Michael Pierce is a video maker and 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. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.
“C.G. Jung said his wife was a particularly well-balanced person, full of common sense: ‘She was a sensation type – you couldn’t put anything over on her.'” – Bennet: Meetings with Jung (Daimon 1985) p. 80
By Michael Pierce
- Define extroversion as objective, in the sense that it is on good terms with objects and wants to relate itself directly with them.
- And define introversion as subjective, in the sense that it is not on good terms with objects, but rather with the subject, and always relates to objects secondhand through the lens of the subjective.
- And we then define Sensation as the perception of the actual and current nature of a thing.
Then we may roughly define Se as:
- Perceiving the actual, current nature of objects.
And Si as:
- Perceiving the actual, current nature of the subject’s relationship to objects.
Following these definitions, one is concerned with objects in the world, the other with one’s subjective impressions of objects in the world. We then arrive at the conclusion that Se is observational and Si is impressionistic.
Sensation vs. Intuition
The difference between the Intuitive and Sensation functions in a Jungian context is that while Intuition is concerned with possibilities and associations and what a thing could be, and is in many ways naturally imaginative and anticipatory in its perceptions, then Sensation is first and foremost concerned with what the thing actually is now; what we know about it now, and what it is doing now. Where Intuition is always looking beyond the actual nature of the object, Sensation is concerned with the properties that the object could be said to possess at present, aside from any imaginative or wishful thinking. In the mind of a Sensation type, such predictions should be made later, after the thing has been understood on its present terms. However, to Sensation, such anticipations must take a back seat; they always pale in comparison to the vividness of the actual, current thing.
Although we generally associate ‘Sensation’ with the physical, if we extend the meaning of Sensation to sensations of any kind, then we have something closer to a concept covering ‘stimulation caused by a thing itself.’ The human senses, whether physical, mental, spiritual, or otherwise, sense a thing, or are affected by a thing, and they take stock of what this Sensation is like. The thing that generates such sensations does not have to be concrete itself: Heidegger, an Si type, was primarily concerned with complex metaphysical questions. I believe Sensation is present so long as it is experienced as a sensation from the thing itself, and not just from an idea about the thing, or a concept associated with the thing. The point of Sensation is not what the person is interested in, but what aspects of those things catch their attention: For Sensation, it is whatever arises from the thing itself, as it stands, that is of primary psychic importance.
Intuition, on the other hand, is not stimulated by the thing itself, but always by possibilities of the thing, or the associations that could be made on the basis of it. Intuition is concerned with what is about the thing, and not with the thing in itself. Thus Intuition has a remarkable ability to ignore the thing itself, going right to the associations and always leaping beyond it. As Ric Velasquez has said, Intuition is not Sensation with an extra layer: Intuition oversteps the object, while Sensation remains with it.
A Definition of Se
Se, because of its preoccupation with objective relations, is more in-the-moment as a function. However, one facet of Se that has often been misunderstood is as follows: Se, at least when unrepressed, is not overindulgent, unrestrained, or utterly sensual. Nor is it unable to operate outside of the moment, unable to think, theorize, or the like. Those are the properties of inferior Se, which have wrongfully been attributed to individuals with non-inferior Sensation.
Se is not sensuality incarnate, but is the most direct experience of objective reality possible, a mode of being-in-the-world, where you yourself become a moving part of the world, and things become extensions of yourself. In this mode, you don’t look down on yourself doing things; you just do them, skillfully and in-the-moment while navigating impediments and using the conditions given to your advantage. Se, particularly when it is more dominant, does not want to introspect on what it’s doing, because that puts a separation between itself and the world. Se wants to meld with the objects of its interest; become one with them and become one with the objective world as it exists.
A Definition of Si
Se wants to immerse itself in reality without any barriers between oneself and the outer world. By contrast, Si does want a secondary view of reality. To Si, “being-in-the-world” seems a thoughtless, dangerous and reckless way to live. To Si, being totally present in the moment without recourse to the subjective aspect of experience is a shallow way to live indeed.
That is why with Si we get the stereotypical Si cautiousness, which is often misinterpreted as fear. But if we could peek into the mind of the Si type, we would see that this cautiousness need not be fear at all: It may just as well be considerate of its own perceptions, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the circumstances.
Whenever Si senses a thing, it does not really sense the thing, but rather the impressions the thing releases in the psyche, that is to say: How the thing relates to the personal consciousness of the Si type. As a result, Si tends to be cautious and approaches the future not as an in-the-moment improviser but as a careful planner, watching what it is doing and minding its routines. In this way, Si stands a bit removed from the activity or object itself; a disposition which naturally encourages a different outlook than the one of the Se type’s unmediated “being-in-the-world.”
So for example, if you show Se and Si a red balloon:
- Se will recognize its shape, the kind of latex that it is made of, its string, the particular shade of red. In this way, Se is rather like most portrayals of Sherlock Holmes where he examines the objects of a case in great visceral detail.
- Si considers how this balloon looks like this other balloon it saw, or is reminiscent of the kind of balloon at this one birthday party for their child, or they may like the shape, or the material, not for its own virtue, but because it relates positively to something else that has previously been experienced.
So in conclusion:
- Se prefers to do things reflexively, naturally, and in-the-moment, brilliantly improvising and accommodating each changing detail into its activities as it arises.
- Si prefers to consider, plan, and move slowly and steadily towards its aim, maintaining an impenetrable and infallible approach that the person is certain will work.
Watch this piece as a video here.