Podcast – Episode 0386 – Personality And Paradox

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia have a free-form intuitive conversation about the paradox of personality types and cognitive functions.


In this podcast you’ll find:

  • What is a paradox in the context of personality type?
  • The concept of paradoxical thinking.
  • How do paradoxes typically show up in the cognitive functions?
  • Some paradoxes that Joel and Antonia hold.
  • Why do introverted functions seem to be better at holding paradoxes?
  • How the introverted and extraverted functions inform each other.
  • Diving into each of the cognitive functions and the paradoxes they can hold – check out the Car Model to find your functions
  • The introverted functions:
  • xxTPs – Accuracy (Ti):
    • The paradox of contradictory logic or thought
  • xxFPs – Authenticity (Fi):
    • Paradoxes within “cocktails of emotions”
  • Why the introverted judging functions don’t have a need for reconciliation in the same way the extraverted judging functions do
  • xSxJs – Memory (Si):
    • The paradox being shaped by both your environment and your unique impressions 
    • How can this help someone accept past trauma?
  • xNxJs – Perspectives (Ni):
    • The paradoxical nature of holding different perspectives
    • The paradox of making a simulation become a reality
  • Why are our introverted functions reluctant to let go of paradoxical thinking?
  • The Introvert movement – how this shows us that all personality types can benefit from paradoxical thinking.
  • How do the extraverted functions differ in their relationship with paradoxes?
  • More about Accuracy (Ti) and Authenticity (Fi) and the benefits they bring through holding paradoxes.
  •  Why the decision a person executes doesn’t always reflect the paradoxical views they hold beneath the surface.
    • A personal example from Antonia
  • The extraverted functions:
  • xxFJs – Harmony (Fe):
    • Setting up systems to meet multiple needs 
  • xxTJs – Effectiveness (Te):
    • Reconciling conflicting goals and outcomes
  • xSxPs – Sensation (Se):
    • How does Se manage to be both part of and separate to its environment?
  • xNxPs – Exploration (Ne):
    • How can Ne have endless possibilities but end up with none?
  • Looking at the cognitive function polarities as paradoxical opposites:
  • Harmony (Fe) and Accuracy (Ti):
    • Fe and recognizing the need for truths
    • Ti and “using honey not vinegar”
  • Effectiveness (Te) and Authenticity (Fi):
    • How do you accommodate individuality within a complex system?
  • Sensation (Se) and Perspectives (Ni):
    • How can Se benefit from insight?
    • The benefit of taking action for Ni
  • Exploration (Ne) and Memory (Si):
    • How can Ne help Si past rumination?
    • How can Ne gain wisdom from Si?

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Showing 8 comments
  • Eric Bolden

    With my Ti, I have no problems saying n/0=∞. That would mean than that 0×∞ can be any n (1, 2, 3, etc). Which is an infinite-fold set of contradictions! So the mathematics convention (driven by Te) won’t simply use the ∞; they instead call it “undefined”. I see no problem in just saying that working with infinity (i.e. infinitely large) and zero (infinitely small, basically) is what leads to an ambiguity producing any possible finite number inbetween.

  • Ron Rankin

    As usual, great podcast! An INTJ myself, and prone to deep dives into internal paradox, I’ve also been reading a lot of Jung and thinking about the crucial role (perhaps even central role) paradox plays in our experience of life.
    One “paradox” I’d love to hear you both talk more about though is the paradoxical nature of the cognitive functions themselves. In a way they both exist and do not exist. As you consistently demonstrate, they clearly exist in some sense because they can be inferred from behavioural patterns. Knowledge of the theory of cognitive functions does seem to have a practical value in broadening a person’s perspective and providing an avenue for personal growth. But in another sense, they’re “merely” heuristics or components of an artificial model of human cognition. By some metrics they could be said to not exist at all. Having said that, Dr. Nardi’s work might force me to modify that opinion someday.
    Personally, I struggled a bit with this early on, but lately I’m happy to accept the seeming paradox of this, perhaps because Ni sees the patterns and Te has seen enough to be convinced that the model works, so why question it?
    I know you’ve touched on this topic, but for me this paradox was a sort of hurdle that needed to be cleared in order to start taking type seriously, so I’m wondering if it might warrant a longer discussion.
    Anyway, keep up the great work. Love the podcast.

  • Aly

    Petition to make the plural of paradox… paradise.

    I agree with your paradoxical example (some people should not be alive), and it’s similar to my own paradoxical belief about communism.

    In theory, on paper, it is a “perfect” political and economic system… but it leaves out the biggest contributing factor to it’s failure of success; human nature.

    It would be great if we all had purely altruistic intentions for our fellow humans, but clearly we do not. Humans are very flawed, and someone will always find a way to exploit the system for their own gain. Without fail.

  • William (ISFJ)


    There were a lot of interesting concepts in this podcast. Personally, I find thinking about paradoxes quite interesting, and I have thought of another one that I would like to share. I’m curious to see other people’s opinions on this. By the way, Joel and Antonia, you’ve probably figured this out already, but the plural of “paradox” is definitely “paradoxes,” according to Merriam-Webster.

    Your discussion on the polarities of each of the cognitive functions made me start to think of the Fi-Te polarity. Both judging function polarities are, at their core, an important part of the human experience. We all make judgements based on what feels right as well as what works (Fi-Te). We also all make judgements based on what we think is best for others as well as what makes rational sense (Fe-Ti). As humans, we naturally all have to make decisions based on judging function polarities that are not in the top four of our cognitive function stack.

    As an ISFJ, I primarily use “Harmony” and “Accuracy” out of the judging functions, and to a much more sophisticated degree than “Effectiveness” or “Authenticity.” In this, there is a paradox between 1) the fact that, according to theory and most scenarios, I will use “my judging functions” to make my decisions, and 2) that, according to the reality of plenty other decisions, I use judging functions that are “not my own,” because others’ needs vs. objective facts is not capable of covering all facets of decision-making.

    I say “not capable of covering all,” with the assumption that it still covers most. Yet, I can still see several instances in my life when I decided to work very hard on something and had great motivation and planning, but because I had not checked with how all of me felt about it, it all felt like a waste of resource in the end. Or, perhaps I was so focused on what I just felt like doing that I ignored the need to just work through the issue at hand. In both of these cases, other people’s needs (Fe) certainly didn’t come into play, and after seeing objective reality (Ti), I still had to wrestle with core feelings and purpose vs. working and achieving (Fi-Te).

    This is really starting to get into shadow-function topics, and I know that the shadow-functions are the hardest to understand for various reasons. The idea of how both the judging and perceiving polarities of shadow cognitive functions influence our day-to-day judgements and perceptions seems like an interesting podcast topic to me personally. If you at PH ever start to run out of podcast ideas, here’s one, although I’m aware that shadow functions are very tricky territory, that this probably isn’t the most productive topic to discuss and share, and that there are plenty other factors to podcast-making and your personal lives that I’m simply not aware of.

    If anybody has any other thoughts, I’d love to hear them!


    • Antonia Dodge

      I’m loving your thoughtful comments, William!

      We’ve done a few podcasts on the shadow functions, but the episode names vary. As we continue to catch up on podcast notes they’ll be easier to locate.


      • William (ISFJ)

        Aw, thank you so much!

        I have actually gone through a bunch of your shadow function information (albeit not all); it’s mostly just that my “Accuracy” function is constantly searching for more info in general. I think I will go back through your podcast list and see what other content I can find.

        Thanks for the pointer!


  • Adrian

    Hey love the podcast, but why tf do you always think you’d have to adhere to your own rule of only having one hour podcasts?? I can press pause and come back later, you know.

    You went all in on how to achieve decider function balance and just skimmed the surface of the observer functions in the end. But that’s where my current development lies.

    Just talk it over god damnit. And if the pod will be 3 hours long it’ll be three hours long, bro.

    That’s it from me. Keep up the great work you Ne lunatics 😛


    • Antonia Dodge

      You’re coming up against all the ‘your episodes are too long!’ emails.

      That said, sorry we short changed you on the perceiving function polarity paradoxes. I’ll see if I can weave more into a future episode.


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