“Before anything else, we must work out a method of emending the intellect and of purifying it, as far as is feasible at the outset, so that it may succeed in understanding things without error and as well as possible. So now it will be evident that my purpose is to direct all the sciences to one end and goal, that is (as we have said) the achievement of the highest human perfection. Thus everything in the sciences which does nothing to advance us towards our goal must be rejected as useless” Baruch Spinoza
Disclaimer: As has been indicated in my previous writings on typology, my profiles are about the philosophy of a particular type and not behavior thereof. I write about the unconscious tendencies and not the external manifestations of such tendencies. This profile is dedicated to INTP philosophy and not what we may observe in our INTPs next door. As we know, our unconscious tendencies inevitably manifest in a concrete, external fashion. However, there is no need to tie this or that unconscious tendency to one particular external act. Our external behavior can easily be influenced by the context it is acted out in, and most distinctly by our external influences. Carl Jung has a distinction in his profile descriptions of ‘function’ and type. In the former he describes how the psychology of the function works, and in the latter how people of such type tend to behave. This profile is exclusively about the former, whatever references I may make to the latter are only means to the end of better understanding the former. If you’re looking for a description of ‘type’, you’d be well advised to stop reading now. For such information, you’re best off turning to the Paul James INTP profile.
An INTP Profile
Introversion: The attitude defining the external world in relation to the unconscious archetype. As a rule, the external world is subjected to the standard concocted within the mind of the introvert.
Extroversion: The attitude of defining the inner being by an external standard. By and large, the character of the inner being dissolves in the face of the external object. The inner life seeks to conform to the outer.
Thinking: Application of the impersonal
INTP is a radically introverted type. This is the case because this type is much more influenced by the mind than the external world. First of all due to the heavy introversion of the INTP which is reinforced by Intuition. Secondly because of the nature of Introverted Thinking which by itself is the most internally focused faculty. Introverted Thinking tends to be tough-minded and therefore not as easily fettered by others extrinsic elements such as Feeling, Intuition and Sensation. Hence, Ti preserves more of the element of introversion than its introverted counterparts. Evidently, this tends to lead to an uncommon resilience and insistence on attunement with one’s inner perspective as well as a marked aversion to extroversion. The former is the case evidently due to the tough-minded nature of Introverted Thinking and the latter due to the distinct preference for Introversion over Extroversion. As Jung notes Introverted Thinking is primarily oriented by the subjective factor. One may wonder what the meaning of such a proposition is granted that we tend to associate Thinking with objective, impartial judgment, yet here Jung asserts that Introverted Thinking is primarily oriented around the subject. The subjectivity that Jung speaks of is not to be interpreted as synonymous with arbitrariness, but rather tantamount to pertaining to the inner life or the outer.
Thus we can equate a subject with the mind and object with the external world. A subject with the inner life and object with the outer. If we grant that it is the Thinking faculty that is to be associated with objectivity of judgment, it is not at all the case that Introversion is an impediment in such a regard. One may think that since the Introverted Thinker assesses the external world based on his inner quota, it likely is the case that he may attempt to shape the external world into what the inner vision would like to see it as. That is without a doubt the case, however we clearly see a parallel of such activity in extroversion where the subject is forced to conform to the external standard. In any case this appears to show that neither extroversion nor extroversion tend to be advantageous when it comes to the matter of attaining highest objectivity possible. Yet, whether the subject or the object is made to conform to one another is irrelevant because the salient aspect of the problem is Thinking and not Extroversion or Introversion. On that account we see that it is the Thinking that is made to conform to either object or the subject, which by its own nature is impersonal. Therefore the strong tendency towards either Extroversion or Introversion will not make the Thinking in itself any more or less impersonal. The distinction that we shall see between the two phenomena is that Introversion will lead the Thinker to contemplate problems pertaining directly to his unconscious, yet Extroversion to contemplate problems relating not to himself but to the outer world. However, once again, Thinking remains Thinking, or impersonal by its own essence. Hence, on one hand we have the objective or impersonal analysis of external phenomena and on the other an objective or impersonal analysis of problems pertaining to one’s inner life.
One may ask what exactly drives Introverted Thinking, what exactly is this aforementioned inner world? Essentially it is one’s unconscious mind and unconscious tendencies that the Thinking of such a type primarily orients around. Hence, because the inner life of the INTP is most concerned with logical analysis, the unconscious mind of this type gravitates towards ideas that require calm and careful contemplation. For this reason we very often observe that this type is highly represented in the field of Mathematics, Hard Sciences and Philosophy. Essentially the enterprises where the preference for impersonal analysis over the human element is firmly pronounced. INTPs who have not developed skill in such enterprises are likely missing out on much, as these tend to be the enterprises where a sound Thinking faculty is most in demand. There can be no doubt that impersonal analysis may be applied to all things, yet in many other intellectual enterprises the resistance to dispassionate analysis is much greater. Or the Thinking is often objected by the human element (F), concrete tasks (S), and visions often irrelevant to the problem requiring solution (N).
“It begins with the subject and leads back to the subject, far though it may range into realm of actual reality. With regard to establishment of new facts it is only indirectly of value, since new views rather than knowledge of new facts are its main concern. It formulates questions and creates theories, it opens up new prospects and insights, but with regard to facts its attitude is one of reserve”. This aspect of this type shows a marked preference for a subject over the object. Thus, unlike an Extrovert who is primarily concerned with establishing the existence of the objective reality outside of himself, the INTP is concerned with the external world only to the extent that they relate to his inner life. Thus, the purpose of observing the external world is to understand it. Introverted Thinking is more synthetic than Extroverted Thinking on the account of being closer to the unconscious mind itself.
“Facts are of secondary importance for this kind of thinking; what seems to it of paramount importance is the development and presentation of the subjective idea, of the initial symbolic image hovering darkly before the mind’s eye. Its aim is never an intellectual reconstruction of the concrete fact, but a shaping of that dark image into a luminous idea. It wants to reach reality, to see how the external fact will fit into and fill the framework of the idea, and the creative power of this thinking shows itself when it actually creates an idea which, though not inherent in the concrete fact, is yet the most suitable expression of it. Its task is completed when the idea it has fashioned seems to emerge so inevitably from the external facts that they actually prove its validity.”
Thus, the Introverted Thinking cannot accept concrete facts as self-evident, propositions are only deemed to be true after they have been subjected to rigorous logical scrutiny. Since the introverted Thinking relies much more on the inner world than the external reality, the Thinking itself is inspired by the internally established premises and axioms. It inevitably imposes the ways of its own operation onto the external world, or in its own mind expects the entities observed in the external world to conform to its principles and ideas. Because Introverted Thinking is most concerned with contemplation and not action, it will not force the external entities to embrace its values and ideas, yet rejection of ideas in the external world that are not in tune with the Thinking of the inner life could not have been any more clear. Introverted Thinking may be less rigid than Extroverted Thinking because it relies on the mind itself more than the Extroverted, for the reasons mentioned above, yet the reliance on the previously established inner premises and ideas is unmistakable. Just like the Extroverted Thinker often finds one standard to assess all things by, and simply reject whatever does not agree with the standard, the reliance of the Introverted Thinking on its inner archetypes is unmistakable. If the Thinking is not properly supported by Intuition or any other Extroverted faculty, it will be very difficult for the INTP to divorce himself from the archetypes that his mind orients around. In extreme or even pathological cases, the INTP will not be able to perceive the external entities in its own right, but will try to shape them into what the inner life wants to have them as. The inner archetypes are inspired by his unconscious tendencies, most obviously and the accumulation of ideas based on what he has thought about before.
”But no more than extraverted thinking can wrest a sound empirical concept from concrete facts or create new ones can introverted thinking translate the initial image into an idea adequately adapted to the facts. For, as in the former case the purely empirical accumulation of facts paralyzes thought and smothers their meaning, so in the latter case introverted thinking shows a dangerous tendency to force the facts into the shape of its image, or ignore them altogether in order to give fantasy free play. In that event it will be impossible for the finished product—the idea—to repudiate its derivation from the dim archaic image. It will have a mythological streak which one is apt to interpret as “originality” or, in more pronounced cases, as mere whimsicality, since its archaic character is not immediately apparent to specialists unfamiliar with mythological motifs. The subjective power of conviction exerted by an idea of this kind is usually very great, and it is all the greater the less it comes into contact with external facts.”
Such a claim of Jung clearly shows that the more the INTP introverts, the more difficult it becomes for him to retain objective understanding of the external world. In such cases the Thinking takes over the temperament of the INTP. Thinking will be seen as an end in itself. Or the INTP will be doing logic for its own sake. Not to solve any particular problem, but simply to solve problems of any kind, whatever they may be. The attempted problems often have little to do with the external world, as the INTP will try to shape the external information into whatever best fits the inner standard. For this reason the work of the Extroverted Intuition will often be distorted to a radical degree. The external reality will be replaced by the INTP’s world of theoretical possibilities. The reasoning of the INTP may be as close to impeccable as it could have been, yet the more he resigns himself to the influences of the inner life and the unconscious, the more likely he is to arrive at false conclusions about the external world. That is the case because however sound his reasoning may be, his premises would have little to do with the external reality. The more he introverts, the less likely he is to recognize this as the case even when the situation could not have been any more obvious. That is so because the more he goes inward, the more he relies on the inner archetypes which shall have his thinking tied down to themselves like a dog to a chain. Moreover, the tough-minded aspect of Introverted Thinking or Thinking itself is a salient factor. The Thinking resides internally and the more the INTP indulges in his inner life, the more self-righteous he becomes as the Thinking becomes slave to his Introversion or the archetypes that dwell within his unconscious. Thus, the INTP will apply his casual tough-minded approach not to the pursuit of truth, but merely to the preservation of his unconscious archetypes, as in that cases those images would be all that he may know.
Jung has made a very incisive observation earlier that the Thinking will only appear creative and whimsical, but Thinking remains Thinking in its own right, not imagination. The merits of imagination of the INTP stem from the Extroverted Intuition which often appears to be lacking when the INTP is not balanced. Thus, the sheer depth of thought and attunement with the unconscious is often mistaken for the creative power itself. In reality, however, the Introverted Thinking merely takes the INTP inwards and then Intuition, because the proper attention is not paid to this faculty becomes no more than a serf of the Thinking type. The Intuitive energy at that point is diminished as well, yet used to further promote the ventures of the Introverted Thinking.
“The extraordinary impoverishment of introverted thinking is compensated by a wealth of unconscious facts. The more consciousness is impelled by the thinking function to confine itself within the smallest and emptiest circle—which seems, however, to contain all the riches of the gods—the more the unconscious fantasies will be enriched by a multitude of archaic contents, a veritable “pandaemonium” of irrational and magical figures, whose physiognomy will accord with the nature of the function that will supersede the thinking function as the vehicle of life. If it should be the intuitive function, then the ‘other side’ will be viewed through the eyes of a Kubin or a Meyrink. If it is the feeling function, then quite the unheard-of fantastic feeling relationships will be formed, coupled with contradictory and unintelligible value judgments. If it is the sensation function, the sense will nose up something new, and never experienced before, in and outside of the body. Closer examinations of these permutations will easily demonstrate a recrudescence of primitive psychology with all its characteristic features.”
Such examples seem to show that the Extroverted faculties of the INTP tend to be weak and subservient to the introverted, most prominently so to the Introverted Thinking. As we have established in our earlier profiles, the Hegelian master slave dialect seems to be prominent in Jung’s typology. This is a distinct example of such a phenomenon. The poorly developed extroverted functions often manifest themselves in examples similar to those above. The INTP as the most internally focused type is in greatest risk of all types to incur a off-balance disposition.
The tough-minded and intense Thinking oriented approach to life renders the INTP competent at nearly all activities that he holds an interest in. His focus tends to be rather narrow, as the primary aim of Introversion is ‘intensity and not extensity’, and the Introverted Judgment in this regard is even more selective than that of the Introverted perception. Introversion by its nature is very selective as it is subject oriented rather than object oriented. The INTP, being the most internally focused type is the most selective of all in that regard. The primary object of Thinking is attaining competence, and the INTP tends to be very discriminative in selections of those endeavors. Very often such endeavors are those that place a high premium on intense logical scrutiny of abstract matters. Much like the aforementioned Mathematics, physics and formal logic. By and large the INTP having invested much of his energy in such activities often finds himself incompetent and ignorant in relation to almost everything else. This he will admit only with great difficulty as the inner drive of his predominant Thinking faculty compels him to believe that he is or will be competent at nearly everything. This tends to hold within the unconscious for the INTP as the Thinking is profoundly internally focused.
In this one important respect the INTP is very different from the Extorverted Thinker who primarily orients around the external agenda to ascertain of his own competence. For instance, an ETJ will need to have formal accolades and victories in order to be sure of his own competence, he orients around what is and not what could be. He will not deem himself competent unless he could show to the world how competent he is. Yet the INTP merely needs to have a theoretical notion of his own competence and will often be concerned very little to follow through on this. Such a mental disposition often leads the INTP to overestimate his own prowess and ignore the crude fact that he is incompetent in many matters outside of his field of specialization. Should he have come to terms with this matter, he would have been hardly disturbed as the INTP in question would hardly hesitate to dismiss those matters as unimportant simply because they do not occupy a notable position in his internal agenda. Due to the very narrow focus of Introverted Judgment, the INTP holds an interest primarily in matters that he naturally tends to excel, as for the rest, it would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that in his world they hardly exist. This, of course is the mindset of a very stiff Introverted Thinking faculty. INTPs naturally dabble at many things outside of their field of expertise and specialization, especially so after they have cultivated their Extroverted Intuition. Yet clearly hold very little interest in attaining mastery of those endeavors to the extent that they have in the field of their specialization. For those reasons it is very common to observe INTP scholars become gurus in the field of their practice, yet retain no more than a superficial understanding of ideas that are not very closely linked to what they are most intensely focused on.
As has been stated before, the Introverted Thinking cannot run on itself. It is merely a conscious scrutiny of information already collected. If there is no fuel to come by from the faculty of Extroverted Intuition the INTP will scrutinize the old information to the point of great extremity. He will think them out to the maximum. Yet no matter how logically consistent and deep his analysis may be, he will likely fail to solve the greater and more significant problems as he simply has no notion of them because he has failed to collect the relevant information. The more neurotic the Thinking faculty goes, the more in possession of the faculties of perception it becomes. In extreme cases it may get to the point where only the information that is relevant to the agenda of Introverted Thinking could be collected. In such cases, it would be close to impossible for the INTP to solve relevant problems concerning the external world as he is much too caught up in his inner life. By and large, due to the intensity of focus on the inner life, the INTP tends to hold little interest in ideas that are not directly relevant to his inner life and the agenda of Introverted Thinking. The more unbalanced such a type becomes, the more difficult it would be for the INTP to do genuine thinking, despite that this is nearly the essence of the type itself. That is because the INTP will be tied down to the inner archetypes which will preclude new information from flowing in. Or in colloquial terms, the INTP will not be able to think at all because there will be nothing to think about other than the matters that have already been integrated into the inner life, which of course, have already been thought out to the maximum. This is where we encounter the axis of Introverted Sensation in the INTP which is a very servile lackey to the ostensible introversion of this type. Not only will the Thinking be tied down to the inner life, but it will also be calcified by the concrete images bestowed upon it by the primitive Introverted Sensation of the type. This is not to argue that the Introverted Sensation by the property of itself is primitive, yet in the case of the INTP, it very much is as it tends to be under-developed. Thus, in such cases, the INTP will not be open-minded as a typical Intuitive is but will merely rely on the ‘wealth of unconscious facts’ stored within the Ti-Si faculties. This does indeed parallel how the dominant Extroverted Judging types often make hasty judgments without first having thought the matters through. They are tied down to the external convention in analogous fashion as INTPs are to their inner archetypes which could not be refreshed due to the want of Extroverted perception. This is the danger previously noted by Jung in regards to how the intense inner scrutiny of the INTP could render satisfactory interaction with the external world difficult. In exaggerated and extreme cases impossible, this is the gist of the absent-minded professor persona who simply has no notion of the environment surrounding him.