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Why Parmenides Might be ISTP

By Hannah Strachan

Firstly, he seemed to really only have one great idea (as described in Smith’s article here), and then he builds on this. At no point does he explore lots of ideas or different perspectives from his own.

He seems very, very confident (at least, if we assume the goddess is presenting his own views) that he is correct – as Smith’s says, if we take him on his own terms, his philosophy is almost impossible to argue with. And if you did try to present alternative ways of viewing/framing the debate I have a feeling he would dismiss you as an idiot haha.

As per the Function Axes Theory, This one-strong-perspective style seems very much Ni-Se to me – Ne-Si types are usually not as direct and certain, and NPs would probably wander off topic more than Parmenides does, into very different yet related ways of viewing the question.

I don’t believe he is Ni dominant for a similar reason – he seems very focused in comparison to thinkers like Jung or Nietzsche, and seems to know exactly what he wants to say, even if it may not be entirely understandable to other people. To me this suggests ISTP rather than INFJ.

The philosophical points he makes are actually not anti-Se either, I would say. That’s not my understanding of what he is saying. His philosophy is essentially just a tying together of our mundane view of external reality into an absolute whole, the existence of which seems obvious to him. This is a strong argument for him having a really well-developed tertiary Ni function more than anything else I would say. In essence it is a very intelligent Ti-Ni defence of the typical Se mindset: “What is, is”.

He also seems quite dualistic in this sense. While part 2 talks about this absolute reality level of thinking (which NTPs interested in philosophy are generally most interested in and tend to stay in that arena), Parmenides appears to have also been pretty interested in the mundane, everyday views that “mortals” have, mistaken though they may be. The final part of his poem, detailing mundane reality is estimated to have been roughly ten times longer than what we have today.

I’ll also add that the very fact his writing is still so open to different interpretations to this day points towards Se-Ni rather than Ne-Si. Ne-Si types – particularly NTPs – are usually extremely careful with how they explain themselves and describe their views. On the other hand, Se-Ni types tend to see meaning as not being something that really can be fully communicated to anyone else, and tend to expect every reader/listener to create their own very personal interpretation anyway – so what is the point of explaining yourself in a really painstaking way? His emphasis on an active, engaging style more than clear, halting, constantly modified sentences does seem to point towards STP to me.

Another thing, is I think his writing style is very Se – he seems almost as interested in telling an engaging story as he is in talking about abstract theory. It’s as if he feels like it would be boring to just write an academic-style, color-less philosophical text. :) And there is so much concrete detail in his description, clearly intended to provoke a sensory reaction in the reader.

Overall, I think he is a wonderful example of an ISTP intellectual, and his style of reasoning and writing reminds me of a couple of my ISTP friends.

Published in Hannah Strachan