Why We Made the Political Coordinates Test

The internet is crawling with free political observance tests of almost every imaginable kind. So why did we make our own?

Well, we wanted a test that gave the respondent a broad overview and wasn’t tied to specific elections or countries. At the same time, we were frustrated with all the biased tests out there. That is, tests that pretend to be neutral, but are in fact designed to make everyone come out as socialists, libertarians, or whatever.

Some people like to think that our test is the same as another well-known online political observance test. That charge doesn’t hold up.

First, both our test, as well as the alternative, are essentially variants of the Nolan Chart, proposed by David Nolan in 1969. Besides, from the 1950s onward, a long line of researchers, such as Ferguson, Eysenck, and Rokeach, had all devised similar multiaxial charts.

Furthermore, even in spite of our common reliance on the Nolan Chart, there are still essential differences between the Political Coordinates Test and the alternative in question. For example, the alternative:

  • Is calibrated towards the fringe position of anarcho-syndicalism or left-libertarianism, which almost no voters in Western democracies support.
  • Relies on findings from heavily criticized and dated surveys undertaken more than 60 years ago.
  • Sneaks moral assumptions into the questions and uses leading questions to get respondents to comply with its preferred position of left-libertarianism.

Let’s go over these points.


Left-libertarianism is an anti-authoritarian branch of socialism. It is commonly associated with political thinkers such as Noam Chomsky. It is also a fringe position which almost no voters in Western democracies support. Today most people don’t even know what left-libertarianism is and mostly associate the word ‘libertarian’ with free-market thinkers such as Milton Friedman.

Compared to the Political Coordinates Test, the alternative uses a left-libertarian baseline as a lens through which all other politics are seen. The Political Coordinates Test, on the other hand, is calibrated towards the actual center of Western democracies.

In practice, almost every contemporary political party is characterized as “right-wing authoritarian” by the alternative test. The Political Coordinates Test generally makes the correct distinction in making right-wing parties come out right-wing and left-wing parties come out-left wing on its chart. We know this for a fact since actual politicians in several different countries have taken our test and publicly shared their results.

Questionable Surveys

Quantifying politics was all the rage in the 1950s. Not in the least because a few years earlier, there had been a major political event that seemed in need of some explaining.

One such ‘explainer’ was the German socialist Theodor Adorno. Together with his associates, he conducted a large study which concluded that ordinary right-wing voters are fascists waiting to happen. His study was enormously influential, and if you were born in the 70s or 80s, you probably had teachers who actually believed that.

However, Adorno’s study had some problems. As other researchers started poking through it, things began to feel fishy. Turns out it had:

  • Leading and ideological questions: Rather than mapping actual political opinion, the items on the survey sought to confirm its authors’ idea of a big fascist bogeyman lurking around every suburban picket fence. Intelligent respondents recognized that they were not being polled in good faith and held off from answering the questions truthfully.
  • Unrepresentative sample: The people sampled in the survey were not representative. The results were therefore unsuited for drawing general inferences about politics.
  • Poor questionnaire construct: The survey did not comply with best practice standards of polling, such as neutrality, reversed scoring, and the like.

The alternative test relies on Adorno’s study while the Political Coordinates Test does not. The result is that the alternative test does not actually test for right-wing alignment, but an extreme left-wing caricature of what it means to hold such views. The Political Coordinates Test, on the other hand, was designed with input from all major political groups to make sure everyone feels they are being polled in good faith.

Leading Questions

Any question that begins along the lines of:

  • “Isn’t it sad that…”
  • “Isn’t it worrying that…”
  • “Don’t you regret that…”

Is not a neutral question, but a leading one. Studies have repeatedly shown that when you make use of leading questions, you almost certainly end up with misleading or skewed results. In other words, when you use these types of questions, you no longer measure what you set out to measure.

Related to leading questions are loaded questions. Loaded questions typically contain an assumption that the respondent is unable to get out of. For example, a 1937 Gallup poll asked: “Would you vote for a woman for president if she were qualified in every other way?” No matter how the respondent answered, he or she would be unable to disavow the notion that being a woman was disqualifying in and of itself.

The alternative test presents the user with several leading and loaded questions. For example, one question assumes that free market policies are inherently at odds with the interests of the people. But as the professor of social psychology at New York University Jonathan Haidt has shown, this belief is only held by some political parties. To others, such a question is simply nonsensical, just as it is nonsensical for a person who believes that being a woman isn’t a disqualification to be asked to answer the Gallup question above.

The creators of the alternative test have confronted this criticism on their home page, and by their own admission, they don’t see anything wrong with these types of questions – we do.


Therefore, the Political Coordinates Test is different from the alternative in at least three important ways:

  1. The alternative test is calibrated towards the theoretical position of left-libertarianism and sees all other political positions through that prism. The Political Coordinates Test doesn’t.
  2. The alternative test relies on the conclusions of studies that had severe errors in their methodologies and used skewed samples to arrive at their conclusions. The Political Coordinates Test doesn’t.
  3. By their own admission, the creators of the alternative test don’t see anything wrong with using leading and loaded questions and so they do. The Political Coordinates Test doesn’t.

Go here to take the test.

Why Johann Sebastian Bach Is ISTJ  

Dylan Shapiro is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. While at the time of this writing, Bach is not yet added to the site, Shapiro here states his case for why Bach is ISTJ. Hence this article does not reflect the views of the site admins, but Shapiro’s own insights and assessments, which are not necessarily the same as those of the site.


“Bach is a Colossus of Rhodes, beneath whom all musicians pass and will continue to pass. Mozart is the most beautiful, Rossini the most brilliant, but Bach is the most comprehensive: he has said all there is to say. If all the music written since Bach’s time should be lost, it could be reconstructed on the foundation which Bach laid.” – Charles Gounod

“Music owes as much to Bach as religion to its founder.” – Robert Schumann

By Dylan Shapiro

Johann_Sebastian_BachAs the introductory quotes suggest, Johann Sebastian Bach’s reputation as a groundbreaker is well-deserved; his musical style was seminal, advancing the world of composition into a more modern paradigm from which all future music has grown. On the subject of his Jungian type, there appears to be no default assessment. However, it is likely that he was some sort of introverted type; as Manfred F. Bukofzer writes, “Bach [belonged] to the introvert type … [he] assimilated the various influences with his own personal style and thus arrived at a fusion of national styles in which the single elements are inseparable.” This is not merely behavioral introversion (i.e. reserve and quietness) but Jungian introversion, in which a subjective filter exists as a buffer between the individual and the real world. That Bach was a Jungian introvert is fairly clear, but his specific Jungian type is more difficult to discern.

From afar, one might assume that Bach’s groundbreaking oeuvre suggests that his Intuition function was high in his consciousness. But to assume so would be an error, as both N and S types have the capacity to make seminal, genius contributions. In fact, upon close inspection of Bach’s character, creative processes, and lifestyle, I will argue that his Intuition function was not high in his consciousness at all; that it was in fact inferior.

On the Bias Against ISJs and Artistic Creativity

Before defending this assessment, however, it is important to clarify a misconception about Ne, ISJs, and creativity that is prevalent in the field of Jungian typology. Many contend that, since ISJs have inferior Ne, they are inherently unimaginative individuals closed off to novelty and new ideas. This is an error. There is nothing inherent to the processes of dominant Si and inferior Ne that necessitates lack of creativity. Any type can be creative; the functions, a priori, serve only to differentiate the manner in which each type is creative.

Inferior Ne manifests in ISJs merely as a need to cautiously sift through, examine, archive and compare new ideas to the individual’s own sense impressions, like a librarian examining new books then placing them in their proper place on the library shelves. This gives most ISJs a practical, meticulous, thorough demeanor, traits which have mischaracterized them as necessarily prosaic. But this stereotype does their inner worlds a disservice. In Psychological Types, Carl Jung explains:

“If there were present a capacity and readiness for expression in any way commensurate with the strength of sensation, the irrationality of this type would be extremely evident. This is the case, for instance, when the individual is a creative artist. But, since this is the exception, it usually happens that the characteristic introverted difficulty of expression also conceals his irrationality. On the contrary, he may actually stand out by the very calmness and passivity of his demeanor, or by his rational self-control.”

Thus, to characterize all ISJs as prosaic is to wrongly equate the ISJ inner world with its outward demeanor, and thereby misconstrue the true nature of Si as a Perceiving function. According to Jung, nothing precludes an ISJ from being a creative artist. The fact that most ISJs do not pursue artistic career paths cannot be used as an argument against Bach (or other artists) being ISJs. It is only a statistic, and thus cannot be applied to specific individuals or to the definitions of the functions themselves.

All that said, the fact that an ISJ can be creative does not in itself constitute any sort of argument in favor of Bach being ISJ. All that is clear about his type without further analysis is that he was an introvert; any specific type assessment requires more justification.

Bach’s Feeling Function: Fi or Fe?

To hone in on Bach’s Jungian type, let us first discern the orientation of his Feeling function. All else being equal, people who prefer Extraverted Feeling (Fe) have a cognitive bias toward viewing people as cut from the same cloth, while people who prefer Introverted Feeling (Fi) have a cognitive bias toward viewing people as completely unique. While this does not necessarily translate to a person’s worldview, as there certainly are Fi types who believe people are essentially the same deep down and Fe types who do not, it does translate to the nature of a person’s interactions with others. For the Fe type a person’s underlying, innate nature is incidental, while for the Fi type it is essential. Thus the Fe type is more willing to sacrifice some of his (or others’) personal authenticity in order to maintain interpersonal harmony, while the reverse is true for Fi types.

Upon examining Bach’s personal demeanor and lifestyle, it becomes clear that he held his own personal ego and values above and distinct from group-wide sentiment and harmony. In Bach: Music In the Castle of Heaven, John Eliot Gardiner notes that while Bach was generally “peaceful, quiet, and even-tempered,” he was also “irascible and prickly whenever he felt his own authority as a musician … was being challenged,” or “when … anyone slighted art, which was sacred to him.” In other words, whenever the interpersonal situation clashed with the values his own ego held dear, he would unfailingly stand with his personal ideals even if it gave him a reputation of “constitutional truculence” as Gardiner calls it.

In addition, despite his peaceful day-to-day disposition, there is no evidence that Bach ever sought to build bridges between his own disposition and that of others’, but there is ample evidence that he was unfailingly sincere. Indeed, he once said, “If I decide to be an idiot, then I’ll be an idiot on my own accord”: A testament to his commitment to personal integrity, perhaps, even in situations where it would be inappropriate.

However, such attitudes are not beyond Fe types with Narcissistic traits. Upon examining Bach’s character, however, one finds little evidence of Narcissistic traits at all; in fact, he was quite modest in proportion to his immense talent. On his talent at playing an instrument, Bach remarked, “There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right notes at the right time, and the instrument plays itself.” And on the topic of his own success and creativity, Bach said, “I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious would succeed equally well.” This modesty is completely antithetical to the “Expressively Haughty” and “Admirable Self-Image” facets of the Narcissistic personality style, which foster in the individual an exaggerated sense of self-worth that they are continuously inclined to express.

Thus, one can assume Bach’s argumentativeness and non-conformity were genuine attitudes ingrained in his inner character rather than behavioral flourishes caused by the Narcissistic personality style. Similarly, one can assume Bach’s generally peaceful default disposition was simply a facet of his own nature and thus subject to his own emotional fluctuations; it was not a disposition borne of attempts to foster relational harmony. Thus, Bach’s Feeling function was introverted, which places him on the Te/Fi axis. Given that Bach was an introvert, we are thus left with four types: ISTJ, INTJ, INFP, or ISFP.

Why Bach Is Si, Not Ni

To further narrow down his type, let us examine Bach’s Perceiving (Intuition/Sensing) axis. If he had an Ni/Se axis, he would have been either INTJ or ISFP, and if he rested on the Ne/Si axis, he was either ISTJ or INFP. All else being equal, people who rest on the Ni/Se axis tend to express narrower, more singular viewpoints or insights which tend to yield the most intense manifestation of the idea or object in the here and now. By contrast, those who rest on the Ne/Si axis tend to express broader, more multifarious viewpoints or insights, eschewing intensity for nuance.

As Bach’s reputation attests, his musical oeuvre was regarded by posterity as comprehensive and all-encompassing, like “an encyclopedia of historical styles and idioms” filtered through his own personal style. But though this tremendous breadth and comprehensiveness could suggest the multifaceted nature of the Ne/Si axis over the singular nature of the Ni/Se axis, nothing precludes an Ni/Se type from creating something comprehensive. In fact, because Bach was a genius, we can assume that he would be a seminal, comprehensive figure in the field of music regardless of his type.

To discern which aspects of Bach’s music relate to his Jungian type and which aspects simply relate to his genius or compositional methods, I have contrasted him with another musical genius who demonstrably rests on the Ni/Se axis: Johannes Brahms, whom I have assessed to be INTJ. Though the two composers are from different musical eras and thus will of course have differences between them not related to their types, the comparison remains apt. Brahms cited Bach as one of his most profound influences, saying, “Study Bach. There you will find everything.” And for good reason: Both Bach and Brahms were masters of counterpoint, the rule-bound style that provides much of Bach’s music’s intricacy and nuance. Thus, the two composers can be compared.

Despite the rigid, venerable nature of both of their musical styles, Bach’s underlying creative processes could not be more different than Brahms’s. On the topic of Bach’s creative processes, John Eliot Gardiner writes:

“Bach’s [method] was the classic method. First you study your models – transcribe them, add layers of preface or commentary to them, and then assimilate them so fully into your creative processes that, at a stroke, you have a vocabulary with a multiplicity of techniques and styles at your fingertips, all in the cause of being as comprehensive and all-encompassing as you possibly can.”

Such a method is reminiscent of the cautious, librarian-like dominant Si/inferior Ne approach delineated earlier. For Bach’s creative processes to work at their highest efficiency, he felt a need to sift through and internalize all the details and methods to be used, for with that knowledge at hand, he had a complete musical “vocabulary” and thus could compose with certainty and order. A specific instance of this methodology at work was in Bach’s “Mass in B Minor,” regarded by many as the apex of Bach’s career. On Bach’s composition process while writing the Mass, Gardiner writes:

“His twin aspirations in completing [the Mass in B Minor are] to encompass within a single work an encyclopedic survey of all the styles he most cherished in the music of his own and of earlier times, and to achieve perfection in the execution of that work. … His preparations were meticulous, characteristic of the exercises he deliberately undertook every time he committed himself to formulating a definite statement … First came considerations of basic structure, logistics, and style … The next stage was to refer back to his earlier compositions, both sacred and secular. It is extraordinary how unerringly Bach’s memory store seems to have guided him to the perfect choice from pre-existing movements.”

Bach’s creative processes here once again fit the expected mental processes of dominant Si with their meticulous, cautious, comprehensive approach. Fascinatingly, they also provide a clue into his own artistic ambition: He wanted to fill the Mass with an “encyclopedic survey” of all his personal influences. In other words, one of Bach’s primary goals when writing the Mass in B Minor was to use the Mass to externalize and express his own sense impressions that pertained to the music he loved. This goal fits with what Jung might expect an Si-dominant creative artist’s artistic ambition to be: To “express” the individual’s “strength of sensation” (and thus his inner world). Additionally, the Mass in B Minor perfectly encapsulates Bukofzer’s description of Bach’s introverted musical style. When Bukofzer is taken together with Gardiner, therefore, Bach emerges as an example of an Si-dominant creative artist.

In addition, contrast Bach’s creative process with Brahms’s, which I will here use as an example of Introverted Intuition (Ni). When asked to describe his own creativity, Brahms explained:

“When I feel the [creative] urge I begin by … asking the three most important questions pertaining to our life here in this world – whence, wherefore, whither? I immediately feel vibrations that thrill my whole being. … In this exalted state, I see clearly what is obscure in my ordinary moods … those vibrations assume the forms of distinct mental images, [and] the ideas flow in upon me … and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind’s eye, but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies and orchestration. Measure by measure, the finished product is revealed to me … [but] the ideas … came in instantaneous flashes and quickly faded away again, unless I fixed them on paper. … I felt that I was, for the moment, in tune with the Infinite, and there is no thrill like it.”

Brahms’s creative approach has two crucial differences from Bach’s: Its manner and its source of inspiration. In terms of manner, Bach’s approach is careful, cautious, and scrupulous: Slow and steady, undergirded with a great deal of conscious thought and memory. Brahms’s approach lacks Bach’s detail-oriented meticulousness, and is instead more exalted and revelatory, catching a glimpse of the indissoluble, total composition “clothed in the right orchestration” and then writing it down in whirling leaps and bounds. This is exactly the contrast one might expect between an Si-dominant type and an Ni-dominant type. Though both composers employ similarly rigid compositional methods, their underlying creative processes are not at all alike.

Furthermore, where Bach stimulated himself to write new music through immersing himself in old compositions and the musical styles he loved, Brahms had an inclination toward the ideational and abstract. He stimulated his “Muse” through contemplation of philosophical ideas and ideals, and the music sprouted from that. His processes were not born of the object itself, but of the ideas and associations that the object conjured up.

If the reader will then agree that Bach was more likely to have had an Si/Ne axis, we can reduce our four possible types (ISTJ, INTJ, INFP, or ISFP) to only two: ISTJ and INFP.

Why Bach’s Te Was Superior to His Fi

If Bach were INFP, his inferior function would be Extraverted Thinking (Te) and his dominant function would be Fi. But though Bach’s personal values and integrity were important to him, and though much of his music evokes a sublime sense of feeling, in his actual personality Te seems to take precedence over Fi. Paul Nettl writes:

“Bach’s educational character may, in addition, be observed in his literary hand. His letters and applications, with their clear and distinct pen, reflect his magnificent sense for order and organization. These letters are, one might surmise, the counterpart of his fugues and ricercares, of his inventions in double counterpoint. Not the slightest clue towards uncontrolled emotionalism is seen in his hand. Everything is planned. What a contrast to Beethoven!”

This passage suggests that Bach’s Fi was subservient to his Te, since his letters eschewed unfiltered emotionality in favor of order, planning, and clarity. An Fi-dominant type, for whom personal values, feelings, and ideals are held in the highest esteem, would be likely to find this approach stifling and objectionable. By contrast Beethoven, whom I assess to be INFP,[1] radiated passion, authenticity, and romanticism in his writing, very much at the expense of order. While Beethoven’s writings thus appear to exhibit the hallmarks of dominant Fi and inferior Te, Bach’s do not.

That said, many factors can influence an individual’s writing style, and thus that alone is not an especially strong argument. But in Bach’s case, the prioritization of order, planning, logic, and clarity over personal sentiment, empathy, and emotional truth is evident elsewhere in his life. For example, Bach’s teaching style emphasized competence and habit, and proficiency over creative freedom. According to Nettl, “Bach did not encourage his students to compose freely until they had reached a very high degree of proficiency … even in the case of his own children, Bach held off the teaching of composition until he was convinced that they could be classified as ‘near-genius.’” In other words, Bach refused to allow any of his students to compose until they met his objective standards for “worthiness” of learning the art. Whether or not the students were eager and passionate about learning composition or needed creative stimulation was irrelevant to Bach’s selection of composition students; all that mattered was that they met his standards of measurable proficiency. Once again, this attitude suggests that Bach’s Te supersedes his Fi, since he prioritizes the impersonal, measurable standards of competence and proficiency over the subjective, personal standards of passion and need for creative freedom.

Given the instances that I have here reviewed, it is unlikely that Bach’s Te function was inferior. On the contrary, it seems high in his consciousness, above his Fi. While his own personal values were important to him and while his own music could be emotionally powerful, those areas seem to comprise the extent of his Fi function’s influence in his own life.

I would therefore argue that Bach’s Te supersedes Fi in consciousness, thus making Bach ISTJ.

Bach and Inferior Ne

If we accept the ISTJ typing as valid, there exist two notable anomalies: First, that Bach was a skilled improviser, who according to Eric Barnhill “put improvisation skills at the center of his teaching”; and second, that Bach was regarded as a groundbreaker. One might assume, given this, that Bach’s Ne was not inferior because improvising goes against the cautious, librarian-like nature of inferior Ne, and that Bach’s Ne was not inferior because his musical system was so seminal.

As to our first reservation, musical improvisation is not the same as colloquial improvisation. The latter relies exclusively on in-the-moment spontaneity and adaptability. Rather, musical improvisation requires a combination of knowledge, adaptability, and preparation. Though Bach was a talented musical improviser, the manner in which he improvised has been described by Barnhill as follows, “Most of [Bach’s] instructional manuals are how-to books in improvisation.” Bach excelled at improvisation due to knowledge and preparation at least as much as because of his ability to adapt. He felt the need to write manuals on the subject, clearly delineating the “rules of improvisation” in a manner that was instructive and rule-bound. Bach’s improvisations were specific and reliable without relying on any sort of free-flowing adaptability or on-the-fly caprices.

It also is an error to say that because Bach’s music was seminal and groundbreaking, he thus had non-inferior Ne. In fact, Jung regarded the creative process as entirely distinct from the functions themselves. He believed it to be a “Transcendent Process” that elevated all four functions into a higher state of efficiency and perceptiveness. It is my contention, though, that the Transcendent Process does not change the qualitative nature of the functions, but merely their strength. In other words, inferior Ne in the thrall of the Transcendent Process may be as powerful as dominant Ne, but will still exhibit the hallmark of the inferior function—that it is inextricably fused with the dominant function. If we view Bach’s oeuvre as a product of the Transcendent Process, a surprising conclusion becomes apparent: it is precisely because he had inferior Ne that his music was groundbreaking and comprehensive in the way it was.

Bach’s music was innovative and multifaceted, just as one would expect from a composer with highly conscious Ne. But while the Ne type would compose in flights of fancy that leap inventively from nuance to nuance, touching upon each only briefly, Bach composed in a rigorous, meticulous, painstaking manner in which every detail was sifted through and brought to perfect accordance with his own personal sense impressions. Indeed, for Bach innovation was not even a matter of conscious invention, but of uncovering all the hidden details. John Eliot Gardiner notes: “[Inventiveness] does not always appear to have come naturally or fluently to Bach himself. For him invention was an uncovering of possibilities that are already there, rather than something truly original.”

Like any Si type, Bach sought to “form a comprehensive mental archive of the facts that are known with certitude in order to achieve an impressive and masterful command of the intricacies of his world.” But since Bach was a composer, his “facts” were the nuances of specific musical styles and compositional techniques. And so Bach sought to discover and internalize these nuances and then convey his impressions of them perfectly in his music.

Gordon Getty once said, “I do not think that music keeps evolving. It evolved through Bach; since then, in my humble opinion, all the innovations added nothing.” Though this is an exaggeration, it points toward an interesting truth. Bach, as an ISTJ, did the Ne type’s work backward. Through its scrupulous, thorough uncovering of hidden possibilities, Bach’s dominant Si swept his inferior Ne along with it, and in his attempts to externalize his own sense impressions he was seminally inventive and broke immense new ground.


  • Arrington: Imagining Function Axes (CelebrityTypes 2015)
  • Bevir: The Psychological Aesthetics of INTJ (CelebrityTypes 2014)
  • Bukofzer: Music in the Baroque Era (W. W. Norton & Company 1947)
  • Gardiner: Music in the Castle of Heaven (Vintage 2013)
  • Gregersen & Smith: Determining Function Axes 1 (CelebrityTypes 2012)
  • Gregersen & Smith: On the Bias Against Sensation (CelebrityTypes 2013)
  • Gregersen & Smith: The Transcendent Function in Artists and Musicians (CelebrityTypes 2013)


[1] In his essay “The Psychological Aesthetics of INTJ,” Lawrence Bevir makes an excellent case for Beethoven’s music being indicative of the common INTJ aesthetic. However, one cannot extrapolate from this conclusion that Beethoven himself was INTJ, since mental contents do not equal mental processes. Upon inspection of Beethoven’s personality, there are reasons to doubt the notion that he himself was an INTJ. First, as mentioned above, he prioritized personal sentiments and values over structure, logic, and order (which implies that his Fi superseded his Te). Secondly, his compositional process was based around step-by-step, free-flowing brainstorming and idea generation, without being bound to any indissoluble vision held from the start. This implies he preferred Ne, not Ni. Contrasting Beethoven’s creative process with Brahms’s makes this difference clear.

Illustrating Function Axes, Part 1: Te/Fi

Boye Akinwande is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Akinwande’s own insights and assessments are his own and not necessarily the same as those of the site. In this article, Akinwande elaborates on the concept of function axes and how to illustrate their opposition, mirroring, and tension.

By Boye Akinwande

For a long time, I have wanted to provide a few simple diagrams that illustrate my understanding of the mirroring and tension that takes place between the two functions on each function axis. While I am aware that the functions are far more complex than they appear in my diagrams, my intention is to make the axial relation of each function easier to digest.


As I’ve said in my article Determining Function Axes Part 3, Te/Fi types are more prone to stress the differences between individuals than those things that unite them. They thus tend to perceive the interests of others as naturally diverging from their own. If two people reach an impasse because each wants something different, this need not be due to a lack of fellow-feeling or cooperation: This is simply the way things are.

In my diagram illustrating this function axis, people are here represented by the circles. Each circle is very much its own entity, and thus its own person, but the flow emanating from each of the two functions runs in different directions.


te diagramIn the Te mode, the cognitive energy pours out from the subject and spills onto external objects. In my diagram, the arrows represent this assault on outer objects, as they are subjugated to the Te type’s factual matrix of objective facts and data. By seizing the objects where they have no choice but to be seized – that is, on account of their rational and objective aspects – the Te type manages to secure their desired outcome from an uncooperative and deviant world.


Conversely, in my diagram representing Fi, the arrows representing the movement of psychic energy flow inwards, from outer objects and into the subject, symbolizing the development of personal passions and ideals. Ideals that, while abstract, are nevertheless evoked by and derived from specific external objects and the Fi type’s relation to Image2them and subjective appreciation of their individuality.

The Te/Fi Axis

Taken together, these two diagrams illustrate some of the typical cognitive biases of Te/Fi types (that is, of TJ and FP types). For example, with TJ types one can often see their eagerness and how they are attuned to applying external and objective laws to their environment in order to dictate what can take place there. But on the other side of the axis, TJ types may also have difficulty forming ideals or experiencing passions independently of the external regimens that they force on outer objects.

Since Fi types lie at the other end of the axis, their psychic life is more attuned to forming judgments that, while indirectly inspired by other objects, can nevertheless run counter to what their current empirical properties would suggest was practical or practicable. With the Fi type reacting to the impressions of objects in their own subjective way, they can be allowed to follow their own subjective passions in a sympathetic fashion that exists in a parallel dimension from what is actually possible. In my Fi diagram, this “sympathetic parallelism” is denoted by the dotted lines, which represent the tendency of Fi judgments to shield themselves from the ‘compulsory’ or ‘objective’ properties of external objects. Because of this inclination, FP types may sometimes refuse to deal with even the most obvious of logical trade-offs, so as not to pollute the purity of their inner world or compromise their ideals.

Why Jung Is INFJ, Part 1: How Jung Saw Himself

By Ryan Smith

Much has been written on the matter of Jung’s type, and while the INFJ assessment seems to be gaining traction, many professional typologists still believe Jung was INTJ. Simultaneously, Jung’s own self-assessment (as an ITP type with inferior Feeling) does not appear to have many supporters left.

Whatever type Jung was, however, it seems to me that: (1) A thorough discussion of Jung’s type and review of the evidence is lacking and (2) Jung’s personality presents us with a lot of “noise” from those aspects of his personality that do not pertain to type. (Indeed, as Jung himself said, the question of his personality was a tricky one to resolve.)[1]

In this series of articles, I will attempt to discuss the matter of Jung’s type, handling not just the question of his type, but also these other areas of his personality, as well as the question of how Jung saw himself. Before we begin, however, it serves us well to note that we were not the first to identify Jung as INFJ. As far as we can tell, that honor belongs to Keirsey and son.

How Jung Saw Himself

The question of Jung’s self-assessment is an intriguing one. As is now familiar to most, Jung publicly identified his type as Introverted Thinking with Sensation (Ti-S-N-Fe) on one occasion and Introverted Thinking with Intuition (Ti-N-S-Fe) on another. Less well-known are a number of loose asides and partial self-identifications given by Jung elsewhere. Adding to our troubles, there is a somewhat strident myth in the Jungian community that Jung has somewhere identified himself as an Introverted Intuitive with Thinking (Ni-T-F-Se) type. But as we shall see, that interpretation owes more to wishful thinking than to anything Jung himself said.

Having reviewed a great deal of material, some of it unpublished, I have never found anything to suggest that Jung ever identified as anything but a Ti-dominant type. At the same time, however, it is nevertheless obvious that Jung – as with so much else in his life – was at pains to install opaque qualifiers and “secret outs” in his recorded statements about his own type. Since Jung was so cagey and disobliging, it is not enough to read this or that and then attempt to interpret it in isolation when seeking to understand how Jung saw himself. One must trace the broad contours of his thinking on the matter in order to understand both what he was saying and what he was attempting to hide.

We start at the beginning.

1915: EFs and ITs

Prior to coming up with the present-day scheme of typology as a system of four functions (F, T, S, N) and two orientations (E, I), Jung had collaborated with his colleague Hans Schmid-Guisan on a typology consisting of only two types: The Extroverted Feeler (EF) and Introverted Thinker (IT). As the two freely admit in The Question of Psychological Types, they based their rough typological schemes on their own psychologies: Schmid-Guisan was to be the EF and Jung the IT. These “original types” were created out of an opposition, formed between just two parties in an intimate microcosmos where it was not possible to see the full view. Of Schmid-Guisan’s type, John Beebe has said (and we agree) that he was an ENFP (Ne-Fi-Te-Si) type. However, like Jung, Schmid-Guisan’s personality seemed to possess more than its normal share of quirks, stemming from elements of the psyche “outside of type.” While certainly no intellectual bystander to Jung in their correspondence, the picture of Schmid-Guisan that emerges from those letters is that of a jovial, intensely caring and enthusiastic personality who lovingly put people at the center of his world. In the tightened duality of just these two personalities, it would therefore be easy for the more brooding and self-centered Jung to conclude that since he was “colder” than Schmid-Guisan, he must therefore have been his opposite.

Even before the existence of the Intuitive type, then, Jung had formed an impression of himself as a Thinking type. Since the EF/IT system suggested an oppositional scheme between the two types, it is also likely that Jung had not only formed an image of himself as a Thinking dominant type, but also as a type with inferior Feeling. Of course it is still possible that upon discovering the existence of the Intuitive type, Jung took a step back and re-evaluated his previous self-assessment from scratch. But while we cannot be sure, the evidence suggests that he probably did not do so. For example, as I have pointed out in my review of The Question of Psychological Types, much of the terminology that made sense in the EF/IT system of Jung and Schmid-Guisan is carried over into Psychological Types itself with little to no modification. The material pertaining to the old schema of two types (EF/IT) was imported into the new system where it tends to make less sense. It seems to me that just as Jung did not expend much critical thought on how the old material would fit into the new system, so he probably did not take care to seriously consider the possibility of he himself being anything but an IT (Ti-dominant) type – at least not until 1925.

What Happened in 1925?

In 1925, Jung gave his famous Seminar on Analytical Psychology, the contents of which were supposedly “secret knowledge.” In Jung’s own lifetime, to be allowed to read the minutes from that seminar required many hours of “Jungian analysis” as well as Jung’s personal permission.

In this seminar, Jung describes a series of complicated personal transformations, involving dreams, mythological considerations, and personal fantasies (so-called “active imaginings”), which Jung apparently regarded as real (since they were ostensibly messages and lessons sent to him through the Collective Unconscious). Into this highly personal and opaque mix, of which Jung himself says that he is not telling the participants of the seminar everything, Jung throws in some typological terms, which are for the most part applied very loosely. He does say, however, that (in his own opinion) he used to be an ISTP (Ti-S-N-Fe) type until some psychic transformation happened. Jung then continues this murky narrative for quite some time, until he reveals a chart saying that Intuition is now “superior.” This statement has been taken by theorists such as Beebe, Giannini, and others to mean that Jung now identified as an Ni type with auxiliary thinking. In my opinion, however, there are several problems with such an interpretation; for example, speaking of the chart Jung himself says that “it is very much better to leave the figures as they are, namely as events, experiences” (and in the very next lecture, he speaks of himself as an Introverted Thinking-dominant type with inferior Feeling again). Therefore, it is in my opinion dangerous to rely on the extraordinarily personal and murky Seminar of 1925 as the sole source of Jung’s self-assessment. I have my own opinion of what the 1925 lecture might mean too, of course, but my interpretation will make more sense if viewed alongside Jung’s other statements about his type. We set it aside for Part 2.

If Jung Had Known That He Had Misidentified Himself, Would He Have Said so in Interviews?

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that theorists like Beebe and Giannini are right and that Jung actually did change his self-assessment in 1925. If he had done so, would he have publicly admitted that he had had a change of heart? Or would he – for some reason or other – have continued to claim that he was a Ti type (even if that was not his true view)? Such questions are usually very hard to settle, but there may be a way for us to settle it by proxy, namely by examining the case of how Jung spoke of Alfred Adler.

In Psychological Types, Jung had said of Adler and Freud that:

“Freud would like to ensure the undisturbed flow of instinct towards its object; Adler would like to break the baleful spell of the object in order to save the ego from suffocating in its own defensive armour. Freud’s view is essentially extraverted, Adler’s introverted. The extraverted theory holds good for the extraverted type, the introverted theory for the introverted type.”[2]

Now of course, one can argue that Jung is here only talking about their views and not their types, but most people (including Jungians themselves) took this statement (and others like it) to mean that Freud was an E type and Adler an I type.

Psychological Types was published in 1921, but in a private latter, dated 1941, Jung returns to the matter of Freud’s and Adler’s types:

“I discriminate between the ordinary ego-consciousness of the man and his creative personality. Very often there is a striking difference. Personally a creative man can be an introvert, but in his work he is an extravert, and vice versa. … Adler, whom I met as a young man, being of my age, gave me the impression of a neurotic introvert, in which case there is always the doubt as to the definite type. … Freud as well as Adler underwent a change in their personal type. …

… Adler, I suppose, was never a real introvert, therefore as soon as he had a certain success he began to develop an extraverted behavior. But in his creative work he had the outlook of an introvert. The power complex which both of them had showed in Freud’s personal attitude, where it belonged. In Adler’s case it became his theory, where it did not belong. This meant an injury to his creative aspect.”[3]

(Bear in mind that this was a private letter, not meant for public circulation.) Here, even in spite of hedging his bets by “discriminat[ing] between the ordinary ego-consciousness of the man and his creative personality,” Jung admits that he now supposes that “Adler was never a real introvert.” No big problem, since every major theorist in the field of Jungian typology has had to revise and update their assessments, right? Well, perhaps Jung thought otherwise.

In a (public) interview given in 1955, Jung was asked about Freud’s and Adler’s types:

Interviewer: “You’re an introvert. … And Adler?”
Jung: “He is equally introverted.”[4]

So even though Jung had come to the conclusion that Adler was an extrovert, and the interviewer is clearly asking Jung about Adler’s personal type (and not Adler’s “theoretical standpoint”), Jung still says that Adler is an introvert. He remains consistent with his previously printed and public views on the matter, even though his private letters reveal that he thought he had probably been wrong about Adler and that he was most likely “never a real introvert.” So, by extension, if Jung had changed his view of his own type, maybe he would not have said so in public interviews either.

That still leaves the case for Jung self-identifying as INJ rather wobbly, though. In the scholarship on Jungian typology, the majority of theorists have assessed Jung to be an Ni (INJ) type – an assessment that we agree with. However, we must be careful not to let our own wishful thinking exude a retroactive influence over the historical record. It may be tempting to “bend” the evidence to fit one’s preferred conclusion, but in all of the instances of Jung discussing his own type that we are aware of, he never identifies as anything but a Ti (ITP) type. Some type practitioners do not like the idea that Jung could have been wrong with regards to his own type, but as the man himself said “…it is often very difficult to find out whether a person belongs to one type or the other, especially in regard to oneself. In respect of one’s own personality one’s judgment is as a rule extraordinarily clouded.”[5]

Conclusion to Part 1

  • Jung had identified himself as an IT type prior to the formation of the present system of types and most likely carried his old self-identification uncritically over into the new system, causing him to identify as a Ti type.
  • To our knowledge, at least, Jung has never publicly identified as anything but a Ti (ITP) type. Though he does present a chart in the “secret” Seminar of 1925, saying that Intuition is “superior,” there are several problems with simply taking this statement to mean that he now identified as an Ni (INJ) type (see above).
  • On the other hand, the theorists who believe that the Seminar of 1925 constitutes proof that Jung had changed his self-assessment to INJ have the point going for them that, judging by Jung’s public statements on Adler’s type, Jung may not have wanted to admit to the public that he had changed his mind about his own type.
  • However, in my opinion (and that of my co-admins) the account given in Seminar of 1925 is still pretty shaky, and need not even mean that Jung identified as INJ. There is another interpretation that makes just as much sense, which we shall see in the next part of this series.


[1] Jung, quoted in Bair: Jung (Little, Brown and Company 2003) p.640

[2] Jung: Psychological Types §91

[3] Jung: Letters vol. 1 (Princeton University Press 1973) p. 301

[4] Jung: C.G. Jung Speaking (Princeton University Press 1987) p. 257

[5] Jung: Psychological Types §91

Parmenides Fragment 2


In this series, I am going to analyze the meaning of the Parmenides fragments as I presently understand them. I am going to argue that, far from being the “single-brained super-logician” that modern scholarship takes him to be, Parmenides was in fact a shaman-healer and initiate of an Apollo mystery cult in his home town of Elea (an assertion borne out by archaeological evidence, no less).* Adopting this interpretation will allow us to make sense of the classical, hitherto unsolvable “Parmenides problems,” such as (a) what is the subject for being? (b) why does the goddess call her own account ‘deceitful’ (8.52)? and (c) why is the Way of Seeming (doxa) included in the poem, and elaborated upon in great detail, if false? 

It must be stated that I am not the first to have gleaned the “mystical” meaning of the Parmenides poem. Predecessors such as Peter Kingsley, Thomas McEvilley and others have proposed similar interpretations of the poem, although as far as I am able to tell, the precise contents of their analyses are almost entirely different from mine. At any rate, though, the view of Parmenides as a shaman is still an absolute minority view, with most scholars either asserting that he was a single-minded remorseless logician or a primitive physicist and physician....

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Psychology in Hinayana Buddhism

By Ryan Smith

The psychological theories of Buddhism have attracted much attention from Western writers, being lauded as both “modern” and “scientific.” As a rule, any prolonged study of psychology will inevitably spill over and become, at least in part, a study of personality as well. But while numerous titles on Buddhist psychology exist, works detailing a definite Buddhist theory of personality have so far proved elusive. I do not claim that this short article will be any different, but I can perhaps collect the scattered sayings on personality that exist throughout the Hinayana corpus, as well as draw up an outline of the general Hinayana theory of psychology.

buddha goldThis absence of a definite personality theory should come as no surprise, since many Buddhist writings deny the existence of abiding substances in favor of a process metaphysics in which substance is an illusion and everything is modes and conditions. As opposed to the Western view of personality as a composite of structural (fixed) and functional (fluid) elements, the Buddhist is more likely to view everything about the personality as fluid. A popular analogy in early Buddhism is that of comparing the mind to a flame; constantly changing and devoid of any fixed form....

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Jesus and Eastern Influences

By Ryan Smith

It is, as a rule, very hard to uncover the historical facts of the Christian inception, and whatever we can say must be stated with great reserve. On the other hand, it is easily demonstrable that many pertinent and illuminative facts are left out of most Christian accounts. In this article, I shall attempt to supply some of these facts, so as to give the reader a full understanding of the doctrines of Jesus. As with my articles on Buddhism and Hinduism, I shall not say anything about the spiritual truth of these doctrines, for I could not settle that question even if that had been my aim; it is a matter that everyone must decide for themselves.

First, it is almost completely certain that Jesus existed; that he was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by the Romans (probably while he was in his early or mid-30s). But beyond these facts, almost nothing can be known for certain of him. This paucity of information has caused considerable division in the modern interpretations of Jesus’ life and works. Did he preach a coming apocalypse? Did he identify himself as the Jewish Messiah? Was he a charismatic wonder-worker akin to Empedocles? Was he simply a moral teacher and social reformer? Or was his aim to preach a Jewish variant of Cynicism?...

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Functions for Beginners, Part 2

John Barlow is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Barlow’s piece represents his own insights and assessments and not necessarily those of the site. In this piece, Barlow attempts an informal and colloquial exposition of basic function theory. 

By John Barlow

In my last article, I talked about the functions. I also put up some disclaimers about my articles not being academic, which are still in effect. In this article, I’m going to talk about the difference between dominant and inferior functions, and I’m going to be stealing — uhm, I mean paraphrasing — a lot of stuff from a student of Jung’s called Marie-Louise von Franz (you can read more about her stuff here)....

This article requires site membership. If you are already a member, click here to log in. If you are not a member, go here to create your account and become a member of the CelebrityTypes community today.

Functions for Beginners, Part 1

John Barlow is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Barlow’s piece represents his own insights and assessments and not necessarily those of the site. In this piece, Barlow attempts an informal and colloquial exposition of basic function theory. 

By John Barlow

In this article, I will try to explain function-based typology to newcomers and beginners. Similar to Mary Arrington’s sweet piece here, I will try to make my presentation colorful and entertaining. So if you’re already an expert, or if you’re a stickler for academic references and precision, I suggest you read some of the other (excellent) articles on the site instead. Still here? Okay, let’s go!...

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The Anaximanderian Conception of Function Axes

“The Boundless is the first principle of things that are. It is that from which coming-into-being takes place, and into that which things return when they perish by mortal necessity, giving satisfaction to one another and making reparation for their injustice, in accordance with the order of time.” – Anaximander: Fragment DK12 B1 

By Ryan Smith

From the get-go, our conception of function axes has been imbued with a Heraclitean scaffolding, akin to the one foreshadowed by Jung.[1] However, as I have pointed out in previous articles,
anaximandersome of the framework that Jung attributed to Heraclitus should more properly be credited to Anaximander.[2] Jung himself did not appear to be aware of this....

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