Our look at the connection between philosophy and
the INFJ has probably raised more questions then it has answered. Unfortunately,
that is the problem when one pursues a topic using two different schemes. Each
time more detail is added to one theory, it introduces questions about the
other. Thus one is forced continually to introduce topics that will only be
discussed in detail later
Since we are currently talking about MBTI, let us push forward by looking
at more traits of the INFJ, starting with the obvious and ending with the
First, the INFJ makes an excellent personal therapist. This is because
there is a natural connection between philosophy and psychology. The philosopher
analyzes himself. The psychologist analyzes others. Both are motivated by
emotional trauma. Both mine the swamps of emotional memories for solid ground.
Both work out theories to explain what they find, and both are better at
labeling and categorizing than they are at solving or changing. Finally, our
research suggests that many psychologists, like most philosophers, have the
cognitive style of
The personal therapist begins by focusing upon the emotional hurts of his
patient. This uses the INFJ’s auxiliary mode of Extraverted Feeling. He
then uses his dominant mode of Introverted iNtuition to come up with a
theoretical explanation for these problems. This is exactly the same process
that the philosopher uses to study
There is, however, a critical distinction between philosophy and
psychology. The philosopher who examines his own person has a clientele of one.
Whenever Perceiver facts are based upon isolated
Mercy examples, as they
are in his case, Mercy thought tends to win out over Perceiver
In contrast, the
psychologist diagnoses many
individuals; he does not restrict his
analysis to one person. Therefore, Perceiver thought and logic is much more
prone to develop in the psychologist than it is in the philosopher. In addition,
the psychologist is studying the feelings of someone else, whereas the
philosopher is digging into his own emotional mire. This puts the logical
thinking of the psychologist under less emotional pressure. The end result is
that psychology usually contains more and longer-lasting logic than does
philosophy, even though both use the same mode of thought.
Our analysis implies that the thinking of the philosopher and the
psychologist is determined completely by their respective environments. To a
certain extent this is true.
The Facilitator person literally watches and mediates from the sidelines as his
subconscious mind is programmed by his environment. While he is aware of most
, he simply cannot see the detailed mental processing that builds
up the structure of his subconscious
processing in him really does operate autonomously.
- The Facilitator person sees subconscious memories but is blind to
One may wonder how the Facilitator
can mix rational facts with emotional 'truth' when MBTI states that Thinking and
Feeling cannot be combined. The answer is again found within the mental
structure of the Facilitator person. As the ‘secretary’ of the mind,
he notices the present situation and adjusts the mental flow of information in
order to solve the immediate problem. Thus, if the current context contains
rational thinking, he will use conscious thought to facilitate the use of
Perceiver logic. Similarly, if Perceiver thought is mesmerized within the
present context, he will adjust mental flow in order to ensure that Perceiver
strategy remains 'frozen.' If facts and 'facts' do come into contact with one
another, Facilitator mode will notice the impending crisis of knowing and
respond by toning down the ‘offending’ information and separating
the potential mental
Facilitator person, more than anyone else, is a master at
for Perceiver logic to develop in some parts of his mind while at
the same time Perceiver strategy remains completely mesmerized in other areas.
Once subconscious Teacher strategy within the Facilitator philosopher
develops a general theory to explain his particular mental combination of rock
and 'ice,' the Facilitator person becomes driven to preserve Teacher emotion by
keeping this mixture intact. If a shift in knowledge attacks this Teacher
understanding, the Facilitator person instinctively responds by adjusting the
flow of information in order to remove this
As usual, he uses
mixing and compartmentalization to make the best of the existing
Let us turn to the next point. The INFJ is naturally talented at
creative writing. Again we notice the Mercy to Teacher connection.
Fictional writing uses emotional Mercy experiences to inspire an iNtuitive flood
of Teacher words. What is the source of these experiences? Emotional encounters
with the external world of personal pain and pleasure. Once more, we see the
auxiliary of Extraverted Feeling. What is the product of the iNtuitive thought?
An internal realm, peopled with imaginary citizens and concepts,
described through words. This is consistent with a dominant of
But what does creative writing have to do with philosophy? Everything. I
suggest that fiction is the poor man’s philosophy. Why do we read fiction?
Because it touches our emotions; it appeals to our fears, our hurts, our hopes,
our dreams, and our loves. It uses words, then, to cloak these Mercy experiences
with some sort of rationale that can give integrated meaning to our fragmented
- Fiction is the poor man’s philosophy.
Moving on, the INFJ often has a vivid imagination and can appear
‘mystical’ to others. Now we are beginning to tread on shaky ground,
for mysticism does not sit well with the modern, objective, scientific mindset.
But didn’t I just suggest that philosophy leads to temporary logic?
Right now, most philosophy is logical, because we live in a technological world.
Logic forms the basis for our Western society, and philosophy is always a
product of its age. Thus, philosophy currently looks down its collective nose at
mystical thought. This, however, is beginning to change. Our culture is becoming
less logical and more mystical. And, as our society adjusts, so do the
philosophers. We will examine this process in a few pages.
So what is mysticism and how does it relate to the INFJ? In essence,
mysticism says that something lies behind the physical world and that the
relationship between the sensory world and this ‘something’ is
irrational and emotional. These beliefs are a natural byproduct of INFJ
processing. It begins with Extraverted Feeling that inhales emotional
experiences directly from the external world. This emotional identification
allows the mind to ignore the external structure from which these experiences
came. The INFJ then jumps to Introverted iNtuition, which ties emotional
memories together to form an internal structure. That is, the INFJ goes
directly from emotional Mercy experience to general Teacher theory, skipping any
intervening steps. This, I suggest, is the mental basis for mysticism. It lives
in a world of blended Mercy and Teacher feelings. It identifies with the Mercy
emotions of human existence and superimposes upon this a grid of confabulated
Teacher order. It is this direct jump from Mercy to Teacher that produces
the irrationalism. Rational thinking uses Perceiver facts and Server sequences
to build a comprehensive Teacher understanding of Mercy situations. It goes from
Mercy to Teacher, but not directly. Summarizing in one statement, it is
the elimination of Perceiver and Server confidence that distinguishes mysticism
from rational understanding.
So, why does the INFJ follow mysticism? Because of the S/N and T/F splits.
T/F says that living in subjective feelings means throwing logic out of the
window. Similarly S/N states that Teacher-guided iNtuition ignores Sensing and
its associated Server sequences.
It is the limited
‘life’ of the MBTI categories that
leads to mysticism. Remember that MBTI describes the minimal
for mental existence. It connects one
external mode of thought with
internal aspect. But, we know that mental life requires the
cooperation of four
mental modes. Thus, if one wants to achieve true
of which mysticism is a
shadow—one must integrate four
strategies: Mercy, Perceiver, Server
and Teacher. How does one get beyond the limited ‘life’ described by
MBTI? Through personal transformation. And, if each stage of transformation adds
one extra element of ‘life,’ then we can conclude that true
‘life’ will only be found if one is willing to go through personal
Ouch! Double Ouch!!
Let me explain further by referring to the diagram of mental symmetry.
‘Life’ needs T + S + P + M. Notice how these are connected. M
connects to P which goes through C to S which connects to T. These links are all
ones that build solid
content. Put these four together and
you get true ‘life.’ How is ‘life’ expressed
Through the fuzzy
connection that links Mercy and Teacher via the
This link has all
of the characteristics of ‘life’: it is unpredictable, it involves
emotion, it connects experiential memory with intelligence, and it generates
imagination, energy, and motivation.
The INFJ takes a shortcut to mental ‘life’ by going directly
from Mercy to Teacher, ignoring the two intervening steps. In other words, he
overlooks the precise connections of T + S + P + M and focuses upon the fuzzy
bridge of T + M. How can he do this? By building upon an assumed
structure of Server and Perceiver content. First, he learns Server sequences
by living within a physical body. He may attempt to ignore this body, but moving
it around does program Server strategy. Second, he learns Perceiver logic
through comparing emotional Mercy experiences.
Notice how this shortcut to ‘life’ relates to the two stages of
philosophy. The goal of the first stage is to achieve mental clarity
Anyone who finds himself immersed in a ‘soup’ of undigested
emotional experiences will want to make sense of his surroundings. This desire
is especially true of the Facilitator person, because, as we shall see later,
Facilitator strategy cannot operate when the mind is confused. Therefore, the
budding philosopher will be driven to sort through his emotional memories in
order to organize them and classify them. As a mental byproduct, this mental
sorting will develop Perceiver thought. In addition, as I have just mentioned,
living as a normal human in the natural world will program Server strategy.
Thus, the Perceiver and Server content that is needed to support truncated INFJ
mental ‘life’ develops as a byproduct
of Extraverted Feeling.
The jump from Extraverted Feeling to Introverted iNtuition occurs
when the emerging philosopher discovers Teacher thought and Teacher emotion. In
the Facilitator person, this transition occurs automatically as subconscious
Teacher strategy finds a way of tying together the Perceiver facts that were
discovered during the first stage. The mental goal now changes from
clarity to illumination. The philosopher no longer feels driven to
organize his Mercy experiences into separate Perceiver ‘piles.’
Instead, Teacher emotion now motivates him to integrate these
‘piles’ into a general structure. Unfortunately, his mental
‘piles’ will often refuse to fit together. Why? Because his initial
goal was not to follow sequence or discover logic but rather to achieve
clarity. Thus, his emotional experiences may be neatly sorted, but they
are not analyzed or digested. And how will the philosopher respond when he
cannot achieve mental integration? He will twist his facts and warp his
sequences in order to make them fit together. Why? Because his goal is
not understanding but illumination. This twisting occurs naturally as the
philosopher becomes his own expert—gaining the emotional importance needed
to redefine 'truth'—and as he begins writing—allowing him to use
Teacher words to adjust the Server structure that his mind gained from physical
Eventually, the INFJ will be able to achieve his desired goal of
mysticism—namely, to luxuriate in the emotional currents of a direct
Mercy-Teacher connection. While he is searching and building, Perceiver facts
and rational thinking prevent him from tying together Mercy and Teacher
feelings. But, as the scaffolding of Perceiver logic and Server skill fades, the
INFJ is finally able to break through the barriers of Perceiver and Server
content and emerge into the emotional illumination of true mysticism. Even
though Perceiver and Server processing are now suppressed, Perceiver and
Server memories remain to provide a mental structure that can tie Mercy
and Teacher thought together. Thus, the ‘mature’ mystic claims that
his discoveries are beyond logic and reach past the physical body.
In a sense, he is right, because he had to pass through logic and action
in order to reach his mystical epiphany. But, by mentally suppressing the
structure needed to support his mysticism, he also guarantees that he will
never achieve more than a passing glimpse of true ‘life.’
- The budding philosopher searches for clarity, not Perceiver
- The growing philosopher looks for illumination, not Teacher
This direct connection from emotional Mercy experiences to Teacher words
can be verbally encouraged. Whenever a person speaks, he is expressing
internal Teacher thought—the dominant of the INFJ. If the INFJ adds a
non-verbal component to his speech, this will trigger his auxiliary of Feeling.
If the speech is meaningless, then Perceiver strategy will not become
involved. Similarly, Server thought can be suppressed by saying syllables that
lack structure and grammar. Thus, the ‘oooooommm’ of the Eastern
mystic or the ‘tongues’ of the religious charismatic are excellent
tools for encouraging a mystical mindset.
Let us move on to the next INFJ trait, which I will allow Keirsey to
describe. He says that “INFJs can intuit good and evil in others, although
they seldom can tell how they came to know. Subsequent events tend to bear them
out, however.” This trait definitely goes ‘beyond logic and past the
physical body.’ But, it can nevertheless be analyzed and understood.
Earlier on, I suggested that emotional 'truth' divides the world into ‘us
versus them’ or ‘good and evil.’ This is because Perceiver
'facts' are being defined by strong Mercy feelings. If these feelings are
positive, then the corresponding 'facts' are accepted as ‘good.’ In
contrast, negative emotions will create 'facts' which are labeled
‘evil.’ Thus, for the individual who 'believes' in emotional
'truth,' the struggle is not to determine truth, but rather to replace evil
'truth' with good 'truth.' This becomes a fundamental aspect of INFJ
The INFJ’s dominant mode of Introverted
iNtuition takes this three steps further, all the way to mental
‘life’—which again turns out to be a shadow
of the real
thing. Skipping over Perceiver and Server thought, iNtuition looks for a general
Teacher understanding that can explain the Mercy experiences of Extraverted
Feeling. Thus, evil 'facts' will grow to become an imaginary
‘living’ person who is responsible for this ‘heresy.’
Likewise, good 'facts' will be viewed as part of a good
Notice that the INFJ combines two unrelated concepts. First, he goes beyond
individual experiences and words to a mystical kind of mental
‘life.’ This idea is
consistent with mental wholeness, for
‘life’ does emerge whenever Teacher, Server, Perceiver and Mercy
memories are connected. Second, the INFJ divides this life into good and evil.
This concept is not
consistent with mental wholeness. Instead, it is
rooted in emotional 'truth.' When true mental life emerges—after complete
personal transformation—then the concept of good and evil is no longer
present. Instead, it is replaced by completeness and incompleteness, wholeness
and fragmentation, life and
This brings us to our final and most controversial point. Keirsey states,
“If a person demonstrates an ability to understand psychic phenomenon
better than most others, this person is apt to be an INFJ.” Is there such
a thing as a ‘psychic phenomenon’? I would rather not answer that
point. However, if we look at the mental behavior of those who claim to have
psychic or spiritual powers, I would suggest that we can make three major
First, whenever people or groups utilize the direct emotional
connection between Teacher and Mercy thought, then they will claim to exhibit
psychic traits. Four MBTI types happen to fall into this category: the INFJ,
INFP, ENFJ and ENFP. The last two types describe most Exhorter persons, who are
conscious in the mode which bridges Teacher and Mercy thought.
Second, the specific MBTI type will determine the
form of ‘psychic’ power being claimed. The INFJ assumes that a
hidden Teacher world lies behind visible Mercy experiences. Thus, he will
usually claim to ‘receive messages’ from beyond. The Exhorter
person, in contrast, goes from the internal to the external. Therefore, his
‘psychic’ ability usually manifests itself as a form of special
influence or healing
Third, the stability or duration of any ‘psychic’ event or
ability depends upon the durability of the Perceiver and Server memories that
relate Teacher and Mercy thought. If their content is unreliable, then the
‘spiritual’ connection quickly fades. On the other hand, content
that is solid can support a much longer and greater ‘psychic’
- ‘Spiritual’ activity requires direct interaction between
Mercy and Teacher modes.
- If this interaction ignores Perceiver and Server content, the
activity will be irrational.
- A ‘spiritual’ connection only lasts as long as it has underlying
Perceiver and Server content.
Obviously, a lot more can be said
about the subject. However, I suggest that these principles are sufficiently
general to cover every psychic event, all spiritual activity, and every
But is philosophy religious? Yes, very much so. In the intermediate stages,
when it uses logic and accepts the physical body, it may attempt to deny
religion, spirituality, and psychic ability. However, if you examine the history
of philosophy, you will find that eventually it turns its back upon logic,
denies the physical body and the physical world, and fully embraces Eastern
Buddhist-like religion, along with the various overt spiritual and psychic
overtones. And, because philosophy struggles so hard in its earlier
stages to pursue logic and to comprehend the natural world, the mysticism it
achieves in its final stages is sometimes sufficient to launch a
full-fledged religion—which usually turns out to be some variation on the
Don’t blame me
for this list. Most of the material comes from Please Understand Me
David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates.
It is also fairly
common to find Mercy psychologists. One thinks, for example, of Dr. Spock, the
famous child care expert. Mercy psychologists are often well-versed in the
various Facilitator philosophies.
The Facilitator is able
to observe himself as if he is another person. This is because he is conscious
in the ‘secretary’ of the mind, a mode which monitors and adjusts
I refer to this type of
logic as ‘proof by example.’ It is also prevalent in the Exhorter
To the extent that the
Facilitator person makes the best of the existing
situation, to that
extent his overall
direction will be determined by his internal and
The Mercy person also
has a very limited form of mental awareness. He is naturally gifted at
deciphering a person’s emotional state but finds it much more difficult to
work out methods of changing this condition.
This is one of the main
motivations behind political correctness.
As I suggested earlier,
the Facilitator philosopher respects subconscious memories while suppressing
He is therefore skilled
at listening to someone, and yet at the same time not hearing a single word that
is being said. For him it comes easily, because Perceiver strategy within his
mind, which is responsible for comprehension, is often highly
plays an essential role—if the rest of the mind is programmed. When mental
development is incomplete
, though, Facilitator strategy has a habit of
winning the battle while losing the war.
Our research suggests
that essentially all philosophers are Facilitator persons. In contrast, INFJ
traits other than philosophy can be found in Mercy and Contributor persons as
well as in Facilitators.
4 = 2 + 1 + 1. The math
is simple. The process is not.
Wait. Didn’t I
say that ‘life’ requires the four simple styles? Now I bring in
Contributor and Exhorter thought. Huh? This book is examining the content
required for ‘life.’ Once the mental ‘computer’ is
programmed, then the composite styles do the actual running of the program.
Contributor and Exhorter strategies do
play a critical role in
integrating the mind, mainly in the realm of choice
Whenever one chooses
to follow one option instead of another,
Contributor thought is responsible for this choice. Whenever motivation changes,
it is because Exhorter mode is following a different mental path. Generally
speaking, if the content is in place, then drive and decision follow. Thus, as a
first approximation, we can ignore the role played by Exhorter and Contributor
strategies. It will be covered in the next book.
This mechanism is the
mirror image of the way in which general understanding grows into an image of
‘God’ in the INFP.
Whoa! Heavy concept. If
this statement is accurate, then it has major implications. You work them
History indicates that
the Exhorter person often has what those around him refer to as a
‘magnetic’ personality, and that it can affect the health of
This itself is a
‘psychic’ statement because it uses a general Teacher theory to
integrate a host of emotional Mercy experiences.