In "cognitive processes" theories, Se, Si, Ne, Ni, Te, Ti, Fe, and Fi are categories of conscious mental activity, so that nearly everything we do mentally can be fit into one category. Different versions of "cognitive processes" assign pretty different meanings to the same two-letter codes, but here is a sample of how the approach works: memory, or recalling the past, is Si; envisioning future scenarios is Ni; playing sports is Se; having sex is Se; saying something to put people at ease is Fe; expressing your emotions is Fe; keeping your emotions to yourself is Fi; brainstorming is Ne; finding the leverage points that will repair a system is Ti; making and following a schedule is Te; etc.
This leads to questions like:
• "Which cognitive process do I use when stroking my cat? Fi because it's empathic? Fe because it's expressive? Se because it's physical? A combination of those three?"
• "Which cognitive process is recognizing a face? Se because it's visual? Ne because it involves a pattern? Te because it involves putting something into a category? Si because it's recognizing something known from the past?"
Another way to put it is that these theories make Se, Si, Ne, Ni, Te, Ti, Fe, and Fi into something like gears in a car, and you shift between them just like when driving. For example, "It's time to plan next year's budget. Since that's in the future, I'd better use my Ni."
Hypothesis: Lenore's function attitudes are conflicting forms of mental representation
Lenore Thomson, by contrast, is describing conflicting ways that the brain structures or represents the self and the environment. Each attitude gives you a different view of the same situation, and it's hard to see in terms of more than one of them at the same time, something like a Necker cube. Having many conflicting ways of looking at the same things was Nature's way of giving you extraordinary adaptiveness, many opposite ways of structuring information creating greater stability than committing stiffly to any one form of coherence. Each attitude gives you a different mechanism for orienting yourself in a situation and navigating through life.