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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?
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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......
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
I would give Plato a try. He can be extremely poetic... total opposite of killing the beauty of language. Some of his works are just a plain pleasure to read. Phaedrus and Phaedo are two dialogues that showcase some of the poesy and art he uses.
 

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I have never studied eastern philosophy and I don't care much for religion, but I have taken enough philosophy courses to have a minor in it ^__^ ... Although, my biggest problem with philosophy is that I tend to have a bad memory and I don't think my vocabulary is up to par ... so I have to mostly create "new" ideas or read others ideas in a more dumbed down language (or just very slowly and over and over again until I get it lol)

Anyway, I just want to understand the world around me in a very fundamental way. So it is only natural that I would want to know Physics, Mathematics, and Philosophy.

My philosophical interests include learning the limitations of knowledge; feelings and ethics; beauty; Language (such as the nature of language and abstract thought ... which can have a minor application to teaching), The philosophy of mathematics and science (especially physics) ,...

Just because I have an interest in them, does not mean I know anything about them lol ... But I would like to learn more about Epistemology Aesthetics, Ethics, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of science-math-and logic, and what it means to be human ^__^

"I think therefore I am" is not meant to be a practical statement, but it was meant to show that one exists ... Thinking is existing ... whatever "existing" actually means ... to think is to exist

Oh ... and as the person above me said ... Plato is an enjoyable and easy read ^__^
 

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I feel like philosophy rocks, and I also feel like philosophers bullshit a lot, just to feel good.

They all start the same and end the same, lol. "dont judge me until reading the whole thing" And then "but you have to take a leap of faith for the heart to be content"

Solved!
 

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I love philosophy. I love mental gymnastics. I love challenging my brain to think around corners and see all sides of a problem. In my research I frequently use philosophical ideas (and similar constructs) and see how those ideas play themselves out in literature. I like that literature provides a context in which a philosophy can be applied and strung out to its logical conclusions (or extremes). So in that sense, what @Brainfreeze_237 said about contextual applicability is right; it's by far my favorite way to engage with philosophy. And I seek out theories extremely haphazardly. I don't formulate a question like "meaning of life?" then read all the philosophical positions that relate. I'm more likely To pick a philosopher I find interesting, read his entire body of work, then mentally situate it within the context of the whole philosophical picture as I know it. Then find a literary work that relates and write an article about it. :)
 

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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.
Yeah that's my perspective. I like pop philosophy books like Sophie's world by Jostein Gaarder, the philosophy of science by Samir Okasha, and Being good by Simon Blackburn, but that's about it. I have no desire to read philsophy beyond that (western or eastern) - but by being an anti-theist I encounter philosophy a lot, so I've had to become familar with some of the basics by necessity.

Like most people (unconsciously or consciously) the only philosophical principles that I frequently use in my daily life are occam's razor and induction.

From what I've read of Hume in sophie's world, he seems to be my favourite philosopher - his insights have genuinely helped me as a person. And Karl Popper - after seeing his epistemology in a pop philosophy youtube video.
 

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I'm studying philosophy. I like poststructuralism.

I think ethics is a bunch of nonsense useful for keeping the sheep in line.

I also got an A+ in feminism. :)
Interesting.

@LeaT recently got me into post-structuralism, helping to bring it closer to my attention and allowing me to integrate it into my own rather eclectic, if somewhat haphazard and constantly growing philosophical construct... It may be a vague thing to go on, and it's just one thing, and then there's the fact that this may seem forced; but maybe you guys should talk. Just thought the connection was worth mentioning when I saw it. After all, that's kinda the point of this site, right?

Also, your view on ethics managed to elicit an evil, mischievous grin from my usually impassive and relatively expressionless face. That doesn't happen very often.
 

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Interesting old thread... I wonder why more INFP's not into philosophy. Perhaps what I once thought was Fi is actually Ti idealistic *thoughts* and not feeling tones. Philosophy to me is easier and more enjoyable (gasp) than reading literature and was by far my favorite subject, I minored in it and took 7 philosophy courses including 2 senior seminars. However, as somebody noted, being an academic philosopher often goes against some of the same tenets philosophy argues for. I think there are many people out there, including myself that find literature or film is often a better vehicle for expressing philosophical dilemmas. I enjoy critical theory also (of lit/film/history) as well as rhetoric. What pains me is that academic life is so structured, living in one place, tenure, lack of jobs, lack of funding for the humanities... it steers away a lot of potential academics. It's becoming a place for only the privileged or those who are seriously masochistic about their future.
 

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Well I love making my own philosophies in my mind, but I wouldn't want to do it for a living, or whatever philosophers do. I'd much rather channel the things I gather and be a psychologist or a therapist of some sort.
 

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This is a fantastic thread and I felt like reviving it. I feel like @Brainfreeze_237 nailed it when he talked about INFPs and philosophy, I feel like it definitely hit the spot for me.

I only recently started getting interested in philosophy- and only once I understood all information on how to be a "good" person shouldn't necessarily come from the people around me, but also not entirely from myself, which I felt were the only two options. More authoritative methods are available, there are a large amount of people who explored the concepts I've always been thinking of and couldn't really come up with concrete answers to.

I think we all seek stability, a set of reliable ideals we can use to bolster us, give us a sense of sureness, and philosophy does just that, in a way that to me seems a lot more sensible than blind faith in what you know.
 
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