INTPs are equal parts thinker and seeker. While their status as nuanced and critical thinkers rarely goes unrecognized, their seeking side is often overlooked. This is largely due to the fact they do most of their seeking inwardly, that is, by way of thinking. Recognizing life’s brevity, INTPs strive to craft a life that is important, meaningful, and authentically reflects who they are. In so doing, they feel compelled to clarify their understanding of three key things: their core self, their purpose, and their philosophy / worldview. Only by clarifying these foundational matters can INTPs be sure they have done everything possible to optimize their lives.
Unfortunately, the INTP quest is rarely simple or straightforward, and it often extends far longer than they anticipate. Plagued by doubt and uncertainty, some INTPs may worry that they may never find what they are looking for and that all their explorations will have been for naught. However, those who persist in their quest have good reason for hope. While their destination may not look quite as shiny or glorious as they originally imagined, it is nonetheless worth the wait, capable of furnishing them with an enduring sense of meaning and satisfaction.
This book explores the deep existential concerns that INTPs strive to understand and resolve through their quest. It aims to further their understanding of their core self, purpose, and philosophy, as well as to illumine their path to integration and the successful enactment of their purpose. If you are seeking insight into INTPs’ personality, their ideas and philosophies, their foremost struggles, and their life quest, this book is for you.
*Books come in 3 file formats (pdf, epub, mobi) for compatibility with all devices, including Kindle & Apple products.
Tech User writes:
“An Advanced Guide”
“Building on his earlier INTP eBook, Drenth investigates and describes a probable path INTPs can take to help solve what is likely their greatest problem in life: what is their purpose?…As an older INTP I’ve experienced the path he describes and can verify he has some deep and highly useful insights for INTPs. If you are an INTP you should have this book in addition to his others; it’s an advanced manual…
Drenth takes a typological description to a finer granularity and detail than you’ll commonly find. Rather than just a behavioral description, he moves from describing how INTPs typically behave to exploring how they typically think with regards to a topical problem, which is finding their life purpose…Finding life purpose is important to INTPs to a degree that other types can’t really appreciate; it can consume us for much of our lives. Fortunately, Typology, Psychology and Philosophy have their share of INTPs to help us along. Jung himself was an INTP in my estimation…though there is some disagreement on whether he was that or an INFJ (typing public figures is difficult). And we also have A.J. Drenth—an INTP—to look deeply into the questions that trouble us, and even more fortunately, to write about them…
Altogether, there’s a lot here to consider in the context of your own life. Most profiles and MBTI references are a quick read with a consideration of how it applies in your life. This eBook is different. First, some parts go to a greater depth; these I’ll need to revisit. Second, as I’ve finally found the vocation that gives my life meaning and energy, it was surprising to see how closely my path followed what this book maps out, so I’ll need to re-consider my path in the context he lays out here. Finally, there are a lot of ideas to help me in my ‘post-integration’ stage, in continuing along the path, so I’ll be referencing this for a long while.”
“Deeply Satisfying Read”
“As a female INTP, I am often confused and frustrated with my seeker status and pursuit of purpose in what seems so often a male-dominated area of my career. This book has not only comforted me by shining a light on several “whys”, but it has also stimulated new seeker ideas and activities that are so essential to INTP satisfaction. I cannot praise this work highly enough as a deeply rewarding INTP activity of interest!”
“I found this book quite useful…”
As a 30-something INTP, I found this book quite useful even though my search for purpose has largely come to an end. The author is certainly one of the more observant personality geeks out there writing on the subject, and he has obviously spent a lot of time analyzing his own experience. The author’s previous book on the INTP was also a good read, but more basic. For those less educated in typology, it would probably be a better place to start.
“If you’re an INTP, I highly recommend this book..”
If you are an INTP I highly recommend this book. It was a very good read and one of those books that you didn’t want to end because you wanted to know even more. He seems to know you more than you know about yourself since he provides deep insights that hit home and you can relate too. Dr. Drenth please continue to write these books since I believe your work is helping purpose-seeking, like-minded individuals greatly and we appreciate it!
Human beings are fragile creatures. While our oversized brains have afforded us dominion over nature, our reflective faculties have also opened the door to myriad existential problems such as apathy, anxiety, loneliness, and nihilism, all of which are markedly absent in other species. And while none of us is exempt from the array of challenges associated with the human predicament, not everyone navigates them in the same way. Those endowed with a sunny or lighthearted temperament may respond by securing plenty of fun and novel experiences for themselves. Preferring not to be burdened by heavy or serious matters, they opt to live in the moment and savor life’s manifold pleasures. By contrast, those of a more serious disposition take a less hedonistic approach. While they too aspire to enjoy life, they demand more from it than fun and games. Their desire is for life, especially their own lives, to have a deeper sense of meaning and import. They want a life that is significant and substantive—one that matters. Those who seek this sort of higher calling come in two basic types: dogmatists and seekers.
Dogmatists evince a sense of knowingness and conviction with respect to their calling. One gets the sense that they have never really doubted or scrutinized their beliefs, and that what they hold dear is not open to revision or questioning. In other words, dogmatists seem to embrace their calling in an uncritical or closed-minded fashion. They are strong in both will and conviction, but lacking when it comes to openness and critical thinking.
Seekers are the opposite. They suffer from no deficit of openness or critical thinking. In fact, others may see them as thinking too much and thereby making life unduly complicated. What seekers lack is strength of conviction and clarity in direction. In contrast to the dogmatist, identifying their life’s calling doesn’t happen quickly or easily. They are inhabited by doubt, perhaps feeling that things are too murky or complex to be known with full confidence or certainty. And while there are times they may feel they have finally found what they are looking for—their personal Holy Grail—it is rarely long before they start doubting or questioning their conclusions, which once again foists them back into seeking mode.
Seekers’ doubting nature may prompt others to see them as timid, fickle, or unreliable. Indeed, from the dogmatist’s perspective, perpetual doubt is apt to be construed as a sign of weakness, suggestive of a lack of resolve or commitment. Viewed more positively, we might characterize seekers as open-minded and critical thinkers who are concerned with getting things right. Before choosing their life’s course, they want to ensure they have covered all their bases and explored all the relevant options. Since they only get one life to live, they need to assure themselves that they have done everything in their power to discern their best path. While seekers may not know exactly what they are seeking or where they are headed, they know they want something more out of life, and their job is to find it. It is this vague but potent intention that fuels their quest.
Of the 16 personality types, at least one of those types, the INTP, brings a seeker mentality to life. While INTPs’ status as nuanced and critical thinkers rarely goes unrecognized, their seeking side is often overlooked. This is largely due to the fact that INTPs do most of their seeking inwardly, that is, they seek by way of thinking. They see the mind as their primary vehicle for advancing in their personal quest.
Prior to commencing their quest, INTPs may feel bored, restless, or have a vague sense of emptiness. Some may try to assuage these feelings through things like sex, drugs, relationships, or achievement. While these sorts of distractions may work temporarily, it is rarely long before INTPs’ sense of emptiness and restlessness returns, often with greater intensity.
At some point, INTPs grow weary of running and decide to face the issue head on. They acknowledge and embrace their desire for a better life, one which is more meaningful, substantive, and purposeful. Their essential sentiment may resemble that of Henry David Thoreau, who famously scribed in Walden:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…
In taking up their quest, INTPs strive to live intentionally, or as Thoreau suggests, deliberately. Rather than blindly following a prescribed or conventional path, they feel compelled to contemplate alternatives, including the possibility of blazing their own trail. They sense that failing to explore a breadth of options may cause them to miss out on what is most profound or significant about life. Recognizing life’s brevity, they don’t want to look back and discover they “had not lived.”
Unfortunately, discerning their optimal path often takes far longer than they anticipate. It can take years, even decades, for them to reach their desired level of clarity. Some INTPs may worry they might never find what they are looking for, and that all of their explorations will have been for naught. They may even consider terminating their quest prematurely. Rather than continuing to endure the frustration of having no clear path, they may be tempted, in the spirit of the dogmatist, to simply pick a path. At least this might liberate them from their otherwise incurable vacillation and indecision. However attractive this option may at times seem, most INTPs conclude it is not really viable for them. Recognizing that their life path needs to be personally meaningful and authentic, they know that an arbitrary choice could never satisfy them in the long run. Their only real option then, is to persist in their quest.
INTPs may also take note of the rather ironic fact that their quest feels surprisingly meaningful in its own right. Indeed, it is the closest thing many INTPs have to an authentic calling. Of course, nearly all INTPs will reject the notion that the quest itself is their ultimate aim or destination. Functioning as a lifelong seeker seems too easy, like a cop-out. It can also seem rather absurd or unproductive, akin to a dog chasing its own tail.
The INTP quest is characterized by a perpetual state of tension and striving, a groping for something that seems frustratingly slippery and elusive. At times, they may feel they are getting close, that their life’s calling is just around the corner. But before they know it, something goes awry, once again leaving them lost and confused. They must then pick themselves up and resume their quest, hoping that fate might smile on them the next time around.
But what is the ultimate aim of their quest? What is it, exactly, that they are seeking? Although many INTPs, especially those in the early phases of their journey, may be incapable of fully knowing or articulating what they are seeking, the INTP quest can be generally understood as aimed at two primary things: purpose and wisdom.
Purpose is characterized by a sense of energy, importance, and intentionality. While it can be embraced on either an individual or collective basis, modern-day INTPs are apt to lean toward the former, conceiving purpose as a personal calling or vocation. In many cases, their quest for purpose is interlaced with their search for an optimal career. Repelled by the idea of a mundane or mediocre career, INTPs strive to ensure that their life’s work incorporates their core interests and purpose.
At first blush, wisdom may seem like a more abstruse and esoteric concept than purpose. But if we boil it down, it simply means knowing how to live optimally. Hence, insofar as INTPs are questing for a better life, they can be seen as seekers of wisdom. This, in combination with their penchant for contemplative and speculative thinking, has compelled many typologists to nickname them “philosophers,” which literally means “lovers of wisdom.”
While purpose and wisdom are by no means mutually exclusive concepts, they do have different emphases. Those seeking a purpose are largely concerned with defining or clarifying their identity and direction. Purpose involves adopting a specific role and identifying a point of focus. Wisdom, by contrast, highlights the balance and relationships among things, thus evoking notions such as temperance and moderation. Unlike purpose, it says little about direction or identity, but speaks more to one’s way of being, emphasizing how one lives rather than what one does. We might see purpose as focused more on “the ends,” whereas wisdom underscores “the means.”
In the first half of life, INTPs tend to prioritize purpose over wisdom. Their foremost goal is to define who they are, what they enjoy, and what they will do with their lives. While they may on some level realize the importance of living a balanced life, this is typically not their foremost concern. Their first order of business is to clarify their identity and purpose. In psychological parlance, they must differentiate before they integrate.
Clarity of Understanding
In questing for identity and purpose, INTPs spend much of their time working to clarify their understanding. They feel that if they can just come to the right understanding, one that properly captures their essential self and purpose, then everything else will fall into place. Unfortunately, many INTPs find this to be no small task, largely because of the sheer volume of information they try to assimilate. Not only do INTPs feel compelled to clarify their understanding of themselves, but also that of the world (or universe) at large. They must then synthesize these two understandings in order to discern their overarching purpose.
INTPs’ search for understanding often proceeds along two parallel tracks: the psychological and the philosophical / religious. Psychologically, INTPs strive to hone their conception of their core self, including their personality, skills, interests, abilities, etc. Seeing the self as a sort of roadmap for action, self-knowledge becomes a prerequisite for discerning their purpose. Without a clear sense of self, selecting a purpose seems too random or arbitrary to the INTP, like shooting blindly at a target.
Philosophically, INTPs strive to comprehend the bigger picture of life, humanity, and the universe. They seek to understand, or at least clarify their position on, the ultimate nature of things. Is there a God? If so, what is its nature? What is the mind and what are its origins? Is it fundamentally different from matter? It is important to recognize that INTPs don’t contemplate these “big questions” from a point of indifference. They know that the conclusions they draw from their philosophical investigations will carry significant personal implications. Their beliefs about God, the universe, and humanity will affect how INTPs view themselves and their purpose.
Although INTPs may study psychology, philosophy, or religion on an independent basis, these subjects are by no means unrelated, especially in the mind of the INTP. Each of these disciplines strives to understand human beings and the human condition, as well as potential paths to the “good life.” INTPs thus see them as invaluable companions in their quest for wisdom and understanding.
INTPs don’t necessarily get to choose their purpose. Emerging from the depths of their core self, their purpose in many respects chooses them. And because their personality type comprises a substantial part of their core self, their purpose can be seen as largely rooted in, and informed by, their type.
In my research and experience, I have observed profound psychological and behavioral similarities among INTPs, leading me to believe that INTPs don’t really choose who they are or how they operate. Rather they can be seen as following a sort of inner script, that of their type, which operates behind the scenes of their consciousness and undergirds the similarities of attitude, behavior, and ideation we observe among INTPs. Because of the depth of insight and self-understanding furnished by typology, it can serve as a valuable tool and interpretive lens for the INTP quest.
The Nature of this Book
INTPs feel called to a better life. This compels them to embark on a quest for purpose, wisdom, and understanding. As we’ve seen, INTPs see the mind as their primary vehicle for advancing in this quest. They sense that it is only by clarifying their understanding that they can zero-in on their true purpose. And it is toward this end that this book can prove useful. The aim of this book is to deepen and clarify INTPs’ understanding of their personality (Part I), their purpose (Part II), and their philosophy (Part III), as well as their path to integration and the successful enactment of their purpose (Part IV)…