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Me an INTP

“Perfection is an ideal we strive for yet never achieve, for the higher we climb the further we see.”
- Glen Andrew Hendler (try searching your name at anagramgenious. I'm amused by my first three matches.  I see parallels in Neo's discussion with the Architect.)
 

    The following is a brief description of an INTP personality.  While descriptions of personality types may accurately identify behavioral patterns and preferences it is important to note that post enlightenment a person will have many more strengths and far fewer weaknesses than an underdeveloped individual. 

Portrait of an INTP - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving
(Introverted Thinking with Extraverted Intuition)

The Thinker

As an INTP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things rationally and logically. Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition.

INTPs live in the world of theoretical possibilities. They see everything in terms of how it could be improved, or what it could be turned into. They live primarily inside their own minds, having the ability to analyze difficult problems, identify patterns, and come up with logical explanations. They seek clarity in everything, and are therefore driven to build knowledge. They are the "absent-minded professors", who highly value intelligence and the ability to apply logic to theories to find solutions. They typically are so strongly driven to turn problems into logical explanations, that they live much of their lives within their own heads, and may not place as much importance or value on the external world. Their natural drive to turn theories into concrete understanding may turn into a feeling of personal responsibility to solve theoretical problems, and help society move towards a higher understanding.

INTPs value knowledge above all else. Their minds are constantly working to generate new theories, or to prove or disprove existing theories. They approach problems and theories with enthusiasm and skepticism, ignoring existing rules and opinions and defining their own approach to the resolution. They seek patterns and logical explanations for anything that interests them. They're usually extremely bright, and able to be objectively critical in their analysis. They love new ideas, and become very excited over abstractions and theories. They love to discuss these concepts with others. They may seem "dreamy" and distant to others, because they spend a lot of time inside their minds musing over theories. They hate to work on routine things - they would much prefer to build complex theoretical solutions, and leave the implementation of the system to others. They are intensely interested in theory, and will put forth tremendous amounts of time and energy into finding a solution to a problem with has piqued their interest.

INTPs do not like to lead or control people. They're very tolerant and flexible in most situations, unless one of their firmly held beliefs has been violated or challenged, in which case they may take a very rigid stance. The INTP is likely to be very shy when it comes to meeting new people. On the other hand, the INTP is very self-confident and gregarious around people they know well, or when discussing theories which they fully understand.

    Here is another description of the INTP personality by an INTP.  I especially enjoyed Paul's observations on music.  As I stated on the home page this section of my site is intended to describe what kind of person would 'stumble' upon the knowledge I now possess.  That kind of person would most likely be not me personally but an INTP driven by their unconscious, physiologically biased psyche.  If Paul's experiences were slightly different he could have been the one creating this web site.  This is only one of many factors that prohibit me from thinking I am particularly special.

An INTP Profile
A description of the INTP Personality Type
by Paul James
Primary Axis: Introverted Thinking - Extraverted Intuition
"The INTP is above all a thinker and his inner (private) world is a place governed by a strong sense of logical structure. Every experience is to be rigorously analysed, the task of the INTP's mind is to fit each encountered idea or experience into a larger structure defined by logic. For here is the central goal of the INTP: to understand and seek truth. The experience of anything takes a back seat. The INTP is not interested in experiences themselves but is far more fascinated by concepts. The drive to understand things that are not yet understood is a very powerful force in the life of an INTP. Where the Ti preference is strong, this drive can override the experiential element so strongly that the INTP will become quickly bored with anything that he has successfully analysed to the point of understanding it. Once understood, it has nothing left to offer, once the satisfaction which comes with achieving the goal of understanding diminishes. Indeed, most primary interests of an INTP are things which he cannot fully understand, usually because they are highly complex or have some exotic, mystical element that does not yield to analysis. This is the real reason why INTPs are drawn to complexity: anything simple is too quickly understood and cannot hold the fascination for long. Similarly, proficiency in any area (which requires continual practice after understanding) is not such a driving force as it might be for NTJs, for example. While a judging NT will often seek to become master of his field, an INTP is satisfied by analysing it alone. The latter is often more of dabbler with ideas which leads me on to his second crucial aspect: detachment."

    For descriptions of all 16 personalities you can click here.  For a free personality assessment test you could go here.  While it costs $5 I would recommend instead taking the test here at the Personality Page site.

The Personality Page
"By learning more about my own Personality, and about other Personality Types, I can come to a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses.  I can improve my interpersonal relationships, realign my expectations towards others, and gain a better self-knowledge that will help me define and achieve goals."

The following is a joke appropriate to INTPs.

INTP
Warning:
Do not feed the INTP any facts, however trivial. Given, for example, A manuscript of the Illiad, and a Hopi pot (c. 1860) the INTP will deduce the effects of the industrial revolution on cubist painting. Given slightly less information, say, a shard from the same pot and chapters 3 through 7 of The Confessions of St. Augustine, he will be able to deduce the entire history of western civilization.
If you must feed facts to the INTP, please make sure they are highly detailed, and all related, such as in a spreadsheet. Because these data are detailed and highly correlated, there are no conclusions or deductions which can be drawn.
Spreadsheets are available in the kiosk to the left for a nominal cost of 25 cents per handful.
Thank You,
the Management

    For films which depict INTPs as leading characters; 12 Angry Men (1957) with Henry Fonda as Juror #8 (Mr. Davis), The Edge (1997) with Anthony Hopkins as Charles Morse, and A Beautiful Mind (2001) with Russell Crowe as John Nash.  A Beautiful Mind is particularly interesting as one can see how his personality (cognitive functions) determine the shape and form of his schizophrenic delusions.

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean,
is the moment the wave realises it is water."
- Thich Nhat Hanh

    It would appear that my whole life to this point in time, at 33 years of age, that I have been doing what I was born to do as an INTP. I have been gathering information about us and our environment in order to understand it. If I had been born 20,000 years ago I would be doing the same thing except that our environment would have been very different then it is today. Assuming I had survived to the same age I would probably have been a member of a council of elders who would advise the tribe on issues related to migration, to follow the animals and the rain as well as which materials make the best tools. Perhaps because my functions would have been more evenly balanced I could have become an arbitrator of conflict. I would have been able to understand both the subjective and objective needs of the parties in dispute and found a creative solution that would have given both of them what they wanted and more. I’m hoping that is what I am doing today.

Ok, how did I allow the “truth” to be revealed to me. Well that’s pretty complicated. Perhaps I'll list a few bullet points; (please don't confuse the 'path' to enlightenment with the consequences.  While there are many different paths, they do eventually converge.)

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Dominant Introverted Thinking (100% more efficient then other three functions)

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Secondary Extroverted Intuition (Primary perception is the discernment of patterns not easily recognized. Temporal preference is looking to the future.  Also I have been searching my whole life for the extreme boundaries of everything. As far as human thought goes I believe I have found it. As far as the universe and the sub-atomic goes I need to read a lot more.)

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Tertiary Introverted Sensing (memories of distinct, factual data oriented toward the past.)

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Inferior Extroverted Feeling (My own needs, desire and personal interests are the least of my concerns. Innate “childlike” desire to help others.)

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Exploration of many areas of interest. Mostly within science and science fiction

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20 years of interest and work in computers and communications. (Working with simple and complex systems. Lots of abstraction.)

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Interaction with various minds and forms of reason on the Internet.  (I believe I owe a debt to the objective discrete truths articulated by many INTJs.)

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Security of interaction on the Internet so I could focus on only the ideas or concepts present in each person’s post and avoid poorly developed subjective response (Fi) to conflict.

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My life spent as a Secular Humanist after determining the fundamental implausibility of Catholic supernaturalism.

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Many years of abstinence.  Platonic friendships with women and men. A wife and children entailed more emotional complexity then I was prepared to handle.

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A compulsion to live my life logically. e.g. not eating meat, how to logically eat and enjoy deserts, avoidance of conflict.

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Several years of observing personality behavior using MBTI and Keirsey traits.

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Comprehension of functional analysis by Lenore Thomson based on theory by Carl Gustav Jung. (2 weeks)

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Comprehension (and psychic integration) of cognitive matrix from web article on Type Physiology by Katherine Benziger using Dr. Haier’s research.

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Comprehension of discrete elements of language, sound, light and touch in relation to neural processing. (The language portion was very important. )
 

"I'm an INTP, too, but I hadn't considered it my defining characteristic. :) "
- by: ratspaw_unlimited (29/M/MD/DC/VA Region) 06/11/03 03:50 pm

    What is your defining characteristic; your name, your profession, the product of your labor, your relationship to other people, the sum of your experience?

    Several years ago when I first learned of the MBTI and my personality type as part of a team building and leadership workshop I thought it was interesting but perhaps only one of several methods for classifying behavior. But for the next year and a half, because I had learned of some of the characteristic behaviors of the different ‘types’ I was better able to understand the (often seemingly irrational) attitudes and thinking of the variety of people I worked with. It was then someone showed me a copy of David Keirsey’s, “Please Understand Me” that I learned (according to accumulated test results) that each of the 16 identified types are not equally represented in any general population (which is the impression I was left with in the workshop). I learned there are 4 types that combined average perhaps 5%-10% and another 4 types combined average about 60%! These statistics combined with my own sociological observations and my newly acquired understanding of type compelled me to begin considering the implications for any group if it was comprised of different percentages.

    Then after a few more years of observations but little additional study of type I read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. (Prior to that I read “We the Living” and “The Fountainhead”). It was clear Rand was INTJ and while most of her heroes appeared to be xNTJ (rational people of action) you could see evidence in A.S. that she recognized a debt to philosophers who were more contemplative (xNTP). I think her John Galt character was a combination of these two types. The open ending of this book inspired me to associate with other INTx and I began posting on what was then the Yahoo! INTP and INTJ open clubs. I benefited quickly by sharing my own ideas and having them challenged most tenaciously by the INTJs.

    I think INTJs and INTPs complement each other assuming they learn to appreciate the other’s strengths and understand their own weaknesses. Consider that the MBTI designations were derived largely by behavioral observations of an INFP (Isabel Briggs Myers) enabled by Carl Jung’s (INTP) identification of distinct cognitive “functions” and the archetypes that can consequently be identified. The functions are divided into two Judging functions (T and F) and two Perceiving functions (S and N) and they can each operate in different ‘attitudes’ identified as Introversion (directed inward) and Extroversion (directed outward). It turns out that these functions are localized to specific ‘quadrants’ of the neo-cortex and introversion/extroversion is determined by the reticular activating system. (RAS).

    It’s likely you’ve heard the claim that most people use only a fraction of their cognitive potential. The MBTI type descriptions do a good job of identifying the qualities of different individuals who utilize these fractions in different combinations. For example the letters in INTP identifies an individual who uses Introverted Thinking (dominant function) and Extroverted Intuition (auxiliary function). This can be written as Ti Ne. That’s 1 judging function and 1 perceiving function, the bare minimum for an individual to be productive. However, there are 8 function/attitude combinations. Consider my claim that INTJs and INTPs complement each other when you compare the entire sequence of each side by side. (For brief descriptions of each combination see here.  For explanation of notation see here.)

INTP = Ti Ne Si Fe Te Ni Se Fi
INTJ = Ni Te Fi Se Ne Ti Fe Si

    So where the MBTI designations may appear very similar, when compared by function they appear quite different. However if you look at each in judging/perceiving pairs they are closely associated with each other, like left foot – right foot; (Ti Ne - Ni Te) (Si Fe – Fi Se) (Te Ni – Ne Ti) (Se Fi – Fe Si). Remember each function/attitude combination processes different types of information. So if an INTJ and an INTP work together they are similar enough that they likely share a similar vocabulary (there is a unique language area in each quadrant, e.g. Broca's and Wernicke's areas) but each has a different and consequently complementary perspective on a given object or problem. Kind of like one person describing the front of an object and the other describing the back (or one the inside and the other the outside), together they describe the whole.

    How about how these personalities manifest in different cultures? INTJs have been called “The Scientists” and INTPs “The Thinkers”. From many years of work with computers and networks I noticed a disproportionate number of INTJs can be found as hardware and software engineers, often engineering the infrastructure and programming in what is referred to as “low level” code, that code which functions closest and with the hardware itself. Well what do people with such natural abilities and interests do in cultures that have not yet developed such levels of technological sophistication? It turns out there are similar disproportionate numbers of INTJs who are monks. It’s my view that INTJs are chiefly responsible for overemphasizing ascetic practices as it matches their innate cognitive perspective (Ni Te Fi Se).  Guess what role the INTPs have historically played in the quest for truth?

  In his early years the Buddha was known by the name Siddhattha Gotama (Sanskrit: Siddhartha Gautama) ...Eventually, at the age of twenty-nine, he bade farewell to his family, the throne, and the kingdom to become an ascetic in search of Truth and enlightenment. He practiced with many renowned teachers and experimented with various severe austerities, but none of them impressed him as the right way to ultimate realization of the Truth. He started to practice meditation on his own, using his own methods, determined, unguided and unsupported by others.

  The Ascetic Sayings of Jesus The practice of asceticism and the relinquishment of all material attachments were regarded by the Christ as necessary and required prerequisites for salvation.

  On The Contemplative Life by Philo of Alexandria 20 BCE - 50 CE. Describes the pre-Christian ascetics of Egypt. This important text shows that Essenic traditions were common in the deserts of Egypt long before the arrival of the Christian monks.

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapeable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
She is present, and can welcome all things.
- Lao-tzu , Tao-te ching “The Book of the Way and Its Power”
A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell

"Religion is a primitive form of philosophy, [the] attempt to offer a comprehensive view of reality."
- Ayn Rand (INTJ), (The Objectivist Feb 1966)

"To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
- Albert Einstein (INTP), November 9, 1930

(From my CPU page)
...Note the following functional similarities between the human cognitive functions in their respective quadrants and the CPU functions in this Intel Pentium processor… That is, Sensing = Data, Feeling = Fluidic calculations, Intuition = Prediction and Fetch, and Thinking = Code and Logic. It’s also likely that the relative location of the functions is significant. That is, the Introverted functions are closer to the center and the Extroverted functions are further from the center….The most important point to make is that the designers of this processor did not create it with a “conscious” understanding of cognition and the location of their own functions. Instead they produced it subconsciously without an understanding of how their own minds work. When you don’t understand yourself and how your mind works you will actually be a servant (or slave) to your own unconscious thoughts.

- Twins -
Mind is the forerunner of all actions.
All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.
If one speaks or acts with a corrupt mind,
Suffering followers,
As the wheel follows the hoof of an ox pulling a cart.

Mind is the forerunner of all actions.
All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.
If one speaks or acts with a serene mind,
Happiness follows,
As surely as one’s shadow.
- The Dhammapada (The Path of Truth) translated by Ananda Maitreya
 


    Below is a very interesting parallel to a comment I intended to use to explain my credentials for writing a book. There are several issues these few passages raise that coincide with my own experiences.

Matthew 13 :: King James Version (KJV)
54   And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55   Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56   And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57   And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58   And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

This citation corresponds with my experience;

    There is a striking comment on the Nazareth incident by Zen Master Ma-tsu (709-788), who of course had never heard of Jesus:

Don't return to your native town:
You can't teach the truth there.
By the village stream an old woman
is calling you by your childhood name.

This little poem is both lovely and poignant in its acceptance of a psychological given: that even the greatest Master may still appear to his family as the child he was--small, needy, untransformed.
- Stephen Mitchel, "The Gospel According to Jesus", p. 53

 

    How many people do you suppose realize that Jesus was not a Christian nor was he a follower of any religion?  For 'Christians' to follow Jesus' example they would need to abandon all they have been told and then set out and rediscover the truth for themselves.  Christianity in various forms is a religion, an institution, developed by misguided people who believe it is their duty to interpret scripture for others.  At its worst, for example the Roman Catholic Church, it is an institutional form of human oppression.  The bible itself is an interesting collection of teachings from both the exceptionally wise and the exceptionally vile and corrupt.  The real value of scripture is derived from the very act of reading and contemplating it as an individual.  The wisest teachings contained within are those that employ concepts and techniques that require the reader to exercise the right hemisphere of the brain (e.g. parables), just as other 'spiritual' texts do (koans).  Reading and writing alone overwhelmingly exercises the language areas the left hemisphere of the neo-cortex, see "The Alphabet Versus the Goddess : The Conflict Between Word and Image" by Leonard Shlain.  However, no single book contains all of the answers.  The truth is found everywhere and must be assembled.  Consider that Jesus was a carpenter, not a priest, or a biblical scholar and I have every reason to believe he was an INTP.  A carpenter job was a "high-tech" job 2000 years ago and in many ways still is today.

The Gospel According to Mary
Chapter 4
...Will matter then be destroyed or not?
22) The Savior said, All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots.
23) For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature alone.
24) He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
30) Matter gave birth to a passion that has no equal, which proceeded from something contrary to nature. Then there arises a disturbance in its whole body.
31) That is why I said to you, Be of good courage, and if you are discouraged be encouraged in the presence of the different forms of nature.
32) He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Royal Astronomical Society
20 March 2002
Their results show that the universe is full of dark energy, completely consistent with the earlier supernovae results. ...It seems that Einstein did not make a blunder after all -- dark energy appears to exist and to dominate over more conventional types of matter," Efstathiou said. "An explanation of the dark energy may involve String Theory, extra dimensions or even what happened before the Big Bang. At present nobody knows. The ball is now firmly in the theorists court."

    Throughout history many of the INTPs who contributed substantially appear to have never fit in with established norms enforced by the institutes of scholarship. This makes sense if the institutions are fundamentally flawed and don't consider that different people learn in different ways.  School always seemed to shut my mind down rather than open it. Only by following my own interests when I wanted did I excel. I always considered grades and deadlines as hindrances to learning.  Such things are more useful for teachers and administrators than for students. Whenever I wrote a paper in college I was compelled to solve some enormous problem faced by mankind.  If I could not, I thought the exercise was pointless and became disinterested. Needless to say I did poorly in school only completing three years of college.   Einstein the INTP poster child had done poorly in school and was told by a teacher he would not amount to anything. He was a 26 year old patent clerk when he submitted a technical article detailing his Special Theory of Relativity that had taken him 10 years to resolve.

    There have been many other INTPs who have made exceptionally powerful contributions to our human understanding of the universe. We grow up as quiet observers. Social settings make us uncomfortable and some ask us if we are from another planet. I want no notoriety at all for my contribution.  I wish only to live comfortably and be able to die knowing I have made a contribution toward the goal of helping others.  In an attempt to achieve that goal please see the Knowyourself page as it identifies the most important message found underlying, demystifying and uniting all of the world’s major religions.

 

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