts. They are mind-mates as spouses, individuators as parents, and visionaries as leaders.

Notable examples are: Napoleon, Grant, Sherman, Marshall, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Lincoln, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Einstein, Schrödinger, Tesla, Howard Hughes, Francis Bacon, Descartes, Kant, Dewey, Twain, Shakespeare, and William F. Buckley, Jr., and in fiction: Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty, and Spock.

Rarely will you meet anyone that fits this description. However, they are found as leaders in government or the military, scientists in laboratories and universities, engineers in industry and startups, philosophers, authors, and renown fictional characters.

This is one of the personalities that is especially important for writers to recognize and portray. David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me is a useful reference for writers who want to fully flesh out their characters.

Keirsey says Hippocrates and Galen observed that there are four personality types. Later scientists refined their observations by identifying four distinctions within each type.

Keirsey defines the rational personality as abstract in their word use and utilitarian in their tool use. They speak about imaginative, conceptual, or inferential things. Their conversation appears unemotional and avoids the irrelevant, trivial, and redundant.

Rationals fall into four subcategories, each containing one to two percent of the population. Two are characterized as directive coordinators: the expressive field-marshal and the reserved mastermind. The field-marshal harnesses people and resources to lead them toward their goals with minimum wasted effort and maximum progress. The mastermind makes efficient schedules with contingencies, interested in moving an organization forward rather than dwelling on past mistakes. Their single-mindedness can lead to ignoring others wishes and points of view to their detriment.

The two other subtypes are informative engineers: expressive inventors and reserved architects. The outgoing inventor makes sure prototypes work under real world conditions. They display a charming capacity to ignore the standard, the traditional, and the authoritative. The highly attentive architect, often working alone, strives for design coherence and configuration elegance as masters of organization.

Rationals possess lifelong curiosity in logical investigation, critical experimentation, and mathematical description. They are preoccupied with the logic of building (i.e., technology) and are intrigued by complex systems, both machines and organisms.

They maximize efficiency of means and anticipate consequences of ends before they act. Rationals regard custom or tradition neither respectfully nor sentimentally, but as useful for deciphering the errors of history. All is uncertain and vulnerable to mistakes. Events aren’t of themselves good or bad, favorable or unfavorable. Only events possess time, all else is timeless.

They see themselves as inventive. Self-directed and self-determined, rationals live independently, free of coercion. They scrutinize other’s ideas for error before accepting them. They have an unwavering strength of will that they can overcome any obstacle, dominate any field, conquer any enemy — even themselves. But they never take will power for granted.

Rationals are unflappable in trying circumstances, reluctant to express emotions or desires. They listen carefully to ideas that make sense but reject illogical ideas or arguments. They have a gnawing hunger for achieving goals that is never fully satisfied. They live through their work; even play is work. Rarely do they measure up to their standards and are haunted by the feeling of teetering on the edge of failure. Relentless in their search, they want to know about the world and know how the world works.

They share abstract ideas with their mates. Marriage, itself, requires careful empirical study since there is no room for error. If they do err, they do their best to reduce underlying values conflict. Each child must become more self-directed and self-reliant, developing their individuality and autonomy. As strategic planners, they usually have a vision of how an organization will look and fare in the long run.

As we wrote in “Why Are There Four Gospel Accounts?,” an earlier blog posting, these traits describe some peoples’ predispositions. Their experiences can mold them, as far as they are willing and able, so that they acquire attributes of the other personality types. These attributes in sum could be said to be their overall dispositions.

If you are a writer, I heartily recommend reading Keirsey’s book for yourself. I created detailed outlines for my personal use. You may profit from the same effort. We’ll review artisan, guardian, idealist, and rational personality speech characteristics and mannerisms the next few weeks.

William Shakespeare Mini Biography, via Bio.

The Fourth Revolution – Review and Commentary

The book by former Economist Editor in Chief John Micklethwait and Management Editor Adrian Wooldridge: The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State contends that states in the West must complete the revolution started by Reagan and Thatcher and become smaller, more efficient systems that provide greater individual liberty.

In 1814, during the first revolutionary period, John Adams said: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” He also said: “It is vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than autocracy or monarchy…” The authors of The Fourth Revolution contend that the secret of good governance lies in checking human desires, not letting them run free.

America’s founding fathers also worried that democracy would crush individual liberty. The majority would use pressure and regulation to press the minority into conformity. The authors say few examine these issues now. In the vacuum, voters regard the practice of democracy as corrupt and inefficient. And yet they won’t question the theory. Their contempt delegitimizes government and turns setbacks into crises.

Democracy is overloaded with obligations, overburdened with unfulfillable expectations, and distorted by special interests. The population’s dependency forces government to continuously expand. During the second revolution, nineteenth century liberals in Great Britain reformed both the state’s machinery and its form of representation. The authors suggest today’s politicians should trim the state and renew democracy.

The rise of the Beijing consensus’s top down modernization and meritocratic governmental institutions makes the west’s democratic alternative seem regressive. America demonstrates too many of democracy’s vices and Europe too few of its virtues.

America’s checks and balances, though successful in the past in preventing the tyranny of the majority, has been subverted to become a political tool that decreases efficiency, compromise, and justice. America’s gerrymandering voting districts entrench special interests, extremism, and mediocre representation for a lifetime. America’s lobbying by special interests awash in money begs the question of graft and favoritism.

Europe, in an effort to stifle popular passions that caused two world wars, has sacrificed national sovereignty to technocratic governmental, financial, and trade bodies and, in the process, are vivifying national populist movements.

Economic inequality is putting western democracy to the test. Quoting Louis Brandeis, “we can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both.” In the era of financial crisis with less to go around and a bloated but inefficient welfare state, the West must stop democracy’s decay or risk their people’s ire.

The authors call for limited government that constrains itself through self-denying ordinances. In the process, three government dangers must be overcome: liberty encroaching expansion, surrender to special interests, and making unfulfillable promises.

As remedies, the authors propose balanced budgets over the economic cycle, fully funded and means tested entitlements tied to life expectancy, and sunset clauses for laws and regulations. Handing some economic power to technocrats and independent commissions and pushing decisions to the states and cities are ways to limit centralized power.

Micklethwait and Wooldridge say that the cost of inaction is high—unreformed, the welfare state will collapse under oppressive debt. The opportunity is great—the rewards to states that revive democracy and reduce the burden of the state will sprint ahead of its peers economically and in life satisfaction. History will be on the side of the nations that promote individual liberty.

We in the West are polarized politically. Our leaders pander to special interests instead of providing for the common good. How much longer can we mortgage our children’s future to pay for our pensions and health care? We are getting less benefit from and paying more for our educational system. We’re transferring tax revenues to the middle classes and crony capitalists in agriculture, defense, finance, etc. at the expense of caring for the truly poor.

The world is looking to the East as the model for economic advances and a better life at the expense of individual liberties. We in the West must become serious about reforming our systems or be left behind in the rubbish heap of history. Some western states, provinces, and cities are becoming more efficient through experimentation. There are lots of ideas to try, if only we were willing to start.

In the coming weeks we’ll cover how Beatrice and Sidney Webb laid the foundations for the welfare state in the third revolution, how Lee Kuan Yew created the Asian Consensus, and how the Nordic states point the way to the future.

The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State