By Dr. A.J. Drenth
The INTJ and INTP are both deeply skeptical, philosophical, and penetrating in their thinking. Whatever their similarities, INTJs and INTPs differ in significant ways, especially in their epistemology. For amateur typologists, the differences between these two types may be felt intuitively, while remaining difficult to explain rationally. In this post, we will explore reasons for their differences by comparing and contrasting their preferred modes of Judging: Introverted Thinking (Ti) vs Extraverted Thinking (Te).
INTJ: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Since their auxiliary function is Extraverted Thinking (Te), INTJs prefer the world’s systems and operations be controlled, orderly, and rational. Since Te is extraverted, INTJs endorse a standardized set of collective methods for evaluating and implementing what is rational. This is why INTJs believe so strongly in the value of science and the scientific method. Their Te is more positivistic and forward-moving than INTPs’ Introverted Thinking is. Once their Ni vision is clear, INTJs use their Te to formulate definitions, plans, policies, classifications, and procedures, working to develop a perfectly rational and orderly system.
INTP: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
While INTPs may find some degree of philosophical resonance with INTJs, they feel strongly averse to INTJs’ Te propensities. Rather than striving to make external systems more rational, the introverted nature of INTPs’ Introverted Thinking orients their rationality toward themselves and their own ideas, making them more idiosyncratic than INTJs. INTPs are largely concerned with ensuring that their own lives, worldview, and personal philosophy are rational. Their Ti impels them to establish and reestablish inner order. While INTJs are comfortable to leave their inner world open and allow their Ni ample time to mull things over, INTPs find persistent inner openness uncomfortable and work to reduce it through use of their Introverted Thinking.
INTPs’ preference for developing and using their own subjective methods of rational judging and ordering runs contrary to INTJs’ Te insistence on using a shared and objective methodology. This is why INTJs feel more comfortable working in organizations and formal research settings and have an easier time finding an academic or career niche than the INTP does. While NTPs feel averse to and tend to resist external formalizing and structuring, NTJs feel it is warranted and needed.
This also explains why INTPs are more apt to be critical of science and the scientific method. INTPs are more comfortable functioning as philosophers of science than they are as scientists; it was likely an INTP who coined the term “scientism,” which is often used pejoratively toward those perceived as taking an excessively high-minded view of the value or possibilities of science.
These differences also go a long way in accounting for the putative division of philosophers into the continental and analytic camps. INTJs are more apt to gravitate toward the analytic camp, whose logical positivism can be associated with Te. The continental school, by contrast, takes a more critical stance toward science and leans toward more relativistic and historical interpretations of knowledge. ENTPs, whose dominant Ne should, at least in theory, make them more comfortable with relativism, and whose inferior Introverted Sensing (Si) confers an interest in history, are perhaps the best representatives of the continental school. INTPs often fall somewhere in between, tending to resonate with the analytic camp’s quest for convergent, non-relativistic truth, while siding with the continental camp’s questioning of the assumptions and methods of science.
If we extend this analysis to some of the other personality types, we might find that INFPs, because of their inferior Te, are actually more interested in formal science than INTPs are. Their Te inferior allows INFPs to better tolerate working within structured settings and systems. In lacking Te, INFJs are more apt, along with NTPs, to prefer less formal means of investigating truth. For this reason, NTPs may feel quite comfortable philosophizing with NFJs, while NTJs may feel a certain Te-Fi camaraderie with NFPs.