David West Keirsey: Self Portrait
(August 31, 1921 – July 30, 2013)
My father died on July 30th, 2013 and I intend to honor him, if I can, by writing a blog about him and his ideas every year. First year. Second Year.
“I regard myself as the last living Gestalt Psychologist”
— David West Keirsey
Gestalt: German word for form or shape
He wrote a short autobiography at the bequest of us, it was titled: Turning Points. It chronicles some of the turning points of his life. I want to write “an intellectual history” of him using some of that material plus my fading memory about the ideas we discussed in those many years, since it might be instructive to see how and why his ideas were formed and evolved. Moreover, I think that his developed “methodology” of qualitative factor analysis and synthesis can contribute to the progress in science.
Many people have asked why is Keirsey Temperament Theory not known broadly as “it should be.”
For a long time, I couldn’t give a good answer.
The answer is: “It’s a Slow Idea.”
My father outlines “The History of Madness” in his lectures. And the Wholistic Theory of Madness is a slow idea, its roots going back to over a century with my father adding the idea of Temperament in the last half century. Fast Ideas about “madness” have been around since Homo Sapens possessed language.
The roots of the Idea of Keirsey Temperament also go back to ancient times.
In addition, there is the idea of: Slow Ideas <=> Fast Ideas
The root of this idea appeared just recently, thanks to Atul Gawande.
Gaia is a tough bitch.
Hot Cold Passion: a passion for science.
She was a Scientist, first.
And she was a Character — a very interesting, and complex character.
Having entered the science community as a woman, when men still dominated science, and being charmed by a huge scientific ego, Carl, she luckily had to explore the backwaters of evolutionary biology at the time, bacteria, not getting much support from him or her male contemporaries. Of course, like all good science, that estuary of knowledge contained biological riches totally ignored by well established conventional scientific community. Like Darwin before, she was sui generis: a driven, feisty, no holds barred, idea brawler — an intellectual maverick — by necessity and choice. Initially ignored, she generated a fair amount of hostility from the conventional scientific community when they were challenged.
And intellectual mavericks, with persistence, are the only type to challenge the major ideas of conventional science, and win — somewhat.
With the eyes of a child
You must come out and see
That your world’s spinning ’round
— Moody Blues
She wrote it in plain and clear language, so, even a child understand.
However, I doubt many adults could understand it, even now: most adults are too stupid to understand.
No, not ignorant, just stupid. Adults: too naturally not interested, too busy, too lazy, too “know it all,” too impatient to really see — and to learn.
Danger lies not in what we don’t know,
but in what we think we know that just ain’t so
– Mark Twain
The person still has the record for being the youngest astronaut in space.
It was quite a Ride.
“Let’s Light This Candle”
If I have seen a little further,
it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.
We all know the quote. But often we don’t know the name of those Giants.
And she was not concerned that we know the true story, for in science, the shoulders are many and the results are what matter.
Newton’s giants were many: Copernicus, Galileo, Bruno, Kepler, Wallis, … But others were nameless.
Her giants included Newton, Haley, but also Annie Cannon.
And she was a giant, but who few know her name, for her almost contribution, or rather, her until recently uncredited contribution. For a man took that credit by publishing four years later essentially the same idea she had told him about — and that she deserved the real credit, for she was the first person to observe it and understand it. Moreover, she had the imagination not blinded by “conventional wisdom:” the scientific heterodoxy, which wasn’t really science at the time, anyway. Consensus science is never a science.
But she didn’t know that…
Nerds, mathematicians, lovers of all things circular today celebrate Pi Day, the day that honors π, one of the world’s most mysterious inspiring infinite mathematical constants. Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 at 1:59:26 p.m., the date and time which corresponds to the first eight digits of π, or 3.1415926. π . It, March 14th is, also, the birth day of a German physicist. Those nerds like to think that they might figure out some of those mysteries, like that guy who’s birthday is March 14th, 1879.
By the way, if you don’t remember π can be approximated, but never represented by anything finite, by:
For it’s a transcendental number.
They don’t believe her.
And you wonder why?
Scientists are supposed to be objective, open minded, fair minded, and logical. Paleoanthropology is supposed to be a science. Think again.
“Watch it now! Watch it!”
He would say it with obvious enthusiasm and kid-like glee.
It was infectious. You could not not be enthralled and intrigued by the man. Well, Actually, no. It was strange, I couldn’t figure out when I was young WHY NOT EVERYBODY was not totally gaga about him and his science. Why is it so?
What is life?
That was the question he posed to himself.
No, he wasn’t asking the simple, vague, ill-posed, question: what those fuzzy, sloppy thinking Philosophers often try to talk about in volumes of words.
He was, in his mind, asking a precise question. A scientific question. For to answer this question, he had to ask the immediately deductible question: What is life, Not? Both questions are difficult to answer — precisely.
But he wanted to answer, What is life?, precisely, and he did give an answer: in his last book before he died.
But, there were critics of his work, although the vast majority are ignorant of his work.
An unnamed critic remarked: “The trouble with you, Rosen, is you’re always trying to answer questions that nobody wants to ASK!”