All you need to know about psychology begins and ends with values. Yet, there are no universities offering courses dealing with the science of values and its clinical relevance. Your introduction to value science begins here…as a remake!
You learned your ABCs and 123s in elementary school. It’s time to learn your FDTs…standing for Empathic Feeler (F) Self, Action-Oriented Doer (D) Self, and Analytical-Thinker (T) Self. Are you a Feeler, Doer or Thinker? What is your weakest dimension? How do you compensate? What is your strongest dimension? How do you use it? Are your FDTs a “match-up” or a “mix-up” when relating to others? Do you pay attention to your FDT biases / mind-sets and those of others? Do you know what to look for? Can you recognize the behavioral proxies of FDTs in yourself and others…and then act on this information? Is FDT consciousness important to you when you ask yourself “what do I want and how can I get it?” Do you ever ask this question? Why not? Can you juggle-on-demand Feeler, Doer and Thinker selves when making-work or making-love? Let’s review five basic principles of axiological science:
1. Nature and nurture organized our values around three dimensions (cognitive “mechanisms”) dedicated to values and valuations that give rise to behavioral “content” such as emotions, motivations, aesthetic values, political values, ethical values, moral values, etc. The distinction is one of deep axiological mechanisms vs. superficial axiological content. The underlying dimensions or mechanisms have technical names, but we’ll stick with intuitive, but slightly deceptive, descriptors like Feeler (F), Doer (D) and Thinker (T). With the brain’s help, they become the “building blocks” of behavior. Tapping into them allows the measurement of one’s General Capacity to Value, and one’s capacity to value in each of three core dimensions of value.
2. Each dimension possesses sensitivity. It varies across dimensions and among individuals. Mental health depends on an optimum level of FDT sensitivities along a continuum from value-acuity,” to “value-astigmatism,” to “value-blindness.” Value-blindness gives rise to sociopathic evil. It is measurable.
3. Mental health also depends on balance; meaning sensitivity that doesn’t spike too high or too low in any dimension. Balance favors flexibility in the mobilization of FDT profiles in response to persons and situations. It promotes desirable pro-self, pro-social behavior as opposed to anti-self, anti-social behavior. This is measurable.
4. Axiological plasticity vs. axiological rigidity. Mental health builds on plasticity and shuns rigidity. Certain situations are processed by dedicated FDT profiles Keep in mind that bad things don’t upset us, it is how we interpret with FDTs, or think about them, that upsets us. This is the power of cognitive processing with FDT profiles. The profile associated with empathic behavior is very different from that associated with analytical behavior. FDT profiles can be fluid and fleeting or they can be crystalized when associated with more enduring personality states and traits.
FDT rigidity is very self-defeating as seen in the perseverative, formulaic, and binary thinking of borderline patients, and some PTSD patients. Given today’s fanaticism associated with ideological terrorism, issues concerning ideology and rigidity loom larger than ever. Evidence suggests an active involvement of both the molecular brain and the axiological mind in cases of rigidity involving preemptory ideation or the firmly held preoccupations of minds called idée fixe. These are descriptive not diagnostic terms. I use them for impact. They emphasize the point I want to make concerning rigid, obsessive ideologies in today’s world. It’s not new. We’ve always had ideological anarchism and solipsism in the extreme, and the political ideologies of war, but it’s all amplified these days by social networks in the global village.
5. This principle refers to dimensional priorities, or what amounts to the order of influence of FDT dimensions and profiles. Mental health builds on the priority and supremacy of the Feeler dimension. This is given by the selective pressures of biosocial and psychosocial evolution. Its influence can be proximal (near and immediate) or distal (far and remote), but it’s a constant presence. It is normative for Doer and Thinker selves to function within the more global Feeler self. Feeler bias is the command and control center that mediates pro-self, pro-social behavior. This dimension of valuation is connected to the brain’s mirror neurons and it is a good example of how neuroscience and axiological science can work together. We cannot always live as Feelers. Sometimes wearing our heart on our sleeves may not be best for us. The influence of the Feeler self on the Doer and Thinker selves ebbs and flows in response to situational demands. There are individuals in whom the Feeler self is blunted (2o damage), or even fails to develop (1o damage). Both impact mental status. How it’s handled can become the genesis of psychopathology or evil. This can be measured.
Measuring Values: HVP
Our theme “it can be measured” is important. This is what separates axiological psychology from old clinical and behavioral psychology. The instrument in question is The Hartman Value Profile (HVP). Historically, the HVP is a merciful “handle” on philosopher Hartman’s Theory of Value. It cleared a path for my research testing the validity of Hartman’s operational definition of good, his mathematical modeling of values and valuations, his hypothesis of three axes of valuation, and his test of one’s general capacity to value. These data have since transformed value theory into a science of values.
Business Applications: HVP
Entrepreneurs have long marketed the HVP to clients in their business-to-business relations around the world. This is accompanied by the success you might expect of those focused on the bottom line. (In some cases they develop proprietary “derivatives” and “parallel forms” of the HVP to meet client needs). The proprietary nature of their work limited data sharing. My presentations of research findings before annual conferences on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and publication of The New Science of Axiological Psychology came under no such limitations. In the end, the friendly competition among members of the Hartman Circle has served to advanced axiological science and a new climate of cooperation promises further advances in the future.
Psychology and Testing:
Psychologists study behavior and behavior is a manifestation of values and valuations. Values are universal and so values research has broad implications for the social sciences and all human activity. For one hundred years psychology has studied behavior using the tools of natural or material science. This has yielded insights into the brain but not the mind. Axiological science is mind science. Natural science is brain science. Neuroscience is to brain and molecules, as axiological science is to the mind and values. The three dimensions of value function like three letters of an alphabet writing the “language” of behavior, including emotions and motivations. Psychology gave us psychological testing. Axiological science has given us value testing and amounts to “psychological testing” without psychological tests. The power of values to reveal human psychology exists because of the universality of values that lurk beneath behavior. We now have a science to go after those values and take us “beyond psychology,” so as to enrich psychology.
Caveat Emptor: Like all behavioral tests and measures, the HVP is a “rubber ruler.” However, the explanatory, descriptive, and predictive powers of the HVP are well documented in published research and are continually demonstrated by practitioners meeting the needs of their business clients with the HVP on a daily basis.
Beyond Good and Evil:
Having looked “beyond psychology,” I suggest we look beyond good and evil by simply asking “what’s beyond good and evil?” Philosopher Nietzsche found Social Darwinism. This appealed to a borderline personality named Adolf Hitler and the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterparteior; or Nazi Party (1920-1945). It helped them organize evil in a world that knew nothing about organizing good with any scientific precision. It appears axiological science exists beyond good and evil and this gives us the opportunity to organize good on a scientific basis so as to combat perpetual efforts by some to organize evil. This adds a new dimension of humanism for the humanities. It gives us hope for the future.
© Dr. Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D.
Teaching Humanities in College: David Brooks’ recent article on the Op-Ed page of the June 21, 2013 New York Times is entitled “The Humanist Vocation.” He reports that fifty years ago 14% of college degrees were given to majors in the humanities. Today the figure is 7%. He acknowledges the job market is a factor, but argues that teaching the humanities in college is “committing suicide because many humanists have lost faith in their own enterprise.” It is an enterprise devoted to the cultivation of the “human core, spirit, soul, wisdom, truthfulness, and courage.” Brooks believes that “somewhere along the way, many people in the humanities lost faith in their uplifting mission.” Instead of focusing on higher values like truth, spiritual depth, personal integrity, beauty, critical thinking and goodness, the humanities drifted to a focus on sociopolitical categories like race, class, and gender while liberal arts professors became “moralistic about politics but more tentative concerning private morality less they offend somebody.” He argues this made the humanities less relevant to college students searching to know thyself, “self-understanding and moral goodness” which leaves the humanities in crisis. One can ask, where is the passion that Brooks and I felt when we were college undergraduates? My involvement with the development of axiological science keeps passion alive in me. I’d like to believe the issues addressed in this Blog will contribute to the revival of interest in the humanities. In the meantime, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences appears to be listening and is responding to this crisis involving the decline and fall of humanities on college campuses.
Comment Concerning FTD Profiles: A pragmatic FDT profile is behind behavior that is necessary and sufficient for a purpose. An empathic FDT profile challenges the notion that the ends justify the means. It also enables us to make-love and make-work. If the Feeler self is undeveloped sociopathic evil emerges. An analytic FDT profile helps with problem solving. At the center of normative valuations is the Feeler self. Its influence on Doer and Thinker behavior may be immediate or remote. FDT profiles are sensitivity profiles, balance profiles, priority profiles, and plasticity-rigidity profiles. They may be fluid or crystalized. Fluid profiles have their “moment in the sun” when evoked to deal with special situations falling within some range of convenience. Otherwise, they fade into a “cache” until needed again. Storing a FDT profile in a “cache” is a way of retaining it for quick retrieval and activation. This is called a “cache hit.” Otherwise, the profile must be recalculated or pulled from more remote storage, which invites inefficiencies and errors. This is called a “cache miss.” Axiological science and psychology are ripe for computer simulation, systems theory, information theory, and improved mathematical modeling. Because axiological science is focused on values and valuations its findings have implications for all the social sciences, including economics, and the pressing need to balance capitalism with socialism and socialism with capitalism to curb greed, extreme business cycles, financial and asset bubbles, booms and busts, and income inequality in an age of globalization and electronic social networks that can easily trigger social unrest on a massive scale. We can no longer safely toy with or game monetary and fiscal policies.