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Feeling versus thinking

We can illustrate the inherent conflict between thinking and feeling through the character of recent presidents. President Clinton is a thinking type with his objectivity and extraordinary intellect dominating his psyche. Yet he understood that he could seldom accomplish what he wanted with other people by saying what he thought. Thus out of necessity he became a consummate liar. He adopted a legalistic approach to lying so that he could always deny an outright lie. This is also an example of thinking over feeling. His intention and what he achieved was deception. The fact that he accomplished this without saying anything that was literally untrue was irrelevant from the standpoint of feeling. Clinton's method of reconciling his instincts with the demands of a political career can easily be condemned, but one should keep in mind that, however flawed his pattern of behavior, it was enormously successful.

In contrast President Reagan was a feeling type. He did not need to lie because he saw the world through a subjective window that warped truth to support accomplishing what he cared about. This was made explicit in his admission of mistakes in the Iran-Contra scandal. He did not believe there was an arms for hostages deal, but his advisers told him there was. Thus he admitted it without believing it.

President Carter was a scrupulously honest thinking type who was able to accomplish little in the presidency. It is extremely difficult to be objective, honest and successful politically. Consider President Roosevelt's duplicity about involvement in World War II. Perhaps only Lincoln under extraordinary circumstances and with almost unbelievable insight, intuition and wisdom was able to pull it off.

The conflict between feeling and thinking are a good illustration of the problem of decision making. Both viewpoints have validity. Jung said that wisdom was the integration of thinking and feeling. By this he did not mean that the conflict between them could be resolved. He only meant that a wise individual is able to use either function as the situation demanded. Its not a matter of being aware of subjective and objective issues. That is all thinking. It is a matter of shifting functions and standpoints.


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