The Attitude is our primary life-outlook. It colors how we perceive the world and our place in it. It influences how we respond to life. Though primarily an intellectual perspective it affects how we respond emotionally, as well, and what we are most likely to do.
Tiny Bulcher has a girlfriend named J.C. Taylor. She can give a guy who sees himself as a pretty good con-artist one look from under her furrowed brow and he’ll collapse immediately. J.C. sees through anything life has on offer— probably because she has already thought of the idea and either rejected it outright or incorporated it into her own life long before you came up with it.
Skeptics are the people who go through life with a penetrating stare — literally and figuratively. They will not believe anything 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 conviced, they require another mountain of evidence and logic to overthrow their belief. 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. Skeptics believe, but the only way they believe is by proof. 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 unless the the Skeptic has had a convincing experience. 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 Skeptic is analytical. 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 strangers.
Skeptics are particularly lacking in imagination. They may in fact disdain it. They think it is foolish to live in one's "dreams", preferring rather to live in the "real world". But, Skeptics do have projection — they see their illusions in the world rather than in their heads.
All the Attitudes except Pragmatism and Realism give their owners distorted perceptions of the world, and Skeptics are the most likely to see in their world only what they want to see — they "project" their perceptions on the world.
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 in order to pick it apart.
The Positive Pole of Skepticism is Investigation. This is characterized by investigation of everything ("Where'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 only in order to examine them. They are, but they get just so close. Skeptics maintain a certain distance while they dissect. They never join with the object of their inquiry.
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.
When the personality is aggressive, the extreme expression of this Pole is hostility. Such people want to place the blame. 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.
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.
Andy Kelp has a girlfriend named Anne Marie [she arrives late in the series—in the 14th book, or so]. She is the ultimate optimist. Nothing surprises her very much— she sees coincidence as having profound meaning.
When her husband abruptly leaves her, she looks around and there is Andy.
Anne Marie doesn’t stop to consider the consequences of speaking to strange men in bars [and you don’t get a lot stranger than Andy, when you come right down to it] she says, “Hello,” Andy says “Hello” and the next thing you know she’s helping him plan his next heist although she has no previous experience as a thief [beyond the fact that her father was a US Senator, that is].
Anne Marie sees in Andy a new door opening just as the door with her husband is closing. That is enough to spur her on to the next chapter in her life. After that, she simply sits back and enjoys the scenery outside the bus window as it hurtles down the hill. After all, she can’t control the bus— she may as well enjoy the ride [please forgive the mixed metaphors
Idealists search for meaning in life, and they see it everywhere. They look for connections in time that are meaningful coincidences. When two significant things happen at once in their lives, they believe the universe is trying to tell them something.
They believe the universe is a friendly place, and they are friendly toward it and the people in it. Idealists in the extreme have a utopian view of the world. They see things through the proverbial rose-colored glasses. They see the world as a beautiful place, and they see how the world could be more beautiful, if only more people would get together, work together, and trust.
The Opposite of the Idealist Attitude is the Intellectual Center. Idealists are sometimes anti-intellectual; they regard reason and logic as limited, unable to encompass the totality of existence.
Idealists and Intellectually centered people comprehend reality in quite different ways, both limited. When both are present in the same person, it can create internal contradictions and inconsistencies. The Idealist does not analyze the world— it sees the overall pattern. The Intellectual analyzes data without seeing the big picture.
The two working against each other in people causes them to narrow their interests to something compatible with both, or to switch back and forth between the two.
Idealists are concerned with integrative images and they project their images onto the outer world. That is OK if the images are an accurate representation of reality, but if their view of the world is a fantasy-land, and they make it out to be a wonderful place when it isn't, then they are in for trouble. One of the problems that Idealists, particularly in the Negative Pole, constantly face is that of disillusionment. Since they tend to see the world with the proverbial "rose-colored glasses", their bubble of dreams and illusions may often be pricked by the needle of reality. This can destroy their beautiful imaginings. This is very disconcerting to them, because they need a coherent world-view despite a penchant to live in a dream world
The complement of the Idealist Attitude is the Skeptic Attitude. "For believers, no explanation is necessary. For nonbelievers, no explanation is sufficient" pretty well sums up the difference between the two extremes of Skeptic and Idealist.
Trust is a big issue with both Attitudes.
Idealists rarely check things out or question them. Idealists think they already have all the answers inside themselves, so there is no use investigating the world to discover them. Idealists are rarely suspicious. Rather, they give others the benefit of the doubt and if their trust is misplaced it is because the others proved themselves untrustworthy.
Even then, Idealists are liable to invoke extenuating circumstances so that they can still believe in the goodness of other people generally and in the beauty of the world.
Idealists get the overview, the big picture. Skeptics and Idealists are both concerned with issues of "what is reality" and "what is illusion".
Skeptics see the physical universe as reality and anything else as illusion. They say mind is a product of matter.
Idealists see principles and ideas as the ultimate reality, and everything else as illusion. They see the physical universe as a product of an Infinite Mind.
The Positive Pole of the Idealist Attitude is Coalescence. It means to merge, combine, amalgamate into a single body or group. Idealists see the world and everything in it as becoming more unified. In the most extreme expression of this Pole, Idealists see themselves as one with everything. They take a philosophical perspective on all issues, and try to see the wisdom in every situation. Such people subscribe to the "holistic philosophy" — the idea that the whole world functions like a single organism. All the parts are connected in space and coordinated in time, operated by a single Mind.
The Negative Pole is Naiveté. People in this Pole have taken their trust and innocence to an unrealistic extreme. They see beauty where it isn't, and simply deny that ugliness exists.
The naïve Idealist will tell you that evil is justified at a higher level of reality, that things that seem meaningless have meaning that we cannot fathom, that something that appears foolish has a wisdom that is beyond us, and that ugliness is transformed at other levels of reality into beauty.
People in the negative pole have many illusions, and they suffer when they are disillusioned. They live by platitudes rather than reality. The fear here is the fear of questioning anything — questioning in the sense of both investigation and suspicion. One must question things or one will not be able to distinguish between reality and illusion.
The fear that drives Naiveté is the fear of ugliness and evil, which do not fit into an Idealistic world view. The world just should not be this way, right? It is indeed possible to imagine a better world. But the world is the way it is, and there is no use denying it or dreaming it away. The technique for overcoming Naiveté is to consider and apply the Positive Pole of the Complementary Attitude of Skepticism, Investigation. Get down in the world and get dirty. Open your eyes to the things you would rather turn away from. Stop dreaming of a better world, find out about the real world, and then maybe you can make it a better world in the Positive Pole of Coalescence. It does not solve anything when one justifies ugliness and evil by saying it is reconciled at a higher level of integration. Best reconcile it at this level.