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 Isabell Briggs-Myers and Catherine Briggs, who crated 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. (And in the case of time, the forces of entropy, which pull us in one direction of "causation". 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 (“tangible”, “visible” or “practical”), and what is not based on the senses, but rather inferred from other data in some way. (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 the “mechanics” of things, or it can tell us that it is about our “soul” (the “subject”, and hence, “personal”). This will generally split the neutral “right/wrong” into the more impersonal “true/false” or the more personal “good/bad”.

These are the bases of the three main variables in type; two preferred functions (one perception, and one judgment), and orientation. Orientation then becomes split into a third and fourth variable, based on which orientation is dominant, and then, which function is oriented environmentally (or 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 other mode of process; both perception and judgment).

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 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.

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, efficent courses of action, etc.) the are taken as his own.

A Sensation type (S) is one whose primary outlook is tangible, material or practical data and/or experience, which is generally “itemized” (i.e. attention to "details"), where 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/couldn’t”).

An iNtuitive type (N) is one whose primary outlook is the “filling in” of experience with [mental] “constructs” such as concepts, hypotheses, or theories, which all involve “larger contexts” or meanings behind things and [non-physical] “patterns”. 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”. This is what “could” or “couldn’t” be (which explains or improves what “is/isnt”, 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 objects 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; usually with 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, 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 storehouse of impressions).

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 strorehouse or rational principles).

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
Smaterialsubstanceis (actual)behold(observe)tangibleexperiencepracticestatic (items)concrete²"what it is"
Nhypothesisideacould (potential)infer/imagineconceptualstorytheorymotion (process)abstract²"where it's heading"
Tmechanicsimpersonaltrue/falsecorrect/incorrecttechnical"if-then""the head"linearlogicnaming (categories)
Fsoul affect 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.), that can be taken in immediately (e) or stored in memory (i). It can be intangibly connected (N) 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 are the best definitions of them (in terms of an individual’s “images” of reality, for perception, in addition to his assessments of it, for judgment):

Extraverted Sensing (Se): awareness of material reality in the environment
(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 material reality filtered by individual knowledge
(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 hypothetical reality inferred from the environment
(turn outward to “fill in” experience of objects with mental/ideational constructs such as connections or patterns)
individual’s images never matched environment, but are still based on the environment (and can be shown to others)

Introverted Intuition (Ni): awareness of hypothetical reality inferred by individual impressions
(turn inward to subject’s unconscious to “fill in” mental/ideational constructs with connections like “hunches”)
individual’s images have never matched the environment, 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” (mechanical “truth”) by an environmental/cultural standard
(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” (mechanical “truth”) by an individual/natural 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 [soulish] “good” by an environmental/cultural standard
(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 [soulish] “good” by an individual/natural 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.

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, as they occur, or filtered individually through memory)
WHERE do meanings (inferred from sense impressions) TAKE PLACE? (other patterns that are in the environment, though stored in memory; or individual impressions which are outside the pattern, from stuff likely repressed from memory).

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 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 subjects.

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). The S perspective will be more focused on just "living" day to day life (the practical, or the "substance" of what "is") 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 perspctives. 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 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