The Pre-Socratics as a Dance of Personalities, Part 2

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Dharma Combat in Zen

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Hayek’s Epistemology of the Social Sciences

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Pierce Presents: ESFJ

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

David Keirsey nicknamed them the “Provider,” and I have also heard “caregiver” and “supporter.” In general, the ESFJ stereotype is that of a mother hen; louder and more expressive than the ISFJ, and therefore without any mystery about them. According to the stereotype, they are the ever-smiling bourgeois worker bees having tea at exactly two o’clock on lace doilies, poured from tasteful, flower-decorated china pots. If they don’t have such fine things, they’ll do their best to pretend, and if they have even finer things, one redeeming characteristic granted to them is their philanthropy and generosity. I intend to grant them a great deal more than that.

To begin, let’s break down what constitutes the ESFJ functionally.

They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective, outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted feeling and introverted sensation. Extroverted feeling is accommodating. It adapts to objectively understood values, becoming whatever is appropriate, harmonizing or desirable for a given situation. Meanwhile, introverted sensation perceives reality as it is, but invests its perceptions with subjectivity and recalls these subjective memories in similar situations. It is recording, or if you like; cataloging or recalling.

Third, they are very similar to the ISFJ: Both prefer Fe and Si. The ESFJ, however, prefers Fe more than Si. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call SFJ types the “Guardians,” because they thoroughly examine reality and compare it with all the past experiences they’ve collected in their database, and then decide how to best harmonize with or provide for or protect a situation. Of course, “Guardian” is merely a nickname to help me remember the SFJ nature, and does not mean SFJs are necessarily interested in guardianship as we normally think of it.

The ESFJ, then, is a “Guardian” for whom accommodation of others is more important than their subjective perceptions. They are primarily concerned with harmonizing appropriately to objective standards of sentiment.

The word I like to use to remember the ESFJ’s nature is “Cooperation.” This word may not seem any more impressive than the stereotype: Cooperation is often thought of as “not rocking the boat,” which does not make for an interesting personality. However, this is an oversimplification in the case of the ESFJ; they have great potential for gaining the cooperation of others, or eliciting it between two otherwise estranged parties, and thus using their gift as a tool to bring people together, or even summoning them into a force that can work as a single, powerful unit. At least this is how ESFJs seem to solve problems: By encouraging cooperation between parties, by helping people to recognize their similarities and common interests, and by enticing them to become more and more of a true human family; one united whole that can accomplish anything. The ESFJ can be very good at this type of persuasion.

For one, the ESFJ is already well attuned to objective valuations – in other words, to what is generally considered valuable, normal, appropriate, or comforting in various contexts. The ESFJ, preferring Fe to any other function, is particularly good at “fitting in,” wielding the known language and customs in a way that is pleasing and familiar to others. Granted that they are good at it, the ESFJ can be a very enjoyable person to be around, very kind and courteous, friendly, forgiving, generous, and perhaps above all, easy to talk to, in the sense that they want to listen to you, have genuine concern for you, and will make sure that you know this is the case. If anything, the ESFJ’s Fe drives them to give up of themselves for others, or at least to resonate deeply with that sentiment. The ESFJ, like the ISFJ, tends to be service-oriented. Other personalities are by all means willing to help, but this is peculiarly present in the SFJ types because their Fe is combined with Si.

I think a good way to look at Si is as sensitivity to one’s impressions of the environment, rather like a sensitive, photographic plate (as Emma Jung described it – ed.), or the vibrations along a spider’s web. This web is grounded and focused on things as they are, and not as they could be, which tends to give Si types a down-to-earth, practical perspective. In any case, the ESFJ demonstrates a certain grounded attitude that can be very helpful and stabilizing.

ESFJs are therefore sensitive to the concrete needs of others, or more accurately; they are sensitive to their own subjective interpretation of the needs of others, which can offer great insight or misunderstanding. In any case, one can generally expect the ESFJ to prefer the down-to-earth approach. The point here is that ESFJs often come across as being grounded, and more than that; as being reliable and disciplined.

The combination of dominant Fe and auxiliary Si makes the ESFJ personality very interested in human connections. They like to work with people, and in the end, are trying to become one with people; to cooperate fully with them, and to develop as rewarding a give-and-take relationship with others as possible. Beyond that, the ESFJ loves the feeling of family, or of being a part of a united group; part of a cooperative whole. To most ESFJs, we’re truly “all in this together.” For the ESFJ, if that motto is true, then it demands certain kinds of action. If we’re all in it together, then we’ve got to get along. There’s no reward for isolating oneself or for interacting negatively with others and getting them down. So the ESFJ tries to be very kind and warm and well connected with the people in their lives. I think Harry S. Truman summed it up best when he said: “The rule around here is that [employees may not] speak to the President. I break it every day and make ‘em speak to me.”

There are two final points I’d like to make about the ESFJ, concerning their tertiary and inferior functions. First, the ESFJ’s tertiary function is Ne. Like with the ESTJ, this manifests along with Si as both a meticulousness and a multifaceted interest. For the ESFJ, intuitions are an objective matter; they are something very much invested in objects, uncontaminated by any personal or subjective ideas (as is otherwise the case with Ni). As a result, their intuitions are much more clear-cut, and – if you will – practical (at least in comparison with the INJs).

Second, ESFJs repress their Ti, meaning they repress personal logical principles. For the ENFJ, this means a tendency to wander from what is certainly true into exaggeration for the sake of effect. For the ESFJ, who is less concerned with presentation of a vision than they are with pragmatic service, this repression manifests as a tendency to lose themselves in harmonizing with people. In other words, in their attempts to unite people into “one family, one group” they may make too many concessions; over-align with public opinion, and forget their own sense of identity and ethics in the process. More than any other type, the ESFJ “do as the Romans when in Rome.”

So, in summary, the ESFJ is cooperative, and good at fostering cooperation. They are focused on, and sensitive to, the subtleties of peoples’ connections with each other, and they seek to persuade others to join in traditional conceptions of unity and family by way of appeals to good-natured cooperation. ESFJs are practical, down-to-earth, courteous, and warm-hearted. Unfortunately, they repress Ti, meaning they may relinquish their own sense of right and wrong in favor of obtaining a sense of fellow-feeling with others.

Thanks for reading, and for all the ESFJs out there: Thank you for your warm hearts, practical minds, and for trying to help us realize the connections that unite us all.

The Pre-Socratics as a Dance of Personalities, Part 1

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The Mechanics of Te and Ti

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On the Dubious Use of Fallacies

By Ryan Smith and Rachel Wood

Internet debates have seen what one could refer to as ‘the rise of the blowhard’ – people who throw down the name of a fallacy as if it somehow ‘wins’ them the discussion. But the identification of fallacies, even when properly executed, can rarely be used to prove the veracity of a position. Oftentimes, the identification of a fallacy is merely useful in pinpointing the holes in a given piece of reasoning at best. Contrary to what debating culture in general might have you believe, pinpointing the weaknesses in an opponent’s reasoning is not the same thing as proving your own position right.

In this article, we look into four popular “fallacies” that are often employed in dubious ways. It is our contention that a closer look at these matters will reveal that the business of logical fallacies is not at all as black and white as it is often made to seem.


When faced with two competing explanations of a phenomenon where it is not possible to achieve certainty, the simpler hypothesis must be preferred.

Our Comment: Occam’s Razor is a reasonable tool in fields like science and history where “facts” exist and where these facts can be accounted for as parts of a larger system, based merely on our knowledge of yet more facts. But ironically, Occam’s Razor is mainly used in fields like psychology and philosophy where “facts” are limited and have to be accompanied by a heavy dose of speculation. In other words, Occam’s Razor is often used in situations where it is not a suitable form of appeal. Western philosophy, for example, is founded entirely on assumptions. So for someone who claims to adhere to Occam’s Razor, the rational course of action is often to make no assumptions at all.  Such a person would be unable to have any metaphysics, or any philosophy at all, until he acquires a philosophy that is entirely devoid of assumptions and first principles. If everything philosophical – including the philosophy of science – is founded on unproven assumptions, then Occam’s Razor becomes meaningless, and the true adherent of Occam’s Razor would simply say: “I don’t believe a thing.” And in the case of the psychologist, that same adherent of Occam’s Razor would follow Jung in postulating some species of solipsism (i.e. the belief that only the individual consciousness is knowable to the individual). The psychologist who truly obeyed the Razor could do away with the entire idea of ever knowing another person’s type “in itself” – all that such a psychologist could know was what type the other person seemed to be to his personal consciousness. Thus, the claim that Nietzsche was an Ni type could never be reasoned to be objectively more resistant to falsification than the belief that Nietzsche was an Se type – everything would be relative to the beliefs and impressions of the individual’s own consciousness.

The thing about Occam’s Razor is that we all subscribe to a series of deeply-held beliefs. Not only do these beliefs differ from person to person, we also tend to hold on to them because we are predisposed to finding them appealing. In other words, the ideas that we cherish the most are not merely the product of deliberation – we also believe in them because they make intuitive, pre-cognitive sense to us.

complexA whole range of factors go into determining which ideas the individual innately finds appealing. For example, the Big Five trait Openness to Experience can be shown to correlate with the level of complexity that one intuitively prefers. With regard to philosophy, David Hume had a higher complexity preference than Ayn Rand did. With regard to typology, C.G. Jung had a higher complexity preference than David Keirsey, and so on. And so, oftentimes when someone throws down Occam’s Razor as a way to “win” the argument, all they are doing is demanding that someone else’s complexity preference should be cut down to size until it matches their own. In other words, they are neither proving nor disproving anything, but merely re-affirming their own confirmation bias. They are using their own subjective standard to assert that the complexity of a field could not possibly be more than what they prefer, and they are begging the question as to why the complexity could not possibly be less than what they prefer.

Example of Unreasonable Use of Occam’s Razor: “You say that there are multiple universes parallel to this one. I say that there is only this universe. My hypothesis is simpler and therefore the correct one.” / “You say that life on this planet came about due to a series of extraordinary coincidences. I say that life was put here by an Intelligent Designer. My hypothesis is simpler and therefore the correct one.”

Example of Unreasonable Use of Occam’s Razor with Regard to Typology: “I say that Kanye West is impolite and self-centered, and therefore he is an Fi type. You say that Kanye West is an Fe type whose type is blurred by his Narcissistic personality style. My hypothesis is simpler and therefore the correct one.”


Because an expert or authority says something, it must therefore be true.

Our comment: The Appeal to Authority is not a valid argument. But the fact that Appeals to Authority are not arguments in themselves tends to get blown out of proportion and taken by blowhards to mean that their opinion is just as good as that of a consensus among experts. Appeals to Authority are not arguments, but that does not mean that it is by definition wrong to defer to the claims of experts with deep domain knowledge and extensive experience in their field. Of course it is entirely possible that the experts are wrong, but after all there is usually a reason that a given view is the majority view among experts.

Example of Unreasonable Objection to Appeal to Authority: “Scientists have their opinions about how to cure leukemia, and I have mine, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

Example of Unreasonable Objection to Appeal to Authority with Regard to Typology: “Every major authority on typology thinks person X is type Y, but even though I’ve never produced a sustained argument for my position and I’m not a recognized authority in this field, my view is just as good as theirs.”


The act of exaggerating an argument to its farthest possible extent (i.e. to absurdity).

The cry of Reductio ad Absurdum is often used by people as a means to defend their own sloppy reasoning. Some textbooks have even taken to describing the Reductio ad Absurdum as a fallacy “because anything can be reduced to absurdity.” But in fact, the Reductio ad Absurdum need not be a fallacy at all, but may just as well be used as a means to expose the fallacy in a given piece of reasoning.

Employed properly, the Reductio ad Absurdum stays with the original line of reasoning, but then exaggerates it to a point where it breaks the position of the person who advanced that reasoning to begin with. Unlike the Slippery Slope fallacy, the Reductio ad Absurdum does not give itself a license to pretend that there is only one possible outcome when in reality there are many (e.g. “If we allow racist cartoons to be printed, ethnic minorities will eventually be sent to camps.”). Often, the Reductio ad Absurdum simply reveals that a person’s stated reasoning is incomplete – that he or she needs to sharpen his  reasoning by coming up with additional and improved qualifications for his argument. This may sound trivial, but many a would-be expert has seen his position disintegrate and crumble in his hands because he was forced to flesh out his qualifications. Far from being inherently fallacious, then, the Reductio ad Absurdum can often be a useful tool in logic.

Example of Unreasonable Objection to Reductio ad Absurdum:
Peter: “Only birds have feathers.”
Susan: “Then what about East Asian and Native American shamans who wear feathered suits in connection with certain rituals? Are they birds?”
Peter: “If you’re going to be childish, I’m not going to debate this anymore!”

Example of Unreasonable Objection to Reductio ad Absurdum with Regard to Typology:
Peter: “I can always verify that my type assessments are correct, because people’s facial features and/or eye movements give away their type.”
Susan: “Then that must mean that you can type people of whom you have no prior knowledge by merely watching videos of them with the sound turned off.”
Peter: “Don’t be stupid! I’m making a serious point.”


Any reference to evidence that is observed outside of repeatable, controlled experiments is by definition fallacious.

Our Comment: People often dismiss anecdotal evidence for no real reason. The refusal to admit anecdotal evidence into a discussion is especially impertinent when large numbers of people report seeing the same thing, such as the UFO sightings reported by both Allied and Axis pilots during World War 2, or the comparable events reported by large numbers of near-death experience survivors. Of course, these occurrences are not proof of aliens or an afterlife – but they are evidence of something, and that evidence cannot be categorically dismissed.

Secondly, not all types of anecdotal evidence are equally anecdotal. If large numbers of internationally respected scientists reported a similar anomaly, it would be foolish to put those reports on par with the premonitions of the local fortune teller. Quantity and quality of reports tend to differ, even if they are both “anecdotal.”

Ultimately, all of our knowledge rests on personal experience. Only a small modicum of that experience is ever formalized, controlled, and elevated to the status of “formal evidence.” Even in cases where formal knowledge actually is available to guide our outlook, that evidence rarely reaches a certainty of 100%. Indeed, we are more often faced with matters of more or less than matters of black and white. In the absence of formalized evidence, anecdotal evidence cannot be categorically dismissed.

Example of Unreasonable Objection to Anecdotal Evidence: “Charles Darwin was bitten by a benchuca bug in 1835. He later complained of palpitations of the heart, gastric and intestinal pains, fatigue and lethargy, shivering spells, and insomnia. These symptoms are often caused by a parasite carried by many benchucas. But the tests that Darwin’s doctors ran could find nothing wrong with him. Therefore nothing was wrong with him, and he was just a hypochondriac.”

Example of Unreasonable Objection to Anecdotal Evidence with Regard to Typology: “C.G. Jung devised his typology on the basis of anecdotal evidence. Therefore his typology can’t have scientific validity.” [Note: A Professor of Psychology actually said exactly this, and Jungian typology *does* have some scientific validity.]


Of course, none of this is to say that there actually are several parallel universes; that Kanye West actually does have a preference for Fe over Fi; that more complexity is necessarily better; that the scientific consensus on how to cure leukemia cannot be improved; that Friedrich Nietzsche actually was an Ni type; that “face reading” actually is pseudoscience; that Charles Darwin actually was infected by a parasite, or that Jungian typology, given future and more cogent standards of measurement, will turn out to have strong scientific validity (or none at all).

As the American statistician Cosma Shalizi has said, there are people who desire to possess profound knowledge without having to make a profound effort at thinking. From afar, Jungian typology may sometimes look like a magic wand that miraculously enables the individual to come up with deep and special insights without making much of an effort. However, as the multitude of would-be experts and ill-researched material on Jungian typology attests, there can be no substitute for effort.

Ultimately, the idea that memorizing a list of fallacies can in itself make you an expert on science and epistemology is perhaps not that different from the idea that acquainting oneself with typology can in itself make you an expert on personology and psychology. For indeed, as Bruce Lee says in Game of Death, the multiplicity of life is like a broken rhythm to which “rehearsed routines lack the flexibility to adapt.”


We would give ourselves the same Complexity Preference as van der Hoop, if not for the fact that we have begun to follow Jung in exploring the normative side of typology, e.g. here, here, here, and here.

Pierce Presents: ISFJ

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

While the SFP types are seen as happy-go-lucky hedonists, the SFJ types seem to be pigeonholed as traditional mother figures. With this in mind, the ISFJ has a peculiar stereotype in the Jungian community. Keirsey called them the “Protectors,” Personality Page calls them the “Nurturers,” and I’ve also seen the nickname “Defender” used.

While the ISFJ stereotype always admits this nurturing nature and is sometimes used to imply weakness or passivity, these traits are considered redeemed by the ISFJ’s other qualities. People very rarely seek to outright deride the ISFJ; if they express frustration with SJs, as is fashionable with some groups, the ISFJ is not the type directly under attack; it’s usually the ESFJ.

The stereotype for the ISFJ is of a relatively quiet, reserved, unassuming, but very strong-hearted and loyal, responsible, protective figure. Their disinterest in typology is more politely excused with the genuine assumption that the ISFJ does possess valuable, concrete knowledge. The ISFJ seems to be considered wise in a peculiar way. Their silence is mysterious, and their kindness and concern for others very comforting, though they aren’t normally given to bouts of laughter or meaningless smiles. They represent a strong but sensitive spirit or a stern but loving mother figure. In many ways, they are perceived as a concrete, unphilosophical but wise, rustic kind of INFJ. But as always, the stereotype does not do justice to the full functional nuance of the type.

So let’s break down what constitutes the ISFJ functionally.

ISFJs are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective, outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted feeling and introverted sensation. Extroverted feeling is accommodating – it adapts to objectively understood values, aligning itself with whatever is appropriate, harmonizing or desirable for a given situation. Meanwhile, introverted sensation perceives reality as it is, but invests its perceptions with subjectivity and recalls these subjective memories in similar situations. It is recording, or if you like – cataloguing or recalling.

ISFJs are also very similar to the ESFJ; both prefer Fe and Si. The ISFJ, however, prefers Si more than Fe. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call SFJ types the “Guardians,” because they thoroughly examine reality and compare it with all the past experiences they’ve collected in their database, and then decide how best to harmonize with or provide for or protect a situation. Of course, “Guardian” is merely a nickname to help me remember the SFJ nature, and does not mean SFJs are necessarily interested in guardianship as we normally think of it.

The ISFJ, then, is a “Guardian” for whom their subjective perceptions of reality hold more importance than accommodating outside occurrences. They are primarily concerned with recording and exploring information gleaned from reality.

The word I like to use for the ISFJ is “dedication.” To fully understand my meaning for this term, it is important to better understand one of the more misunderstood functions, Si. As I’ve mentioned before, the introverted functions are focused on the subject, meaning that Si, rather than observing the actual object itself as Se does, observes the effect that the object makes in the subject. I’ve likened this idea to a wet clay sculpture being impressed by various objects. Another image to help describe this, especially in the ISFJ’s case, was offered by Carl Jung’s wife, Emma Jung, who described Si as a sensitive, photographic plate that is emblazoned with impressions of objects that the Si type needs time to assimilate. For instance, if someone new walks into the room, the ISFJ will be filled with impressions that the person inspires within them, and which they must develop and sort through to form a curiously penetrating image of the person in relation to their past experiences.

Another image I personally like to use is of a spider’s web: Should a fly hit the web, the spider feels the particular vibrations caused by the impact, and by experience can determine the species, size, flight speed, and trajectory, or at least know where this fly fits in comparison to other flies. It is in this way that Si becomes very meticulous and sensitive to detail, just as any spider is sensitive to the slightest change in vibration along their web. It also reinforces their tendency towards preparation and the safety of routine, because their understanding of impressions is based on past experience, making the unknown future especially mysterious.

In the case of the ISFJ, this sensitivity is the main cause of their stereotypical quietude and reservation. The ISFJ is very much an observer who needs time to fully process their impressions of the world. But when this processing is done, the ISFJ can achieve very insightful pictures of reality, picking up on little things that others fail to notice, and putting together a unique picture of people, concepts, or things.

Another fundamental part of their personality is related to the word “dedication.” The two function axes manifesting in the ISFJ are Si/Ne, which is meticulous, multifaceted, and detailed, and Fe/Ti, which seeks to appeal to a higher standard than itself, whether objective sentiment or subjective logic. So, what happens when you combine a thorough, detailed nature with a morality based on holding to a higher standard? You get thorough dutifulness, or as I prefer to say, “Dedication.”

One of the things most distinguishing about ISFJs is their interest in diligently doing the mundane: Unassuming, small acts designed to strengthen others. For instance, George Marshall ensuring that the troops in WWII were supplied with candy, Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to a white person, or Mother Teresa’s advice that, “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do.” Their psychological preferences direct their minds in this way: To demonstrate their dedication to others through diligent service, and because of the practical sensitivity of Si, this service always seems to have a charming simplicity and smallness to it that warms the recipient’s heart. Not because the act itself was extraordinary, but because it testifies to the ISFJ’s love for them.

Another point that should be explored here is the ISFJ’s sense of diligence or dutifulness. For the ISTJ, who has a Te/Fi axis, this sense of duty originates within the individual, a burning fire or personal loyalty, a part of the ISTJ’s identity that they must strive to affirm. For the ISFJ, however, who has an Fe/Ti axis, the sense of duty is a higher principle outside of the individual which they feel they must conform to or grab ahold of so as not to be blown away by the storm of life. So while the ISTJ appears more individualistic, fulfilling routines or responsibilities because of an ingrown loyalty, the ISFJ appears more harmonizing, fulfilling responsibilities because their truth and worth have been confirmed for the ISFJ. The ISTJ has an inner sense of duty, while the ISFJ has an outer sense of duty, often directed towards the welfare of others.

ISFJs review their impressions of reality and develop concrete solutions. They carry out these solutions diligently, thoroughly, in other words; with dedication and concern for the community’s interest. When the ISFJ endeavors to do something, they will do it properly, with a powerful dedication to the high standards by which they abide.

This brings up another point about ISFJs: Their perceived obligations to high standards makes them characteristically proper, having a definite sense of decency, of right and wrong, which, when violated, can greatly frustrate or offend the ISFJ. Not in a petty or weak way, but a morally indignant way, arousing, as Rosa Parks stated it, “annoyance.” They stand by what they know is right and can get extraordinarily stubborn and even vehement towards disregard for this standard.

The point here is not that the ISFJ is a conformist, but rather that they are extraordinarily sensitive to the generally accepted value of things, and thus able to navigate the world with this value system clearly in mind. They most certainly have and exercise personal choice and opinion that may differ from other people (and from ISFJ to ISFJ).

One thing that most ISFJs have in common, however, is their dedication. This dedication seeks as much as possible to be perfect in its actions. It is very possible for the ISFJ to wear themselves out because of their relentless thoroughness, driven by a need to conform to the outside standard. As I’ve mentioned before, sensation actually sees more than intuition does, and for this reason takes longer but is ultimately more accurate. Keeping the underlying machinery running and in proper order takes meticulousness, patience, discipline, and dedication – qualities that cannot always be attained by simply glancing at a problem – oftentimes deep, personal experience is required.

The ISFJ’s overwhelming preference for Si subsequently means that ISFJs repress their Ne. As explained before, the ISFJ’s sensitivity to impressions from their environment contributes to their dedication and thoroughness, often bordering on perfectionism, as well as a sense of the proper way forward based on past experience. A way to sum up this part of the ISFJ’s attitude is a caution towards the future and the unknown. The INFJ’s Ni is focused on possibilities, and therefore is more comfortable with the oncoming future, having projected into it plenty of times before. But the ISFJ’s Si is focused on actuality, on what’s already known, and has no reason to trust such projections into the future. It is something dangerous one must prepare for. This attitude is so strong in the ISFJ that they are often uncomfortable breaking out of their routine and innovating new methods of doing things, or, if they try to do it, are rather rigid at it. Like all inferior functions, the ISFJ finds their Ne tiring and difficult to control. Often, they try to keep their Ne out of consciousness, never letting loose and trying things in new ways, because they have learned that, when attempting to set out into the intuitive mode of cognition, they may incorrectly associate objects to make a connection that ultimately falls flat.

So, in summary, the ISFJ is dedicated, combining a sensitivity to detailed impressions of the world with an Fe/Ti concern for humanity and sense of a higher standard and duty. They take notice of people’s concrete situations and are known for diligently taking care of the mundane for others. They have a distinguishing sense of propriety, and a severity and stubbornness towards violations of it. Their inferior function is Ne and therefore they may sometimes have trouble venturing into the unknown realms of innovation, either refusing to do so at all or stumbling through it.

Thanks for reading, and for all the ISFJs out there: Thank you for your concern and diligence in nurturing us, even in the smallest details.

Determining Function Axes, Part 2

Michael Pierce is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. In this article, Pierce elaborates on the concept of function axes and how to determine them, expanding on Part 1 of this series as found here.

By Michael Pierce

When setting out to determine someone’s type, don’t think of the functions as eight individual, separate functions, but as four axes or rods. One of Jung’s influences was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who believed in the unity of opposites. He is credited with saying, as one translation puts it: “The road up and the road down are the same road.” We see this idea reflected in the dichotomies of Jung’s typology. Se is the opposite of Ni, and Ne is the opposite of Si, but because they are true opposites they don’t operate independently of each other. They are rather two opposing poles on the same rod, or two different directions on the same road. Ni is not an individual idea that is just very different from Se. Rather, it exists by virtue of Se and vice versa: As Jung would have it, each has no meaning apart from the other. Likewise, Se has no meaning without Ni. Under this mode of conception, any pair of opposites is thought to exist by virtue of the other: If there is no concept of white, then we can’t comprehend that everything is actually black. Blackness would be without meaning if we can’t have things otherwise. As such, no matter which direction on the road is preferred, there are some characteristics of the road itself that manifest in a person’s psyche.

With that said, I will offer the characterizations typical of each axis.

The Se/Ni Axis

The Se/Ni axis represents an intense perception, one that tends to over-commit or over-analyze one area, but can gain a surprising depth of insight in that area. For instance, the INTJ’s tunnel-vision drive, the ENTJ’s brutality and directness, the INFJ’s devotion to creating a holistic system, the ESTPs directness in overcoming challenges, or the ISTP’s incredible focus.

The motion I imagine with Se/Ni begins as narrow and pinpointed at the object, representing the direct focus on the object itself. This expands as we retreat into the subject’s psyche, where that one object is expanded into a fuzzy, associative image that is compared with the hundreds of other impressions and fragments in the psyche. In this way, the Se/Ni axis is intensive, or magnifying, taking inspiration from objects themselves and figuring out all of their subjective possibilities, rather like an overhead projector displaying an enlarged but fuzzier image of the object. With ESTPs and ESFPs, the focus is on the object itself, while with INFJs and INTJs, the focus is on the fuzzy image, the subjective possibilities.

The Ne/Si Axis

The Ne/Si axis represents a multifaceted, sweeping perception that tends to under-commit and bounces around, but which gains a surprising breadth of insight. For instance, the ENTP’s multifaceted inquiries, the INTP’s search for multiple applications for one abstract system, the ENFP’s wanderlust and resourcefulness, or the ISTJ’s thorough waterproofing of their procedures.

The motion I imagine with Ne/Si begins as stretched, fuzzy but associative, representing the indirect, intuitive relationship with objects. This narrows and focuses as we retreat into the subject’s psyche, where the stretched sweep is pinpointed and directly examined, comparing it to other directly examined impressions. In this way the Ne/Si axis is meticulous and examining, making detailed and thorough record of their creative, associative perceptions of the world, rather like a telescope that takes a fuzzy distant object and shrinks and sharpens the image. With ENTPs and ENFPs the focus is on these creative perceptions, while with ISTJs and ISFJs the focus is on the recorded details and thoroughness.

The Te/Fi axis

Te/Fi represents the road between logical judgments based on objective data, to valuations of things based on subjective sentiments. It is the motion between an outside world of outlines to an internal world of shading and values, or a cold, uncaring outside world compared to the warmth within the individual. To illustrate, the Te/Fi axis represents the struggle of a lone individual against a freezing wilderness, employing whatever means necessary to survive, and doing everything they can to keep warm, to make their warmth known in the world and push back the encroaching ice. It retains a nexus around the individual. For instance, the INTJ’s image as a lone visionary, the ESTJ’s prioritization of responsibility over anyone else’s values, the INFP’s championing of their dream world, or the ESFP’s spontaneity and love of performing.

The Fe/Ti axis

Fe/Ti represents the road between valuations based on objective sentiments, to logical judgments based on subjective principles. It is the motion between an outside world of shading and values to an internal world of outlines, or a hot, sultry, caring outside world compared to the distinguishing coolness within the individual. However, to illustrate the Fe/Ti axis I’ll use a different image: It is rather like someone lost in a foreign country that speaks an entirely foreign language, and the journey of discovering and integrating the logic of the language into oneself so that you can experience the warmth of true interaction and join with the people: The struggle to balance the inner ice with the outer sun to match the temperature of those around you. It retains a nexus around harmony and the equivalence between the individual’s inner cognition and the other world. For instance, the ENTP’s inquiries to discover objective truth, or the INTP’s relentless abstraction, the INFJ’s holistic theories of the world, the ISTP’s quest to master a technique, or the ENFJ’s appeal to the values of others.

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Dating and Type

Raja Burrows is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As with other guest writers on the site (such as Malin Gustavsson, Michael Pierce, and Jesse Gerroir), the views expressed in this article are not necessarily completely overlapping with our own.

By Raja Burrows

First things first: There is no magic formula for finding the perfect mate. There are a million factors that go into whether two people are compatible or not that have nothing to do with personality type. Additionally, applying an overly simplistic view of typology to your dating life 4heartsredo2(“We’re exactly alike in almost every way because I’m an INFJ and she’s an INFP!”) is unlikely to yield the results you want. But a thorough understanding of function order – and, more importantly, the function axes – can provide important insights into many key factors of any successful long-term relationship.

The Judging Axis: Fe-Ti vs. Fi-Te

The best place to begin when talking about relationships is how we experience sentiments. Regardless of our four-letter type, we all have a Feeling function somewhere in our function order; FJ and TP types have Extroverted Feeling (Fe) while TJ and FP types have Introverted Feeling (Fi). All other things being equal, two types with the same Feeling orientation are going to have an easier time communicating than two types with the opposite. In other words, an ENTP is probably going to find it easier to get on the same page, Feeling-wise, with an ESTP or ISFJ, as opposed to an ESTJ or ISFP. The reason is that an Fe user experiences and judges sentiment on the basis of external parameters; as “belonging to the group.” Fe is willing to downplay the individual’s own sentiments in deference to the sentiments of the other people involved. An Fi user, on the other hand, experiences his personal sentiments in a much more subjective, individualized way. An Fi user is therefore likely to feel very uncomfortable with such “insincerity.” Fi will fight tooth and nail to maintain its individuality and expression thereof. An Fi user’s sentiments, then, are very much “her own” and aren’t seeking to align themselves with outside conditions in the way an Fe user’s are.

Because Fi users also have Te, they will tend to be more pragmatic in their thinking. To a Te user, there is an optimal, objective conclusion that can be reached in any given situation in which objective facts matter more than interpersonal considerations. Unlike Ti, Te is not terribly beholden to internal logical principles and is instead eager to refine its conclusions based on whatever objective information presents itself. Te is hierarchical in its reasoning and looks for the “best” solution to any given problem, whereas Ti is much less confrontational and prefers to look for abstract solutions that are less “objective” and more of interest to the Ti user’s personal psyche. As a result, when a major decision is on the line in a relationship, Fi-Te users and Fe-Ti users will take fundamentally different tacks, even if they end up arriving at the same conclusion. While most of the decisions made in relationships are relatively trivial (such as whether or not to order takeout for the third night in a row), there will inevitably come a time when the conversation turns to weightier topics, such as “would you be willing to relocate across the country with me for my new job?” or “do we want to raise our kids in Manhattan or in a suburb farther upstate?” Not that these conversations are ever easy, but there’s bound to be less friction when both parties are more or less speaking the same logical and emotional languages.

While type alone cannot make or break a relationship, there are a few type pairings that require exceptional time and effort on the part of both people to find common ground: ESFJ-ENTJ, ENFJ-ESTJ, ISFP-INTP, and INFP-ISTP. Each of these type pairings feature a dominant Feeling type and a dominant Thinking type with no cognitive functions in common. In each pairing, the Feeling types experience sentiment in the exact opposite way the Thinking types do, which does little to encourage the Thinking type to give herself permission to access the function and side of herself she tends to repress. Add to that the fact that they will rarely perceive any given situation the same way because of their opposing N-S axis and you have two people with several significant cognitive hurdles to overcome on a regular basis. This is not to say they can’t or shouldn’t try and make it work if there’s a real connection between them, but it behooves everyone involved to have a realistic understanding of the additional challenges those type pairings pose.

The Perceiving Axis: Se-Ni vs. Si-Ne

Also important to the orientation of the Feeling function is the axis responsible for Sensation and Intuition. In my experience, the big differences between Fe-Ti and Fi-Te show up in a relationship about 20% of the time, when the stakes are at their highest. The important conversations like those mentioned above require both people to be deeply in tune with their own Feeling-Thinking axis as well as that of their partner. But despite what “Doctor Who” may have us believe, being in a relationship (romantic or otherwise) is more than just an endless series of life or death decisions. Most of the time, you’re going to be debating things like “what should we dress up our two-year-old as for Halloween this year, a giraffe or baby velociraptor?” These are relatively mundane choices that you really don’t want to be spending any more time on than you have to. Actually enjoying the thing you collectively decided on doing is a much better use of your energy than debating it to death.

SP and NJ types have Extroverted Sensation and Introverted Intuition (Se-Ni) while SJ and NP types have Introverted Sensation and Extroverted Intuition (Si-Ne). Though it’s hardly necessary that both people have the same kind of S-N axis, it does help both people “keep things in perspective” as they go through the inevitable ups and down of their relationship. The Se-Ni axis has a direct relationship with objects themselves though Extroverted Sensation and draws from them subjective meaning via Introverted Intuition. The Si-Ne axis, on the other hand, is chiefly interested in exploring all of the possibilities of what those objects could represent through Extroverted Intuition and compares them to subjective impressions of the object via Introverted Sensation. This is not to say, of course, that two people will ever experience reality exactly the same way, but having the same S-N axis will make it easier for them to get on the same wavelength.

All the Single Ladies (and Gentlemen)!

If you happen to not be in a long-term relationship, whether by choice or by circumstance, there are many ways to use typology to maximize your dating life. The first step, of course, is to have a solid grasp on your own four-letter type. In particular, you must be excruciatingly honest with yourself in terms of how your dominant and inferior functions manifest themselves in unhealthy, ego-preserving ways. The more aware you are of your own idiosyncrasies, the more likely you are to recognize when your behavior is en route to a destructive path and to head it off before it actually gets there. While no two individuals wrestle with their egos in exactly the same way, here are some common ways that each type contends with relationship fears as a result of their repressed inferior function:

  • ISFJ/ISTJ: Because ISJ types repress their Extroverted Intuition, they may be overly cautious when it comes to straying from their subjective but nonetheless concrete experiences and ways of doing things. They may see the act of exploring unfamiliar romantic tracks as unnecessary, preferring to defer to relationship dynamics that are already known to them.
  • INFJ/INTJ: Because INJ types repress their Extroverted Sensation, they may be overly cautious when it comes to straying from their subjective and idealized perception of how the world ought to be. They may see incorporating someone else’s values into their lives as a distraction, preferring to stay true to their own vision, blotting out the “unwanted chaos” of another’s demands.
  • ESFP/ESTP: Because ESP types repress their Introverted Intuition, they may be overly cautious when it comes to detaching from their immediate romantic experience and reflecting upon it. They may see such introspection as over-analytical, preferring to push it aside so as to fully immerse themselves in the “here and now.”
  • ENFP/ENTP: Because ENP types repress their Introverted Sensation, they may be overly cautious when it comes to settling into a routine rather than constantly exploring exciting new possibilities. They may see such predictability in a relationship as boring, preferring to be always on the move and seeking out “the next big thing.”
  • ISFP/INFP: Because IFP types repress their Extroverted Thinking, they may be overly cautious when it comes to exerting their will and taking appropriate control of a situation or relationship. They may see such acts of domination as inhumane, preferring to stress each person’s individual freedom and resolve conflicts with an attitude of “live and let live.”
  • ISTP/INTP: Because ITP types repress their Extroverted Feeling, they may be overly cautious when it comes to abandoning their long-held intellectual beliefs in order to feel a sense of sentimental communion with their partner. They may see such appeals to fellow-feeling as disingenuous, preferring to hold fast to their own logical principles, even if it means dishing out some “cold, hard truth.”
  • ESFJ/ENFJ: Because EFJ types repress their Introverted Thinking, they may be overly cautious when it comes to holding fast to their own logical principles at the risk of creating discord with their partner. They may see such honesty as undiplomatic, preferring to glide over rough patches to give the impression of a relationship that is nothing but “smooth sailing.”
  • ESTJ/ENTJ: Because ETJ types repress their Introverted Feeling, they may be overly cautious when it comes to letting their guard down and allowing someone to make an impression on their deeply held emotional values. They may see such vulnerability as weakness, preferring to keep their feelings unexpressed and greatly prefer not to “wear their hearts on their sleeves.”

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, the key to effectively using personality type to improve your love life is first understanding your own preferences and how they manifest themselves as both strengths and weaknesses. There’s so much more to this than simply looking at a given type’s four-letter code and contrasting them with your own. A mastery of the eight cognitive functions is critical for understanding human dynamics through the lens of Jungian typology. And ultimately, the study of personality type is the study of people. When used as a tool to better appreciate your partner, it can enrich and strengthen your relationship in countless ways.


Image in the article commissioned for this publication from artist Francesca Elettra.