MBTI: Cognitive Processes and Epistemologic Parallels
This articles goes over a few comparisons of Jung's cognitive functions and some epistemologic schools of thought, mainly rationalism and empiricism. Now before we proceed, let me clarify a few concepts. Epistomology is basically a branch of philosophy concerned with how individuals know what they know. Two popular theories associated with this branch are empiricism and rationalism.
emphasizes gaining knowledge through sensory experience and perception. We know what we know because of experience peceived through the five sense.
on the other hand defines that knowledge lies in self-evident truths that lies in reason and is independent of experience. We know what we know because we see beyond the physical through thinking and reason.
Each cognitive function will be assigned either a RATIONAL or EMPIRICAL label.
Interestingly, what divides a function into rationalism or empiricism is whether it is primarily introverted or extroverted (with the only exceptions being sensing and intuitive functions. I find both Ne and Ni to be rationalistic at their core, while both Se and Si are empirical).
First off I will start off with extroverted feeling
which is primarily EMPIRICAL
. With Fe, we pick up on the external surroundings of our environment and others in order to play into a role, to either connect or disconnect with the crowd. Fe uses empirical observations such as noticing body language, the tension of the group, tone voice, and other physical cues based on the five senses in order to better relate with the crowd or an individual. Paying attention to environment is crucial to Fe so as to notice social norms and gestures and reflect that back onto their surroundings. Fe knows what it knows by using empirical surveillance to pay attention to and take note of relationship dynamics, and group norms and customs.
on the other side of the coin is primarily RATIONAL
. Fi concerns itself with personal values that can only be accessed through introspective reasoning (and no the irony is not lost on me in connecting subjective feeling with objective reason). Fi embodies ideals that are beyond the physical, more perfect, more beautiful, more idealistic than could ever be found in the real world. This line of thought closely echos the idea of Plato's theory of forms where forms (or ideas) outside the material world are the ultimate objective nuggets of truth. What differs from Fi's personal ideals and Plato's forms though, is that Fi's ideals are more drenched in subjective lines of reasoning and uses partial tools, such as mood, gut feelings, and just "knowing" that something is good or bad, right or wrong to achieve these ideals.
likewise has its roots in RATIONALISM
, for like Fi it seeks certain eternal truths but unlike Fi uses a more objective line of reasoning to come to these truths. Ti turns inwards and uses a clear and impartial reasoning process to categorize and label through an internal though process to extrapolate meaning and definition on an idea or concept. Ti is constantly fine tuning logical frameworks and definitions so that the individual can turn inwards and find out what they need to know through logic and reason. Knowledge is gained by looking inwards and through the power of the mind one can gain ultimate truth.
focuses more on EMPIRICISM
through objective measurable qualities such as weight, length, colour, density etc. If something cannot be defined within the confines of the five sense it will be rejected by Te's rigorous processing system directed outwards towards the concrete physical world. A concept that best epitomizes Te's thought process is the scientific method which focuses on observation and experimentation, and uses an organizational system based on methodical steps, lists, charts, and graphs to gain and interpret knowledge based on and perceived by the five senses. Knowledge is gained by observing the world then ordering it in a sequential way that is directed outwards with the help of sensory information.
Moving on to the function that is the most EMPIRICAL
of all we have extroverted sensing
which is focused solely on experience and the sensory world of touch, taste, hear, sight, and smell. Se wants to be one with world and experience it only through the senses and does not purposely look beyond the literal meaning of the physical, and is a very concrete thought process because of it. Se moved towards the environment and reacts with it where as Te simply observes and organizes the environment. Se notices and reacts to tactile and sensory movements and learns by going with motion the of the environment and gathers information while doing so. Because Se is so attuned to its surroundings it can gather, process, and act according to this plethora of information gathered by the senses right away.
like Se relies on an EMPIRICAL
thought process, that processes past perceived sensations and manages to relate those memories towards the present in order to establish standards that will help them "predict" the outcomes of a situation. Si gains knowledge through trial and error, proven methods, and past experiences confirmed by the senses. Like Se, Si does no try to find meaning in where the senses cannot perceive it. It simply sees things as they were, and compares it to the present using an empirical checklist (Do these flowers smells the same as when I was younger? Why are these apples more sour than last time? etc.) to help establish truths and certainties.
falls in the realm of RATIONALISM
for it sees beyond the physical world, and perceives abstract patterns and threads of random by applying reason to see hidden meanings in things, and hypothesizing different possibilities to these meanings. Ne breaks the confines of physical reality by extrapolating on a single thought over and over again, until it has reached multiple conclusions by applying a rational thought process outwards. Like Se, Ne also enjoys reacting with its environment instead of watching it from the sidelines, but unlike Se, Ne believes there has to more than what the physical world presents and uses a rationalistic line of thought to contemplate the infinite possibilities.
likes its Ne counterpart is a RATIONAL
process at its core. Focusing inwards and looking at the world through a universal lens that is beyond the physical world, Ni relies on a rational thought process to access and connect contradictory information to point out similarities, discrepancies, and figurative meaning. Ni can see the symbolism of certain physical objects, by detaching itself from the physical concrete world and applying a universal and timeless line of thought that defies the physical reality. Ni grasp such profound truths by looking inside and using reason to find such connections that link the physical world to the eternal and timeless truth.