Cogito, ergo sum.

I begin with Descartes, "Cogito, ergo sum," 1650, because when I use liberal arts, my most formidable foe is the tradition of dualism of body/mind that originated with Descartes.

Enneagram teachers are often asked, "Is the Enneagram scientific? It is a culturally predictable question because in our culture, scientific means "can you prove it scientifically?" This challenges the Enneagram because what you can prove depends on what you accept as evidence. "Prove" is a technical term which means you had a set protocol: double-blind, before and after with measurable comparisons. In many cases this is impossible, climate change being the most obvious. Which is why climate change deniers have endured so long. It's called the Big Tobacco defense because by clinging to that definition of "scientific proof," they could have plausible deniability. The Enneagram is quite comfortable with truth that can't be proved but is experienced every day.

Philosophically, this definition of proof is reductionist (literal) thinking and is not defensible. But it is not defended in our culture, it is assumed. Descartes prevails.

This problem started because Descartes, a brilliant style Five, made a distinction between mind (res cogitans) and material or body (res extensa). Our institutions have embraced this distinction which is at the heart of the low side of Five, a split between thinking and the rest of life. Joyce Carol Oates, (novelist) said her body was a device to hold her head up so she could read. The body doctor, MD, will take your blood pressure but won't ask about your relationships or your feelings. The head doctor, PhD, will not take your blood pressure or inquire about your cholesterol levels.

We live in a Cartesian world. Our culture keeps talking about being holistic. We are trying to heal the Cartesian split. When I coach style Fives, I always begin by finding out how/if they take care of their bodies.

Let's begin with one of the talents a Five has: the ability to relate small bits of information to the larger picture. People often identify as "detail loving" or "big picture" but Fives have the advanced ability to do both. Fives are, for that reason, often found writing computer programs. They have to relate hundreds of details to the overall picture. How to take those incremental steps is called an algorithm. Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook is unthinkable without algorisms.

The most famous practitioner of this process is Sherlock Holmes. He delights us with his keen powers of observation. But it's not merely observation; we see what he saw. But he saw small details as they relate to surprising (to us) conclusions. You can see Sherlock," the movie, on Netflix. In the movie, he is also a sociopath, which would be of course the lowest side of style Five (and a connection to the low side of Eight). The reason Fives can move in this direction is that their habit is avarice, but it not only being stingy with money, but also with time and affection.

The most famous Five with a strong connection to style Eight, is, of course, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Some Fives cannot readily access their emotions, especially affection. In The Stranger, Mersault cannot express feelings to literally save his life. He sort of feels them, not with enough intensity to be believable.

Fives usually have one of two ways to relate to money: either they accumulate a lot like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg or they live on as little as possible. Think of contemplative monks like Trappists and Carthusians or hermits in general. Both are ways of addressing an inner conviction that there is not enough to go around. Bill Gates was asked what it felt like to have 100 Billion dollars. His answer was ludicrous but makes sense within his being a Five. "It could all be gone tomorrow."

Economics has to be the discipline of style Five: Wikipedia begins with its definition of economics: the study of how societies use scarce resources…. The assumption of the discipline is the assumption of style Five: there is not enough to go around. In contrast, the assumption of the Parables of Jesus are always assumptions of sharing and abundance. (This is a plug for my book, Parables and the Enneagram. Scarcity vs abundance/acquisition versus sharing are central themes in the gospels). It is no wonder that Warren Buffet offhandedly remarked that he reads the Wall Street Journal like a bible the first thing in the morning. The WSJ is the bible of economic scarcity and how to deal with that reality.

My greatest skill is to want but little.



To give to others the fruits of contemplation.

Mission statement of the Catholic order of monks, The Dominicans


Most people have ideas. Fives push that into living their ideas. When Descartes said "I think, therefore I am," we can quarrel with the science but not with his conviction. In the movie, Un Coeur en Hiver – A Heart in Winter (subtypes), Stephan sees the room the woman he loves is sharing with his friend, he does not react. But later, as he thinks about it, he passes out. I'm convinced it was a Five who invented instant replay out of the need to get the original experience into her mind.

My song about Five: The Riches of the Mind

Fives have a profound belief in the power of information. James Flaherty is a well-known coach and author of Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others. He suggests that coaches put Heidegger on the reading list to understand language. I have a degree in philosophy and I find that philosopher really difficult, practically impossible without considerable background. Additionally, Flaherty suggests The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as a reading "to develop style." Well, my copy is 1500 pages long and the style, while exquisite, is not the way coaches should talk. Only a Five would recommend such gargantuan tasks as fit for a practical coach. That is information overload, something Fives don't usually experience.

Apparently, Ken Wilber, an incredibly learned style Five, is aware of the Cartesian split and its consequences. He makes every effort to be holistic. In his book, The Marriage of Sense and Soul, he offers real help to understand more than science can address. He is a superlative source for holistic thinking. However, he is a Five. His contribution is always intricate, fulsome explanations. This chart from Wikipedia illustrates the kind of audio-visual materials you get from a style Five.

In music, the most extreme example of music reflecting the Five's emotional frugality is Philip Glass's minimalist music. He even decided that silence was a legitimate form of music! How much can he copyright? Art has its minimalist tradition, but abstract art that depends on an intellectual appreciation of form only for its pleasure would exemplify the Fives preference for emotional minimum.

As examples of how well Fives handle information, let me recommend several books by Enneagram style Five teachers. Elizabeth Wagele co-authored The Enneagram Made Easy. I'm a Seven so I claim she has a strong connection to that energy because her books so smoothly illustrate her written information with funny cartoons.

You all probably have college professors you love. They are clear, complete, organized and some are master entertainers. Dr. Jerome Wagner's lectures and books, The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles and Nine Lenses on the World, illustrate that tradition.