Masculine and Feminine Characters: An Inquiry into Essential Forms

I published this earlier but I may as well republish it. Let me know what you think.

Masculine and Feminine Characters: An Inquiry into Essential Forms

By Robert Lindsay

In June 1903, the Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger published a great book called Sex and Character – A Fundamental Investigation. He was 23 years old, a mere boy. The book did not receive negative reviews, but it caused little interest either.

Weininger was attacked Paul Julius Mobius, who accused Weininger of plagiarism. Depressed, Weininger left for Italy. He returned to his parents’ house in late September and stayed there for five days.

On October 3, 1903, Weininger checked himself into the building where Beethoven had died, now a small inn. At 3 AM the next morning on October 4, Otto Weininger pointed a pistol at his chest and put a bullet in his heart.

Weininger’s dramatic death quickly made him a cause célèbre in Vienna, inspired several imitation suicides and roused quite a bit of interest in the book.

It was roundly praised, even by Sigmund Freud. Freud had met Weininger the year before. Freud stated that Weininger has a striking air of “genius” about him. Ludwig Wittgenstein also praised the book and stated that it was an influence on his early writings. It was also praised by August Strindberg and even James Joyce

Weininger’s book created quite a stir, and Weininger has been accused of being both a misogynist and a Jewish anti-Semite or self-hating Jew. Both characterizations are probably innacurate.

Nearly 100 years later, Weininger’s book still has its champions, while his reputation has suffered in the era of the Political Correctness and the Cultural Left in the West. Nevertheless, Weininger’s place on the canon of great philosophers seems secure.

Weininger felt that there were two essential characters in human beings, the masculine aspect and the feminine aspect. He felt that both aspects were present in all humans.

In the chart below, I lay out scores of human characterological variables and how the Masculine and Feminine Characters represent each one.

The first five variables are by Otto Weininger, but the last 56 are by me. Please note that I don’t necessarily agree with Weininger’s five variables in total, only that it is a good starting place. I have also used the terms Masculine Principle and Feminine Principle to refer to these terms.

Characters         Masculine*           Feminine* 


Principles

Activity             Active                 Passive

Consciousness Conscious           Unconscious 

Thinking           Objective            Subjective

Genius              Yes                      No

Productivity      Productive         Nonproductive

Awareness          Conscious Mind    Unconscious Mind

Energy               Generative           Receptive

Mind                  Thinking               Feeling

Emotion             Stoic                    Moody

Tactile                Callous                Sensitive

Humor               Slapstick              Irony

Weather             Calm                   Unsettled

Temperature       Cold                    Warm

Graph                Linear                  Scatterplot

Empathy            Poor                     Rich

Pain                   Inflict                   Receive

Confrontation     Forward                Withdrawal

Reaction            Contemplative       Reactive

Style                 Deliberative           Unthinking
 
Intensity            Concentration        Distraction

Denial style        Projection              Fantasy

Egotism style      Narcissism            Histrionic

Pathology           Sociopath              Borderline

Defense             Anger                    Denial

Ego desire          Expansion              Dissolution

Destructive         Other                    Self 

Annihilation        Totalizing               Self only

Depression         Projection              Introjection

Survival             Self                       Others

Reliance             Self                       Others

Criminality         Dangerous             Petty thief

Psychopathy      Violent menace       Prostitute

Compassion       Indifference            Mercy

Wakefulness      Aware                     Unaware

Alertness           Wide Awake            Sleepwalking

Planning            Methodical              Conspiring

Morality             Strict                      Contingent

Aggression         Direct                     Subterfuge

Violence             External                  Internal

Warfare              Bully                      Victim

Hierarchy            Dominant               Submissive

Force                  Blunt                      Subtle

Texture               Harsh                     Smooth

Resistance           Extreme                 Yielding

Linear                 Straight                  Jagged

Presentation        Forthright               Devious

Surface               Clear                      Opaque

Understand         Simple                    Complicated
 
Logic                  Linear                      Circular

Analysis              Logic                       Intuition

Strategy             Straightforward         Wily 

Movement          Stiff                          Flowing

Grain                 Coarse                      Fine

Essence             Sky                           Earth

Instrument         Blunt                        Subtle

Transport           Highway                    Stream

Route                A to B                       Roundabout

Tour                  Autobahn                  Scenic route

Flight                Soar                          Flutter

Hobby               Monomania                Dilettante

Truths               Multiple                     Singular

Theory              Branching                  Obsessive

Fact                  Durable                     Momentary

Interpretation    Nonpersonal              Personal

Manichean         Grey area                 Black and White

Systematics       Categorizing             Noncategorizing

Science             Empirical                  Intuitive

Philosophy         Tough                      Dream State

Ubermensch      More common           Less common

Body                 Hard                        Soft

Tissue               Sinewy                     Fatty

Signal               Weathervane            Antenna

Telepathy           Poor                        Mindreader

Broadcast          Subwoofer                Subliminal 

Travel                Itinerary                   Lark  

Decision            Plotted                      Whimsy

Confusion          Certainty                   Perplexed

Party                 Kegger                      Cocktail  

Social                Optional                    Mandatory

Sex                   Compulsion                Choice

Intellectual         Paradise                    Boredom

Bird                   Hawk                        Hummingbird 
 
Birdsong            Crow                         Warbler 

Love                  Auxiliary                    Requirement 

Danger              Physical                     Psychological 

Grudge              Discard                      Retain  

Jealousy            Weak                         Strong

Armistice           Reconciliation             Cold Peace

Storm               Thunderstorm             Spring Shower

Bipolar              Mania                         Depressive
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