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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
From my personal experience, I’ve had more than a few people tell me I’m “smarter than the average person.” The stereotype is that N types are seen as “brainy” and “intellectual”. At least from my perspective, I think for NFs, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding.

Take myself, I consider myself to be very nerdy but very disorganized. I read up on lots of stuff out of pure curiosity, and was never satisfied by the formal education system. However, when it comes to the rigor versus the span of what I know, I literally embody a jack of all trades, master of none. I shy away from discussions needing lots of logic and analysis because I know that’s not my strong point. No matter how brainy people see me as, I know fully well that any serious intellectual / academic circle or individual wouldn’t consider me one of them. A lot of times I literally don’t know, because it’s just “the way I feel.” I don’t really fit into mainstream “geek” culture. It’s kind of a weird spot to be because to them I’m all over the place, but I kind of suck at socializing with most people.

Instead, I feel as though no matter how knowledgeable we are, our real strengths are, at the end of the day, a kind of intrapersonal or interpersonal (not necessarily social or extroverted) intelligence, an ability to read undercurrents and intuitively “get” things at a deeper level. I wouldn’t say we are “intellectual” as much as being “generally perceptive.”

I’m not much of a thinker, and I can’t imagine myself devoting my life to a single-minded or a very narrow set of intellectual pursuits. I’m a “philosopher” only as much as my preference for seeing the bigger picture, but I don’t have much if any interest in actual academic philosophy. I’m no Plato or Aristotle, I’m no Hegel or Kant, and I’m not interested in rigorously studying philosophy for the sake of it.

I utterly fail at discussions with a strong emphasis on deductive logic, where the details are emphasized over just the big picture.

Conversationally I’m very much a “generalist”, and I bounce back and forth between lots of things. I also find that I have the easiest time talking to people that are “generalists”. Even if someone is very intelligent, if I see that they don’t have much to talk about outside their restricted areas of interest, I would find it pretty hard to build a lasting connection with that person. That is, even if we have those interests in common.

I’m not sure if any other INFPs or NF types feel similarly. Much has been said about the N-S conversational divide or gap, but my own experience has been that when I’m among a group of strongly T types (regardless of whether they’re S or N), I remain kind of silent. They’re usually more educated than me in terms of logic and personal credentials and can explore 1-2 topics with so much more depth than me, while I’m kind of someone who just knows a bunch of stuff lol.

It’s actually pretty interesting because when we’re discussing “big stuff” like politics, a lot of those guys analyze things down to the workings of the actual policies, while I’m a lot more likely to make references to broader patterns and “national character”. Perhaps this is just as much of a Ti-Te, or maybe Ni-Ne difference coupled with the F vs T differences?

Despite this, I have managed to surprise NTs with my objective analysis of some situations (when it comes to their lives), and they tend to find me handy when they don’t really know how to navigate more emotional stuff. I also find that I give them lots of general insights on people’s natures.

Since NF guys aren’t exactly common, growing up and even now to a significant degree, I often find it easier getting along with the opposite sex than other guys. I also grew up, unfortunately, in a single-parent household raised by my mom. I don’t shy away from what many guys consider “girl talk”, and I’m the kind that would march into a store and buy a tampon without a second thought lol. In our culture (I’m Canadian but come from a Chinese background) guys carrying women’s handbags for their SO or female family members is also considered pretty normal lol. In fact I was pretty surprised to find out that for some other groups it’s kind of unusual lol.

I’m also really into cute stuff, I mean not stuff like teddy bears or dolls, but more like animals and stuff that gives me a cuddly feeling. I know I won’t be able to easily maintain friends of the opposite sex once I get married, but I’ve never really seen women as exotic or mysterious. There’s no mystique in them for me because I grew up seeing all of their good, their bad, the joys and their struggles.
 

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I would love to discuss how intelligent feelers and thinkers approach intellectual and academic pursuits differently and how social prejudice that "intelligent people must have social shortcomings" affect NFs specifically (my mum is an ENFJ who is definitely very smart and it's interesting to see how she deals with it and where her interests are in comparison to me - an ENTJ)

I am not entirely sure if that's what this thread is for though, since your thoughts seem all over the place to me. Do you want to start a meta-discussion or want feedback relating to your own situation? Or did you just want to put some thoughts out in the void (no shame in that either) ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It’s just putting some thoughts out there, really, and seeing if anyone else has had similar experiences and of course, hearing from the other side (T) as well. Similarities, differences between how our types (NFs and NTs) approach these things. Interests, and how these interests when shared, are approached differently. This is what I’m trying to find out.
 

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Well, I kind-of settled on ISTJ myself, meaning we have the same functions, and in a way I relate to what you are saying.

I admire high Ti users' ability to go in debth in debating, I get bored and think it's useless halfway through. I'm more comfortable with an expanding conversarion where one topic spurs another one through some invisible connection, and this flow continues smoothly.

I have a few topics where I'm knowledgeable and I can talk about them passionately for long, especially if someone is speaking false facts or outright stupidity, but just like you said, in most fields I'm also a jack of all trades.

I do think both Ne and Te influences this happening.
 

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"I literally embody a jack of all trades, master of none."
Relatable AF.

It depends on how you define being an intellectual, if you're going by knowledge, I'm definitely not someone who can debate or argue a lot about most subjects, simply cause I wasn't interested enough to research on it. But even for stuff I'm really interested in, I happen to have terrible memory, so I'll say I've watched something but if someone wants to discuss it I'll likely still have to google what happened in the movie unless it was recent. Which makes it seem like I was lying about having watched the movie in the first place, but I swear I did 😂 I also generally don't feel the need to know more than others.

My forte is more in just having a lot of thoughts, and then having a lot of thoughts about those thoughts 😂 And these are usually life related, about emotions or human behaviours, the human condition in general. I've surprised myself by being able to explain sexism to someone who asked, including things like how sexism in the past has resulted in certain pressures or behaviours on both sexes in our current times, same with racism etc. I hadn't taken any classes on the subject, but I could basically write out an essay on stuff like that based off the combination of personal experiences, observations of everyone else, and most importantly the N power of being able to connect everything together. I generally don't even think about these topics until something triggers it, but in trying to help someone all of these things came together in the moment.
 

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Well, I'm ENFP and I do fit the N stereotype of intellectual I guess. However I think in your post you are sort of equating it to academic which is not the only definition of it. I'd say intellectual is someone who focuses on understanding. Like, philosophy isn't about studying the philosophers, philosophy can be done by anyone who's inclined to think about life.

I also feel you are making some assumptions and defining things in a way that is personal to you and doesn't fit how I think or have experienced them. Like you equate being a thinker to having a narrow set of intellectual pursuits, which to me shows you have a different conception of who a 'thinker' is than me. I was also a bit surprised to see that you found deductive logic to be some detail, when I see it as a necessary component of analyzing big pictures. I am a generalist in that I definitely care for an interdisciplinary approach to things because in my mind that's really the only approach (psychology relates to biology which relates to chemistry, physics, cosmology, everything) but I see that as being intellectual and it's also how other people have responded to me. But logic is a way we communicate our reasoning, there's a lot more to it than that, to how we understand the world.
So I'm not sure how else to respond to this except note these differences. I can say that I have NT friends, who do have their own way of being intellectual that is different than me, so there's a T/F divide sure, but also I think you and me have different tolerance for it and thus also think differently.

I think at least some of it can be explained by someone's strength of preference, like two Feelers won't necessarily have equally strong preference for F in reality and it produces variations within similar or even same types.
 

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From my personal experience, I’ve had more than a few people tell me I’m “smarter than the average person.” The stereotype is that N types are seen as “brainy” and “intellectual”. At least from my perspective, I think for NFs, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding.

Take myself, I consider myself to be very nerdy but very disorganized. I read up on lots of stuff out of pure curiosity, and was never satisfied by the formal education system. However, when it comes to the rigor versus the span of what I know, I literally embody a jack of all trades, master of none. I shy away from discussions needing lots of logic and analysis because I know that’s not my strong point. No matter how brainy people see me as, I know fully well that any serious intellectual / academic circle or individual wouldn’t consider me one of them. A lot of times I literally don’t know, because it’s just “the way I feel.” I don’t really fit into mainstream “geek” culture. It’s kind of a weird spot to be because to them I’m all over the place, but I kind of suck at socializing with most people.

Instead, I feel as though no matter how knowledgeable we are, our real strengths are, at the end of the day, a kind of intrapersonal or interpersonal (not necessarily social or extroverted) intelligence, an ability to read undercurrents and intuitively “get” things at a deeper level. I wouldn’t say we are “intellectual” as much as being “generally perceptive.”

I’m not much of a thinker, and I can’t imagine myself devoting my life to a single-minded or a very narrow set of intellectual pursuits. I’m a “philosopher” only as much as my preference for seeing the bigger picture, but I don’t have much if any interest in actual academic philosophy. I’m no Plato or Aristotle, I’m no Hegel or Kant, and I’m not interested in rigorously studying philosophy for the sake of it.

I utterly fail at discussions with a strong emphasis on deductive logic, where the details are emphasized over just the big picture.

Conversationally I’m very much a “generalist”, and I bounce back and forth between lots of things. I also find that I have the easiest time talking to people that are “generalists”. Even if someone is very intelligent, if I see that they don’t have much to talk about outside their restricted areas of interest, I would find it pretty hard to build a lasting connection with that person. That is, even if we have those interests in common.

I’m not sure if any other INFPs or NF types feel similarly. Much has been said about the N-S conversational divide or gap, but my own experience has been that when I’m among a group of strongly T types (regardless of whether they’re S or N), I remain kind of silent. They’re usually more educated than me in terms of logic and personal credentials and can explore 1-2 topics with so much more depth than me, while I’m kind of someone who just knows a bunch of stuff lol.

It’s actually pretty interesting because when we’re discussing “big stuff” like politics, a lot of those guys analyze things down to the workings of the actual policies, while I’m a lot more likely to make references to broader patterns and “national character”. Perhaps this is just as much of a Ti-Te, or maybe Ni-Ne difference coupled with the F vs T differences?

Despite this, I have managed to surprise NTs with my objective analysis of some situations (when it comes to their lives), and they tend to find me handy when they don’t really know how to navigate more emotional stuff. I also find that I give them lots of general insights on people’s natures.

Since NF guys aren’t exactly common, growing up and even now to a significant degree, I often find it easier getting along with the opposite sex than other guys. I also grew up, unfortunately, in a single-parent household raised by my mom. I don’t shy away from what many guys consider “girl talk”, and I’m the kind that would march into a store and buy a tampon without a second thought lol. In our culture (I’m Canadian but come from a Chinese background) guys carrying women’s handbags for their SO or female family members is also considered pretty normal lol. In fact I was pretty surprised to find out that for some other groups it’s kind of unusual lol.

I’m also really into cute stuff, I mean not stuff like teddy bears or dolls, but more like animals and stuff that gives me a cuddly feeling. I know I won’t be able to easily maintain friends of the opposite sex once I get married, but I’ve never really seen women as exotic or mysterious. There’s no mystique in them for me because I grew up seeing all of their good, their bad, the joys and their struggles.
In response to the OP:

You could be talking about the difference between undisciplined intellectualism versus disciplined intellectualism.

Undisciplined intellectualism
This is the type of intellectual who goes through life on auto-pilot, drifting from subject to subject based on short-term interest. He has no goals, no particular purpose that he wants to achieve. Or maybe he would prefer to be more focused on a particular subject or activity, but he doesn't have a schedule or action plan for achieving it. So he gets pulled off course by distractions or he applies the wrong means to achieve his goal. He may console himself for his lack of accomplishment by saying that he is "deep," and the rest of the world simply doesn't have the same kind of grand visions and aspirations as him.

Disciplined intellectualism
This is pretty much the opposite of the above. It's the type of intellectual who probably wants to achieve a certain level of competence in a specific field or activity, so he applies self-discipline, delayed gratification, focus, etc. He formulates specific goals and has metrics for seeing that he achieves them. It's kind of like a college course: You focus on a single topic, and you use tests and grades to stay on track and measure progress. The downside of this kind of mentality is that it can turn into achievement for achievement's sake: Workaholism. A workaholic can use expertise and achievement as a way of hiding from life. You score points and achieve things, but those achievements don't deliver satisfaction.

* * *​
Anyway, having described these two opposite categories of intellectuals, I should point out that I'm not accusing you personally of being one or the other, nor am I putting down either type of person. I'm just contrasting two hypothetical extremes. Most people are in the middle to some extent.

Having said all that, one might still ask: Are NFs more prone to undisciplined intellectualism than other types? Hard to say. A lot of INTPs seem equally as prone to undisciplined intellectualism as INFPs. INTPs can browse the internet and research trivialities endlessly, to the point that they fritter away their lives without having accomplished anything.

In fact, any personality type can have low self-discipline and fall short of their true potential in whatever field or activity or profession they might choose. Imagine an Se-Dom athlete who has lots of athletic potential but fritters it away because he is too lazy to practice on a regular basis. Lack of self-discipline.

I've seen a lot of high-IQ people of all personality types who go the "undisciplined" route and routinely fall short of their potential. They are intellectuals in every sense of the word, but they don't actually achieve all that much. They are simply too scattered and undisciplined.

Meantime, I personally am actually pretty disciplined by comparison. There are INFPs who see a window open, grab at an opportunity, and really apply themselves. We NFs can be disciplined, if it's in an area of interest to us and the rewards are apparent.
 

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Conversationally I’m very much a “generalist”, and I bounce back and forth between lots of things. I also find that I have the easiest time talking to people that are “generalists”. Even if someone is very intelligent, if I see that they don’t have much to talk about outside their restricted areas of interest, I would find it pretty hard to build a lasting connection with that person. That is, even if we have those interests in common.
Oh yeah, I love just bouncing around and not caring which direction the conversation goes, just letting it go wherever. I think that's the Ne.

I’m not sure if any other INFPs or NF types feel similarly. Much has been said about the N-S conversational divide or gap, but my own experience has been that when I’m among a group of strongly T types (regardless of whether they’re S or N), I remain kind of silent. They’re usually more educated than me in terms of logic and personal credentials and can explore 1-2 topics with so much more depth than me, while I’m kind of someone who just knows a bunch of stuff lol.
I guess it just depends on what you're interested in. For me personally I have a bunch of subjects which I am really interested in and think I know a lot about (German, Literature, History, Politics) and I know F types who have these specific interests too and can talk for ages about them. The bigger problem for me is usually that most people in general, not limited to specific types, tend to care and talk about real life stuff (oh did you hear what Sally and Barry got up to? They went to the coast on the weekend. Yeah I've been there, it's really nice etc etc. Just small concept stuff which I find boring and can occasionally participate in as a normal person).

It’s actually pretty interesting because when we’re discussing “big stuff” like politics, a lot of those guys analyse things down to the workings of the actual policies, while I’m a lot more likely to make references to broader patterns and “national character”. Perhaps this is just as much of a Ti-Te, or maybe Ni-Ne difference coupled with the F vs T differences?
Yup. I do this too. I think Fi tends to consider things from a human element, whereas Ne tends to consider broad ideas in a society which people believe in, whereas Si/Te are more likely to think about individual policies. But I think my way of thinking about politics is the best, since really it comes down to emotions how people vote, not logic (or very rarely).

The thing is you can really use the INFPs functions to anaylse things in a really objective and "intellectual", if you will, way, it just involves looking at it from a more people-and-ideas centred viewpoint. I put forth one of the best essays from an INFP intellectual which covers this exact subject, that is, George Orwell analysing the English national character. The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius | The Orwell Foundation
 

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I've been an intellectual ever since I became an atheist.

(may or may not be true but the important part is that you laughed, maybe..)
 
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