iSoul In the beginning is reality

Observers and travelers, continued

This post continues the topic of the previous post here. This is a post about two kinds of people. First a warning:

There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not. – Robert Benchley

Actually, this post is about two different roles that people take, though some people get stuck in one role or the other. Consider these pairs of complementary roles:

speakers and listeners, writers and readers, artists/performers and viewers, musicians and audiences, programmers/designers and users, producers and consumers, etc.

Scientists and engineers often have complementary roles: engineers making things that work in the world and scientists observing and seeking to understand the world. In the MBTI personality types, there are judgers and perceivers. Combine all these with travelers and observers, transmitters and receivers, of the previous post.

What is the basic distinction here? It’s between an active role and a passive role, between having a goal and a way to get there vs. letting things go and seeing what happens. In terms of Aristotle’s four causes, it’s between the final and formal causes vs. the mechanistic/efficient and material causes.

Aristotle give an example of a sculptor, who starts with a final goal in mind and develops a plan, a design, a form. Then they take some material such as marble or clay and use tools to form it into something. An observer would only see the last two steps: the material and the action on it. They would have to infer the first two steps – or else stick to the empirical and ignore the first two steps.

In terms of studying motion, the distinction is between having a destination and moving there vs. starting somewhere and observing what motion there is. These two roles lead to the two approaches to space and time: 3+1 dimensions and 1+3 dimensions.

These roles are distinct even when they’re combined. For example, scientists do experiments, which requires an active role, but the purpose is to observe, which means to watch what happens.

These roles are different enough so that communication may be a problem. They speak different dialects and some translation may be required for them to understand one another. Knowing about personality types provides a clue as to how to approach those who prefer to take a particular role.


A few favorites of this “different kinds of people” genre:

There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who know math and those who don’t.

There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who understand binary and those who don’t.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data

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