The dominant function: Introverted iNtuition (Ni)
Artist and seer
Carl Jung describes the Introverted Intuitive type like this:
“The peculiar nature of introverted intuition, when given the priority, also produces a peculiar type of man, viz. the mystical dreamer and seer on the one hand, or the fantastical crank and artist on the other.”*
The philosopher Rudolf Carnap, who personally knew Wittgenstein, described Wittgenstein in just the same words:
“[Wittgenstein’s] point of view and his attitude toward people and problems, even theoretical problems, were much more similar to those of a creative artist than to a scientist; one might almost say, similar to those of a religious prophet or seer.”
And Wittgenstein similarly described by Bertrand Russell:
“His disposition is that of an artist, intuitive and moody.”
The problem of expression
Jung describes a tendency of the introverted intuitive, when the type focus overly much on his intuition, like this:
“His language is not that which is commonly spoken — it becomes too subjective. His argument lacks convincing reason. He can only confess or pronounce. His is the ‘voice of one crying in the wilderness’.”
Here is a quote from Bertrand Russell about Wittgenstein:
“I told him he ought not simply to state what he thinks true, but to give arguments for it, but he said arguments spoil its beauty, and that he would feel as if he was dirtying a flower with muddy hands”
Introverted intuitives relies on their ”hunches” and can often not explain why they think what they think. Here I take it as if Wittgenstein is saying ”please don’t force me to think, I want to stick to my intuition!”. I think it often wasn’t just unwillingness, but actual inability/difficulty to give arguments. Wittgenstein once wrote:
”My difficulty is only an — enormous — difficulty of expression.”
Making life symbolic
Another characteristic of the Introverted Intuitive, Jung describes, “he makes himself and his life symbolic”. This tendency seems to apply for Wittgenstein also. For example, Wittgenstein volunteered as a soldier in the war, he was a teacher at elementary school, a gardener at a monastery and worked at hospital. He gave away most of his money, and decided to live an ascetic life.
Further posts on this blog discussing the importance of introverted intuition in Wittgenstein’s philosophy:
The task of philosophy is to use ”introverted intuition”?
“Don’t think, but look!” – The most common misconception about Wittgenstein?
Secondary function: Feeling or Thinking?
(According to MBTI the secondary function is supposed to be Extraverted if the primary function is Introverted, but I don’t feel convinced by this, I do not want to specify if it’s Introverted or Extraverted.)
Edit: at first this blog post was called “Wittgenstein MBTI, Why he was Introverted iNtuitive and Feeling (INFj)”, but then I felt unsure of that his secondary function would be Feeling, and so I made some revisions and changed the title of the blog post. Whatever secondary function he did have I leave as an unanswered question.
When dominant function is intuition and secondary function is feeling, Jung calls it artistic intuition, and when intuition is teamed up with thinking as secondary function Jung describes it as philosophic intuition. On one hand, we may note that both Russell and Carnap described Wittgenstein like an artist – thus indicating a feeling preference, while on the other hand, Wittgenstein is after all foremost recognized as a philosopher – according to this then indicating a thinking preference.
Is it possible that Wittgenstein could be more of a feeler than thinker then, despite being a philosopher? We must then consider what kind of philosopher he was. We may then note that Wittgenstein wasn’t any main stream philosopher. For example, Wittgenstein did not like reading philosophy. He once said “no assistant lecturer in philosophy in the country had read fewer books on philosophy than he had” and it has been noted that “Most of [Wittgenstein’s] favorite authors were suggestive and moral, rather than rigorous and logical” (ref)
“At our very first meeting with Wittgenstein, Schlick unfortunately mentioned that I was interested in the problem of an international language like Esperanto. As I had expected, Wittgenstein was definitely opposed to this idea. But I was surprised by the vehemence of his emotions. A language which had not ‘grown organically’ seemed to him not only useless but despicable.”
I believe that this quote may indicate that Wittgenstein had a preference of feeling over thinking. The quick and emotional rejection of an international language seem grounded in feeling rather than thinking.
Wittgenstein relied a lot on Introverted Intuition. I’ve presented some arguments that Wittgenstein’s secondary function was feeling, which would make him an “INFj”, however, by stressing other aspects of his life and philosophy one can probably argue that “INTj” makes better sense, or that he was more or less equal in thinking and feeling.
Whether Wittgenstein really was INFj or INTj or something else, I don’t consider that important. The aim is not to have any determined opinion or put a label on him. The main interest can be seen twofold, (1) to get a better understanding of the Jungian typology, and (2) to get a better understanding of Wittgenstein. What MBTI-type suits Wittgenstein best is not of central interest but rather something we may get to know as a bonus when we get better understanding of the other issues.
* I write the “j” in lowercase, as I only use it in the sense to point out which of the other two functions (N and F) is the dominant, not to claim that Wittgenstein had any preference of judging over perception
* All underlines in quotes are added by me
Reference and further reading
“Don’t think, but look!” – The most common misconception about Wittgenstein? – In this post I explain how Wittgenstein’s philosophy is to be understood from an intuitive perspective.
Is the task of philosophy to use “introverted intuition”? – In this blog post I argue why introverted intuition is central in philosophy. Also I discuss the difference between introverted intuition and introverted thinking.
Selected quotes of Ludwig Wittgenstein and commentary – Here I’ve collected some quotes of Wittgenstein which I consider important.
Psychological Types by Carl Gustav Jung
Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard: Religion, Individuality and Philosophical Method by Charles L. Creegan
Was Ludwig Wittgenstein an INTp or was he an INTj? – forum discussion
Types of eminent scientists, philosophers and literary Artists – Another forum discussion debating Wittgenstein’s MBTI-type. Here they agree he was foremost an introverted intuitive, and they debate whether his secondary function was feeling or thinking.