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Thread: Cognition: Are the Functions Hierarchal?

  1. #1
    Mamma said knock you out Array Mempy's Avatar
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    Default Cognition: Are the Functions Hierarchal?

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine
    Sensation is one of the first ways we process the world as infants. So Sensation becomes kind of a main highway along which many things travel in our mind. But it doesn't mean that a thought process initially triggered by a sensation or associated with a sensation thereby becomes an Si process.

    In its purest form, an Si process is a one-to-one comparison. For example, you're eating in a restaurant and you notice the flavor of an unusual spice in the food. So you run through the memory of similar flavors and foods in your memory until you recall a match for the flavor and can identify the spice.
    Ok, so I'm confused. I'm branching off in a new direction from Ivy's "A CLUE! A CLUE!" thread which asks for input on her type.

    Let me explain. FineLine, you're saying here, just to make sure, that sensations are the building blocks of all perception. You further say that Si is a basic one-to-one comparison between two stimuli. But then you say that the process of thinking is not associated with Si, is not Si at work. But I think if Si is mainly cognition at work, then Si is involved in all mental processes from the ground up, and up, and further up.

    As humans, we are simply capable of seeing differences in color caused by waves of light. We can see that a gorilla is different from a candle. We can see that water is different from feet. It is sensory input that our brain identifies by a process of comparison and contrast that takes place at lightning speed. This sounds simply like cognition itself. If comparison (Si) is merely cognition, it can't belong to any one MBTI function, because they all use it.

    Se is said to be the process of experencing things with our five senses in the moment. But that's merely cognition at work. It's comparison and contrast. It's like the current that runs a hundred miles under the surface of the ocean. It is needed for all higher thinking: comparing two complex concepts; comparing ideas; forming intricate definitions of words; constructing an idea and opinion of a person in one's mind based on their characteristics.

    So it seems, looking at what I've deduced (which may be erroneous), that functions, if they wish to be defined by basic cognition, are hierarchal, not functions on the same level.

    The definition of Se seems almost like the definition of cognition itself. I see a pencile with a pink erasor. Next to it is a pair of scissors with a red handle. They are different. Compare and contrast. Cognition and identification at work.

    Si is said to deal in comparing and contrasting as well: I see Jenny walking down the street, who reminds me of someone I used to know, a past lover, which calls back feelings of sadness and joy at the same time. But the process of associating a feeling with a stimulus is also cognition at work: it is identifying the feeling and identifying the stimulus that caused the feeling (by comparing them to all of the other stimuli and feelings in our memory), and associating the two; I don't know if association is the same thing as compare and contrast. Maybe it is. Maybe it is all just a process of cognition.

    What I also can't figure out, is how Se is different from Si. They're both comparing stimuli. What does it matter if the stimulus took place twenty years ago or is sitting before us in the moment? What's the difference between comparing two shirts laying on our bed before us, one true-blood red and the other coral red (Se, supposedly), and comparing the memory of a true-blood red shirt with the current sight of a coral red shirt (Si, supposedly)? Why do we need to differentiate between the two? They're both comparison. They're basically cognition at work, whether the two stimuli are in our faces at the moment or in our memory from ten years ago. Is there any reason to make distinctions between these two types of comparison?

    As we are observing two colors side-by-side, we can immediately see that they are different; we don't even need to compare them to past experiences. True-blood red and coral red are different. But we made that comparison in-the-moment. It was cognition at work. And we had to compare those stimuli with stimuli we've already experienced, which is said to be Si, but is really just the process of recognition and comparison (and association?).

    Se is commonly cited as "acting in the moment; being spontaneous." It seems to be describing an action, not a process of the brain. To act in the moment requires cognition, comparison, association, and at some point decision-making, which are such fundamental aspects to how we work.

    As we take stimuli in, we have to see them for what they are, which requires comparison, defining, which goes beyond Si, Se, Ne, Ni, and all the functions. It travels beneath them. It is their undercurrent. To recognize data, we compare and contrast data; we make associations, establish links on our brain. Isn't that a part of every MBTI function? Ne jumps from concept to concept, the ultimate brainstorming technique; Ni is said to break something down into its most fundamental is-ness and defining concepts; Ti is said to compare definitions and make fine distinctions among meanings, which leads Ti-users to be very precise in word choice. And so on, and so forth. It all involves comparing and contrasting: cognition at work.

    Basically in my mind, I've always seen all eight functions as on equal standing; different processes that function on the same level. But now I see that aspects of the definitions of Si and Se seem to deal with cognition itself, with comparison, which is a basic, if not the most basic, process of the mind, required even to differentiate one stimulus from another, required for understanding, required even to experience stimuli and store them as electrical impulses in our brains that we may recall at a later time to help us decide on a course of action in the present moment. It's thinking.

    My logic probably has quite a few flaws in it, but I'm going to send this out there for your cognition and analysis, comparison and contrast, and ask for input, explanations, feedback, etc.
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  2. #2
    heart on fire Array
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    Se would be the most primary of the two sensing functions. It is the objective investigation of concrete data/input around us.

    Si would have to come later it seems since it is based on memories and impressions of that data.

  3. #3
    Protocol Droid Array Athenian200's Avatar
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    From what I've gathered, Si is more like an impression of an ideal object or physical situation/sensation based on several independent observations of it. It tries to average all observations to come up with an standard. For instance, comparing how all things that are called "flowers" are similar, despite not being exactly the same. It becomes the parts of the subjective impression that hold the "form." Like having an unblemished apple in mind as the standard to which one holds all other apples, despite none of the individual ones you've ever seen embodying that standard perfectly.

    Ni might well be similar, except that it applies to ideas/concepts seen with the mind's eye instead of objects actually seen.

    Se would be simply taking in the object as it is and experiencing that. Looking at what is, and reacting to it based on only that. There's enough comparison to identify it, still, but it's much less thorough than Si. I think it's related to acting on physical impulses and seeking stimulation.

    Ne would be similar to Se, again, but in the mind rather than the senses. It tries to take in an idea, and react to it by developing it to some degree. It reacts to mental impulses and seeks mental stimulation... new ideas.

    Does that make sense?

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Mempy View Post
    Let me explain. FineLine, you're saying here, just to make sure, that sensations are the building blocks of all perception. You further say that Si is a basic one-to-one comparison between two stimuli. But then you say that the process of thinking is not associated with Si, is not Si at work. But I think if Si is mainly cognition at work, then Si is involved in all mental processes from the ground up, and up, and further up.
    Um, let me skim over the top of the issue and then leave the issue for wider discussion. Just my opinion, of course.

    Basically, everyone uses all the functions all the time. Sensors use iNtuition (basically pattern recognition and manipulation) when driving to predict traffic flow; Intuitives use Sensing (basically detail recognition and manipulation) when driving to spot details like signs and turn signals amid all the traffic clutter.

    Furthermore, there are lots of mental and emotional processes not specifically covered by MBTI - dreaming, the unconscious, guilt, pleasure, etc.

    So I think it's necessary to be moderate in one's application of MBTI. IOW, don't try to include everything under MBTI, nor try to parse the functions of MBTI so finely that they appear to be everywhere and nowhere.

    I think you're parsing MBTI too finely. Detail recognition certainly is a basic, core function used early in the infantile stage. But so is pattern recognition (animals and infants engage in limited pattern recognition). So is Freudian association; if you take the example of dreams--many animals dream; infants demonstrate REM eye movement in the womb, indicating that they dream at a developmental stage when they presumably have nothing to dream about.

    These things are all so tangled up developmentally and evolutionarily that it's fruitless to parse them beyond a certain point.

    Thus, I think it's important to keep discussion of MBTI within its traditional realms: When faced with a problem or a decision to make, what cognitive function(s) do you prefer to use?

    As for the context of the excerpt you quoted: It's useful to know that associations tend to follow the channels of sensation and emotion very easily. But as I pointed out, that doesn't automatically mean that associations = Si or Fe. The concept of "sensation" isn't necessarily the same as the MBTI cognitive functions Si and Se. Sometimes it's just sensation.

    Parsing these things down too far gets into very slippery territory. When applying MBTI, it's probably best to stay at the level of the higher cognitive functions and speak of "preferences" rather than "hierarchies." That's where MBTI seems to work best.

    Again, that's just my own opinion.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array "?"'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heart View Post
    Se would be the most primary of the two sensing functions. It is the objective investigation of concrete data/input around us.

    Si would have to come later it seems since it is based on memories and impressions of that data.
    Hmmm... since babies quickly learn that crying will get them fed, the Se could make sense. However I think that babies quickly learn that crying can also get them held, changed and fed, which seems to be Si. Clearly the Ti and Fi can only be developed through more and more usage of the Ne/Se experience and Te and Fe would probably take years to develop. So this is how I could see it. Si, Se/Ne which leads to Ti/Fe development, Ni which develops more as Te and Fe is used. Interesting topic.

  6. #6
    Luctor et emergo Array Ezra's Avatar
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  7. #7
    no clinkz 'til brooklyn Array Nocapszy's Avatar
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    I didn't quite get through the entire thing, but Se means, you sense the object, and that's it. It's the simplest, and therefore most realistic possible CP. Se, is literally taking those same sensations that come in through Se, and strings them all together, so it's not Se anymore.

    Si, is like a collage. Suppose you take a picture at nearly the same spot every day, and stacked them on top of one another so they were perfectly graphically aligned. Then, when you see it again, yeah it's Se, but it's instantly taken an matched up to the Si ideal. Athenian had a good idea. It's the impression of the ideal object. The more one has experienced the same thing, the more sure of the ideal object Si is, and the more staunchly opposed to differing objects it becomes.

    Ni, acts in a similar way to Si, except like Ne using Se, it finds all the abstract meaning in each part of the collage that Si builds -- doesn't actually keep the collage, but only uses the images to build a collage of the abstract impression. This is why we so often hear of symbology with Ni. Suppose Si sees the ideal apple. Ni sees the ideal meaning of an apple.

    These of course are only the perception functions. If I didn't have to go to the bathroom right now, I'd write those out, and I will when I get back, but I wanna post this now.

    It sounds like you're on the right track though Mempy. The difference is, once the object sensation, Se, is fit into a collage, or an abstract of the collage, or into the string of objects, it's no longer Se, even though it uses the same thing.
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