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ENFJ vs. INFJ

By John Barnes

The following quotes are an exchange between Neil Degrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins on being public intellectuals.

Tyson to Dawkins: “You’re a professor of the public understanding of science. Not professor of delivering truth to the public. And these are two different exercises. One of them is you put the truth out there and like you said they either buy your book or they don’t. Well that’s not being an educator. That’s just putting it out there. Being an educator is part not only getting the truth right, but there’s got to be an act of persuasion in there as well. Persuasion isn’t always “Here’s the facts. You’re either an idiot or you’re not.” It’s “Here are the facts and here is a sensitivity to your state of mind.” And it’s the facts plus the sensitivity when convolved together creates impact. And I worry that your methods and how articulately barbed you can be ends up simply being ineffective when you have much more power of influence than what is currently reflected in your output.”

Dawkins to Tyson. “I gratefully accept the rebuke. Just one anecdote to show that I’m not the worst in this theme. A former and highly successful editor of New Scientist Magazine who actually built up New Scientist to great new heights was asked “What is your philosophy at New Scientist?” and he said “Our philosophy at New Scientist is this: science is interesting and if you don’t agree, you can fuck off.”

Dawkins’s attitude is very much that of an introverted thinking type. In Psychological Types Jung writes this of the introverted thinking type:

“”When the time comes doe him to transplant his ideas into the world, his is by no means an air of an anxious mother solicitous for her children’s welfare; he merely exposes them,”

But Tyson on the other hand is an ENFJ. Because of his repressed Ti and dominant Fe, he is like an anxious mother. He is not satisfied with merely having an idea or with having a clear mental order. His interests are in the communication and implementation of his ideas. As Pericles said “A man who has the knowledge but lacks the power to express it clearly is no better off than if he never had any ideas at all.”

INFJs may similarly want to communicate their ideas through persuasion, but their tertiary introverted thinking may create complications.

Jung also writes of the introverted thinking type:

“In thinking out his problems to the outmost of his ability, he also complicates them, and constantly becomes entangled in every possible scruple. However clear to himself the inner structure of his thoughts may be, he is not in the clear where and how they link up with the world of reality.”

This attitude can be seen in INFJs like Wittgenstein and Jung. Wittgenstein is often called the most important philosopher of the 20th century, yet reading the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations is extremely difficult. I’m confident Wittgenstein understands what he means and I’m confident there’s a better way to get it across.

This same problem is there in Jung’s writings, where he doesn’t often give examples or if he does, he returns to the same example repeatedly. Which is all indicative of the INFJ being far more conceptual than the ENFJ.

The INFJ also represses Se. Like the INTJs this makes them incredible incubators of creative ideas who make great leaps from the data. Another trend I’ve noticed is that they have a skepticism of simple factual data. Take Plato’s philosophy for example, where the outside world is reduced to mere shadows in a cave. INFJs seem to think that presenting the facts are never enough. There must be a commensurate capacity to realize the truth on one’s own. Hence, Wittgenstein’s claim that a reader will be able to understand his (Wittgenstein’s) work only if he has had similar thoughts of his own.

However, ENFJs don’t repress Se and they don’t share the same shelter from the outside world. Thus, they don’t place as much emphasis on personal subjective realizations in the search for truth. For this reason, they are superior persuaders. For example, ENFJ Sheryl Sandberg on the march towards truth:

“I completely understand that the [gender equality] debate is heated and emotional … and I am actually grateful for this [because] there is never any change without heated debate.”

Meanwhile, INFJ Thomas Jefferson shirks from this mentality and puts more of an emphasis on personal realizations:

“In stating rules … I must not omit the important one of never entering into argument with another. I never saw an instance of disputants convincing each other by argument.”

“The only help a youth wants is to be directed what books to read, and in what order to read them.”

Published in John Barnes