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Differentiating the Types via the Tertiary Function: ENTJ and INTJ

By John Barnes

This article is a continuation of a series of articles in which I distinguish the sister types through their differing tertiary functions.

Fi focuses on the personal values of the subject. This gives types with differentiated Fi an attitude of individuation of their own values and invocation to let others express their own, equally valid values. For example of this upholding of everyone’s personal validity, there’s the INFP Jane Goodall’s claims that “Every individual matters” and that “Every individual has a role to play”. In the ENTJ Fi is repressed and so instead of a focus on the subjectively and personally true there is a focus on the objectively and verifiably true. Penn Jillette (ENTJ) provides a great example of this in the video Penn Jillette: Why Tolerance is Condescending. His point in the video is that once a person has claimed some subjective unprovable reality, he has then walled himself off from the world and he has given license to everyone else’s subjective realities, including Charlie Manson’s and Al-Qaeda.

So the ENTJ alienates the personal in favor of the objective and verifiable. This remains true for matters of morality. The ENTJ Aristotle’s ethical system completely lacks a notion of personal values. Instead it favors a series of impersonal virtues to be applied prescriptively. By contrast, in the INTJ Fi is not completely alienated. It takes a tertiary position. With the INTJ there is a focus on the personal. There is a focus on the self in the morality of INTJs like Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche. The ultimate good in their morality is a great man changing the world towards his own personal desires. This championing of the personal can be seen in more than just morality. INTJs are given to writing and debating with great conviction and feeling, e.g., Christopher Hitchens’s fierce polemics against religion and Martin Luther’s passionate religious debates.

The Se type is afforded a very realistic, direct view of the facts. They seek the “highest pitch of actuality” by living in the present moment and away from the philosophical representations of reality. The ENTJ has Se in the tertiary position and has a positive relationship with reality as it immediately presents itself. ENTJs do not shy away from immediate reality. They actively participate in it and are adept at making their visions practical, as we see with the ENTJs Bill Gates’s practical application of computer designs and Napoleon’s enterprising assault across Europe.

The INTJ does not exhibit the same propensity for living in the moment as the ENTJ. Instead INTJs prefer to pursue their thoughts. They produce a much more complex view of reality than the ENTJ, like the obscure philosophies of G. W. F. Hegel or Heraclitus. Because of the INTJ’s inattention to immediate reality and facts, the INTJ may also skip over the facts, preferring to focus on the certainty derived from Ni. Take for example, Newton’s certainty that one “could treat a solid sphere as if all of its mass were in the center” which according to Keynes, Newton hadn’t proven until shortly before the Principia was published.


  • Jillette: Why Tolerance is Condescending BigThink 2011
  • Keynes: Newton, the Man Royal Society of London 1946

Published in John Barnes