processes taking place in time), rather than implicit traits ("fantasizing" for Ni).
I don't know why this imbalance in understanding is there? Maybe the word "sensing" is making it hard for us to grasp the MENTAL component of Si and Se, or maybe the poor descriptions are caused by N-egos describing theory and not grasping S-functions, grabbing all of irrationality for the N-functions and leaving only obvious leftovers to the S-functions? My theory is that the thin understanding partly has to do with the fact that sensing functions are involved functions. Describing involved functions is like describing impacts from the pool you swim in, rather than happenings in the pool you watch. Fe, Fi, Se and Si are all involved functions and are "part of" the cognitive process, rather than watching/being detached from it (like T and N functions)
- Te watches ripples of the water caused by a fish fin flapping in the aquarium. It's rather easy to describe how you just watch the cause-effect of the waves building, distributing and being reflected.
- Fe can be seen as swimming around inside the aquarium and interacting and picking up on the fish fin flapping in a totally different (involved) way, Much harder to explain in words.
The same differences exists between Se/Si and Ne/Ni. On one hand, S-functions are - like Fe - experiencing reality from inside reality (unlike Ne and Ni). In addition they are irrational, and thus pull information from unconscious pools of associations (similar to Ne and Ni). Sensing functions are thus very hard to describe. Si is in addition introverted and dynamic, so it operates in a very subjective and very changeable space in this involved unconscious pool.
Detour: I think one trait of sensing vs intuition that is known, but a bit lacking in descriptions, is the effect of involvement and detachment (on S- and N-egos).
S-egos tend to be much more present and "inside" reality, and reality seems to be "a full experience" and have a wholeness to it to the S-ego, because of the S-egos involvement. Things are experienced "as they are" (if you are swimming in the water, you can't deny it if it's freezing). For N-egos, reality seems to be a lot less "whole", and rather consisting of more or less fragmented information that can take more or less space (than in reality) in the N-ego's mind, based on the focus the N-ego puts on it (what part of the pool it looks at). While S-egos have a very acute connection to reality around them, they also have a harder time escaping a bad situation as reality is felt as a integral part of the S-ego, and this is how S-egos may get stuck in a rut, I think. N-egos on their side - in a good situation - easily can feel a bit disconnected from it all, and may not operate as fluidly, but on the other hand this fragmentation will make it much easier for an N-ego to get out of a bad situation, since reality was never felt as "part of them" like for an S-ego.
I described Se here.
In my attempt to describe Si in the following, I am FULLY aware of my inability to see Si well, and I welcome Si-egos to correct me and add to my description. I would love to understand Si better, and I feel that Si deserves more attention than it has in socionics, and I think it's a much deeper function than descriptions generally show.
Like all irrational functions, Si pulls associations from the unconscious. Like Se it builds it's unconscious pool of associations based on situations observed before and emotions had before (N-functions build associations on thoughts had or concepts learned before). Unlike Se and much like Ni, Si watches the dynamic and subjective connections of these associations, not the directly observable traits like Se.
Examples to differentiate:
Ni-ego: Hears the sound of a window slamming, and is prone to fantasize about why this happened. From the fantasies there are built concepts that are stored in the unconscious pool for later usage in completely unrelated situations.
Se-ego: The same sound of a window slamming, may make a Se-ego turn his head an look at exactly what that sound means, and thus the Se-ego builds an unconscious pool of associations giving a better understanding of reality. The size of the window slammed, the force used, the facial expression of the guy slamming it, his weight and size, his motivation for slamming the window, his threat level, and what the sound such a state of mind and body will cause when such a window is slammed, etc. Later the Se-ego may know all these things just by hearing the window slamming.
Si-ego: The same sound of a window slamming, may or may not make the Si-ego look too, but instead of focusing on static informations like Se, Si focuses on the dynamic information of the situation. While Se sees an angry face, and interprets the threat level, motivation, age, weight, etc, Si rather senses the connection between himself and the angry person's life situation in a context of a past - now - future timeline - or life path (Si looks at the now-situation of the person seen in context of a timeline from birth to death, sensed through own experiences). These contexts and time lines are seen again and again in different people, picked up on through comparison with own state, and stored in the unconscious Si-pool, and over time the associations pulled out show more and more information about the faith of people (in a tangible way as opposed to Ni). Over time, the Si-ego starts sensing things like a person's family background, his environment while growing up, inner resilience, life condition today, stress level, people and situations influencing his state and how this all will form his life conditions in the future.
You can see some examples of this cognition in these Dumas quotes:
“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
"“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”
“Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish, know not what is the real happiness of life, just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the blessings of fair weather.”
So, to do Si, observe the connections (dynamics) between your own inner (shifting) state(s) and people's actions and their background and their now-situation and the time line between all of these. To me, Si is felt as "copying" the person in front of me, to know his state, or hear somebody talk and sort of sense what will happen next based on his words and sanity/insanity, health/lack of health, stability of mind, etc. Look at what "destiny" a face or a body or a situation or a story talks of, filtered through your own "state" (state = your own sense (not intuition!) of a timeline based on the now situation). For example, what shadows can be sensed looming in the background (negative people, negative situations, negative experiences in the past) or what stars are shining on the horizon (positive people, positive situations, positive developments). Also what inner state is changing/molding them, holding them back in some areas, rushing them in others, what family values created this, where does it lead in the future for them, etc.?
Here are some real life quotes by Si-egos:
(SLI to a young man who's father died early):
- "I can see that you are seeking internally, and it's because you are without a father. You need to build a core for yourself, or you will be confused a lot in the future",
- "you should build a family as soon as you can, because even if you can fool around with women now, a time will come when you will inevitably need to build a family. You should not think that this will pass without a stable family"
(SEI to a friend)
- "do you remember back in the days when you saw that movie? It really changed you (your path in life), didn't it?"
(ESE to friend while drinking, breaks down and cries)
- "you will become a druggie, it is such a shame, i wish you would not become a druggie. please try and keep away from drugs" (the friend was young, and didn't do more than occasional drinking at the time, so this seemed very out of place and he laughed his ass off, and yet, he did actually become a druggie many years later)
Like Ni, Si looks at dynamic reality of faiths and timelines filtered through the ego. As seen by the examples, the Si faith is tied much more than Ni to tangible timelines and connections such as life - death, strain- ease of a life situation, being internally strong- weak, etc. A bit simplistic, Si looks more at the life path of a person (or situation), while Ni looks more at the psychological development of these.
Try to spot the Si awareness in this video (hint: The NOW-situation (nightmare) is related to the (body) awareness of a timeline from boyhood to death, and of how time is ticking relentlessly.)