Man 1, 2 and 3
In 4th Way discourse, 'exterior man,' i.e. one who has not progressed in esoteric work past the '1st threshold,' may belong to one of three basic, according to which 'center' predominates: Man 1 is dominated by the 'moving center.' This is a man of action, capable of great consistency of will and strong discipline, can be charismatic and endowed with quasi-magical personal magnetism.
Man 2 is dominated by the emotional center. Man 2 lives according to what he likes or does not like, which can be expressed by passions for art, justice, romance, religion or other values.
Man 3 is dominated by the thinking center and is geared towards abstraction, learning and intellect.
None of these types represents the 4th Way ideal of harmonious development of man, nor is there any judgement of value as to their relative superiority.
The three first Ways of esoteric development correspond to the 3 types of man as follows: Man 1: Way of the Fakir, mastery of body, Man 2, Way of the Monk, bringing all emotion to serve an ideal of mystical or religious devotion and Man 3, Way of the Yogi, control of the thinking mind and knowledge.
One is born as either man 1, 2 or 3 and generally cannot change one's type. The 4th Way Work is possible for all types and strives to balance the development of body, feeling and thinking. As a result of the Work, one may form a 'magnetic center,' which is a beginning for crystallizing a 'real I' in the place of a constantly shifting collection of 'little I's.' In this way man 1, 2 or 3 may become man 4.
Gurdjieff writes that man nearly always processes any experience in one center only, depending on the type of experience being processed. This leads to one-sided perception of things where impressions of different centers do not generally come in touch, so that the moving, feeling and thinking functions can each live a relatively separate life. Which of these functions is the most prominent determines the man's type. Gurdjieff accordingly advices one to associate with people with whom one can interact from more than one center. Even if one developed interests in domains as diverse as sports, science and art, one tends to do so separately, thus always acting from one center at a time, interacting with different people in each activity.
It is not always easy to determine the self's type, let alone that of another. Also, the degree of "lopsidedness" of people varies, some have a more marked preference for a specific center than others. The type governs how one tends to perceive and assess the world. It is not always the case that a moving center oriented person is physically active or athletic, an emotional centered person expressive or sensitive or an thinking oriented person clever or quick witted or curious. A moving center oriented person can also be lazy, an emotional person inhibited and afraid of feeling, a thinking person dogmatic, inflexible and stupid. The type simply has to do with what center carries the most weight in reacting to the world, it does not tell us what this center's capacities, preferences and level of activity are.
The type. Or as it is also called, center of gravity of the person, can greatly affect the way in which one assesses reality and communicates. A moving center type may tend to rely on senses, as in "if I do not see it, it is not so" or "if I see it, I see it as it truly is." This is not limited to physical senses but can extend to intuitions, ESP and the like, which are in part functions of the intelligent part of the moving/instinctive center. With man 1, experience takes precedence. With man 2, things may be seen through a filter of value judgement, as in right/wrong, good/bad, noble/ignoble, beautiful/ugly. This may lead to biases such as "I refuse to believe in a God that allows such suffering", "if it is without goodness or justice, it does not exist." These biases have their negatives also, as in despair over the world's compounded iniquity. Man 3 might consider the internal consistency and logical elegance of an explanation as a criterion of truth more important than the actual first hand data. Alternately, if something is not reducible to symbols and language or is incomplete or contradictory or not systematically explained, , man 3 may tend to reject it.
Each center has an imagination and a set of likes/dislikes typical to itself. The above examples are only examples of possible biases, any actual situation is more complex since nobody is exclusively sensing/feeling/thinking. Still, when we consider these biases, we may understand in part what the "Babel of tongues" means. For clear communication, one must be cognizant of the bias or reading error of self and receiver and attempt to use each center for its appropriate function.
The Work generally aims at diversifying the functioning of people. People, specially in a competitive situation, tend to only develop the area for which they have a natural talent. Today's culture of specialization exacerbates the differences between different types of people and often favors either intellect or physical accomplishment over feeling. Yet it is only through a special development of feeling that one can truly appreciate the essence of the esoteric path. We cannot say that feeling were absent from today's world, on the contrary. The fact that mass culture overflows with emotion does not make it favor refinement of feeling. Of the lower centers, it is the feeling center which can be the most atrophied. The moving center is usually the most self-reliant, the one which is relatively developed and functional from birth. The thinking function is developed by learning language and is emphasized in the educational system, thus aside pathological situations, it cannot be entirely undeveloped.
Since people are born with and have life long habits of developing their biases, each according to circumstance and type, methods of Work cannot be uniform for all. Still, the common thread Is to develop concurrent awareness of situations in all centers, to have a unified awareness of self, also called self-remembering.
Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous and Mouravieff's Gnosis series discuss the types in detail.