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  1. #1
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Default Type and Reductionism: Is It Time to Move Away From the Eight-Functions Model?

    I recently came across an article which was written by Henry Thompson. For those who aren't familiar with him, here is the story.

    Somewhere along the line, with the popularity of MBTI, the underlying depth of complexity of Jung's theory was lost and people only focused on the four functions vs eight. The words would be there in various MBTI books (extraverted thinking, introverted sensing, etc.) but they were never explained. Thomson's book, "Jung's Function Attitudes Explained," written in 1996, was the first book to exclusively focus on the eight functions and how they manifest themselves. It also includes a brief description of the "grip" experiences that Quenk elaborates in great detail on in Beside Ourselves/Was That Really Me?. It is concise, clearly written and straightforward while imparting important principles and examples. Maybe someone else would have written it if he hadn't but it seems to be a cornerstone work in terms of influencing people to think about Jungian functions vs. MBTI letters.

    So, the following is a link to an article he wrote in 2006 that seems to reflect how his views may have changed - or that at least he was questioning things.

    http://www.hpsys.com/PDFs/Type%20and...ism%202006.pdf

    What do you think???

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    Senior Member Stevo's Avatar
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    I read it and I didn't really see where he was going with it, other than to say the standard "Don't pigeonhole people" plea as applied to functions rather than type indicators. I'm not really sure why people are so concerned about that these days, really.

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  4. #4
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    It's true there doesn't seem to be too much discussion of type as an on-going process. Beebe does talk about origins of type (and I'm starting to wonder if his discussion is not corrupt), but does anyone else go into what if any changes occur arise in type when it is seen as a complex system whose mechanisms have been turning over inside one person for years if not decades?

    To approach this question one might not necessarily have to use reductionist language, but what the hell, I'm here anyway: is function order reliable? That's to say, if type is a dynamic system, what structures it? Is function order set more or less in stone and this lets the functions function, or do functions arrive in an order partly related to their innate character but also related to environmental pressures? (And who wants to bet the naive answer for introverts is function order is real, while the naive answer for extroverts is, duh, environment changes everything!)

    Why can an order even exist? It has to, right? Otherwise you don't have a personality. A relatively stable over time set of approaches and patterns. But..... meh, dunno.






    Footnote: I'm wondering if Beebe didn't create a model that works very well in describing how someone with introverted sensing as inferior accesses and creates the unconscious. The complexes sound like Si visions. But what of other types and the various different inferior functions and thus the various different bridges to the unconscious?
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    It's true there doesn't seem to be too much discussion of type as an on-going process. Beebe does talk about origins of type (and I'm starting to wonder if his discussion is not corrupt), but does anyone else go into what if any changes occur arise in type when it is seen as a complex system whose mechanisms have been turning over inside one person for years if not decades?

    To approach this question one might not necessarily have to use reductionist language, but what the hell, I'm here anyway: is function order reliable? That's to say, if type is a dynamic system, what structures it? Is function order set more or less in stone and this lets the functions function, or do functions arrive in an order partly related to their innate character but also related to environmental pressures? (And who wants to bet the naive answer for introverts is function order is real, while the naive answer for extroverts is, duh, environment changes everything!)

    Why can an order even exist? It has to, right? Otherwise you don't have a personality. A relatively stable over time set of approaches and patterns. But..... meh, dunno.
    I think this may lead to something interesting. Not all functions are created equal. I recall the fact that Ne in ENxP's can greatly trump all the other functions following it (I'm just recalling some old thread posts). I find myself questioning whether anyone can truly 'lead' with an introverted function. I'm sure it's been said before, but before any information can be thought about it has to be taken in. This however probably does not coincide with peoples view on Ni and Ne. The perceiving functions are an extreme force which creates the function order. This view however destroys the idea of introversion as we know it. Eh. Does this sound plausible?

  6. #6
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    Interesting, but kind of old news to me. I stopped trying to think about the functions as four letters (or even distinct, seperate entities) quite some time ago. The analogue that I always drew was that nameing functions was like nameing peaks in a mountain range. In reality, they are all part of the same flow of rocks and dirt - it's just that adding names makes it easier to talk about.

    Recently, I've started to find that thinking about four functions again, but a different four introverted percieving (sub sets of Si and Ni), extroverted percieving (Se and Ne, introverted judging (Ti and Fi) and extroverted judging (Te and Fe). By considering how the subsets are two sides of the whole, I've found this method to be a fruitful way of increasing my understanding.

    Quote Originally Posted by ReflecttcelfeR View Post
    I think this may lead to something interesting. Not all functions are created equal. I recall the fact that Ne in ENxP's can greatly trump all the other functions following it (I'm just recalling some old thread posts). I find myself questioning whether anyone can truly 'lead' with an introverted function. I'm sure it's been said before, but before any information can be thought about it has to be taken in. This however probably does not coincide with peoples view on Ni and Ne. The perceiving functions are an extreme force which creates the function order. This view however destroys the idea of introversion as we know it. Eh. Does this sound plausible?
    It helps if you realise that the function order is not a chronological list of which function gets used first. It's more about which functions are prefered and how they get used. The prime takes up most of a persons efforts, regardless of whether it is used first or last.
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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    I
    Recently, I've started to find that thinking about four functions again, but a different four introverted percieving (sub sets of Si and Ni), extroverted percieving (Se and Ne, introverted judging (Ti and Fi) and extroverted judging (Te and Fe). By considering how the subsets are two sides of the whole, I've found this method to be a fruitful way of increasing my understanding.
    It is a fundamental thing for me to think about perceiving functions as one side of the equation and the judging functions on the other side. If you don't use two together, you'd never come to a conclusion on something. Is that what you're talking about?

    With regards to what he is saying, the core practical consideration seems to be the bolded points below:

    "My research leads me to believe that the Function-Attitudes (FA) concept is valuable and provides a gateway to a language architecture for discussing, and perhaps further understanding, one of Jung’s perspectives on psychological Type. It is important to keep in mind, however, that Jung never meant that the FAs actually existed. He created the FA concept to provide a language for discussing an abstract, theoretical construct.

    We must be careful with the functions, attitudes and preferences in general, and the FAs in particular, that we do not start believing that they are real, or that they can be separated from “Type.” Type is a complex, dynamical system that we tend to break into parts in an effort to understand."

    The question is when do we cross the line and fall into the reductionism that he is referring to? Are we doing it in most of the references to the functions in posts on this forum? Many do seem to treat them as entities unto themselves. I may have been moving towards that over the last six months myself as I've tried to decompose and understand things. Maybe a function is not like a process with inputs and outputs (though it seems like a nice analogy).

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    I think it's shorthand to refer to them as separate entities ("Fi <does this>, Te <does that>"). It's almost like a Platonian drama where each entity is just an archetype representing an isolated framework. This should be a noted assumption in any discussion we are having about function analsysis -- the terminology is a convenience even if it might not be specifically and literally accurate.

    But in reality, I do not think they are that distinct.
    Typically things are more muddled together.
    We're systems, not isolated functions, and even people within given types or who could be categorized with sharing a general particular life perspective are going to show a lot of variability because of this reality.

    I just don't typically see value in trying to always make things specific -- trying to attach specific, explicable actions or choices on just one function. I'll use terminology as a convenience (like "Te'ing a list"), but I typically only mean that as a broad image... (in this case Te-style thinking typically breaks a problem down into a list of quantifiable steps, then linearly moves through them).. but we're still whole people and lots of unquantifiables are still impacting us as we create said list. I just tend to think more of them as broad life approaches that are just one way of looking at human psychology.
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  9. #9
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    It is a fundamental thing for me to think about perceiving functions as one side of the equation and the judging functions on the other side. If you don't use two together, you'd never come to a conclusion on something. Is that what you're talking about?
    That's true, but I was thinking of something a little different. What I ment was that introverted judging functions are ways of assessing the worth of something, extroverted judging functions assess utility, introverted perceiving processes create a drive to try and understand why we do things and extroverted percieving process create an urge towards spontaneous experimentation and exploration.

    With regards to what he is saying, the core practical consideration seems to be the bolded points below:

    "My research leads me to believe that the Function-Attitudes (FA) concept is valuable and provides a gateway to a language architecture for discussing, and perhaps further understanding, one of Jung’s perspectives on psychological Type. It is important to keep in mind, however, that Jung never meant that the FAs actually existed. He created the FA concept to provide a language for discussing an abstract, theoretical construct.

    We must be careful with the functions, attitudes and preferences in general, and the FAs in particular, that we do not start believing that they are real, or that they can be separated from “Type.” Type is a complex, dynamical system that we tend to break into parts in an effort to understand."

    The question is when do we cross the line and fall into the reductionism that he is referring to? Are we doing it in most of the references to the functions in posts on this forum? Many do seem to treat them as entities unto themselves. I may have been moving towards that over the last six months myself as I've tried to decompose and understand things. Maybe a function is not like a process with inputs and outputs (though it seems like a nice analogy).
    That line is drawn in ones head, I'm afraid. I guess it is the differance between using words and understanding that those words are just a way of explaining things, rather than the things themselves.
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  10. #10
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Waitadamnminute...

    Does or doesn't Thomson hold that full type individuation can (sometimes, if at all) occur after about age 70?

    And the type that is individuated is constructed or archetypal? I mean, yeah sure, there'll be considerable variation in "development" across time, but the end result is whatever happened to be supported by that individual, his biology and his environment or it's one of the sixteen? And the insight here is the type is an ideal and people will instantiate variations that change over time? But do people develop toward the ideal or toward whatever morass they manage to make workable?

    And meanwhile....

    If Function Attitudes are not real entities, what is? Let's start with the ludicrous idea that "Se" is the most used of the panoply of function attitudes that don't exist.

    The Se and Si roles are also recursive, that is, they feed back on each other and continually modify each other’s “Sensing” (Figure 3). For example, if I want to find my dog AIBO, my Si knowledge and memory of AIBO influence what my Se is most likely to perceive—and the blind spots created—while searching the environment. When I perceive AIBO, the Gestalt (context), which includes any emotion (happy, sad, frustrated, etc.) that becomes attached to the act of perceiving him, modifies the “AIBO” in my Si database and will influence the perceiving process the next time I search for him. This creates a Ying and Yang effect (Thompson, 1999). Se and Si can be thought of allegorically as opposite sides of the same coin (Sensing) and totally interdependent. If Se is working (which Jung [1968] said it is constantly, unless you are in a coma), so is Si. Se and Si make up a subsystem within the Type perceiving system.

    I'm just going to say bullshit, because the process being described doesn't include some adequate distinguishing line between mere biological operation and such biological operation as should be called cognition. In other words, it seems like one should say the terms "Se" and "Si" are being used inappropriately here. Or not, I dunno yet.



    So people are blobs of cognition, right? Largely undifferentiated. Mostly unconscious. Happenstance rules. As does whatever biological mechanism constraints. And perhaps also some laws of development arising from bootstrapping, the development that happens because of development, aka what using your ability to mentally process stuff does for your ability to mentally process stuff.
    Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."

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