Cross your T’s and your F’s

The contemporary interpretation of the Myers –Briggs archetypes would convince us that somehow, something as inordinately complex and scientifically incomprehensible as consciousness (that eager and abstract interplay of billions of neurons firing off and on at the whims of milk and salsa constitutes) can be explained in four letters. The truth is, however, that our interpretation of the archetypes is as far removed from Myers-Briggs as Myers-Briggs was from Jung’s original thesis.

 
That is to say, we’ve veered from pseudoscience right into post-modernist rigeur. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

 
It’s understandable, though. There’s something uniquely appealing to the idea that complex abstractions can be neatly contained in principles that are easy to understand.  Like all complex systems, though, this presents a real danger. In this case, people affixing themselves with labels to rationalize their beliefs or behaviors. We want to feel validated, and the archetypes give us that tool.

 
To present my own case scenario: I’m an INTJ. If studies are to believed (perhaps I should start citing things in my blogs.) I’m the rare unicorn. The 1%.  The mad scientist. The magician. The intuitive leader. The strategist. According to our interpretations, one or all of these are true.   Interpretations of Newton’s journals and work suggest that he was an INTJ, and truthfully, a preponderant number of important intellectuals certainly appear to be INTJs. In Newton’s own words though, he was not a scientist, but rather “the last of the great magicians.”  If studies say Newton is an INTJ, and an INTJ says it – is it true?

 
The logical disconnect aside, the answer is no, but it is nonetheless insightful.  My personal interpretations of Jung’s work has always been that the archetypes are a commentary on how we synthesize and extrapolate on the nuanced and complex mechanisms and behaviors that underlie different types of information.  In this case, Newton’s affirmation of being a magician is somewhat relevant.

 
At our core, INTJs are first and foremost planners. We seize an internalized vision and gather information from the world around us to make it conform to that vision. It goes without saying, that we are not details people. In fact, when the facts do not suit us, we have a tendency to re-invent them, or build around them. In Newton’s case this was especially true. His grounding work in physics and developing calculus showed an intuitive understanding of principles that could be ascertained from external information. It wasn’t ‘detailed’ though. In fact, it was left to Einstein and many other great intellectuals to fill in a lot of the gaps Newton didn’t explain, and if I had to venture a guess – we still have a lot of explaining and filling in to do. Newton gave us an incomplete system. If he had gotten bogged down in the details rather than the vision, society would not be as it is. (Sorry, Leibniz)

 
Our take away from this can be that INTJ’s are somewhat in opposition to attempts to understand their mind.  While it’s not far from the truth, it is better rendered that INTJs spend most of our time trying to figure out what’s on our mind, and we don’t like wasting time explaining that to others – those are the details. It’s why INTJs tend to have very little patience for people who don’t accept our opinions or prognostications for what they are.  Our reluctance to inquiry isn’t one nested in social anxiety or ignorance, it’s rooted in our understanding of ourselves. We express ourselves in our thoughts, so objection to those thoughts is tantamount to the sudden break-up, loss of employment, or other erstwhile emotional upheaval.

 
The reverse of this is true, insomuch that INTJs are very extroverted and receptive to people that indicate an unabashed interest in our ideas. We’ll hop, skip, jump, and wax as eloquently as any extroverted stand-up comedian if unbiased interest in our opinions is shown. As a logical archetype, from Jung’s work, our interest is in obtaining information that suits our internalized vision. This form of verbal validation pleases us (Unlike our present interpretation of the archetypes, INTJs do have feelings. ) It also lends an opportunity for us seeing flaws in our own vision. Feedback, right?

 
All of this is a form of information handling and synthesis. It has very little to do with being a social recluse, judgmental, nerdy – whatever. Those are the emperor’s new clothes.  An INTJ can be those things, and the way we prefer handling information in our cultural climate certainly disposes us to that, but these are very different explanations of the same idea.

 
So maybe in spite of my monologue I’ve seemingly adopted this into my identity, or maybe I’ve realized we can’t reduce complex systems to simple ones without the loss of nuance and self-liberty.  Our interpretation of Jung’s original research is compelling. It’s fun, but maybe Newton’s recollection about being a magician was a general deduction of the human condition. Maybe we enjoy these things because we’re drawn to the mystical, and we’re all magicians.

 

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~ by nyelome on January 5, 2017.

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