Why Karl Marx is INTJ

A dialogue between Ryan (admin) and Aleksey (author of ‘Principles of Typology’):

Aleksey: Marx – When he did not hold a job and was supported by Engels led a very non-structured lifestyle and showed few if any tendencies towards an attempt to establish a clear-cut organized schedule. I’d say INTP, not INTJ.

Ryan: I think that dispassionate analysis is very much an INTP thing, whereas willful analysis is more of an INJ thing. (Schopenhauer’s ‘The Will’, Nietzsche’s ‘Will to Power’, Hegel’s ‘Will to the Absolute Idea’, Marx’s will to the destined Communist phase of history. The contrast is the dispassionate will-less analysis of the NTP.

INJs generally have a strong will and operate by waves and impulses whereas Ti (for NTPs) is more constant. As such, it is easier for Ti dominants, especially neurotic, schizoid/schizotypal INTPs, to adopt a certain regimentum in their daily lives whereas INTJs are liable to be governed by shifting moods.

Marx seems to be to be very Will-ful. Take, for example, his belief in his own historical prophecies: Marx prophetizes that captialistic society must collapse upon itself due to the unrestrained exploitation of the proletariat. This exploitation, he says, will only increase until the workers revolt and install a communist society.

Towards the end of his life, Marx saw that the exploitation of the workers was actually beginning to lessen. – Capitalist democracies have the power to slowly amend themselves. In Europe today, for example, there are very strict laws concerning minimum wages, maximum work hours and prohibitions of child labour.

The very thing Marx had thought impossible was beginning to happen, even in his own lifetime. But this did not lead him to accept that his theory was wrong as he was strong-willed, with no inclination for dispassionate analysis.

Aleksey: As a general rule, Ni does tend to be impulsive and Ti consistent for the reasons that you mentioned. However, your inquiry appears to overlook the distinction between external and internal world activity. Ni people tend to appear put together and organized because their leading extroverted function is much more similar to Ti than to Ni on the account that it is a judging faculty rather than a perceiving one.

You cite interesting biographical facts about Marx where he appeared to be guided more by steadfast amorphous hunches rather than by dispassionate analysis. Certainly nothing and no one was forcing him to behave in this way, hence, it would be a reasonable conjecture that he behaved in a way that was the most natural to him. I will concede the point here. INTJ.

UPDATE, JULY 2013:

The following comment was submitted by the user ‘Yuri’:

I think some people here are messing up things. INTJs are not necessarily ‘organized’. Our first function is Ni, which means when we are thinkers, our priority in life is not use Te to organize everything externally, but use Ni to bring to life knowledge through intuition. Of course there are some INTJs who are pretty realistic, but overall, when Ni is highly used, the external world is usually forgotten by us. The only important thing is our own thoughts. Nietzsche is the classic INTJ and you can see that he threw away everything for his work as a philosopher. Other thing: do you know any other philosopher who criticized so many people as Nietzsche? And I’m talking about dissecting logical inconsistencies, etc. It’s not just an INTP thing, believe me. Marx’s atacking style to Hegel, Feuerbach, capitalism, writing a book called “Misery of Philosophy”… Honestly, an INTP would never have this courage and “adversarial attitude towards the outer world”(inferior Se). INTJs are well known to question the whole system… I don’t like Marx, I hate socialism, but Marx’s apocaliptical view of capitalism screams Introverted Intuition. He is definitely INTJ. Also from my perspective his worry about production and efficiency seems Te. His philosophical position was MATERIALISM. Do you know anything more concrete than this? An INTP would never be so obsessed with worldy things and ‘praxis’…

To which we would add that Marx felt that same kinship to Heraclitus that Nietzsche did. Finally, a funny thing about Marx is that while he was obsessed with material conditions in the world, he would at the same time deny that he was an ontological materialist, though apparently for no good reason. This preoccupation with one’s own perception of one’s own ideas (as opposed to putting them on some impersonal formula) also suggests INTJ over INTP.

UPDATE JULY 2013: On that very same topic (INTJs not realizing how they warp ideas) see also Hayek’s statement on Keynes. Keynes moved further and further away from the ideas of individual and economic liberty (as defined by classical liberals), but still believed himself to be a liberal, through and through:

“Because Keynes believed that he was fundamentally still a classical English liberal and wasn’t quite aware of how far he had moved away from it. His basic ideas were still those of individual freedom. He did not think systematically enough to see the conflicts.” – Hayek, interviewed by Hazlett; may 1977, reproduced in ‘The Road from Serfdom’ 1992 ed.

15 Comments

  1. Marx can’t be an intj!I’m an intp and although I don’t have an organized lifestyle,I can become obsessed with things I consider worth my attention.This willpower you attribute to intjs comes with discipline.In case of intps,willpower must come through the process of idealization of a concept.The more marx saw potential in his work for a perfect society,the more time he spent on his work.I can assure you it is absolutely typical for intps to be this way.plus intjs don’t take risks exploring things outside of a framework.intps however are very risky and very rebellious when it comes to ways of thinking and always try to do things their own way.Marx’s “radical” ideology makes it crystal clear he’s intp.

  2. I have a question-where do intj’s get all the informations they use they make connections with(Ni)? For example with INTP’s(like myself) we look out in the external world and gather information by Ne that is then rationalized(Ti). Being that intj’s function is an introverted one and their auxiliary is a judging one I dont understand where they get all their information that is synthesized. Technically for them to get the ideas that are synthesized by Ni they had to use Ne to get them. Is the Ne subconscious or something? there only extroverted function is Se which is concrete. This goes for infj’s too

  3. also ive noticed in some of your pictures of the cognitive funcions of a certain type show that a large part of an dominant extraverted function is still introverted and vice versa. For example, in the INTP functions picture that is provided in your website you have the dominant,introverted thinking function crossing the extraverted side a good amount. In the picture the Te is almost equal to Si and larger than Fe. Why isnt Te then described as a tertiary or inferior function? How are the shadow functions used? this is annoying me cause no mbti place seems to address this.

  4. @ Michael . As an INTJ when I was younger I used to ask myself the same question. My intuition appeared to be correct almost everytime. Now older I think it may be as an introvert and observer I seem to see, hear, read things, people’s actions and situations that other people miss. Sometimes it is really subtle things that on their own may not mean anything. I then find patterns which I analyse without even knowing I’m doing it.
    When my son was at nursery school when he was two, the staff told me he had a strong intuition and instinctively knew what was going on around him.

  5. It was ‘logical’ enough to sway most Western intellectuals for almost a century. But at any rate, INTJ ins’t *just* about logic. Its an intuitive-dominant type after all.

  6. These aren’t enough reasons to prove that Marx was an INTJ. I don’t even think this is a reason because any type can be willful. I need examples of Ni-Te functions at work.

  7. True enough. Check the date. It was written many years ago (and even years before it was published here). Knowledge of the functions was not as widespread back then as it is now. We will probably get around to updating it sooner or later, but right now, we’re working on other articles.

  8. It’s not just about schedule. Marx was a man who was disorganized in pretty much everything but the product of his thought. There is a certain regularity to Ti that Ni lacks, but Marx didn’t have sudden flashes of insight; instead, he worked through problems through copious reading and writing. He started many more projects than he finished, and took forever to complete what he did because he was constantly rewriting.

    If you read his technical work on political economy especially, it’s clear that his approach is to great extent a matter of finding logical inconsistencies in others’ work and playing around with the system until the basic principles finally become clear and the whole system is on solid foundation. You can see this in other domains as well, though it’s not as obvious.

    The first several chapters of Capital, in particular, I feel are very conspicuously evocative of a Ne-Ti style of thinking.

    He was by all accounts a negligent husband and doting, solicitous father (though that could be taken multiple ways.) He certainly had a very high opinion of his own intellect, which is seen as something nearly universal among INTJs, but it’s hardly uncommon among INTPs either. He changed his mind plenty of times (not that INTJs can’t change their minds.)

    In short: more workmanship than flashes of insight, no discipline in external life whatsoever, lots of playing with concepts, lots of logical analysis. INTP (IMO.)

  9. I think some people here are messing up things. INTJs are not necessarily ‘organized’. Our first function is Ni, which means when we are thinkers, our priority in life is not use Te to organize everything externally, but use Ni to bring to life knowledge through intuition. Of course there are some INTJs who are pretty realistic, but overall, when Ni is highly used, the external world is usually forgotten by us. The only important thing is our own thoughts. Nietzsche is the classic INTJ and you can see that he threw away everything for his work as a philosopher. Other thing: do you know any other philosopher who criticized so many people as Nietzsche? And I’m talking about dissecting logical inconsistencies, etc. It’s not just an INTP thing, believe me. Marx’s atacking style to Hegel, Feuerbach, capitalism, writing a book called “Misery of Philosophy”… Honestly, an INTP would never have this courage and “adversarial attitude towards the outer world”(inferior Se). INTJs are well known to question the whole system… I don’t like Marx, I hate socialism, but Marx’s apocaliptical view of capitalism screams Introverted Intuition. He is definitely INTJ. Also from my perspective his worry about production and efficiency seems Te. His philosophical position was MATERIALISM. Do you know anything more concrete than this? An INTP would never be so obsessed with worldy things and ‘praxis’…

  10. Good comment, it’s almost better than the actual post. Indeed, Kant was far more organized than most ‘Js’; the messy/tidy thing is really a pedagogical truism that has outlived itself. To your list we would also like to add that Marx felt that same kinship to Heraclitus that Nietzsche did. Finally, a funny thing about Marx is that while he was obsessed with material conditions in the world, he would at the same time deny that he was an ontological materialist, though apparently for no good reason. This preoccupation with one’s own perception of one’s own ideas (as opposed to putting them on some impersonal formula) also suggests INTJ over INTP.

  11. Nonsense Ryan,
    Marx never “prophetizes that captialistic society must collapse upon itself due to the unrestrained exploitation of the proletariat.” in Das Kapital.
    Capital(the first volume being the only one Marx himself finished) isn’t about communism, it’s an extremely viable (try reading it) exposition of capital(ism).

  12. I would argue that isn’t his stance (he wasn’t nearly so reductionist a thinker) and that people often muddle together his rhetorical writings and statements (from the communist manifesto for example), with his theoretical (Das Kapital), in an attempt to discredit him. If you’re thinking of Popper’s cries of historical determinism, he also calls Darwin’s theory unfalsifiable, and unscientific in the same work.

    A brief, relevant quote:
    “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” (18th Brumaire…)

  13. I love how they got to “knock us down a notch” with the insistence that a fully developed INTJ would commit to a warped idea. Is not the INTP the primary type to fall into the trap of logical purity and inefficacy of idealism? I posit that a “warped” idea is one which is objectively inaccurate and is hardly something the common person is capable of discerning with any great regularity regardless of their personality type. Personally, my primary contention with the external world is something like the INTP’s obsession with logical consistency though my objection is what peopel say and do, not that the outcome isn’t ultimately logical, because if you understand, it is. Basically, either people are, on average, retarded, or they are immensely evil. Which one do you prefer to believe? I prefer objectively accurate, so mostly retarded, some evil. Thats Real

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