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Thread: Si vs Ni

  1. #1
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Default Si vs Ni

    I'm really curious about similarities and contrasts between these two functions. Personally, Ni is my dominant function and Si doesn't make it onto the map (it ranks 8 out of 8). Yet, it is clear that the two functions can be confused externally. The Ni and Si dominant types can be confused. This made me curious why this would be the case. There must be some manner in which the two functions interrelate, but I don't have a good grasp on it at the moment. I have trouble reconciling any parallels, but can see outwardly that there must be some.

    Here are descriptions of the two functions. There are better links with more comprehensive descriptions, but i can't find them in my bookmarks. If someone else has the links that would be greatly appreciated.

    Link
    Quote Originally Posted by Ni
    Ni is the creation of mental imagery independent of outer stimuli. Ni generates abstract structural images of a given problem domain that a person can view from different points of view at will. Ni focuses on the structure of things from a timeless point of view.
    Quote Originally Posted by Si
    Si is awareness of concrete forms and categories of sensory perception. Si interprets stimuli in terms of the past. Si stores and recalls facts, figures and past situations.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

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    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Si and Ni perceive in the same way, but the data comes in totally different forms. Same method, different data. There is a similar parallel between Ne and Se.
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    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    i can't tell the difference unless the INTJ is an uber-geek.

    ISTJ and INTJ confuse the hell out of me (when I'm trying to type someone else). And I have never even successfully found an INFJ.
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    Senior Member pocket lint's Avatar
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    INTROVERTED SENSATION

    Quasi-defining statements
    p. 169: "When we use Introverted Sensation, we don't adjust to our surface perceptions. We package them and take them with us--in the form of facts, numbers, signs, and memories."

    p. 170: "When we use Introverted Sensation, we stabilize our immediate sense impressions by integratng them with the ones we remember and care about. We "find ourselves" in whatever is happening, because our perceptions are anchored by what we already know."

    p. 170: "Introverted Sensation gives us the will to accumulate information--names, dates, numbers, statistics, references, guidelines, and so forth--related to the things that matter to us. ... Such facts are highly selective. ... They're part of our self-experience. They define the specific nature of our passions and interests. They become our basis for taking in new data."

    p. 171: "From an Introverted Sensate viewpoint, immediate conditions have no stable meaning. They're just an influx of data impinging on the senses. And our response to these impressions depends on our mood, our state of mind, our desires, our feelings. It's our commitments and priorities, the facts we hold inalienable, that give our circumstances enduring significance."

    As a dominant attitude:

    p. 174: "ISJs...don't believe for a minute that the universe is inherently rational. For these types, the outer world is a jumble of ever-changing perceptual experiences, dictating ever-changing behavioral responses. What ISJs maintain, and maintain unconditionally, is their priorities, which stabilize perceptual reality and give it consistent meaning."

    Proposed definition #1: You need a map
    Introverted Sensation (Si) is the attitude that what is manifest (apparent, observable) is overwhelming in its complexity and patternlessness, and that the only way we can find our way through it is with a map. To make our way through the unpredictable, we need to anchor ourselves in some way, to know what, in that vast chaos, to focus on. (See Orienting.)

    Proposed definition #2: The unknown is dangerous, so anchor yourself in the known
    Introverted Sensation (Si) is the attitude that the unknown mostly contains threats that will undermine life and order. Given the precariousness of life--so many things have to be jjjjust right--the odds of something unknown being beneficial are very low. Consequently life demands that we carefully filter the unknown before letting it into a position of influence, that we construct barriers against the unknown, etc.

    For example, in engineering, one is primarily concerned with designing systems that won't fail even though most of the exact causes of failure are not knowable in any precise way. Engineers learn many different ways in which things fail, and learn to design so that the things work, or at least major disasters don't occur, even when things go wrong--as they inevitably will. A bridge is typically designed to hold a load 6 times bigger than the biggest anticipated load, simply so it will resist unexpected troubles--shearing winds, or cracks in unexpected places, or who-knows-what that might come along and can never be fully anticipated. The full breadth of relevant dangerous factors is inherently unknowable.

    An everyday example is to allow some extra time when leaving on a trip. The reason for leaving some extra time is because the world is filled with unpredictable things that could make you late. Very few unpredictable things could come along and make you early if you left late.

    From the Si standpoint, the more you're going to depend on something, the more carefully you'd better inspect it, because you never know what unknown things might go awry, you only know that most of them are bad.
    INTROVERTED INTUITION

    Quasi-defining statements
    p. 222: "...draws our attention to immediate sensory phenomena. ... It prompts an interest in perception itself--the process of recognizing and interpreting what we take in."

    p. 223: "Introverted Intuition would prompt us to liberate our sense impressions from their larger context, thereby creating new options for perception itself."

    p. 229: "Introverted Intuitions are not really ideas. They're like trains at the edge of articulated knowledge. You can't claim them or advocate them. You put on a hat, grab hold of a boxcar door, and see where they go."

    p. 153: "Introverted Intuition suggests that absolute meaning is an illusion--the result of having incomplete information."

    As a dominant function:


    p. 225: "For INJs, patterns aren't 'out there' in the world, waiting to be discovered. They're part of us--the way we make sense of the riot of energy and information impinging on our systems. 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."

    p. 225: "Where Extraverted Intuitives see many behavioral options, INJs acknowledge many conceptual standpoints. They experience no need to declare one inherently better than another. Indeed, these types have the disconcerting habit of solving a problem by shifting their perspective and defining the situation some other way."

    p. 234: "For INJs, truth isn't about logic. Truth is a frame of reference, a way of organizing information, which serves one set of needs or another."

    Proposed definition #1: Seeing past interpretations
    Introverted Intuition (Ni) is the attitude that whatever is manifest (apparent, observable, described) is only the tiniest fraction of the total reality and all of its potential, and it is manifest only because it serves a purpose--a purpose that it achieves by exploiting a certain way of interpreting or navigating by signs. Ni is attunement to what lurks in the shadow of that manifestation. What is that assumed way of interpreting or navigating? What could we see if we were free of it?

    Proposed definition #2: What cannot be said?
    Introverted Intuition is the attitude of attunement to what cannot be said, by virtue of the structuring that "saying" requires.

    For example: At work, we don't dare say our true feelings (or we can only say them if they're positive), because we know that sharing them would bring dire economic consequences. There is no other way, because the structure of the workplace (people working cooperatively to get stuff done that they get paid for) requires that people refrain from saying anything that might put their loyalty in doubt. If an accountant, in his office, says that he loves accounting, you view this as meaningless because, well, what else is he going to say? In fact, he might very well hate accounting. You have to be highly attuned to what's really going on in order to read the true meaning of what people say--which is often the opposite of the literal meaning of their words. (See Eric Berne.)

    For example: Why do we put North at the top of most maps? Because the mapmaking tradition began among northern-dwelling people, who considered people who lived further south to be less important. Putting North at the top of the map frames geography in a way that, perhaps unwittingly, conveys the belief that Europeans are better or more important than Africans. This can't be said by anything within the map; the very way that the map is structured and related to reality says it.

    For example: What does music mean? You can't say it. It's ineffable. (See Introverted Intuition and the Meaning of Music.) What is God? What is spirit? Any attempt to capture these things in words only cheapens them.

    Introverted Intuition is an attitude of "seeing through" the distortion that any interpretation creates, to see the underlying reality. It's a left-brain attitude in that it's sign- and symbol-oriented: attempting to grasp the system of interpretation that makes any particular way of representing reality work, as a prerequisite for using that system. From an Ni ego-state, you want to understand the assumptions of a system of representation before you use the system, so that you can use it with true freedom--including the freedom to use the built-in interpretations in ways that violate those assumptions.

    [B]Proposed definition #3: Orientation by manner of orientation[B]
    Introverted Intuition is a way of orienting yourself to your environment by consciously attending to the expected interpretations of things. In this manner of orientation, you hold agnostic about whether those interpretations are true. You view them as expected interpretations, nothing more. Your world is a world of expected interpretations defined by others; you navigate through those interpretations and use them without regard to whether they're true, always keeping the interpretations separate in your mind from the actual objects.

    For example, whereas from an Extraverted Sensation perspective, you might feel very impressed upon meeting a man wearing a fancy Italian suit (signs call forth a natural response and need no interpretation); from an Ni perspective, you would consciously say to yourself that he's wearing an Italian suit and this is supposed to make you think he's wealthy or upper-class or really has his act together or something like that, and therefore is supposed to make you feel impressed (signs and what they mean are connected only arbitrarily). Whether he really does have his act together is a matter upon which you reserve judgement. Consequently you don't feel impressed. You merely note the expected interpretation as no less a part of your environment than the suit itself.

    Without knowing the expected interpretations of a system--the way signs are interpreted within that system, and the expected responses that make the system work--you can't get oriented via Ni. The expected interpretations must be stabilized and clear to you. Then you can comment from an outside perspective, or see ways to respond to the signs that violate the system's assumptions, or simply know how to operate the thing. First you have to get "outside" it, then you can deal with it. The process of "getting outside it" can take a long time. As you identify expected interpretations, you find yourself uncovering ever more and more hidden assumptions, and you feel the need to distance yourself from those, too, before you get your hands dirty or draw a conclusion.

    Proposed definition #4: Just knowing
    Ni is a way of knowing (or at least thinking you know) that bypasses reason, facts, evidence, the expected or intended interpretations of signs, or anything you can point to, simply giving you an awareness or belief that seems indisputably true to you, period. You can't tell by introspection how you got this idea. There is no thought process. There is only tuning into this form of awareness and just knowing.

    For example: You've been interviewing candidates for a job. One of them has all the credentials, and scored the highest on all the company-defined criteria for the job. Another of them was pretty good but not in the same league. You have a sense about the high-scorer, though, that he's bad news, and that the "so-so" one will work out well. You can't point to anything that's let you to this conclusion, you can't justify your belief, but you have this sense just the same. To trust this unjustifiable idea is to orient by introverted intuition.

    For example: The song Bad Moon Rising illustrates an Ni sense of danger. The belief is strong yet vague.

    For example: A co-worker calls you on the phone and says that he has a cold and won't be able to come in that day. You "see through" what he said: you "just know" it's a lie: really he has an interview at another company. You can't point to a single thing that leads you to such a specific conclusion, and yet there it is.

    For example: You are trying to solve some problem--an interpersonal problem, a mathematical problem, it could be anything. Everything seems to be snared and confused. You ask yourself, "What's really going on here?" And an answer comes.

    For example: Jack Groverland (ENTJ?) preaches to "be still" and just "tune in to what that greater intelligence that is the universe wants you to do."

    With extraverted intuition, you bypass the socially defined interpretations of signs by broadening the context, and thus relate to other people's ideas in a definite way: you propose something "outside the box"--the box that other people are thinking in. You expect that other people's minds will be blown, probably pleasantly, inducing a feeling of "wow!" With introverted intuition, you also bypass the expected interpretations of signs, but your belief is self-contained, and you have no sense that anyone else would find it interesting or compelling. It came to you, for no reason that you can fathom, and you can't show anyone else any reason why they should take it seriously. The belief might be very specific, too vague for words, or even too specific for words.

    Orienting by Ni, you are likely to view belief as something that simply arises within each person when they tune into it. If two people have different beliefs, there is no resolving it. I have my belief and you have yours. End of story. New ideas or evidence seem beside the point. If you think there's a bad moon rising, how could mere "evidence" persuade you otherwise?

    Lenore doesn't talk much about this
    Lenore's writing doesn't emphasize this aspect of Ni. It's hidden in little notes here and there, like the way tertiary Ni can give ISFPs the will to hold to a belief even when others don't agree with it, or the way ENTJs "see around the corners" of an organization's official rules. For the most part, Lenore emphasizes neutrality between conflicting ideas. The present hypothesis proposes that this emphasis is a possible, maybe illustrative, but not necessary consequence of the basic idea: "just knowing" in a way that bypasses built-in or conventional interpretations of signs: seeing past the signs, and just "getting" the truth (or at least thinking you have).

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    I pick up on Si when I notice people comparing future or present events to the past. It's as if past experience is constantly dictating what will happen to them in the future. While with Ni, the future tends to be something completely new and different from the past.

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    Senior Member pocket lint's Avatar
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    Si - Introverted Sensing:

    Introverted Sensing often involves storing data and information, then comparing and contrasting the current situation with similar ones. The immediate experience or words are instantly linked with the prior experiences, and we register a similarity or a difference—for example, noticing that some food doesn’t taste the same or is saltier than it usually is. Introverted Sensing is also operating when we see someone who reminds us of someone else. Sometimes a feeling associated with the recalled image comes into our awareness along with the information itself. Then the image can be so strong, our body responds as if reliving the experience. The process also involves reviewing the past to draw on the lessons of history, hindsight, and experience. With introverted Sensing, there is often great attention to detail and getting a clear picture of goals and objectives and what is to happen. There can be a oneness with ageless customs that help sustain civilization and culture and protect what is known and long-lasting, even while what is reliable changes.
    Ni- Introverted iNtuiting:

    Introverted iNtuiting involves synthesizing the seemingly paradoxical or contradictory, which takes understanding to a new level. Using this process, we can have moments when completely new, unimagined realizations come to us. A disengagement from interactions in the room occurs, followed by a sudden “Aha!” or “That’s it!” The sense of the future and the realizations that come from introverted iNtuiting have a sureness and an imperative quality that seem to demand action and help us stay focused on fulfilling our vision or dream of how things will be in the future. Using this process, we might rely on a focal device or symbolic action to predict, enlighten, or transform. We could find ourselves laying out how the future will unfold based on unseen trends and telling signs. This process can involve working out complex concepts or systems of thinking or conceiving of symbolic or novel ways to understand things that are universal. It can lead to creating transcendent experiences or solutions.
    ---
    Sorry, all I did was copy and paste gigantic blocks of text. You said you wanted comprehensive descriptions so I gave em' to ya.

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    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Thank you, pocket lint, for the helpful links.

    What I read in comparison/contrast, is that both Ni and Si view the vast expanse of reality and attempt to make sense of it. Si makes sense by internalizing concrete references and establishing a stable, individual perceptual standpoint. Ni makes sense by internalizing the abstract interrelationships and makes sense of it by being able to shift perceptual vantage points. Si develops one, clear way of making sense of the chaos through a history of patterns. Ni has a continually shifting vantage points that makes sense of the chaos through possibilities of different ways the patterns might interconnect. If this is correct then one way to delineate the difference is to compare how Si and Ni process new information. Is it examined through the lens of a single, stable perceptual angle, or is it examined through shifting vantage-points that are less stable, but view more aspects of the information?

    I would suggest that when Ni responds with a powerful "hunch" to new information, it might appear to have the same certitude as Si inherently possesses. I wonder if this is part of the confusion. Otherwise I see a precise polar opposite in Si certitude vs. Ni agnosticism.

    That is how i'm reading it so far.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quietgirl View Post
    I pick up on Si when I notice people comparing future or present events to the past. It's as if past experience is constantly dictating what will happen to them in the future. While with Ni, the future tends to be something completely new and different from the past.
    That definitely is a hallmark of Si. When I interact with ISxJ people, I constantly forget that what happened to them in the past or what they have already experienced is the best predictor they have for the future. They create an extensive inner map, then often try to align the present and the future to this map (rather than even realigning the map per se to the present).

    With Ni, the map can be spun, stretched, superimposed, twisted around like taffy. But the Si map is very static, basically an "answer key." I do not know if this is right, but I get an image of the "answer key" -- a piece of paper with holes cut in it for the answers -- that is laid over someone's test paper.

    The grid for Si is always the same, and every experience has the Si answer grid laid over top and marked accordingly.

    The Ni answer grid also has holes cut in it, but the Ni person will spin or flip or shift the answer key, thus allowing for various different groupings of answers. There is still a pattern there -- a particular relationship between all the answers -- but the grid can be flexed and twisted.

    I don't know if that is completely accurate, but the image came to mind so I thought I would offer it to see what people thought.
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    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    The following is a half-baked theory I'm still rolling about my mind based on personal experience alone, so take it with a grain of salt:

    ISTJs seem to have accepted that the world and universe is complete chaos and as such work to create the most complete version of their personal truth as possible. They realize they will never be any other human being, so further reflection is pointless; Be the Best Me I Can Be.

    INTJs have come to a similar realization, but rather than bother with personal truths, accept that all truths are justifiable from their individual standpoints and, in a sense, equally true. They then use that rationale as their starting point in drawing conclusions.

    (Hence my comments elsewhere about Ni and Fe seemingly being at odds.)

    Parentheses #2: (I used ISTJs and INTJs because I have virtually no experience with ISFJs and INFJs.)

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    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    (Hence my comments elsewhere about Ni and Fe seemingly being at odds.)
    This is what I keep thinking too. It seems like Ni is naturally a highly analytical function, so I have an easy time understanding how it pairs with Te, which is an objective and fairly dispassionate function. Trying to imagine how Ni pairs with Fe doesn't always make sense to me, since while Ni is analytical, Fe seems to be the antithesis of analytical. To me it appears that INFJ's dispassionately see all perspectives and then they passionately latch onto one perspective seemingly at random.
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