Forms of Cognition

by Victor Gulenko

Forms of Cognition

English translation from original publication in Journal “Socionics, Mentology and Personality Psychology”, N 4, 2002

The manifestations of three dichotomies: Static–Dynamic, Positivism–Negativism, and Evolution–Involution; examined on four levels: intellectual, social, psychological, and physical. From these dichotomies are identified the cognitive styles corresponding to Sociotypes. The features of Causal-Determinist, Dialectical-Algorithmic, Holographical-Panoramic, and Vortical-Synergetic forms of cognition are described. Also explored is their formative influence on modern philosophical paradigms and the special role of Supervision rings in societal transmission of information.

Keywords: Socionics, psychology, cognition, static, dynamic, positivism, negativism, evolution, involution, information metabolism, synergetics, Supervision relations

From the standpoint of their structure, cognition in my opinion is most successfully modeled by combinations of these three dichotomies: Static–Dynamic, Positivism–Negativism, and Evolution–Involution. Why these? I came to understand this relationship in two ways. First, I noted that the most rapid and complete exchange of information occurs through Supervision rings, which are formed by these dichotomies. Second, finding Socionics analogies to other models of comprehending reality (worldviews) I found that information exchange in each of the four Supervision rings embodied fundamental forms of intellectual activity found across the history of established thought.

If my conclusions are valid, then the mental activity of Supervision rings constitutes that which cognitive psychology typically refers to as styles (or forms) of cognition. A strict deductive proof of this theory is not my aim. Instead I will simply present the results obtained. Coming from the practice of consultation, teaching, and training work, inductive generalizations have more weight for me than the mathematical calculations so dear to the hearts of some Socionists.

How do you determine that a person is actively thinking? Let us examine from the side. He first loses internal composure, then recovers it (he is using Static–Dynamic). First doubts, then confidently asserts something (he using Negativism–Positivism). First specifies concretely, then generalizes, moving from one logical level to another (a process controlled by the Involution–Evolution dichotomy as I will show below). Emotional coloring, judgment speed, following the present pattern (i.e. Logic/Ethics, Extro/Introversion, Rational/Irrational) all play their specific role here, of course. But the three dichotomies which unite Sociotypes into Supervision rings, exert a more noticeable impact on aggregate social intelligence in the form it has historically developed.

Statics depend more on space, Dynamics more on time. Filling space with objects characterizes Static behavior, whereas Dynamics saturate time with events. Statics cannot stand empty space—they immediately fill it with available items on hand. Dynamics cannot stand empty time—boredom, stagnation, prolonged states of the same condition. In a certain sense, Statics can be called people of place, Dynamics people of time.

I emphasize that in this article I will investigate the structural forms of cognition, not their content. My attention will not be directed on what a person thinks, but how they think. In other words, the subject of my discussion will be on the instrumental and technical aspects of thinking.

Static–Dynamic Dichotomy

In general terms, this dichotomy refers to orientation towards either space (Static) or time (Dynamic). The categories of space and time are vital a priori concepts studied in detail by Immanuel Kant in “Critique of Pure Reason”, contrasting them as extent and duration.

Now consider this dichotomy on the individual levels of communication.

Intellectual Level

Statics tend towards fragmentary-analytic thinking; Dynamics tend towards associative-synthetic thinking.

Analysis, as defined by most sources, is the division of a whole into clearly delimited parts. Analytical work is meant to delineate boundaries. Whereas synthesis is akin to associativity, i.e. the association of two or more concepts by fuzzy, rapid connections whereby one occurrence immediately evokes others to mind. Resulting in a coherent synthetic image with blurred internal boundaries.

The epitomization of Dynamic cognition formed the explanatory basis for the nature of mental processes in the theory of associationism. Aristotle first advanced the idea that spontaneous mental images can converge so closely together that the similarity or contrast of multiple associations emerges on the basis of contiguity. Later John Locke argued that ideas of any degree of complexity emerge from the process of associating simple sensations. In this case he contrasted the association of ideas against purely semantic connections, which in his opinion were secondary.

Indeed, eidetic mnemonic techniques showed that with aid of visual association, it is possible to connect anything in the mind. Here are some of the eidetic memory techniques originating in antiquity.

Roman orator Cicero used the ‘method of loci’ to memorize his speeches by heart. He mentally laid out information in the corners of a room, mentally returning to one corner or another to extract as required. Medieval Dominican monks studying rhetoric used the same method. They took a road familiar to them to the last detail and mentally walked down it, successively laying out along the road statements which would be presented before the audience. While speaking, they would mentally walk the route, ‘raising’ key concepts they had previously laid there.

Contemporary advertising cleverly exploits the Dynamic side of human cognition. It is mainly based on the mechanism of association by context (manly cowboy next to a pack of cigarettes) or contrast (ordinary laundry detergent vs. advertised laundry detergent). Judging by this means of consumer inducement, advertising presumably influences Statics much less than Dynamics. Statics memorize more effectively when material is structured in rigid semantic relationships, where each concept is fixed in memory cells like a computer.

Thus, Dynamics are stronger in synthesis operations (not mere simple connections, but confluence of associations), while Statics are stronger in analysis (not just any separation, but clear and precise delineations). Thus, the discrete/continuous pairing has more to do with the Static–Dynamic dichotomy, than with otherwise customary Rationality/Irrationality. But then, what exactly is the latter? Irrationality indicates situationality (predominance of context over aim), while Rationality indicates regularity (predominance of aim over context).

Social Level

Differences between Dynamic and Static types at this level corresponds to the contrast between initiators and finalizers.

Dynamics are stronger at the beginning of any activity: they easily move and quickly enter the realm of nominal activity. Rapid transitions from a previous state into a new process of change itself—this is their customary life. Statics better sustain and continue what has already begun—that which is already in motion. They must be preliminarily excited.

However, in the Dynamic is a process of continuous readjustment of focus and ‘drift’ of purposes. Because of this, the priorities of Dynamics are volatile and poor in hierarchical coordination. One wish may be quickly replaced by another and it is difficult for them to concentrate on any one specific long-term goal without external support. The strength of Dynamics is not in retaining goals, but in achieving them; they are better tacticians than strategists.

The objectives of Statics are more stable and reliable. They know what they want and are able to maintain long-term focus upon it. They arrange priorities in their life and work, with well-differentiated primary and secondary objectives that are rarely reversed. Statics are more successful strategists than tacticians; they know what to do much better than how to do it.

A predominance of Dynamics in any social group renders it unstable, prone to endless change, and sensitive to external interference. Conversely, if predominated by Statics, then rapid transformations prove to be impossible due to excess psychological inertia, rendering the group stabler but more conservative.

Psychological Level

The Static–Dynamic dichotomy controls the degree of equilibrium in the nervous system. Generally, the nervous system of Statics can be regarded as balanced and Dynamics as unbalanced.

This is tied to variability in the internal state commonly referred to as ‘mood’. The mood of Dynamics, even if Rational, can substantially change or fluctuate for seemingly insignificant reasons (from an outside observer POV). The Dynamic wants total freedom but is more dependent on ambient environmental conditions and needs a solid foundation.

Statics possess a relatively autonomous psycho-emotional state; their mood is difficult to spoil, and equally difficult to raise. For Statics, providing reliable support to those psychologically depending on them is a routine situation.

Dynamics often develop a psycho-physiological phenomenon known as ‘synaesthesia’—a complex relationship between the sensory modalities that results in confluence between them. Synchronized perception of color, sound, smell, and taste as a single complex gives Dynamics a special vividness in their perception of reality. Sometimes fusion of sensation is developed to such an extent that internal images appear indistinguishable from reality. For Statics, given the discreteness of their mental apparatus, regular synesthesia is usually a rare exception or the result of special training.

Physical Level

At this level, Static–Dynamic manifests as contrasting impulses to biological homeostasis/heterostasis. Homeostasis I understand as constancy and heterostasis as variability of the organism and its surrounding environment.

Dynamics are heterostatically inclined to change their material conditions of life such as wardrobe, home interior, or furniture arrangement, for sake of variety or out of boredom. For Statics this tendency is uncharacteristic. Only with difficulty do they proceed with changes to their home environment to which they have become accustomed. They will do so only when it’s easier to yield to circumstantial pressures, than to resist.

As types with variable metabolism, Dynamics can rapidly grow stout, though just as quickly lose weight if they fall into a state of emotional distress. Statics have the opposite problem, of a stabler weight and build: if already seriously fat (or thin), they remain so for longer times. Their bodily metabolism is more invariant.

The same laws apply in relation to other physiological parameters such as temperature, blood pressure, perspiration, etc. For example, the body temperature of Dynamics may fluctuate during the day even with no overt symptoms of illness. With sufficient training, Dynamic types can consciously change these parameters in the desired direction.

Positivist–Negativist Dichotomy

Positivism I understand as the tendency to maximize the positive, Negativism as the tendency to minimize the negative. Positivists primarily perceive the positive side of any phenomenon, and often turn a blind eye to the negative. Negativists won’t overlook problems, and simultaneously mitigate any positive aspects to their situation of interest.

Intellectual Level

At this level, the Positivism–Negativism dichotomy manifests as identification of similarities or differences in object comparison. In Negativists thought processes prevails contrast, in Positivists leads comparison. Meaning that Positivists more easily hold overall views of an object, without considering its internal divisions. Conversely, Negativists more easily distinguish its extreme points of separation and opposing contrasts.

Directly relevant to this is a dichotomy known in cognitive psychology as convergent/divergent thinking [5], discovered by J. P. Guilford. In his opinion, divergent thinking, from simple initial data, yields several different solutions to the same problem; a trait characteristic to the alternative-thinking of Negativists.

Opposite this, convergent thinking searches for a single valid encompassing solution; a trait more characteristic to Positivist thinking. For them, a problem is unsolved until the validity of one solution is proven against other alternatives.

Social Level

Positivism–Negativism affects the degree of internal group coherence and regulates attraction/repulsion between its members.

An individual’s ability to assimilate into a group is typologically predictable. Negativists are remote types. They need constant assurance, even in a group they consider their own. Therefore it is more difficult to fully integrate Negativists into a group. Positivists on the other hand, are inclined to close range communication. They do not polarize contrasts, but smooth them over in one way or another. Thus Positivists facilitate monocentric group structure and unity of purpose. Whereas Negativists amplify polarizing forces conducive to polycentric group structure.

Consider the example of SEI, a fairly good-natured type, although Negativist. Is there a behavioral tendency towards remoteness? Yes, it contrasts its subgroup with other subgroups. Thereby disrupting, unintentionally or not, unity of purpose in the whole group overall.

What process balances internal group cohesion? It is observed that Positivists are drawn towards their opposite, which contributes to overall group solidarity, particularly through the ease of intragroup role distribution. Negativists on the other hand, have an inherent paradoxical attraction to those similar to themselves. The nearer such parallel charged elements converge, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to implement mutual action. Repulsive forces rapidly emerge and fracture group integration.

The overall incidence of monolithic or polarized group behavior is a reliable index for gauging Positivist–Negativist tendencies. Negativism generates tension in intragroup relations, leading on one hand to an increase in psychological distance between members, but on the other hand activating its internal momentum to say “Move!”. Positivism by contrast contracts psychological distance and encourages internal group cohesion, but can also bring complacency, carelessness, and ‘vapidity’ of existence.

Psychological Level

In a psychological sense, this dichotomy can be approximately interpreted as trust/distrust.

Each type of person behaves in life according to how they answer the following existential question: is human nature inherently good or evil? For Positivists, human nature is inherently good, so they are more likely to be trusting. This does not mean that they consciously consider themselves to be good, just that they conduct themselves as if others were. Negativists even under favorable conditions are inclined to expect the worst. Their degree of trust in others is therefore is much lower.

The relation between Positivists and Negativists is illustrated well by the analogy of electric conductors. Electric-people (Negativists who have accumulated a negative psychological charge) discharge into conductor-people (Positivists), who tend to provoke them in just the right way to do so. All of which happens mostly automatically and unconsciously. The resulting emotional flash establishing temporary balance of psychological (electro-)potentials. This beneficial surge of emotional release, Aristotle in his “Poetics” called ‘catharsis’—psychological purging via intense experience.

Physical Level

The spatial arrangement of conversation parties in front or near is a key factor in communication, its importance first stressed by Harry S. Sullivan. Negativists gain leverage in communication from positions opposite the partner, Positivists from positions alongside or at an angle deflecting a straight-on gaze.
Automatic reductions in confrontation due to being seated side by side, are a common method used by marital psychologists working with couples. Sitting side by side and addressing an imaginary third party, enables couples to gradually decrease the severity of sore conflict.

Clinical psychologists studying nonverbal cues classify gestures indicative of critical attitudes. Such gestures are typically ‘closed’—for instance, a hand at the mouth. From a Socionics standpoint then, closed demeanor is better explained by Negativism, not Introversion.

Negativism induces tangible bodily tension. Negativists are inclined to accumulate ‘charge’, making highly-charged Negativists easily overexcitable (especially if also Dynamic). In order to compensate against this, Negativists are recommended to engage in physical exercise that relaxes and smooths internal tension. While Positivists are recommended to perform physical exercise that excites and intensifies their physiological processes.

Evolution–Involution Dichotomy

In its most general form, I understand this dichotomy as Process–Result; or by its other informal name, Right–Left. More precisely, I refer to the designated Latin words ‘evolutio’: “developing outward” and ‘involutio’: “coalescing inward.”

Intellectual Level

Describing Evolution–Involution at this level will initially contrast deductive vs. inductive thinking.

Unfortunately, the bulk of literature on this cognitive dichotomy treats it in at least two different senses. In the first sense, deduction is understood simply as a strict formal sequence or expository progression of thought (aka Socionics rationality), while induction is understood as conclusions stemming from practical experience (aka Socionics irrationality).

I will frame this dichotomy in the second sense, namely as simplification vs. complication of thought structure. Meaning that in deductive thinking, given a set of simple and obvious statements (axioms, postulates), the resultant consequences can be necessarily derived (theorem). Reasoning flows in the direction of simple to complex. Evolutionary types therefore mentally complicate the situation.

The Evolution–Involution dichotomy confers different scales of examination in a problem. Evolutionary types see small to large. Details are distinct. Scale is specific and precise like geographical map. Involutionary types on the other hand, see large to small. Details are vague. Scale is general and broad. The scale will alternate in Negativists, since they think more alternatively, but the same priority will remain.

It is worth noting that deductive thinking has always had priority in society over inductive thinking. Constructing a deductively consistent theory to explain a phenomenon, has always been seen as a researcher’s coup de grace.

Social Level

On the social level, differences between these approaches can be contrasted as naturality/artificiality. By ‘naturality’ I refer to primal behavior inherent to nature, and by ‘artificiality’ I refer to behavior accepted by society. For example, in nature, survival of the fittest is law, whereas in society, protection and care of the weak is cultivated.

From this stems distinctions in one’s attitudes towards people in close or distant circles. In the life of Evolutionary types, reputation plays a much greater role. Opinions of others in external society tend to be more important to them than opinions of friends or relatives. Involutionary types depend less on social appraisal. They are more accommodating towards people of their inner circle, whose opinions they hold in higher esteem than those of public approval or disapproval.

There is a habit in Involutionary types to abruptly curtail conversations. They do not simply cut off communication, but specifically wind it up, quickly finish, or summarize what has been said. They may also suddenly deflect onto tangents, then flip back to the topic at hand. Evolutionary types may interpret this mannerism as a sign of tactlessness, disinterest, or resentment.

Psychological Level

Evolution–Involution, along with other dichotomies, influences a key parameter of stress in the psyche: Control of asymmetry in the excitatory/inhibitory processes of the nervous system.

Evolutionary types recover more slowly from stress than Involutionary types. Their inhibitory processes are less amenable to conscious control than their excitatory processes, hence their tendency to dwell on personal issues. After being pulled in by any process, they are often unable to get out of it. Which can lead to gambling, drug use, alcoholism, or other vices, even Internet-addiction.

Consequently, susceptibility to conditioning is higher in Evolutionary types than in Involutionary types. Conditioned responses require movement along a single path, without possibility of turning around or deviating from the imposed route. One of the inhibitory mechanisms of conditioning is phobia (obsessive fear). Imagine not being able to rid yourself of thinking you will definitely fall on a slippery road. This is an example of a phobia. And then you actually do end up falling, even if wearing mountain-climbing boots. According to my observations, Involutionary types do not seriously suffer such phobias.

Thus, Involutionary types more rapidly and less painfully get rid of illusions, imposed opinions, suggested thoughts, fanatic states, etc. It is because of Evolution–Involution differences that quadras are split rings of social progress are formed.

Physical Level

The Evolution–Involution dichotomy manifests on the lower level of communication through an orientation towards either process or result.

Evolutionary types are more inclined to procedure, which involves careful study of details. They are subject to the logic of the development process, which assumes motion from beginning to end and top to bottom.

Involutionary types rush to obtain a result, frequently neglecting details of the process, which reduces overall quality. Such behavioral patterns lead to a tolerant attitude towards returns and corrections. They don’t mind accepting suboptimal, but convenient solutions. They are characterized by backward motion, from end to beginning and from bottom to top.

Let me illustrate this by an example of reading books. Glancing immediately at the end or bottom part of the page is characteristic for Involutionary types. Reading in reverse order does not deprive them pleasure of novelty, on the contrary, it stimulates their activity in assimilating information. Involution shouldn’t be confused merely with impatient skimming ahead, after which one continues smooth reading.

Sharpness of movement is observed in Involutionary types, along with sporadic shifting from one activity to another. These sudden shifts overtly contrast to the smoothness of Evolutionary types. In traditional Socionics, sharp movements are attributed to Rationality. In my opinion, however, this quality is more determined by Involution. For counterexample, consider the Evolutionary Rational types LSI and EII, whose motions are characteristically soft and smooth. Yet the nature of movement in Involutionary Irrationals SLE and IEE is so sharp that training them smooth movement is practically impossible.

To clarify the fundamental distinction between Involution and Evolution, the following analogy will help. In biology, catabolism and anabolism are the two sides of organic metabolism. Catabolism—the breakdown of complex compounds to release energy and the elimination of decay products from the organism—corresponds to the role of Involutionary types in group dynamics. Anabolism—the assimilation from the external environment of substances necessary for life and their transformation into more complex compounds—corresponds to the communicative role played by Evolutionary behavior.

Causal-Determinist Cognition

Let us now examine the first cognitive form: It is analytic, positive, and deductive. We will call this style Causal-Determinist. Its carriers are Sociotypes ILE, LSI, SEE, EII (ENTp, ISTj, ESFp, INFj, respectively)

As Statics, their cognitive activity is stable and clear. As Evolutionary types, they think procedurally without overlooking parts and intermediate details. As Positivists, they aim towards singularly valid solutions.

Intellectual Sphere

Causal-Determinist cognition is known under synonymous names as formal logic or deterministic thinking, both of which emphasize its rigid nature. Speech in this cognitive style takes shape with aid of the connectives “because”, “therefore”, “consequently” (causal conjunctions). The mental process consists in constructing chains of cause and effect, reducing explanations to deterministic mechanisms. Using the example of Aristotle, who first pointed out four ways to explain phenomena, the reason for the existence of a sculpture is the sculptor who fashioned it directly.

In the scientific sphere so thinks ILE, in the managerial-administrative sphere is methodical LSI, in the social sphere SEE calculates chains of material interests, in the humanitarian sphere subject to the same categorical imperative is EII.

Social Sphere

Aristotle is considered the discoverer of this approach. The basic laws of formal thinking are outlined in his theory of syllogism. However, the first to consistently put them into practice was Euclid, founder of geometry. More recently, its principles grounded rationalist Rene Descartes in his 1637 treatise “Discourse on the Method”. Then it finally took shape in mathematical logic. The Causal-Determinist paradigm reached its apogee in Logical Positivism, then increasingly began to decline in value towards the end of the 20th century. However, as the common stereotype of proof, it still dominates to this day.

I will touch its advantages. First, it is perceived by society as the most authoritative, most convincing, and singularly correct. In mathematics, it is formalized as the deductive-axiomatic method. Use of it requires great intellectual stamina. Second, attributes of greater clarity and concentration are inherent to this style. The type most characterized by singular concentration is LSI. However, the irrational SEE argues quite soundly, deriving one consequence from another, implying focus on the chain of events. If even one link fails for any reason, then Determinists lose their sense of rationale and find it difficult to act because they see no reason to.

At the same time, Causal-Determinism has its drawbacks. It is primarily the most artificial and removed from the laws of functioning life. Its efficacy extends to the ‘logical’ formulation of already existing results, the construction of operating mechanisms, but not fundamentally new discoveries. The first dead end which formalization risks is scholasticism, i.e. pointless albeit logically impeccable reasoning. The second intellectual dead end faced by sequential Determinists is the trap of reductionism, which they fall into on account of fragmenting wholes into their component parts. This deficiency was noted even by the ancient skeptics, as well as in modern times by Hume, who doubted that any event could be dictated by strict reason.

Indeed, in building a long chain of cause and effect, it is difficult to avoid the danger of circularity, the risk of falling into circulus vitiosus—a vicious circle in the proof. Kurt Gödel’s theorem on the incompleteness of formal systems, asserts that any sufficiently complex system of rules is either inconsistent, or contains conclusions that can be neither proven nor refuted by the rules of that system. This established limits in the applicability of formal logic. Using the deductive-axiomatic method, the medieval Scholastics in particular, attempted to rigorously prove the existence of God. Resulting from closure of causes in terms of effects, they circularly arrived at a definition of God as the thought which thinks of itself.

Psychological Sphere

Causal-Determinist cognition forges a mentality poorly protected from indoctrination, or in extreme cases, even brainwashing. By skillfully combining memorable words and actions, it is possible to gain control over the behavior of specific individuals. Intelligent Determinists in particular, are characterized by a strong dependence on the events of childhood, which Sigmund Freud discovered in his time, though poorly understood in full. Habits in pronounced Determinists are comparable in their rigidity to conditioned reflexes.

Standard military interrogation procedures are designed to ensure guaranteed cause-effect impacts upon the psyche. It includes measures of exposure such as sleep deprivation, changes in room temperature and/or humidity, denial of food subsequently followed by its delivery as a reward, etc. Isolation of the detainee and the gradual imposition of regulations, bears fruit sooner or later. In time, the vulnerability of psychological destabilization is manufactured into dependence upon the interrogator.

It is noteworthy that extreme critical situations, trigger a ‘slow-motion film’ state of mind in Determinists. Thinking becomes particularly clear, but stretched out over time, such that seconds can subjectively feel like minutes. Along these same lines, due to an abrupt shakeup of their psyche, the stress of surprise severely impedes their cerebral activity until they can recover in deep sleep.

The psychological school of Behaviorism represents this model of the psyche. Its supporters believe that behavioral learning is achieved through reinforcement—rewarding adherence to rules and punishing their violation. B. F. Skinner formulated the principle of operant conditioning, according to which the behavior of living organisms is completely determined by the cause-effect of this conditioning. He proposed the method of ‘successive approximations’, in which students receive positive reinforcement in instances where their behavior conforms to that desired.

Behaviorists developed the concept of conditioned learning and established a rigid procedural method of action towards the goal as the basis for its operation.

Scientific Sphere

Formal logical thinking in its time gave birth to the deterministic cause-effect worldview. This is the worldview of classical physics whose cornerstone is Newtonian Mechanics, and was the dominant paradigm until the early 20th century. Rigid systems operate according to these rules—organisms and mechanisms. When faced with multi-factor processes (such as psychology or society), however, reductionism loses its explanatory power to portray complex phenomena in terms of their basic components. Additionally, this classic paradigm has been too influenced by the ideal of ‘progress’, in spite of numerous historical examples of regressive tendencies, setbacks, repetitions, etc.

A real-life model of Causal-Determinist cognition is given by information represented in the form of a chart or realistic illustration made using a direct perspective. In this technique, objects are depicted larger or smaller in proportion to their distance from the observer. By drawing in this way, following strict instructions, any object can be easily depicted.

Dialectical-Algorithmic Cognition

The second cognitive form is of particular interest: it is synthetic, negative, and deductive. The working name of this style is Dialectical-Algorithmic. Representatives of this style are Sociotypes EIE, ILI, LSE, SEI (ENFj, INTp, ESTj, ISFp, respectively)

As Dynamics, these types synthesize associational images. As Evolutionary types, they increase deductive complexity of them. As Negativists, they work well with contradictions and paradoxes.

Intellectual Sphere

The essential distinguishing feature of the Dialectical style, is a view of the universe as a unified struggle of opposites. In speech it often uses syntactic constructions “if-then-else”, the predictive branches of a developing process. Within limits, the Dialectic strives to find an intermediate point of dynamic equilibrium between contrasting extremes. Dialectical cognition is born from the colliding flow and counterflow of thought, the consciousness and unconsciousness. Thinkers of this style are characterized by an express inclination towards the synthesis of opposites, the removal of contradictions, which they so keenly perceive.

Its advantages are obvious: it is the most subtle and flexible style. It can easily switch to an opposite direction, and possesses predictive ability, accompanied by an effective type of associative memory. Algorithmic thinking is also good at solving problems of classification, given their gift for recognizing complex patterns. Beyond the circumstantial conditions of a problem, it perceives a fundamental algorithm for its solution.

According to Aristotle, Dialecticals prognostic thinking explains reality on the basis of purposive causes. For example, the cause of a sculpture is an idea of it in the head of the sculptor. The main role is played by a program, the intention of the creator. Thus, it can be considered teleological, and hence the most ‘religious’ in its essential thinking. Many scholars of this type sooner or later come to faith (not necessarily a church confessional).

Social Sphere

Historically, the first representative of a Dialectical worldview would be Heraclitus. Epitomizing the Dynamic dichotomy, he was of the opinion that “you cannot enter the same river twice” because whenever you enter again, the flow is already of different water. In more recent times it developed into Hegel’s comprehensive theory of a rational system. Since Dialectical cognition, compared to other styles, is the most oriented towards creative intention, it invariably leads to ideas of a creator, an absolute, a cosmic intelligence, etc.

Two of its representatives—EIE and ILI—are usually recognized in society as the most intellectual types. They form the backbone of intellectual elites, expert clubs, esoteric groups, etc. They are the best computer programmers, knowing better than other types how to work with moving structures—algorithms. Algorithmic diagrams consist of blocks and arrows showing the order of transitions, branches, and loop cycles. The crux of a program is its dynamic structure—pointers, rather than blocks. The formula “if-then-else” is, in essence, the core of any algorithm.

The disadvantages in Dialectical-Algorithmic cognition include instability and uncertainty. Algorithmics suffer from difficulty in making choices and embracing unambiguous decisions. This thinking is more comparable to a symphony of flowing interwoven imagery, rather than a mechanism of clearly established instruction sets. Another problem is increased criticality, which can be so high that it incurs self-destruction, plunging them into danger of total detachment from reality, and leading to mental disorders, especially in cases of hereditary predisposition.

Psychological Sphere

The psyche of Dialectical types is most prone to transformations. From a psychological point of view, an unstable oscillating psyche is fertile ground for suggestibility. Occasionally Dialectics lose control over the parallel streams of thought fluctuating in their heads. They need only tune out their internal oscillation between freedom of choice and fatalism, and reinforce the latter. Doctors know that a small but accurately timed shock can throw the heart into a state of fibrillation. Likewise, a successfully directed signal at the right time can throw the Dialectical psyche into a chaotic state.

The EIE Sociotype has a very suitable psyche for suggestive influence. It is characterized by so-called moments of imprint vulnerability. In these moments an intense suggestion is triggered—an imprint—the prerequisites of which are a state of extreme fear, confusion, or surprise. A ‘No Exit’ sign suddenly seen by a person of Algorithmic psyche at a time of severe emotional turmoil, may catalyze a decision about suicide. Exploiting this paradoxical nature of Dialectical types, shock therapy is capable of completely reprogramming their conception of reality, including core value judgments.

A certain, although rare sign of Dialectical cognition—accidents that lead to states similar to a deep trance or coma, followed by sudden enlightenment or the appearance of esoteric abilities.

The other version is slow suggestion, primarily based on entrainment through rhythmic vocalization and/or sound, multiple repetitions of the same phrase with variation. Variations in this case are particularly significant, working akin to the chorus in a song. Gradually a trance state is reached—external relaxation with internal concentration. The greater the monotony, the sooner a deep trance is reached. Hence why some people rapidly settle down and fall asleep under a monotone ‘bubnezh‘ TV.

Scientific Sphere

Dialectical thinking best corresponds to the quantum-probabilistic worldview of modern physics. According to this paradigm, there are no immutable laws, only tendencies and probabilities. Quantum Mechanics is built on the counterintuitive principle of particle-wave duality, according to which microcosmic objects behave as particles and as waves. Two of the 20th century’s greatest physicists disputed over this view—Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr. The former defended causal-determinism as the nature of the universe, the latter advocated a probabilistic ontology. In the aftermath, Bohr won. Though apart from its historical context, the dispute makes little sense, given that these cognitive forms are dual to one other. Jung’s principle of ‘synchronicity‘ also lies within the Dialectical paradigm.

Contemporary British mathematician Roger Penrose has suggested that the human brain uses quantum gravity as a means for intuitive insight. He’s written several books (“The Emperor’s New Mind” and “Shadows of the Mind”) stipulating that the brain is a quantum computer, and that Aristotelian logical thinking is actually alien to human beings. If he is right, it follows that the integral type of humanity is Dialectical-Algorithmic.

A real-life model of this thinking—double-images periodically passing into each other. Simple example: a projection onto the plane of a truncated pyramid. After examining it awhile it alternately seems convex, with the top facing to the observer, then concave, with the rear wall receding into the distance.

One more graphical illustration of Dialectical perception. What do you see in the picture: a vase against a black background, or two facial profiles on a white background? It depends on which one for you is the background, and which is the figure. Some see a vase and the profiles turn into a dark background, others see two black profiles and the white vase goes into the background. But once a person sees both images, fluctuations of attention begin. The picture seems to pulsate: you see a vase, then the profiles. There is a dialectical exchange of background/foreground. Triggering negative reverse perspective, where distant or darkened objects are perceived more significantly than those located closer to the observer.

Holographical-Panoramic Cognition

In cognitive theory, the third cognitive form is the least studied: it is analytic, negative, and inductive. The provisional name of this style is Holographical-Panoramic. ‘Holograph’ originates from the Ancient Greek words holos “entire, whole” and grapho “write”. This name is derived from the Holographist’s ability to densely pack information via method of ‘like to, similar’ analogy. Sociotypes possessing this form are SLE, LII, IEE, ESI (ESTp, INTj, ENFp, ISFj, respectively)

As Statics, Holographers attain reliable precision of thought. As Negativists they periodically turn the object of thought to its opposite side. As Involutionary types, they sporadically change the angle of examination or criterion of judgment.

Intellectual Sphere

This cognitive style has much in common with the holographic principle in physics. A hologram (optical) is a statistically recorded interference pattern made by two beams of light which are transmitted and reflected from a single source. Holographic technology allows us to obtain a three-dimensional image of an object. The hologram itself is an aggregation of stripes and spots exactly resembling the embedded object. The two beams of light are superimposed in such a way that every part of the hologram carries information about the whole.

In this way, by mentally superimposing multiple projections of the same object, Holographists reach a holistic view. To do this, they look at the image and select a desired angle of examination. Holographic cognition often utilizes the grammatical conjunctives: “or-or”, “either-or”, “on the one hand, on the other hand”. It actively uses the principle of perspective; unrestricted choice in point of view. The holographic approach is a progressive approximation towards the purpose, or away from it, accompanied by changes of perspective. The holographic process is carried out as if calibrating focus.

Holographic cognition has a characteristic penetrating, skeletal-revealing, ‘x-ray’ nature. It unhesitatingly cuts away details and nuances, giving a coarsely generalized representation of the subject. Take for example the two orthogonal cross-sections of a cylinder: the horizontal section looks like a circle, and the vertical section looks like a rectangle. Two different perspectives of an indivisible whole which, when superimposed in the mind, produces transition to a higher level of understanding about the object.

SLE thinks this way in battle. Analyzing the situation, they simplify it to two or three facets (frontal, flank, and/or rear), but then quickly go to a higher tier of understanding. LII grasps the problem from opposite sides, mentally rotating the situation in three dimensions around its semantic axes. ESI first draws near to a person, then moves away, seeming to probe the individual from all sides, cutting off those who could let them down. IEE detects the possible hidden motivations of a person, as if building their psychological ‘hologram’.

The main advantages of Holographic cognition are as follows. First, it is multi-perspective. As already stated, because of this it attains a dimensionally holistic and complete depiction. Second, it values simplicity and clarity, avoids pretentiousness, and forgoes ‘bells and whistles’. Holographists are particularly effective in crisis situations, when it is necessary to make decisions quickly, and there is no time to weigh all the details.

The obvious disadvantage of this cognitive style is that it appears too rough, lacking adequate consideration to details which become important when a process flows smoothly. Its information-dense constructs are often difficult to decompress and unpack; to outsiders, they may seem void of intermediate links for establishing coherency in their connections.

According to Aristotle, Holographic cognition corresponds to explanation by structural or formative causes. Aristotle called it the structure of form. Returning to the sculptor example, the cause of the sculpture is its latent form, which the sculptor merely sets free by cutting away excess marble.

Social Sphere

A vague idea of the holographic concept was expressed by Gottfried Leibniz’s “Monadology”. His monad, a microcosmic reflection of the whole world order, is analogous to a hologram. Ecologists regularly turned to it in attempting to understand why there is stability in nature. Relationships between living and non-living nature arising in a given territory causes biogeocenosis, or ecosystem formation. Ecosystems are primarily characterized by equilibrium of self-similarity over time, where long-term coexistence of opposites without merging (synthesis) is observed. Therefore, Static prevails over Dynamic in such communities. Therein lies the fundamental law of homeostasis in the ecosystem.

General systems theory was later formed on the basis of these ideas. It was founded by Austrian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, who introduced the concept of open systems, which exchange matter, energy, and information with the environment, thus resisting destabilization.

While Determinists attempt to explain the behavior of a system by its component parts and interconnections, Holographists find novel qualities illustrating emergent features in it that cannot be accounted for solely from its internal structure. Therefore, the Holographical paradigm can generally be called a systemic-ecological worldview.

Contemporary ‘green’ ideology is an epitomization of this cognitive form. This does not in any way imply that the ideologues of this movement are Holographical types—cognitive styles and proclaimed viewpoints may not necessarily coincide! Manifestations of one cognitive style through another are completely typical. The books of “quantum psychologist” Robert Anton Wilson are a good example of this, in which his Dialectical-Algorithmic form is laden with multi-perspective, holographic content [5].

Psychological Sphere

Holographical cognition corresponds to a stable, self-possessed psyche resistant to conditioning. In comparing the conditionability of an LSI psyche to its Involutionary Mirror SLE, observation shows that the degree of psychological resistance is much higher in the latter. How is this explained? By the durable cognitive infrastructure on which it is built. Complete panorama, which allows periodic change of perspective on the subject. Good balance between the immune and nervous systems, as well as the primary sense organs.

In neuro-linguistic programming, this principle is used in a technique called ‘reframing’. Reframing changes the perceptual framework contextualizing an event. If we mentally place a familiar object into an unfamiliar context, then significance of the whole situation changes. For example, imagine a tiger first in a jungle, then in a zoo cage, then on the balcony of your apartment. The standard Socionics type is depicted as immersed in its ‘club’. But what if you shift it to quadra? What if it turns out to be among types with opposite cognitive styles? The chain can continue indefinitely.

With reframing it is possible to see the familiar with fresh eyes. The type of the psyche in one who resorts to this technique remains constant of course, only their subjective relation to the object of attention is changed. The benefit of this method is primarily in the fact that new perspectives emphasize aspects of a situation that may have been previously underestimated, allowing the possibility of discovering new avenues of growth, and expanding one’s existing range of choices.

Scientific Sphere

A real-life physical model of this multi-perspective intellect is the hologram—a superimposition of multiple images where each one can only be seen when looking at a certain angle. Change of perspective occurs intermittently and does not alter the system itself, only its priorities. In this way, multiple standards can be implemented, making it possible to work with a complex system as if it were a simple sequence.

Another real-life prototype of Holographical cognition are fractal objects, discovered by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1970s. Geometrically, fractals are figures with diffuse outlines, possessing self-similar internal structures. For example, trees, snowflakes, coastlines, etc. They are characterized by multiple internal forms similar in principle to nesting-dolls. Like a hologram, any fragment of a fractal contains complete information about the entire fractal. The part is always structurally similar to the whole.

Socionics types are also like fractal objects. Hence my holographic concept of personality as a nested system of types, one inside another [4]. Which opposes the prevailing flat view of Socionics advocated by people with reductionist thinking.

Vortical-Synergetic Cognition

The fourth cognitive style: it is synthetic, positive, and inductive. Its most appropriate title is Vortical-Synergetic. This form flows in Sociotypes ESE, SLI, LIE, IEI (ESFj, ISTp, ENTj, INFp, respectively)

Synergetics—the science of how order emerges from chaos. The word ‘synergy’ in Ancient Greek means “concerted action”. The concept of synergy continues to be discussed at present. In the West, it is called ‘Chaos Theory’ or ‘Nonlinear Dynamics’ [9]. For our purposes, it is important to note that it is characterized by so-called dissipative states—non-equilibrium, nonlinear, unstable.

As Dynamics, Synergetics think fluidly with tints of one thought cascading into another. As Positivists, they converge towards a point of attraction. As Involutionary types, they frequently turn backwards and jump over previous levels, displacing the flow of their thoughts like a vortex or fluctuating storm.

IEI as if in a kaleidoscope sees whimsical iridescent imagery, dissolving then receding in flux. LIE thinks very experimentally with many variants rapidly assorted and mentally tested on the fly for practical applicability. ESE initiates a social torrent leaving behind a trail of emotional turbulence. Thoughts ‘swarm’ and chaotically displace one another. SLI ‘lies in a drift’ as it were awaiting favorable wind. Once the situation becomes favorable, self-organization immediately takes hold and rapid thinking initiates, scrolling through incoming information, identifying options most and least likely to succeed.

Intellectual Sphere

Characteristic of a ‘vortex’ is its self-organizing nature, moving like a whirlwind. This manifests mentally as a rapid search for options, tests, and the subsequent screening of variants which do not yield results. It operates on basis of testing, advancing to the goal through trial and error. In a sense, it is comparable to a perpetual lab experiment in the brain.

The first advantage of Vortical cognition—liveliness and naturalness. It seems to simulate the actual processes occurring in nature. Another advantage—faith in success and luck. Synergetics do not confuse temporary setbacks with error; they will undertake attempt after attempt until success ultimately comes to them.

Its chief disadvantage is that the intellectual search is often blind and uneconomical. Another difficulty is its randomness and spontaneity. Synergetic intellect is a kind of chain reaction that catalyzes itself. The mechanism of positive feedback operates: if not curbed, then the concentration of effort first leads to an explosion, followed by dissipation.

Synergetic intellect explains phenomena through substantive reasoning. The very substance (material or substrate) itself generating phenomena through natural movement. In the Aristotle example, the cause of sculpture is the block of marble from which it was made.

Social Sphere

Vortical cognition developed into a unique intellectual paradigm that was deemed later than all others to have social merit, despite it being most akin to natural phenomena. It is known that in natural conditions, all processes run in cycles. For example, in laissez-faire economies operating on Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ principle, natural cyclical fluctuations in market supply and demand guide the natural equilibrium prices of goods.

Studying biological evolution, Charles Darwin discovered its origin as a struggle for existence against natural selection, and survival of the fittest organisms. The main engine of this ‘evolution’, is involution through events of random variation, which abruptly leave no intermediate gradual links between appearances of species.

Biological self-organization is catalyzed by mutation—sudden, unpredictable changes in genetic material. Involution generates pulsating chaos, as evolution simultaneously selects and propagates useful mutations.

Following in the involutionary trend of Darwinism, the concept of ‘punctuated equilibrium’ emphasizes the discontinuous development of species observed in nature. Authors Gould and Eldridge conclude from this fact that smooth gradual evolution of species is impossible under natural conditions. To survive, all organs must simultaneously be in working order; there are no creatures present with half-fin wings, half-hoof toes, etc. According to this theory, the lifetime of a species is divided into two unequal stages of duration. The first stage is stasis, long periods where no significant species change occurs. Then the second stage, a time of fracture when the species is rapidly converted into another form, or dies out.

In the 20th century, as I mentioned, the vortex idea was rediscovered and Synergetics adopted its armament. The motto of Synergetics—order through fluctuation. Such fluctuations (local perturbations in the system) are analogous to biological mutation. Order in the chaotic evolution of complex socio-psychological systems, Socionics understands through the law of quadra progression. However, we must not forget that in the irreversible progression of quadras is a series of involutional junctures—jumps, twists, and turns. Because of this, the real non-theoretical quadra progression curve is jagged and looped, its outline resembling the dancing tongues of a burning flame.

Psychological Sphere

This cognitive style imbues qualities of endurance and optimism to the psyche. However, the psyche of Synergetics is less stable than that of Holographers. Synergetic types are partially conditionable, but capable of discarding undesired habits. For restoration of normal mental life they need specific, and sometimes long periods of trial and error. Depriving their life of continuous forward movement exerts a bad effect upon their mind. Operating principle: As ambient momentum of circumstance declines, their self-determination atrophies. Lack of oncoming circumstantial pressures renders them increasingly worse off.

The best countermeasure in such situations is positive self-programming. Consisting of forcing disturbing thoughts to the background and dissolving them in positive scenarios. IEI before sleep visualizes a pleasant scene to remove disturbing experiences of the day. LIE casts a desirable goal in its imagination, optimistic it will eventually acquire the necessary persons and resources. ESE simply does not think about past mistakes and its mood is improved by itself. SLI is not the first place puts a positive scenario and awaits the moment possible to implement it.

It is often forgotten that the synergetic aspect of development makes extended forecasts futile. American meteorologist Edward Lorenz descriptively coined this phenomenon the ‘Butterfly Effect’. Where a butterfly waving its wings in some part of America can, with specific confluence of circumstances, induce a hurricane somewhere in Indonesia. Complex nonlinear phenomena are unpredictable, because tiny initial influences with time can lead to enormous consequences. In conventional life, this same phenomenon is called the Domino Effect. Where the initial fall of the first domino successfully entails catastrophe of the series. The catalyzing action, whose event occurs on your will, determines which of the scenarios will run—optimistic or pessimistic.

Scientific Sphere

This cognitive form reflects the synergy formed by the current worldview. Within this paradigm during the 18th century arose the Kant-Laplace hypothesis about the vortex origin of the sun and planets from cosmic dust.

The Synergetic paradigm is opposed to Creationism; the emergence of complex systems explains spontaneous creation, not divine intervention. A typical example from the history of science is biochemist A. I. Oparin’s hypothesis on the emergence of life from inanimate matter in the primordial ‘broth’ of Earth’s early existence, which was largely confirmed in Stanley Miller’s famous 1953 experiment.

Also hailing from the Synergetic paradigm comes the outlook of Nikolai Amosov. According to him it “explains the evolution of the world’s self-organizing structures… miracles can happen, but are of no practical value.” He sincerely believes demonstrative simulations can be recreated by computer models.

Synergetics recognize the critical role of chance and free will in transitional moments of history. Synergetically-minded scholars frequently consider alternative historical outcomes. British historian Arnold J. Toynbee in particular, explored this twist on the course of ancient history—what if Alexander of Macedon did not die (pessimistic version), how would the world have developed then (optimistic version)?

A real-life model of Synergetic cognition is the turbulent flow. Turbulence is a liquid or gas flow, in which there is rapid mixing of its moving layers. The behavior of such flows cannot be predicted. Whereas the preceding laminar flow phrase exhibits clear regularities deducible by Causal-Determinism.

Mathematical modeling of natural growth processes typically uses exponential functions. Such functions describe geometric progressions, rather than arithmetic values. Logarithmic (S-shaped) curves terminating in saturation points are common in dynamic modeling. Implying that self-organization is not omnipotent: after exceeding a certain limit, it exhausts its own momentum. At which point it becomes necessary to either yield to external structure, or create a new nexus of self-organization. Synergetic types naturally select the latter.

Lev N. Gumilev offers a Synergetic account for involutions of ethnogenesis in the birth, growth, and death process of societies. Social systems dictate rules of selection for specific behaviors of people. Charismatic-personalities (cranks, outcasts, dissenters) engender a variety of diverse social mutations. Society holds them at bay, until such time that it weakens for any reason (due to economic crisis, internal wars, cultural stagnation, etc.). Afterwards, the energy of a new order vigorously sweeps the decrepit system and begins to grow in its place. But sooner or later, the new order itself will age just the same and be forced to give way to an alternative system ripening in its depths, and so forth.

Vortical cognition is hardest to convey to people of Algorithmic cognition, since to them free choice and the game of chance opposes teleology, fate, the special role of a creator, etc. When Synergetics speak about the implicit order in chaos, if we translate their words to the language of Socionics, they imply that Holographical cognition, with its minimally convoluted ordering structures, is dual to the chaotic vortex.


What you focus attention on creates your subjective world. If you concentrate attention on problems, then your world will be full of obstacles. Focus on the positive side of the situation and it becomes easier to live. Will reduce the scope of thought, come to the idea of creator. You will enlarge, to believe in free will.

Socionics useful to formulate criterion for high-level professionals. Average specialists analyze only the conditions of the problem, and highly qualified only its method of solution. Anyone aware of their own intellectual limitations can learn to overcome them, or better yet, seek the aid of people which think in these forms already because of their Sociotype. In any event, systematic work in this way will increase efficiency of your intellect.

Quartet types, referred to as Supervision rings, are macro-model internal information structures of the psyche. Perfecting this structure is the first radical step in managing ever-increasing volumes of data. The second step is to move to collective forms of intellectual activity. All the complexity is to properly combine these forms of thinking in a coherent group. Otherwise we are really confronted with the end of the science, exhausted separately of all 4 basic paradigms established in the acclaimed book by J. Horgan [7].

Your thoughts will only firmly and without distortion penetrate public consciousness if your quartet learns your POV. They indeed think in the same form as you, but refract it through different kinds of activity. Only after passing through all the regular stages—from inception to development, debugging, and implementation—can an idea be fully ushered into reality. No need to confine to quadra limits. Real propagation occurs through the Supervision ring. Quadra is important, but only a way-station along this path.

Thinking geniuses are most likely the ultimate version of Dialectical-Algorithmic cognition. Its originality lies in free play of mind, boundless imagination, and daring synthesis of contrasts. Almost always, it accompanies negativity with respect to public opinion. Often possesses a mystical streak. If Western typology believes that brilliant thinkers belonged to a type, then in my opinion it would be EIE. Unbalanced nervous system, hot and restless heart, floods of idea associations—this would be the material from which nature sculpts geniuses.

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  • Robert A. Wilson. Quantum Psychology. Translated from English. Ed. J. Nevstrueva. – K.: “Janus”, 1999.
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  • Gleick J. Chaos. Creating a new science, Ed. from English. M. Nakhmanson, E. Wing. – St.: Amphora, 2001.
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