Wittgenstein MBTI, Why he was Introverted iNtuitive (INxJ)


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)

Carnap wrote:
“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.

Summing up

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

Internal links
“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.

External links
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.


About Dandre

Former student of philosophy, maths and literature. Now studying master program in sociology. Some thinkers of central interest include Ludwig Wittgenstein, C. G. Jung and Pierre Bourdieu.
This entry was posted in Jungian Typology, Wittgenstein and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Wittgenstein MBTI, Why he was Introverted iNtuitive (INxJ)

  1. thephilosophicalboy says:

    Reblogged this on thephilosophicalboy.

  2. thephilosophicalboy says:

    This is very convincing. I actually cannot see W. being INTJ at all (which a lot of people seem to claim him to, along with Nietzsche, who I don’t think is an INTJ at all as well). However, whereas before I typed W. as INTP, INFJ makes quite a bit of sense.

    Do you think most philosophers are INTP, INFJ, or INTJ? You seem to think that Ni is imperative in philosophy (I don’t disagree). However, it seems, to me, most philosophers have been INTP, which have Ni as a shadow function.

    • Dandre says:

      I have also hard to see W. as INTJ, INFJ seems to make much better sense. But I also think one should be very cautious when doing this kind of typing, things are usually more complicated than what seems at first sight.

      Whether most philosophers are INTJ, INFJ or INTP, I have no good answer, I’d say it depends on what you view as a philosopher. Introverted intuitives are masters of perception, they are likely to have the clearer vision, while the introverted thinkers are masters of sound judgements, they are likely better at making decisions. Introvert intuitives have more difficulty with communication. Comparing INFJ and INTJ, I suppose INFJ is likelier to take interest in people and INTJ likelier to take interest in things. In a recent post I presented some arguments why philosophical arguments are rather ad hominem (to the person) than ad rem (to the thing):
      Following this, one could argue that INFJ’s are better suited philosophers than INTJ’s.

      • thephilosophicalboy says:

        I definitely would agree that INFJ makes for more potential as a philosopher than INTJ.

    • Dandre says:

      I may add, I haven’t studied the MBTI in particular but I’ve closely read Jung’s “Psychological Types”. When I write INTP for example, really what I mean is just “Introverted Thinking with Intuition as secondary function” in the Jungian sense.

    • Dandre says:

      I just had another look at Jung’s text psychological types again, and a bit interesting what he says about these types intp, infj and intj

      Thinking with intuition as 2nd function (INTP) Jung calls “speculative intellect”
      Intuition with feeling as 2nd function (INFJ) Jung calls “artistic intuition”
      Intuition with thinking as 2nd function (INTJ) Jung calls “philosophic intuition”

      This may suggest he considered that the typical philosopher would be an INTJ…

      As I see, it’s no big deal though… neither of these types are “better” than the others, they’re just different.

  3. INfj with the little letters offering more flux.The average philosopher may use more scientific thinking and rate as INtj.
    I suspect W’s duck-rabbit came from desire to picture paradox.

    • Dandre says:

      Wittgenstein does a lot of circling around the nearly paradoxical, attacking from different angles.

      • M says:

        I am not sure most Wittgenstein commentators would agree with how you depict him, and have a feeling he would take offense at some of your comments (specifically his ideas being based on feeling rather than thinking). He thought much more deeply than many others on the nature of language, in which case his rationale for rejecting history-less internationalized languages is likely thought-based.

        But it is clear his way of philosophizing made no distinction between being reasonable and having certain emotions. But this itself has an intellectual basis. As (I think it was) Putnam put it, Wittgenstein ‘de-psychologized psychology’. In my opinion this is a grey zone for MBTI. It shows its weaknesses, and the weakness of psychological typing as a whole (which Wittgenstein almost certainly would have detested, by the way).

      • Dandre says:

        Well, maybe maybe. Some of the things you say may well be right.
        Whether Wittgenstein’s ideas were based on feeling rather than thinking, I don’t know.
        I tried to point out some aspects why he could have had a preference for feeling… But in order to make a more educated guess, I would have to dig deeper into the question, and that hasn’t really interested me.
        I don’t think Wittgenstein would have been all too positive about this. I don’t think he would’ve had much respect for the MBTI. And this text I’ve written is a bit messy and amateurish. But that Wittgenstein would’ve detested psychological typing as a whole I’m doubtful about. For example Wittgenstein admired Otto Weininger’s “Sex and character”, and recommended that book to several people, and ain’t that psychological typing much similar to the Jungian typing?
        I would be curious to know what Wittgenstein would’ve thought of Carl Jung. They were contemporaries, but I haven’t found any records saying they actually read each other.

  4. I know an INFJ, and this was my guess too.

  5. Anka says:

    Wittgenstein was most likely INTJ, because he had self-directed feeling based on values (Fi) and extraverted thinking (Te). I agree he was dominantly introverted intuitive.

    If you look at his work, his method is in the style of Te rather than Ti. It is incisive and critical, but never wandering or speculative. Needless to say, it is not particularly feeling oriented in its content, though it hints at a well of values in its context. This is INTJ to the letter.

    • Dandre says:

      I’m doubtful about the specific MBTI theory. I’ve heard of no scientific evidence of why it should be true, and it’s quite different approach compared to the work of Jung. As I see it, it is more interesting question to ask “is it a preference for feeling over thinking?” rather than “is it a combination of Ti and Fe or Fi and Te?”.
      As for Wittgenstein though, I would not be surprised if he indeed had a preference for thinking. I may have been deluded by the fact that others have typed many prominent intellectuals as feeling types rather than thinking types. If you look at celebritytypes.com for example, you see that they have typed both Jung, Bourdieu and Wittgenstein as feeling types. Is it possible they could think so clear, and yet only have thinking as their third function? I’m not sure. (Out of these three thinkers though, I think Wittgenstein is most likely to have had a feeling preference)

  6. Andrew says:

    Hello. Enjoyed your article, but wanted to comment on one thing:

    “I think it often wasn’t just unwillingness, but actual inability/difficulty to give arguments.”

    Personal experience is of course… near-worthless. But, as an INFJ who studied pure maths and writes C++ for a living… I often feel the same way when my engineering friends press me for justifications. For me, to explain things less metaphorically than a muddied flower, it’s like this: I feel that the potential miscommunication, misunderstanding, defensive rationalization, etc. that would result from me trying to explain my side, would result only in less clarity (though perhaps greater confidence of the other side so bluntly identifying shallow contradictions and swinging the gavel of logical fallacies). Moreover, I feel like I have far less of a drive to prove myself “right,” as people who demand reasons (maybe a tautology here…) So… I could see myself making an argument of beauty (which, I actually find attractive), and even now my friends often think of me as unable to justify myself / irrational, but it doesn’t bother me.

    This is not at all to say Wittgenstein was this way. But one example of how it is that a person who is perfectly capable of logic and argument, simply doesn’t feel it worth explaining himself. Those who get it, will get it. Who else matters? Standardized language is so limited—our emotional experiences are so diverse.

    • Dandre says:

      Yep, I can identify myself in this too. I certainly prefer to be “not understood” rather than misunderstood. To “not understand” can be fine and interesting to me, a vague notion may be just allright. Some who I would consider “thinking types” though, often seem to accept only two modes “to understand” or to “not understand” and everything that is “not understood” is equally uninteresting.

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