Eric B's introduction to type and the functions

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Typology is a psychological theory that is based on the way we cognitively divide reality. It is derived from the work of Carl Jung, and refined into its current form by Isabel Briggs-Myers and Catherine Briggs, who created the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator psychometric instrument. Other variants of it are the Temperament theory of David Keirsey, and a Russian version of Jung's theory, called Socionics.

Introduction: Division of reality into different polarities

While some have dismissed typology (and its predecessor theory, classic temperament) as a "pseudoscientific fad" like "astrology", it is true that we do not see an undivided whole reality, and therefore must "divide" is as we are immersed in it.

It's just like the way we divide spacetime between back and forth, up and down, left and right, and past and future. The dimensions of spacetime remain whole and undivided, but when we look in one direction, we do not see its opposite; yet it is still there, and remains implicit to us as the other pole of the dimension. We have just chosen one direction, and the opposite is basically "suppressed" (in a way) in our consciousness, caused by the limitations of our sight. (Meanwhile, the perpendicular spatial directions are suppressed in a lesser fashion, as you can see along them partly).

So likewise, we also divide reality into what is “I” (“subject” or the individual) or “not I” (“objects” in the “environment”). Or we could say "inner/outer" world. This forms the basis of what we can call “orientation” (also commonly called “attitude”).

We also divide our cognition into taking in information that comes to us (which is basically involuntary), and then making rational (voluntary) decisions with it. These modes of processing are also split.

So we divide the information we take in (perceive), into what is clearly observable by our physical senses which is through space (“tangible”, “visible” or “practical”), and what is not based on the senses, but rather inferred from other data in some way which occurs in through time. (And thus, intangible, invisible, hypothetical).

We also make a distinction between “subject” and “object” in our decisions, which stems from a sense of right and wrong (and usually leading to courses of action to make what’s deemed “wrong” to “right”), as determined by our reactions. Emotions (leading to our reactions; whereby we are making rational decisions) can tell us that the affect on us is from something about the object (which is “impersonal”), leading to a focus on how things work (or, the “mechanics” of things), or it can tell us that it is about our “soul” (the “subject”, and hence, “personal”), whereby we pay more attention to its emotional affect on us as people. This will generally split the neutral “right/wrong” into the more impersonal “true/false” or the more personal “good/bad”.

Our cognition can be thought of as basically answering “yes or no” ("tenable": 'able to be held' as a personal view, or "viable": able to be acted on; or not), and the "input" breaking "yes/no" down into what "is" or "isn't" *, which then breaks down into either "known/unknown" (in a tangible sense) or "guessed" or "naysayed" (i.e. denied, even without complete evidence). The "processing", or making rational decisions, breaks the yes/no down into "right" or "wrong" (often leading to trying to make things "right"). This further breaks down to an impersonal "true/false", or a more "person"-affecting "good/bad".

These are the bases of the three main variables in type; two preferred functions (one perception, and one judgment), and orientation.

perception (functions of "the given"): Sensing or iNtuition
judgment (functions of "option"): Thinking or Feeling
orientation ("direction" of function): introverted or extraverted

Orientation then becomes split into a third and fourth variable, based on which orientation is dominant, and then, which function is oriented environmentally (or [by a process of elimination] individually). The dominant function will take on the dominant orientation, so this also tells us which function is dominant.
The other preferred function will be “auxiliary” (needed simply because we also must have a preference in the other mode of process; both perception and judgment).

So to sum up the functions and orientations:
Sensation: registers tangible reality as real and reacts accordingly (spacelike object recognition)
iNtuition: registers the implications of reality and puts it out as an idea (timelike pattern recognition)
Thinking: Assesses, understands, and responds to the way things work(impersonal [focus on "things"] truth determination)
Feeling: Assesses, understands, and responds to emotional affect (sorting out of feelings [of "people"])

extraverted: ego and dominant (or other) function is oriented in the environment
introverted: ego and dominant (or other) function is oriented in the individual
"Judging": Thinking or Feeling is oriented environmentally ("extraverted")
"Perceiving": Sensing or iNtuition is oriented environmentally ("extraverted")

*(While Jung associated "what is" with S, that would assume everything that exists is perceived through the senses only. But to our consciousness, patterns of "where it's heading" are "things" that exist as well. They are simply inferred, or basically "guessed", and if guessed against, this may come off as "naysaying"; i.e. objecting just for the sake of objecting, without any visible reason. You could distinguish it as S="WHAT it is" [the existence of something; the "it", is already given], and perception in general is "THAT it is", to begin with).

Building the code: the type variables (dichotomies)

Carl Jung had outlined types by their "dominant" attitude and function. This yielded eight types that correspond to the associated function-attitude. The auxiliary was seen as a variation of the dominant type. (For example, Extraverted Intuitive with Thinking or Extraverted Intuitive with Feeling). When expanded to a full model of 16 types by including the auxiliary as a "preference" on an equal footing with the dominant, so that in the type code, both are represented by the initial letter variable, we can include the auxiliary as defining the "X type".

An extravert (E) is a person whose ego focuses on the environment through the dominant function. Jung described the ego or “subject” as essentially “merging with the object”. The environment itself, or its judgments (consensus of other people, efficient courses of action, etc.) the are taken as his own.

An introvert (I) is a person whose ego focuses on its own individual perspective through the dominant function. The perspective is described as approaching the environment and eliminating what is irrelevant according to his own internally held standard or "model" of a situation.

A Sensation type (S) is one whose primary outlook is tangible, material or practical data and/or experience experienced directly through space via the senses, where reality is simply registered as real as Jung put it, and existence is thought of in terms of what simply “is” or “isn’t”, or the substance of things (which is what sets the idea, or “could/won’t”).

An iNtuitive type (N) is one whose primary outlook is the “filling in” of experience with [mental] implications such as concepts, hypotheses, or theories, which all involve “larger contexts” or meanings behind things and [non-physical] “patterns”, which play out in time. Even physical or visible things, like in comparing one thing to something separate, but has some sort of inferred similarity. Focusing on a property to compare, like its shape; they have turned into an “idea”. Jung associated the function with "time" because we cannot see where something "came from or is heading", and so can only see its "implications" where we must infer the origin or destination. This is what “could” or “won’t” be (which explains or improves what “is/isn't”, or “substance” of reality).

A Thinking type (T) is one whose primary rational outlook is looking at the world “impersonally” or “technically”, in terms of "things" and how they work, which we can call the “mechanics” of things (including people), often with a focus on goals such as efficiency. They tend to think in terms of “true” or “false” (or "correct/incorrect", which is what will automatically determine “like/dislike”).

A Feeling type (F) is one whose primary rational outlook is looking at the world in terms of "people" or humanity, and the elements that makes them “subjects”, which is basically what could be called “anthropic” (or “humane”), and ultimately deals with the “soul”, with its emotions and values. It's not the same thing we normally call "feelings", but, according to Jung, involves "sorting them out". This will usually lead to a focus on goals such as individual or group harmony. (They will often mirror the other person’s inner state and adjust their behavior accordingly).
They approach life in terms of being human first, and seeing others as humans to interact with, and objects are to be looked at and used from the perspective of how we relate to them. This leads them to “think” in terms of “good” or “bad” (or "like/dislike", which will assume what is “correct/incorrect”).

A Judging type (J) is one whose preferred judgment (decision making) function is oriented environmentally. They will tend to take on the “judgments” of a group (consensus, harmony, etc.), or courses of action determined by the environment (e.g. what’s most efficient, pleasing to all, etc.) as their own values. Then person then seem to desire more “closure”, since he expects decisions to be “set” according to external factors. (His preferred perception is then what will be oriented individually, according to a model of experience).

A Perceiving type (P) is one whose preferred perception (information gathering) function is oriented environmentally. The person tends to remain “open” to new, emergent (often variable) information, before making a judgment (which is what will then be individually oriented, according to a model of rational principles).

You can also look at Jung's original fourth variable, regarding the dominant function rather than the preferred extraverted one, which indicates whether the ego's main perspective is one of taking in information or making judgments with it:

An "irrational" type [E__P or I__J] is one who's primary outlook is recognizing "what is" (whether tangibly "known"[S] or mentally "guessed"[N]). They will live to "take in" information to inform their judgments.

A "rational" type [E__J or I__P] is one whose primary outlook is determining "right" or "wrong" (whether impersonal "truth"[T] or humane "goodness"[F]). They will live to form decisions out of their perceptions, and to somehow make "right" what is deemed "wrong" (even if mentally rather than always implementing things).

So the four letter type code comes together as follows:

1 Dominant orientation: introvert (individual-focused) or extravert (environment focused): I/E

2 Preferred perception function: Sensation (tangible or material focus) or iNtuition (hypothetical focus): S/N

3 Preferred judgment function: Thinking (impersonal, mechanical focus) or Feeling (“soulish” focus): T/F

4 Function orientation and position:
a) function of indicated letter (J/P) is environmentally oriented (deemed important in personal interaction)
b1) If this matches with dominant orientation (#1="E”), then this is the dominant function.
b2) If not, (#1="I”) then this function is auxiliary, and the other function is dominant and introverted.

From here, we are able to identify 16 “types”.

Here is a table of terms I associate with the four natural functions, and the two attitudes:

basic productdeals inpassive productactive productalt. termsother terms"in..."Bruzonold termsJung
Smaterial ("space")substanceis (actual)behold(observe)tangibleexperiencepracticestatic (items)concrete²"what it is"
Nhypothesis ("time")ideacould (potential)infer/imagineconceptualstorytheorymotion (process)abstract²"where it's heading"
Tmechanics ("things")impersonaltrue/falsecorrect/incorrecttechnical"if-then""the head"linearlogicnaming (categories)
Fsoul affect ("people")personal¹good/badlike/dislikehumane"human factor""the heart"holisticethics/values"what's it's worth"
eenvironmentexternalcultureturn outwardemergentbreadth"the now"wide(p)local(j)objective³"conscious"4
iindividualinternalnatureturn inwardstoreddepthuniversalslocal(p)wide(j)subjective³"unconscious"4

¹also used for "introversion"
²also used for i/e and/or differentiated vs undifferentiated functions
³also used for T/F
4also used for S/N

The functional perspectives

Since the dominant orientation shapes the functions (coloring the dominant function, and the auxiliary is then presumed to be opposite), then we can speak of eight different function-attitudes (also sometimes called “processes”), denoted with the function dichotomy letter in capital, with the attitude in lowercase: Se, Si, Ne, Ni, Te, Ti, Fe, Fi.

Again, these divisions are already implicit in all the data we run across in life. In everything we process, there is some sort of tangible (S) object or energy (light, sound, etc.) in/through space, that can be taken in immediately (e) or stored in memory (i). It can be intangibly connected (N) via patterns in time, to other objects, contexts, ideas or impressions, either directly (e) or through less conscious means (i). We will think something about it is true or false (T), and this based either on external means we’ve learned from the environment or are dictated by the local situation (e), or internal principles we’ve learned individually, often through nature (i); and we may like or dislike (F) it or something about it, again, based either on an external values we’ve learned from the environment (e), or internal values we’ve learned individually through nature. (i)

What I find is the best way to start defining the eight function-attitudes (distinguishing the "e" variant from the "i" variant) is to determine their environment (which corresponds with the extraverted orientation):

S: space
N: time
T: things
F: people

The individual (introverted) orientations all turn within, from the environment to an internal “model” of the environmental product, so it’s the extraverted variants that are tied to the actual “real world” functional products!
So, for the perception attitudes, space and time are the corresponding “environments” that define the extraverted perspective. And for judgment, it is "things" or "people". Introversion withdraws from this, to the individual perspective, to conjure up "models", of spatial reality, temporal patterns, how things work, or how people are emotionally affected.

This yields (in terms of how it lines up with an individual’s “images” of reality, for perception, in addition to his assessments of it, for judgment):

Extraverted Sensing (Se): awareness of tangible reality is stimulated by the environment of space
(turn outward for attention to immediate at hand objects, such as physical/practical items, as it occurs)
—individual’s images match current environment

Introverted Sensing (Si): awareness of tangible reality (of space) is stimulated by individual model of experience
(turn inward to compare at hand data such as physical/practical items with a storehouse of fact and experience)
—individual’s images ONCE matched the environment, but currently can only be held among individuals sharing the experience

Extraverted Intuition (Ne): awareness of implications of reality stimulated by the environment of time where they play out
(turn outward to “fill in” experience of objects with mental/ideational constructs such as connections or patterns)
—individual’s images never matched environment [i.e. of space, as the environment it uses is time], but are still based on the environment (and can be shown to others)

Introverted Intuition (Ni): awareness of implications of reality (through time) stimulated by individual unconscious models
(turn inward to subject’s unconscious to “fill in” mental/ideational constructs with connections like “hunches”)
—individual’s images have never matched the environment [i.e. of space, as the environment it uses is time], and can only be directly perceived by the individual.
(and hence, why this one is so notably hard to explain).

Extraverted Thinking (Te): assessment of “correct/incorrect” (“truth”) is stimulated by an environmental standard of the order of things
(turn outward to objects to determine their proper relationship to each other)
—individual’s assessment of true/false (mechanics of the situation) are determined by the environment

Introverted Thinking (Ti): assessment of “correct/incorrect” (“truth” [regarding "things"]) is stimulated by an individual standard
(turn inward to internal “blueprint” of proper relationship between objects)
—individual’s assessment of true/false (mechanics of the situation) are determined by individual reflection.

Extraverted Feeling (Fe): assessment of “like/dislike” or “good” is stimulated by an environmental standard of the needs of people
(turn outward to evaluate proper relationship involving/between people)
—individual’s assessment of good/bad (soul-affect of the situation) are determined by the environment

Introverted Feeling (Fi): assessment of “like/dislike” or “good” [for "people"] is stimulated by an individual standard
(turn inward to internal “blueprint” of proper relationship involving people)
—individual’s assessment of good/bad (soul-affect of the situation) are determined by individual reflection.

Perhaps the simplest descriptions that can be made:

Se apparent reality
Si self-referenced reality
Ne apparent implications
Ni self-referenced implications
Te revealed truth
Ti self-determined truth
Fe revealed good[ness]
Fi self-determined good[ness]

object provides the perception; subject does the perceiving
(Pe: subject adopts object; Pi: subject filters object)
Je: object provides the judgment (“revealing”); subject adopts it
Ji: subject does the judging, filtering the object through this

For another way of looking at it is that in deciphering the two different attitudes of each function, the question to ask is:
WHO is really doing the actual Thinking? (the subject, or an object; i.e. Other person, group, computer; e.g statistics, etc.)
WHO is really doing the actual Feeling? (subject, or an object; i.e. other person, group, culture).
WHERE are your sense impressions? (directly from the environment of space, as they occur, or filtered individually through memory)
WHERE do implications (inferred from sense impressions) TAKE PLACE? (other patterns that are in the "environment" of time, though stored in memory; or individual impressions which are outside the temporal pattern, from stuff likely repressed from memory).

The faculties associated with the function-attitudes

We can start to understand the function-attitudes by looking at the common human "faculties" they are associated with. The common examples; extraverted Sensing (Se) involves the basic senses, of touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell. Introverted Sensing (Si) is involved with "memory", where we store our sensory experiences to bring back up to consciousness to compare with current experience. Now, the natural mistake to make is to define simply "Se=current experiences" and "Si=memory". This is not totally true. For one thing, only certain types have a normal preference for Se or Si, but every person has both current sensation and memory! So the function-attitudes are specialized attention to the data taken in through the faculties, as used by the ego-structure.

The eight faculties are:
Current sensation (associated with Se products; stimulation via space)
Memory (associated with Si products; stores and filters spatial data)
Imagination (associated with Ne products; of potential changes through time)
The unconscious (associated with Ni products; filters temporal patterns)
Common Sense (associated with Te products; learning from outside authority how things work)
Reason (associated with Ti products; learning or determining for yourself how things work)
Sociabilty (associated with Fe products; connecting with people via the environment)
The conscience (and affinities; associated with Fi products; our own human values used to relate to others).

Attitudes and "universals" vs "local"/"culture"

Introverted functions end up dealing in “universals” because they are readily available to us, rather than the [“artificial”] perspective of a “manmade” group. We develop them by interacting naturally with our environment. So they’re unadapted to a specific cultural design and more individual than social. Anyone (in any culture) who is attuned to the environment in this way will reach similar conclusions. (So it’s not really about the universe; it’s about human embodiment). Introverted functions are about mapping our environment in our heads, where we then recognize landmarks and adjust ourselves to changes.

Examples of learned from culture are alphabetic order, math formulas and social etiquette. These rational standards are local, linking us to a specific place and time, where relationships (whether personal or impersonal, like math) require a social contract held in common.

What can be learned naturally, individually (from our own experience, in contrast with cultural norms) can be the principles behind those things: how numbers work, or even technical details of [manmade] languages (the glyphs used in both fields are just abstract representations agreed on by a culture), or universal principles of what people like. That certain things you like or dislike you can assume (i.e. infer from within) will be liked or disliked by others, since we’re all alike on a fundamental level. Like we all like to be comfortable, and don’t like to be attacked by others.

How functions match with dichotomies

So the MBTI questions basically measure, first, introversion or extraversion. Then, the two preferred functions, one perception, and one judgment. Then, it measures general “Judging” vs “Perceiving” behaviors, and from there is able to put together the type code. If you score high on Judging, then it is assumed that it must be the judgment function (T/F) you scored highest on that is “extraverted”. The perceiving function (S/N) must therefore also be introverted. The reverse for scoring high on “Perception”. The one whose orientation matches the first letter (I/E) must then be your dominant, and the other, the auxiliary. Which ever one is 'extraverted' will color the general “J” vs “P" behavior. Hence, that can be treated as a standalone dichotomy.

Functional perspectives in type theory itself

Personality theory is a subject that covers both the mechanics and the "anthropics" (i.e. soul matters) of life; the "true" (vs "false") and the "good" (vs "bad") [i.e. T vs F perspective]. Its ultimate goal is humane, or "personal" (how we can improve our lives and relationships, for the "good"), but it consists of technical (impersonal) structures, such as matrices of factors and analysis of linear (mechanical) cause and effect (which we try to determine are the most "true" or "correct").

We are both living human beings (souls) and yet, we are also still physical things (mechanistic; working according to the laws of nature). So it is possible to analyze ourselves from either a soulish or mechanical perspective, or a combination of both.

We also all have likes, wants, desires and values, which are properties of the ego, not the judgment preference. T/F will be determined, not by these things in themselves, but by the perspective we look at them through, or which of those aspects we tend to focus on (and thus, which ego-state is operating at a given time).

So both T's and F's can be found, pretty much equally, in the discussions on personality. In online discussions, it is often hard for some people to tell which of these two poles they prefer, because we all end up referencing a lot of both impersonal logic and personal concerns.

There is a predominance of N's, however, as the theories provide an "idea" or "big picture", so to speak, of human interaction (from which we can infer from a few elements of what "could" be from a person's larger motivational pattern as it plays out in time). The S perspective will be more focused on just "living" day to day life (the practical, or what "is"; taking one moment at a time, to focus more on what's in the space around them) than building models of its patterns.



Everyone needs to experience sensory data from the environment
Everyone needs to reference sensory data individually recalled
Everyone needs a sense of the "idea" of things, inferred from the environment
Everyone needs a sense of the "idea" of things, inferred from individual impressions
Everyone needs to determine true/false based on environmentally set criteria
Everyone needs to determine true/false based on individually learned criteria
Everyone needs to determine good/bad based on environmentally set criteria
Everyone needs to determine good/bad based on individually learned criteria

...but our main sense of "I" will generally focus on one of these needs, and then some other ego states (lesser senses of "I") will associate with the other different perspectives and thus focus on their products (one of these states setting the auxiliary function, which together with the dominant, determine the "type"), and various factors can cause one state or another, using different functions to surface at different times.

We often think, for instance, that someone like an IT type, on two levels, "doesn't need people" (since we would expect people and interaction to be the domain of E and F). But they really do need people, and all types need all functional perspectives. Typological "preference" (with all the letters and factors) simply reflects the awareness of "consciousness" of these needs.

So, to recap the entire process:

Our ego chooses the inner or outer world (environment or individual), and begins choosing a dominant function to use in its world. First, the class of function is chosen: either an information gathering or decision making function. Then the specific function is chosen (tangible/material awareness {substance of “what is”} or hypothetical awareness {idea or implications of “what could be”} information gathering), or technical/mechanical {“true/false”} or “soul”-focused {“good/bad”} decision making). An auxiliary function will be the opposite class of function in the opposite orientation.

And there, the type is set, and the rest of the functions will eventually fall into place!

Adapted from:
"Personality Matrix: MBTI and the 16 Types and Cognitive Functions"

See also:
Function stack