The Split of Reality along S/N
Putting to use the concept of the functions as “divisions of reality”; Jung I see quoted as saying , “I can only hope and wish that no one becomes ‘Jungian.'” (see http://carljungdepthpsychology.blogspot.com/2014/12/carl-jung-and-i-can-only-hope-and-wish.html); he seemed to be trying to develop a scientific hypothesis of reality. But it was too “abstract” for the science field, and what people most remember him for today is some of his “spiritualistic” teachings, and his “typology”.
But now, I’ve come to realize that a lot of our problems stem from the need to reconcile the S and N (sensory vs intuitive; concrete vs abstract; tangible vs conceptual; “what is” vs “implications”) division of awareness. Reading Robert Johnson’s Living Your Unlived Life a few years ago, I saw an acknowledgment of a need to have our hopes and dreams “concretized”, or made “real” in the tangible world. At the same time, coming to see the functions of type as “divisions of reality”, it explained how much of our drives in life are to undo the split;to create the “coniunctio“, which is the union of opposites.
Our wishes and wants are ideas (N products, basically), and having them come true concretizes the idea (turns it from an N product to S). If it can’t be done literally, then that is what symbolic “ritual” (religious or otherwise) is for.
It seems we all want our wishes concretized. It’s part of the survival instinct, as we have to live in this tangible or concrete world. As an N growing up in an S environment, I frequently heard the distinction between “the real world” and “your dream world” or “fantasy”, with the former as the “important” one. This is because it is the realm of survival; of consequences that can be very negative, but then we would be forced to live with, if we haven’t taken all the necessary precautions to avoid them and protect ourselves.
The visible world, if superstring theory is correct, consists of invisible loops of vibrational energy. Enough of certain vibrations of these loops together will produce fields that repel or block other fields from passing through. Back on a macroscopic scale, this will either trigger receptors in our skin (consisting of more of these fields) directly, or bounce the other fields back which will be picked up by other receptors from a distance. Thus, we end up with what we call a “tangible object“, which can be felt, seen and heard; that is, “sensation” (S).
These loops of energy are only 10-33m big, and below that, space and time themselves break down, so that you are only left with a sort of hypothetical realm defined by mathematical matrices. Here, S “tangible reality” and N “hypothetical idea” have been completely undifferentiated. (What started heading toward this notion was “the uncertainty principle”, where every point in space is filled with “virtual” matter/antimatter pairs that split and then annihilate each other, forming only a “potential” [N] existence of particles[S]).
As divisions of reality, the reason “reality” seems lopsided in favor of S, is because of the forces of “entropy”, where we are dragged along in the dimension of “time”, where events have a causal relationship (where in the other three dimensions, of space, objects and events are more independent), and for every action, there must be a reaction, and for every “give” there must be a “take” (as matter cannot be created or destroyed; at least not in our everyday physics). So it is often hard to undo changes made in the tangible world. Hence, having to “live with” what we call “consequences”, that we want to avoid if negative and not conducive to our survival. Like ending up penniless and without food on the street, if we haven’t found some skill to “trade” with, or held down an occupation of this trade in one way or the other.
Hence, the “physical” world, or universe, can be very violent and unforgiving.
Our world of “ideas”, however, is more malleable or readily changeable, by us in our own minds. Intuition was defined by Jung as “where it’s heading” (while S was “what it is”), but if we don’t like where it’s heading, in our minds we have more power to change things; perhaps the whole “story” itself.
The drawback of this, is that there will not be agreement in awareness. Each person can assign his own meaning or interpretation of things. With the physical world, everyone has to “agree” on certain things. If there’s a wall before us, we all will see and feel it. If someone is blind and can’t see it, or has no tactile sense, or simply chooses to believe it’s not there; all will be stopped if they try to walk through it. So the big drawback of the N perspective’s malleability is that S “reality” can so easily crash right through it and even drown it out. And it can be otherwise unstable.
Another problem with this is to begin with, we can’t even see (or otherwise perceive) all of reality; especially not at once. (This is what people using an ST perspective, that aims to thunder “reality” or “truth” at others often neglect). This is where N fills in, and people come up with interpretations, implications, hypotheses, etc. And this ends up as the source of all the disputes we have in life, especially the two biggest ones, we are not supposed to bother arguing about: religion (what unseen entity created all of this), and politics (which seen [human collective] entity should rule it in absence of intervention by anyone higher).
This is where I myself realized, that I can fantasize, hypothesize and argue all I want through my preferred N perspective, but I got the sense that the to make my views or experiences the “official” ones; I needed the S perspective; for them to be concretized in actual experience where everyone would have to agree that this was real.
While we all want our wishes concretized, I realize we must remember that the ideas are in a way always “better” because of the fact that they are more controllable. This is basically what religion has taught (though not practiced itself, consistently, like in getting mixed up in politics). We have little control over the concrete reality, and it changes irreversibly (only “ideas” last, really) so the things we take joy in get changed forever. People we love can die, or turn against us. Really great times of peace and comfort can be disrupted by tragedy. (So to some, it then becomes hard to get emotionally attached to anything for fear it will be destroyed).
The problem of faith is basically that it is a shaky N product, like politics, that has been subject to people’s interpretations. So with God, we are left with the “idea”, represented in the diagram by the third category, “spirit” (which “bears witness with our spirit”). Ideas of God vs reality of God is very difficult to deal with because He has withdrawn all tangible intervention (so then we are supposed to go on “general revelation” as the tangible [S] evidence, and “conscience” as the moral [F] guide). The “body” was represented by the Son, who did walk the earth and say that whoever saw Him saw the (otherwise aloof) Father (John 14:9; which would basically be the divine “Soul”). Before that, you had various “epiphanies”, which we could also see as the “Word” or pre-incarnate Christ. But after Christ, all of that ended.
People will try to hold scripture up as the “concrete” reality, but unfortunately, that too is something that has become prone to interpretation by many different groups of men. (What ends up happening is that “majority” and “seniority” ends up defining the correct interpretation; like the Catholic Church’s “antiquity/ubiquity/unanimity and American evangelical apologetic’s “historic orthodoxy”, which right away disagrees with the older and more widespread Catholicism in many places. But if the earlier group was wrong, then so can the newer group be).
While some language is “plain” (which people will seize and build a whole premise off of), there are still larger contexts (N products) that could have been lost or at least obscured over time. Like the exact meaning of the symbols of prophecy. We tend to take it and apply it all to ourselves, in our time, but what happens, is that every generation ends up with different meanings for the same things.
Heaven now is just ideas, with absolutely no tangible experience available. On one hand, the notion of this other realm, where we will apparently all have our senses back and agree on reality, will be technically “tangible”, though perhaps not based on the same energy and forces as this universe (the Standard Model). Religion traditionally taught that this was completely different from this existence; a simultaneous existence people go when they die, but the rise of dispensational futurism, with its emphasis on certain scriptures regarding [presumably] future “bodily resurrection”, posits that the first stage of the heavenly kingdom, the “Millennium”, will be this same earth, though ruled by Christ instead of the current sinful human systems. At the end of that, the entire universe will be transformed into something else. (When still a futurist, I actually put this together with string theory, which says the Standard Model could change in an instant, if it were not the lowest energy state, like a bed sheet wanting to curl up. All matter in the universe would break down and reshape itself according to new laws. So perhaps then there would no longer be any “entropy”, where things tend to decay, and the physical world could finally conform to our ideas of “perfection”. Survival might no longer be the first priority of living beings).
Heaven being an “idea” makes it very unstable as a source of “hope”. We end up creating images of a “perfect” version of this world (ever read Armstrong’s The Wonderful World of Tomorrow or the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth and others?), that makes some people think it must be boring or lack meaning (the primal “meaning” of life in this tangible world again, being necessary “survival” in it). Also, if it’s true that the “descriptions” of Heaven at the end of the Bible are really metaphors for something else (such as redemption in this world, which is a more matching-ly abstract “hope”), then we see right there why hope in unseen ideas can be so uncertain (and scripture not as “concrete” as we would think). Again, something tangible becomes “official”, having to be agreed on by everyone; one way or another.
This problem is highlighted by the phenomenon of Christians preaching Heaven to the suffering, while hoarding power over others and making sure their own lives are taken care of, and fighting what they see as “threats” to their power or freedoms. Concrete reality and “nature” usurps the idea of integrity they preach.
It seems S/N disparity is more significant than the other major pole of type, T/F (impersonal vs personal) because it involves the type of data being taken into awareness to begin with. T/F confusion would involve stuff like treating people as impersonal objects, or becoming attached to things as if they were people. There’s plenty of that, of course, but that too even is a confusion of S and N; usually focusing on the “idea” of people and things apart from the tangible reality.
In this breakdown, F in effect becomes associated with S, and N with T, in dealing with whether they are ideas [N] which are impersonal [T] things, rather than having affected [F] emotions and feelings which are tangible stimuli processed and stored in a physical brain [S].
It is when dealing with the nature of reality in itself that S becomes wed to T, in dealing with “what is”, in the physical [S] world of the universe and its impersonal [T] laws as opposed to people who also consist of invisible souls [N] that are nevertheless affected [F] by things.
Real people can be seen as an invisible “idea”, but it has to match a visible “body” that contains a brain that holds all their knowledge; all their sensations, intuitions, thoughts and feelings; basically holds the “invisible part of them”. So when our “ideas” of people don’t match the tangible body, or what’s in the brain, that’s when there are misunderstandings, disappointments and disillusionments. (Like in online dating, that’s where we get what’s called “catfishing”). To get involved with a potential romantic or sexual partner, you’re getting more than just an idea of a person, (and more than just a body that you project these ideas onto), but also a person with all their own issues, quirks, faults, wants, wounds, etc. that will affect their relationship to you.
We all need to remember that every person is a living being. This on one hand “depersonalizes” (T) them in a way, yet it maintains their individual right to live and survive in the world (S) and not exist merely as an idea (N) simply to fulfill someone’s fantasy, which depersonalizes them in a different way.
Meanwhile, fictional characters are basically “ideas” of people without tangible bodies. We can get caught up in fantasy worlds like we see on TV, and then treat real people as if they were characters like those. But when the information in their brains become evident, or if their bodies don’t match up to our expectations (even natural stuff such as body odor, etc. that everyone has, but we don’t think about when idealizing a person), then again, we often encounter problems.
So this is a way to discuss a lot of the “cognitive dissonance” we see in life.