Personality Colors Your Philosophy

Philosophers are no more free from biases than us mere mortals.  For instance, it seems that a philosopher’s personality actually makes them preferentially choose one view of “Free Will” over another — (Schultz, Cokely and Feltz, 2011: Journal of Consciousness and Cognition).  See Adam Feltz’s great discussion of their paper on “Experimental Philosophy“.

It has always been obvious to me that Atheists’ choose philosophical views to cuddle their personality too.  Theologians likewise construct theological cathedrals to protect their personalities.  We are all silly in our certainties.  But few suspect that their temperament potentially colors their philosophy.  But as my diagram below illustrates, this should not be surprising.  After all the same truth-defective brain acts on our thoughts about philosophy, politics, religion, diet, morality, medicine and more.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

5 responses to “Personality Colors Your Philosophy

  1. Sabio, you are suggesting that a non stamp collector cuddles certain philosophical views (presumably that supports not collecting stamps) to suit his or her personality as much as a stamp collector cuddles philosophical views (presumably that supports collecting stamps) to suit his or her personality.

    Although I can appreciate why certain personalities may be more or less congenial to hobbies in general and stamp collecting in particular, I don’t get why you think personalities determines stamp collecting versus not collecting stamps.

  2. Sorry, tildeb, I did think I understand your comment. Perhaps it hinges on the word “determines” which, when I look at the post, I used only in one spot and that was indeed a mistake. I have corrected it. Thanx.
    If you still have issues with the post, let me know.

  3. crl

    I would say that personality has a similar effect to that of family history. While reasoned thought and life experiences may overcome either barrier (you would be an example of this,) in reality, they rarely do, the result of which is that many people retain whichever religion that they are born into, and those who convert from one religion to another, or leave religion entirely, do so due to personality conflicts rather than pure reason. So far as I can tell, this is what allows people to believe things which appear so utterly ridiculous from the perspective of an outsider.

    In terms of politics, Altemeyer’s right-wing authoritarianism scale ( is an interesting, though I would say, not entirely successful, attempt at relating personality to political views. While the official survey questions are loaded to the point that many of the Tea Party members I surveyed refused to answer them, we did see a huge difference between the Tea Party members and ourselves, a group of liberal to moderate students; though we had been expecting Ron Paul supporters to be more libertarian and therefore less authoritarian, we did not in fact see much of a correlation between RWA score and 2012 presidential candidate, which, had we a larger sample size, would partially disqualify the RWA scale as an indicator of political personality. (Or, perhaps, would just serve to identify the Tea-partiers as crazies. From there scores and specific responses, some of them were borderline fascists. )

  4. @ CRL,
    I agree with much of what you write in your first paragraph:
    (a) Family history , like personality, affects choice
    (b) Fate affects “choice”
    (c) Reason affects our choices less than we imagine

    I agree with much in the second also:
    (a) Personality affect political choice

    But I have met wackos in the Tea Part, the Greens, the Libertarians, the Liberal Democrats and almost all parties. Likewise, I find very sane people who identify with these groups thought they may not be loud at all because they value some important aspect of that party. Politics is about choosing the compromise that serves your perceived best interests.

    Personality is a component, otherwise you wouldn’t need a large dataset to detect it. There are lots of components.

  5. crl

    b) To rephrase: “fate” (i.e. chance) affects choice.
    d) Oh, yes, certainly, there are wackos in every faction!
    And, while ideally, politics is about choosing the compromise that reflects one’s best interests, in reality, people (especially politicians, or so it would seem…) often refuse to compromise, and vote against their own best interests, all for the sake of sticking to partisan ideals. The us-versus-them mentality often leads to odd combinations of beliefs, for instance, a belief in gun rights, but not in gay marriage, or vice versa.

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