Among the most scrutinous rationals, this type explores the possibilities an adherence to strict reason can bring.
An INTP trusts in logic as their definitive signpost to understanding the complexities of the external world and wields their thinking as a battering-ram to disassemble illogical strands of thought. Such introverts are reliable for periods of intense concentration, where their analytical functions are activated in a flow state – often cycling through interpretations of their personal sense of reason. They may seek to reconcile all knowledge under this individualistic banner, only abandoning logic when absolutely necessary.
This type is primarily reserved, as ponderous and inventive ideas play on the mind with ease to such a degree that social awkwardness is almost an expectation. Strident logic necessitates that the extraversion of feeling is an underserved function, which we can see exemplified in the pick-up artist phenomena – a primarily NTP solution to a world of confounding social cues. The suppression of the feeling judgment leads to a mechanical solution to the social landscape.
As a matter of habit, INTPs are prone to over-analysing and can easily lose themselves in their mind, neglecting their external world and in the process developing a certain uniqueness that is categorised as weird or unusual. The process-orientation of their logic is a defining aspect of their egoic self, where all things must be a sequential order of judgment, a consistent evaluation of truth from one stage to the next. It’s this way of thinking that has transformed autism into an online pejorative.
Richard Dawkins, the well-known evolutionary biologist and author defines the aforementioned logical predilection in his steadfast atheism. Dawkins rejects the existence of a divine creator, wherein atheism hinges on the absence of evidence. In his mind, no theistic or deistic ideas can be accepted for Dawkins relies upon his logical model as a matter of default and therefore evolution is his natural leaning, where a progressive adaptation occurs through a logical order.
Dawkins poses a rejection of a belief system that is typical of the INTP. The essence of his disagreement is found in online communities frequently, with the fedora-tipping atheist, clinging to fallacies for dear life in argument, cropping up repeatedly as a tired cliché. The overwhelming rightness of atheistic logic fuels a corrective instinct and Dawkins has demonstrated this in his works, particularly in authoring a reply, The Blind Watchmaker, to Sir Isaac Newton’s watchmaker analogy, which argued for intelligent design through what we might presume to be aesthetic appreciation.
The tendency to overthink has its uses that we should not disguise, with the INTP extremely fastidious in looking for inconsistencies in models of thought. Factoring in tasks that promote ideation as well as recollection and their capacity for analysing and reinventing concepts is second-to-none. Of course with defaulting to perceiving attitudes, their proclivity towards flexible working can result in their better ideas remaining mere concepts.
The INTP is a dominant judger supported by an extraverted perceiving process.
- Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Dominant / Judgment
- Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Auxiliary / Perception
- Introverted Sensing (Si)
Tertiary / Perception
- Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Inferior / Judgment
The MBTI shorthand of INTP describes them as possessing an overall preference to introversion, intuition, thinking and perceiving.
The dominant form of introverted thinking in the INTP empowers an all-consuming need to understand one’s place in the world and seek a form of ultimate truth. In token of this, the affect of an absent-minded professor looms large with this type. Rather like the INTJ they can become entrenched in their thoughts. In a world that tends to disorder, the INTP has a mountainous task on their hands with the auxiliary form of intuition constantly offering up alternatives to mull over.
This type will labour themselves to such an extent with the pursuit of truth that when an analysis reaches its end, it no longer holds appeal. This promotes a danger in relationships if the INTP approaches them as a novel interest, and intellectual interests at large. Areas that elude a proper decoding may become perpetual interests, with religion seeming to be always first in line for dissection, as no true logical endpoint can be reached other than the assumption there is nothing.
Introverted thinking is associated with a sequential form of logic, excelling at contextualising the reasoning behind an event and procedurally evaluating the steps that brought the current situation to light. This function exists as a mental model, where the foundations are not as important as the principles and integrity.
In simple terms, in some sense an INTP must always be correct, as to admit they are not throws the entire model into question. As such, they are often the pedants in online arguments, insisting on precise terms and definitions and deferring to fallacies when their model of understanding is contravened.
Extrapolating this thought, precise terms are the essence of code syntax and this function operates much like a database, where the function is not strictly primed for offering information, unless you query it. You will find that dominant users of this function have vast stores of knowledge but are hesitant to offer it, unless they are challenged or queried with a degree of verbal SQL. INTPs run through their ideas and the ideas of others as a debugger sequentially interrogates lines of code.
The writer of the God Delusion, Richard Dawkins illustrates this form of logic in the below clip.
Maher, an ENTP, offers a textbook tangent and reports that Christine O’Donnell doesn’t believe in evolution – quoting that “why don’t we see the apes evolving now?”.
At 0:45, Dawkins offers his brusque, Ti-laden response. He is corrective & admonishing, disregarding feeling in his judgment.
“That is spectacularly stupid (…) it’s not just that she suggests monkeys turn into humans overnight, it’s also the fact that monkeys are very good doing what they do.“
Dawkins has a keen reproachment, as this statement contradicts the fabric of his mental model.
Accuracy of speech.
As the interview progresses, Maher intuitively describes monkeys as “primitive”, a moment of flippancy in terms, but Dawkins immediately seizes upon this to correct the application of the definition. Dawkins clarifies that primitive means “more like ancestor”, not allowing this contravention to stand.
This example illustrates how introverted thinking shapes the user’s speech. As a controlled model, the delivery of words is as controlled as the model itself. Therefore you will find an INTP speaks as if they are executing a line of code aloud, where disambiguation is the priority and an exactitude of word usage is key. This naturally leads to some bumbling with sentences on occasion
In an interview with Derren Brown from the series ‘Enemies of Reason’ (the INTP predilection in a nutshell) Dawkins stands agape with curiosity while Derren’s endless explanatory divulgence unravels the world of fraudulent psychics and mediums.
After Derren explains what cold reading is, Dawkins follows up with a question at 0:49 which illustrates how Ti arranges the components of a sentence.
“So if a psychic, a so-called psychic, er a trickster, was trying to pretend to guess, I don’t know, the name of the sitter’s grandfather or someone like that. What would be the kind of thing they might do?”
First of all Dawkins asserts a term “psychic” but deems it an inappropriate definition, so he modifies the statement to be “so-called”. Yet that further still is not consistent enough for his logical model, so he throws out the terms and introduces “trickster” which semantically is closer to his understanding — that they are charlatans.
In the prepositions Dawkins must be as specific as possible. To state that the “trickster” was to guess, implies a degree of success and legitimacy. To state that they pretend to guess still carries the tinge of competence. The eventual statement is that they are trying to pretend – as much credit as Dawkins can afford in order to be accurate with his sense of reason.
Engine of control.
The INTP utilises Ti as the means with which to control themselves, as is the case with all dominant thinking types. The dominant function is used to regulate the expression of the inferior feeling judgment and it’s through this polarity that INTPs take on a philosophical attitude.
Daryush Valizadeh, otherwise known as Roosh V, is a controversial figure online – attracting what borders on infamy for his views. Roosh started out writing books on day-game, which chronicles the process of meeting and attracting women in the light of day but Roosh evolved past this in due time.
The INTP propensity to understand the world as a consequence of strict logic is what draws so many to pick-up artist lines and routines, it’s linguistic sequencing for the purest of rationals. However as this type develops, their strict reason synergises with the inferior function. Many, such as Vox Day, graduate to explaining society and its norms and customs through their dominant logic. Roosh himself, coined the term “neomasculinity”, a Ti practice in defining the emergent Fe norms.
As a “warm machine” the introverted thinking of this type is often viewed as outside of the self, where inherent biases are not able to influence the deductions that take place. It is the innate desire to seek clarity of thought that routinely distinguishes and exposes an INTP. Though these are some of the most rational minds, because their logic is inherently subject to introversion it can be built upon subjective data.
INTPs therefore excel in their thinking when the foundations are based on sound principles. Mathematics & programming are two significant areas where an INTPs subjective logic is mitigated by the objective orientation of the disciplines. On the whole, there must always be a precise resolution with numerate problem-solving and programming accepts only a functional line of code. You have to play by the rules, is one way to look at it.
As highly perceptive individuals where logical consistency is concerned, they can often disregard social convention or niceties if they believe a correction is of the utmost importance. This is the result of Ti-Fe, their inferior function which on the whole seeks to be amenable, is overruled through a sheer necessity for cogent understanding.
Earlier I referred to the INTP’s mind as a mental database for it is through the good parent function that they perceive and navigate through this database. If the thinking model explained above summarises the tabular data, extraverted intuition is the query language that joins the data together. In simple terms, Ne is how the INTP navigates the model.
It also provides the intuitive ability to reframe a situation, for example an INTP’s sense of logic might reconcile existence as pointless, to have no reason to it. I’ve met INTPs who have reached this conclusion which often triggers a bout of nihilism or hedonism depending on one’s sensing procilivities. However stumbling upon a new philosophical text could cause them to perhaps redefine what existence means, and then the game is afoot once more.
A conceptual logician.
There’s a certain amateur dramatic in every INTP as in their field where they believe their understanding is nonpareil Ne is apt to demonstrate itself as a know-it-all. Though the matter in which they assert themselves at times lacks fluency. Their verbal communication which resembles ‘conceptualising out loud’ results in erratic speech. You can sometimes witness an INTP pausing in-between ideas as they consult Ne for a tangent (and often Ti will look to find the ‘right’ wording.)
Recently, I’ve been positioned under an INTP manager at work and it’s permitted me a more complete insight into how this type navigates the workplace. One of his first actions was to innovate an existing process by automating large aspects of this. His approach was to acquire the data needed to improve the process and then select from a variety of options which one was consistent with his desired result. In a nutshell, this is how Ne serves Ti.
Since the INTP’s prominent Ne is so attracted to new possibilities and ideas it stands to reason that most sensorial and mental activities engage the ideation of Ne. INTPs boast a perpetual expectant expression. In fact, Jung observed that the NP’s in particular were always awaiting the next idea to whet the appetite of innovation.
Individualism plays a role, with confidence in Ti comes an unconscious watch over the Ne function, drawing hard lines to exclude ideas. Whereas an INTP with a strong Ne side is liable to never rule out an idea if there is even one outlook that renders it worthy of consideration. In recent times Frogtwitter and meme culture has developed as a result of the Ne function, with accounts mimicking Kant’s take on society in technicolour creativity.
For a free mind one must be available to all ideas, and it is the curious fondness of both open thought and ruthless scrutiny that characterises the INTP’s primary cognitive engine.
The INTP values independence and flexibility; consequently they despise the idea of planning out every moment. Organised chaos best suits their approach to life, though ENTPs are by far the greater sinners.
In the mind of an INTP, a plan is a hindrance because it serves as an artificial barrier to the expectancy that is sought after from Ne. The INTP seeks to understand (everything) and when they are shepherded into following stringent courses of action, this free-flowing mental curiosity is not permitted the freedom it desires. For these reasons it is common to find an INTP wary about scheduled events, even if they are innocuous in nature.
The driving force between the INTP’s desire for openness and flexibility is in the Ti-Ne balance. Ti is the organisational workhorse for concrete analysis. However when an INTP has worn themselves out analysing, the childlike Ne will step in and promote freedom of expression and ideas. Similarly if Ne runs rampant, Ti will lead the INTP to self-analyse and correct the course.
Perhaps one of the more difficult emergent functions to contextualise, introverted sensing in the tertiary position provides the data that an INTP uses to facilitate his or her logic structures. Si users are apt to storing past impressions with greater clarity than their Se counterparts and in tandem with the INTP’s dominant function, their ideas can achieve a truly encyclopedic level of knowledge.
The emergence of this function grants a sense of nostalgia, of focusing on lessons learned and ideas inherited from before. This extends to moving forward in life through imprinting the historical ideas and impressions as a kind of template. Roosh V, eventually tiring of writing about women, sought to understand the meaning of his experiences. Eventually he concluded that there is a philosophy to be found in the reflection.
In a much older figure, my manager at work, this extends to taking the lessons from his previous employment and using them to devise new ideas and ways to innovate existing processes. If it was a proven benefit before, then he will happily reference it to support his ideas. Whereas I will seek to wipe the slate clean and optimise from first principles.
Knowing is living
This stored knowledge is the fuel for the pedantic stereotypes and discursive form of argument (moving goalposts if Ti simply lacks the knowledge) that online debates have become known for. It’s largely impossible for an INTP to ignore their sense data, and they are bound to it in experiential form, over capturing reality as it seems in the present. If the foundation of their argument is based on sound perception data, they are unwaveringly accurate in their evaluations.
Given that Si is rooted in recollection, the INTP habitually refers to and maintains records from the past. These might take the shape of objects, or souvenirs which remind them of general moods at the time. INTP’s might be collectors and even hoarders, as there is no object separate from its value in terms of past significance.
By far the most underdeveloped conscious function for the INTP is the extraverted orientation of feeling. It is perhaps the most recognisable function of an INTP when it shows on the surface; the expressive nature of Fe is unmistakable as it tends to overwhelm the facial expression, often an unmissably unhappy and flustered face greets you when an INTP is in the grip of this inferior function.
The INTP is so given to disguising their emotions, preferring an unbiased logical mind, that when their emotions are uncovered, they tend to erupt in a childlike explosion. Reminiscent of the all-or-nothing emotional instability of a toddler, once an emotion has breached the surface, the INTP feels the brunt of it and cannot maintain the veil of indifference that they usually default to. An INTP might even believe that emotions can be reasoned with – up until the point Fe makes itself known.
Emotion controlled with reason.
Inferior functions are often unrefined, and the Fe side to the INTP is no different. An INTP views his or her emotions with caution, and prefers distance rather than a nuanced introduction. Therefore what an INTP feels is raw and often negative, as it’s a function that most shows when the dominant logic fails to consciously manage the situation. An INTP would rather everything be controlled but it is their emotions that seem to elude their sphere of influence, with them being irrational in contrast to how they view logic.
Extraverted feeling in the INTP is showcased in their presence around new people. Their sense of social propriety will generally match their environment. For this reason they are able to play the chameleon role, picking up on emotional cues. However, since Fe is inferior, this emotional recognition extends so far and the vast majority of INTP types will struggle empathising or connecting on a deeper emotional level with others.
In listening to a coworker’s gripes, their mistrust of Fe will surely lead them to recruiting Ti to disassemble the thought processes in the other person for the purpose of providing a logical course of action. Among those who act irrational or emotional, the INTP will do well to steer clear. For it is precisely these situations that tempt Ti to become the voice of reason – in the process ignoring all other voices in the room.
The INTP seeks a harmonious emotional life, which presents challenges as the world is seldom as accommodating. Over time however, through differentiating this inferior function the INTP can -as much like the ISTP – find the logical appraisal of what’s best for the group, which can be a rich infusion of pragmatism and compassion. Bill Gates & Mark Zuckerberg are two ideational logicians that reached this endpoint.
Beneath the surface of the conscious functions lie the unconscious opposites, that are outside of our present capacity for awareness. We can examine them only through noticing the prominence of the opposite.
Though an INTP prefers the deconstruction of though with the chief aim of understanding, they are also able to systematise ideas. An example of this is in software development, an INTP may focus on the functionality and the succinctness of the code, and have a secondary but not absent-minded awareness of how the system functions with the end user.
Intuition for the INTP is an ideational process, providing tangents and interpretations of thought. The critical parent shows when an INTP almost self-reprimands for not being accurate enough, as Ni seeks to provide the future-proof concept, an INTP feels a sense of inaccuracy when there are too many ideas to conclude upon.
The subjectivity of introverted sensing in the conscious stack means the INTP is reliant on experiential data and neglects the real-world sense data. In the most glaring example of this, an INTP posted a picture proving they had a real girlfriend. That’s the trickster at work, as to a natural Se user like myself that simply signals that you were exceptional enough to evidence something commonplace.
The demon function is the opposite of their extraverted canvassing of motivation, mood and emotion and it casts a rather hollow impression upon this type. Simply put, there doesn’t seem to be any personal value driving them, any authentic aspect that is individualistic in nature. Ask Mark Zuckerberg, who is memed continuously online for his attempts to appear human.
Last Updated: 27/11/17
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