Another Crack at Function Definitions: “Relationships” of Objects
Recently, coming to understand the whole Jungian framework better, I’ve been trying to identify a common thread to understand the functions through: “relationships”. Not just personal relationships (which is what we often use them for in understanding type), but relationships of objects in general.
First, to go back over what the functions are from scratch:
Perception encourages us to process sensory impressions as they occur.
Judgment prompts us to organize our sense impressions by focusing on the ones that happen regularly enough to recognize and predict. (Lenore, Personality Type An Owner’s Manual, p253)
Left brain (J = Je/Pi) linear one-at-a-time approach to life
Right brain (P = Pe/Ji) wholistic* all-at-once approach to life.
*(Also spelled “holistic”, but “wholistic” is actually the more correct form: http://www.reference.com/motif/health/holistic-vs-wholistic. “Holistic” is similar, but more about “interconnectedness”)
Descriptions from the chapters on the functions:
Se: Sense impressions as they occur
Si: stabilize our sense impressions by integrating them with ones we remember (past experience)
Ne: unify sense impressions with larger [outward] contexts
Ni: liberate sense impressions from larger contexts; patterns are part of us; the way we make sense of information and energy impinging on our systems
[Notice, both Si and Ne deal in “integrating” or “unifying”, while Se and Ni deal in individual or “liberating”. This is why the functions work in tandem].
Te: shared qualities objects have in common used as a standard of sequential order
Ti: coordinating our behaviors with the variables [essential dynamics] in a situation related to our intended effect
Fe: measure our options for relationships against an external standard of behaviors
Fi: encourages a personal relationship to an evolving pattern (e.g. how a given situation would affect the person)
[You can deduce from this that both T and F deal in “relationships”, and that while F is relationships of a “personal” nature, T is relationships between objects: impersonal].
Genesis portrays a universe created by differentiation of opposites.
God separates light from dark, the heavens from the earth, the dry land from the water, night from day, life from the nonliving waters, and then the nonliving earth, male from female, intelligent man from nature, and then good from evil (which man was not supposed to get into on his own).
When our souls become immersed in spacetime, marked by a physical body in a particular location and time, we divide existence into past/future, ahead/behind, up/down and left/right.
Ever since, we’ve been psychically to try to mend the rifts in one way or another.
So we spend our lives depending on the material world we were split from in order to survive, and try to merge with it by either getting in harmony with it, or conquering it.
We long for an existence beyond this world of spatial and temporal polarities, where separation is undone, good and evil are resolved, and we no longer have to depend on the environment for survival. Our attempts to create this now (through our ego-driven enterprises) often end up blurring polarities such as good and evil. We just cannot inegrate the data that goes against the path we have set for ourselves.
Heterosexual desire is at its root a psychic attempt to reintegrate what was split off from us when we were developing into our own gender (which too often focuses too much on the body and the physical pleasure. Still not sure how the dynamic translates for homosexuals).
So all of the polarities and every object and event are connected by some form of relationship to one another, and it’s the nature of these relationships that provide the data for our cognitive functions.
Human egos divide (abstract) reality into opposite poles in terms of these relationships, and usually takes one side of each over the other. This creates imbalances in our perspective, as concrete (“mixed together”) reality ends up being neither of the extremes people always veer towards.
We each have impressions of reality, or “truth”.
We observe and assess the relationships between things in organizing our impressions.
“Observation” of truth:
tangible (what is right before you;
immanent tangible relationships)
conceptual (background, contexts;
transcendant intangible relationships; what it means or might be done with it)
“Assessment” of truth:
technical (impersonal; relationships between objects)
humane ([inter]personal; relationships between people)
Orientation of truth
external (localized, immediate)
internal (universalistic, which can only be processed internally since we are not omnipresent)
(I find that it’s actually harder to come up with better terms to differentiate the perception attitudes than it is for the judging attitudes, since N got described in terms of “motion”; i.e. “where it’s heading”, which is easy to misinterpret, and all perception is described in terms of “sense impressions”, which might make us think of S.
I first considered “static” vs “mobile” instead, but this is still confusing, as it’s not about actual motion, but rather just the mobility of possible relationships. –As in “pattern abstracted from one situation to give meaning to another” as I’ve seen it put. Hence, “immanent” vs “transcendant” might be better terms. It’s not the object N is looking at that’s “heading” anywhere; it’s a pattern that can be taken from another object and matched to this one. All together this creates a matrix of possible connections.
[Edit: I think I’ll just go with “tangible vs intangible” as even better, being more simple].
To use Bruzon’s “Fundamental Nature of the MBTI” illustrations (https://web.archive.org/web/20131004003001/http://player2000gi.alotspace.com/jungian_functions.htm), if the S focus is represented by individual points, the N is the background space between them, represented by the dotted lines connecting points.
On his page, he states: “The Sensor is obviously aware of the motion component, but within the reality structure, this takes the form of fact, rather than process.” iNtuition “often provides intelligence and the ability to understand complex ideas and relationships.”; i.e. the complexity of the relationships is the real “motion”.
Also, now I’m willing to use “personal”, along with “impersonal”, where before I suggested “humane” for Feeling, because framing it in terms of “relationships” avoids the double meaning of “personal” as also an introverted perspective. And they’re more familiar, common words. Using the concept of “immanent” vs “transcendant” [or “tangible” vas “intangible”] relationships instead of “concrete” or “tangible” avoids the misconception that any dealing with tangible items isn’t iNtuition. Introverted Sensing might seem to be other than “immanent” [or even “tangible” perhaps] since it might deal a lot with the past, which is not right before you. This is why I once tried to dub its tandem with with Ne as “circumspective”, or “looking around” rather than “looking at”. But again, it’s the character of the data that determines it, not the time element.
The definitions of the terms are:
Immanent – to experience reality as present in the world where transcendent is to believe reality exists outside the material universe.
Introverted Sensing still deals with “reality present in the world”, even though it may store facts outside “real time”. iNtuition of either attitude deals with concepts such as [nonvisual, non-auditory] patterns and meanings, which are nonmaterial).
Putting it all together:
We are social creatures, and our Persona forms as we try to adapt to the social environment (i.e. expectations) around us, and what’s left out of this becomes the Shadow.
(Even if we say we don’t care what others think, we still like to think of ourselves in ways that would “look good” to others. Like being strong, honest, etc. even if we do it in ways that don’t look like those qualities to others).
This further creates more polarities, between the perspectives we choose to accomplish this, and their opposites.
The ego chooses the orientation and form of “truth” it finds it uses best for these adaptations (indicated by the emotional reward given when successful). The other orientation and truths become subdued; still there, only not given as much weight. At least one other mode of truth will be preferred, since we must both observe and assess. So the mode of the opposite method of processing will become “auxiliary” and also take on the opposite orientation (for the sake of balance).
Different, partially dissociated senses of “I” will focus on each of the other modes of truth, and in either orientation.
“The [first] four functions” of each type are simply what the parts of ourselves that are the main ego achievers, the ego supporters or guides of others, the less mature uplookers, and the inferior-feeling seeker of completeness will focus on. More negative versions of these will reverse the orientations, generating “the other four”.
|Function definitions||Resultant dominant perspectives||Se: observing immediate tangible relationships||experiencing life as it comes|
|Si: observing through a storehouse of tangible relationships||filtering life through familiar fact|
|Ne: observing immediate intabgible relationships||exploring conceptual contexts as data arises|
|Ni: observing through a stored sense of intangible relationships||exploring conceptual contexts not yet externalized|
|Te: assessing immediate impersonal relationships||establishing logical order|
|Ti: assessing wholistic impersonal relationships||making sense of things using logical order|
|Fe: assessing immediate [inter]personal relationships||establishing social harmony|
|Fi: assessing wholistic personal relationships||look at life through the lens of human values|
So if we want to know which function is being “used” in a given situation, we need to ask:
1) Are the relationships observed between objects/events tangible (each one “is what it is”), or are they intangible (patterns that can be abstracted from one situation to give meaning to another)?
2) Are the relationships being assessed in a fashion impersonal (how things work), or personal (how they affect self and/or others)?
3) Is the data being derived from an external, immediate source, or an internal, often more far reaching source?
So when we speak of “using” a function, we have to clarify what we mean. It can be more active or passive.
It’s not having the emotion that indicates a “Feeling” function, it’s what we do with it.
Awareness starts with Sensation, but “S” simply makes this its primary focus, while “N” goes beyond that into invisible CONTEXTS. (Hence iNtuition being described by Jung as “unconscious”, along with introverted functions which draw on an invisible internal blueprint of data, and undeveloped functions and the Shadow).
People are still objects (impersonal material) and objects do have affect on people. So a T’s organizing can take into consideration people, and an F’s organizing will include objects. But the focus will be on the opposite (preferred) elements, and what they are organizing will in the long run take a back seat (and may be easy to pick flaws in, because it is the more vulnerable component to their judgment, and yet is supporting what ego is pushing for, and thus will be felt as an attack on the soul; hence the person then possibly falling into the “inferior grip”).
So the insistence on Genesis as being a literal account of universe-wide creation in seven literal days is a rabidly one-sided “S” perspective looking only at the tangible (immanent, static) words on the page, and refusing to place them in a larger intangible (transcendent, mobile) context. (And this brand of fundamentalism will also usually dismiss discussions like this that employ psychological concepts in favor of explaining everything with “scripture terms only”). On the other hand, people who use the allegorical approach to altogether neutralize anything the Bible says about God or morality are making a lopsided use of an “N” perspective.
It’s possible for one’s enjoyment of physical pleasures to be connected with larger contexts such as symbolic meaning. Like in sex, this is precisely what a “fetish” is. You can have the physical pleasure without the fetish, but the fantasy carries a larger meaning that goes beyond the physical contact.
I also see a lot of introverted iNtuitives who can get into nostalgia and other “past” focused interests (even though Si is the deepest “shadow” function for them), because there are a lot of patterns, symbols and other larger contexts that come from the past.
What I see they get irritated by is a focus on past “facts” just for their own sake, or reliving events that are in some way negative to them (such as conflicts).
(Autistic spectum disorders may be characterized by “taking things too literally” (missing nuances, etc), and this sounds like S, but it is still possible to take certain things others say literally, while still preferring transcendent relationships for one’s own perception, as do most Aspies who gravitate to the N side).
So looking at type through the lens of temperament (and even Myers-Briggs had originally set out to create a new four temperament or “style” type of system, and of course, Keirsey did perfect the temperament groups, but then rejected the functions types were based on), we have gotten into looking for “traits” such as “focus on the past”, but we see where it doesn’t always work that way. There are other factors that can produce similar behaviors.
The key temperament traits to look for are the original “expressive” and “responsive” (with the neurologically based I/E as expressive), which do remotely correspond with functional preference, but have their own set of typical behavioral patterns.