Nietzsche’s Insight for Ni and Si Users
The past is a heavy thing. It is the past that imprints upon our bodies all the pain we have felt, all the memories we have gathered, and all the sufferings we have endured. Trauma too, and the inability to cope adequately in the present weighs heavily on many. When our present is filled with the burden of our past and the stresses of life, visions of our future can even be filled with these same heavy burdens. Hopelessness and despair become the only lenses through which we see the future, believing that the darkness we have experienced or are experiencing will never come to light.
In this circle of Jungian Analytical Psychology, we refer to the hard drive that stores our past as Introverted Sensing (Si). Introverted Sensing represents the level of attunement we possess in being able to recall what has happened to us, what we have done, and what we know. Symbolically, Si is tied to the element earth — dirt, mountains, and the physical landscape of the world — and our past is the way in which our personal plot of land has been tilled, shaped, and imprinted upon by our experiences.
The laser that shoots into our future to decide the best path is Introverted Intuition (Ni). Introverted Intuition is personal foresight, and carries in it the capacity known as willpower. Symbolically, Ni is tied to the element fire — burning a singular path forward is what Introverted Intuition is known for. The more willpower and desire pursuing that path, the harder it is to stop the fire.
Nietzsche, the subject and source of our discussion, was no foreigner to the sufferings discussed above. Nietzsche lived much of his life in profound solitude, and what is to accompany such solitude but profound loneliness? And his body, rife with severe sickness and injury for much of his life, was a consistent source of pain and, eventually, degeneration. One can only speculate whether his sufferings removed or changed the nature of his hope for his future.
To the best of our knowledge, he is an INTJ — which the evidence of his life and the examples in his writings point to. As an INTJ, we know that his Si is in the Demon slot. Of all the types, Si Demon has the hardest time accepting the limitations of their body. They often forgo consulting the pain of the past — which could avoid unnecessary future pain — believing that they can outrun the past. Because of this, Ni Heroes are among the types most likely to repeat their past.
And yet, despite this proclivity being natural to INJs, they don’t have to stay in this cycle. Nietzsche’s quotes we will be analyzing in this article provide evidence that Nietzsche was able to, or at minimum attempted to, develop a relationship with his Si Demon — what Chase talks about in Season 29 — in a way that few have tried and even fewer succeeded.
Though we are sourcing the discussion from an INTJ, this article applies to all types. The insight from Nietzsche reminds us that we must stretch ourselves both into the past and into the future, and with it, the key to our freedom may be gained, for both the Ni and Si user.
What is “Amor Fati”?
“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor Fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science
“Amor Fati” translates to “Love of fate,” and indicates the ability to accept life and all its contents as it comes. But, as Nietzsche indicates in another quote, “Amor Fati” is not just about one’s future fate, but about one’s entire life.
“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it — all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary — but love it.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo
This is key. “One wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity.” The essence of “Amor Fati” is that it attempts to put one in a frictionless relationship with one’s own past, present, and future. But Nietzsche is saying this from an eternal perspective, to indicate that, with a wide enough perspective, Ni and Si can become be developed to be used harmoniously.
When enough time passes, an Ni intention passes into the past, becoming Si. And as time has a repetitive nature, that past Si again becomes an intention through Ni.
What Nietzsche is proposing is that we take everything that has ever happened to us — “good” and “bad” — all of our sufferings, traumas, joys, pleasures, and reinterpret them with an attitude that is akin to gratitude.
This is not only a jarring but perhaps even offensive suggestion. There are people in this world, perhaps you know or are one of them, who have suffered worse than anyone else they have encountered. Nietzsche’s quote at first seems to not only overlook but outright ignore the reality of what they have endured.
But the first sentence in the first quote and the last sentence in the second quote shed more light on this concern for our own and others’ suffering.
“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful.”
“Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it … but love it.”
Though from different books, both these quotes use the word “necessary”. But what does that mean? Necessary for what exactly? Necessary for bringing you to be the person you are today.
But what if you don’t like who you are today? Perhaps you feel your flaws overwhelm you, that the weight of your past makes it difficult to breathe, your mistakes are too many and you don’t perceive much in your life to be grateful for. What do we do then?
Don’t worry, Nietzsche had you in mind too. This is where Nietzsche’s second half of “Amor Fati” shines. Because Nietzsche is not only focused on learning to love what happened to you (Si), but on what will happen to you (Ni), the delicate relationship we have with our past can be redeemed by the hope we have for our future. And, the hopelessness we have for our future can be redeemed by a renewed faith in the past, a past to which we no longer have to be a slave.
In The Gay Science, he writes, “What makes one heroic?— Going out to meet at the same time one’s highest suffering and one’s highest hope.”
This is his Battleground of Titans between Ni and Si. It is the confronting of the suffering of the past that enables the hope of the future to be realized. At least, that was Nietzsche’s path. For an Si user, the way is inversed. But the core principle remains the same: Amor Fati is past and future simultaneously.
What we can surmise is that Nietzsche’s advocating for this philosophy of “Amor Fati” is a profound example of Shadow — and Superego — development for INJs. We see him at least recognizing the importance of his Si Demon (“backward”) and developing an attitude of flexible certainty with his Ne Ally. Having supreme hope in the future, with his Ni Hero, can only happen when one embraces the possible consequences of that hope (Ne Nemesis) and pushes on to have cautious faith in the future anyway.
Why should we attempt “Amor Fati”?
Both Introverted Intuition (Ni) and Introverted Sensing (Si) are the deepest functions we have in our psyche. “Deepest” means that they are the most foundational orienting mechanisms we have access to in our cognition. Where I am going (Ni)? and Where have I been (Si)? are the most personal and important questions we can ponder within ourselves.
The reality of the importance of the past is innately more difficult to accept and understand for Introverted Intuition users, who have Introverted Sensing in much lower awareness than Si users. And for some, such as Nietzsche’s own type, Si Demons, they deliberately avoid the past because they are convinced that they don’t need it, and their reluctance to utilize the past only causes a further division in their own bitterness or dis-concern for their personal history.
The future, and considering what one’s personal path could be, is equally ignored or overlooked for Si users. They avoid thinking about their personal future largely because they don’t feel they have much say over it. But, like the Ni user who is empowered by rooting themselves in their past, the Si user can learn that, like a dormant volcano, the power to will has always been in them. They only had to learn to wake it up.
It is Nietzsche’s own philosophy — that of eternal recurrence — and Chase’s own teachings on the subject of time that builds a case for the importance of the past and future that is impossible to ignore.
If “All that has happened before will happen again” is the natural state of the universe, and the natural state of human beings is to move unconsciously through life, then the only solution to avoiding sealing our fates is to become aware of what is running them; mainly, our pasts. Our future will be dictated by our past to the degree that we ignore and disregard our history.
Introverted Sensing is a fundamental piece of the foundation that composes how we make decisions and how we approach our daily existence. It is vital to develop some relationship with our past, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Why? Because only then can we be free. And freedom is the essential need of Introverted Intuition.
But is freedom enough? Freedom doesn’t negate the reality of suffering. Justifying the burden of accepting “Amor Fati” has to include an understanding of suffering that justifies expressing gratitude toward our pain. If we do not understand why we suffer — or see the fruit of our suffering — then it will be impossible to love it.
Nietzsche did not avoid the topic of suffering. He talked about it often and was no stranger to it himself. How else could an Si Demon arrive at such conclusions as this: “The thought of suicide is a great comfort: it helps through many a dreadful night” (Beyond Good and Evil).
But, despite this “comforting” thought, Nietzsche was fundamentally an affirmer of life, and did not view this kind of eternal respite from suffering as an actual solution. Why? Nietzsche saw suffering as the primary mechanism that produces value — that produces “greatness” — in human beings.
“The discipline of suffering, of great suffering — do you not know that only this discipline has created all enhancements of man so far?” (Beyond Good and Evil).
He continues in the same section: “Whatever depth, mystery, disguise, spirit, artifice, or greatness has been bestowed upon the soul—has it not been bestowed through suffering?” (Beyond Good and Evil).
And yet, in the weeds of personal suffering — where all manner of darkness we commit and abuse that can befall us — our pain hardly seems something to celebrate.
But it would be wrong to say that Nietzsche is celebrating pain, per se. Rather he is celebrating the result of the pain, you! It is the deepening of your soul — the encoded experiences written on your Si hard drive — required to endure, persevere, and emerge from such suffering that he celebrates. And in that endurance was found strength — the quintessential attribute of Introverted Sensing.
It is not the suffering itself, but the result of the suffering — a deepening, a grasp on a few streams of wisdom, more understanding — that is worthy of our celebration and admiration.
Think of the people who have been most influential in your life. Had they suffered? Were they wise and deep and had much to offer? It is that person, whose soul has been deepened by pain, that is who Nietzsche advocates should be celebrated.
If “wisdom is the most valuable substance in the cosmos,” as Chase says, then we can at least learn to love the wisdom we have gained from our sufferings. That can serve as an entryway to loving our fate.
How to “Amor Fati”?
I will not suggest that you must immediately not only forgive, but express gratitude to the people who have done evil in your life, and grow immensely thankful for the tragedies that have beset you or your loved ones. That is a lot to ask, and perhaps totally impossible with only one’s willpower or perseverance alone.
Let’s start with something more reasonable. First, a quick note on the nature of Introverted Sensing and cultivating the love of what has happened in your past.
Just because someone has higher Si doesn’t mean loving their past is easier for them. Being aware of one’s past is different from loving it. An Si Hero may pull from a wider expanse of vivid memories that bring to bear an accurate picture of the past at any moment. Ni users cannot do this consistently. If anything, one could argue that Si users have to dig deeper to find forgiveness and gratitude because they remember things so well.
Further, if they are a prisoner of their past and trauma, their Ni Demon is likely to raise hell because it sees that the IxSJs future is doomed to be a cycle repeating their painful past. All this to say, just because an Si Hero can see their own past with profound accuracy, it doesn’t mean they have an easier time learning to cultivate gratitude for it. A love of fate is a difficult task for all types.
Now, for the big question: How?
The “how” is two parts. Any answer to “how” must differentiate the path for Si users and Ni users. In short, applying a love of one’s fate ties together both half of the equations — both Si and Ni. If you are an Si user, your path is using your Si to cultivate a relationship with your Ni. And the opposite is the path for an Ni user. Fate runs both backward into the past and forwards into the future, and it exists on one introverted precepting string.
The Ni user, innately aware of their own future path, must be wary enough to consult their past, to search to see it accurately, to find the relevant pieces of knowledge to show them not only what they should want, but how they can achieve it.
If they do not consult their past, no matter how painful the process may be, they are doomed to step blindly into tomorrow, without any anchoring. They become like a tree whose roots barely break through the earth. Engaging with one’s past entrenches oneself in the earth, and stabilizes the path for the future.
For the Si user, they must be aware that the past can repeat itself in both positive and negative ways in their future. When they engage with their Ni, an Si user will find that they actually get to affect what happens in their future. The future doesn’t have to be the same as the past, and this can be a rescuing hope for an Si user particularly.
But Si users can also find themselves on familiar ground when they ignore the possibilities for their own future, drifting through life only on the habits they have gained from their past. Their comfort zone can become toxic, where they repeat their fate and renew the misery of the past. On this path, there is no possibility of redemption for the sufferings endured. Life becomes a prison where the best they can hope for is to brace for the next storm.
The Si user must learn that there is more to their life than what has happened to them. That there is an entire other side of what could happen to them, and that some of those paths are more desirable than others.
The love of fate, then, is bringing the future and the past together. Seeing how the past has built you into who you are today — and to appreciate the wisdom and strength gathered from those experiences — and to push forward to the future, armed with the roots of the past striking deep into the earth, ready to take on the next day with gratitude caught up in the middle of one’s fate.
The vital aspect of using Ni and Si, though, is specificity. Cultivate Amor Fati for one memory at a time — seeing how and why it connects to your present and future. That one memory can be a tool for the rest of your life. Cultivate Amor Fati for one future possibility, enjoy the chance to shape your future as a conscious being, and risk embracing a future path that you could look back upon and be proud of.
Having a general sense of love and acceptance for your past or future is limiting, but engaging specifically with fate builds one’s capacity for “Amor Fati” from the ground up, leading to a greater capacity for faith (Si) and greater power of hope (Ni).
In consulting the functions of Introverted Sensing and Introverted Intuition, we see that fate carries two qualities. It carries both a deterministic quality (what has happened to you), and an indeterministic quality (what could happen to you) based on how we respond to life, and what we intend as a result of that response.
Fate and the Path of the Human Being
The path of a human being is growth. A love of fate, then, is not only an acceptance, but an active seeking out of experiences that will help us grow.
If it is true that the human being is born dis-integrated — with the Four Sides of the mind in discord with each other — then things that bring those pieces closer together should be celebrated. Just as a roaring fire can bring two pieces of fragmented steel together, the path of the human being is to return to a unified state of internal harmony.
There are pieces of ourselves in the past and pieces of ourselves in the future that can only be unlocked by searching for them.
Only by facing our past and pursuing our future can a love of fate be cultivated. And when a love of fate is cultivated, the necessary path to integration is embraced as the essential project that propels growth in our life. And growth is the single indicator that determines whether or not something is alive.
Nietzsche saw that Amor Fati was the key to being truly alive.