Skeptic AttitudeBy PHIL WITTMEYER & Others
Skeptics are the people who go through life with a furrowed brow and a penetrating stare — literally and figuratively. They do not believe until they have checked it out for themselves. They are the proverbial "doubting Thomases" who must see it with their own eyes. They are unconvinced until all the facts are in, and they dislike forming theories until the evidence has been thoroughly examined. Once the proof is in, however, they are firm believers. It is difficult to shake a Skeptic's belief system, because, once again, there must be another mountain of evidence and logic to overthrow it. The symbol for Skeptics is the question mark — they question everything. They are the scoffers, the agnostics of the world.
This Attitude limits the sphere of knowledge that Skeptics believe, and the way they believe it: only objective knowledge is allowed. Subjective insights are not permitted — the subjective insights of others, that is. Their own subjective insights are permitted. Theology and philosophy are not within the objective realm, for instance, so they are not considered valid by Skeptics unless they inherently believe in them or they have had convincing personal experiences. To pure, extreme Skeptics, only scientific, physical evidence is considered valid, and only the material realm is considered real. The formal philosophies for these attitudes are called "empiricism" and "materialism".
The Intellectual Center is the counterpart of the Skeptic Attitude. The Skeptic is analytical from the self toward the world. This abstraction translates into the fact that Skeptics see themselves as alienated from the world, and the world as forever separate from themselves. They regard others as strangers, and it takes a lot of time for them to befriend others. On the other hand, the Intellectual Center, being the Ordinal part of the Expression axis, is analytical within the self. This abstraction translates into the fact that Intellectually Centered people think a lot. Note that the type of information preferred by Skeptics is the type of information processed by the Intellectual Center. The two are a "team". That is what counterparts are to each other.
Skeptics are particularly lacking in imagination. They may in fact disdain imagination. They think it is foolish to live in one's "dreams", preferring rather to live in the "real world". What Skeptics do have, however, is the exact opposite of imagination: projection — they see their illusions in the world rather than in their heads. All the Attitudes except Pragmatism give their owners distorted perceptions of the world, but Skeptics are the most likely to see only in their world what they want to see — they "project" their perceptions out there. In addition to imagination, Skeptics usually regard philosophy as a waste of time, since it is largely theoretical and not at all practical, scientific, or provable. If Skeptics do investigate philosophy, it is to pick apart the ideas of others.
Positive Pole (Investigation)
The Positive Pole of Skepticism is +Investigation, and this is characterized by investigation of everything ("What's the evidence?"). There is much curiosity here, inquiry of the scientific kind rather than the theoretical. Skeptics make good researchers: they have excellent powers of scrutiny to dig out the facts or to devise tests for ferreting out the laws of nature. They assume nothing, but check out everything. It bothers Skeptics to discover that they do not know something, so they seek to know it. If you want to tantalize a Skeptic, just give them part of the information, and watch them search for the rest. If you are talking to a Skeptic, better count on being interrogated and cross-examined — this is a part of their way of relating to others. It might seem that +Investigators are approaching things in order to examine them. They are, but they only get just so close. Skeptics maintain a certain distance while they dissect. They never join with the object of their inquiry.
Negative Pole (Suspicion)
The Negative Pole of Skepticism is -Suspicion. There is plenty of evil and ugliness in the world to be sure, but people in this Pole see evil and ugliness even where it isn't — they invent a supply of it to fulfill their demand for it. Anything that is not understood is regarded as evil. They believe that evil is insidious and pervasive, and will prevail. They regard cooperation between other people as a conspiracy. They do not "give the benefit of the doubt", but rather hold others guilty until proven innocent. Such people are often unfriendly upon first meeting, and it takes a long time for the other people to clear themselves of the mistrust. They do not take anything at "face value", but instead see sinister things in it ("What's the catch?"). They look for ulterior motives in others ("That's what he said but what does he really mean"), and consider themselves very perceptive when they "discover" such motives lurking. They believe in the worst scenario, and they see the dark side of other people. Even if the world does not seem evil, they perceive it as meaningless and nonsensical, chaotic and incoherent. When the personality is aggressive, the extreme expression of this Pole is hostility. Such people want to place the blame somewhere ("There is where the guilt belongs") .The accusations might be directed at television, government, religion, or anything. When the personality is passive, the extreme expression of this Pole is nihilism — belief in nothing, or the belief that life has no purpose or meaning. When combined with the Negative Pole of the Caution Mode, -Phobia, there may be some paranoia.
The way to overcome -Suspicion is to consider and apply the Positive Pole of the complementary Idealist Attitude, +Coalescence. Begin to look for the unifying factors in the world, such as the fact that the universe runs quite smoothly according to law, not chaotically, and that society does manage to act coherently in spite of differences, and that most people, though often foolish and ignorant, are nevertheless well-meaning, and certainly not evil. If things have got by this long, trust that they will continue.
Skepticism is the complement of Idealism. Recall that the Negative Pole of Idealism is -Abstraction (or -Naiveté) and you will understand why Skeptics do not like ambiguities and hypotheses. They intend their investigations to clear up uncertainties. Skeptics are not interested in coming up with some grand theory or pattern to explain things. They only want to take things apart to get at the real facts, and see how one fact relates to the next fact. Whereas Idealists do not appreciate ugliness, Skeptics do not appreciate beauty. Whereas Idealists see oneness in the universe, Skeptics see manyness. Whereas Idealists assume that everyone is his friend till proven an enemy, Skeptics assume everyone an enemy until proven a friend. Whereas Idealists believe they have the answers, Skeptics think they have the questions. Whereas Idealists are trusting, Skeptics are doubting.
There has been a lot of talk in scientific and philosophical literature about reductionism versus holism. From the time of Newton to Einstein, the view was that the universe was built up from atoms, and that everything is separated. Since Einstein's time there has been increasing discovery and awareness that the universe is also built down from universal principles, and that everything is connected. Well, the Skeptic Attitude is the manifestation in personality of the reductionist perception, and the Idealist Attitude is the expression in personality of the holistic philosophy. What this means in terms of personality is that a Skeptic believes the world is governed by chance and accident rather than design and meaning. Idealists will explain things with analogies — one thing being like another proves something to them. Skeptics will not use analogies, because they think that nothing is really like anything else, and that there is no such universal abstract connection between things.
The advantage of this Attitude for the person who has it is that they are not easily taken in by spurious claims. There is much sham and trickery in the world, and Skeptics are not readily fooled by it. This saves them some grief. The disadvantage of this Attitude is that Skeptics miss out on much of the beauty and wisdom that is in the world. Not believing in it, they overlook it when they see it. They are slow to believe in truths that are self-evident to others.
Channeling About Skeptic Attitude
The ordinal expression-axis attitude is called "skeptic." Skeptics look at the world in a thoughtful way, and because it is ordinal (detail-oriented, contractive), they scrutinize (hone in on) what they see to try to make sense of it intellectually. They have a little doubt about what they see, which spurs them to dissect it.
Scientists and journalists often have the skeptic attitude, and it is ideal for them. Skeptic has a positive pole of "investigation." It is a good idea not to assume that what is presented is what it clams to be; often, it is not. Therefore, having skeptic as your basic framework for seeing the world is not at all a bad thing. In the positive pole, skeptics fact-check. If they have a good intellect and a well-developed ability to reason and discern fact from falsehood, a lot of understanding can come from the process. The negative pole is "suspicion." In suspicion, the skeptic never completes the process of fact checking, but stays stuck in unending doubt; he is not willing to accept the facts as they are because other facts or seeming facts are preferred.
There are those who promote themselves as being professional skeptics, but usually they are not open-mindedly investigating; they have their minds made up in advance in a rather conservative if not reactionary way, and seek to impose their decisions about what facts are on whatever they come across. This is not the same thing as the skeptic attitude, but it can illustrate the negative pole. Closed-mindedness is a negative pole experience, in general, and open-mindedness is a positive pole attribute--it allows more of essence in, because essence (the soul) is generally open-minded. The soul seeks new experiences, and does not want its path to be shut down or pushed to the side into a narrow corridor.
Shepherd Hoodwin -- From Michael On Attitudes
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About Phil Wittmeyer
Phil is a long-time Michael student who has written several book-length manuscripts about the Michael teachings, many of them featured on this site. He has been an active member in the community for many years and can be found at most Michael gatherings.
Phil currently lives in Colorado.
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