One of the many things I have learnt from seven years of blogging is that there are two major personality types in the human race. Those who are pragmatic and have a literalistic (scientific) view of the world and those who are idealists and who view life as a narrative, full of symbols and metaphor. The existence of these two types has propelled human evolution forward both technologically and culturally. It's a good thing.

But the problem is that it is difficult for each type to understand the thinking processes and priorities of the other type. A philosophical conversation between the two types is a human example of the famous Farscape cartoon, "What dogs actually hear," with both parties taking the role of the dog. "Blah, blah, blah." Both also view the other as missing the point. There is arrogance in the attitude of both types to each other. Idealists feel sorry for pragmatists and pragmatists think idealists should get a life.

Of course, like anything to do with human personalities, it is not completely black and white. Idealists will, to varying degrees, be pragmatic at times and most pragmatists will react to the symbolic, even if only at a subconscious level. Idealists often wish they were more pragmatic and most pragmatists have respect for the integrity of idealists and will often claim to be more idealistic than they actually are.

In the Gospels we see the clash between the pragmatic and idealistic writ large. Jesus is an idealist and much of the narrative can only be fully understood by having an understanding of the symbolic and metaphorical. There are scenes in the Gospels, such as the one involving Mary and Martha, where Jesus makes it very clear that he favours the idealistic. In fact you might end up for sorry for pragmatists. There are no "Blessed are those who will make compromises because you have to if you want to survive" in the Beatitudes. But, on the other hand, the world belongs to the pragmatists if only because there are far more of them than there are idealists. So even an idealist, inherently intent on feeling the pain of others, should, perhaps, not shed too many tears for them.

I think that these two major personality types have evolved for very good reasons. As I said at the beginning of this post, the existence of the two types has resulted in the richness of culture and the advances in technology and science that we enjoy today. But the symbiosis goes even deeper than that. I personally don't think that pragmatists and idealists could survive without the other. We are necessary for each other. Idealists need pragmatists. An idealist with a good sense of self-preservation, like myself will make sure he hitches up with a pragmatist for life. Mrs MP's persistent commonsense drives me crazy at times but I am fully aware that I would have achieved nothing that I regard as good in my life without it. I'd be living in the gutter without Mrs MP forcefully telling me how it really is regularly. And what sort of life would pragmatists have to be pragmatic about if it wasn't for idealists? It would be a very boring life with exactly the same culture and societal norms as the human race enjoyed when they were looking for grubs to eat in the soil of the African Savannah.

So, let us acknowledge the incredible worth of each other, even if we don't ever quite get where the other is coming from. Together we are beautiful or, if you are a pragmatist, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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PLEASE NOTE: OCICBW... is a sweeping generalisations blog. In a perfect world it wouldn't be, but it ain't a perfect world. So live with it!



  1. “Mrs MP’s persistent commonsense drives me crazy at times but I am fully aware that I would have achieved nothing that I regard as good in my life without it. I’d be living in the gutter without Mrs MP forcefully telling me how it really is regularly.”

    Geez, you’d think you had snuck into our house…

  2. I’m an idealist, by the definition above, but I had no clue what to click until MP stated that idealists can be pragmatic at times.

  3. I’m absolutely both, but more of an idealist. It makes life difficult. [Unless one’s ideals are super, super marketable. Which mine are not.]

  4. I’m an idealistic pragmatist. It’s confusing. I am very intuitive and sensitive, but also extremely practical. I didn’t realise just how much of a pragmatist I was till I married my husband eight years ago. He is SO idealistic, that I’ve had to focus on my sensible side to keep us from taking flight!