Monday, 15 June 2015

The Endogenous personality - its definition, paradox and evolutionary roots in group selection

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Endogenous = Inner-generated, arising from within (in contrast to be externally-caused or 'Exogenous')

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The Endogenous Personality is a term I have devised for the type of personality characteristic of a genius: the personality of one who is inner-orientated: inner-directed, inner-driven, inner-motivated; one who uses inner modes of thinking, inner evaluations; one who is to a high degree autonomous, self-sufficient; one who is relatively indifferent to social pressures, influences and inducements.

The Endogenous personality is always rare and exceptional, and much more often a man than a woman (but there certainly are women with the Endogenous personality).

The contrast is with the Exogenous personality - who are most people. These are orientated toward the environment, particularly the social environment; people who want more than anything else social (including sexual) status, success; people who perceptions are directed outwards - and who try to align their behaviour with group norms.

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The Paradox

The Paradox of the Endogenous personality is that despite their relative indifference to socio-sexual imperatives; they are (in evolutionary terms) evolved to serve the group.

The Paradox is that only an inner-orientated personality can be sufficiently independent of the social consensus so as to be able to change the social consensus - when that is needed.

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Group selection of the Endogenous personality.

In effect, and on average, the Endogenous personality sacrifices their own differential reproductive success (including their inclusive fitness, the reproductive success of their closer kin), to favour the reproductive success of the group.

The group are - in broad terms - an extended family; and the growth of the group may indeed favour the kin of the Endogenous personality - but this expansion would not necessarily benefit close kin more than remote relations - and the close kin typically have to bear the costs of supporting the Endogenous personality.

The function of the Endogenous personality is to solve problems which arise from group conflict.

Group conflict includes situations in which the individual is dependent on the group, and when the group is under extreme pressure from the 'environment'. A situation in which only the group as a group (and not individual - extended - families), can survive a harsh environment.

The environment includes both natural and social environments. Natural environmental pressure could be extreme temperatures (hot or cold), marked seasonality of food availability, predation from large animals... Social environmental pressure could include group versus group conflicts ('warfare') driven by factors like competition for land or other finite resources.

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The Endogenous personality offers the possibility (but there is no guarantee) of a 'breakthrough' - a novel solution to a potentially-fatal social problem - e.g. the prospect of annihilation by the environment or another group unless there is a breakthrough; some new technology, some unifying art or religion, some way of extracting more resources per unit area, some new weapon or defense...

The proper social role of the Endogenous personality is not as leader (indeed, the Endogenous personality should be excluded from leadership); but a type of intuitive/ inspired 'adviser' of rulers.

Adviser-of-rulers is a term which should be taken to include various types of prophet, shaman, genius, wizard, hermit, and holy fool - the Socrates of the early Platonic dialogues is an historical example as is Diogenes the Cynic and the Fools for Christ who rebuked and shamed the Tsars; Merlin the Wizard is a legendary example; Gandalf the Grey is a 'fictional' example.

These are extremes; but the description Endogenous personality and of an 'inner orientation' also applies to most historical examples of creative genius.

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The Endogenous personality - therefore - does not (as most Men) seek primarily for social, sexual or economic success; instead the Endogenous personality wants to live by his inner imperatives.

The way it is supposed-to-work, the 'deal', the 'social contract'; is that the Endogenous personality, by his non-social orientation, is working for the benefit of society.

His 'reward' is simply to be allowed, or - better - actively enabled, to have the minimal necessary sustenance, psychological support (principally being 'left alone' and not harassed or molested; but ideally sustained by his family, spouse, patron or the like)... the be somehow provided-with the time and space and wherewithal to do his work and communicate the outcome.

For the endogenous personality, this is its own reward.

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In return, the Endogenous personality should not expect (although he might, by chance, get) social esteem, wealth, sexual success... Often he may need to be highly solitary, ascetic, celibate. He should not seek, and should try not to accept, leadership positions, or administrative responsibilities.  

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One final thing remains to be said. The Endogenous personality can be regarded as the psychological environment which allows, and perhaps encourages, visitation by genius.

But - if the genius-visited person becomes corrupted by status, power, sex, dishonesty etc; then this creates an environment hostile to the continued occupancy of genius; and usually the genius will leave.

History is littered with examples of those who were visited by genius, for a while; only for them to betray that genius. And then the genius departs, to leave an ex-genius, an apostate genius, a spoilt genius - who might become a malign and antisocial influence.

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4 comments:

Vot said...

Great post. I love your definition, it seems somewhat analogous to Maslow's self-actualization theory.

Ngoc Nguyen said...

Interesting. What personality type would you say most echoes the Endogenous personality? In my opinion, there are parallels between the INFP personality type (the Idealist) and the Endogenous personality. Any opinions on this?

Bruce Charlton said...

@NN - I can't operationalize that Myers Briggs personality classification - to me it sounds too much like newspaper horoscopes!

But in terms of Eysenck's Big Three Endogenous is my evolutionary development from his trait of high Psychoticism - if you word search Psychoticism on this blog you can see how the idea developed. But I have now changed the concept so fundamentally that it is misleading to continue to refer to high Psychoticism.

In another sense, Endogenous could be seen as a a combination of some parts of Eysenck Psychoticism with some parts of Introversion (inner sources of stimulus). (And leaving out Neuroticism which I see as mostly pathology)

In terms of the Big Five, Endogenous would have aspects of low Conscientiousness and Low Agreeableness - where C and A are seen as in essence conformity to perceived social norms.

However, in general I find the whole way in which personality is conceptualized in mainstream psychology to be incomplete and superficial - driven by data summarizing statistics rather than understanding. I feel that only after there is a sense of understanding the meaning of personality can there be an attempt to measure it.

Eysenck had a *far* deeper understanding of the nature of personality than the advocates of the Big Five and modern personality psychologists - especially with reference to Introversion/ Extraversion; but even Eysenck became side-tracked by statistical and questionnaire driven approaches to measurement (and academic infighting), and in the end all but ruined the conceptualization and measurement of Psychoticism and Neuroticism.

Edward said...

Sounds a lot like me actually. At least that's how I work best. I will carry on until I completely solve the whole problem whether I get paid or not, but getting paid a bit would be quite nice.

I'm an oscillating INTP/INFP I think. But I think I roughly know how that stuff really works now at cellular level.