By Michael Goist
In explanations of Introverted Thinking, there is often a tendency to attribute elements of the INTP personality to ISTPs. An example off the top of my head goes something like: “Introverted Thinking seeks out the few binding principles that govern broad collections of information and data.” That sounds about right, but I’m an INTP. The “binding principles” part applies to ISTPs, but with the “broad collections” part we are unwittingly grafting qualities of Ne perception onto a psyche governed in part by Se. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Although he tried to be unbiased, Jung’s type theory is still the product of his highly Intuitive consciousness, and therefore tends to attract the attention and interest of people who are likewise well-traveled in the ways of Intuition. We may therefore expect to see this kind of accidental “transference” when typologists try to isolate and describe individual functions on their own – functions which are never actually isolated in the psyche anyway, instead working in tandem with the other present functions. So, this is my attempt to elucidate some of the differences between these two different brands of Ti in context, using examples.
In my first example, let’s say that an ISTP and INTP meet up at the local gym. The ISTP has just talked about, and demonstrated, the underlying principles of the Japanese martial art Jujitsu. The conversation might follow thus (and you’ll have to forgive the on-the-nose dialogue):
ISTP: So there you have it. Just the basics, at least.
INTP: Thanks. That was interesting. And also painful. So, you’ve demonstrated how Jujitsu works. But I’ve also seen people practicing Muy Thai, and that looks equally as interesting. What do you think it would be like if someone applied those same fighting principles to Muy Thai?
ISTP: Huh? What do you mean?
INTP: Like, if you mixed the two or something…
ISTP: I don’t think that would work. Jujitsu is Jujitsu. Muy Thai is Muy Thai. The principles that govern Jujitsu are very different from the principles that govern Muy Thai.
INTP: But let’s say I really wanted to find a way to mix and match elements of the two styles, like a cross-pollination…
ISTP: That would be difficult to do in the first place because they’re essentially closed systems that are fully self-sufficient. The only way to do what you want to do would be to focus yourself intensely on learning one fighting style, and then focus yourself intensely on learning the other fighting style. It would take quite a while to develop a sense of how one style could be blended with the other. It would have to be something instinctual, something below the surface that you feel out for yourself – definitely not a one-size-fits-all thing that could be explained or demonstrated well.
INTP: That would probably require too much commitment and focus…and pain. I’ll just stick to watching this stuff in the movies.
In my second example, let’s say that our ISTP and INTP meet up at the local library. The INTP has just talked about how the foundations for every contemporary western democracy are basically governed by the same principles. Conversation follows. Take it away guys:
INTP: So there you have it, in a round-about way.
ISTP: Thanks. That was informative. And also confusing. So, that seemed to be the big picture, more or less. But what if I’m interested specifically in how our republic functions here in the U.S.? Could you sum it up succinctly for me?
INTP: Well, we could go into that if you wanted…But the point was the connection between all those different democracies.
ISTP: Yeah, but let’s leave the others out of it for now. I’m kind of confused by those vague connections anyway.
INTP: I’ll give it a shot, but I’m not sure I could be as succinct as you want. The American democracy is quite a complex system, and we actually borrowed a lot of ideas from the English government and English philosophers that I would have to explain, and really when you get down to it, the roots of democracy come from the ancient Greeks, so I would have to start with them. There are simply too many relevant connections to leave out, and I’m not sure if I could give you only the most salient details, because you’d lose all the nuance.
ISTP: Well, that’s OK. Save your breath. That has the potential to get out of control very quickly, and I’d probably get bored. I’ll just stick to voting Libertarian every November.
To sum up and expand:
• INTPs seek to distill and comprehend the unifying principle(s) that governs an interconnected, compartmentalized set of ideas.
• ISTPs seek to distill and comprehend the unifying principle(s) that governs a focused, distinct set of ideas, or even a singular idea.
• Analysis by INTPs in general will most likely be systematic, broadly inclusive, and often granular.
• Analysis by ISTPs in general will most likely be unsystematic, concise, and often holistic.
• Analysis by INTPs of concrete facts and details will appear relatively careful and meticulous.
• Analysis by ISTPs of concrete facts and details will appear relatively rapid, clear-cut and instinctive.
• Analysis by INTPs of associative material will appear relatively quick and clever.
• Analysis by ISTPs of associative material will appear relatively cautious and meditative.
• Both types favor precision and clarity over expediency and efficiency. With Te types the opposite is true.
One final note concerning ISTPs: Their clear distinction between ideas (“You can’t mix these styles”) may seem counterintuitive to the Ti-Fe axis concept of object unity (see the CelebrityTypes articles on function axes). However, within a particular realm of ideas, like Jujitsu in the above example, the ISTP, like their ENFJ opposites, seeks complete unity and synthesis.