Eric B's Counterpoint: A Defense of Functions

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There has been some dissension in the matter of whether the basic elements of type are the cognitive functions or just the four dichotomies of the MBTI type code. Jung spoke of eight "types" defined by a dominant function (sensation, intuition, thinking or feeling) and "introverted" or "extraverted" "attitude". Yet Isabel Myers (in creating the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), while drawing upon Jung's theory, turned the four functions into two dichotomy pairs (S/N and T/F; the middle letters of the type code), dominant attitude into the first dichotomy (I/E), and then recast Jung's final "attitude" pointer, "rational" vs "irrational" into "Judging" vs "Perceiving" (J/P). One difference, was that Jung's dichotomy pointed to the dominant function, while Myers' pointed to the preferred extraverted one, actually deemed a bit more important in our personal interactions, which figured a lot in MBTI's purpose. (One version of Socionics attempts to restore Jung's use, in using a lowercase "j/p" to point to the dominant function).

But our own critic of functions has illustrated the very point of functions in the way he has approached the theory!

The INTP and INTJ both are dominant introverts, who prefer iNtuition and Thinking. The difference in the final J/P notation is much more than a mere "dichotomy" of simply one of them being more "open" while the other is "closed" (or any other "facets" of these).

As an INTP, my whole approach to the theory has been in terms of the mechanics (T) of the systems, with symmetries, factors, etc. determining an individually (i) analyzed sense of what's "true" or "correct". This is informed by turning to the environment (e) to take in the hypothetical data of what could be (N); like the (intangible) patterns I see in the various systems. In this perspective, it's easy to find a "place" for almost everything. Many different concepts can exist side by side, and each one offers a different "lens" or "angle" at looking at the same things. (Which is the purpose of type theorist Linda Berens' models; previously called "Multiple Models", and now renamed "CORE"; which uses the type dichotomies, functions, archetypal stacking positions, temperament, and Interaction Styles models, as all pointing to the same things).

INTJ has the same "individual" (i), "mechanical" (T) and "hypothetical" (N) approach. However, this type starts with the hypothetical perspective of what could or couldn't be, and this is what's individually derived (from unconscious impressions), and what's "correct" is what's determined by the environment (object), which includes a focus on empirical data (such as which approach is more practical, defense of the framework of one instrument, appeals to the various theorists, tests, and "case studies" regarding people's type scores). Hence, what we see, is that the person starts out just "knowing" that functions are "incorrect" and thus "could not" exist (not even simultaneously with dichotomies; it's either one or the other), and that therefore, only dichotomies are "correct". All the external data is gathered to prove the preconception.

We see further here the demand for "real world" evidence, defined as a "body of MBTI data pools". This is Te, and not the same Thinking that I use. It's both "logic" or a judgment of what's "valid" (correct) or impersonally "true". But demanding "data pools" places this judgment on an external "object" or the "environment" in general. (Assuming those sources are always true, and can't miss important data. In order for stuff like that, such as statistics, to be absolutely "true"; they would have to survey every single person int he world, but how many of us have ever been in their studies? So the most we can do is discuss our own experiences, which don't get added to this "data pool").

When someone (like Grant [not sure what type he was] or Beebe) looks beyond that, and proposes a judgment of true/correct/valid outside that data pool, that's obviously "subjective" or based on the individual. So someone who thinks truth should be environmentally determined (or "objective") only will see the other way as "fanciful speculation"; and that's it; hands down, as if the universe said it itself. But it's really the different attitude of a function, comparable to looking east and seeing the external world before you in that direction, as opposed to remembering what you saw in that direction before. On the flipside, we both use iNtuition, but that's where I or someone like Beebe turns to the environment and lets the objects or experience itself, like what I'm appealing to now, determine their own possibilities, and the other perspective rather turns inward to a subjective sense that this just isn't true; no matter what; I just KNOW it isn't true no matter what anyone [besides official "researchers"] says or experiences, so again, it's left up to the judgment process only to turn to "the real world".

This is what another INTJ had once described to me, regarding the dominant Ni perspective, of looking at "what a theory doesn't take into account", and then, from that, (as Nardi's definition would put it), "forecasting" (i.e. "knowing" no one will ever be able to come up with any evidence of functions, from the missing information everyone else has supposedly ignored).
I don't usually think like that. My perspective is Ne. I look at what a theory could take into account. (i.e. looking at what the "object" or theory in the environment could do, where Ni's sense of "could" comes from the "subject", which for iNtuition is the individual's unconscious, itself). I say "hey, this looks interesting, it looks like it could fit, now let's see what happens. I think the theorists are continuously refining the theories, so they probably will come up with more definitions and descriptions, but let's wait for more information [from these external sources] before making a final judgment". Reflecting the J/P dichotomy (which correlations link to FFM's "Openness"), this is how one is more "closed", and the other, more "open".

This shows, what that one different letter (J/P) is telling us, is that my perception function is environmentally oriented, and the other person's judgment is environmentally oriented. Which is what we can see. Thus, for both of us, these functions are auxiliary, since our dominants are individually focused; mechanics for me, and hypothesis for him. Which is what we also see. Hence, NP's (who prefer the function of extraverted iNtuition) are known to toss around a lot of random ideas, while NJ's (who prefer introverted iNtuition) usually take a more skeptical view. (NP and NJ also figure in the "informing/directing" pole of the Interaction Styles model). This is what the functional perspectives tells us that dichotomies only doesn't.

It's also worth pointing out, that an appeal is made to the popular "Keys 2 Cognition" test by Dario Nardi, which measures the eight function-attitudes directly (according to "strengths") instead of the four dichotomies. It's pointed out that many people score high on both Ni and Ne.
But all any N type getting high in both attitudes means that they are overall strong in iNtuition (and likely haven't developed their tertiary or inferior S), so it seems to "spill over" into both attitudes, and remember, the test is not perfect. It's operating on a set of definitions that do not take into consideration the fact that either attitude can do some of the same things. It just uses general sets of behaviors and assumes they indicate a particular function-attitude. Like it assumes "considering others and responding to them" is an interpersonal judgment based on an external standard. (So if you select high on that, it will score a point for "Fe"). But not necessarily! With an internal standard (Fi), you can infer a sense of the other person's need, and then "consider and respond to them".

I myself have been trying to get back to a focus on singular ("natural" or "whole") functions (rather than strictly eight function-attitudes or "processes") because of this. So if you look at it that way, then you have two of your "dichotomies", and the dominant orientation (held independently of the functions) would be a third (or actually, first) dichotomy.

All the e/i at the end of the function letter is telling you is that the functional perspective will be connected to stimulus by the individual or environment, and so the person tends to turn to an inner or outer orientation or standard when engaging the function. (Which is what the fourth dichotomy is indicating). This does create significant differences in perspective.

Both perceptions are iNtuitive products: observation of intangible or "hypothetical" data. One simply looks at the object and sees multiple possibilities, and the other starts with an internal "awareness" used to filter the data. That's all the function-attitudes are.

And as we see, it shapes our perspectives and approach to the issue. My ESFJ wife, though not as geared toward Ne as I am, nevertheless handles data in a similar fashion. (And I clearly experience a similarity of perspective that I don't get with INTJ's, SFP's, or even, in part, STJ's and NFP's. And this is my marriage, so I should know!) An SFP would likely think all of this is a waste of time, but if they had to deal with it, they would probably handle it more like the INTJ. So that's something "TP's and FJ's have in common with each other and not with TJ's", and thus why opposite functions (Si-Ne; Se-Ni, Fe-Ti and Fi-Te) are said to work in tandem.

And this is precisely what the new "Intentional Styles" and tandem terms coined by Berens and associate Chris Montoya were made to address. (i.e. "Inquiring", "Realizing", "Aligning", and "Ordering", respectively. My approach is more of "Inquiring" ⦅gathering multiple emergent intangible connections {Ne}, and measuring them against a storehouse of tangible data {Si}⦆. The INTJ's approach is "Realizing" ⦅from an internal intangible connection {Ni}, along with emergent tangible facts {Se}⦆. The SFJ's and SFP's will take the same respective approaches, but simply place more of an "accent" on the S).

Splitting of Reality: Function Dynamics expressed in terms of Dichotomies

In reality, dichotomies and function preferences alike are but the ways the ego divides reality. If I prefer N and T, then both S and F are suppressed, and can be seen as "collecting" in a place lower in consciousness. This "dichotomy only" argument makes it look like I have no access to S and F (or E and J for that matter either), and that ESFJ's have no access to I, N, T and P. So yes, when an ESFJ needs to access intuitive products, it will tend to be more "open" (emergent), while an ESFP will prefer it more settled.

So the reason why NTP and SFJ will fall into one group, that would exclude NTJ and SFP, is because of the splitting of those "pairs" of functions. For an NTP, N, T and P are preferred together, and S, F and J are suppressed together. So S, F and J are still "together" in the psyche, even though less conscious. For NTJ, N and T are preferred, but not P. J is preferred instead. S and F are suppressed, but not J. P is, instead. So the NTJ will not have a whole NTP or SFJ "image" (so to speak) in the ego-syntonic part of his psyche. So you will have some surface similarity (in preferring iNtuitive and logical data), but something will be missing. The orientations (or where the energy is directed, which is what J and P are telling you) will be different. He will have to go into the "shadow" (meaning the unconscious) in order to access one or two of the preferences, to put together a complete SFJ or NTP perspective (and according to another version of the theory, it is various complexes that will put these together. Functions are otherwise really "undifferentiated", outside of the dominant). I guess it's like a kind of "dissonance" in mixing together preferred and unpreferred elements, so that all unpreferred poles together will be more palatable than a mixture.

It all works together (dichotomies and dynamics), and is not "either/or".

Meanwhile, Berens takes the multiple models as part of a more "holistic" framework.

A couple of things she says in an article:

"Since human nature is so complex, no one typology can adequately describe behaviors, systems, relationships, and meaning making, hence there is no one 'official' typology used in Integral Theory. To this point, no set of criteria seem to have been set forth for what makes one typology more useful than another and what makes a typology more consistent with an integral approach to working with living systems."

"The Cognitive Dynamics model is based on Jungian theory from which the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument was derived (Berens & Nardi, 2004). In actuality, the dichotomies identified by the MBTI instrument were somewhat artificial constructs designed to create an instrument to detect the types predicted by Carl Jung (Myers et al., 1998; Jung, 1921). Presenting them as either/or led people to think they could not access the other side of the dichotomy."

"A Meta-Model for Types: Patterns, Polarities, and Autopoiesis" – Linda Berens Journal of INTEGRAL THEORY and PRACTICE: A Postdisciplinary Discourse for Global Action volume-8-numbers-34