Typology for Absolute Beginners



  1. Nice post, although I can’t agree with picking Rand as a representative INTJ.

    Ayn Rand’s Objectivist epistemology cannot be the thought of someone whose dominant function was Introverted Intuition, in fact, it left me wondering whether she had Ni at all.

    Rand basically denies the very existence of intuition, and believes that all knowledge is the result of sensory perception followed by reason. Any two-year old INTJ, or a well-developed ES*P should be able to contradict her.

    Rand even included intuition under the “mysticism” tag: ” Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as ‘instinct,’ ‘intuition,’ ‘revelation,’ or any form of ‘just knowing.'”. Yep, Rand says that “aha guess”(also known as Ni) is a lie. Of course, she might be an INTJ, just like a person who reads Kant’s critiques 12 hours a day and never went to a party in 10 years can be ESFP. However, as one true INTJ once said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Her intellectual upbringing(including influence of Nietzsche’s works, which she later denied) made her superficially seem like an INTJ. Finally her “ferocity of convictions” is common in all TJs, and cannot be considered evidence of primary, or secondary, or at all, Ni.

    My typing: ESTJ, which pretty strong tertiary Ne, which explains her popular appeal. I’d like to hear your feedback.

  2. Hi there, and thanks. ^^

    Quite besides the question of whether Rand is INTJ or not, we would propose a different methodology than the one you suggest.

    If you read chapter VIII in Psychological Types, you will see that Jung’s innovation on James’ typology was to use the terms *psychologically* instead of *philosophically*.

    For example, David Hume was a radical empiricist, but in Jung’s typology, we cannot say that because he was a sensory empiricist, he was therefore a Sensation type. If we did that, we would not be using a *psychological* classification of material, but a *philosophical* one.

    Rand disliked intuition as philosophical method, as you indeed say. But at the same time, one of the most crucial biographical and psychological critiques of Rand is that she always believed she was right, indeed, she “just knew” she was right over and over again. Intellectual “laws” followed, but they changed at a whim.

  3. And I would naturally happen to ask: How did Rand acquire such philosphical beliefs? From her “own mind”, as she claimed? If her own mind told that there’s no intuition, she can’t be an INTJ. If she got the ideas from other philosphers’ works, well, that doesn’t look like the independence and originality that an INTJ should possess.

    Now about empiricism. Interestingly enough, I see no way in which empiricism would be opposed to Extraverted Intuition, and all the great empiricists I found on this website(Locke, Hume and Hobbes) have Ne. It’s not Socrates-like intuition(grasping patterns in the external world) what empiricists are denying, but those aha hunches(like Tesla’s visions, say).

    Another point: although Rand immensely appreciated Aristotle, she happened to disagree with him exactly on the point of intuition. Probably influenced by Plato’s views, Aristotle posited that intuition allows one to fully grasp the reality. Rand claimed that no such thing exists.

    “she “just knew” she was right over and over again.”
    I don’t know a single ESTJ who doesn’t believe that he or she is right all the time. Logical interpretation(as seen by them) of and action upon the external world(Te) + perseverence, steadiness(Si). How could they ever be wrong?

  4. “If her own mind told that there’s no intuition, she can’t be an INTJ.”

    That is still using the typology philosophically. Again, refer to the example of David Hume. Supposing that everything is in the end Sensation, does not make him a Sensation type by Jung’s premises, only by James’, which are explicitly rejected by Jung.

    You already hint that the brand of British empiricism, which ultimately harks back to Sensation, does not make one an S type.

    In the same way, the same word ‘intuition’ can be used with different meanings. That Rand railed against intuition was a philosophical statement and there is nothing in her works to suggest that she was using the Jungian term when she denied cognizing intuition within herself. More likely, she was using the word ‘intuition’ epistemologically.

    Again, the whole line of argument is epistemological/philosophical, not psychological. Psychologically speaking we may say that Ni types do in fact often believe whatever they produce to be “objective discoveries,” the result of “rational analysis alone,” and so on. This is confirmed by Jung in Psychological Types §656. Being introverted perception types, Ni types do not themselves see the external data they are shutting out from their cognition. So which data is accepted and which is shut out? That is guided by unconscious perception – i.e. intuition.

    Some Ni types, such as Nietzsche, have the extraordinary self-insight to see how they are in fact led along a certain path by such intuition. But as indicated from Jung’s portrait, most Ni types are blind to the fact that they are guided by irrational intuition, thinking instead that they are perceiving the world “objectively.”

  5. What’s with Isabel Myers’ principle: “Own best judge” then? Would Ayn Rand, with all her contempt for intuition, identify herself as an INTJ? Now making the question more general, how do INTJ people identify themselves, since only those as developed as Nietzsche are able to notice their dominant funtion?

    “That is still using the typology philosophically”

    I find it hard to believe that types have no bearing on one’s philosophical beliefs. Again, there must be one deeper reason why Ayn Rand disagreed with her hero Aristotle exactly on intuition, and very little on anything else. There must be one reason why she always denied being influenced by Nietzsche, while her ethics obviously echoed that of Nietzsche.

    “the word ‘intuition’ epistemologically”

    Also known as “Introverted Intuition”.

    “Supposing that everything is in the end Sensation, does not make him a Sensation type by Jung’s premises”

    “You already hint that the brand of British empiricism, which ultimately harks back to Sensation, does not make one an S type.”

    Again, that’s because intuition in the epistemological sense has little to do with Extraverted Intuition(which apparently empiricists typically possess). Without input from the sensory world, Ne is dead(since its job is to identify hidden patterns in the external world), Ni is not. That’s exactly what empiricists claim – without senses, there’s no cognition of any sort.

    Out of curiosity, are there any famous empiricist philosophers *N*J? (As long as Aristotle’s tabula rasa is not misunderstood and his view on intuition is known, he is not an empiricist in the modern sense of the word).

  6. The MBTI principle was developed in connection with deploying the MBTI in organizations. For example, it is very embarrassing if someone wants to be a certain type and others are allowed to chime in. So it’s easier to just say that the person is the only one who knows.

    However, Chapter 1 of Psychological Types is about Tertullian and Origen running away from their types, wanting to be other types than they are.

    Likewise, psychologists of all schools and stripes label JFK one of the most extroverted people who ever lived. Yet by his own account, he was an introvert. Does that make him an introvert? Not in our view.

    We are not saying that Jung’s typology has no bearing on philosophical beliefs, we are saying that such bearings are incidental and not essential. For example, NTP types are on average more likely to give credence to the Kantian Noumenon than NTJ types, in our experience. But these are correlations and to apply the typology psychologically we must regard that as circumstantial evidence compared to the direct evidence of looking at how a person functions psychologically.

    Using intuition as a (dubious) source of knowledge cannot be reduced to Ni. For example, C.S. Lewis had an intuitionist theory of knowledge in the philosophical sense.

    Your point about Ne needing the external world, whereas Ni does not, is a fair point.

    If we say that Rand used Ne, not Ni, we should ask: Does she identify objectively existing patterns in the external world or does she chase after inner, archetypical images and inviolable first principles?

  7. “By his own account, he was an introvert.”

    Is there any evidence that JFK even knew the true meaning of the word “introvert”? In common usage, introvert may mean “shy”, “withdrawn”, “nerd”, “profound”, “awkward” etc.

    If the dinner party conversation I found on one website is authentic, I see it another way: he claims to have Fi instead of Fe, and therefore is the antithesis of the expected “politician” type. He may be right in this assertion.

    Of course, not everyone is able to identify his or her own type. Personal experience: I know a pretty clear ISFJ who identifies herself as an ENTJ(!). The problem is that person regards introversion as some sort of mental disease, and she just aspires to score NT, as most of her friends did(she aspires to be normal, a common ISFJ trait). My view is that you’re own best judge as long as you are 1) knowledgeable in this regard 2) not deceiving yourself.

    The problem with Ayn Rand is that she, unlike JFK, cannot have the excuse of ignorance. Ayn Rand was familiar enough with the concept of intuition, and as I’ve said, “intuition” in epistemology happens to be very similar to Ni. If she found that Ni’s not her toy, why would we disagree with her? So either Rand has no Ni, or she was deceiving herself for unknown reasons(which we have to discover before asserting that she has Ni).

    “Using intuition as a (dubious) source of knowledge cannot be reduced to Ni. ”

    I never claimed the contrary. Here’s one of the best descriptions of Ne:

    “A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. But intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.” (Albert Einstein)

    Einstein spoke highly of intuition, and regarded it as indispensable to scientific progress. Still, to Einstein, no earlier experience, no intuition(Ti+Si).

    In contrast, here’s a great description of Ni:
    “No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess” (Isaac Newton)

    “Does she identify objectively existing patterns in the external world or does she chase after inner, archetypical images and inviolable first principles?”

    Great question. Rand claims to fight the “real root of evil on earth – the irrational”.

    Simplification a la Socrates: “The only evil is ignorance”. This is typical to Ne: believing that the external world you know can show universal truths(e.g: Joyce: “In the particular is contained the universal”). Ni thinkers(Plato, and even Aristotle to a lesser degree) believed the contrary(see Plato’s forms).

    Finally, here are the patterns she(“objectively” is too great a word) identifies in the external world:

    “In their view of life, the American people are predominantly Apollonian. The mainstream intellectuals are Dionysian. This means the people are reality-oriented, common sense-oriented, technology-oriented. The intellectuals call this “materialistic,” and “middle-class.” The intellectuals are emotion-oriented, and seek in panic an escape from a reality they are unable to deal with, and from a technological civilization that ignores their feelings.”

    If “objectively” means “in agreement with most people”, that’s what Rand does here. Getting her philosophical views from seeking patterns in majority beliefs and lifestyle – is that Ne or Ni?

  8. No, there is no evidence that JFK knew about the psychometric properties of the word “introversion.” Which is exactly our argument regarding Rand. There is no evidence that she knew about the Jungian or psychological meaning of intuition; she was most likely using the word in the philosophical and epistemological sense.

    You argue that Ayn Rand was familiar with intuition in the epistemological and philosophical sense, but that has been our argument from the beginning.

    You are correct that intuition in philosophy is closer to Jung’s meaning of Ni, but the two terms are still not identical. Thus Rand’s denial of using epistemic intuition to arrive at her claims cannot be taken to mean that she denied being an Ni type.

    Likewise, as we also said, Jung says specifically that Ni types are bound to believe that whatever they see is objective and not the result of irrational, subjective perception. Therefore, the “reasons” why she would deceive herself need not be discovered for they are part of Jung’s definition of the Ni type.

    Socrates said that the only evil was ignorance, but Socrates never said that reason was the end goal, the way Rand did. At any rate, that is still a philosophical critique, not a psychological one.

    As we said, Ni types perceive the world by way of unconscious, archetypical images. Ironically, the Rand quote you present perceives her present-day America through unconscious, archetypical images. We do not want to say that this implies anything about her type, because she was using a corrupted version of Nietzsche’s analysis in that instance.

    Objective, in Jung’s view, means starting from external facts, and making analogies that are externally present in the data with only minimal inference to one’s own mind or prior concepts.

  9. Rand did not only deny using intuition to arrive at her claims, she actually denied anyone’s ability to arrive at any truth using any sort of intuition. It’s not like: “I can use it, but I never did, and never will”, it’s “I can’t use it, because it does not exist”. If Heraclitus believed that senses are deceiving, is there a chance he is ES*P or IS*J because he was not referring to the sensing functions as described by Jung?

    I would like to see any sort of empirical evidence that Ni dominant types do not recognize intuition in themselves. I find this statement very difficult to accept.

    Also, lack of common sense and of technlogical inclinations is a very usual flaw addressed to intellectuals. Does it imply that the vast majority of people perceive the world by way of unconscious, archetypal images, so the vast majority of people are INTJ’s or INFJ’s?

    Nietzsche’s dichotomy of Apollo&Dionysus was “improved”, as to be consistent with her supposedly eminent reason and beliefs of the vast majority of people. However, the beliefs expressed by Rand have nothing to do with the original meaning of the dichotomy, or with the meaning intended by Nietzsche, and they are “archetypes” only by name. Learning about archetypes and corrupting them does not magically give birth to Ni in one’s brain.

  10. Heraclitus’ statement that the senses lie is not what makes him an Intuitive type. It may be incidental to his type, but not essential to it. We have already been over this in the difference between James’ and Jung’s typology.

    We have also already told you that Jung says specifically of the Ni type that they do not understand how they are led along to a vision by Ni. They perceive the vision as “objective and rational,” but to other types it is often clear that it is not. In the same way, Jung says of Se types that they would not recognize themselves as reliant on Sensation.

    With the Rand quote you supplied, you are overlooking that she made use of Apollonian and Dionysian archetypes to make her point. If you look at the intellectual history surrounding Ni types, you will often see that they “improve” various previous thoughts through their subjective perception (but they do not themselves recognize that they are doing it). So again this fits perfectly onto Jung’s characterization of Ni types typically not seeing the idiosyncrasies of their own thought processes. We also explored a similar theme here:


  11. “In the same way, Jung says of Se types that they would not recognize themselves as reliant on Sensation.”

    True. But would it ever occur to them that senses are lying?

    “With the Rand quote you supplied, you are overlooking that she made use of Apollonian and Dionysian archetypes to make her point.”

    If I use a car, am I Gottlieb Daimler?

    Perhaps cars save time and archetypes save words.

    This is just like the “change the world” phrase. While it may have been first thought of by an INTJ(or more likely, an INFJ), that doesn’t imply that Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Jackson or Eric Clapton are all IN*J’s.

    What are Rand’s original archetypes?

    “you will often see that they “improve” various previous thoughts through their subjective perception (but they do not themselves recognize that they are doing it)”

    Isn’t then Muhammad(ESTJ) the most radically Ni-dominated man that ever stepped on earth?

    I would also like to know what specifially suggests that Rand is INTJ, as distinct from ESTJ. Also, I would like to see any evidence of tertiary Fi in her(as opposed to repressed, as it appears to me she has).

  12. Again it is possible, but less likely, that an S dominant type would think that the senses are lying. But the method is again epistemological, not psychological. For example, Nietzsche says the opposite in Beyond Good and Evil – that the senses are the only thing that is real.

    We will get around to doing a Rand infographic sooner or later.

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