Positive Disintegration
The Active Mind
The Creative Life
Intensity & Well-Being
close up photo of blue liquid
Careers & Contributions
Relationships & Belonging
Memoir & Biography
Politics & Society
Pursuit of Happiness
Sorting Out Our Values

Our Mission

Here at Third Factor, our mission is to create a generative space that helps people with active intellects, deep emotions, and vivid imaginations to develop these traits in a constructive way. We aim to do this by producing inspiring but honest content, and by cultivating a community member forum that supports our goals.

Our Goals

We strive to create articles, podcasts, and other resources that are help energetic, intellectually engaged people to sort out their values and channel their energy effectively.  Our content includes grassroots memoirs and essays, interviews with a wide range of relevant experts, and biographical pieces on people whose stories show what it means to harness and channel intense intellects, imaginations, and emotions. We also work to cultivate a community where our members can sort out what their values truly are in this time of social upheaval and conflict, develop a sense of purpose, and get helpful feedback on how they can most constructively work toward that purpose.

How We’re Doing This

To have a chance of success with those broad goals, we’re working on the following supporting goals.

An Intellectually Heterodox Community: We seek to attract members with a wide variety of intellectual perspectives.  To achieve our main goal, we need to develop a community that has a diverse range of viewpoints but that is united in a willingness to engage in good faith and to agree to disagree when necessary. If you haven’t heard the best version of your opponent’s argument from someone who nevertheless respects you intellectually, it’s hard to say for sure whether you truly disagree.

An Culture of Emotional Maturity & Responsibility: This is lacking on the Internet in general, and may pose a particular challenge for especially sensitive people. We understand our members will come to us wanting to learn these skills.  We aim for a balance of positively maladjusted people who are sincere about trying to reintegrate in line with their values and positively adjusted people who are willing to engage constructively.  (In reality, of course, these will likely turn out to be the same people in different contexts.  We’re all works in progress.)

Key Themes

Our essays, memoirs, and interviews explore the challenges intellectually and emotionally engaged, abstract intense people face and the choices we make in the face of them. Here are some of our bedrock topics:

  • What it means to live with intensity—with active intellects, deep emotions, or vibrant imaginations
  • What it means to develop character—and the process of sorting out our personal values 
  • What it means to belong—and the tension between autonomy and community
  • How the Internet impacts an outlier’s sense of belonging and character—and how its algorithms interact with our sensitivities and intensities
  • How to have agency—to channel our energies toward building, developing, and Doing the Thing, which could be anything from artistic creation to social activism to entrepreneurship

Our Values

Though we’re all for autonomously embracing or rejecting values, we also want to build a community. And for a community to cohere, we’ve got to have some core values in common.  So I’ll make our hierarchy of values explicit here:

  1. Magnanimity, as we are all doing our best
  2. Critical thinking and freedom of inquiry, in support of the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Just
  3. Humility, especially of the intellectual sort (which is really embedded in the above, but is nevertheless worth making explicit)
  4. Courage, to support both of the above when it’s unpopular
  5. Autonomy, because groupthink gets in the way of the above
  6. Community, because loneliness is epidemic and if we could do this on our own, we wouldn’t need this site

We also have adopted into our creed the brilliant concept of star-manning, a term coined by writer Angel Eduardo at the Center for Inquiry. Even though it’s not our content, we’d love to direct you to his article explaining the term. If you think star-manning is a worthwhile practice, you’ll fit in well here.

We are also proud to be a member of the Institute for Liberal Values. If you take a look at their mission statement, you’ll see plenty of overlap with the above.

Positive Disintegration

If you poke around through enough of our articles, it won’t be long before you come across a reference to the theory of positive disintegration (TPD)In fact, we named the magazine after a concept from the theory.  You can read about what the third factor is here, if you want to get a deeper sense of what we’re all about.  Suffice it for now to say that this third factor fuels our readers’ stubborn determination to sort out their values for themselves, especially when the world around them seems to be going nuts.  That, after all, is the process of “positive disintegration” in a nutshell.

But if you’ve never heard of TPD and you’re not all that jazzed about digging into psychological theory, don’t worry: we’re dedicated to bringing the ideas to life through our articles.  Because we figure it’s in the stories of our fellow humans that we can best see this process of positive disintegration unfold.

Join Our Community

Like what you read here? Want to talk to others walking this path?