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Cognitive Functions as Different Perspectives on Situations

August 31, 2012

Originally published here:
Primer on Type:

Personality theory is a subject that covers both the technical and the humane. Its ultimate goal is humane, or “personal” (how we can improve our lives and relationships), but it consists of technical (impersonal) structures, such as matrices of factors and analysis of linear cause and effect.

We are both living human beings (humane) and yet, we are also still physical things (technical). So it is possible to analyze ourselves from either a humane or technical perspective, or a combination of both.
We also have likes, wants, desires and values, which are properties of the ego, not the judgment preference.
T/F will be determined, not by these things in themselves, but by the perspective we look at them through, or which of those aspects we tend to focus on.

So both T’s and F’s can be found, pretty much equally, in the discussions on personality. In online discussions, it is often hard for some people to tell which of these two poles they prefer, because we all end up referencing a lot of both impersonal logic and personal subjects.
There is a predominance of N’s, however, as the theories provide a “big picture”, so to speak, of human interaction, where when I try to discuss the stuff with an S heavy family and friends, they’re not interested. I had noticed, they seemed more focused on just “living” day to day life than building models of its patterns, and their discussions reflect this, in that it is almost entirely recounts of what other people said and did rather than putting together a bigger picture.

One big conflict I always had, is that the S’s frequently say “that’s life”, but I want to know “WHY“. There must be some overarching reason things happen the way they do. To them, I was just grasping at smoke instead of “just dealing with life as it is”; and to me, they were just being fatalistic and trite. Also, an S perspective would be the one to insist on “coincidences”, while N says “there are no conincidences” and looks for a reason.

(It should be noted that the above is a more S + J vs N + P conflict. S with the P attitude would still see things as they are, but be more open to trying to bring change with what is available rather than just settle (hence, a similarity with their N counterpart). He will respond to what’s possible the way things are. “Possible” is usually associated with N, but intuition goes beyond the current situation, where Sensing deals with “what is”. “Facts” are usually associated with either attitude of S, but they are really more the domain of S combined with J.
N with the J attitude would look for reasons why, but likely fix itself onto one (derived internally), and might end up nearly just as much “that’s the way it is”, as their S counterpart. Hence, J/P is evident as a significant factor of personality).

Not realizing these distinctions, I had started off jumping into a couple of online lists populated mostly by F’s (mostly N also), who discussed all aspects of the theory, focusing on the theoretical big picture as well as technical details, but then had to wonder why they thought I was being too “impersonal” when I focused on factors of comparitive personality systems. For them, it was more about self-improvement and relationships. To me, those were just “fringe benefits” of a series of symmetries that finally had some kind of practical use to be discussable with others. (Ironically, they all thought I was an F, because of the “enthusiasm”. T was supposedly “detached” emotionally. This was a common, but mistaken association, and one of the things I’m really trying to clear up with the “humane vs technical” terms for F and T).

Function definitions: what the perspectives of the eight letters tell us:
S What it is, tangibly
N What’s its origin/destination, conceptually
T What it is, technically
F What’s its worth, humanely
e What I can add to object (i.e. merge subject with it)
i What I can subtract from object (i.e. what’s irrelevant to subject)
J Add to a set standard, subtract according to a data storehouse
P Add to emergent data, subtract from variables according to an internal standard

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