Since many of our visitors are having a hard time accepting that many of their favorite artists might be S types, we will now provide a Jungian argument for why that might that may be the case. We do not personally agree with Jung on this point, but we have not seen the point elaborated online, so we will lay it out for interested parties.
We start with a quote:
“Jung attaches great importance to the creative activity of fantasy, which he even puts in a category of its own, because in his opinion it cannot be subordinated to any of the four basic functions, but partakes of them all. He rejects the usual notion that artistic inspiration is limited to the intuitive type. … Fantasy is indeed the source of all creative inspiration, but it is a gift that can come to any of the four types.” – Jolande Jacobi: The Psychology of C.G. Jung p. 24
Here at CelebrityTypes we have previously touched upon the enantiodromia and its importance for Jung’s conception of his own typology. Briefly stated, it is a theory of a unity of opposites, as first discovered by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and then adapted by Jung to fit his conception of his psychological system.
Heraclitus himself would express his own conception of the unity of opposites in the following manner:
road up / road down / still same road
cold things warm / warm things cool / wet things dry / dry things soak
That is, opposites exist in a state of tension, but they’re really one – still the same road – still the same thing.
This is the thought of Heraclitus, but Jung then morphs it, as he did with many other philosophers that he read. In Jung’s conception of Heraclitus’ thought, then, we are not merely content to see how all things are really one – in Jung’s version the principle becomes a regulatory principle that pulls extremes back towards the center. (Though in Greek philosophy, that principle should actually be attributed to Anaximander, not Heraclitus.)
The Transcendent Function
In Jung’s view, then, extremes should be mediated in order to be pulled back to the center – back towards a sort of middle ground. That is one reason why Jung always stressed the importance of manual and somatic activities like chopping wood and going sailing in his own life.
Since a function-differentiation is an extreme in Jung’s view, the very fact that one is a type implies that one is an extreme with regards to one’s conscious orientation. For example, being an INFJ implies that one is subject to an extreme polarization of N (into consciousness) and S (into unconsciousness).
Yet as we saw from Jung’s reading of Greek philosophy above, whenever there is an extreme, there is (according to Jung) also a regulatory principle that attempts to pull that extreme back towards the center. Within the psyche, this process of mediating the extremes is what Jung called The Transcendent Function.
However, in Jung’s view, the Transcendent Function is not merely pulling every manifest quality back towards an undifferentiated black block. It is not (like Anaximander’s theory) a regressive force that aims to level every high and low – to pull every quality that has emerged in adult life “back up in the womb,” so to speak. (Like with Jung’s theory of Buddhism in Jung: Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido [Franz Deuticke 1925 edition] p. 332-n3) In Jung’s view, the Transcendent Function is a Hegelian progression that takes the emergent qualities (e.g. superior Ni and inferior Se) and elevates them both into a higher unity. (Jung: Psychological Types §824-827)
Here we must state that the Transcendent Function should perhaps rather be called the Transcendent Process to avoid confusing it with the actual functions. We will refer to it as such for the rest of the article.
The Transcendent Process, then, is a process by which the cognitive functions are dislodged from the usual fixed positions in consciousness. When the Transcendent Process is active, it allows for the free play of the functions within the psyche, and the activity of the Transcendent Process is especially related to creative work. (Jung: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche §168)
Since the function positions are usually fixed within the psyche, the Transcendent Process can only be active at certain points during an individual’s life. But since the Transcendent Process is especially related to creative work, it is reasonable to assume that this process is more often active in artists and in those musicians for whom music is an artistic endeavor.
If we look at an S type artist then – an artist who is not particularly intuitive in his normal state – we may nevertheless say that insofar as his work is a genuinely creative work – a work that has been born under the auspice of the Transcendent Process – then no matter what type the artist is, he will still have unbounded access to Intuition in his creative work. (Jung: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche §348)
In fact, one could go so far as to argue that with regards to creative work, only S types will have access to Transcendent Intuition whereas the N types will only have access to ‘normal’ Intuition and vice versa (i.e. only the N types will have access to Transcendent Sensation whereas S types will only have ‘normal’ Sensation), but that may be going too far.
At any rate, the point here is to make it clear that neither by our (the CT admins’) standards nor by Jung’s is there any upper limit to the creativity of S types. The notion that this should be so is of a newer date and may well be a facet of the general bias in favor of N types that exists in type communities rather than a true facet of type.