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  1. #1
    Sniffles
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    Default Can any INFJs(NFs) relate to this?

    This is from Steven Schroeder's introduction to Heretics by GK Chesterton, where he describes Chesterton's writing and thinking style:
    "Chesterton's background and training in the visual arts (he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London) always influenced his writing and very likely contributed to the preponderance of image over linear argument so many commentators have noted (some favorably, some not). But he was a thereotician at heart...He was never an academic and never aspired to be one; preferring to refer to himself as a journalist....As a journalist, he plunged into whatever topic presented itself; this has lead some to criticize him for spreading himself too thin, never staying with one topic long enough to achieve scholarly depth...Chesterton never trusted the persuasive power of "pure" reason (which he associated with insanity), so it not surprising that his rhetoric inclines towards something less pure -- something that more nearly approximates the language one might hear in the community (as Chesterton would put it) or a third class coach than the language one might hear in a lecture hall."
    Chesterton has been classifed as an Introverted Intuitive, and my wild guess would be INFJ(He is nowhere near an INTJ).

    Anyways, can anyother INFJs(or even NFs in general) relate to this description? I know I can. My interests and perspectives are absolutely scattered all over the place; and yes it does often result in a lack of scholarly "depth" on many of those issues.

    Yet I like the fact that I don't need to get involved with details in order to grasp the main point of something; and allows me to engage in discussions on numerous topics.

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    Yes, this makes sense to me as I also am trained in the visual arts and see concepts as pictures rather than a string of logic (which I also mistrust, btw). While I have many diverse and complimentary interests (to create balance in my life), my experience with spirituality represents a particular focus, but the pieces within that are themselves scattered throughout a variety of times/places. I try to use solidly-established truth (universally held - has stood the test of time) along with well-known historical occurances to kinda triangulate....as if one were navigating the seas based on known fixed points. This way, I have a great deal of freedom, creativity and latitude spiritually in the present.

    Now, the funny thing is that as I became immersed (over many years) in other related moments in history (based on critical historical studies), I found that many of these "fixed points" actually directly interrelated in some surprising ways. That blew my mind!!! In time it appeared to me as something of a connect-the-dots puzzle......and there was an image hidden amidst all those dots. It's something I seldom discuss as it's very complicated. I only mention it here because I think processing information in ways additional to logic can be very fruitful.

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    Senior Member edcoaching's Avatar
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    And I like Chesterton, too! I think INFJs just assume we can study something well enough to make a mark in an area. No formal training necessary but on the other hand we will really delve into it and make ourselves experts. It doesn't occur to me to stick to my supposed area of expertise when there's so much more to learn.
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    The concept of being a journalist and spreading oneself too thin is interesting, too. There is value in delving into a particular area of specialized, scholarly study, but how needed are those who can access that work and connect a variety of well-studied thought trajectories, processing them into a whole new comprehensive connected pattern that one might not see if more narrowly focussed. In this way one can interpret and apply thought in a variety of ways....the work of the scholar is given mobility.

    Thomas Merton's book "The Wisdom of the Desert" is an example of this....his journalistic forward alone makes the (short) book well worth the read!!!

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    Senior Member helen's Avatar
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    I'm an INFJ, and I like Chesterton, too.

    I especially like this about him:
    Chesterton's background and training in the visual arts (he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London) always influenced his writing and very likely contributed to the preponderance of image over linear argument so many commentators have noted
    And this:
    Chesterton never trusted the persuasive power of "pure" reason (which he associated with insanity),
    I'm not so sure about him being an INFJ, though. Something about his exuberance and enthusiastic extolling of community make him seem like an extrovert, to me. ENFJ? Just a thought.

    Oh, about the main question in this post, I can kinda relate to having scattered interests and reading widely and not being an expert on anything in particular. But I don't know that that makes me like Chesterton. . .
    "There ain't no doubt in no one's mind that love's the finest thing around. Whisper something soft and kind." --James Taylor

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    Senior Member vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    Chesterton never trusted the persuasive power of "pure" reason (which he associated with insanity)
    That's at least one thing that resonates with me, being an INFJ.

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    Yes, the "insanity" part is especially interesting. I have heard very linear, logical types work through an issue (in this case theological, but the same thing applies to many things) and often their conclusions lob off great expanses of important information based on actual experience (which is always much more non-linear). The best reasoning I have heard allows for both.

    It happens at work all the time....decisions are based on data sets that do not take into account a variety of real-life factors. It always bites them in the butt.

  8. #8
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    So many interesting responses. I'll have to take my time addressing some of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by helen View Post
    I'm not so sure about him being an INFJ, though. Something about his exuberance and enthusiastic extolling of community make him seem like an extrovert, to me. ENFJ? Just a thought.
    Really? I come to the exact opposite conclusion. An ethusiastic extolling of community seems to be a common theme among the writings of many famous INFJs(Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, etc.) , and is even a theme I often comment on. Martin Buber, another INFJ, was even a leading intellectual father of Communitarian thought.

    This seems to be an outgrowth of Fe, and the deep concern for other people it involves. As one biogapher of Dostoevsky noted, he had a deep longing to connect with other people, yet was unable to due to his introverted nature.

    This is a common problem with many INFJs I notice(me included). It even goes back to the Biblical prophets(whom INFJs are often compared to); they try to connect with and inspire the people, yet are disconnected from them due to the power of their visions - which is beyond the grasp of most people.

    It should also be noted that Communitarian is not the same as Collectivist. Chesterton, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Buber, and other INFJs to a man opposed anykind of tyrannical collectivism which denied the dignity to the human person. But neither did they embrace abstract individualism either, which meant man was disconnected from his fellow man. Rather they taught that the human personality is enhanced through his relationship with others, not denigraded.

    Chesterton's socio-political views(Distributism) doesn't get as much attention as his religious writings.

    I don't have any biographies of Chesterton on me at the moment, but much of what has been written about his personality seems to reflect an introverted aspect. And also keep in mind, it's common for INFJs to be mistaken for extroverts at times.

  9. #9
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    gokartride, there's so much in your post I could comment on.

    Your remarks concerning thought processes being like at sea, having to navigate through "fixed points" is almost exactly what I often say - only I use land-based references. And "connect the dots" is also a phrase I commonly use as well in regards to my thinking processes.

    And the reference to "pure" reason being insanity is on the mark. Chesterton often referred to himself as a "complete thinker", a man who used his reason along with his other attributes.

    In fact here's one excerpt from Orthodoxy explaining this:

    "Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. The determinist makes the theory of causation quite clear, and then finds that he cannot say "if you please" to the housemaid. The Christian permits free will to remain a sacred mystery; but because of this his relations with the housemaid become of a sparkling and crystal clearness. He puts the seed of dogma in a central darkness; but it branches forth in all directions with abounding natural health."
    -- pg.230
    I highlighted those particular sentences because I think they hit the INFJ perspective right on the head of the nail. I always get the impression of having one foot in the realm of logic and another in the realm of "fairyland". And paradox is a key component of my line of thought.

    The notion of life and the universe being an endless mystery fascinates me to no end, the notion that there are somethings we can never fully understand. Quite a contrast to our INTJ cousins, as was mentioned in recently in one thread, who constantly see life more as a problem.

    Interestingly enough, in a discussion w/Liason, I compared my style of argumentation as being more "mystical" in style to the more seemingly "analytical" style of INTJs.

    Sorry if I'm rabbling on here. I'll end it here.

  10. #10
    Senior Member helen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    So many interesting responses. I'll have to take my time addressing some of them.



    Really? I come to the exact opposite conclusion. An ethusiastic extolling of community seems to be a common theme among the writings of many famous INFJs(Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, etc.) , and is even a theme I often comment on. Martin Buber, another INFJ, was even a leading intellectual father of Communitarian thought.

    This seems to be an outgrowth of Fe, and the deep concern for other people it involves. As one biogapher of Dostoevsky noted, he had a deep longing to connect with other people, yet was unable to due to his introverted nature.

    This is a common problem with many INFJs I notice(me included). It even goes back to the Biblical prophets(whom INFJs are often compared to); they try to connect with and inspire the people, yet are disconnected from them due to the power of their visions - which is beyond the grasp of most people.

    It should also be noted that Communitarian is not the same as Collectivist. Chesterton, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Buber, and other INFJs to a man opposed anykind of tyrannical collectivism which denied the dignity to the human person. But neither did they embrace abstract individualism either, which meant man was disconnected from his fellow man. Rather they taught that the human personality is enhanced through his relationship with others, not denigraded.

    Chesterton's socio-political views(Distributism) doesn't get as much attention as his religious writings.

    I don't have any biographies of Chesterton on me at the moment, but much of what has been written about his personality seems to reflect an introverted aspect. And also keep in mind, it's common for INFJs to be mistaken for extroverts at times.
    Hi there,
    I can see how this could be true (Chesterton being an INFJ). I wasn't actually thinking in terms of Fe, but that makes sense. I'm kinda new to function theory, and I haven't actually read anything by Chesterton in a couple years, so. . . *shrugs* I just remember being left with the impression that his was a more extroverted nature than mine, particularly after reading "The Flying Inn." Chesterton is such an awesome writer, btw. I love the Father Brown Mysteries, and "The Man Who Was Thursday," and "The Everlasting Man."

    It is interesting that you like Martin Buber as well. So far, I haven't come across many people that are familiar with his writings. He is a writer that I am greatly interested in at this time. I agree that he is definitely an INFJ. In some of his essays, the Fe just sort reaches out from the page and touches you. *shivers* It's cool.

    I discovered Martin Buber by reading an essay online about theological language that quoted extensively from "I and Thou." I liked the quotes so much that I bought the book, and liked the book so much that I bought a few others. I read "Good and Evil" and am a couple essays into "The Knowledge of Man." I'd like to become very familiar with his writings and thought, but am just reading his books at random for lack of any more directed reading plan. But he's written so much and I'm not sure what to focus on first.

    If you've read a lot of his works and could offer any guidance and suggestions to a Martin Buber newbie, I would be much obliged.
    "There ain't no doubt in no one's mind that love's the finest thing around. Whisper something soft and kind." --James Taylor

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