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Realizing vs Inquiring : the NiSe vs NeSi difference in my experience and in others’ observations

November 15, 2014

Just having spun off a couple of tangent comments into a new post on the judging function tandems; I realized I could do a same with similar tangential comments on the perceiving function tandems. (Both from this article: )

To start, here are the new tandem name concepts this is based on:

I wanted to clarify that introverted iNtuition is not inferring from a subjective pattern. Both Ni and Ne compare data with patterns stored in memory. Ne looks at data in terms of the patterns, while Ni infers from [elsewhere] within what’s been left out of the given pattern.

Lenore had said “For INJ’s, the patterns aren’t ‘out there’ in the world, waiting to be discovered [like an ENP physician putting together a whole single disease syndrome from several unexplained symptoms]. They’re part of us—the way we make sense of the riot of information and energy impinging on our systems.” (p.225)
“Pattern” here refers to two different things: the initial pattern being observed, which for either function is objective; and then, for Ni, there are internal (and likely unconscious) elements, [making the function introverted or subjective] that are used as “alternative possibilities” to gauge the situation by.
These elements are referred to as “archetypes”, which are ‘ruling patterns‘, but they are not really “subjective” patterns (even though they are technically “within”); archetypes are collective.

One place I was getting hung up, was that “alternate possibilities” we usually think of as Ne. But again, Ne derives its possibilities from an external pattern itself, while Ni looks at the external pattern in terms of these internal impressions.

This is why, I find, INTJ’s look at type theory ideas so differently than I do. Unless they’ve already believed in a particular concept, they usually just appear to often scoff at new ideas (or even some existing, popular ones), like the guy I mentioned in the Tandem Names entry.
Lenore continues “A disease syndrome is a useful construct, but that’s all it is—an aggregate of observations attached to a label, telling us what to see and how to deal with it. They’re merely arbitrary, derived from a particular view of life. For this reason, they can trap us into holding that view—say, that physicians are in the business of cure rather than prevention—without being aware of its effects”.

I see just an idea of how one system or set of categories might “possibly” fit another, and they just choose to see it another way, through other “possibilities” not being mentioned. I will see their possibilities, as just that, another possibility, but the ones I’m suggesting seem to fit better, as determined by Ti, so that function “nails it down”, as I’ve heard described.
This is likely one reason why INFJ’s (when delving into deeply technical subjects) are not quite as cynical as INTJ’s about these things. Even though they share the dom. Ni, INFJ’s have the tertiary Ti which identifies binding principles like that. What the INTJ nails a possibility down with would be Te (its practical usefulness); hence, seeming rigidly against something TiNe comes up with, and yet, at the same time, they are the ones in a way being more “open” to certain things. (This goes into the whole thing Personality Junkie discusses and Lenore alludes to later on the same page, regarding INJ’s being the true “perceiving” types, ⦅like ENP’s⦆, and INP’s being the true “judging” types).

So the example Lenore gives (p223) is someone wondering why people feel so strongly about getting a good tan. You look at the larger contexts; which in this case are the historical causes of this phonomena that we can remember reading of. On one hand, a tan suggested manual labor (from being out in the sun), but then pale skin came to suggest labor from working inside. However, neither [conflicting] reason is any longer relevant today. It’s just something that has stuck, as being “attractive”.
What I notice here, is that no conclusion is really reached, and the goal seems to be simply to raise a question in itself.

I guess this would be Ni in its purest form, without judgment filling it in. It is merely a perception, or observation, after all. We have often portrayed Ni as “foreseeing” something, but that’s only when it is working with a judgment function, which can rationally draw a conclusion from the data; especially when it comes to time elements, such as the predictable or recurring, and to determine rules or models that determine something.

I used to wonder about tans, and the way I went about it was one day putting it together with race. On one hand, dark skin was seen in a negative light; and even today, I hear it is still an issue with teens in school. Yet, you always see in Western “white” culture all of these light people trying to get dark. Some tans are so deep, they’re actually as dark as many moderate toned black people. I too asked “what was that about?”, but then surmised it was likely some sort of “shadow” dynamic. (This was years before I knew Jungian terminology, so I didn’t use that word, though I had heard enough about openly hating what we are subconsciously jealous of).
I looked at the pattern I was seeing in terms of other patterns: racial issues, and then psychological dynamics, and then put together a hypothesis that seemed to explain it, and figuring “that’s probably it”, was satisfied, and then put the question to rest. I only looked within for the sensory and logical data; not for the possibilities themselves, which only were conveyed through the S+T facts.

A great sense I got of introverted iNtuition at work was from this blogger’s take on the Jacob Riis “Baxter Street Court” photo at the center of my Five Points web project:; discussed in comment-1388

This was a photo of squalor in what was being held as an example of “tenement life” in 19th century NY slums, but I later found the example shown was really a converted distillery and not a real tenement, as many other nonresidential buildings were being converted (which is part of what created the whole problem Riis was exposing). So what had originally struck me was how different it looked from a real NYC tenement.

This other blogger, however, notices a lot of different things, and observes it from a totally different angle.
He suggests that a photo like this (that he saw as part of a series shown in some presentation, apparently) “contains symbolic use of lighting (amazing considering the primitive level of the technology at the time) and spectacular use of mise en scène.” [Mise-en-scène is an expression used to describe the design aspects of a theatre or film production, which essentially means “visual theme” or “telling a story”—both in visually artful ways through storyboarding, cinematography and stage design, and in poetically artful ways through direction.]

In ‘Baxter Street Court, NY’ for example the children appear illuminated while the adults are, either a dark silhouette or, returning into the gloom. The dark figure overlooking the scene seems almost regal in his surveillance of his dominion, there may be some pun intended on ‘court’. His darkness and bearing may suggest an inability to relinquish either his grasp on the ‘Old World’ or indeed on the next generation. The division of the scene by the clothes-line however leaves the picture a hopefulness that supplants the foreboding mystery figure.

He likens both the man, as well as the clothes lines and “the abandoned cart in the foreground” to some fictional characters he’s discussing.

I had noticed the man, but never knew what to make of him. What I did see is that it’s supposed to be a picture of squalor, but this guy looks kind of rich, with his top hat and suit; like someone who would fit in better in the classy mansions further uptown. Who is this?
I figure he’s probably the owner of the place. Probably drawn to the scene by the photographer being there. (And it’s true that the pose he’s making looks authoritative). After all, it would be the living and/or working conditions he’s maintaining that are being exposed, and threatened throughout the area at that time. (And what I found out following the history of this building through fire insurance maps, is that right after this picture, by 1894, it would be overhauled and re-classified as industrial, and with a bowling alley apparently filling the space shown in the photo).
He does have a spookiness to him, and perhaps that could be part of the “spiritual” sense people I showed it to picked up. (Who I believe are SJ’s with “charismatic” gifts, who pick up Ni-like ‘spiritual’ insights a lot, but they’re almost always in the form of very negative interpretations, indicating possibly some sort of “shadow” constellation).

So this blogger is reading internally derived meanings into the external data and coming up with conclusions that never would have dawned on me. He also pays more attention to visual detail, which is the extraverted Sensing that works in tandem with introverted iNtuition. This is the less conscious version of N that has likely drawn me to see some emotion-producing meaning in the photo, but my normal extraverted iNtution —in conjunction with the internalized factual data of introverted Sensing— then tries to figure out where it was, what it was, why the architecture looks the way it does, etc.
Again, I’m looking for the external pattern to match it all to. He’s adding impressions from within, and totally missing from the patterns I draw. (You can see here why in the new Cognitive Styles model, the Ne/Si perspective is aptly named “Inquiring Awareness”, while SeNi is “Realizing Awareness”).

It took me time to even notice there was only one man there. (I was focused on the building). I at first only remembered women and children near the door under the steps, and later, I thought there were two or three better dressed people posing on the steps.

(I believe where his impression went too far is in his interpretation of “court”. He may not have realized that “court” back then simply means what we today would call a “back yard”, and the maps showed such a “rear court” at that address. Though it’s possible that it could be both, and that the term came in handy for such a dual meaning).
I know in Biblical debate, I have seen where people will read something into texts like that, and it looks just like that: coming up something out of the blue that is not there. While Christianity is often regarded as very F or even SFJ, I believe doctrine has generally been set by NTJ leaders.

After sharing this in a discussion, someone linked to their own explanation of Ni:

Pretty interesting article.

The whole focus on “contemplation” reminds me of Berens’ description of Ni in Dynamics of Personality Type (where the little exercise tells you to wait for some “universal meaning” to come up), which is perhaps the first in depth descriptions of the functions I had read, but it focuses on the whole “getting a sense of ‘what will be'” aspect, which is what made the whole function seem totally “mystic” and hard to grasp or digest as something real, for me. The description didn’t say where these “universal meanings” come from; only that they can come when “we have no sensory data to go on”. So that made it even more confusing (for someone starting out on trying to understand the functions), as to “what exactly this is”.

Of course, the answer is that they come from “the unconscious”, but when I soon afterward saw descriptions of Ni (including from Jung himself) as dealing with the “unconscious”, that made it all the more confusing, because unconscious I had just learned was what undeveloped functions are. (and then, I would see the term used on both attitudes of iNtuition, and then all introverted functions, as I’ve probably mentioned).
I guess it’s Ti looking for some consistent defining terminology before a concept will “register”.

It also brought to mind, how I often would wonder how Ni would come out for Christians I think might be NJ’s in our environment, which is heavy SJ. (Even the Berens book mentions that “we don’t get much training in this kind of process in this society”). All of that “altered states of consciousness” stuff would be looked on with suspicion, at least when put that way.
However, the people would likely simply attribute it to “God speaking to them” in normal “prayer”/meditation. (I tend to think that many Christians are trying, a bit unnaturally, to prolong the “divine intervention” they read about in scripture, in this age where “special revelation” has clearly ceased. This ends up producing this “inner”-focused religion, especially among Charismatics; and what they don’t realize, is that rather than “testifying” to the rest of the world that it’s really God working in them, it only “proves” to everyone that “God” is only some “inner” thing, and thus it doesn’t really matter which religion one uses to access it).

So the point is, this is how their otherwise “unusual” form of perception would blend nicely into a heavy Si Christian environment. They’ll probably be the ones more insistent that God really “speaks” to us, while the majority SJ’s might be more likely to go through the motion because it’s what we’re “supposed” to do, taking conscience or whatever thought that comes up from within, inasmuch as it’s compatible with what they have learned is scriptural; but they’ll be the ones to admit that it’s hard to really hear what God says anew, and instead rely on the way he’s “already spoken” to us in scripture. (Which I tended to fall back on, though with Ne in front, ponder on why direct revelation doesn’t continue, and often grow weary of either of the approaches, especially when neither has produced any consistent doctrinal unity).

When SJ’s do get perceptions that appear to be “revelations” (and people who get these are generally considered specially “gifted”); I notice it’s usually in the form of “visions” that are really “tangible” images. This may be interpreted as Ni, but would really be a special form of Si, because it is so visual, even if it’s from the “unconscious” (which again will include any introverted function; anything that’s not tangible and externally current).

Ni is basically inferences that do not start with such tangible images (though it may produce them; like the barking dog in one of Berens’ Ni examples; when the person was already thinking about an existing plan, to buy one), but are just these “senses” [not literal “sensation” of course]; like basically hunches, that the person has to then put some sort of language to (including perhaps tangible imagery) to describe or “give a voice” to.

“Inferring” can basically be the best way to describe the process of iNtuition. (Though some sources will use it for one or other of the two attitudes). The difference in attitude is that Ne infers from outside objects (even if stored in memory; and particularly patterns put together with them), while Ni infers from these unconscious internal (subjective) impressions. Thus, it will add what’s “left out of” an external pattern (like the plan to buy a dog, and the care that might be needed, or the archetypal implications of things in the Riis photo).

This is the essence of “Realizing Awareness”, which of course has Ni in tandem with Se, which just sees tangible things for what they are.

With the Si visions (which one close friend gets), the perception starts with the tangible image of something (like perhaps a shape, and often generally associated with a current event, but not tied to a specific pattern or plan), and then we would have to then further reference internal facts, and then look at the objects involved and imagine the possibilities of what they could mean (usually never having any certainty). Hence, Ne and Si as “Inquiring Awareness”. (And again, any intangible subjective inferences will generally be very negative, as [left-brain alternative] Ni mirrors Si from the shadow. Otherwise, people like this will still tend to be more traditional or stick with what’s familiar; and not as “visionary” as the NJ’s).

So here too, the NJ’s and SJ’s will fit together nicely in a charismatic church, even though SJ’s are in the majority and set the overall atmosphere of the environment.

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