The Puerile Nature of the Tertiary Function

By Eva Gregersen and Ryan Smith

Of all the function slots, the tertiary function is perhaps the most overlooked and least understood. The dominant function is fairly self-explanatory as the prime determinant of conscious orientation; von Franz has done good work on the inferior; and van der Hoop did his part to flesh out our understanding of the auxiliary. There are, however, still some observations that may be elaborated concerning the tertiary. But before we proceed with elucidating the puerile nature of the tertiary function, we must first address the matters of (1) the threshold of consciousness relative to the functions and (2) our debt to John Beebe.

1. The Threshold of Consciousness Relative to the Functions...

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Hume’s Critique of Induction

By Sigurd Arild

According to Hume, there are two kinds of propositions: Relations between ideas and matters of fact.

Relations between ideas are simple and can, given the scarcest of knowledge, be proven without having to rely on personal experience or outside observation. For example, five plus seven will always equal 12, and in theory you could figure that out in your mind, even if you only had knowledge of smaller numbers and their operations. Out of 2 + 2 = 4 you could in principle deduce that 5 + 7 = 12, using your intuition and the capacities of your own psyche, without having to check with the external world....

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Determining Function Axes, Part 3

Boye Akinwande is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. In this article, Akinwande elaborates on the concept of function axes and how to determine them, expanding on Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

By Boye Akinwande

A facet of Jungian typology that CelebrityTypes has really brought to life, theoretically refined, and elaborated upon is the idea of Function Axes.

Ti: With regards to the perception of external reality, Ti tends to perceive the facts as being of secondary importance to the abstract idea that they are attempting to clarify in their minds.[1] In other words, the Ti type perceives facts as governed by ideas, whereas the Te type perceives ideas as things that should ideally amend themselves to the facts.

One consequence of Ti’s tendency to abstract from external reality is that the individual will be more preoccupied with discovering ideal structures in his mind than in actually making sense of the messy multitude of facts as these were handed down to him through external reality. A consequence of this idealistic bias is that objects are viewed as being more similar in nature than a Te type would perceive them.[2]

Fe: In Jungian typology, there can be no Ti without Fe and vice versa.[3] Though Ti and Fe polarize each other in consciousness, the Ti/Fe axis itself still primes the consciousness of the individual to view the human being as another such “ideal” object, where many of the properties of the particular individual can be stripped away in order to form the ideal object ‘human being’ (Ti). Here the unstated premise will be that humans are structured similarly and that our desires and goals must therefore also be aligned on some level (Fe).

Te: Whereas Ti has a tendency to remove the individual a bit from reality and its current affairs, Te rather tends to place the individual as an active participant in the current state of reality. In this mode, we must be concerned with the specific properties of reality as these are presented to us, because it will not do to sit on the sidelines, mourning that reality could or should be different. On the contrary, Te flings our consciousness directly into an uncooperative world and reminds us that only we are responsible for leveraging whatever we have got to get what we want out of that world.

Fi: In the Te mindset, our world is disobliging and resources finite. My triumph may very easily turn out to be your downfall and vice versa. I don’t owe you anything, what you want is not necessarily what I want, and again, vice versa. Such a mode of consciousness creates the backdrop for a species of relativism, and it is here that Te meets the Fi perspective to form the Te/Fi axis; an axis that identifies goals on the basis of actual and personal relevance, rather than on the basis of abstract and communal ideals.

So to put it simply:

  • Fe/Ti types live in a world of abstract, theoretical commonalities between objects, of which one unstated premise is that, deep down, our interests are all aligned.
  • Fi/Te types live in a world of concrete, empirical certainties of objects, of which one unstated premise is that we have our own interests at heart.


[1] Jung: Psychological Types §628

[2] Jung: Psychological Types §40 ff.

[3] Jung: Psychological Types §708

Three Facts on Sabina Spielrein

By Eva Gregersen and Sigurd Arild

Since a lot of misinformation and erroneous scholarship on Spielrein and her life seems to be circulating, it may be worthwhile to take a moment to clear up some of the misunderstandings.

1: Jung never spanked Spielrein (and probably not her coat either)...

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Philosophical Archetypes: Xenophanes

“The freedom of the individual finds its high point in Xenophanes and in [his] almost boundless withdrawal from all conventionality.” – Nietzsche: Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks §10

“His temperament was … restless, curious, many-sided, critical as well as biting, he would rightly be considered … the man who would trace new paths in crucial theological, philosophical, and gnoseological areas.” – Vamvacas: The Founders of Western Thought p. 85

“There is nothing in the whole of the literature of philosophy that is so critical, so self-critical, so correct and so true as … Xenophanes.” – Popper: The World of Parmenides p. 46...

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A Definition of Se and Si

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.


“C.G. Jung said his wife was a particularly well-balanced person, full of common sense: ‘She was a sensation type – you couldn’t put anything over on her.'” – Bennet: Meetings with Jung (Daimon 1985) p. 80

By Michael Pierce

If we:

  1. Define extroversion as objective, in the sense that it is on good terms with objects and wants to relate itself directly with them.
  2. And define introversion as subjective, in the sense that it is not on good terms with objects, but rather with the subject, and always relates to objects secondhand through the lens of the subjective.
  3. And we then define Sensation as the perception of the actual and current nature of a thing.

Then we may roughly define Se as:

  1. Perceiving the actual, current nature of objects.

And Si as:

  1. Perceiving the actual, current nature of the subject’s relationship to objects.

Following these definitions, one is concerned with objects in the world, the other with one’s subjective impressions of objects in the world. We then arrive at the conclusion that Se is observational and Si is impressionistic.

Sensation vs. Intuition

The difference between the Intuitive and Sensation functions in a Jungian context is that while Intuition is concerned with possibilities and associations and what a thing could be, and is in many ways naturally imaginative and anticipatory in its perceptions, then Sensation is first and foremost concerned with what the thing actually is now; what we know about it now, and what it is doing now. Where Intuition is always looking beyond the actual nature of the object, Sensation is concerned with the properties that the object could be said to possess at present, aside from any imaginative or wishful thinking. In the mind of a Sensation type, such predictions should be made later, after the thing has been understood on its present terms. However, to Sensation, such anticipations must take a back seat; they always pale in comparison to the vividness of the actual, current thing.

Although we generally associate ‘Sensation’ with the physical, if we extend the meaning of Sensation to sensations of any kind, then we have something closer to a concept covering ‘stimulation caused by a thing itself.’ The human senses, whether physical, mental, spiritual, or otherwise, sense a thing, or are affected by a thing, and they take stock of what this Sensation is like. The thing that generates such sensations does not have to be concrete itself: Heidegger, an Si type, was primarily concerned with complex metaphysical questions. I believe Sensation is present so long as it is experienced as a sensation from the thing itself, and not just from an idea about the thing, or a concept associated with the thing. The point of Sensation is not what the person is interested in, but what aspects of those things catch their attention: For Sensation, it is whatever arises from the thing itself, as it stands, that is of primary psychic importance.

Intuition, on the other hand, is not stimulated by the thing itself, but always by possibilities of the thing, or the associations that could be made on the basis of it. Intuition is concerned with what is about the thing, and not with the thing in itself. Thus Intuition has a remarkable ability to ignore the thing itself, going right to the associations and always leaping beyond it. As Ric Velasquez has said, Intuition is not Sensation with an extra layer: Intuition oversteps the object, while Sensation remains with it.

A Definition of Se

Se, because of its preoccupation with objective relations, is more in-the-moment as a function. However, one facet of Se that has often been misunderstood is as follows: Se, at least when unrepressed, is not overindulgent, unrestrained, or utterly sensual. Nor is it unable to operate outside of the moment, unable to think, theorize, or the like. Those are the properties of inferior Se, which have wrongfully been attributed to individuals with non-inferior Sensation.

Se is not sensuality incarnate, but is the most direct experience of objective reality possible, a mode of being-in-the-world, where you yourself become a moving part of the world, and things become extensions of yourself. In this mode, you don’t look down on yourself doing things; you just do them, skillfully and in-the-moment while navigating impediments and using the conditions given to your advantage. Se, particularly when it is more dominant, does not want to introspect on what it’s doing, because that puts a separation between itself and the world. Se wants to meld with the objects of its interest; become one with them and become one with the objective world as it exists.

A Definition of Si

Se wants to immerse itself in reality without any barriers between oneself and the outer world. By contrast, Si does want a secondary view of reality. To Si, “being-in-the-world” seems a thoughtless, dangerous and reckless way to live. To Si, being totally present in the moment without recourse to the subjective aspect of experience is a shallow way to live indeed.

That is why with Si we get the stereotypical Si cautiousness, which is often misinterpreted as fear. But if we could peek into the mind of the Si type, we would see that this cautiousness need not be fear at all: It may just as well be considerate of its own perceptions, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the circumstances.

Whenever Si senses a thing, it does not really sense the thing, but rather the impressions the thing releases in the psyche, that is to say: How the thing relates to the personal consciousness of the Si type. As a result, Si tends to be cautious and approaches the future not as an in-the-moment improviser but as a careful planner, watching what it is doing and minding its routines. In this way, Si stands a bit removed from the activity or object itself; a disposition which naturally encourages a different outlook than the one of the Se type’s unmediated “being-in-the-world.”

So for example, if you show Se and Si a red balloon:

  • Se will recognize its shape, the kind of latex that it is made of, its string, the particular shade of red. In this way, Se is rather like most portrayals of Sherlock Holmes where he examines the objects of a case in great visceral detail.
  • Si considers how this balloon looks like this other balloon it saw, or is reminiscent of the kind of balloon at this one birthday party for their child, or they may like the shape, or the material, not for its own virtue, but because it relates positively to something else that has previously been experienced.


So in conclusion:

  • Se prefers to do things reflexively, naturally, and in-the-moment, brilliantly improvising and accommodating each changing detail into its activities as it arises.
  • Si prefers to consider, plan, and move slowly and steadily towards its aim, maintaining an impenetrable and infallible approach that the person is certain will work.


Watch this piece as a video here.

Rawls on How to Treat Others

Stefan Kirchner is an Associate Professor of Human Rights at the University of Lapland in Finland and a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. In this article, Kircher elaborates on how John Rawls, one of the most renowned philosophers of the 20th century, thought that we should treat others. As always with guest writers on the site, Kirchner‘s piece represents his own insights and not necessarily those of the site.

By Stefan Kirchner, Ph.D.

Questions of justice and fairness constitute an important part of philosophical thought and have done so for thousands of years. Among the key challenges is the question of how we are to treat others. If we assume that all of us are interested in living in a world whose doings are marked by justice and fairness, then we have to ask ourselves not merely what we can expect of others, but what our own obligations to others must be as well....

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Why Woodrow Wilson Is ISTJ

In this article, two of the site administrators explain their current reasons for why they think Woodrow Wilson is an ISTJ. Of the three articles on Woodrow Wilson’s type provided by this site, only the present article can be taken to represent the official views and type assessments of the site. 

By Ryan Smith and Eva Gregersen

As explained in the hub post on Woodrow Wilson, we as the admins of the site find ourselves engaged in informed disagreement with contributing guest writer Dylan Shapiro, who has argued at length that Wilson is an INTJ. In this post, we will present our case for Woodrow Wilson as an ISTJ. But first, some quotes:

“Wilson was a Ph.D. and the former President of Princeton University. To historians, he is one of their own; and so all his … folly is happily overlooked.” – Kelley L. Ross: The Great Republic, Woodrow Wilson

“Multitudes of his lieges regarded [Wilson] as the wisest man since Solomon, and there were plenty who suspected that he was actually divine.” – H.L. Mencken: American Mercury, October 1931

“[Wilson] was not a cold intellectual or distant messiah, two stereotypes born in Wilson’s failed struggle over the League of Nations. Nor was he even a ‘Wilsonian’ … he would hardly recognize the self-aggrandizing ideals that now bear his name.” – The New York Times: He Was No Wilsonian, December 10, 2009

012_wilsonAs these quotes show, Wilson is surrounded by a tradition of scholarship that tends to imbue him with every conceivable virtue. Conversely, a subset of scholars has taken stock of this trend and has started to produce their own instances of counter-history, which predictably construe Wilson as nothing less than the Antichrist himself. To steer clear of both these pitfalls, we shall therefore go for a “nuts and bolts”-style presentation where we seek to remain as close to Wilson’s own words as possible and attempt to keep our generalizations and references to what historians think to a minimum.

Since this piece was written as a counter-piece to Shapiro’s case for Wilson as an INTJ, we thought it would be fitting to let Shapiro suggest the text for us to use as the basis of our argument. In Shapiro’s view, Wilson’s essay, On the Writing of History, represents a particular strong example of Wilson’s alleged Ni dominance. Hence this article will concern itself with what we might learn of Wilson’s type on the basis of that essay.

Background of ‘On the Writing of History’

On the Writing of History first appeared in 1895, when Wilson was about 40 years old. In this essay, Wilson examines the perennial dispute over whether history should be a science or an art and concludes that there need not be a conflict between the two. If one interprets and analyzes the facts, rather than blindly passing them on to the reader, then substance and style can happily coexist.

Following the overall course of the argument, Wilson opposes the ‘new’ way of writing history, where the historian tries to be objective and eschew all art and style:

“The old chroniclers, whom we relish, were not dispassionate. … But our modern chroniclers are. … They are, above all things else, knowing, thoroughly informed, subtly sophisticated. They would not for the world contribute any spice of their own to the narrative; and they are much too watchful, circumspect, and dutiful in their care to keep their method pure and untouched by any thought of theirs to let us catch so much as a glimpse of the chronicler underneath the chronicle. Their purpose is to give simply the facts, eschewing art, and substituting a sort of monumental index and table of the world’s events.” – Wilson: On the Writing on History

In other words, Wilson criticizes the new ‘mechanical’ historians who aspire to be scientific. In Wilson’s view, in order to write good history it is not enough to merely present the naked facts of past events to the reader. The writing of history as a “monumental index and table of the world’s events” is not the kind of history that Wilson advocates. In fact, he opposes it.

Now, if we adopt a Myers-Briggsian approach to Jungian typology, it would seem that Wilson is revealing an Intuitive mindset here: As that thinking goes, the people who want the facts, with accuracy and “just as they are,” are S types, while the people who think behind the facts, or want “something more,” are N types.

However, there are several problems with this approach: First, in terms of the textbook definitions of the functions, it might be argued that Wilson is first and foremost opposing, not Si or Se, but Te-style history in this quote. Second, as we all know, Jungian functions (unlike the “four dimension”-approach of the MBTI instrument) pertain to how information is organized and structured in the psyche. It is a theory about psychic processes, not psychic conclusions – an S type could arrive at an “N-style” conclusion and vice versa. Third, since typology is a psychological discipline, we cannot expect people to express the workings of the functions directly. Rather, we have to develop a phenomenological representation of what the other person’s cognition is like.

For example, in Shapiro’s piece, analyzing Wilson’s own words, Shapiro writes: “Wilson does not speak of the subjective distortion that psychologically implies Ni,” as if we should expect to find Ni types speaking directly of the mechanics of Ni in this manner. However, this is exactly what we should not expect: Oftentimes, people do not know that their cognition is partial to their function biases, and they usually do not know when they are being subjective unless they have studied Jungian typology. In fact, one of the paradoxes of Introverted Intuition is that while in objective terms, their synthesis is a subjective distortion of events along visionary lines, INJs often do not know that they are being subjective at all. On the contrary, INJs will oftentimes think that they have seen the essence or essential truth of a thing, when in practice they are conceiving very one-sidedly in favor of a subjective, visionary synthesis (Psychological Types §662).

Just like we cannot expect INJs to profess that the right way to go about perception is to craft a subjective distortion along visionary lines, we also cannot expect ISJs to say that they “merely want the facts.” Of course, it may happen that an ISJ says that he or she simply wants “the facts and nothing but the facts,” but strictly speaking, this tells us little about their type. And at any rate, what ISTJs tend to say the most in our experience is not that they simply want the facts, but rather that they want a proper and careful estimation of the facts – for every fact to be “fully and fairly sifted” as the Duke of Wellington said. And that, as we shall see, is incidentally just what Wilson wants as well.

Wilson’s Reasons for Refusing “Facts Only” History

As we have just seen, Wilson refuses the ‘facts only’ approach to history, where the historian seeks to mute all subjectivity in favor of a “monumental index and table of the world’s events.” Something more artful, more “imaginative” is needed, in Wilson’s view. Now, if Wilson had simply appealed to imagination as a self-evident good, this might have constituted some second-order evidence in favor of Intuition. But Wilson does not simply reject the “facts only” approach to history out of bounds. On the contrary, he is very careful to explain where the license to deviate from the facts may come from:

“The trouble is, after all, that men do not invariably find the truth to their taste, and will often deny it when they hear it; and the historian has to do much more than keep his own eyes clear; he has also to catch and hold the eye of his reader.  … How shall he take the palate of his reader at unawares, and get the unpalatable facts down his throat along with the palatable? … It is evident that the thing cannot be done by the ‘dispassionate annalist.’” – Wilson: On the Writing on History

In other words, Wilson’s reasoning is not such that he simply “appeals to fantasy” (and that we as typologists might take this as some meager indication of N over S). Rather, Wilson’s rationale is that though it might be preferable to tell the facts without all the artful weaving of style and narrative, men would refuse to be made any wiser by it. They want art, not industry. The public at large would remain unmoved by the scholar’s more factual approach. The implication is therefore that this approach would actually be preferable – that one actually should tell “simply the facts” – if it were not for the “mass of men” who are unmoved by such a rigid approach.[1]

Certainly, Wilson’s reluctance to merely engage in a licentious handling of the facts as a matter of course, and his insistence on furnishing excuses for doing so at length, are not the habitual modus operandi of the Ni type. In Shapiro’s piece, he proposes to explain this anomaly by reference to the Compulsive personality style. For our part, we agree that Wilson had Compulsive traits, but as we write on the main page, some Compulsive elements seem to occur as a natural adaptation in many ISTJs. Hence, unless we encounter strong and direct indications of Ni that trump those of Si, there is no need to look closer at Wilson’s Compulsion. So let us look closer at Wilson’s alleged Ni.

How Wilson May Sound Like an INJ

As we recall, Shapiro recommended On the Writing on History on the grounds that it was supposedly a strong demonstration of Wilson’s predilection for Ni. And certainly, Wilson does make some rather Ni-sounding statements therein:

“… the facts do not of themselves constitute the truth. The truth is abstract not concrete. It is the just idea, the right revelation of what things mean. It is evoked only by such arrangements and orderings of fact as suggest meanings … and the best arrangement is always that which displays, not the facts themselves, but the subtle and else invisible forces that lurk in the events and in the minds of men.” – Wilson: On the Writing on History

However, we should also remember that we cannot simply take utterances such as “the truth is abstract not concrete” or the assertion that meanings reside “beyond facts” as indicative of specific functions. As mentioned, we have to develop a representation of what the other person’s cognition is like. When Wilson talks about “meanings beyond facts,” we must make sure that we are reading him on his own terms, and not on the basis of the connotations that these words usually have within the system of Jungian typology. Let us therefore look at what we might expect to happen in the mind of an INTJ:

“[The Ni-T type] simply touches upon a thing and off he goes. He does not dwell upon the subject, though in the long run one can say that he really does dwell upon it by amplification … he just catches such an intuition on the wing and leaves it, going round and round amplifying, so that in the end we get a complete picture, but by intuitive means, not by logical means.” – Jung: Seminar on Zarathustra (1934-39) vol. II p. 1083

The Ni type’s train of thought operates by unconscious amplification and association, not by systematic elucidation (as with the T type) or by elaborating on the meanings found in singular objects and instances (as with the S type). The factor of amplification by association is much more forceful in Ni types, whereas Si types prefer to stay with the one task at hand. As Jung also says, “the Sensation type remains with things” (Tavistock Lecture I §33). This “thing” may be big or small, abstract or concrete, long- or short-term, present- or future-oriented, but the common denominator is that the psyche of the Si type stays in harness throughout the task set before it, whereas the Ni type leaps between objects and tasks by way of association and amplification of the individual objects to fit an overall process of association, rather than staying with the individual object in itself.

The Si type may also operate by amplification, but it is usually by way of the concentration and patient focus on the amplification of one object that the Si type reveals himself. So let us see how these schemata fit Wilson.

On the face of it, Wilson may resemble an Ni type in the sense that he seeks to uncover “the meanings behind the facts” and that his preferred mode of doing so is to dwell upon his subject matter by way of amplification. But Wilson certainly does not resemble an Ni type in the meanings that his amplifications uncover:

“How are you to enable men to know the truth with regard to a period of revolution? Will you give them simply a calm statement of recorded events, simply a quiet, unaccentuated narrative of what actually happened, written in a monotone, and verified by quotations from authentic documents of the time? You may save yourself the trouble. As well make a pencil sketch in outline of a raging conflagration; write upon one portion of it ‘flame,’ upon another ‘smoke’; here ‘town hall,’ where the fire started, and there ‘spot where fireman was killed.’ It is a chart, not a picture. Even if you made a veritable picture of it, you could give only part of the truth so long as you confined yourself to black and white. Where would be all the wild and terrible colors of the scene: the red and tawny flame; the masses of smoke, carrying the dull glare of the fire to the very skies, like a great signal banner thrown to the winds; the hot and frightened faces of the crowd; the crimsoned gables down the street, with the faint light of a lamp here and there gleaming white from some hastily opened casement? Without the colors your picture is not true. No inventory of items will ever represent the truth: the fuller and more minute you make your inventory, the more will the truth be obscured. The little details will take up as much space in the statement as the great totals into which they are summed up; and the proportions being false, the whole is false.” – Wilson: On the Writing on History

Wilson presents us with a style of amplification which would suggest an S or N function rather than a T or F function.[2] However, Wilson’s intellect has no trouble remaining in harness. Like Freud, who wrote an entire essay on the meaning of Michelangelo’s Moses, studying only the statue itself, in this essay Wilson amplifies the one task that he has set before himself: To explain why the “facts only” approach to history will not suffice.

As we mentioned earlier, it is important to understand Wilson on his own terms and not on the basis of the typical meanings of the words he uses, as they are used within the system of Jungian typology. So while the term “meanings beyond facts” may loosely be taken to suggest N over S in itself, the types of meanings that Wilson alludes to when he talks about “meanings beyond facts” are not the same “meanings” or “facts” as these words are usually understood in many versions of Jungian typology. When Wilson talks about doing justice to the “meanings beyond facts,” he quite evidently means that the “facts only” approach to history will fail to do justice to the sense impressions involved. This is exactly what we should expect to find in the Si type, for whom it is the inner sensations caused by sense impressions that are the predominant factor in cognitive orientation.[3]

Wilson’s Connotations of ‘Meanings’ and ‘Facts’

Again, while the words used by Wilson are the same as the words that might be found in various MBTI training materials, each party understands something different by “meanings” and “facts” than does the other. The words are the same, but the connotations that Wilson and Myers-Briggs understand by them are not.

Earlier in this essay, we mentioned that as a matter of observation, ISTJs do not typically demand “simply the facts and nothing but the facts.” Rather, the (stereo)typical demand of the ISTJ is that the facts are fully and fairly sifted in order to produce a prudent and sensible estimation of them. Wilson says: “The fuller and more minute you make your inventory, the more will the truth be obscured.” Therefore, to avoid this predicament, a sensible estimation of facts must be undertaken, and in Wilson’s view it is this weighing of the facts that constitutes the “meaning” and “abstract vision” that lies “beyond the facts.” As Wilson says over and over again in the essay, the reader must be brought to “see history aright” – as it really were – and the historian who distorts the events according to his personal dispositions “gets himself enrolled among a very undesirable class of persons.” Indeed, as Wilson writes, the historian falls into error when history “is not told for its own sake [but is] evidence summed up in order to justify a judgment,” whereas by contrast it might be mentioned that the entire historical production of Hegel, Nietzsche, or Marx was nothing but an analysis undertaken for the sake of justifying a judgment.

But rather than asking the reader to take our words for what we have said, let us hear Wilson again:

“[Take the famous historian Thomas] Carlyle, with his … amazing flashes of insight. The whole matter of what he writes is too dramatic. Surely history was not all enacted so hotly, or with so passionate a rush of men upon the stage. Its quiet scenes must have been longer – not mere pauses and interludes while the tragic parts were being made up. There is not often ordinary sunlight upon the page. The lights burn now wan, now lurid. … We do not recognize our own world, but seem to see another such as ours might become if peopled by like uneasy Titans. Incomparable to tell of days of storm and revolution, speaking like an oracle and familiar of destiny and fate, searching the hearts of statesmen and conquerors with an easy insight in every day of action, this peasant seer cannot give us the note of piping times of peace, or catch the tone of slow industry; watches ships come and go at the docks, hears freight-vans thunder along the iron highways of the modern world, and loaded trucks lumber heavily through the crowded city streets. …  There is no broad and catholic vision, no wise tolerance. … The great seeing imagination of the man lacks that pure radiance in which things are seen steadily and seen whole.” – Wilson: On the Writing on History

Here again, Wilson confirms everything that we have said of him. In his view:

  • The historian must seek to render past events in as ordinary a light as possible – we should be able to recognize the ordinary world, “our world,” and not some high literary drama.
  • The historian should not dramatize (i.e. amplify) events. He should not function by “amazing flashes of insight,” but adopt a more steady and even-handed approach that allows him to perceive the mundane with the same fidelity that he perceives the extraordinary.
  • The historian should not speak like an “oracle of destiny and fate,” because if he does, he cannot render slow-paced things like peacetime and industry “steadily and whole.”

These are all Wilson’s own words; they are not ours, and they are not what historians and chroniclers think. Indeed, Wilson tells us directly that one of Carlyle’s flaws is that he is too imaginative. Because of Carlyle’s great imagination and his predilection for leaping ahead in his excitement, he lacks “vision” and possesses no “wise tolerance” capable of representing events as they really were. Hence to our three points above, we may add a fourth:

  • When Wilson speaks of “imagination,” “broad vision,” and “abstract meanings” situated “beyond the facts,” he does not use these terms in the way we usually understand them with regard to Jungian typology. As his own words make clear, “vision,” “imagination,” and “abstract meanings“ really mean “the ability to calmly take accurate stock of events as they really happened.” Indeed, in Wilson’s view, “the writers who select an incident merely because it is striking or dramatic are shallow fellows.”

By now, the gist of our argument is in place. Readers who want additional quotes from On the Writing of History that support the same reading given here may consult the appendix given below. Or better yet, they may familiarize themselves with the essay in its entirety and get a feel for its ambience themselves.[4]


  • Wilson is the subject of an undependable historiography. It is better to rely on his own words than on what various writers think.
  • Wilson may sound like an INJ because he talks about “vision,” “imagination,” and “abstract meanings” situated “beyond the facts.” But Wilson does not use these words in the manner we usually understand them: In Wilson’s view, “vision” and “imagination” is the ability to take stock of every fact “steadily and whole,” in order to render them “as they really were.”
  • Both Ni and Si types may operate by amplifying the phenomena under their scrutiny. But Ni types tend to leap from thing to thing and Si types stay with one thing at a time. Wilson amplifies considerably, repeatedly, and at length, yet always stays with the task at hand.
  • To Si types, events tend to hold merit of their own accord, whereas to Ni types, events more often serve to function as the proof of an idea. Wilson tells us directly that history produced with the aim of illustrating something other than the events themselves should be rejected and discredited.
  • Since the indications of Wilson professing Ni actually turn out to be indications of Si once Wilson’s proper meaning is discerned, there is no need to dwell at length on the possible ramifications of Wilson’s Compulsive traits. Like God in Laplace’s universe, “there is no need of that hypothesis.”

APPENDIX A: Further Quotes from ‘On the Writing of History’:

“[The historian] must instruct the reader as the events themselves would have instructed him had he been able to note them as they passed.”

“[The historian] must keep with the generation of which he writes, not be too quick to be wiser than they were, and look back upon them in his narrative with head over shoulder. He must write of them always in the atmosphere they themselves breathed … striving only to realize them at every turn of the story, to make their thoughts his own, and call their lives back again, rebuilding the very stage upon which they played their parts.”

“A [contemporary] plan laid like a standard and measure upon a seventeenth-century narrative will infallibly twist and make it false.”

“[The historian] must look far and wide upon every detail of time, see it first-hand, and paint as he looks … selecting from the life itself.”

“It is a picture of the past we want – its express image and feature; but we want the true picture and not simply the theatrical matter – the manner of Rembrandt rather than Rubens. All life may be pictured, but not all of life is picturesque. No great, no true historian would put false or adventitious colors into narrative, or let a glamor rest where in fact it never was.”

“It is thus, and thus only, we shall have the truth of the matter … by … first-hand vision. … Let us have done with humbug and come to plain speech.”

APPENDIX B: Further Quotes on the Disputed Historiography on Wilson:

“A more nuanced approach [than the one undertaken in John Milton Cooper Jr.’s biography on Wilson] might have let Wilson stand on his own contradictory terms.” –  The New York Times: He Was No Wilsonian, December 10, 2009

“[The Wilson biographer] A. Scott Berg admires, almost reveres, Woodrow Wilson, and the result is a book that too often praises President Wilson.” – The Washington Independent Review of Books: Wilson, September 19, 2013

“Why does the right hate Wilson? [And] why do presidential historians seem to like him so much?” – Radley Balko: What’s Wrong With Woodrow Wilson?

“Wilson’s conventional reputation chiefly reflects the ‘opportunity’ … afforded to presidents who happen to preside in times of large events (especially wars), and the prevailing bias of historians who prefer presidents … who expand the size of the presidency and the scope of government.” – Steven F. Hayward: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents (Regnery Publishing 2012)


[1] There are reasons for doubting that Wilson actually would have preferred such a ‘mechanical,’ Te-style type of history: During his own time at Princeton University he faced a major crisis because most of his fellow scholars there engaged in exactly this type of “fact only” approach to history and it did not suit his intellectual temper.  One the one hand, this falling out with his professors and fellow students because he wanted something more “imaginative,” seemingly of his own accord, might be taken as some slight evidence of Ni over Si. But on the other hand, as Wilson’s own essay makes clear, the rigorous “facts only” approach to history was the intellectual vogue in Wilson’s time and it is unlikely that his professors and fellow students, who engaged in and enjoyed this type of history, were all Si types. In other words, engaging in this type of history, or rebelling against it, need not constitute strong evidence with regards to the individual type. In such cases, we would be inclined to look for other types of evidence.

[2] Van der Hoop: Character and the Unconscious (Kegan Paul & Co. 1923) p. 143

[3] Van der Hoop: Character and the Unconscious (Kegan Paul & Co. 1923) p. 145

[4] Furthermore, as a piece of second-order evidence, one of the hallmarks of Ni types is that they are oblivious to many facts; partly because of their inferior Sensation and partly in order to arrive at their one-sided synthesis of things. As von Franz says of them, “they pass by an absolutely amazing number of outer facts and just do not take them in.” (Von Franz: Lectures on Jung’s Typology [Spring Publications 1971] p. 35) In the lines quoted above, Wilson’s criticism of Carlyle is exactly that he fails to take stock of the minute and the ordinary and that he rushes ahead in order to arrive at the high drama of history, as if the world were “peopled by uneasy Titans.”


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Woodrow Wilson’s Psychological Type

Articles on Wilson Provided by this Site:

  • Why Wilson Is ISTJ - In this article the site administrators explain their current reasons for why they think Woodrow Wilson is ISTJ. Of the three articles provided here, only this article should be taken to represent the official views and type assessments of the site. 
  • Why Wilson Is INTJ, Part 1 - This article was originally written as a joint piece between contributing guest writer Dylan Shapiro and one of the site admins at a time where all parties believed that Wilson was INTJ. Since then, the administrators of the site have  changed their assessment of Wilson to ISTJ, while Shapiro still sees Wilson as INTJ with Compulsive traits. Hence this article no longer reflects the views of the site admins, but it may still be read by anyone who wishes to familiarize himself with the arguments for INTJ and/or the arguments for Wilson having a Te/Fi axis rather than an Fe/Ti axis.
  • Why Wilson Is INTJ, Part 2 - In this article, guest writer Dylan Shapiro continues his exploration and lists further reasons for why he identifies Wilson as INTJ. As above, this article reflects Shapiro’s views, and not those of the site admins.

Assessments of Wilson’s personality:

  • Myers identifies Wilson as ITP.
  • Keirsey & son identify Wilson as ESTJ.
  • The American Psychological Association identifies Wilson as an introvert.
  • Rubenzer & Faschingbauer’s data on Wilson, using the Big Five test, suggest E-, O+, A-, and C+ (i.e. INTJ).
  • CelebrityTypes contributing guest writer Dylan Shapiro identifies Wilson as INTJ.
  • CelebrityTypes Admins identify Wilson as ISTJ.


  • David Keirsey Sr. & Ray Choiniere: Presidential Temperament (Prometheus Nemesis 1992) p. 11 ff., 247 ff.
  • Myers: Gifts Differing (Davies-Black Publishing 1995) p.  53, 89
  • Personal Correspondence with David Keirsey Jr. (2014)
  • Rubenzer & Faschingbauer: Personality, Character, and Leadership in the White House (Potomac Books 2004)

Why Woodrow Wilson Is INTJ, Part 2

Dylan Shapiro is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. Shapiro previously alerted us to the possibility that Wilson was INTJ (and not INFJ as we originally thought). In this article, Shapiro furthers his case for Wilson as an INTJ. Shapiro originally wrote an article on why Wilson is INTJ with one of the site admins at a time when all parties believed that Wilson was INTJ. Since then, the administrators of the site have come to assess Wilson as ISTJ, while Shapiro still sees him as INTJ. Hence neither this article nor the original one can be taken to reflect the views of the site admins, but are provided here for readers wishing to familiarize themselves with the case for Wilson as an INTJ.

 By Dylan Shapiro

wilsonWoodrow Wilson was a highly enigmatic president whose personality, ambition, ideology, and impact have all been debated without much consensus being reached. In the history world, the most common debate is whether Wilson was an idealist or a realist; as I detailed in my previous article, Why Woodrow Wilson is INTJ, the truth is neither, but rather somewhere in-between. Neither a starry-eyed idealist nor a down-to-Earth pragmatist, Wilson applied empiricism and the facts to his imaginative visions which as a result blurred his true ideology.

However, in that previous article, I assumed Wilson was an Ni type without discussing it, believing it to be self-evident, and therefore I neglected to study Wilson’s Perceiving axis. As a result, as that article’s primary concern was to differentiate Wilson from INFJs, the person that emerged sounded closer to ISTJ. And indeed, upon closer inspection of Wilson’s Perceiving axis, he displays a number of traits that are anomalies if Wilson was an Ni type but are very consistent with Si types. These traits are as follows:

  • Wilson tends to write and speak in a long-winded, meticulous, deliberate style that seems to attempt to methodically reach all facets (Si-Ne) rather than intensely reach one facet (Ni-Se).
  • Wilson earned a degree in history, which, all else being equal, is far more Si-like than Ni-like.
  • Wilson believed in the lasting importance of childhood influences on one’s views and perspective, saying, “It is all very well to talk of detachment of view, and of the effort to be national in spirit and in purpose, but a boy … never can change those subtle influences which have become a part of him … [as] a child.”
  • Wilson liked bureaucratic organization even as a child, seemingly for its own sake: He said, “my delight … [was in the] sense of belonging to an organization and doing something with [it] … it did not matter what.” [Reference #1]
  • Wilson had a 99.2 percentile score on Conscientiousness [Reference #2], which is surprising given Ni’s characteristic “messiness” of thought.

If Wilson were an INTJ, these traits would be notable anomalies for the type; if Wilson were an ISTJ, these traits would make perfect sense. Upon closer inspection of the Perceiving axis, therefore, one understandably would have these two questions:

  1. If Wilson were an INTJ, why does he seem to process information in a manner more reminiscent of Si?
  2. If Wilson were an ISTJ, why does he seem to espouse ideas that are more reminiscent of Ni?

Just by glancing at these questions, the answer seems simple: in terms of mental processes, Wilson was an ISTJ; in terms of mental contents, Wilson was an INTJ. Thus, since Jungian typology is concerned with processes, not contents or behaviors, Wilson joins people like Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, and Frederick the Great as intellectual ISTJs.

But that assessment also raises some questions.

Unlike Freud, Heidegger, and Frederick the Great, who are above all else straight-and-narrow administrative individuals who are not intellectual for interest’s sake but merely because it is practical to be so, Wilson was guided by intellectualism, vision, and imagination for his whole life. Why would an Si type’s life, taken as a whole, show signs of not only espousing INTJ-like views but also esteeming Ni-like methods of arriving at those views?

A common mistake Jungian typologists make is to take every behavior, viewpoint, and fact about a person’s life as a sign of one or more of their cognitive functions. That is an error. Not everything about a person’s life is related to their Jungian type. To correct for this, one good strategy is to use a scientifically valid personality overlay, such as the personality styles, to differentiate between the function-related evidence and the “white noise” of a person’s style. Once that is done, it is easier to determine what is truly a facet of the cognitive functions, i.e. the personality type, and what is simply a product of the person’s personality style.

Once a person’s personality style is ascertained, then the typologist can move on to attempting to ascertain the person’s functions. But to do so effectively, the typologist must first understand these two rules:

  1. Personality styles aren’t bound to specific cognitive functions.
  2. They don’t change the underlying mental processes of the functions.

Thus, any type can have any personality style, though different types are more predisposed to having certain styles.

Woodrow Wilson, with his 99.2 percentile Conscientiousness score, highest of all U.S. presidents [Reference #2], is in my opinion a clear example of the Compulsive personality. The Compulsive style, roughly speaking, correlates with the SJ types in the Jungian system and therefore would serve to make any type appear more guided by Si. For the purposes of this essay I will be dealing with these aspects of the Compulsive style in particular, as quoted from the work of Theodore Millon:

  • Interpersonally Respectful (e.g., exhibits unusual adherence to social conventions and proprieties, as well as being scrupulous and overconscientious about matters of morality and ethics; prefers polite, formal and correct personal relationships, usually insisting that subordinates adhere to personally established rules and methods).
  • Constricted Cognitive Style (e.g., constructs world in terms of rules, regulations, schedules and hierarchies; is rigid, stubborn, and indecisive and notably upset by unfamiliar or novel ideas and customs).
  • Responsible Self-Image (e.g., sees self as devoted to work, industrious, reliable, meticulous and efficient, largely to the exclusion of leisure activities; fearful of error or misjudgment and hence overvalues aspects of self that exhibit discipline, perfection, prudence and loyalty).
  • Concealed Object-Relations (e.g., only those internalized representations, with their associated inner affects and attitudes that can be socially approved, are allowed conscious awareness or behavioral expression; as a result, actions and memories are highly regulated, forbidden impulses sequestered and tightly bound, personal and social conflicts defensively denied, kept from awareness, maintained under stringent control).
  • Compartmentalized Morphologic Organization (e.g., morphologic structures are rigidly organized in a tightly consolidated system that is clearly partitioned into numerous, distinct and segregated constellations of drive, memory, and cognition, with few open channels to permit interplay among these components). [Reference #3]

These five characteristics of the Compulsive personality style seem to be more consistent with ISTJ than INTJ, and yet, because any type can have any personality style, an INTJ could exhibit them. Given that, it is my assertion that Woodrow Wilson was an INTJ whose personality type was blurred by the Compulsive style and thus left him resembling, in many ways, an ISTJ.

The Roots of Compulsion: Wilson and His Father

The Compulsive personality style, however, is not especially common in INTJs directly for cognitive reasons; INTJs have Ni-Se, which is characterized by wraithlike, subjective, imaginative insights (Ni) stressed intensely through the one perspective that will yield the greatest manifestation of that insight in the here and now (Se). That is opposed to the meticulous, partitioned, firmly structured filter of the Compulsive style, particularly its Compartmentalized Morphologic Organization, which is similar to the definition of Si-Ne with its tentative and multifarious nature.

Wilson, as a young child, was “shy and imaginative,” but at the same time “awed by his larger-than-life … father,” who embodied the Wilson family’s “tradition of intellectual accomplishment” [Reference #2]. His father had “demanding” expectations of him – by “age four, [Wilson] was expected to express his thoughts in organized and proper English and was made to try again if he failed,” which, especially for an imaginative child, would have been highly stressful [Reference #2]. Yet rather than rebelling against the father whom he was “awed by,” the four-year-old Wilson sought to live up to his expectations. This pressure, which remained leveled at him for most of his childhood, is a likely cause of his Compulsive style.

This alone merely explains his Compulsion but does little in proving that he was INTJ. Evidence of Wilson’s innate imaginative outlook exists, though, and while young children rarely embody all the traits of their type from the get-go, they nonetheless usually exhibit a number of its essential characteristics. Wilson himself, reminiscing on his childhood to a friend, said, “I lived a dream life … when I was a lad and even now my thought goes back for refreshment to those days” [Reference #4]. Similarly, in a 1904 address, Wilson indirectly criticized his father, showing his long-held but veiled resentment for the extraordinary pressure that was placed on him as a child:

“[Children] live in a world of delightful imagination; they pursue persons and objects that never existed … and these stupid [adults] try to translate these things into uninteresting facts.” [Reference #2]

This resentment, bubbling up even many years later in an unrelated address, demonstrates a deep-seated conflict between Wilson’s imaginative nature and his father’s high expectations for him. Perhaps it is this that Wilson was referring to when he said, “It is all very well to talk of detachment of view, and of the effort to be national in spirit and in purpose, but a boy … never can change those subtle influences which have become a part of him … [as] a child.”

It is likely, therefore, that his father’s pressure and high expectations were the cause of Wilson’s Compulsion and that this Compulsion was in some way opposed to Wilson’s natural state. This opposition could either be (1) a result of Wilson’s Ni-Se axis being bound and shackled by Compulsion, which if true would make him an INTJ, or (2) a result of Wilson’s inferior Ne bubbling out, which if true would make him an ISTJ. Examining Wilson’s life, politics, and thought after correcting for his Compulsive personality, though, will in my estimation make it clear that he was an Ni-Se type, not an Si-Ne type.

Why Wilson is an Introverted Intuitive

The most obvious sign of an N preference in Wilson is his relatively high score on Openness: the 64th percentile. While that is only slightly higher than the INTJ John Adams’s 61st percentile score, it is far higher than the scores of ISTJ presidents like George Washington (14th), Richard Nixon (14th), and Dwight Eisenhower (29th) [Reference #2]. Though Openness is not exactly the same as Intuition, as some S types can score quite high on Openness, it nonetheless is opposed to behaviors one would normally associate with inferior Ne. Ne is characterized by exploratory, springy, cognizant, inclusive examination of all conceptual possibilities. ISTJs, since their Ne is inferior, tend to be wary and skeptical of new, untested ideas and ingenuity, sometimes even to a fault. This usually leads to a very low score on Openness, as demonstrated by Washington, Nixon, and Eisenhower’s scores. If Wilson were ISTJ, this would be a notable anomaly for the type.

Further evidence of Wilson’s openness to ideas exists in his idea-based and philosophical outlook on life. Steven J. Rubenzer, in his psychological study of Wilson, said of him, “He was exceptionally able to let his mind wander and had a very vivid imagination … he was … idealistic and spiritual … interested in topics of philosophy” [Reference #2]. Though Wilson was not a full-blooded idealist, he certainly had some idealistic tendencies; beneath his empirical approach to problems, he was imaginative, idealistic, and philosophical. As he said himself, “It is not men that interest or disturb me primarily; it is ideas. Ideas live; men die” [Reference #2]. His thought and motivation, while aided by logic, expediency, and empiricism, was brought about by imaginative insight, which is highly unusual for an ISTJ, but not for an INTJ.

Additionally, Wilson’s political thought was highly influenced by the INTJ philosopher G.W.F. Hegel. So much so, in fact, that in a letter to his wife, he made it a point to mention Hegel’s influence on him: “[Hegel] used to search for, and in most cases find, it seems to me – the fundamental psychological facts of society” [Reference #5]. As discussed previously on this site, Wilson’s vision of the League of Nations was rooted in Hegelian teleology.

This alone does not unequivocally prove Ni-Se over Si-Ne with unusually developed Ne, however. Wilson, from a distance, has many traits that seem more consistent with Si than Ni: His degree in history, his long-windedness, his love of bureaucratic organization in and of itself, and his lack of inferior Se vacillation between asceticism and indulgence. Up close, though, these traits all make perfect sense if Wilson were a Compulsive INTJ and at the same time bring to light more definitive traits that oppose ISTJ.

Wilson the Academic

All else being equal, Si-Ne types are better equipped for natural enjoyment of school and academia than Ni-Se types: While Si-Ne compartmentalizes a wide array of facts habitually into an extensive archive of memories and impressions, Ni-Se observes a narrower array of facts and intensely weaves them into a wraithlike image of interconnected ideas. Because of these dispositions, Si-Ne types are more interested in careful, procedural study similar to traditional academic practice: For example, ISTJ Natalie Portman “always liked school” and ISTJ Frederick the Great believed “knowledge of [an object] is to be attained … by careful and studious … particular and minute examination of it” [Reference #6]. Conversely, Ni-Se types frequently find traditional academic practice stultifying, preferring to make intuitive leaps from fact to idea to grasp the whole truth: for example, INTJ Stephen Hawking believed “that the ultimate theory will [not] come by steady work along existing lines” and INTJ John Adams “saw the whole of a subject at a glance” [Reference #6]. Yet both types have the capacity to succeed in academia; they just do so in different ways.

ISTJs, having Si, are often more diligent, hardworking, careful, and meticulous in their study than INTJs. INTJs, having Ni, tend to be more “selectively studious,” or studious only when the studying contributes to their vision of the whole truth.

Wilson, then, as the only president to earn a Ph.D., surely must have been diligent and meticulous, right?

Not according to the sources. According to Alexander L. George and Juliette L. George, who are noted Wilson biographers, Wilson’s academic style actually was selectively studious and far more concerned with his own vision than the subjects themselves. They wrote:

“An inspection of Wilson’s grades at Princeton could not lead an impartial observer to the conclusion that he was a brilliant undergraduate. In a real sense, of course, he was. With subjects that did not touch his interest, he had neither patience nor noteworthy success. But when his interest was aroused, he did not need the lure of good grades to motivate him to study, nor was his study in the nature of stolidly committing masses of facts to memory. Through his capacity to relate the contents of books to his own aspirations, all manner of information sprang to exciting life.” [Reference #7]

This academic style seems quite opposed to the ISTJ’s much more careful, meticulous approach and yet is wholly consistent with the INTJ’s vision-oriented, selective approach. In fact, this style seems inconsistent with Compulsion, too, but as an academic Wilson also “could master the rules of order with avidity, for they were to him a highly practical tool” [Reference #7] – hinting at the highly structured and orderly behavioral constraints on his selective studiousness. Taken as a whole, therefore, Wilson’s academic style as an undergraduate seems perfectly compatible with what we would expect of a Compulsive INTJ, but highly unlike what we would expect of a Compulsive ISTJ. Compulsion would actually serve to amplify the ISTJ’s already meticulous and careful approach, while with Wilson it serves to mitigate his lack of studiousness.

Wilson largely enjoyed his time as an undergrad precisely because of this freedom to be selectively studious; as George & George say, “he was able to a large extent to follow his own bent, and made fruitful use of the opportunity” [Reference #7]. But after he graduated, he was left with a dilemma: he wished to be “a great statesman” but had to ascend to the top somehow. To do so, he decided to become a lawyer, as he recalled in a letter: “[T]he profession I chose was politics; the profession I entered was the law. I entered the one because I thought it would lead to the other” [Reference #7]. Thus, he entered law school at the University of Virginia to become a lawyer and ultimately ascend to the top of the political ladder. Immediately after beginning his studies there, however, Wilson was disappointed. As George & George wrote:

“Interested in the broadest problems of government, Wilson found it tedious to memorize endless cases illustrating, to him, abysmally uninteresting points of law. But the conviction that legal training would be useful later sustained him. He described himself in a letter…as swallowing vast masses of legal technicalities “with as good a grace and as straight a face as an offended palate will allow.” [Reference #7]

Essentially, Wilson entered law to ultimately attain his ambition of becoming a “great statesman,” but when that goal required an Si-like method of study, he found it stultifying. The only thing keeping him sane and driven in such a detail-based environment was the solace that it was all for the benefit of his vision and his Compulsive personality style, specifically its Responsible Self-Image, which let him keep “good grace and a straight face.” His time at the University of Virginia was not wholly stultifying, however, for while there he was elected President of the Jefferson Debating Society. As its president, he “promptly revised [the organization’s] constitution” with “contagious enthusiasm,” and that constitution’s success “intensified his larger ambitions” [Reference #7]. Free from the constraints of the detail-based law study, Wilson was able to excel and enact reform in ways that he cared about passionately. That environment, along with the independence brought about by being in power, was the environment in which Wilson was most happy and most driven to excel – and it also was far more consistent with an INTJ’s preferred learning environment.

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Wilson became a lawyer and he felt his career to be highly constraining. He longed for “intellectual companionship” [Reference #7] but could not adequately get it from being a lawyer. In fact, he was so intellectually stagnated that he showed a marked shift in his aspirations – the lack of intellectual stimulation broke him. Rather than continuing on the path he had originally planned for himself, he decided to get a Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University, simply to “become a master of philosophical discourse” and therefore become a professor [Reference #7]. This was also consistent with his Ni-Se axis; he craved intellectual stimulation enough that it became his lifeblood, and the lack of it made him reconsider his career goals and change his vision entirely.

At Johns Hopkins, however, he received a similar shock as he did at the University of Virginia. He wanted a broad philosophical overview of a wide breadth of history, but Johns Hopkins “was for specialists, not generalists” [Reference #8]. His studies consisted largely of memorizing details; the discussions consisted largely of exploring the minutiae of the historical happenings. He felt so oppressed by this detail-based environment that, in letters to his fiancée, he wrote, “I need not bore you about all this. I am sufficiently bored for the both of us”; “I find the school-boy task of cramming for examination increasingly irksome. I find my interest choked by … the innumerable dry particulars”; and, “I want to be near the world. I want to know the world; to retain all my sympathy with it – even with its crudenesses. I am afraid of being made a mere student. I want to be part of the nature around me, not an outside observer of it” [Reference #8]. He also disliked his professors, calling them “men who are pretending to teach” because of their procedural, detail-based teaching style [Reference #8]. These complaints all were the result of an Ni-dominant type who craved intellectual stimulation having an Si-style approach uncontrollably come in the way of his needs and vision. Few things are more frustrating to an INTJ than being uncontrollably oppressed; such an environment led Bobby Fischer, for example, to quit school at age 16. So oppressed was Wilson that he reached out to his father for advice, who then advised Wilson to focus his energy on writing a book he actually wanted to write: Congressional Government [Reference #8].

After Wilson wrote the book, the university took notice of him, ultimately granting him his Ph.D. on account of the book despite the fact that he never completed the requirements [Reference #8]. He then set off to be a professor, later rising to the level of university president and enacting reform there. As an enactor of reform, Wilson was “unmovable, refused to compromise, and was defeated” – a prelude to his struggles to get the U.S. to join the League of Nations [Reference #2].

In a broad sense, therefore, Wilson was a highly intelligent student who nonetheless exhibited all the hallmarks of an Ni-Se type in academia; he frequently felt oppressed by the Si-like nature of the actual methods while focusing much of his energy on his extracurricular visions. Though at first glance Wilson was the most academic president given his Ph.D., upon closer inspection his approach to academics was far more consistent with INTJ than ISTJ – and the occasional anomalies are in my view perfectly explainable with INTJ Compulsion, but not ISTJ Compulsion.

But it is questionable that Wilson chose history as the method for intellectual stimulation. Could this be a sign that he liked history as an end in and of itself, something far more consistent with Si than Ni? Though perhaps it looks that way from a distance, if one truly examines Wilson’s perspective on history that does not seem to be the case.

Wilson’s Approach to History

Because Si entails a careful, studious, laborious approach to learning while Ni entails a bold, wraithlike, selectively studious approach, Si types tend to be far more fond of and receptive to learning history than Ni types. Indeed, a curious phenomenon amongst Si types is that, due to their vast internal archive of data and memories, they can often believe the future will behave the same as it did in the past. Si types, therefore, can be said to plan against the future, looking to the past empirically and approaching the future in the manner the example set by the past dictates. Ni types, however, because of their frequent leaps from fact to inference and idea, tend to believe the future is ever-changing and fluid. Thus, Ni types tend to plan into the future, inferring new perspectives and pushing for change since, to the Ni type, the past does not hold all the answers.

On the surface, Wilson exhibited an interest in history quite unlike that of an Ni type. Could it be that when Wilson said he craved “intellectual companionship” and to “become a master of philosophical discourse,” he actually was referring to a shackled Si function rather than an Ni function? Though perhaps deductively speaking that may make sense, if one really examines Wilson’s motives and approach to studying history, it seems to be false.

As discussed previously, Hegel profoundly influenced Wilson’s ideology. But it would be wrong to say Hegel was his only philosophical influence; Wilson also drew much of his ideology from a couple of British philosophers: Edmund Burke and Walter Bagehot. Indeed, remarking on Bagehot’s Physics and Politics, Wilson said, “for my part, I acknowledge, I religiously believe most that the book contains” [Reference #5]. Though these philosophers do, roughly speaking, support a future orientation, they do not believe in abandoning historical context altogether – as Burke says, “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Bagehot’s Physics and Politics, taken as a whole, suggests that customs and traditions, which he dubbed “cakes of custom,” are merely a product of the current society; the thing to do, therefore, is to “[break] the cake of custom…and [reach] something better” [Reference #9]. This philosophy espouses a form of cultural Darwinism: the best customs are those that remain, while the worst are replaced with something better. To know exactly how to reach better customs, therefore, it would be logical, even for an Ni type, to have a working knowledge of the past.

But despite the fact that Bagehot’s philosophy is fundamentally progressive, it could still be interpreted as an Si-style plan against the future rather than an Ni-style leap into the future. Wilson himself said as much: of the book, he said, “[Bagehot] does not construct for the future” [Reference #5]. And this was Wilson’s main disagreement with Bagehot and where he began to embrace Hegelian thought. Hegel’s philosophy, unlike Bagehot’s, not only esteems a progressive outlook but also makes an intuitive leap into the future. Indeed, as Ronald J. Pestritto writes, “the primary difference between Hegel and the English Historical School is for Hegel, history is going somewhere” [Reference #5]. Hegelian historicism “has a particular future in mind, and progress is all about reaching it,” which appealed to Wilson more than Bagehot’s progressive yet cautious outlook [Reference #5]. Wilson, therefore, was interested in history primarily for its broad context and as a stepping-stone toward the future, not as an end in itself. This is an approach toward history reminiscent of Ni, not Si.

Wilson, as a professor, also had an Ni-Se perspective on the job of the historian. In an essay, On the Writing of History, in which he wrote his definitive opinion on how history should be written, Wilson argued that the historian needs an imagination and needs to imbue his account with art so as to enliven it. But that alone could merely be Wilson’s Te explaining how a historian could make a product people would enjoy reading. Upon a close read of the essay, though, Wilson’s perspective is highly Ni-Se.

For much of the essay, Wilson explains that the historian has two duties: to tell the truth and to make the truth exciting. Alone, that seems consistent with both ISTJ and INTJ, but early on in the essay, Wilson makes clear what he means by “truth”:

“The facts do not of themselves constitute the truth. The truth is abstract, not concrete. It is the just idea, the right revelation of what things mean. It is evoked only by such arrangements and orderings of facts as suggest interpretations. The chronological arrangement of events, for example, may or may not be the arrangement which most surely brings the truth of the narrative to light; and the best arrangement is always that which displays, not the facts themselves, but the subtle and else invisible forces that lurk in the events and the minds of men – forces for which events serve only as lasting and dramatic words of utterance.” [Reference #10]

By truth, Wilson does not mean the concrete, factual occurrence, but the true idea represented by those occurrences. A historian’s job, to Wilson, is not to explain the minutiae of what happened but rather to enliven the tale so, like a piece of art, it suggests a deeper meaning. He then opines that the chronological arrangement of events, which would be the order most conducive to calm study of them, is not necessarily the best arrangement because it may not best express the ideas within. In other words, the meaning of the events (Ni) is more important than the factual accuracy (Si). Later on in the essay, Wilson also explains how the historian should best integrate the factual occurrences into his account:

“It does not do to lose the point of view of the first listener to the tale … you must instruct your reader as the events themselves would have instructed him had he been able to note them as they passed … let the historian, if he be wise, know no more of the history as he writes than might have been known in the age and day of which he is writing. A trifle too much knowledge … will break the spell for his imagination.” [Reference #10]

Rather than elaborating on all the facets of history that the historian knows, he should confine himself to the most visceral, fascinating ones: the ones that would have been observable at the event itself. To Wilson, rather than providing a detailed and nuanced account, the historian should provide a visceral one that lets the reader’s imagination flow so as to ascertain the abstract “truth” of the events.

These beliefs are highly inconsistent with Si, though they are quite consistent with Wilson’s philosophical outlook on history; Wilson does believe history is important, but for its ideas, not its details, and likely only to provide context for his vision of the future.

However, Wilson does not speak of the subjective distortion that psychologically implies Ni; he merely speaks of the abstract meaning of the events, which does not preclude Si. And indeed, he believes the historian, despite needing to enliven the tale, must be right. Many of his points, indeed, do not pass the inversion test – they do not account for the circumstance. Wilson was writing about history. Few historians, Si or Ni, would say to lie about history for the sake of its inner truth or say to “give us the facts, and nothing but the facts” [Reference #10]. Once one corrects for the circumstance, though, more evidence of Ni is brought to the fore. Wilson overtly denounces, in rough terms, the traditionally Si-Ne approach to writing history:

“Ordinarily the historian’s preparation for his task … [is to] go first, with infinite and admirable labor, through all the labyrinth of document and detail that lies up and down his subject; [he] collects masses of matter great and small for substance, verification, illustration; [he] piles his notes volumes high; [he] reads far and wide upon the tracks of his matter … and then … turns back and begins his narrative. It is impossible, then, that he would begin naturally … having swept his details together beforehand … [the details can no longer be] his objects of vision.(emphasis added) [Reference #10]

With that, Wilson explicitly claims he opposes the “ordinary” [Reference #10] Si-Ne style mental process of elucidation exemplified by Frederick the Great: “Knowledge of [an object] is to be attained … by careful and studious … particular and minute examination of it” [Reference #6]. Woodrow Wilson’s belief that historians must tell the right truth is expected, given both the role of the historian and Te’s respect for the facts, but his overt disdain for the “ordinary” Si-Ne method of ascertaining that truth is inconsistent with Si – especially dominant Si.

But indeed he never claims a historian should inject his own subjective perception of the events into the telling of the tale. This is an anomaly if one believes Wilson to be an Ni type. For evidence of that, one must look at his political ideology.

Wilson’s Vision For the League of Nations

As mentioned before, Wilson’s ideology was a synthesis of the English Historical School and Hegelianism. He was particularly attracted to Hegelianism, but not all Hegelians are Ni types; an Si type could theoretically come to the same conclusions. In his essay The Wilsonian Chimera, Stephen Wertheim discusses the true nature of Wilson’s vision for the future, and in turn reveals evidence that, for an Si type, would be both unusual and difficult to explain.

For example, according to Wertheim, “there is no evidence that [Wilson] ever studied the details of any foreign issue” prior to his Presidency [Reference #14]. Indeed, Wilson entered office with a thin knowledge of international events – a notable anomaly when one considers that his vision for the League was a culmination of the political philosophy he had developed as an academic. If he were an Si type, using past evidence to plan against the future, he would have been much more thorough and diligent when he came up with the idea for the League; indeed, Frederick the Great would likely have scorned Wilson’s lack of knowledge just as he did with Machiavelli and warfare. [Reference #6]. When Wilson entered office, however, he knew he had to have a working knowledge of international events to not be overly idealistic; as such, he “synthesized his internationalist tenets only during his presidency” [Reference #14].

Additionally, Wilson exalted what he dubbed “public opinion” (which is one of the reasons why, from a distance, he seems like an Fe type) but he meant “public opinion” in a non-literal sense. Wilson believed modern democracy “was not the rule of the many, but the rule of the whole” and therefore that public opinion was “the one national will, which is different from the average will of the multitude” [Reference #14]. How he believed leaders should ascertain this public opinion supports Ni and opposes Si; he believed in essence that “the general will was discerned through the introspection of enlightened men more directly than through the analysis of public preferences” [Reference #14]. Wilson did not include objective criteria for how a leader would go about this discernment, either. He believed it required “sympathetic and penetrative insight” – that is, in Wertheim’s words, “special intuition,” of which “scientific polls [would have been] valuable but not decisive” [Reference #14]. This view was paternalistic, and required the leader to do two things: ‘Interpret’ “the general will and [foresee] the future” – the latter of which Wilson believed to be an essential trait of statesmen. When he was young, he wrote, “Across the mind of the statesman flash ever and anon brilliant, though partial, intimations of future events”[Reference #14]. In fact, what Wilson dubbed “the spirit of the age” was actually Wilson’s own “intuition and prejudice,” which appeared to him “not as intuition but as objective truth” [Reference #14]. This solipsism did not shine through in the essay On the Writing of History but was nonetheless amongst Wilson’s defining traits – it was in many ways his biggest weakness, and it was a weakness Si types are not prone to.

Ni types tend to be much more solipsistic than Si types. Wilson himself directly believed in much of this Ni solipsism, despite being a positivist – as Wertheim wrote, “Wilson … believed the spirit – singular – was out there and capable of discovery” [Reference #14].

Wilson’s Inferior Function: Se or Ne?

When assessing someone’s type, it is also prudent to look at the inferior function. The inferior function, contrary to popular belief, is not weak, but rather unconscious and difficult to draw upon deliberately. Wilson, oddly for an INTJ, did not overtly demonstrate one of the hallmarks of inferior Se: a struggle between asceticism and indulgence. If Wilson’s inferior function appears to be Ne (rather than Ni) we might find ourselves back at the beginning: INTJ and ISTJ are again equally likely.

Though Wilson did not overtly demonstrate the ascetic-yet-indulgent behavior we normally associate with inferior Se, that anomaly is wholly expected given his Compulsive style. One of the hallmarks of a Compulsive personality is Concealed Object-Relations, or the deliberate suppression of “forbidden impulses” so the exterior seems calm and rule-bound. In an INTJ, that would bind the inferior Se’s longing within and keep it in check; thus, it makes sense that Wilson would never have an “Se binge,” INTJ or not. A Compulsive INTJ would likely inwardly dream of and unconsciously esteem Se-like views but rarely act upon them himself. Upon close inspection, one finds ample evidence of Wilson’s inferior Se; it just is a highly distorted and restrained breed of it due to his Compulsion. And correspondingly, one finds little evidence of inferior Ne.

Se is characterized by a photographic, experiential, tactile method of experiencing the world; Si, by contrast, is characterized by impressionistic archival of habitually learned impressions and memories. As mentioned above, Wilson was afraid of becoming a “mere student” because he wanted to “be part of the nature around [him], not an outside observer of it”; he did not want to become overly educated because he would lose the tactile, experiential connection with the world he had before he was a student. Additionally, as mentioned above, Wilson believed the best historians only told the most visceral facts so that readers would feel like they were there and could, in turn, best grasp the abstract meaning of the events. If he were an Si type, Wilson would’ve preferred a wider array of facts so he could, after close study, impressionistically visualize the scene based on his own cataloguing of the facts.

In a 1912 presidential campaign speech, Wilson again displayed evidence of inferior Se. He said:

“I should like to make the young gentlemen of the rising generation as unlike their fathers as possible. Not because their fathers lacked character or intelligence or knowledge or patriotism, but because their fathers, by reason of their advancing years and their established position in society, had lost touch with the processes of life; they had forgotten what it was to begin; they had forgotten what it was to rise; they had forgotten what it was to be dominated by the circumstances of their life on their way up from the bottom to the top, and, therefore, they were out of sympathy with the creative, formative and progressive forces of society.” [Reference #11]

This demonstrates Se as well; because the old generation had lost a visceral, tactile connection with the “creative, formative, and progressive forces of society,” Wilson believed in making the newer generation unlike them. Even though, as Wilson admits, the old generation can be intelligent, knowledgeable, patriotic, and of good character, Wilson still believed their ways must be left behind for the sake of progress – simply because they lost the tactile connection with society. An Si type, inclined to believe the past behaves similarly to the future, would tend to disagree with this.

Another characteristic difference between inferior Se and inferior Ne is their attitude towards change. While Ni-Se is characteristically bold and open to new experiences, Si-Ne is characteristically cautious and skeptical of new and untested ideas. Again, because Wilson was a Compulsive, this distinction is somewhat blurred in him; a notable facet of Compulsion is a Constricted Cognitive Style (i.e. a hierarchical, rule-bound construction of the world notably upset by novelty). Thus, if Wilson were an ISTJ, this would amplify or coexist with his inferior Ne, but if he were an INTJ, this would mitigate the boldness brought about by Ni-Se.

Though Wilson was conservative on many issues, including race and women’s suffrage, he was ideologically bold and future-oriented on the issues that truly mattered to him. Indeed, he changed his views on women’s suffrage because he believed it a necessary war measure, which hints at the fact that his conservative views were not of utmost importance to him. On topics concerning his vision, however, he was highly progressive and future-oriented, bold and wholly unconcerned with tradition or the tried-and-true. On any issue that really mattered to Wilson, he was open to the new.

Wilson, despite being a Te type, also could distort the facts and get tunnel vision when his own vision came into the equation. After the resignation of Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, Wilson had to appoint a replacement, but immediately wrote off a prime candidate, Robert Lansing, because “he was not a big enough man [and] did not have enough imagination” [Reference #12]. After an advisor, Colonel House, convinced Wilson to appoint him, Lansing made an opposite accusation of Wilson. Richard Striner writes:

“He had too much imagination of the wrong kind, imagination that could override evidence and common sense … With [Wilson], it was a matter of conviction formed without weighing evidence … his judgments were always right in his own mind because he knew they were right. How did he know that they were right? Why he knew it and that was the best reason in the world. No other was necessary.” [Reference #12]

As a man open to imagination and new thought, Wilson wanted to appoint someone with a big imagination; if Wilson had inferior Ne, we might conjecture that his prime concern would have been the man’s practicality, capability, and dedication. And because Lansing was not imaginative, he was at a perfect vantage point to observe and notice a hallmark of INTJs’ inferior Se: tunnel vision. Because his Ni had convinced him irrevocably that he was correct, Wilson had a distorted perception of the factual reality of the situation. He was so driven by his subjective ideas that he became unknowingly world-denying, something a less imaginative but more factual man like Lansing would take notice of and criticize. Though Wilson, as a Te type, used the facts and empiricism as stepping-stones for his vision, he was often seized by tunnel vision and could distort the facts unknowingly to fit the idea.

Now that a case for INTJ has been erected, I will attempt to falsify the opposing case for ISTJ.

Wilson vs. ISTJ Intellectuals

Despite the wide array of INTJ evidence I have supplied, it is still not wholly out of the question that Wilson was an example of an intellectual ISTJ. Indeed, there are notable examples of precisely that: Sigmund Freud and Martin Heidegger. From a distance, both Freud and Heidegger seem like INTJs; up close, though, their Si-Ne axis is revealed.

Wilson was very different from both of them. Freud and Heidegger were, for the most part, straight-and-narrow administrative individuals more concerned with practical logistics than intellectual speculation. Both of them disliked philosophy – Freud said he “lack[ed] a talent for philosophy” and found “its abstract nature … unpleasant” [Reference #6]. And Heidegger, despite being a philosopher himself, denied that fact entirely, saying, “the fundamental mistake [in interpreting my work is that people regard me as a] creative and profound philosopher. … I am no philosopher. I do not think that I am doing anything remotely comparable [to philosophy]; that is not my intention” [Reference #6]. In a broad sense, Freud and Heidegger were “reluctant intellectuals” – highly intelligent but wholly practical men who were intellectual simply because they needed to be. Wilson, on the other hand, craved intellectual stimulation and esteemed philosophy highly. As just two of many examples of this, he said, “I can never be happy unless I am enabled to lead an intellectual life” [Reference #7] and he called “the bulk of mankind,” or those he deemed unworthy to vote, “rigidly unphilosophical” [Reference #13].

In the world of Jungian typology, there is a marked bias against sensation. Many believe that N types are “S types with an extra layer” – they believe both N types and S types are capable of the S-style fact-based, detail-oriented, trees-to-forest approach, but that only N types are capable of the imaginative, idea-based, big-picture approach. This is an error.

But it is also possible to overcorrect for that and inadvertently call S types “N types with an extra layer” – the reverse of a bias against sensation. The S/N dichotomy, after all, is a question of preference, not ability; as explained above, though Freud was extremely capable of thinking abstractly in a manner many associate with Ni, he was above all else an experience-based, fact-driven “reluctant philosopher.” He still had a preference for sensation despite his ability for abstract thinking. The opposite is true of Wilson. He held the facts in high esteem and spent much of his political career developing practical solutions for practical problems – much like an ISTJ – and yet still above all else was an idea-based, imaginative, big-picture intellectual; anything but reluctant. Thus, one could say that while Wilson was extremely capable of thinking practically, he still was an imaginative individual at heart. In many ways, Wilson is to INTJs what Freud is to ISTJs. Assessing both to be ISTJ, therefore, seems to inadvertently purport a bias against intuition – Wilson, in broad terms, demonstrates a preference for intuition, not just a capacity for it.

Wilson, John Adams, and ISTJ leaders

If we assert that Wilson and John Adams were INTJs and contrast them with Washington, Coolidge, Nixon, and Eisenhower as ISTJs, notable differences arise. Wilson and Adams were both imaginative men who were contemplative and introspective and esteemed ideas highly. Even though Adams said, “I would not advise any one to study [philosophy] longer than to convince him that he may devote his time to more satisfactory and more useful pursuits,” [Reference #6] he was highly contemplative and “enjoyed pondering abstract ideas” [Reference #2]. Wilson, in fact, was even more intellectual than Adams on this point, for Wilson esteemed philosophy quite highly as long as it remained useful and relevant to his vision. In short, Adams and Wilson prioritized ideas over experience.

Contrast that outlook with the ISTJ presidents. David Greenberg said of the ISTJ Calvin Coolidge, for example, “[his] preference for experience over ideas was a deeply rooted trait” [Reference #6]. This is a recurring trait amongst most ISTJs. And while Wilson and Adams had definite visions for the future, Washington, Nixon, Eisenhower, and Coolidge all esteemed conduct that prioritized duty and responsibility: in other words, they planned against the future. For example, Washington gave up the Presidency after two terms, setting a precedent of honor and moderation; Coolidge “sought above all to instill his code of discipline, diligence, and responsibility” [Reference #6]; and Eisenhower urged the public to “avoid the impulse [of living] only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow” [Reference #6]. Nixon, when asked what he thought of intellectuals, said, “basically, they have no morals” [Reference #6] – a statement Wilson, who craved “intellectual companionship,” would likely take offense to.

Yet even though Wilson is far more similar to Adams than to any ISTJ president, there is one example of a philosophical ISTJ leader: Frederick the Great – and Wilson greatly admired him. Both Wilson and Frederick, in their youths, were imaginative individuals, and both, as leaders, were interested in philosophy; Frederick the Great, indeed, wanted to reign like a Platonic philosopher king. At first glance, Wilson and Frederick seem highly similar, both in their imaginative nature and their practical application of philosophy. But upon closer inspection, Wilson appears guided by his imagination and insight, does not make specific note of the practical limitations of the philosophy he reads, and seems to plan into the future, while Frederick is practically minded, only esteems philosophy when it is practical, plans against the future, and is imaginative only as a hobby, not as a way of reaching conclusions.

Notably, while Wilson was enamored with Hegel and Bagehot to the point that he “religiously” clung to their ideals even when they were impractical, pointing out only Bagehot’s lack of futurist vision as a notable complaint, Frederick the Great was quick to point out practical flaws in philosophers he read, saying of Machiavelli, for example, “if you examine [what he says] carefully, not one of his proposals is reasonable or right” and that he “gives many exciting rationales for his policies, but we look in vain for him to produce arguments that agree with sense impressions of our own” [Reference #6]. Additionally, Frederick the Great believed in “careful and studious … particular and minute examination” of objects to determine knowledge of them while Wilson believed in broad, visceral, imaginative elucidation of the ideas behind the objects. And while both Wilson and Frederick had the capacity to be creative, Frederick did so as a hobby and left it out of his political solutions, while Wilson was guided by imagination and used the facts as stepping-stones toward his creative vision. A final point of interest is that while Frederick always made decisions based on thorough, full knowledge of the facts at hand, Wilson was prone to suffering from tunnel vision while achieving his singular goals, sometimes to his detriment.

Wilson, therefore, not only had the ability to think abstractly, but also had a preference for it, sometimes even at the expense of factual accuracy. Though he had a notable respect for the facts, empiricism, and efficiency, being a Te type after all, he did not approach them as an Si type would.

Compulsion and Wilson’s Remaining Si Traits

Two final anomalies in Wilson’s personality must be mentioned: His long-winded writing style and his inherent love of bureaucratic organization have yet to be addressed. Both of these traits are more consistent with Si types, all else being equal, but nonetheless can easily be explained away with his Compulsive personality style.

The first anomaly is his long-winded, meticulous writing style that seems to methodically examine a viewpoint from many facets, some of which are nebulous or circumstantial, making his writing smooth and partitioned rather than sharp and essentialistic in nature. Such a writing style more often tends to suggest Si over Ni, given Si’s processing style of sifting through an archived library of impressions rather than Ni’s processing style of extrapolating off of unconscious observations. But this can be adequately explained with Compulsion, specifically its Compartmentalized Morphologic Organization, which partitions morphologic structures – deeply embedded memories and attitudes – into multiple separate boxes with few opportunities for interplay [Reference #3]. Such a partitioning, among many other things, could quite feasibly cause someone to “write in an Si style.”

Also unusual is Wilson’s inherent love for bureaucratic organization. As a child, he greatly enjoyed constructing elaborate systems for his own made-up organizations – not because he wanted to achieve a specific goal, but simply because he “liked the sense of belonging to an organization” [Reference #1]. He also delighted in creating specific rules regarding misbehavior in his organization and fining people for disobeying them. Such behaviors tend to be associated with Si-Te, given the latter’s preoccupation with systemization and the former’s interest in particulars – but, again, they are not beyond an INTJ, especially not a Compulsive one. The Responsible Self-Image facet of Compulsion adequately explains why Wilson would have liked belonging to an organization for its own sake – it gave him an aura of focus, diligence, and respectability. And the Interpersonally Respectful facet explains why he wanted clearly delineated rules for behavior: he was merely “insisting that subordinates adhere to personally established rules and methods” [Reference #3].

Given that these traits, while unusual for an INTJ, can be adequately explained by Compulsion, it seems short-sighted to take these two anomalies as signs for ISTJ while ignoring the plethora of INTJ-related evidence that crops up in all facets of Wilson’s life.


Woodrow Wilson was introverted and had a Te-Fi axis with Te at the forefront. Therefore, the only feasible possibilities are INTJ and ISTJ. Wilson also was an example of the Compulsive personality. Thus, the two most reasonable hypotheses are (1) Compulsive INTJ and (2) Compulsive ISTJ.

Let us examine the most obvious facts: Wilson was imaginative and esteemed imagination; he was philosophical and voraciously read philosophy, most agreeing with the progressive and futurist but not especially practical views of Hegel; he found traditional academic practice highly stultifying; he changed his career due to lack of intellectual stimulation in his current field; he believed a historian should write history artfully to suggest, via imagination, the abstract meaning behind the facts; he did not like facts for their own sake; he developed his ultimate political vision without much knowledge of context; he believed the ideal leader was one who intuitively guessed the public opinion and had flashes of insight for the future; he was inadvertently solipsistic because his own intuitions appeared to him to be objectively true; he sometimes became too dogged and got tunnel vision as a result; he liked bureaucratic organization as an end in and of itself; and he wrote in a long-winded, smooth, partitioned style.

There are several explanations for many of Wilson’s ISTJ-like traits, including his Compulsive personality style, his chosen career path, and his lengthy time in academics. But if Wilson indeed were a Compulsive ISTJ, how does one explain the bulk of his INTJ-like traits? Most of them are left unexplained. Since Jungian typology is semi-scientific, the best type assessment should be the one most resistant to falsification. Though neither INTJ nor ISTJ fully encompass Wilson’s entirety, INTJ is in my assessment the better fit of the two.

When one views Wilson’s life as a whole, the most obvious trait is his very clear personal ambition, goals, and vision. Every decision he made can be viewed as a stepping-stone on a path toward a clear grand goal; every viewpoint he espoused can be viewed as a part of his political philosophy. Ultimately, as Steven J. Rubenzer puts it, Wilson was “a visionary, a man ahead of his time,” who nonetheless dreamt of an attainable future and worked toward that goal empirically. But his stubbornness, tunnel vision, and sometimes self-destructive drive ultimately got in his way.

But perhaps, after all this speculation, Wilson’s own words speak for themselves. As he said in a speech during his Presidency, “no man who does not see visions will ever … undertake any high enterprise.”


  1. Wilson by A. Scott Berg
  2. Personality, Character, and Leadership in the White House: Psychologists Assess the Presidents by Steven J. Rubenzer and Thomas R. Faschingbauer
  3. The Conscientious/Compulsive Personality by Theodore Millon
  4. 4. A Faustian Foreign Policy From Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush: Dreams of Perceptibility by Joan Hoff
  5. Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism by Ronald J. Pestritto
  7. Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House: A Personality Study by Alexander L. George, Juliette L. George
  8. More Than a Mere Student by W. Barksdale Maynard
  9. Physics and Politics by Walter Bagehot
  10. On the Writing of History by Woodrow Wilson
  11. What Is Progress? by Woodrow Wilson
  12. Woodrow Wilson and World War I: A Burden Too Great to Bear by Richard Striner
  13. The Study of Administration by Woodrow Wilson
  14. The Wilsonian Chimera by Stephen Wertheim