Fox and Hedgehog, Apollo and Dionysus

I’ve been thinking about the difference between types of thinkers which is a continuation of my analysis from the post prior to this one.

 Just Some Related Ideas and Writers


Systematizers and Non-Systematizers

One distinction I made was between those who tend towards the systematic and those who don’t. 

The systematizersmay be wide-ranging in their interests or not, but either way they have a focused mentality.  Even if wide-ranging in their interests, they’ll still try to connect everything not just as a set of relationships but in the context of a specific theory or model, a single idea or belief.  They may expand outwards, but the core of their thinking remains solid and everything new is judged in terms of it.  This kind of intelligence can seem clever in that it’s complex (or simplistic depending on your perspective) to organize so much data into a single view, but it also can have a practical side to it as it’s part of a desire to bring order. 

Quite differently, the non-systematizer has a methodology that would appear (at least from the outside) as random.  They may end up with quite a variety of things and yet the only clear connection between them all is simply the person them-self.  The non-systematizer’s methodology is more personal and intuitive which means it might not make much sense or seem worthy to anyone else.  Still, they may make new discoveries that the more methodical person would never come across.  Non-systematizers are the artists who lives in creative chaos, and so the ups and downs of their lives may tend to be magnified.  The unexpected good can come from this attitude of faith, but a lack of planning can lead to immense troubles.  It’s not that they can’t see the big picture, but rather they see too big of a picture without the ability or desire to focus in.  They see so many possibilities (and they don’t want to discount any of them) that it’s hard for them to make judgments of probability.  They’re reluctant to consider what the systematizer might point out as inevitable consequences.

The systematizer is more conservative, more careful.  They don’t just trust fate, but would rather take control of events.  The systematizer is a bit of a pessimist.  In being systematic, they make clear judgments about what does and doesn’t belong, and if it belongs they want to know precisely where it should be situated.  This is the conservative mindset that believes if things are left to their own accord bad things will happen.  The conservative prizes order and furthermore believes that order must be continually reinforced. 

The non-systematizer is more liberal.  Their outwardly haphazard ways may seem irresponsible to the conservative systematizer.  However, the non-systematizer has something of a faith that is grounded in an intuitive insight.  Such a person makes up for a lack of organizational thinking with an intuitive grasp of what matters.  They could be thought of as more individualistic and idiosyncratic simply for the reason that their vision of life is hard to articulate. 

The liberal non-systematizer believes there is something inherently good to people and if not disturbed this goodness will naturally manifest.  The conservative systematizer, on the other hand, worries about all of the ways things can go wrong.  It’s hard to surprise them because they see the consequence of actions from a mile away (or at least think they do).  While systematizers are aware of boundaries even when they cross them, the non-systematizer might simply not notice or else not care.  The systematizer might be inclined to say that the non-systematizer is oblivious in not noticing the seemingly obvious, but the non-systematizer might simply feel that they’re focused on what is important at the moment.  They follow what inspires them, what excites them.  This may not seem responsible, but it does have its practical benefits in that the non-systematizer might notice specific details that the systematizer would miss by looking at the “big picture”.  Even though the systematizer may think of themselves as a realist, they may actually be taking in less data from the real world.  The apparently irrelevant that the non-systematizer wastes their time on might turn out to be relevant afterall.

Foxes and Hedgehogs

This distinction I’m making is somewhat related to the fragment of writing by Archilochus:

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

Isaiah Berlin used this quote to divide people between two kinds of thinkers.  It’s sort of useful.  The fox survives by its wits and by ranging widely.  So, the fox can’t just focus on one thing but must apply its intelligence to a broad array of sensory detail.  The hedgehog is a simpler creature having one good talent.  It doesn’t need to worry too much about the larger world because it has its spines to protect it.  So, the hedgehog can focus narrowly. 

Approximately, the hedgehog is the same as my systematizer and the fox is the same as my non-systematizer.  The only difference would be that I believe Berlin was arguing that foxes are more practical and can make more realistic judgments for the very reason they’re not filtering the world through a single idea or theory.  This may sometimes be true.  Someone too attached to a particular theory will be obviously biased, but on the other hand someone who entirely lacks theoretical knowledge won’t have the context to make sense of the data.  Even though I see hedgehogs as being more practical in terms of the basics of life, the fox might have an easier ability to learn and integrate some of the hedgehog’s talent than the other way around.  The foxes talent is mental flexibility and so this would be helpful in learning abilities outside of one’s natural talent.  So, potentially a fox could make a better expert in that they could have a broader range of tools.  Although, it seems reasonable that some hedgehog types might gain some fox abilities such as if they were raised by a fox type.

Jung’s Typology and Nietzsche’s Dionysian and Apollonian

So far, I’ve only given two broad generalized types.  I feel the need to use the more defined ideas of Jung’s typology to clarify my sense of these categories.

The two functions that get the most attention in our society are those of Thinking and Feeling(maybe for the reason that they most closely associate with gender differences).  These are the Judging functions and they roughly equate with the conservative and liberal attitudes.  Thinkers (I’m specifically focusing on the combination of Thinking and Judging which translates as Extraverted Thinking) idealize principles and judge by principles.  Feelers (specifically, Feeling Perceiving; Introverted Feeling) idealize values and judge by values.  Thinking is about objective order.  Ideas and people need to be ranked.  Something is socially acceptable or not and each thing must be subordinate to its proper place.  People should first consider their social role and its attendant responsibilities.  Feelers see things less clearly as the significance of values can only be determined according to each specific situation.  A simple way to think about this is that a Thinker believes people should serve principles and a Feeler believes values should serve people.  In terms of thinking styles, its a question of whether ideas connect people or people connect ideas.  Also, it relates to a difference between a focus on the objective versus a focus on the subjective (which would include the inter-subjective).

These two types can also be thought of in terms of the Jungian functions Sensation and Intuition.  These originated from Jung’s study of Nietzche’s understanding about the Dionysian and the Apollonian.  Jung’s theorizing seemed to at least initially to conflate Sensation and Intuition with Extroversion and Introversion.  For Jung, Intuition had an inner quality that particularly connected it to the unconscious.  Others have pointed out how our society idealizes the ESTJ type (Extroversion Sensation Thinking Judging) and particularly identifies this as a masculine ideal.  As such, the systematizing hedgehog seems more or less correlated with the ESTJ type and the non-systematizing fox with the INFP type (Introverted iNtuition Feeling Perceiving).  By the way, the distinction between Judging types and Perceiving types doesn’t originate from Jung.  The J/P distinction comes from MBTI and I sense that this particular distinction might fit best the categories of systematizing hedgehog and non-systematizing fox.  (For my purposes, I’ve decided to emphasize the connection between all of these categories and so I’m using the ESTJ and INFP types as generalizations to portray a larger trend within our society, but these are only 2 of the 16 MBTI types.)

Going by Intuition (in particular the Extraverted Intuition of the INFP), the fox is ruled by an expansive curiosity.  Going by Intuition and Feeling, the fox has a strong aesthetic sense (represented by the fox’s playfulness).  This means the fox sees value beyond what is rationally useful and rationally explainable.  To return to Nietzsche’s division, Apollo isn’t about rational order but rather aesthetic order: beauty and balance.  The Dionysian is pure sensual experience but not aesthetic appreciation.  The Dionysian sensuality is embodied and so active rather than contemplative.  On the other hand, the Dionysian is also the tragic because it’s so clearly grounded in the concrete world of limitation and death.  Dionysus is the god of masks, but he isn’t separate from those masks.  Dionysus is precisely what he presents himself to be and nothing more.  Apollo, however, points beyond the obvious. 

In terms of Jung’s typology, it’s useful to clarify rationality.  Intuition is about abstractions and this connects with the common notion of Apollo as being the god of rationality.  It’s true that Intuition is about the world of ideas, but it’s also the world of imagination.  Rationality, in a more objective sense, is clearly a product of Sensation which is concerned with concrete details and facts.  A Sensation type tends towards literalism in that something is what appears to be.  Sensation is the rationality of the typical research scientist.  They think the data should speak for itself, but of course hidden in this attitude are certain conservative assumptions about the data and the world in general.  This lack of subtlety and nuance is what leads to the tragic.  A hero is tragic when they can’t see outside of their situation.  This is the connection between the scientist obsessed with studies of causation and the tragic hero who is trapped in a world of fatalistic causation.  This is the vision of Noir in particular.  The Apollonian, from a very different perspective, sees the forces or ideas that are greater than them, but these greater things help to transcend the mind beyond the predetermining causes of matter and society.  As such, it’s less of an issue of resignation or struggle.  Rather, it’s an attitude of possibility.  (By the way, I’d say that Neo-Noir includes examples of these two attitudes of utter nihilism and hopeful quest which is an aspect that; Thomas S. Hibbs writes about this.)  Then again, maybe the Dionysian only seems tragic from the perspective of Apollonian.  From the perspective of the Dionysian, it’s simply reality.

I sense this is part of the context of my thinking about how Freud and Jung relate to pessimism and optimism, but I’m not sure exactly how.  Maybe the Dionysian concrete world is only tragic when isolated from the Apollonian, when the apparent is taken literally.  The Dionysian should be taken at face value, but Dionysus’ face value is a mask that must be looked through (by putting it on).  Maybe the Freudian tendency to pathologize is to make a literalistic judgment instead of imaginally entering the experience itself.  The Jungian view in some ways seems Apollonian in that it looks beyond but maybe the only way one can look beyond is by looking within.  I’m thinking that Apollo and Dionysus are two sides to the same thing, but you can only see the one you’re not inhabiting.  The Dionysian seems tragic from the view of the Apollonian, but to put on the mask of Dionysus one can then see the beauty of the Apollonian.  As Kafka said, maybe the only suffering we can avoid is our own resistance to suffering. 

In my own world of ideas, Ken Wilber and Carl Jung personify the hedgehog and the fox.  Both have studied widely, but the former systematizes according to very clear models and theories whereas the latter spent decades slowly spiralling around ideas that interested him.  Even as Wilber’s ideas evolved, his central conception remained unchanged and his new thinking merely accreted to it.  Wilber methodically built upon what he perceived as solid ground.  Quite differently, Jung’s ideas often seemed ungrounded and yet somehow still very tangible.  Jung was very much interested in helping people (and it could be easily argued that he has helped more people than Wilber), but much of his philosophizing had no direct practical value (such as his writing a book about UFOs).  Related to the Freudian and Jungian distinction, I’ve read some critics who have argued Wilber pathologizes the types of experiences Jung focused on.  Wilber’s over-arching model is based on his desire for the transcendent.  Freud wasn’t interested in the transcendent, but maybe what Wilber and Freud share is a resistance to entering the depths.  To enter the depths is risky as Dionysus can be a violent god, but going by the stories of Dionysus it might be even riskier to resist his power.

In case anyone is curious to study Jungian typology further, there are a few books that are helpful in elucidating types in terms of ways of viewing the world.  Most pertinent might be Lenore Thomson’s Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual (trust me, it’s much better than it’s title conveys) and there is also a very useful site about her work (The Lenore Thomson Exegesis Wiki), but three others that I’d recommend are Compass of the Soulby John L. Giannini, Integrity in Depth by John Beebe, and Pathways to Integrity by Blake Burleson.  These books explore Jung’s ideas about personality beyond simply categorizing people as types.  There are also several books about the ideas of Jung and Nietzsche which would discuss the Apollonian and Dionysian.  The book I have on the subject is Nietzsche and Jungby Lucy Huskinson, but another one that might be good is The Dionysian Self by Paul Bishop and there are at least a couple of books about Jung’s seminar on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

Prodigal Son, Boundaries, and Trickster

Let me add another set of thoughts.  

I have a friend who is attracted to the story of the prodigal son and so I was wondering if it works as another example of what I’m trying to articulate.  In terms of that story, maybe the prodigal son would be the fox and maybe the son who stays home would be the hedgehog.  This relates to boundaries for the prodigal son leaves the boundary of home.  He must leave in order to return changed.  The home is often a symbol of self-identity, of consciousness and ego.  To leave that behind is to enter the unknown, the unconscious.  And in the process he lost everything he had been given.  But the story seems to imply that he also gained something by his experience.  It seems to me that this isn’t a story about the journey everyone has to take but rather about the journey of a certain kind of person. 

It’s similar to the fairytales about the three sons who each individually try to accomplish some deed.  The two older brothers try first.  They have specific talents and plans, but they fail.  The last to try is the youngest son who isn’t strong, brave or smart, but he succeeds.  The point apparently is that he succeeds because of his openminded attitude towards life and other people.  As such, he seems more like a fox.

There are many ideas that relate to boundaries.  Hartmann’s boundary types correlate with Jungian typology to an extent.  People tend towards thick or thin boundaries which is a basic element to how people relate to the world.  George P. Hansen, in analyzing the paranormal, writes about these boundary types and connects it with the Trickster archetype(Keith Thompson also writes about the Trickster and boundaries in terms of the paranormal and further uses the difference between allegory and literalism).  The Trickster is involved with both the creation and the breaking of boundaries.  The Trickster is somewhat of a tragic figure at times and seems more connected to Dionysus than Apollo, but in certain ways he is more in between them (and in between any sets of opposites).  The Trickster is something like Adam in that in some stories he brings death into the world.  The Savior, on the other hand, is the Second Adam in that he transcends death (although, Saviors tend to have Trickster qualities as well).  In the book Christ In Egypt, Murdock writes about the Christian conception of the savior as it relates to Egyptian mythology.  Horus is the corollary to Christ and the name Horus relates to the term horos which means boundary.  The boundary has much significance in religion and in ritual.  Boundaries create liminal spaces and also create order in the world.

Some Previous Thoughts

This is an excerpt from an old blog post:

A recent discovery of mine is research showing that the MBTI correlates with Ernest Hartmann’s boundary types.  Let me go into more detail here because this is an important part of my viewpoint.  There are four components to the MBTI: Introversion vs Extraversion (E/I), Sensation vs Intuition (S/N), Thinking vs Feeling (T/F), Judging vs Perceiving (J/P).

(1) Introversion and Extroversion seem to have the least correlation to boundary types, but there were some aspects to it that seemed to fit.  Introverts tend to have more of an ability to focus intensely and for long periods of time, and they tend to be more territorial about personal space.  Extraverts, on the other hand, are drawn outwards and so are more easily distracted by their environment.  Here is a relevant quote from Hartmann’s book Dreams and Nightmares:

“Those who have taken psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, report that under the drug’s influence they have thinner boundaries in a number of senses.  On the other hand, taking stimulants such as amphetamines, or for some people, antidepressants, definitely produces a thickening of boundaries.  In the most extreme case, people given large doses of amphetamines first become intensely focused; they are the opposite of distractible, keeping their thoughts entire on one line of thought.”

(2) Sensation and Intuition have the highest correlation to boundary types according to the studies.  Simply put, you can think of the difference here being between those who tend towards the concrete and those who tend towards the abstract, but there are many other dimensions to it.  Another interesting aspect is that Sensors tend to be more conservative basing their decisions on past experience, whereas Intuitives are more innovative because they can more easily see future possibilities.  Obviously, Sensors (and in particular the SJ temperament) are the practical sort of person who sees reality for what it is (based on what it was).  Some Intuitives, on the other hand, may seem like daydreamers, but Intuives also tend to be the innovators.

The concrete preference of Sensors is what makes them thick boundary types.  Things are clearly what they are and each thing is clearly distinct from other things.  Sensors have commonsense.  The abstract preference of Intuitives lends them to thin boundaries.  Distinctions are more blurred.  Because they can more easily shift distinctions, they can see new relationships between things.

In this symposium, I’ve definitely noticed the contrast between the practical-minded realists and those drawn to more theoretical understandings and far-reaching (or over-reaching if you prefer) possibilities.  As I believe, it’s not a matter of either style being more correct.  To speak from a green vmeme perspective, it takes all types.

(3) Thinking and Feeling are slightly less correlated to boundary types, but there are some important connections.  Thinking is about principles and rules with a focus on autonomy.  Feeling is about values and morality with a focus on relationships.

There is a fairly strong split with most Thinking types being male and most Feeling types being female.  This same division comes up with boundary types.  Thick boundary types tend to be male and thin boundary types tend to be female.  To understand this archetypally, this relates to the animus and the anima.  To understand this in the real world, this relates to the conflict between Integralists and New Agers.  It has been pointed by others how the Integral movement is dominated by men.  Also, you could think of this division in terms of Ken Wilber’s Grace and Grit or the movie The Fountain.

(4) Judging and Perceiving are an interesting division that was original to Jung’s typology.  Studies have shown that J/P doesn’t test as separate from S/N with young children, and so there is some developmental aspect to this (whether biological or psychological).  In MBTI, J/P simply determines which function you Extravert, but it can be looked at as its own category and there is some correlation to boundary types.  Judging types like order and conclusiveness.  Perceiving types are more about creative chaos and they prefer to keep their options open.

With J/P, I sense a similarity to a division between two kinds of thinkers which brings me back closer to this symposium.  I’ve seen distinctions (here and here) made between Ken Wilber and William Irwin Thompson.  This partly seems like a difference between a systematizer and a bricoleur.  Interestingly, William Irwin Thompson’s son (Evan Thompson) co-wrote some books with the enactivist crowd.  So, this made me think of the possible differences between enactivism and tetra-enactivism.  From what I’ve read, Varela seems to have intentionally avoided systematizing his ideas, but then Wilber took Varela’s ideas and systematized them for him.

The bricoleur is a term I’m using in its relationship to the George P. Hansen’s book The Trickster and the Paranormal(2001).  Hansen uses the term bricoleur as one way of describing the Trickster archetype.  Hansen also brings up Victor Turner’s ideas of liminality, anti-structure, and communitas.  Enactivism questions the traditional assumptions of science and so blurs the boundaries somewhat.  Varela was influenced by phenomenology, and Hansen says that ethnomethodology was similarly influenced.  Ethnomethodology (along with sociology of scientific knowledge and studies of experiment expectancy effects) puts the scientific endeavor into a very different context.


There are also some other blog posts that cover similar territory as this one.

Political Party, Morality, Personality, Gender

Morality, Politics, and Psychology

Jung and Typology, Gnosticism and Christianity

Concluding Thoughts, Personal Context

These are just some thoughts, some connections… tentative as they are.  I haven’t fully articulated the possible significance of this line of thinking.  I’ll surely be returning to this more in future posts.

By the way, going by some of my blog posts, someone might conclude I was a hedgehog.  I do have a slight tendency at times to systematize, but it isn’t exactly my inherent nature.  When younger, I had an extremely unsystematic mind, but was raised by two extremely systematic parents.  I not only learned how to be systematic, but learned to highly value it.  My mind is a chaos of ideas and impressions.  I’m more systematic in the way Jung was.  Jung was capable of thinking systematically in order to clarify some set of ideas, but he wasn’t attached to the results.  Jung’s thinking was eternally tentative.  Likewise, ideas in my head tend to constellate together organically rather than my trying to fit them into a particular theory.  Also, I’m an INFP type.  INFPs are the penultimate artist living in creative chaos (you should see my room), but INFPs have Thinking as their inferior which means (according to Beebe’s theory) its what we aspire towards (for example, the systematization of Jung’s typology in the form of the MBTI was accomplished by an INFP).  This aspirational Thinking was magnified in me as my parents are Thinking types.  So, I may aspire towards systematic thinking, but unlike my parents I’m completely impractical about it.  Even when being systematic, I’m lost in the abstractions and imaginations of my mind.  My systematizing still is subordinate to my creative chaos.

I’ll add some last thoughts.  There are many reasons for thinking styles.  Personality type and traits are just some of the most obvious or at least the easiest to understand. 

In light of this, I’d say that hedgehogs may or may not be systematizers, but their one big idea or belief would tend towards the systematic in that everything is filtered and ordered accordingly.  However, a hedgehog may or may not inherently have a systematic personality.  For instance, someone who experiences some trauma or life changing experience can become a crusader fighting against or for something.  If someone was abused as a child, they may become an advocate for children as a career and they may take this on as their central sense of identity.  Another type of experience would be something like a spiritual vision or an alien abduction.  If the person openly speaks of this experience, they might become polarized into an extreme position because of negative reactions from others.  There is an attraction to becoming a hedgehog for having such a clear sense of vision or purpose can be very motivating and comforting.  This often happens in conversion experiences where a person actively prosyletizes their new found belief and organizes their whole life around it.  Brought to the extreme, this one big thing becomes their whole reality (like a conspiracy theorist).

Foxes too can become the way they are through life events and experiences.  If someone rebels against some belief system they were raised with, then they may become the complete opposite and try to deny all belief systems.  Or else psychiatric conditions can create tendencies.  Personally, depression has probably encouraged a fox attitude in me by how it scatters my psychic energy.  But another depressed person might turn to a belief system to conserve their energy or else become obsessed with something to counteract the lack of focus.  I do at times become obsessive with certain subjects which does seem a direct response to depression, but the scattermindedness always prevails.  I know that for me it’s a combination of personality, moods, and general life experiences. 

I’ll say I wouldn’t mind having some transformative experience that turned me into a hedgehog because I’d probably get a lot more done.  Plus, most great thinkers who are remembered as being great by historians are almost exclusively hedgehogs.  Rightly or wrongly, hedgehogs have the most direct influence on society.  The experts with strong opinions are the ones that get to be the talking heads on tv.  The foxes who can see multiple perspectives have a hard time getting to a clear point and so their opinions don’t make for good sound bytes.  Foxes probably make for bad debaters as well.  Foxes either end up creating convoluted websites or else writing tomes that few ever would read (or writing blogs).  If a fox can’t learn some hedgehog abilities, they might as well give up trying to communicate.

There are reasons to be critical of typing people at all.  Most people don’t perfectly fits into any given category.  Hartmann talks about this in terms of boundary types and MBTI practitioners recognize this.  People may act differently in different situations.  Someone may have a focused mind at work where they’ve learned to implement a particular model or system, but at home they may pursue a wide variety of subjects and ideas completely outside of or even contrary to their work mindset.  So, an academic might simply accept a hedgehog-like attitude just to fit in, but secretly hold doubts or alternative views.  A religious person, in particular, may act like a hedgehog, not just to convince others but even to try to convince themselves.  As such, this person would look for all the ways this belief system can be supported in order to assuage their doubts.  On the other hand, a person who is confident in their hedgehog thinking may be less vocal and so may not even be noticeably hedgehog-like.  Still, despite situational behavior, most people probably have a basic personality or personal preferences in their thinking style and will act that way when given the freedom to just be themselves.

22 thoughts on “Fox and Hedgehog, Apollo and Dionysus

  1. ‘foxes are more practical and can make more realistic judgments for the very reason they ’re not filtering the world through a single idea or theory’

    I think he meant that the fox will rarely find himself in hot waters given that his strength is broad while the hedgehog will obviously beat the fox at archery and/or darts but, the fox will win at many (if not every) other contest. This is similar to my specialist or Master vs generalist or Jack. However, I have a lot of ‘buts’ here, you know me :-D. Especially, given that you said the interests may be wide of the hedgehog. What I think was missing is that the hedgehog will think in terms of the specific domain in which he finds himself while the fox can easily apply from different sectors of knowledge to get through (the way I always thought knowledge was). This I think covers and clarifies the phrase in the second paragraph under “Systemizers or non-systemizers”, ‘specific theory or model, a single idea or belief’. And, the hedgehog is the professional too, the expert

    ‘Maybe the Freudian tendency to pathologize is to make a literalistic judgment instead of imaginally entering the experience itself’

    Man, ain’t no ‘maybe’ there, it is :-). Don’t mind me. Yeah, that’s why I never liked Freudian theory. But, I linked it to extraverted judging cos they use general formulae and thinks like ‘normal’ so it is they who would likely see different as ‘abnormal’. They hate devil’s advocates

    The Kafka quote is a very introverted statement to make.

    Ah, I can see the difference between you and me, my need for premises opposed to you just perhaps seeing the thing. I see, I see. No wonder I’m always by default avoiding and drawing attention to presuppositions

    I’ve not finished, I have to charge my fon, will be back

    • Did I write that the hedgehog may have wide interests? If so, I don’t think that would make sense. It’s been a while since I wrote this, but reading through it again I don’t notice anywhere that I state hedgehogs have wide interests. I thought that was only what I was saying about the fox.

      Still, maybe I could see how a hedgehog might have a different kind of ability to range widely. I’ve owned a hedgehog. Unlike foxes, they don’t have good eyesight. The fox sees what it wants & goes toward it, but the hedgehog just runs about sniffing everything it comes across… and don’t you doubt that a hedgehog can cover territory quickly, they’re fast creatures.

      So there is a bit of a narrowsighted random quality about hedgehogs. The hedgehog might only see what is in front of them which just makes life a constant surprise for them because they don’t see anything coming. But they don’t need to see anything coming because they are safely protected by their quills.

      Only the fox’s cleverness can defeat the hedgehog’s practical defense. I’ve heard of foxes rolling hedgehogs into nearby water so that the hedgehog will unroll itself making its soft underbelly vulnerable to attack.

      Anyway, a hedgehog of course won’t ever be as wide-ranging as a fox. No matter how fast the hedgehog may run on it’s little stubby legs, the fox can move so much quicker covering so much larger of a territory. The hedgehog could contentedly live in the same small garden its entire life, funning around in circles.

      Yes, I guess the Kafka quote is from a more introverted perspective. I was wondering which function would predispose someone to such an attitude of not resisting suffering (or, in Biblical terms, resist not evil). I remember meeting many INFPs who liked the idea of embracing suffering, even to the extent of internalizing it and making it one’s own. Seeking to befriend or understand the dragon rather than killing it.

      I’m not sure I understand your last comment. What is the precise difference you see between us? What do you mean by your “need for premises”? And what do you mean by my “perhaps seeing the thing”?

      In terms of my own experience and understanding, INFPs seem to have great confidence in what they know deep inside (according to Fi). INFPs just know (or think they know) things. Often INFPs are accurate when they stick close to this knowing and don’t get lost in Ne speculation. But INFPs can get in trouble in relation to their sense of knowing others.

  2. “INFPs just know (or think they know) things”

    That’s what I meant about you ‘just seeing the thing’. As for me, even if I see the thing, I have to find out what led to the thing, ‘do you have the right to say that?’ or ‘how is that true?’, that kind of thing. I’m always looking into things and investigating the logic behind it and any inconsistencies with the rest of the world or knowledge, how ever one’ll like to put it

    “I remember meeting many INFPs who liked the idea of embracing suffering, even to the extent of internalizing it and making it one’s own. Seeking to befriend or understand the dragon rather than killing it”

    I think that way too. I even actively looked for dragons. It helps one to grow – discover parts unknown-, it becomes one’s own unique story, it gives courage to others. But, it can be dangerous as it has done to me, uncovering so much of my inner that I don’t even know which parts of me are preferred, something that p-typing exposed. I remember reading in relation to Jung about being such that one can be what is suitable to a place or time cos of having variety and not the single-minded way people usu use

    “Even if wide-ranging in their interests, they’ll still try to connect everything not just as a set of relationships but in the context of a specific theory or model, a single idea or belief”

    That’s the quote about systematizers being wide-ranging. That correlates to extraverted thinking. I guess I confabulated again, it’s not hedgehog but systematizer

    Living by wits is hard if you have a heart for people. Mostly now, after all the spiritual experiences, I do what I feel, I trust a certain inner voice that had been blunted for so long with all the noise and fear. This is a voice that is neither subjective nor objective, either subjective or objective. It is to that little boy I go to and lose myself there, feeling everything in me and nothing as well. It’s always an ecstatic experience albeit a silent ecstasy

    • “That’s what I meant about you ‘just seeing the thing’. As for me, even if I see the thing, I have to find out what led to the thing,”

      I’m still not sure I grasp the distinction.

      My experience of INFPs is that they have tons of doubts and questions about most things in life. But INFPs tend to have particular things or types of things that they have an inner sense of knowing about. The things they know they feel as a fundamental ‘truth’ and yet the things they don’t know leave them feeling existentially clueless.

      It’s confusing to explain because this inner sense of knowing isn’t how they directly relate to the world. Their Fi ‘knowingness’ ends up being translated to others using the language of Ne’s inconclusive possibility-mindedness and endless questioning. The INFP can often quickly lose their own sense of ‘knowingness’.

      Also, INFP’s don’t always know what they know. They just know they know something… if they could only figure it out. And, the moment they think they have it figured out, they immediately feel dissatisfied. The core ‘truth’ of Fi is intangible in the way described by Jung. It’s first and foremost just a sense of knowing and not necessarily a knowing of anything in particular.

      The INFP feels frustrated that others don’t ‘know’ what they know. This ‘knowing’ relates to the values by which INFPs judge things, but my sense is that it isn’t the judgment itself. The value is simply a reality to the INFP. It is the INFP’s reality. They know it because they are it.

      Using their own sense of knowingness, they can sometimes feel they are touching upon the inner truth of others. INFPs can be a bit odd and dysfunctional in that they may care more about the ‘truth’ of a person more than they care about the actual person. The INFP only trusts that inner core. All else is a facade, a deceiving mask… but I exaggerate a bit. A more well adjusted INFP can playfully enjoy the facades and masks while remaining connected to their inner sense of truth.

      “That’s the quote about systematizers being wide-ranging. That correlates to extraverted thinking. I guess I confabulated again, it’s not hedgehog but systematizer”

      I see. I was connecting systematizers to hedgehogs, but I had doubts when writing this how well the two matched. I was making very tentative conclusions about all of this. I was working out my thoughts as I was writing it.

      The point I was making is that a systematizer can range widely, but no matter where they range they will carry the same focused vision with them as a lense by which they view the world. In terms of the hedgehog, it can run around covering similar territory as the fox, but it doesn’t have the fox’s keen eyesight and so won’t see the fox’s larger perspective and farseeing vision. Conversely, even if the fox were focused on one thing, it would still see that one thing from multiple angles and with a larger sense of the environment in which the thing is located.

      “This is a voice that is neither subjective nor objective, either subjective or objective.”

      I like the way you stated that. It makes me wonder, though, what that means in your experience. I could easily interpret that in terms of my own experience of Fi. The ‘knowingness’ of Fi is that very dance between the subjective and objective.

  3. “I’m still not sure I grasp the distinction”

    Maybe it’s me or it’s your writing style, sometimes the information just jumps at you. The mathematical progression gone. Still, maybe it’s all me

    “The INFP can often quickly lose their own sense of ‘knowingness’.”

    I know that feeling. Your saying something which you ‘know’ or even just contemplating and then so many other possibilities rise in your mind like a tide. It’s like a ‘back to square one’. Me, I subject them to a strip search, find their core, and then see which premises fit that ‘known’, sort of fixing a tenon in a mortise; the rest jettisoned

    “Also, INFP’s don’t always know what they know, they just know they know something”

    That’s a feeling I’ve always had. And, for an INFP, the Ne will surely lead him in search for it. That also means that anything can come to fill that slot of ‘something’ as it was already nondescript, should it be so close to the ‘something’

    “The ‘knowingness’ of Fi is that very dance between the subjective and objective”

    I don’t know, that ‘knowingness’ seems to be common to the introverted functions. I’ve not finished studying them in Jung’s words (that’s the one I get better), it’s some kind of inner reality as those functions are connected intimately to the archetypes (maybe even arising out of there) but at the same time there is a certain ‘knowingness’ or ‘inner sense or reality’ associated with the Self too according to my reading of the characteristics of ‘Self’. The crucial distinction being that the introverted function tends to be egotistic. Telling that in reality is difficult as a thin line is the divide

    You know, I prefer that ‘characteristics of Self’ in terms of what it’s like, what it does not be discussed, as soon as that is done, confounding with other things is possible cos now it’s just data and it can easily be confused with other data. What I think can be done can be this phrase ‘you must lose yourself to find it’ so they that are ‘herd’ mentality have to leave that, those who are egotistic have to also leave that. That is the Revolution, that seems to be all one can say

    For me, those who say they know themselves are displaying man’s hubris if not lying cos they’re not as consistent as they make themselves out to be. I realized to be consistent, I had to be like water, flowing and swirling and not consciously too

    • “I don’t know, that ‘knowingness’ seems to be common to the introverted functions.”

      I’m not sure if introverted people are more likely to experience ‘knowingness’. My guess is that it applies more to Ti and Fi because they are judging functions which creates a desire for an internal certainty. Ni and Si are probably more experiential in that they are perceiving functions which probably means they have more of an inconclusive openness experienced inwardly. But maybe this translates into a different kind of ‘knowingness’.

      I just thought of what might be the difference for Fi knowingness. INFPs are supposedly the most idealistic type. For INFPs, things tend to take on larger and more profound meanings. As such, Fi ‘knowingness’ often can be idealistically magnified into melodramatic proportions.

      It’s for this reason that INFPs can get caught up in passionate righteousness. They feel what is wrong with the world, and in their hearts they feel what is truly right. The world can feel in contradiction to the inner knowing and Ne gives them the imaginative ability to see that the world could be different. I’ve always stood by my assessment that INFPs would make for great rebel leaders or terrorists (such as Osama bin Laden). If you ‘know’ you are right, then fighting for what is ‘right’ is a natural thing to do.

      This is why I can at times be an argumentative asshole. For me, ‘truth’ is always at stake and ‘truth’ must be defended. Truth isn’t just about knowledge and facts. Truth is an ideal, a vision, a reality. Truth is a tangible thing to me.

    • I never thought about that. I know that Fi and Fe are very different, especially when comparing them in types that have them as dominant functions. But it never occurred to me that Ti and Te might not be or might not seem as far apart.

      Here is one way I could see this being a possibility.

      For Ti and Te, they seem to have a more similar focus in a certain way. In my mind, I can see how they can more directly translate into the other. Thinking, in general, is probably easier to communicate than Feeling. Thinking is about logic and so can be logically communicated, but by it’s nature Feeling can’t in a direct sense be logically communicated.

      The subjective flavor of Feeling creates a more idiosyncratic factor in how it’s experienced. On top of that, the dominant Fi type doesn’t actually use Feeling as their primary way of relating to others. This is true for Ti as well, but Thinking even when introverted is easier to translate into outwardly objective language.

      Does that resonate with your own view?

  4. “The experts with strong
    opinions are the ones that get to
    be the talking heads on tv. The foxes who can see multiple perspectives have a hard time getting to a clear point and so their opinions don’t make for good sound bytes. Foxes probably make for bad debaters as well.”

    You see that thing. 🙂

    As for the great thinkers recognized by historians thingy, if I don’t say you’re great, you’re not great, that’s my rule. As a rule, my tastes are against the flow. Mostly, it’s not intentional but when a thing gets too popular, I’m indifferent or even look on it with disdain. Many times, when something I liked got popular, I abandoned it.

    As for creative chaos, I like to leave my mind as the background of my page, unarranged and when it’s right, they constellate then dissolve back again. But, do you know something, I believe I’m a better judge in a misunderstanding cos no one is guilty or innocent.

    As for being a hedgehog or fox, never mind, whenever you’re a hedgehog, you’re a HH, whenever you’re a fox, your 2nd name is Larry Craft ;-). I’ve tried to be different, nothing but pain, pain in the soul (maybe just cos one is not good at it)

    The reward is in heaven and heaven is in my heart

  5. “Does that resonate with your own view?”

    It’s not much about how it is communicated as how it works. Fi can easily be a cold-blooded killer cos that inner ‘knowingness’ is just a slot waiting to be filled. Any ideal can get in there. As it is concerned with archetypes and archetypes are beneficent and malevolent, Fi can be malevolent; theory. For Fe on the other hand, it is concerned with a positive ‘feeling atmosphere’ as Jung puts it. It likes to lessen tensions between entities (I resist saying humans so I’m not partial). It’s malevolence comes from perhaps applying too stringently the general formula or from being sort of over-protective, over-nice to people however the general formula thing doesn’t afflict Fe’s as much as Te’s from theory and from observation cos if the Fe is interested in lessening tensions, more middle ground will be sought to the detriment of the general formula. Te is a more ruthless function

    “But maybe this translates into a different kind of ‘knowingness’”

    Being in tune with that inner world of ideas just makes for some kind of inner sense of things

    I don’t know if it’s some jinx but when I see the girl, something always holds me back. I’m just ascetic like that. I see relationships and they look interesting, mostly I just want to go in to experiment but that won’t be fair to the girl. It’s like I want to see what kinds of things will happen, investigate the other sex more keenly, maybe it’s just a psychic need to relate to woman that is driving all these.

    That has always been my Achilles’ heel. It might be my reaction to life events to not relate too much. But, at that age, the reaction to the events might be the stronger function of the person; ah, I see it, the Hero of the person

    • “It’s not much about how it is communicated as how it works. Fi can easily be a cold-blooded killer cos that inner ‘knowingness’ is just a slot waiting to be filled.”

      Interesting. Yeah, that might be true. Fi does want to latch onto something, to believe in something, to have some central value around which to organize one’s life and one’s sense of self. Many things could play that role, but I’m not sure that anything could fill that slot.

      The slot has a particular size and shape. However, a dysfunctional, desperate or underdeveloped Fi type might seek to shove anything into that slot whether or not it fits. Leaving the slot empty would go against the nature of Fi and it can be challenging to remain patient waiting for that which is just the right fit.

      In my own experience, my Fi has always been consistent in what it draws me toward. I have tried to fill it with many things over my life, but when it doesn’t fit it will be expelled. Ultimately, Fi isn’t very accomodating. It has very specific requirements. But a lot of things can be shoved into that slot before the Fi type might find something that fits… or not.

      Maybe nothing can ever perfectly fit that slot, especially for INFPs. As idealists, it’s hard for anything to ever be good enough. Plus, INFPs don’t want to accept what is merely good enough. I don’t know if INFPs ever find some final meaning they can hold onto. I know, in myself, that is what I desire. And yet I know it’s not realistic. But what good did being realistic ever do for anyone?

      “As it is concerned with archetypes and archetypes are beneficent and malevolent, Fi can be malevolent”

      I would say that is a very real issue for at least INFPs (I can’t speak with any certainty about ISFPs). I’ve met many INFPs that are to varying degrees disgruntled. I can see how the malevolent could come to overshadow Fi to such an extent that Fi becomes mired in it or even identified with it. That would be a sad state of affairs. It’s something I fear in myself. INFPs will try to protect themselves from this darkness by taking on that darkness. If this strategy works, the darkness will be assimilated and transmuted. But if it fails, the INFP can become lost in that darkness.

      I hope never to personally meet an INFP who has become so severely damaged that their idealism is completely inverted into malevolent cynicism. That would be an unpleasant experience.

      “Fe is interested in lessening tensions, more middle ground will be sought to the detriment of the general formula.”

      I think I get what you’re saying about Fi and Fe. Fi takes on a human value (be it a good or bad value) whereas Fe values the human. Fe is concerned about relating well whereas Fi doesn’t see relating well as its primary concern. Fi can be a bit distant or detached, lost in its own introversion (if the auxiliary and inferior aren’t developed) whereas Fe might be overly attached.

      “Being in tune with that inner world of ideas just makes for some kind of inner sense of things”

      Yeah, inner sense. I’ve talked to many INFJs before. I was trying to recall how they described their inner experience. Rather than Fi ‘knowingness’, I think Ni is more of an insight which is unlikely to be expressed with idealism, conviction or righteousness. My sense is that Ni is more vague, diffuse or indirect than Fi’s focused nature.

      “I don’t know if it’s some jinx but when I see the girl, something always holds me back.”

      Have you considered asking a girl if she would mind if you experienced the inner sense of her ‘things’? It might not make for the best pick-up line, but it’s worth a try. If she says yes to that, then you probably can stop worrying about being fair.

  6. Do you know ‘Crying Freeman’? I love the character. If I were to be an assassin I’ld be that way, I know cos whenever I’ld fight, in the past, I’ld cry after

    • Nope. As far as I know, that is the first time I’ve heard of ‘Crying Freeman’. Is that something from your childhood? Is there a reason ‘Crying Feeman’ assassinates people and then cries about it? I assume their is a backstory to his character, right?

      I honestly can say I’ve never in my life considered what kind of assassin I’d be. If I’m ever hired to kill anyone, I’ll be sure to let you know whether I cried after or not.

  7. “Have you considered asking a girl if she would mind if you experienced the inner sense of her ‘things’?”

    Yeah, plenty. You see, I’m a bit of a gauche person, the only way I relate and confident about it with the outside world is when I’m playful even then my jokes can be tactless cos I have a dark, risqué sense of humor. It’s just difficult doing the etiquette and all those napkins on their tongues when they talk. It’s like a straightjacket. The small talk too is shit. That bit about experiencing her intensely, intimately like an exploration is me being honest to the girl. That is what I’m interested in but I’m so unsure about myself not really to myself but in the eyes of the ‘other’ cos the other hasn’t really been a good cookie to me (mostly). But I know the other can say same of me

    The backstory is on wikipedia, my entire fascination is with the ‘assassin shedding tears’. Maybe that kind of thing happens to soldiers

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