The Tetrast2 - Speculation Lounge
Sketcher of various interrelated fourfolds.

Contrarian, partisan, insularist, conformist

June 13, 2014.

Latest significant edit: September 8, 2016.

Here is a system of four dispositions to reactively form a definite opinion in such a way as to agree with some or none (besides oneself) and to disagree with some or none.

one disposed to reactively and definitely opine in such a way as
to AGREE with NO others and to DISAGREE with SOME (who are all others).
one disposed to reactively and definitely opine in such a way as
to AGREE with SOME others and to DISAGREE with SOME (who are the rest).
one disposed to reactively and definitely opine in such a way as
to AGREE with NO others and to DISAGREE with NONE.
one disposed to reactively and definitely opine in such a way as
to AGREE with SOME others (who are all others) and to DISAGREE with NONE.

By "insularist" I mean a neutralist capable of a definite opinion as long as it involves avoiding both agreement with others and disagreement with others. Maybe that is what "neutralist" ought to mean but it seems not to evoke that idea quite clearly.


X Insularist (neutralist)

The opposition between contrarian and comformist seems diametrical. Likewise the opposition between partisan and insularist (neutralist). The contrarian aims to disagree with others, all of them; the conformist aims to agree with others, all of them. The partisan seeks to have allies and adversaries; the insularist seeks to lack allies and adversaries. There also seems a diametrical opposition between the insularist and the equivocalist who aims to take both (or all) sides in opining; but that opposition arises in a larger logical structure than seems worth considering here; equivocalism is not on the same logical 'tier' (for want of a better word) as are the four dispositions considered here. Moreover, each of those four dispositions tends to lead one into inconsistencies and some seeming equivocalism.

A striking affinity

Said four dispositions are classified systematically by possible combinations of agreement and disagreement, but they also have in common a temporal element, insofar as they involve reactions to the already given opinions of other people. So it ought not to be too surprising (although it puzzled me in the past) that the dispositions have a one-to-one affinity with temporally, indeed somewhat lightcone-ishly, varied modes of the willful or cocksure: impetuous, pertinacious, smug, hidebound:

Contrarian impetuous, vis-à-vis the almost-now, more or less along the surface of the future, somebody going too far, too fast (like too much ∆d or ∆d ⁄ ∆t), overreaching, radicalistic.
Partisan pertinacious, vis-à-vis the gradually addressable future, somebody continuing too long, overusing the time (like too much ∆τ or ∆τ ⁄ ∆t), programmatic.
Insularist smug, imperturbably rapt, vis-à-vis the just-now, more or less along the surface of the past, somebody with too much flight of time, underusing the time (like too little ∆τ or ∆τ ⁄ ∆t).
Conformist hidebound, vis-à-vis the settled, layered past, somebody hanging too far back, too slow (like too little ∆d or ∆d ⁄ ∆t).

* * *

Only in the case of the idea of smug insularism did a term (insularism) in the agreement-disagreement series influence my idea of the correlated term (smugness) in the temporally varied series. Instead of the smug, I had previously thought of the impulsive, over-reactive, etc. The correction was corroborated for me by its resulting in better correlations elsewhere, for example:

Impetuous too desirous (vis-à-vis the almost-now).
Pertinacious too hopeful (vis-à-vis the gradually addressable future).
Smug too pleased (vis-à-vis the just-now).
Hidebound too attached (vis-à-vis the settled past).

(Also see "Political dispositions".)

* * *

The likeness to the light cone in the arrangement of the temporally varied terms arises from seeing time as encompassing not a mere chronological series (which tends to make us think simply in terms of past, present, future) but instead zones of possibility of communication and of cause and effect (and involving some sort of practical speed limits and practical looseness about the difference between high speed and top speed). In other words, in discussing temporal orientations of behavior, affectivity, etc., we need to distinguish not only among past, present, and future, but furthermore between the more-or-less present as it can affect one (the just-now) and the more-or-less present as one can affect it (the almost-now). In everyday situations, the spacetime 'wedge' between the just-now and the almost-now is phenomenologically small to vanishing; but there remains the stark and equally phenomenological difference between inbound and outbound causal, communicational directions. Now, I did not simply come up with the light cone's outlines by considering common experience; instead I had read about the light cone many years earlier, and later I looked for its like in common experience. Are its lineaments really less phenomenological than time seen as a chronological series divided simply into past, present, and future? I doubt it. Both views involve ideas about what ought to count as parts of time's form.

Digression about the light cone and the mathematics of alternatives from timelike perspectives

The light cone's divisions echo divisions of the mathematics of structures of alternatives, implications, and the like:

Lightcone-like Structure Compounded of (Quasi-)Modal Cases

Optimal & feasible solutions: for, or as if for, the almost-now (mathematics of optimization, longer known as linear & nonlinear programming).
Probabilities: for, or as if for, the gradually addressable future (probability theory).
Information, news: from, or as if from, the just-now (information theory, including information algebra).
N-ary givens, data, facts, premises: from, or as if from, the settled past (mathematical logic).

So, a considerable portion of mathematics — 'applied' but highly general — is concerned with temporal or at least timelike perspectives. (Also see "Plausibility, verisimilitude, novelty, nontriviality, versus optima, probabilities, information, n-ary givens" at The Tetrast.) Part of my point here is to suggest that the light cone is not just some idiosyncrasy of the physical world, and that consideration of pure-mathematical underpinnings of the above mathematical applications may find the light cone's lineaments emerging already in the divisions of pure mathematics. Of course some would say that it would show instead that mathematics is a more of a mere generalization from concrete experience than mathematical platonists like to think that it is. Still, I'd hold that, if the pure-mathematical underpinnings of the above-listed applied areas collectively form a mathematically non-arbitrary pattern of topics, then it could show that the structure of the light cone is rooted more deeply than many suppose.

Some less digressive remarks

Previous versions of this post have referred to the insularist as the 'quasi-solipsist', 'neutralist', and 'solipsoidist'.

The insularist differs from a (sufficiently) simple neutralist, because the insularist may adopt a definite opinion, as long as it involves neither agreement nor disagreement with anybody else. Such an insularist may seem an 'irrelevantist' or an 'esotericist' to others. Then again, the insularist may simply be a deliberate hermit. One may also take these classifications as involving whether there are others whose opinions the opiner values one way or the other. In that scenario, the insularist may as a matter of principle simply value nobody else's opinion one way or the other, and thus may, without resisting, incidentally agree or disagree with others, in just the same sense as a contrarian may, without resisting, incidentally agree with somebody whose opinion does not matter to the contrarian.

I noticed the difference between insularism and simple neutralism in basing the classifications on my treatment of logical quantities (such as singular and general) for terms.

* * *

Each of the dispositions to reactive opinion tends to lead one into inconsistencies. If one generally aims in the first place both to agree and to disagree with somebody (such as oneself), one's disposition could be called equivocalist, inconsistentist, absurdist, or the like.

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