An IN-J explains his preference for intuition

It is remarkable how despotically premonition circumvents empiricism [i.e. N circumvents T / S]. [This is] how philosophy [N] has always done when it sets off to leap over the hedges of [concrete] experience [S] to reach its magical, alluring endpoint. Philosophy skips fleet-footedly ahead with magical boots on: Hope and presentiment lend wings to its feet. Calculating reason [S / T] clumsily follows in its tracks while looking for better footholds [a surer start], so it too may arrive at the alluring endpoint which its divine counterpart [N] has long since reached.

It’s like watching two wilderness wanderers standing by a wild, roaring river whose current is so strong that the stream drags all rocks with it: One [i.e. N] jumps effortlessly across, using the fickle rocks as [momentary] footholds, before they immediately disappear beneath him and sink into the depths. The other [i.e. S / T] stands helplessly by the stream and watches: He must first build a foundation that is sturdy enough to support his lumbering, deliberate steps. Such a construction will not always be possible, and when it is not, there exists no force in the universe that can aid him across.

What then, is it that brings philosophical thinking [N] so speedily to its goal? Is it only because it traverses all space and flies over large distances at a higher speed than the thinking that calculates and measures [S / T]? No, it is because philosophical thinking [N] is lifted by an alien [subconscious], illogical power of creative imagination. Thus uplifted, he jumps from possibility to possibility; resting places that are only momentarily safe. Occasionally this intuition will grasp such a fleeting resting place even in mid-flight. For a brilliant foresight points out the footholds to him, even across vast distances, so that he can guess from afar, that here lies a sustainable foothold.

The power of the imagination [N] is particularly evident when, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, it illuminates and seizes upon analogies: Subsequently comes the reflecting intellect [S / T] with its measuring devices and trusted templates to try and replace analogies with equations and the [the intuitiveā€™s] synchronicity with causality. But even when it turns out that this [replacement] is not possible … non-provable intuition still has its merit. For even if all the footholds [that the intuitive intellect pointed out] have crumbled by the time logic and rigid empiricism reach their location there is still, after all hopes of constructing something scientific [out of it] have been demolished, something that remains.

And in this residue lies an impelling force that gives us hope for future fertility.


  1. That’s very insightful, one of the best posts on this site. Author is definitely N and knows what he is talking about.

  2. As an Ne-user, I find this post hard to relate to. It brings to mind “insufferable crackpot”.

  3. @peculiarities Despite my own longing envy of Ni, I’m inclined to agree with you. What really bothers me here is the grandiose, condescending tone and the subtle implication that the author somehow *chose* to prefer intuition.

  4. Would you consider doing another one of these but with the intuitive preference being explained by an EN-P?

  5. I don’t feel qualified commenting but felt someone should respond to Fartaxerxes.

    I’m male, 32, ENFP, and if you ask me a simple question, my mind instantly lists pros and cons, expressed as immediate future possibilities, indefinitely. The following (approximately) happened recently:-

    My housemate: “Do you want a cup of coffee?”
    #1: “Yes! That would be tasty right now BUT WAIT”
    #2: “No! I’m sensitive to caffeine and need to sleep early tonight BUT WAIT”
    #3: “Yes! I never get opportunities to really sit down and talk with Colin like this BUT WAIT”
    #4: “No! I need to save up caffeine hits for when I need them most, and it’ll give me hunger pangs in the middle of the night BUT WAIT”
    #5: “Yes! I need to toughen up anyway and train my body to power through; I’m a grown man fercrissakes!”


    And so it took me over two minutes, I’m told, to decide whether or not I wanted a coffee one evening. This has been typical of my entire life, and I attribute it to a rampaging Ne, rightly or not.

    Other Ne things: in any group discussion at all, I always leap immediately to the most unpopular or least explored position – I always wish to ensure no potentially relevant (or not) data is left unexamined, that no definition or assumption is over-simplified, that any opportunity for broadening all available facts are taken before any decision is, and that any decision is universally precise (Ji) I cannot, unlike as I assume for an Ni user, sustain these Ne-captured possibilities in working memory for long, and so cannot usually synthesise a long-term answer from them. My thought style is much like my writing style – ridiculously digressive, full of subjunctive clauses and asides, and I prefer conditional phrasing: nothing is, everything might be.

    I speak very rapidly when engaged on a topic, because I am literally fighting to get the Ne thoughts and tangents out before they disappear: I cannot record and sustain their whole (is this what Ni does and how it relates to Ne? Ni is a powerful and enviable thing, if so!)

    I can rarely conclude the points I illustrate with my analogies and elaborate with tangents, because I can never remember what prompted the initial diversion. “Ah, but what if…!” should be written on my headstone one day.

    This is where someone tells me I’m a different type, so I apologise if my contribution was not useful.

  6. ”The other [i.e. S / T] stands helplessly by the stream and watches: He must first build a foundation that is sturdy enough to support his lumbering, deliberate steps.”

    It’s not ”lumbering”, it’s precision engineering.

    I say this as an N-dom myself.

  7. @owls
    Yup, need that Te to confirm the Ni hunch makes one whit of sense because “I think that’s wrong, this is correct” is an argument that never convinced anyone :P
    Need to demonstrate it makes sense or Just Works.

    I liken Ni’s monolithic visions to huge warehouses full of this and that, and Ni to be the warehouse management program. Ask, and it will fetch what’s relevant.

    …the problem is, Ni ideas are “bumpy” and multifaceted and sometimes you have to deliver the whole warehouse. This is why INTJs tend to give lectures on things – we want to answer accurately, but the Ni idea does not readily distill into a singular expression in Te language.

    It’s also less immediate than Ne. Ni is a brilliant function, but if it has one weakness it is that it lives everywhere but the here and now. Past, future, timeless principle, everything is fine, but the kind of snappy action you describe is hard in an Ni way.

    It’s a function for synhesizing a crapton of impressions into a coherent whole, and although it’s a cheatyface that does it annoyingly, magically quickly, it’s still far from instant unless the subject is close to something it already understands and extensive analogies can be used.

    Basically, you need a certain foundation of basic knowledge about the subject before you can cheat. This is why delving into completely new subjects is interesting and satisfying (Ni/Te get a loooottt of tasty food to create idea-blobs and heuristics from) but being asked to perform quickly, not so much. We need to grok the system first, because that’s our unit of thinking, as it were.

  8. Great post, Vesper! I am an ENFP and I relate to what you said so much. Ne is the what-if ball that never wants to stop rolling. Ne-doms, to a certain extent, don’t know if they know. Even saying “I know” literally seems to trigger something in my mind going “hmmm. Do you? But what about THIS?”

  9. Hmm, well @Vesper, I’m an ENFP too but I am sometimes forgetful of all the options and realities there can be (leaving reality behind?) until my ESTJ brother reminds me ‘but what about this option?’ (that is more based in reality and his need for closure and making sure the best option is chosen) and then I’m back to square one… So what i’m trying to say is, indecisiveness is not limited to one Function, it can manifest itself in different ways by different thought tracks of people with different functions

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