Michael Pierce is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. In this article, Pierce elaborates on the concept of function axes and how to determine them, expanding on Part 1 of this series as found here.
By Michael Pierce
When setting out to determine someone’s type, don’t think of the functions as eight individual, separate functions, but as four axes or rods. One of Jung’s influences was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who believed in the unity of opposites. He is credited with saying, as one translation puts it: “The road up and the road down are the same road.” We see this idea reflected in the dichotomies of Jung’s typology. Se is the opposite of Ni, and Ne is the opposite of Si, but because they are true opposites they don’t operate independently of each other. They are rather two opposing poles on the same rod, or two different directions on the same road. Ni is not an individual idea that is just very different from Se. Rather, it exists by virtue of Se and vice versa: As Jung would have it, each has no meaning apart from the other. Likewise, Se has no meaning without Ni. Under this mode of conception, any pair of opposites is thought to exist by virtue of the other: If there is no concept of white, then we can’t comprehend that everything is actually black. Blackness would be without meaning if we can’t have things otherwise. As such, no matter which direction on the road is preferred, there are some characteristics of the road itself that manifest in a person’s psyche.
With that said, I will offer the characterizations typical of each axis.
The Se/Ni Axis
The Se/Ni axis represents an intense perception, one that tends to over-commit or over-analyze one area, but can gain a surprising depth of insight in that area. For instance, the INTJ’s tunnel-vision drive, the ENTJ’s brutality and directness, the INFJ’s devotion to creating a holistic system, the ESTPs directness in overcoming challenges, or the ISTP’s incredible focus.
The motion I imagine with Se/Ni begins as narrow and pinpointed at the object, representing the direct focus on the object itself. This expands as we retreat into the subject’s psyche, where that one object is expanded into a fuzzy, associative image that is compared with the hundreds of other impressions and fragments in the psyche. In this way, the Se/Ni axis is intensive, or magnifying, taking inspiration from objects themselves and figuring out all of their subjective possibilities, rather like an overhead projector displaying an enlarged but fuzzier image of the object. With ESTPs and ESFPs, the focus is on the object itself, while with INFJs and INTJs, the focus is on the fuzzy image, the subjective possibilities.
The Ne/Si Axis
The Ne/Si axis represents a multifaceted, sweeping perception that tends to under-commit and bounces around, but which gains a surprising breadth of insight. For instance, the ENTP’s multifaceted inquiries, the INTP’s search for multiple applications for one abstract system, the ENFP’s wanderlust and resourcefulness, or the ISTJ’s thorough waterproofing of their procedures.
The motion I imagine with Ne/Si begins as stretched, fuzzy but associative, representing the indirect, intuitive relationship with objects. This narrows and focuses as we retreat into the subject’s psyche, where the stretched sweep is pinpointed and directly examined, comparing it to other directly examined impressions. In this way the Ne/Si axis is meticulous and examining, making detailed and thorough record of their creative, associative perceptions of the world, rather like a telescope that takes a fuzzy distant object and shrinks and sharpens the image. With ENTPs and ENFPs the focus is on these creative perceptions, while with ISTJs and ISFJs the focus is on the recorded details and thoroughness.
The Te/Fi axis
Te/Fi represents the road between logical judgments based on objective data, to valuations of things based on subjective sentiments. It is the motion between an outside world of outlines to an internal world of shading and values, or a cold, uncaring outside world compared to the warmth within the individual. To illustrate, the Te/Fi axis represents the struggle of a lone individual against a freezing wilderness, employing whatever means necessary to survive, and doing everything they can to keep warm, to make their warmth known in the world and push back the encroaching ice. It retains a nexus around the individual. For instance, the INTJ’s image as a lone visionary, the ESTJ’s prioritization of responsibility over anyone else’s values, the INFP’s championing of their dream world, or the ESFP’s spontaneity and love of performing.
The Fe/Ti axis
Fe/Ti represents the road between valuations based on objective sentiments, to logical judgments based on subjective principles. It is the motion between an outside world of shading and values to an internal world of outlines, or a hot, sultry, caring outside world compared to the distinguishing coolness within the individual. However, to illustrate the Fe/Ti axis I’ll use a different image: It is rather like someone lost in a foreign country that speaks an entirely foreign language, and the journey of discovering and integrating the logic of the language into oneself so that you can experience the warmth of true interaction and join with the people: The struggle to balance the inner ice with the outer sun to match the temperature of those around you. It retains a nexus around harmony and the equivalence between the individual’s inner cognition and the other world. For instance, the ENTP’s inquiries to discover objective truth, or the INTP’s relentless abstraction, the INFJ’s holistic theories of the world, the ISTP’s quest to master a technique, or the ENFJ’s appeal to the values of others.
Watch this piece as a video here.