I understand, however, that the definitions being conceptually different does not lend them merit to the personality theory without actually witnessing some sort of cognitive differences among individuals. In other words, if we can't apply the concepts in practice, then the concepts are moot.
To make cognitive categories that have no basis in reality would be silly, I agree. It would be like extrapolating two subsets from the larger vegetable set and labeling these subsets as "vegetables that talk and don't walk" and "vegetables that walk and don't talk." Conceptually, the definitions of these categories logically necessitate that they be mutually exclusive, but considering that no vegetables walk and no vegetables talk, there's no point in really having these subsets in the first place, so they are kind of moot.
If I'm understanding you correctly, that's how you feel about Ne and Ni. You understand the definitions, and you understand that the definitions are different in theory, but you've never actually seen cognitive manifestations within an individual that correspond exclusively to Ne or exclusively to Ni, thus you see no reason for the N subsets.
I notice the same thing when I teach calculus and chemistry to students. I tweak my teaching style depending on the student.I've seen N vs S. When I used to teach physics classes, I'd have to lines of patter, one aimed at "the memorizers" and one at "the thinkers" (an unfortunate name, but it's all I had at the time). For the memorizers, I'd just describe the kind of problem it is, and list the steps on how to solve it, and they'd understand it. For the thinkers, I'd say, "here's how it all works underneath the hood," and they'd just get it, without my having to get really specific.
By using both methods, I was able to get everyone up to speed pretty quickly. These days, I know that the memorizers are S, and the thinkers are N, at least insofar as MBTI typing is concerned. It really didn't seem to matter whether it was NT or NF, there was a common understanding of the intuitive picture.
Since you don't feel like you've experienced a notable difference among S-ers and N-ers, then I'll try to lend you a bit of my own experience with teaching (I tutor small groups and one-on-one), and maybe that will help you see that perhaps there really is a reason to create S subsets and N subsets.
Note: I'm offering a situational approach, rather than a theoretical/definitional one, because your main issue with functional theory is that you believe there's no empirical basis for it, due to the fact that you've never empirically witnessed cognitive differences within the S group and within the N group.
The example is a bit long-winded, and I don't really feel like streamlining what I've already written to make it more concise, so if you don't want to sift through the details, then just scroll down a bit to what I've bolded. That pretty much sums it up.
In calculus/math (as I'm sure you know, being a physics teacher), there are many different intertwining methods of describing a theory. Namely, we can show calculus theorems via graphs or via mathematical logic.
I have students, like you, who seem more keen on memorizing mathematical theories rather than understanding why the theory is true from a broader lens. They don't care about how the theory can be witnessed in a graph, nor do care about how the theory can be witnessed through logical statements. They also don't care about how subsequent theorems and mathematical operations that they learn are related to former theorems. They care to look at the mathematical statement and memorize what it says, word by word, symbol by symbol, and recall what it says for the test. They just want to deposit pieces of data into their recall bank, independently from each other, and withdrawal these independent pieces of data for assignments/tests.
Like you, I categorize these above students as sensors, but unlike you, I'd specifically label them as Si-ers, rather than the broader label of S (according to more traditional function theory). They learn by gathering details, memorizing details, and recalling details. They don't attempt to find connections between the details, how the details work, or ponder further on what the details imply; that's not how they learn, so that's not important to them.
I also have students that learn solely by understanding the spatial meaning of mathematical theories (graphically). They are not memorizing, per say, but they cannot fully understand the theory until they see how it makes sense on a graph, and they put their understanding into practice by revisualizing (experiencing again, mentally) the spatial meanings in their heads. They can't really explain the underlying features that make the graph what it is, from an intuitive approach, but they seem to just *get* it once they see the graph. They learn by soaking in the details of what they are doing/seeing/experiencing physically (not memorizing, thus different from what I label as Si-ers). They don't remember every detail of every graph; rather, they understand the mechanisms by which graphs are formed, and they can figure out how physical details of graphs and/or how different graphs are related, and they can utilize this information for subsequent mathematical challenges. Without understanding these spatial mechanisms, they would not learn the material. They have to see it, experience it, before they will truly understand how math works, and once they experience it, understanding comes to them almost immediately.
I would call these above students the Se-ers. They are sensing types, rather than intuiting types, because they learn from and value experiencing rather than conceptualizing. Yet, they learn differently from this other group of S's (the Si-ers) because they are not making a bank for future withdrawals; they are establishing a broad spatial frame of reference to which future challenges can be applied via their immediate experience with the space.
However, in regards to learning style, what I deem the Se-ers, like the other S-types, are still different from intuitives. They don't attempt to understand the abstract inner workings of the mathematical theorem (how the written math applies to the graphical theory, perhaps). The physical experience is enough for them to understand/learn. The intuitives (I'm not going to distinguish what I've noticed as differences among what I deem Ne/Ni learning styles here, as Se/Si should be enough for the discussion at this point), however, do not learn/understand through memorization or through the graphical approach. They need something bigger, something more underlying. They understand calculus by both how the written math works, how the graph works, and how the the written math and graph are related to each other.
I show the Si-ers an image of a graph, and they memorize every detail of it. (sensory details yield memorization yield learning)
I show Se-ers an image of a graph, and they analyze the details and the relationship between the details of the graph to figure out how/why the graph looks the way it looks. (sensory details yield further corollary analysis yield learning)
I show the Ns a graph, and it means nothing to them without further information, outside of the graph. (abstract information yields sensory details yield learning)
I can categorize these different learning styles however I want. I see that the first two learning styles are similar in that they both rely on sensory details, yet different from the third learning style that relies more on abstract concepts. Since the first two are similar, I'll give them both the same label: S, and I'll distinguish the third by giving it a different label: N.
However, the first two are still different enough to break them apart even further. I want to maintain the category that says they are the same, S, but develop a second sub-category, that shows they are different: e/i.
Thus, the analysis of my experience shows me that there are notable differences among two things that share qualities, and that's one way that I justify Se/Si.
(Personally, my experience with Se/Si does not give the basis for why I see merit in the function categories. I just laid that out for you to show that empirically, the categories can be witnessed some where.)
Again, I was not trying to "prove" myself right (or prove you wrong). I was just asking for a more theoretical approach to justify your pet theory because the theoretical approach already in place makes sense to me from an a priori perspective, and that alone is enough reason for me personally to see merit in it. Thus, the way I personally saw fit for you to explain (and perhaps justify) your theory was via another good (or perhaps better) a prior theory. My request was based on nothing more than personal preference to how I approach/view typology.So you can "prove" yourself right based on the Jungian definitions, but I'd rather make observations and actually see whether there is a luminiferous aether through which light propagates: in fact, if it is well-defined enough, then it is fairly easy to demonstrate or disprove through observation/experiment.
(You, however, deem this a priori approach completely trivial, so my request for an a priori justification for your pet theory will not be obliged, as your pet theory comes from empirical observation.)
I think this represents a really great contrast between Ti (me) and Te (you).
I wasn't asking you to prove it to me. I just wanted to understand the basis of it; I was curious.Hey, I'm not trying to "prove" my ideas to anyone. It's just observations I've made, and skepticism of my own w/r to MBTI. My "pet theory" is just that: it's my best guess for right now.
I'm not passing judgment on your theory (yet) or extrapolating information about you based on what I know of your theory. I just found your assertion interesting, and I wanted more information, not so I could establish value regarding your assertion, but merely because it's fun to hear your side of the story. I'm a P, remember? That's what we do.
Really, all that we'd need to do for you to see merit in having two different N and S categories is show empirically that NiTi and NeTi (or SiTi/SeTi or SiFi/SeFi or NiFe NeFe, etc.) are cognitively different. I have absolutely no idea how to do that (I tried it with my math story, but that probably means very little to someone who values empiricism as much as you seem to), considering that typology is not an empirical science and that I share no experiences with you, but maybe somebody else is willing to take on the challenge.If you can demonstrate what NeTe is like working together, with a good way to differentiate it from NiTe and NeTi, without asserting, e.g., that so-and-so is ENFP, therefore it has to be NeTe, because an ENFP doesn't have Ni, then we have something productive to discuss.
One last food for thought:
It's about what led you to make those connections, not the act itself of making them.
Two different personality types can behave in the same way and think the same things. When they arrive at similar behaviors/thoughts, this doesn't mean that they are using the same functions, though, as the path they took to get to these behaviors/thoughts could be notably different. The path is the function(s).
So, rather than analyzing functions in terms of connecting them with what may be behavioral/mental manifestations of the functions, you should analyze the functions that define your cognition by analyzing how you think (rather than what you think) and how you arrive to your values (not what your values are).