Why Machiavelli is ENTP (and not INTJ)

Just a few quick pointers as to why Machiavelli is ENTP (and not INTJ):

It appears that a common argument for Machiavelli for INTJ would be that he despised the public in the wanton manner that some of the INTJs listed on our site tend to (Heraclitus, Bobby Fischer, H.L. Mencken etc.). A viewpoint that is again based on a popular reading (or misreading) of Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’, whereby people come away with an impression like the following:

What he was saying was that people are so short-sighted and stupid that to the general public, the ends will justify the means.

This is not at all correct. You can’t really use ‘The Prince’ as a source for Machiavelli’s actual opinions (and even if you could, actual opinions are not as indicative of type as the way those opinions are presented, which is far more indicative of the subject’s cognitive functions).

Rather, Machiavelli was a republican and regarded monarchies as an inferior form of government. ‘The Prince’ was written as a job application after the Medicis returned to Florence. To type Machiavelli, therefore, you should not read ‘The Prince’, but his ‘Discourses’ wherein he gives much more of his personality and his true opinions away. Opinions such as:

* Elite rule is bad (most INTJs of the time would have it the other way around)
* Disorder and conflict is a political good as it creates dynamism in the state (more Ne-Ti than Ni-Te)
* History reveals universal patterns which should steer our political decisions (more Ne-Ti than Ni-Te)
* No one man can be a genius in every role, so the state should change generals and politicians rapidly so as to also change strategies and policies. (A thought that in the a priori is wholly foreign to a dominant introverted perciever [I–J] and much more at home with a dominant extroverted perciever [E–P].)

But even so, we said that the manner is more indicative of type than the matter. So:

* Nietzsche: “But how could the German language [ever] imitate the tempo of Machiavelli, who in his ‘The Prince’ makes us breathe the dry, fine air of Florence, and cannot help presenting the most serious events in a boisterous allegrissimo, perhaps not without a malicious artistic sense of the contrast he presents – long, heavy, difficult, dangerous thoughts, and a tempo of the gallop, and of the best, wantonest humor.”

* Maurice Merleau-Ponty: “Machiavelli is the complete contrary of a machiavellian, since he describes the tricks of power and ‘gives the whole show away.'”

* The man himself was known to change faces and personalities according to whom he was with.

* He was an energetic infantry captain before being tortured by the Medicis at which point he became more morose and scholarly.

11 Comments

  1. james delamare says:

    hi!!!
    i road machiavelli’s books: all of them!
    and i was certain that he was ENTP, since i am ENTP too, i recognized a lot of ENTP traits.

    and after reading your post i was wondering….
    what does the most successfull ENTPs had in common?
    it would be very nice to know.
    that’s why i’m asking you if you have any clues?

  2. Savant says:

    I concur that Machiavelli is not an INTJ, but an ENTP. However, Cesare Borgia, which he based on making ‘The Prince,’ can be classified as an INTJ.

    Machiavelli is ENTP, but his description of ‘The Prince’ very well prescribes to an INTJ or even an ENTJ archetype.

  3. MR says:

    Im sorry i disagree, but in order to decipher such a complex character, distinguished precisely because of his adaptable nature, we cannot deduce his personality based on his work; it would be like being lied to by one of his many faces, but instead defining his reasons, by comparing his life & consequent actions, to become who he was. Which is why his work ‘Il Principe’ is important, not by the content itself, but what its creation meant. Machiavelli was ruined after the Medicis return to Florence, yet, he dedicated his work to Lorenzo de’ Medici. He continued to write to share his useful perspective, where we can see he insisted on becoming a political influence. Honestly, an ENTP isn’t likely to have insisted as much as to humiliate himself to his own enemies in order to accomplish what he aimed for, as they are impatient, indeed adaptable, energetic and visionary, if it was expected to be impossible (which in the end it was since he didn’t regain his position). An ENTJ is most likely to, for they tend to be stubborn, persistent & fixed. While people refer to a J as stiff, or rigid, it means that their decisions are, their goals remain unchanged, not their social development. Note that if his objectives had changed (like the ENTP that goes from one idea to another), & hadn’t endured to his dying day (like an obstinate ENTJ), as an ENTP he could’ve adapted and moved on, which he didn’t; And concerning his social adaptability, an ENTJ is potential of becoming so in an external form (socially), but not personally because his ideas never change once they’re set clearly. Like Machiavelli.

  4. admin says:

    So your argument is that he is ENTJ because he is ambitious and because he ostensibly changed his views to get a job with the Medicis?

  5. MR says:

    Indeed.
    What do you think?

  6. Martel says:

    Add John Calvin!

  7. Whoobie77 says:

    I don’t have an objection to Machiavelli being typed as ENTP. However, I do have an objection to one of the reasons given to substantiate the typing “History reveals universal patterns…(more Ne-Ti then Ni-Te)”. Are you saying that Ni-Te cannot see repeating patterns in history? You have Nietzsche in your INTJ section, and one of his most famous ideas was the concept of the eternal return. “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more'” Of course, whether or not Nietzsche believed this insight should “steer our political decisions” is another matter entirely. I do not think, however, that because someone sees history as repetitious it is a point for them being Ne-Ti and against them being Ni-Te.

  8. admin says:

    re: “Are you saying that Ni-Te cannot see repeating patterns in history?”

    Nono :-)
    But we’re saying that Ni-Te types are more often prescriptive with regards to their analysis past and future while Ne-Ti types are more often descriptive.
    Not that it matters for the point at hand, but Nietzsche’s idea of Eternal Recurrence was taken from Empedocles.

  9. Whoobie77 says:

    If by prescriptive, you mean “looking for an underyling law”, I don’t see how that couldn’t apply to some of your INTJs, such as Hegel, who believed that history was governed by a tension between body and spirit. (Granted, this is a Ni “mystic” insight, but an underlying principle to how history works nonetheless). But, as it seems from this statement about Machiavelli, by prescriptive you mean “giving directives about what should ideally be done”, this seems even more confusing. Marx, for instance, did not provide directives as to what should be done after his analysis of history at the end of his Communist Manifesto? Te, with its love of procedures, seems quite suited to making directive claims.

    Thank you for taking time to respond. I’m not trying to be argumentative for the sake of it, but I am trying to refine my understanding.

  10. admin says:

    Both Ne and Ni look for underlying laws; that is common to all N. But they place the stress differently:

    Machiavelli (and Hume’s) histories are so multifaceted that it is hard to gauge what they really mean themselves. They are content to ~describe~ the historical record with little discrimination to time, place, or party. They seem to view the historical record as an all-purpose toolbox where every incident is significant in its own right and so the patterns gleaned are more true to the singular event (objective, in Jung’s terminology) but more limited in overall conclusion and scope.

    With the Ni types, rather than being content to describe the evolution and patterns of history itself, they are interested in coming up with some mental schema of their own design, which they then superimpose on the historical record. Once the pattern is imposed, the historical record is no longer an all-purpose toolbox from which you can pick and choose at your leisure; which events that are significant is now determined by the pattern that has been imposed on history, ~prescribed~, as it were. Events are therefore less significant in their own right, but rather significant in relation to the overall pattern. Therefore, such Ni-Te impositions of patterns upon history will be more “subjective” in Jung’s terminology, but more wide-ranging in overall conclusion and scope.

    Thanks for your interest in the site. :)

  11. Alessandra says:

    Machiavelli, if nothing, was a NTJ. Only a J would compartmentalise leadership with the big picture in mind (N) using logic (T).

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