Personality theorists claim we have been advancing. Some even claim we are close to understanding personality. Yet anyone taking an even cursory look at the field can see, our theories, and theorists, are in disarray. Literally. Our theories fight and argue more with each other than many of the people we seek to help. How can this be?
Some would say this is simply the way it is, that passions fly high when discussing something so important, especially when whole lives have been invested in the work. And this is true. But necessary? I think not. So what is wrong? Said simply, we have lacked a unified matrix into which we can place our work, respectfully, and pragmatically. Said in other words, we have had no way in which to noncompetitively honor each others' work without dismissing much of the value.
In this article, I will present a way. To do this, I will argue for a matrix into which all theories, past, present, and future could be placed. I will also argue that our theories will never be truly of use to people until we, ourselves, can learn to how to have our theories get along with each other.
Am I being overly ambitious? Perhaps. Even so, a good step in this direction would go a long way toward reconciling our many differences.
Let's start with the idea of a theory of the mind. Many now say such an idea is outdated. But is it?