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Paul Rosenfels

A Timeline of Polarity Awareness

604 B.C.

Lao-Tsze (born 604 B.C.)

"According to the ideas of the Taoistic religion, Tao is divided into a principle pair of opposites, Yang and Yin. Yang is warmth, light, masculinity. Yin is cold, darkness, femininity. Yang is also heaven, Yin earth. From the Yang force arises Schen, the celestial portion of the human soul; and from the Yin force arises Kwei, the earthly part."
-- Tao-te-king

      Joseph Campbell, among others, points out that the symbol for Yang and Yin shows that each quality has a little of its opposite in it, otherwise it could not relate to its opposite at all.

400 B.C.


      The Greeks establish Apollonian (introverted dreaming) and Dionysian (extroverted frenzy) traditions.

400 B.C.

Plato and Aristotle

"Plato and Aristotle! These are not merely two systems; they are also types of two distinct human natures, which from immemorial time, under every sort of cloak, stand more or less inimically opposed. But pre-eminently the whole medieval period was riven by this conflict, persisting even to the present day; moreover, this battle is the most essential content of the history of the Christian Church. Though under different names, always and essentially it is of Plato and Aristotle that we speak. Enthusiastic, mystical Platonic natures reveal Christian ideas and their corresponding symbols from the bottomless depths of their souls. Practical, ordering Aristotelian natures build up from these ideas and symbols a solid system, a dogma and a cult."
-- Heinrich Heine: Deutschland

200 - 130 B.C.


      Galen identifies four temperaments due to body fluids or humors:

  • sanguine: enthusiastic due to strength of the blood.
  • choleric: irritable due to yellow bile.
  • phlegmatic: apathetic due to phlegm.
  • melancholic: sad due to black bile.

John Milton

      Milton contrasts the sober-minded man and the gay or cheerful man. (See L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.)


Friedrich Schiller

      Schiller discusses psychological polarity in Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man.
      In 1923 Jung will claim that this document shows Schiller's "feminine" relationship with the more extroverted Goethe. (See Jung, Psychological Types, p. 102.)


      As a reply to Newton's theories, Goethe developed a Theory of Colour (Zur Farbenlehre, published in 1810), which became a personal obsession in his last years, and which he considered more important than his literary works, but which was not well received by contemporary scientists.

Read more about Goethe's Theory of Colour.


      Physiologists demonstrate the separate development of sensory and motor nerves.


Friedrich Nietzsche

      Nietzsche contrasts the Greek Apollonian (introverted dreaming) and Dionysian (extroverted frenzy) traditions. (See The Birth of Tragedy.)


Carl Spitteler

      Spitteler contrasts Prometheus (forethinker, introvert) with Epimetheus (after-thinker, extrovert) types. (See the poem Prometheus and Epimetheus.)


Furneaux Jordan

      Jordan contrasts the reflective type with the active type. (See Character as seen in Body and Parentage, London).


E. Kraepelin

      Kraepelin divides psychoses into dementia praecox and manic-depressive varieties.


Otto Gross

      Contrasts inferiority with contracted consciousness with inferiority with shallow consciousness.


William James

      William James becomes the first American psychologist to insist on the importance of psychological polarity. In Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking [1907], he contrasts the following attributes of tender-minded and tough-minded personalities, attributes which are nearly identical in meaning to similar terms to be offered in the 1920's by Jung under the headings of introvert and extrovert and in the 1960's by Paul Rosenfels under the headings feminine and masculine:

(going by principles)
(going by facts)
intellectualistic sensationalistic
idealistic materialistic
optimistic pessimistic
religious irreligious
free-willist fatalistic
monistic pluralistic
dogmatical skeptical

      (See Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking.)


Willhelm Ostwald

      Contrasts classic with romantic types. (See Grosse Männer, biographies of scientists, Leipzig.)



      Contrasts schizothymes with cyclothymes. Kretschmer's subtypes include "gushing jolly people" and "quiet humorists."


Carl Jung

      To reconcile the conflict between Freud's intuitionistic psychology and Adler's power (ie. ego) psychology, Jung focuses on gender-free polarity.

"Hence with Freud the basic formula is sexuality, which expresses the strongest relation between subject and object; with Adler it is that power of the subject which most effectively ensures him against the object, and gives to the subject an unassailable isolation which amputates every relation."
-- Psychological Types, or, The Psychology of Individuation, 1923, p. 80 - 81

      In Psychological Types, first published in translation in 1923, Jung presents a comprehensive history of the "type problem" in psychology.

"The existence of two distinct types is actually a fact that has long been known: a fact that in one form or another has dawned upon the observer of human nature or shed light upon the brooding reflection of the thinker; presenting itself, for example, to Goethe's intuition as the embracing principle of systole and diastole. The names and forms in which the mechanism of introversion and extraversion has been conceived are extremely diverse, and are, as a rule, adapted only to the standpoint of the individual observer. Notwithstanding the diversity of the formulations, the common basis or fundamental idea shines constantly through; namely, in the one case an outward movement of interest toward the object, and in the other a movement of interest away from the object, towards the subject and his own psychological processes."
-- Psychological Types, p. 11

  • Attitudinal types: introversion and extraversion.
  • Functional types: thinking, feeling, intuition, sensation. First pair is rational, second pair is irrational.

      Jung's blind spot: he doesn't appreciate mating in the civilized world. Jung's analogy of two polarized youths who come upon a castle in the wood, for example, as discussed in Two Essays on Analytical Psychology is simplistic.



      Contrasts those who have a tendency to "blind belief" [in the power of others] with those who have a tendency to "blind disbelief" [in the power of others].



      Bleuler updates Kraepelin's 1899 division of the psychoses into dementia praecox and manic-depressive varieties, by supplanting the former with a more comprehensive schizophrenia category.


Geoffrey Sainsbury

      Sandsbury's The Theory of Polarity, polarizes femininity with masculinity, time with space, music with the plastic arts, the German mentality with the French, werden with sein, change with existence, number with form, and algebra with geometry.

"What could have been achieved in mathematics had the mathematician been hampered by the belief that plus was better than minus? . . . Where would physics be if its adepts had to cope with some such feeling as that motion was better than matter?"
-- The Theory of Polarity

"My words do not contain the truth -- they point towards it."
-- The Theory of Polarity


Olaf Stapledon

"The first, and some would say the greatest, achievement of your own 'Western' culture was the conceiving of two ideals of conduct, both essential to the spirit's well-being. Socrates, delighting in the truth for its own sake and not merely for practical ends, glorified unbiased thinking, honesty of mind and speech. Jesus, delighting in the actual human persons around him, and in that flavour of divinity which, for him, pervaded the world, stood for unselfish love of neighbours and of God. Socrates woke to the ideal of dispassionate intelligence, Jesus to the ideal of passionate yet self-oblivious worship. Socrates urged intellectual integrity, Jesus integrity of will. Each, of course, though starting with a different emphasis, involved the other.
      Unfortunately both these ideals demanded of the human brain a degree of vitality and coherence of which the nervous system of the First Men was never really capable. For many centuries these twin stars enticed the more precociously human of human animals, in vain. And the failure to put these ideals in practice helped to engender in the race a cynical lassitude which was one cause of its decay."

-- Last and First Men, 1931


P. L. Harriman

      Contrasts schizoid and cycloid types with those of Kretschmer:

"The cycloid is basically good-natured and sociable, a person who swings from cheerfulness to depression. The schizoid is basically humorless and unsocial, a person who has warring within him at the same time shyness, oversensitive refined feeling, and insensitive, dull-witted, and sulky affectivity. It should be emphasized that these cycloid and schizoid traits are, on the one hand, transitional developments short of their clearly abnormal counterparts, and, on the other hand, not necessarily related to the healthy biotypes Kretschmer designated as cyclothymes and schizothymes."
-- P. L. Harriman, Encyclopedia of Psychology, 1946, p. 460


Albert Wellek

      Contrasts Expansivitaet and Defensivitaet, Angriffslust and Genussucht, Empfaenglichkeit and Sinnlichkeit. (In German orthography these are Expansivität and Defensivität, Angriffslust and Genußsucht, Empfänglichkeit and Sinnlichkeit. See Polarity in Character Structure: A System of Characterology.)


      Efforts to clarify human typology continue to be ensnared in semantic nonsense. Consider as but one example the following abuse of type terminology:

"type, reversal. Abraham and Jones use this expression for persons with a tendency to act in a way contrary to normal. They may express contrary opinions, though they know them to be illogical; they may dress 'out of style'; they may enumerate irrelevant items, etc."
-- Psychiatric Dictionary, Fourth Edition, p. 797

NOTE: People who talk this way are but one step removed from people who talk about New York types, or feminist types, or "those Jews," or "those Blacks." Their attitude reduces typological analysis to an opportunity to marginalize those who aren't acceptible in polite society or whose distress can be used to exploit the naivety of insurance companies. Remember: To be normal means only to be diseased to an average degree.

Paul Rosenfels (1909-1985)

      Uses polarity in Psychoanalysis and Civilization (1962) to develop a consistent and coherent description of human nature in its entirety. In Homosexuality: The Psychology of the Creative Process (1971), claims that a son will always polarize with his father and a daughter with her mother.
      Paul describes four levels of submission / dominance polarity:

  • Neurological polarity: (sense / motility) is a billion years old.
  • Gender polarity: (female / male) is five hundred million years old.
  • Psychological polarity: (feminine / masculine) is ten to a hundred thousand years old. Tacit awareness of polarity can be inferred from polarized phrases in our language, such as wisdom and strength, church and state, saint and hero, knave and fool, justice and mercy, corporate names like Control/Data, and slang terms like hustle and flow.
  • Cultural polarity: East and West, Germany and France.

      Paul uses:

  • everyday words: love / power,
  • old words with new meanings: feminine / masculine, and
  • psychiatric jargon: phobic / psychopathic and schizophrenic / hebephrenic (i. e. manic-depressive). In an early essay he alludes to the work of Kretschmer and Harriman:      
          The love, or yielding, character is introspective or schizoid. The power, or assertive character, is extrovertive or cyclothymic. Schizoid is a psychiatric term based on the tendency of yielding individuals to withdraw into a world of thoughts; cyclothymic refers to the mood swings common in assertive persons.
    (This I Beheld [1961, unfinished])

      Paul describes in detail the ordinary world of human reality in which ordinary people find themselves. His theories are simple, despite a sometimes academic style.


Charlotte Bach

      Unpublished writings by Bach are used by a British group.


Sonja Carl Gilligan

      Gilligan contrasts the Withdrawn Type with the Controlled Type. (See The Heterosexuals are Coming: The Fusion Strategy.)

-- prepared by in 1988 and revised by in 2007


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