Some Questions and Answers

Q: How can someone who is not a Thinker be a philosopher?

A: We are all thinkers to some degree. This system of typing does not say that someone is exclusively Thinking; rather it says that someone has a preference for Thinking rather than Feeling. For example, a person who needs to decide whether to give $100 to charity will have to use both Feeling (“do I want to support this cause?”) and Thinking (“can I spare the $100?”).

According to Jung, someone who was 100 % Thinking and 0 % Feeling (or vice versa) could not function in society and would have to be admitted to an asylum!

In the case of philosophy, the domain of aesthetics requires a good deal of Feeling, as does that of ontology and even some strands of ethics.

Q: What do you think of Isabel Myers?

We acknowledge a strong debt to Isabel Myers for understanding and applying Jung‘s thought better than most and for introducing the J/P dichotomy as a means of determining a given type’s dominant and auxiliary function. This innovation is now used by almost all practitioners in the field of Jungian typology and the credit for it belongs squarely to Myers. As such, it is grueling to see psychologists profiting from MBTI-like instruments that make use of Myers’ work without crediting Myers. Likewise, it is equally embarrassing to see people – psychologists and others – fault Myers for not being a trained psychologist while being seemingly unable to find fault with her actual work.

Q: What’s the deal with S = Concrete, N = Abstract?

A: In Jung’s original system he said that S = Senses and N = Intuition. This particular piece of terminology may not have been particularly well-chosen. Many newcomers to the system find it confusing that abstract-minded, often geeky and intellectually inclined people are characterized as “intuitive”. Furthermore, many modern philosophers have come to regard intuition as a sort of lightning-quick sensory summary. In other words, it is not clear that intuition is the opposite of sensation. Hence, we call them Abstract and Concrete, as detailed below:

S / ConcreteAwareness
Realism
Personal experience
Precise fact and details
“Living in the real world”
The bottom line
Natural intuition
Rarely interested in typology
N / AbstractAssociation
Introspection
Academic
Reading between the lines
“Living in one’s head”
Metaphors and symbols
Conscious reflection
Commonly interested in typology

Jung named the two “Sensing” and “Intuition” because he took his terms from Kant. But we find, that they tend to bewilder people. In fact, if we could go back in time and rename the functions, we would probably call intuition “introspection,” or “reflection,” whereas the sensing should be called “empirical,” “factual,” … or, perhaps even better, sensing should be called intuition. That would really fit well with our modern-day parlance, but the current terms; “sensing and intuition, are probably too ingrained by now to ever be renamed in the service of clarity.

26 Comments

  1. Hi- I had no idea where to write this given the structure of this blog but is there any place we can suggest the types of certain individuals?

    E.G. Emmanuel Swedenborg, I have a hunch that he is an INFJ based on much of the anecdotal evidence and his life from the (some admittedly shallow) sources I’ve gleaned (a more “authoritative” resource: https://www.philemonfoundation.org/resources/jung_history/volume_2_issue_2/jung_on_swedenborg ) .
    The question is, where would it be appropriate to write this?

  2. Swedenborg was of interest to Jung and von Fraz (who indeed identified him as INJ). We will look into it.

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  4. Just to see is my guess is right: Is the author of this article ENTP? :)

    While I especially appreciate the defense of Myers, I do not agree that the renaming the most interesting Jungian dichotomy to concrete/abstract(or realistic/abstract, as it’s now) is needed, or useful.

    “Many newcomers to the system find it confusing that abstract-minded, often geeky and intellectually inclined people are characterized as “intuitive”

    That’s the newcomers’ problem. Perhaps they should stop regarding Nicki Minaj as intuitive and they’ll get a better understanding of the world.

    “Confusion” here leads to independent thinking, which is a rare gift. Naturally, some of the newcomers will be capable of it, others won’t be. No loss whatsoever to the “typing community”.

    “Furthermore, many modern philosophers have come to regard intuition as a sort of lightning-quick sensory summary.”

    They are all wrong. They would have had a better understanding of intuition if they had ever heard of abstract science.

    “That would really fit well with our modern-day parlance”

    The purpose of this system should be to reach a reasonably accurate interpretation of personality, not to fit in with the ignorance of many.

  5. Almost anyone who has dabbled into the system agrees that Intuition and Sensation are misnomers. Millon, for example, calls it practical/imaginative.

    You are essentially saying that the worse some terms are worded, the more independent thinking they will foster? ;)

  6. “Almost anyone who has dabbled into the system agree that ”

    1. Psychology is thought to be science.
    2. Science is not democracy
    1,2 -> 3. Rely on arguments, not on “expert opinions”, even if they are shared by “almost anyone”.
    3 -> 4 More convincing arguments, please.

    Bonus: I have a hunch that “Sensing should be called intuition” is a wrong assertion, even if apply majority rule to science.

    “You are essentially saying that the more badly some terms are worded, the more independent thinking they will foster?”

    First of all, they are not badly worded, they just happen to disagree with mainstream views that intuition is the most defining feature of Justin Bieber, and what makes “Friday” such a wonderful song.

    You are an eye specialist and many of your patients believe that green is red. You have three courses of action:

    1) Cure their disorder. Make them understand that green is green.
    2) Tell them they’re absolutely right, and that green is red.
    3) To avoid confusion, rename green to Grass and red to Tomato.

    The choice is yours.

  7. Well you are not arguing that Jung was right either, just spouting attitude.

    Also, Jung was generally known to invent a lot of concepts but always muddle his terminology. For example the Transcendent Function is not a function, but a process. Feeling is rational etc. etc. (What he terms rational in this instance should more properly be called organized or self-consistent.)

    To be clear, we agree on the concepts that he fleshed out, but don’t think sensation is an especially well-chosen term. It’s very crude to sensation types, if you think about it. Imagine that the system had called S intuition from the start and N introspection from the start. So much confusion could have been avoided.

  8. To me, introspection means “self-examination” more than intuition. Some intuitive types, especially ENTP and ENFP, might not be as good as introspection. Reflexion, to me, sounds more like Introverted Thinking, and, well, association does sound like Intuition, but only that sort of intuition you need in brainstorming games i.e. Extraverted Intuition. Therefore, it would describe ESFJs better than INTJs.

    Jung chose those names for a reason: intuition and sensation are the only non-rational ways known to be able to access information. Neither introspection, nor imagination, nor reflexion work this way. Imagination creates, intuition receives. Imagination might be a result of structured intuition, but never intuition itself.
    “Practical”, again is a misnomer. INTJ’s Te makes them occassionally practical although their repressed Se should make them impossibly unpractical. If the dichotomies are overlapping, something’s not sound here.

    “Imagine that the system had called S intuition”

    At the time when PT was written, Katy Perry wasn’t even born, and people like Katy Perry weren’t yet thought to posssess any intuition.

    Science should not perpetuate lies and absurdities. Sensing is not intuition, no matter what 90% of the people on earth believe, and no respectable scientist in any field should ever make a concession to people devoid of knowledge.

    ” It’s very crude to sensation types, if you think about it.”

    I don’t know if it’s crude, and I honestly don’t care. What it matters is that it’s true.

    Take the example of George Bush: some people consider them the most stupid president in the history of US. When you ask them why, they’ll typically answer: “because he stutters a lot” (Se) or “he has a Texan accent” (Si). Everything on any intuitive, rational or emotional is of no importance to them.

    Yes, it’s called sensation because sensations are what matter most for lots of people. Before getting familiar to Jungian functions, I could never understand why some people simply cannot concentrate on the overall meaning of a message, and they focus instead on tiny sensory details. I thought they were stupid, childish, or intentionally annoying(like some ESTP’s really are, actually :) ). As ridiculous as it may sound to you, the fact that I learned that some people really are dominated by sensation, without necessarily being any of the above, changed my life.

  9. Your style in this comment is tiresome, to be honest. We are willing to entertain your arguments, but drop the pontification.

    What you say about Katy Perry on Jung’s time is plainly wrong. Jung said himself that he took his terms from Kant and Kant said plainly that all people have intuition. In Kant’s view, everyone needs intuition in order to structure sensory experience into the space/time continuum.

    Also, Jung’s own ideas had always been that everyone had intuition quite apart from the functions.

    What on earth is your source for the claim that common people weren’t thought to have intuition in the 1920s?

    Introspection can probably best be surmised as “the mind watching itself” as opposed to going about its daily business. For all the histrionics of some Ne types, they still appear to have this propensity to a greater degree than most S types. This propensity, we find, is what almost all N types have in common when compared to S types.

    “Science should not perpetuate lies and absurdities. Sensing is not intuition, no matter what 90% of the people on earth believe, and no respectable scientist in any field should ever make a concession to people devoid of knowledge.”

    And have you personally reviewed the wealth of somatic and neurological studies that these people have carried out in order to verify that when they hint that intuition can be regarded as a sensory summary (that bypasses introspection) they are not acting on their data but merely making concessions “to people devoid of knowledge”?

    Why should we believe that Jung, a man notoriously poor in crafting precise terms, and in phrasing himself precisely, should have hit the nail on the head here? And even if he *did* hit the nail on the head, he didn’t know what we know today.

    As already mentioned, if we only had sensory impressions without an auxiliary mental process to structure these impressions, we’d be wallowing around in a foggy sea of sense impressions and they wouldn’t actually help us act incisively in the moment. For this reason alone it is crude and derogatory to call sensation sensation, but it is probably too late to change that now.

  10. “What you say about Katy Perry on Jung’s time is plainly wrong. ”

    Compared to the fabulous intuition she’s ascribed in everyday language, her repressed Ni can be freely considered nil. I made an exaggeration, but you get the point.

    “What on earth is your source for the claim that common people weren’t thought to have intuition in the 1920s?”

    None. What it your source that I regard Katy Perry as a common person? :)There is a famous quote by Mencken on your website which may help you understand how common I consider Katy.
    Anyway, to arrive at this conclusion, I used simple logic:

    1)Average Joe doesn’t feel naturally inclined to use difficult words.
    2)The media, however, associates Perry and the like with “intuitive”. With time, Joe does it too.
    3)In Jung’s time, media was nowhere near what is today. Therefore, how could Joe of Jung’s time associate Perry with intuition? Will he read Kant and miscontrue him? Will he think of intuition on his own?

    “And have you personally reviewed ”

    Show me one such study in which they prove that intuition used in abstract science is derived from senses, and I will be glad to review it. I am, obviously, not talking about the “intuition” of the here-and-now. To me, if I abandon a dog 20 miles away from home and then it comes back in a week it’s not because it has intuition, it’s because of its five senses.

    About introspection, a final point: How many intuitives do you know which are nearly as introspective as Freud? :)

    “a man notoriously poor in crafting precise terms, ”

    Notoriously poor in details, notoriously great in big matters.

    “an auxiliary mental process to structure these impressions”

    Maybe rational functions?

    Also, we do have a process to structure impressions given by intuition, otherwise all people with Ni would be schizophrenic, and all people with Ne would be autistic.

  11. Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness gives many good examples of studies that show how intuition and the sensory areas of the brain are connected and how brain studies cut across Jung’s concepts. The gist of this comment tries to subordinate everything we know to Jung’s typology where we would rather suggest that Jung’s typology should be regarded as an instrument that are subordinated to broader fields such as general epistemology, e.g. Kant.

    Also IIRC there is a long discussion of Ayn Rand’s type somewhere in the Members’ section of the site.

  12. In the article it’s mentioned “Furthermore, many modern philosophers have come to regard intuition as a sort of lightning-quick sensory summary. In other words, it is not clear that intuition is the opposite of sensation.”

    I think the main problem is that pattern-noting and association-forming have become associated with intuition. To resolve this, one should note Jung thought there were several types of intuition, which aren’t the differentiated intuition of an intuitive type, but rather intuitive consciousness fused with other functions.

    For instance, “conceptual intuition” refers more to the thinking function. Seeing patterns when reflecting logically about something, which indicate the flow of the logical progression, is simply integral to employing the thinking function. Of course, to have differentiated thinking, one must be able to willfully reflect, not just see patterns, but it’s very natural that patterns will arise as part of facilitating processing.

    Similarly, one can see patterns in real, physical data that primarily refer to its reality.

    The kind of intuitive function Jung referred to as a differentiated function refers to when these associations do not arise out of processes associated with other functions, but more spontaneously out of the unconscious.
    I think it’s almost as if you simply arrive that such associations are facts of experience – not logical conclusions given certain stipulated assumptions.

    The difference between intuition and N is simply that N seems to be associated with the Big 5’s measurement of overall curiosity. It’s in fact true that David Keirsey sees NTs as not even accepting of intuitions.

    If you’re contemplative, reflective, introspective, and so forth you’re probably a MBTI-N at least as far as the statistically developed instrument goes.

    But you may not be a Jungian intuitive. Like various references on this site suggest, many scientist types are actually thinking+sensation, as Pauli himself agreed with. And these are probably NTs by Keirsey’s temperaments.

    As for introspection vs introversion, introspection is an activity, whereas introversion is an orientation. One Jungian analyst Daryl Sharp has said that introspection is indeed more associated to the introvert, because he is turned within by the natural flow of his energy, but as an activity, anybody can do it.
    As a reflective activity, it is highly characteristic of MBTI-Ns.

    I think it’s important to keep N pretty strictly separate from intuition though – just because introspection is associated to N doesn’t imply it is associated to intuition.

  13. I agree that “noticing patterns” is a Forer-like statement that almost anyone would agree to. But Jung also talked about intuition like this in lectures and interviews. I also think intuition is a misnomer because again, almost anyone would say that they are “intuitive” or have “intuition.” Ironically, it is sometimes very intellectual types who say: “I’m not intuitive – I’m someone who reflects upon my experience.” Yeah, so sensation should actually have been called intuition. Calling the process of the S function “sensation” seems very crude, IMHO. As if they’re just a blank slate beset by the senses and not operating off of that input or “noticing patterns” in it at all. I’d say S types are far more “intuitive” as understood in the common parlance. Whereas “intuition” could more properly have been named reflection.

    With regard to introspection vs. intuition, you seem to be saying the same thing as we say on the site :)

  14. I think the comment on sensation orientation leading to being “intuitive” in common parlance is right on.
    The idea to me is that the irrational functions seem to be getting at more association-based processing than logical, where sensation forms such associations based on actually observing a stimulus, but isn’t by any means divorced from the world of patterns.
    For instance, a cop who prioritizes logic and sensation may accumulate many patterns corresponding to sensory stimulus.

    Like I recently commented on another page, I think there’s probably a few dichotomies going on here: experiential-associational vs logical, conscious/unconscious, and ideational/mental vs tangible.

    One could loosely say intuition as defined by Jung tends to the associational-experiential, and also the mental/ideational.

    The subtlety is that MBTI-N pretty much includes what Jung thought of as the thinking function (in other words, intellectual thinking), which is consistent with the idea that Jung’s thinking types were the most reflective types.
    So MBTI-N is clearly different from Jungian intuition, albeit it could include various aspects of it as a subcategory, but yes MBTI-N involves reflection.

    I’d still be quite interested in hearing what you site admin(s) have got to say on the issue of where you draw a distinction between Jung’s division of what counts as intuition vs what counts as the thinking function, and your own definitions.
    How close to the MBTI inventory are your definitions, vs Jung’s? I know you use “the cognitive functions,” but it’s safe to say there’s not just one version floating around, hence my curiosity just to perhaps get additional clarity on what’s going through your minds on various typings (e.g. how you conceptualize Schopenhauer and Jung and the like as intuitives).

  15. It seems to us that insofar as Jung ascribes MBTI-N to Ti, he does so on the basis of introspection and fantasy first and foremost. Goethe had aesthetic-holistic introspection with very little of a critical stance to give structure to that introspection. And even Jung seems to label Goethe an ENF type. So from our perspective, it is hard to see how only the slightest admixture of a critical stance towards a very similar process of introspection should suddenly change someone from an ENF to an INT type. It seems more probable to us that Jung was “struggling in the dark” (as von Franz said) and picked up the stick from the wrong end: As Jacobi has said, everyone thinks of their own mental process as “thinking” to begin with and then branch out from there. It seems that Jung assumed that he was a critical thinker and then proceeded from there.

    With regard to the multiple takes on the cognitive functions, we’d say that there is good agreement between von Franz, van der Hoop, and Myers. Jung is a bit more muddled, but also in the ballpark. So we’d actually say that our cognitive functions are really the same as Franz, Hoop, Myers, and taking a good deal of meta-representation from Jung as well.

    We’ve been wanting to collect all our unpublished manuscripts on the functions for years, but we really have no incentive to do it :( One thing that easily suggests how especially Jung is an irrational type, even by his own standards, is the way Jung constantly contradicts himself and cannot at all maintain proper consistency between his terms.

    I sent you an email on Nietzsche, did you get it?

  16. Just revisiting this thread – I think personally Jung’s least convincing arguments have to do with how the functions are actually mutually exclusive. Especially with thinking/feeling as he defines them (which we seem to have agreed is also your site’s view).

    James Hillman has also written some critique on this sort of thing in his article where he discusses how Jung’s typology might work better as not really types of persons but types of “psychological idea.” That is, ideas whose origin and nature has a definite foundation in the psychological peculiarities of the originator.

    The argument that two processes cannot occur at the same time hardly suggests to me that they impede each other on other levels. It is impossible to really contemplate strategies about tennis while swinging the racket to return a killer serve. But, it would seem these processes hardly impede each others’ respective skill levels when practiced regularly in non-simultaneous situations, quite the opposite. If anything, they might be mutually complementary.

    James Hillman notes the example of evaluating the worth of a really great idea.

    I don’t think defining the thinking function as intellectual is wrong, just that it might not be the right opposite to feeling. It is definitely different, however.

    The MBTI’s T has quite little to do with being intellectual, albeit it’s not entirely unrelated.

  17. To clarify the last remark – I think von Franz’s thinking function has plenty to do with intellectual thinking, but Myers’ T in the MBTI has little. As Myers explains, intellectualism was more a feature of N. However, this is likely because N/S intersects best with the Five Factor Model’s Openness dimension, which includes intellectuality as a facet.
    McCrae and Costa pretty much come out and say T/F in the MBTI doesn’t really measure thinking/feeling as Jung defined, and that those might even correspond better to modes of Openness to Experience.

  18. So I don’t seem to know either of those references – the Myers or the Costa/McCrae one. But I (we) would agree with both. Thinking as a propensity towards intellectual thinking seems to us to be not a psychometric property, but rather a characterological one. It’s rather tautological in our eyes. And Jung himself said that his typology was not intended as a characterology. So the most obvious interpretation to me is that Jung grasped wrongly when he was “grasping in the dark” around Psychological Types (in von Franz’s description of that writing process). Also, he modeled introverted thinking on himself, as we have called attention to in other articles and as other Jungians have said. So if he was not a thinker, psychometrically speaking, that is only wont to add to the travesty.

    I realize I sound as if I’m psychologizing Jung’s disagreement with us away. That’s not my intention. I think you give a good reading of Jung; I’m just trying to flesh out why I think he’s mistaken in making T about intellectual thinking.

  19. re: “I think personally Jung’s least convincing arguments have to do with how the functions are actually mutually exclusive.” I’m not sure I understand this remark, but actually, I’d say that our biggest contribution to the field of typology is our work on function axes and meta-representation with regard to function axes. In our conception we agree with Jung about the qualitative status of the inferior. It’s true that you can’t “use” the inferior, but we contend that it keeps influencing the dominant by virtue of its presence nonetheless.

    Our site doesn’t follow Hillman at all. We have read his work, though.

  20. The remark more or less is saying things Jung attributes to one side of a pair of opposites often do not seem clearly opposite! One such example being intellectual thinking and the feeling function.

    The McCrae/Costa one is basically their one main article where they suggest re-framing the MBTI in terms of the Five Factor Model, suggesting it seems to diverge significantly enough from Jungian functions anyway.

    On the notion of “thinker,” I think Jung’s terminology fits what most people would think of best when they think “thinking,” but it’s true that this may not work as well in the actual typology. Somewhat similarly for intuition/sensation really.

    Your solution seems to have been to slightly shift around the meanings to better accommodate Myers-Briggs (albeit, now MBTI-N really doesn’t correspond directly to the concept of “irrational” at all, at least defining that the way Jung did – it includes intellectual thinking, which is quite amenable to reason).

    Part of your concept of why Jung is irrational does though remind me of the FFM’s Conscientiousness dimension. In fact, one inventory includes Rationality as a facet. Lack of orderliness, attention to detail, leaving things unfinished/vague would all, it seems to me, speak against a high standing on that dimension.

    My own (hopeful solution) is more along the lines of finding pairs that *do* seem to be true psychological opposites, and write the functions as combinations of other more basic pairs of opposites.

  21. Ah, well unfortunately I do not have a website I have any of my thoughts collected on either; all just floating around. But, I’m happy to continue to try to post comments I find informative – your site has quite a lot of great info collected, so it’s probably good to just stack more on where it already is.

  22. Well, you know, we accept submissions if you want – even when they disagree with our own view. :)

  23. True – at least on my end, I don’t have much of a disagreement, so much as I tend to catalog away all the different ways people put the typology together.

    When I see for instance Beebe suggest he reads Jung differently, not as an introverted thinking type but as an introverted intuitive with extraverted thinking, I can’t help but note he has shifted around the meaning of terms, so it’s almost like a new way of slicing up personality, rather than really suggesting Jung wasn’t an introverted thinker, strictly and firmly using his notion.

    The key realization for me is that diagnosing someone’s function-attitudes in a more observe and record fashion is quite different from diagnosing them through a model: a model is more looking for a holistic pattern consisting of interrelations among function-attitudes than it is recording every instance of a function-attitude in isolation. The latter would probably turn up more the way the Singer and Loomis personality inventory suggests – with many different orders possible. Whereas with a model, we’re looking for a blueprint of interplay capturing specific different patterns.

    I do not use Beebe’s model much, but I think this is also the way one could possibly gain from it – there’s almost no question to me that in a literal hierarchical sense of diagnosing individual function-attitudes per the definitions, the orders aren’t going to look that way as in Beebe’s model (or any model, to be quite honest).

  24. To elaborate just a little to clarify my meaning, I’m saying that often the various instances of a function-attitude appearing in someone simply don’t get captured by any single model: the model (any model) is looking not just to measure, but to note the interplay of one function-attitude role with another function-attitude role.

    The holistic patterns consisting of interplays definitely help distinguish key points in how different thinkers seem to look at ideas differently. But the thing is, one has to be targeted with models about *what* specific aspect of function-attitudes theory one is capturing.

    The more the claim that a given model captures everything meaningful about someone’s function-attitudes, the more I suspect it’ll lose in objective validity to something closer to the Singer-Loomis. Which pretty much spits out/measures (as far as I know), sort of like the Five Factor Model, rather than isolating any structural interplays among the function-attitudes.

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