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Thread: Ni - What the hell is it?

  1. #831
    Senior Member Array Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    I've mostly been getting messages in thread and reps that people found my explanation helpful. There are some people chiming in negatively in a joking way here in thread, but I'm not seeing the confusion that you see, at least not in this thread after the post you quoted.

    I've been in this thread since about 3 days after it started in 2010. My explanations of Ni appear every few pages or so as the thread would get kicked alive again. I think my explanations have gotten a lot more clear and less tending towards mysterious/mystical over the years. That's on purpose by the way.

    Why are people confused about Ni despite 83 pages on the topic? Because Jung was horribly vague about it. Heck, he was kind of vague about all of the functions, and certified Jungian counselors use a very different version of Jung's typology than MBTI and function theory practitioners. For example, a Jungian would likely type me as an introverted thinker, not an introverted intuitive. But any INTP or ISTP can tell that I don't think like they do.

    So I try to clear away all of the cruft, all of the ideas that got crammed into Ni from so many sources and look at it more from first principles. Now, one might argue that Jung is rightly the source of these first principles, and I would not deny that, but I fully admit that I am using DIFFERENT first principles than Jung, and this is nothing new under the sun. MBTI is only loosely based on Jung, as is function theory, as is Keirsey, and so on. But now MBTI has, for better or worse, become part of the popular culture. It is easy to find people who have been tested, and it is easy to test people if you're curious, and once you have been exposed to the typology for a few years, it is often-but-not-always easy to type people when you meet them.

    So what I am describing is what those individuals who have been typed as INTJ or INFJ would generally experience as "Ni", assuming that the MBTI instrument is reasonably good at singling out this dominant function, this "INxJ" pattern. And I'm trying to explain it without referring much to "mysterious" or "unconscious" processes, and I refer to those only to point out how I would map my explanation to the explanations of others who indulge more in that unconscious mystery metaphor, to explain why many people SEE IT as mysterious or unconscious, even though it isn't that mysterious nor particularly any more unconscious than any other cognitive processes.


    I think he had a lot to contribute to psychology. In fact, I think his focus on the unconscious was far ahead of its time, to the point that only in the last few decades are psychologists taking the idea of an unconscious seriously. Our mind is comprised of many parts, and "the unconscious" describes a few of them. And that unconscious mind has several traits that might be described as being part of a "collective unconscious" though I might describe it more as a very human version of "instinct", where certain kinds of unconscious traits have been selected by the evolution of civilization and culture.


    I would note that for the purposes of function theory, "only describes a cognitive process" applies to all eight functions.

    I don't think Jung was "wrong" about Ni: he conceived the idea. I would assert, however, that if he had the opportunity to collaborate with others to flesh out his ideas, they'd arrive at something at least sort of like modern function theory. That's what modern function theory is, really - the collaboration of lots of people trying to flesh out Jung's primary ideas. Jung had his own personal understanding that I think he conveyed as well as he could, but he didn't spend that much time on the typology, and considered introversion and extroversion to be the primary traits, while intuition, sensing, feeling and thinking were all secondary to him. It says something that he coined the words "introversion" and "extroversion", and they've stuck with us both in terms of psychology but normal modern language to describe people - his other typological ideas really only stuck around due to MBTI.



    Heh, that sounds like something I'd do, and it's typical of how an Ni dom has to operate. One thing we tend to learn early on is that if we try to express our ideas right away, we end up becoming part of the argument, which is really tedious. It turns out to be much easier to let people argue out the problem themselves for a while, and THEN, when they're really feeling frustrated, propose the solution. Why? They don't know the ins and outs of the problem until they've argued it out, at which point the tradeoffs start to become obvious, when they were anything but obvious before. By chiming in at this point, the Ni-statement is a huge relief - because it clearly addresses the trade-offs to everyone's satisfaction - whereas early on in the conversation it would seem entirely nonsensical.

    So to give you another concrete example based on your example, this is also an example of Ni synthesis. I would not be surprised if the oddball was listening to all of the arguments, not really caring about it, but having heard all of the arguments could create a model in his head of what was going on, the model being a synthesis of the thoughts of the people arguing. Take everything that is consistent and make sure it is in the model, and take the contradictions and use their resolutions to complete the model. This does go back to the "remembered patterns" stuff I was talking about before, too, but synthesis is how those patterns are used, because we are usually not using just a single pattern, but a bunch of patterns, and using those patterns and building blocks for an overall model.

    It seems mysterious because things that are synthesized often do not resemble the things they come from. A cake doesn't look anything like stalks of sugar cane, grains of wheat, or eggs. And the process to create the cake involves a lot of activity other than just plopping the cane, the wheat and eggs in a pile and turning them into a cake. But if you understand the process and the transformations involved, you understand that particular synthesis. It's just that if you're doing that synthesis inside your head, how the hell are you going to explain it to people? You can demonstrate turning sugar cane into sugar, turning wheat into flour, and eggs and flour and sugar and water into batter, and baking that batter long enough to create a cake, and thus demonstrate that the cake didn't come "from nothing". But for ideas? I can only use words, and there are no words to describe the process in a literal step-by-step sort of way. Even in technical fields where the language allows for the communication of patterns of ideas, a lot of the time ideas just seem to appear from nothing as their pieces just slide into place inside someone's head.
    You've pulled an "introverted" kind of thing and tried to relate yourself to the oddball in my example. But I'm pretty sure he was asleep, although of course he was only acting because he was an actor, but in the scene he was supposed to be asleep. Then he said "use water" (very sleepily, by the way) and fell right back asleep again. He was autistic or something (the movie didn't say), like a rainman type. When he spoke, it.was.like.this, and the speech was very monotonic.

    When you say you wait for everybody to stop arguing before pulling the thread that unravels the sweater, that's not Ni. It's how an introvert uses Te. (Edit - more accurately, it is how INTJ uses Te.)

    As for "but having heard all of the arguments could create a model in his head of what was going on, the model being a synthesis of the thoughts of the people arguing," it could be Ni if the model was an idea or concept created subconsciously, as with my Poincaré example. You are trying to explain something mysterious using psychological terms to make plain what is not plain.

    And that's why I favor using examples. Because the examples themselves are plain. I intuitively (viz, from experience) understand Jung dreaming about something represented metaphorically that came true. I don't however understand it. Calling it a synthesis doesn't explain it.

    Ni is mysterious, thus this thread.
    "But you forget that there is one value that is greater than all others: human freedom. Because no matter how perfectly you set the world up for humanity, they will always rebel simply to exert their own selves. You cannot win."

  2. #832
    Senior Member Array Mal12345's Avatar
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    And so you will say I disagree with your examples. But you haven't given any. You've given your psychological spin on Ni. I don't disagree with your examples because they don't exist. I disagree with trying to explain Ni because it can't be explained without relying on some kind of mysticism, as with Jung. People have flashes of insight, and we don't know why. You can call it a synthesis, but it doesn't explain the cause.
    "But you forget that there is one value that is greater than all others: human freedom. Because no matter how perfectly you set the world up for humanity, they will always rebel simply to exert their own selves. You cannot win."

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    Senior Member Array Mal12345's Avatar
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    Sometimes Si types can see themselves as creative, as with the example of this ISTJ veterinarian who claimed that he invented a uterine pump for cows. But then he admitted that he didn't invent it, that these things had been around for a long time, and that he had only built his own version of one.
    "But you forget that there is one value that is greater than all others: human freedom. Because no matter how perfectly you set the world up for humanity, they will always rebel simply to exert their own selves. You cannot win."

  4. #834
    Senior Member Array Mal12345's Avatar
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    One good way to understand Ni (or any function for that matter) is by friending people on Facebook, obviously the active ones in order to see what they post.

    I had friended an Ni for a long time but I finally got tired of his obtuseness and unfriended him. But during our time together I chatted him up quite a bit. This guy was not interested in psychology per se, in Jung, and didn't care for typology at all. So he was naive as to introverted intuition.

    He claimed on many occasions that nobody could understand him, and that he is unique. He would sometimes post pictures depicting himself as going his own way while the crowd went another way. For example:


    He posted prolifically but it was mostly mysticism. I never decided if he was INFJ or INTJ. (Probably INFJ.)

    His work consisted of leading a monastic lifestyle on a communal farm in upstate New York. He posted a lot of stuff about naturopathy.
    "But you forget that there is one value that is greater than all others: human freedom. Because no matter how perfectly you set the world up for humanity, they will always rebel simply to exert their own selves. You cannot win."

  5. #835
    Senior Member Array Mal12345's Avatar
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    So if you want to know what Ni is - it's that guy, or that gurl, or whatever examples you can think of. But not in a stereotyping way, it's in the mode of living and the belief system.
    "But you forget that there is one value that is greater than all others: human freedom. Because no matter how perfectly you set the world up for humanity, they will always rebel simply to exert their own selves. You cannot win."

  6. #836
    Active Member Array Poki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    Do you have any examples?
    Read what uumlau wrote...alot of it not even in this thread. Its not easy to quote on phone. His beliefs are Ni, his words dont always say what Ni is from a definition, etc. But the underlying data stems from Ni.

    For example i know an Ni who went through her husbands email...she is technology iliterate and found porn emails everywhere. She ripped into him because she didnt know about spam and he must have been requesting them. Her Ni was so confident its a stromg belief that is FACT...unshaken until proven by someone else in this case.

    Intuition...should be used to dig in further, not speak truth. And NO mad scientists shit...let it go. Its not healthy. Dig, but dont become MAD.
    Take what I say with a grain of salt, because that's all it is compared to the ocean of complexity when it comes to actions and real life.

  7. #837
    Senior Member Array Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poki View Post
    Read what uumlau wrote...alot of it not even in this thread. Its not easy to quote on phone. His beliefs are Ni, his words dont always say what Ni is from a definition, etc. But the underlying data stems from Ni.

    For example i know an Ni who went through her husbands email...she is technology iliterate and found porn emails everywhere. She ripped into him because she didnt know about spam and he must have been requesting them. Her Ni was so confident its a stromg belief that is FACT...unshaken until proven by someone else in this case.

    Intuition...should be used to dig in further, not speak truth. And NO mad scientists shit...let it go. Its not healthy. Dig, but dont become MAD.
    How is that an example of Ni? Women always go through a guy's phone. That's female nature.
    "But you forget that there is one value that is greater than all others: human freedom. Because no matter how perfectly you set the world up for humanity, they will always rebel simply to exert their own selves. You cannot win."

  8. #838
    Active Member Array Poki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    How is that an example of Ni? Women always go through a guy's phone. That's female nature.
    i give up...you miss the point for the trees.
    Take what I say with a grain of salt, because that's all it is compared to the ocean of complexity when it comes to actions and real life.
    Likes SearchingforPeace liked this post

  9. #839
    Senior Member Array Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poki View Post
    i give up...you miss the point for the trees.
    My point is that there are no examples. There are explanations, but no examples.
    "But you forget that there is one value that is greater than all others: human freedom. Because no matter how perfectly you set the world up for humanity, they will always rebel simply to exert their own selves. You cannot win."

  10. #840
    Happy Dancer Array uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    My point is that there are no examples. There are explanations, but no examples.
    Well, it isn't as if there are any examples along the lines of, "I had my consciousness plugged into the mind of an Ni dom, and you'll be amazed at what happens next!"

    I mean seriously, we're trying to communicate across cognitive differences. The BEST you can hope for is a "good description" to spot Ni types and a general idea of what they're good at and a vague idea of how they do it.
    An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.

    A discussion is two people sharing their understanding, even when they disagree.

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