[INFP] INFPs and philosophy

INFPs and philosophy

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This is a discussion on INFPs and philosophy within the INFP Forum - The Idealists forums, part of the NF's Temperament Forum- The Dreamers category; I wonder what the attitude of INFPs to studying philosophy is. Throughout my childhood and teens, I was always called ...

  1. #1
    INFP - The Idealists

    INFPs and philosophy

    I wonder what the attitude of INFPs to studying philosophy is.

    Throughout my childhood and teens, I was always called 'the philosophical type' by family. The little glimpses I had of the Buddha, Aristotle, and other philosophers was wonderful. But when, as a young adult, I read philosophy books, I decided to not pursue it academically or professionally. The reason was that it seemed too much in the head, like a mental gymnastic, or mental masturbation - to be more frank and crude.

    "I think therefore I am"? To me, that has no relevance to how I live my life, the purpose of my existence, the values I shall abide by, and how I respond to life's crises and challenges. All that is wisdom to me, wisdom is not solving a jigsaw puzzle in the ivory tower of academia.

    These issues, plus the fact that very few jobs exist in philosophy, made me stay away from it.

    Yet, philosophy continues to attract me. Especially the kind of philosophy that is close to theology, like Eastern Philosophy, and some forms of religious existentialism. Philosophy that monks studied, not because they liked intellectual games, but because it was a matter of life and death to them. I sometimes regret not having studied philosophy.

    I also feel that reading beginner's level philosophy books is quite interesting, but when it comes to real academic research, or reading philosophers in the original, it feels far too abstruse and cut-off from real life.


    The ambivalence remains.

    Do other INFPs feel similarly about philosophy?
    FaveteLinguis, HeyGirl, TheBlueFeline and 1 others thanked this post.



  2. #2
    INTJ - The Scientists

    And this is a perfectly good example of the subtle difference between an INTP (Ti-dom) and and INFP (Fi-dom). INTPs, loving mental gymnastics and preferring to argue and reason through cold logic alone, are naturally inclined towards and drawn to Western Philosophy, which argues almost exclusively through the rules of logic.

    Eastern Philosophy (including perhaps some of the early Greek philosophy that dealt with ethics and morals), on the other hand, has integrated values and morals in it, containing what INFPs are much more likely to call "wisdom" than your average INTP.

    It appears to me that an INTP would be drawn to philosophy in an attempt to understand "The Meaning of Life", while an INFP would be drawn to it in order to understand "How should I live my life? How does one become, and maintain being, a good person?"

    Purely theoretical and speculative, detached from subjective meaning vs. highly intimate, deep, spiritual and personal.

    That being said, I think I'll also dare to note one more thing: INTPs seem to get into philosophy much more early in life than INFPs. From what I've seen, there are a lot of young INFPs here, and I can't help but notice that I'm the first to respond to this thread, even though I'm not even an INFP. And the difference in philosophical content (and respective appeal or lack thereof to each type) could explain it, but not entirely; I think that INFPs need more emotional experiences, growth and gathered wisdom before they'll jump into philosophy. Not so for the INTPs, who truly do see it as a form of mental gymnastics, and study it, overthinking it, because it is appealing and entertaining.

    This isn't to imply difference in intelligence between the types, but rather how they approach philosophy itself; dry texts on logic and tautology, moving on to increasingly complex reasonings, will not appeal to the INFP, who is intrigued by moral dilemmas, nuances and shades, and these often require real-life situations. Thus, the later bloom of the INFP.

    I think an INFP might have more to contribute to practical philosophy, especially moral philosophy, than a classic INTP who's playing logic games in his head, but hey, what do I know? Maybe I take the logic games for granted.
    Last edited by Brainfreeze_237; 07-20-2012 at 02:01 AM.

  3. #3
    INFP - The Idealists

    There are aspects of philosophy I like, but for the most part I'm not a big fan of it. Many of the works are usually arguments or a thesis that's put up for arguments and rebuffs in western philosophy. This can extend for years and there are a lot of works out there where whole books are dedicated towards arguing and rebuffing another philosopher's argument. Towards that end it tends to be pretty cut and dry. *yawn*

    Eastern philosophy is alright as well, though still not a big fan.

    Most of my views are now sliding away from trying to explain my existance and just living, which I believe stemmed from reading a little big Wittgenstein's idea of language being a very limited way of explaining reality. I still want to be a good person and I might look towards the outside for help every once in awhile, but now I'd rather just get the bump and bruise on the road of life and carry on.

    Addendum: Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" is what I'm referring too in the second paragraph. Thank you google.
    wisdom thanked this post.

  4. #4
    INFP

    Any INFP out there reading these words that graduated with a degree in Philosophy? While I was under another major, a Philosophy Professor tried to get me to change my major to his department. I didn't. I like the path I took, but oft wondered about......

  5. #5
    INFP - The Idealists

    I haven't read widely in philosophy, but it is a big comfort to me at this point in my life. Plato, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus really speak to me and I feel help me to live a better life. For Eastern philosophy, I really enjoy the early Buddhist texts, ie the Tipitaka and especially the Dhammapada. It's interesting to read the above post about INFP/INTP. Seems true enough for me... I tried dipping into Aristotle recently but it feels so dry and devoid of humanity, unlike Plato.

  6. #6
    INFP - The Idealists

    I am by no means an expert in the philosophical domain, but I can definitely appreciate it, especially in connection with ideas that I care about. Being "purely theoretical and speculative" can be fun, but I am most drawn to "highly intimate, deep, spiritual and personal." Thanks @Brainfreeze_237 for articulating that.

    I'll explore an idea in the philosophical realm, probably after I've already somehow accepted it as truth. I think I want to understand the reasoning and have options for explaining it to others. I'm unlikely to try to come up with a logically precise system to come up with the belief in something, e.g., God, but I will want to understand the logical and rational connections between the beliefs I hold. I don't like to have parts that don't work together. This is a little fuzzy between Ti and Fi, because I think the processes are so similar that it's easy to think you're operating on the other. For me, I want the concepts I value to play nice with each other in a general sense, which means I may not have all the logical details worked out, but I know they can work out some way. There is a bit of give there.

    1984 is fresh in my mind, and it mentions the concept of "doublethink," which is essentially holding on to two ideas knowing that they can't both be true. This is the kind of thing I want to be careful to avoid. It's not fair to me or anyone else.

    So, "yes, please" to philosophy as it connects to theology, morals/ethics, and the human spirit (hmm, this might be very inclusive). The one that I am currently still trying to stumble through is Kant's Groundwork. It's definitely not a casual read, but I'm trying to understand his reasoning, because I like the main idea: Actions are morally justified in and of themselves, not because of an end, or a reward, or a "greater good." It's a challenge to myself to consider this in my own life. Am I doing things for rewards? Or am I doing something because it is right within the context. So that's one example of how my interests in philosophy might be more toward the INFP flavor.

  7. #7
    INFP - The Idealists

    I took a philosophy class in high school and I think I would have enjoyed it if had not been for tha fact that I had a terrible teacher. From what I learned in that class though I would have to say that the only real philospher whos work spoke to me was Friedrich Nietzsche. Other than that it seemed to me that most of them were just making things up and had no real idea as to what it was that they were talking about. I think that INFP's do have an interest in philosophy but we would rather create our own individual philosophy than follow someone elses.

  8. #8
    INFP - The Idealists

    Quote Originally Posted by Lawless Land View Post
    I think that INFP's do have an interest in philosophy but we would rather create our own individual philosophy than follow someone elses.
    I agree with this. I have no interest in following someone's thoughts on concepts as if they were true. I will take in what i read and apply it to my own thoughts, allowing some things to mesh together to allow me a better understanding. I also don't treat my own thoughts as true, when I express these thoughts i stress that it is my opinion only.

  9. #9
    INFP - The Idealists

    Quote Originally Posted by Lawless Land View Post
    I took a philosophy class in high school and I think I would have enjoyed it if had not been for tha fact that I had a terrible teacher. From what I learned in that class though I would have to say that the only real philospher whos work spoke to me was Friedrich Nietzsche. Other than that it seemed to me that most of them were just making things up and had no real idea as to what it was that they were talking about. I think that INFP's do have an interest in philosophy but we would rather create our own individual philosophy than follow someone elses.
    This is sad to read... as I don't think that's what philosophy is at all. I believe philosophy is more about learning how to think, rather than what to think. Sadly, that's completely opposed to how modern schooling works, and I'm sure having a bad teacher makes it even worse. I remember I took an intro philosophy class in college and totally hated the teacher, and that turned me off the subject for some time.
    systematakada, ImminentThunder and Marimeli thanked this post.

  10. #10
    INFP - The Idealists

    Philosophy in itself is all right, tracing the history of human thought can certainly be interesting. But I haven't yet found a single philosopher I liked.
    First of all, I hate their writing style. Maybe it's inherent in the genre, but I don't see why people have to make up these ridiculous-sounding termini (take Heidegger, for example) and put them in strangely convoluted sentences that kill the beauty of language. Sometimes I get the feeling that they make it hard for their readers to understand them, because the holes and contradictions in their arguments would become too apparent if they laid out their thoughts in a plainer manner. It annoys me that I have to spend a lot of time on understanding them just to figure out that their arguments are flawed. Secondly, I hate their notions of superiority - somehow every time I get into philosophy I end up reading about some idea of superior and inferior being and that can get pretty esoteric, too. Basically, I just don't like what I perceive as their vanity. If you think you know one I might like, please let me know. I'd love to be contradicted.
    Maybe this would be different with eastern philosophy. I'm generally drawn to eastern thought, because it emphasises the relation between things instead of making up logical categories and trying to make an argument that is all-encompassing and holds under any condition (which simply cannot be made, or it's always just "mental gymnastics", as Brainfreeze_237 called it so fittingly). I guess eastern philosophy might avoids this trap.
    embrace_the_enigmatic and systematakada thanked this post.


     
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