Author Topic: Rethinking the Types  (Read 4001 times)

Matt Koeske

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Rethinking the Types
« on: April 03, 2007, 01:11:16 PM »
Round One: The Type Problem

I have written about my dissatisfaction with the Jungian types in a number of places, but I thought I would cast the first stone by trying to bring the various elements of my dissatisfaction into one place.

Are the Jungian personality types 1) useful in explaining personality differences, 2) correspondent to anything in the physical brain, and 3) ultimately more detrimental to Jungian thinking than beneficial?

Jung's typology system is an abstract paradigm, an as-if.  We all know this, but we also tend to forget it too easily.  This forgetfulness is especially compelling when we see the proliferation of personality typologies and typology evaluator tools (like the Myers-Briggs).  These
tools are supposed to tell us something "true" about ourselves, something practical . . . ideally.  That is, they are supposed to be useful aides in our attempt to recognize and cope with innate differences in disposition between ourselves and others.

My first stone comes from the gut.  I have noticed (as I'm sure many of you also have) that 1) it is often extremely difficult to determine one's own type . . . let alone the types of others, and 2) it is not even remotely uncommon to hear someone proclaiming their type as something that strikes us (as others) as entirely wrong.

It is fairly common for Jungians to see themselves as intuitive types.  Jungianism is an intuitive preoccupation . . . and the way that Jung describes intuition makes it clear that he derives a great many of his theories from this particular intelligence (and so we also must think with this intelligence to derive meaning from Jung's writing).  Beyond this, there is a great deal of confusion when we Jungians try to understand ourselves as feeling or thinking types (primarily or auxiliary).  Although Jung himself set the standard for Jungians as intuitive-thinking types,  any of us recognize that we are not quite the same as Jung (although, usually close enough so as not to deviate significantly from the intuitive designation as either primary or auxiliary).

When we start trying to boil away the murk that seems to distinguish thinking from feeling, we start to feel we are engaged in a process of paring the branch down to nothing.  Can we think like a feeling type?  Can we feel like a thinking type?  Do we do everything as a thinking type or do we only operate in that mode for certain activities?  Etc.

Eventually we come up with a conclusion that we are sometime introverted thinkers, other times extraverted, other times intro or extraverted feelers.  We keep making adjustment after adjustment and it finally starts to look like our typology is largely determined by situation (and less so by inclination).

I have seen many self-proclaimed feeling types act in numerous situations (usually those involving thinking or theorization or belief) in a way that thinking types are supposed to act.  In fact, the whole notion of feeling type is fairly nebulous.  Jung seemed to have "inferior feeling", so  is frequent disparagement or neglect of the feeling intelligence is not terribly surprising (sensation is handled similarly).  I myself have identified  s a feeling type . . . but by many people's standards, I seem like a thinking type (because I'm interested in ideas, theories, and language).
It all makes for a tremendous muddle.

To add even more seasoning to this muddle, I've noticed a thinking/feeling war raging in the Jungian community.  On one hand, this war seems predictable considering Jung's own disposition and conflict . . . but the way this is usually expressed in the Jungian community (as I've  xperienced it) is in a disparagement of thinking types.  It's the Jungian put-down of choice . . . a favored way of flaming in online forums.  When you disagree with someone else, you merely call them a "thinking type" or say their thinking function is too rigid.  The fact that this is equally true of the accuser never seems to present itself to said accuser.  How did "thinking type" become synonymous with "jackass" or "blowhard" or "lesser being"?

Well, as obviously conflicted as this seems, I do actually think there might be a reason . . . and I'll get to that in just a minute.

On top of these difficulties, there is the problem of "type-casting".  I'm not certain yet which is the most slavishly embraced Jungian defense mechanism: blaming the anima/animus or shadow or blaming type.  We too commonly allow ourselves to fail to see or accept things (about ourselves or others or the world) because we are such and such a type.  Of course, the value of typology is that it (hypothetically) can allow us to better recognize and accept differences of perspective . . . but is that really how it is used in the Jungian community most of the time?

In my experience, typology tends to excite a certain kind of mania.  A mania of abstraction and abstract categorization.  We keep trying to make people fit these abstract categories.  These categories can function like a Procrustean bed, at times even limiting our ability to look at  urselves and others with an open mind.

And of course, there's the problem of cognition.  The science of cognition and the brain has developed significantly since Jung's death. We have started to formulate various modes of cognition, even associating these modes with specific, physical parts of the brain.  But are we trying to revise Jung's type theory with this in mind?  If not, then we need to ask ourselves if we are enamored of types because they hold some kind of truth or scientific usefulness or because they make us feel safely identified?  That is, it is comforting to feel we have an acceptable way of thinking and being.  We don't have to, for instance, think rationally or practically, because we are intuitives.  It's simply not in our nature.  That's very reassuring.  Reassuring in the same way that knowing we are Christian guarantees us a spot in heaven for all eternity while the "un-saved" will burn in hell (or at least languish in purgatory).

You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: Rethinking the Types
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2007, 01:19:56 PM »
Round Two: One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Four types. The quaternity. Sound good . . . nice and balanced.  Therefore, each of the functions should play an equal role. In equal proportion, no one function should be better than another. If one were, well, then some types of people would be less valuable than others simply because they were cursed with a specific typology. They would be born into that inferior typology like a lower caste. And those with superior types . . . well they would be kind of like the Master Race, eh?

But are all four functions really created equally? In my opinion, no . . . and this is perhaps the most significant flaw in the Jungian type theory.

The Jungian types don't map exactly to cognitive modes as we are coming to understand them . . . but there is actually a good bit of similarity. And this is really a great testament to the quality of Jung's intuition. It also allows the types to be very handy tools for differentiating symbols and images from dreams or artistic creations (even though the value of the types as personality designations for individuals must be treated with scrutiny and perhaps skepticism).  Applying the Jungian functions to various analytical (and especially textual) situations can prove very enlightening. It's amazing how much sense such an application can make out of numerous texts (especially ones that contain some  representation of fourness).

Like many Jungians (it seems), I have had my issues with the thinking function. It's easy to see the flaws of the thinking function . . . especially when we associate that function with typical intellectuals.  Intellectuals are renowned for their various blindnesses (in spite of all their raw intelligence). It doesn't take any advanced wisdom to see that much intellectual thought is not only arbitrary and self-distracting, but also absolutely ineffectual in most of life's day to day circumstances. We associate this kind of intellectuality with detachment . . . from reality or emotion or instinct.

There is also added confusion, because we Jungians (and Jung himself, at times) tend to conflate rationalism with intellectuality. Jung (especially later in his life) loved to rail against the plague of modernist, scientific rationalism or materialism destroying our myths and meaning with its narrow-mindedness. I don't entirely disagree . . . but another level of differentiation is required here. The rationalism of the modern era (which is not, I think, really an epidemic . . . as we might conclude from the huge percentage of evangelical Christians in America) came of age with other Enlightenment ideals . . . like humanism. 

Have our myths deteriorated and lost their numinousness? Yes, no doubt. But what have we gained through rationalism and humanism? Well, how about the notion that we are all of equal worth and deserve equal rights to exist and live our lives? How about the notion that institutions of power like the old Church or like modern governments need to be questioned and kept in check so that they don't use their power to abuse and usurp people (we're still struggling with this one, but at least we can now recognize the flaws in such a system)? What about the struggle to understand ourselves and our world in terms that are stripped of prejudice and personal delusion? And of course, there are many other things.

We might be losing our myths, be at least we aren't burning witches with impunity. Part of the Enlightenment contributions we now take for granted has given us the middle class. We could have remained in a system of 1% nobility and 99% peasantry (some politicians still seem to yearn for those "good old days").

So, I think we need to dig deeper and figure out what it is about rationalism that is "bad". We even need to ask the question: does rationalism alone cause the destruction of mythos? Is it rationalism as a way of thinking or rationalism as a way of self-identifying (differentiating self from other) that is the problem? That is, is it the emphasis on what can be perceived with the senses and has material applicability that damages mythos or is it the tendency of people to believe they are 1) able to see the "real truth" by thinking rationally, and 2) that such insight makes them superior to those who do not employ it?

Is it rationalism or narrow-mindedness that is the real problem? And is narrow-mindedness an aspect inherent to rationalism? Can't a religionist be just as narrow-minded? It would seem that any form of fundamentalist ideology can be equally narrow-minded . . . so perhaps it is really fundamentalism that is the problem, not scientific rationalism. Ideally, scientific rationalism should apply the scientific method and never close its perception to possibilities . . . even those rationalism might be less willing to consider. The only sticking point is testability . . . and the problem with "ir-rationalisms" like spirituality is that they usually fail to withstand the tests.

So, when we think of fundamentalism, we think of rigid yet arbitrary ideologies. Ideas that are abstract, impractical, and frequently self-serving to the holder or believer of those ideas. The key characteristic of such thinking is its arbitrary abstraction. I think you see where I am going with this, no? Arbitrary abstraction is not ultimately a characteristic of rationalism or materialism. Arbitrary abstraction is actually a characteristic of what we normally associate with the thinking function (not the sensation function).

We might say the thinking function is the function that creates abstract categories with which we can differentiate things (ideas, objects, people, etc.). With equivalent simplification, we might describe feeling as the function that differentiates things based on valuation (value to us personally and also at times to those we care most about . . . or most value). Intuition could be the function that sees patterns and potentials in situations or things or takes snapshots of associative webs. It perceives relations. Sensation might be seen as the function that discerns particular attributes or qualities of things, the fundamentals. It sees the trees in the forest that intuition perceives. Intuition and sensation, then, both perceive attributes, the prior perceives relational attributes or systems and the latter perceives composite attributes. These functions tell us different ways of comprehending what something is, while thinking and feeling tell us the difference between what it is and  what it is not.

Of course, this is all very debatable (and it is drastically simplified). But as we look deeper into this proposed breakdown (a thinking function style abstract differentiation), we can begin to see that the thinking function operates quite differently from the other three. First off, it's reductive . . . as all abstraction is.  Abstraction approximates a thing in a format that is more easily handled by our conscious minds. Even feeling/valuation doesn't reduce a thing, because it doesn't seek to describe or replace that thing. Valuation is additive. Sensation and intuition deal with actual things (or actual potentials). They are concerned with what is or what a thing is related to. Thinking is concerned with as-ifness. Thinking constructs something entirely new. It is generative.

Secondly, feeling, intuition, and sensation seem to come automatically.  We don't have to consciously process to have a feeling, intuition, or sensation. These things are given to us. As they are given, they must come from something distinct from our consciousness. We do not create intuitions, feelings, and sensations. They come from the Other. Is it every really possible to have a "conscious feeling" or "conscious intuition or sensation"? No. We can be conscious of these things and how they come and go, how they affect us, what we incorporate them into, how we react to them. But we can't consciously construct them.

So, under closer examination, it begins to look like the thinking function is a bird of a different feather. I would go so far as to say that the thinking function is THE conscious function . . . the only truly conscious and willed function. This would mean that we are ALL THINKING TYPES! After all, we all have egos. Egos are abstracting filters. They capture only the information that they can connect with their abstract paradigms and stories of meaning (stories made up of the elements of sensation, feeling, and intuition). The thinking function, seen this way, is merely the ego.

This actually starts to crystallize even more when we couple this theory (or revision, more accurately) with Jung's apparent "19th century" sexism . . . most easily recognized in his depictions of anima and animus . . . but also in his tendency to characterize more women than men as feeling types. This is a part of conventional patriarchalism, or the notion that men have a unique ability to think "clear-headedly" that women mysteriously lack. This "clear-headedness", conveniently, allows men to maintain their dominant social position . . . to "run the world" in effect. Patriarchalism is an ideology that concludes from this "observation" that men are innately endowed with this special intelligence that women have been deprived of by nature itself.

Whatever innate differences in the psychologies and cognitive capabilities of men and women there might be, egoism is not one of them.  I would posit the idea that the differences in the way the sexes commonly use the ego (differences that seemed much more prevalent before our contemporary post-feminist era) are largely (if not entirely) determined by the structure of society itself . . . which is (how curious!) a patriarchy.

Jung definitely bought into patriarchalism in a major way. I'm not sure if he was (in this acceptance) merely a creature of his era or if it was compounded by a personal prejudice . . . but it's clear today that Jung's patriarchalism is not sufficient to make sense of either gender or types. So with this prejudice, we must also toss out all of the implications that when women think egoically, it's called "feeling", and when men do it, it's called "thinking". As part of this massive discard, we must also reject the notion that men who "think differently" or think in a way that is more "in touch with the Feminine" are feeling types.

My personal feeling is that Jungian typology cannot be effectively reestablished after this discard. The whole house of cards collapses when you take out these pillars. We still have some notion of cognitive modes (or ways of thinking) left over . . . that roughly map to Jung's functions . . . but the whole notion of personal typology based on this system cannot be reconstructed.

And we will hate this notion with all of our might, because we are very deeply attached to the idea of types in the Jungian community. The whole notion of typology is a "thinking type" notion . . . or more precisely an "intuitive-thinking type" notion. It is part of the Jungian make-up to think in such terms. How can we be Jungians without the types?!

There are still a few scraps to salvage, perhaps in an ark we can carry along with us on our exodus. For example, insomuch as feeling, intuition, and sensation represent or correspond to instinctual, autonomous cognitive modes, they are probably rooted in our genes . . . and like other factors of intelligence, come in various flavors and portions in different individuals. I have no trouble imagining that we have predispositions to specific cognitive modes. Some come more naturally to us than others. That I am an "intuitive type" is not at all surprising, since my mother is highly intuitive. Evolutionary psychologists do generally accept a genetic factor involved in introversion/extraversion as it is . . . so throwing the other types in for the ride isn't that much of a stretch.

But the problem of biology here also creates a problem for another Jungian mainstay: individuation. Insomuch as individuation involves developing our non-primary functions. If biology is behind this, then does this mean we can't develop these functions? Or at least that there may be an absolute limit on such development thanks to the "damnation" of biology. I don't have an opinion on this. It's unclear to me how much individuation is a biological characteristic. From my personal experience with it (and with observing other people's approaches to it), I would not be at all surprised if there was a biological factor involved in individuation-aptitude (even an extensive one).

Of course, this is the kind of heresy that always rankles our sense of humanistic equality and sense of worth . . . but the possibility does deserve to be considered and considered rationally (in terms of the data available).

You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: Rethinking the Types
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2007, 01:33:36 PM »
Round Three: What to Do with the Opposites and Sexism

One of the neatest features of the Jungian types is their ability to cope with what appear to be polarizations in either modes of personality or (as I would prefer to call them) modes of cognition. It does seem that "feeling types" and "thinking types" butt heads (or tend to misunderstand each other), for instance. Also, the perspective that emphasizes "sensation" seems to deemphasize "intuition" as a result.

This would seem to suggest that each mode of cognition holds a certain exclusivity. This exclusivity is complicated in the model I proposed above involving the notion that the "thinking function" is actually the ego function. If the functions are polarized, the thinking function should (if this were a perfect, almost mathematical abstraction), be a kind of equal opposite to the feeling function.

The way my theoretical approach makes sense of this is not entirely satisfactory to me, because it ends up creating a more complicated system than Jung's. I can only hope that it makes up for this by also creating a more accurate or useful system. When we look at the 3+1 modes of cognition (and I am not dead set on this number . . . perhaps there are more, or these modes should be subdivided), what we are seeing is one cumulative mode of cognition made up of modules. This may not map 1:1 with actual neurological modules, but it derives from the same notion, the understanding of the brain as a cooperative of cognitive modules. In such a system there is no inherent polarization. The three unconscious cognitive modes (feeling, intuition, and sensation, to use the Jungian terms) function as input providers. This input seems cumulative to me, and not inherently conflicted.

But there do seem to be attitudinal conflicts, so what is the cause? My guess is that conflicts are a matter of ego-privileging of some of these inputs over others. The ego-position gravitates toward whichever inputs provide it with the most reinforcement. So for a fellow like me who is heavy in the intuition realm, I have come to rely on the value of intuition to my world view and identity. Intuition "comes easily" for me. Its contents intrigue and inspire me. So what do I do? Well, I gravitate toward an artistic identity, the poet . . . and also toward an intuitive pastime like Jungian psychology with its complex interconnections and distant/deep insights into the structure of the psyche. Also, I approach the world as a world of potentials . . . and especially as potential relations between things, events, ideas. I place more weight on these potentials and patterns than I do on the concrete details of the present. When I interact with people on a deeper-than-casual level, I see them for what they can be and not always for what they are (or what they currently identify with) . . . which is part of the intuitive fallacy (and generally aggravating to other people).

Therefore, I am an "intuitive type" with an inferior sensation function . . . by Jungian terms (and this is, of course, the standard Jungian type). But one of the "club feet" of the intuitive type (the person who privileges intuitive input) is that forming an identity based on this intuitive input is a tricky business. The world (i.e., modern culture) has limited use for intuitive types and does not happily award the intuitive with a socially acceptable identity. The intuitive has to find a way to channel intuition into some action that the world values (awards identity and status for and supports financially). Artists and intellectuals are some of the only options . . . for those who stubbornly insist on identifying with their intuitive intelligence.

But what about feeling?  Is feeling actually aligned against the ego (thinking function)? Not directly, in my opinion. Feeling is the valuative intelligence. The Jungian thinking type, which is a person who derives his or her identity primarily from the functionality of the ego, and therefore from the cultural or collective notion of intelligence, still values. This thinking type values the ego-position . . . but the valuation is unconscious for the most part. It tends to be coupled with a fear of any disruption of the ego-position. This thinking type formulates value more from abstract principle and law than from "gut feeling" or empathy. Such a person is more inclined to resist an oppositional system of valuation, one that values the inner world of the instinctual unconscious, which doesn't operate on abstract principles but on biological instinct and natural "logic" (e.g., ebb and flow, cyclic movement of libido, equilibrium, compensation, etc.). These "impulses" will strike the abstract-principled person as chaotic, irrational, dangerous, and maybe infantile.

Perhaps the most confusing thing about the types (in either Jung's model or mine) is this: what is the "feeling type"? Jung seems to have stumbled into projection and prejudice on this front, often equating the feeling type with women and with "inferior thinking". To the degree that the feeling function is an instinctual moral guide, we might also see Jung's often obtuse sense of morality as a product of his "inferior feeling". What drove him to write "Wotan" without a sense of how his psychologization would be perceived by people with their feet planted in the real world? Why did he persist in his pursuits of "anima women" and "soror mysticas" to a degree that probably upset his marriage and angered/injured his wife? I don't wish to make any presumptions about Jung's personal life. I always find this tabloid topic too woolly to really draw any definite conclusions from. But I think it is fair to say that Jung was a man who saw the world primarily as a psyche, as an "intuitive text", and as an interrelation of abstract principles. He saw it less as a concrete socio-political reality. His sense of ethics was turned toward the intuitive and the abstract, toward "essence" and "form" more so that toward "thing-ness" and the material other.

We might say then that Jung's ethical lapses or "stupidities" were not specifically a lack of morals, but a lack of moral awareness connected to the concrete. And so, the valuation of sensation is less apparent in his writings.

I don't want to get into a full-blown analysis of Jung's sexism. I make no claim to understand this as a personal predisposition in the man. I only recognize its imprint on some of his ideas. But one of these imprints that is most distinct is his tendency to equate men with the thinking function and women with the feeling function. Even to this day, women Jungians are trying to cope with the wound of this type-casting.

The first question to ask is this: is there really some validity to women having a higher likelihood of being "feeling types" in the sense that they are deriving their identity from instinctual valuations of the unconscious? This would mean that they are "less-egoic" than men . . . or that men only have egos.

That notion strikes me as preposterous. It makes no biological sense, for one thing. The ego isn't a sexual characteristic. The ego is an abstract/non-local organ that coordinates the input of the various cognitive modes with the input of the outer environment by catching privileged information together into a filter that is reinforced by the individual's sense of identity. It is no more sexually defined than the presence of five fingers on each hand or two feet to balance with as we stand and walk.

So what is this rigmarole about ego-less and feeling type women really rooted in? Where does this notion come from? Is it just pure sexism?  Can this Jungian model of type be corrected?

I believe that the mistaking of many (of certain types of women) as "egoless" is specifically rooted in the patriarchal construction of society and not in any way in biology or "necessity". We have to posit a better guess for what the ego is really for. I have written about this elsewhere, so I won't elaborate, but the ego (it would seem) is an organ meant to allow the individual to function in the complex information-rich realm of human culture. The ego, we might say, is an adaptation to this complex culture . . . and it then comes as no surprise that the ego seems to emerge and develop throughout childhood and even into early adulthood (along with the neocortex). That is, it develops in coordination with socialization.

But, in a patriarchy, men and women are not socialized in the same way.  Patriarchalism defines the genders in a specific way. A great deal of study from feminist scholars and sociologists has addressed this, so I see no reason to dwell on the fundamentals. We understand that it is so, even if we don't understand why. We can also see that, especially post-feminism, the classic patriarchal gender roles have started to decay somewhat. The most common and noticeable result of this decay is that more and more women are becoming empowered in very much the same way as men had been for millennia. I.e., they are becoming more "egoic" by the patriarchal definition . . . or more "thinking typed" by the Jungian. This would make perfect sense if the theory I'm proposing has validity.

But of course, we still live in a patriarchy . . . and women are still under a lot of cultural pressure to define themselves as patriarchal women. I don't mean to shout "we're cured!" from the mountain tops by any means. So it is still important to investigate how patriarchy forms women's egos. Of course, that is a huge investigation that would go far beyond this essay. Additionally, many, many people are better qualified to pursue this (and have long been pursuing this) than I am.

But for the sake of this redefinition of types, I hope it will suffice to say that the way women have commonly sought empowerment of identity in a patriarchy is not as overt as it is for men. In some sense, women have been left with the realms of behavior that patriarchal men discarded or neglected: the home and family most of all. And power for women has rarely been won through brutality and aggression . . . but rather, through indirect manipulations . . . usually of relationships between people. This is simply the nature of patriarchal power distributions. Power is a product of what resources one controls and how one controls them. Patriarchy involves s specific distribution of resources to each gender.

So what we are likely to see is an egoic development in patriarchal women that favors a specific control of the resources patriarchy portions out to women. Socialization of women in a patriarchy will orient these women's egos to this specific mode of functioning. It is not and should not be confused with "feeling" in the sense that the function of feeling is a valuating intelligence. Women have no more inherent notion of valuation than men do. They merely have different social resources to work with (or at least, classically this was the case).

The differences in ego socialization between the genders are likely to create different kinds of "feeling types" with each gender . . . i.e., different expressions of valuative intelligence.

We might say that a more developed or privileged valuative intelligence will counter the will of the ego-position when that ego-position is too detached from the libido and needs of the whole organism or the instinctual Self. This makes the "feeling type" difficult to pin down.  This "feeling type" would then be a person who is less ego-biased, and more willing to "trust instincts" or see the arbitrariness of abstract principles and paradigms.

The development of the valuative intelligence in this sense would lead to a more complex and nuanced view of the relationship between the human ego and its culture. It would shift the valuation from this world of abstract information onto the realm of instinctual need and natural, self-regulatory functioning. I believe we tend to develop a spiritual paradigm for this, as we seem to be "hardwired" to perceive our instincts with a kind of divine numinousness. Still, we have the propensity to mediate this numinousness with abstract, egoic language and laws. In this language, there is a great deal of confusion between what the ego and the cultural world of egoism needs/wants and what the instinctual Self needs/wants. Commonly this results in an abstract dogma or law that attributes the desire of the ego to the will of a god.  This seems to be especially complex in the realm of ethics, where the good of the tribe and the good of the individual easily come into conflict with one another.

This construction of the valuative intelligence would seem to favor what the Jungians might call "introverted feeling". Am I saying that there is no such thing as an "extraverted feeling type"? In essence, yes.  That is what I'm saying. There has always been confusion in Jungian thinking (even if Jung tried to make a differentiation) between feeling and expression of or valuation of emotion. The terms make this inevitable . . . and Jung's confusion of feeling with women and femininity compounded the problem.

But if we look at the most emotive people we know, infants and children, it is quite clear that there is no difference in emotiveness based on sex. I am suggesting, then, that the expressiveness of emotion is a matter of social conditioning, and therefore subject to the patriarchal paradigm. It is patriarchy that conditions men to internalize and/or repress their emotional expressions. This tends to lend the men who can best achieve this internalization more strategic power in the patriarchal paradigm (by making the concealment of weaknesses or vulnerabilities a strategic advantage). Women in the patriarchy do not have to repress emotional expression in this way . . . and may even find emotional expression to be a strategic method of achieving a desire.

Whatever the case, expressiveness of emotion is not a measure of feeling. I think there is still sexism in Jung's distinction of "affect" from feeling, but I agree with Jung in the sense that I see the valuative intelligence as only "emotional" to the degree that its valuative differentiations are made with instinctual, chemical reinforcements . . . as opposed to differentiations made by abstract principle. We might say that there is "feeling" behind such distinction making . . . or we could equally say there is "biology" behind it. But what is (in my opinion) most essential to the identification and understanding of this valuative function is that it is, fundamentally, an intelligence that differentiates . . . and the differentiation is reinforced biologically with chemical stimuli (which we experience as emotion). Feeling is not "poor thinking", but an intelligence that is capable of establishing limitations on our abstract, egoic storying by linking it to biological need and natural logic. Feeling keeps the ego grounded in the practical or material.

This attempt at reworking the Jungian types has a rather frustrating conclusion. It dismantles the types only to reassemble them in very much the same way. Instead of types being fundamentally conscious or unconscious, it holds that there are (at least) three unconscious modes of cognition mediated and privileged by one conscious filtering intelligence. This makes us all ego types on one hand. But on the other, our "type" is established by our specific egoic privileging of certain cognitive modes over others.

The distinction between this revision and Jung's original paradigm may seem academic.  It may very well be academic. My hope is that this revision can help us understand that all "typing" is only a matter of egoic privileging . . . not of predestination. Types should not be prisons or excuses to hold prejudices. We are not defined by specific cognitive modes anymore than we insist on limiting our perception of the inner and outer worlds by a strict, abstract paradigm. We all use all of the cognitive modes. No one has one or more of these modes "turned off".  We are only subject to ego-positions that might try to ignore certain inputs while privileging others.

I also hope that this revision can lead to the eventual removal of sexism from the Jungian type model and bring greater clarity to the confused notion that women are more often "feeling types" than men are.  Additionally, I hope to make a clearer differentiation between those aspects of "type" that are biological and those that are cultural (and therefore heavily influenced by patriarchy).

Maybe most importantly, I hope that this revision might lend some consciousness to the danger of labeling ourselves and others by types.

There is a great deal more that would need to be examined in this theory than I have addressed. And there are definitely fuzzy spots and flaws.  I don't mean for this to be an alternative paradigm to Jung's. I am aiming for a criticism of Jung's paradigm that attempts to be just a little less abstract in the hope of introducing just a little more biological sense and natural logic. My counter-model is meant to challenge the applicability-limitations of Jung's type theory. I hope it will be useful as a set of proposed questions of Jungian types that must be answered in order for types to have continuing usefulness to Jungian thinking and Jungian attempts to make sense of the human psyche and human behavior.

I therefore suspect that a great deal of revision will be required for my counter-theory to construct credibility . . . but this in itself is (I believe) a good thing. We must be very careful of mistaking an abstract model like Jung's types for a biological truth. As we learn more and more about biology and the human brain, the model (which is a knowing fiction) will have to be revised.  If we refuse to recognize this, then we have lost touch with the scientific method and accepted a dogma. Types are not a religion. They are a tool that is only as good as it is useful at making sense of human personality.

If we can make this tool more useful, then it is our scientific obligation to do so. It is the obligation of consciousness.

You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]


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Re: Rethinking the Types
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2007, 01:58:08 PM »
In my experience, typology tends to excite a certain kind of mania.  A mania of abstraction and abstract categorization.  We keep trying to make people fit these abstract categories.  These categories can function like a Procrustean bed, at times even limiting our ability to look at  urselves and others with an open mind.

I think one problem with typology is that it is the perfect example of a self-referential system.  We use functions to establish truth and the truth in one functional space may not be a truth in another functional space.  Each individual thought or feeling or sensation or intuition does not exist purely within the sphere of any one function but within them all.  This is true in practice.  But once one knows something of how to identify the different implications of a cognition within each functional modality within one's self, then one has the bridge to understanding the biases of others who may be stuck in a mono-functional relationship to the given situation.  But even an extremely self-aware person will find themselves, with every given statement they make having to endlessly contextualize what they say if they pay absolute and perfect attention to the full implications of what they say.  We have to, because we are finite beings, cut off the functional analysis at some point or we will exhaust our energic resources in the context of what we say or do or cognate.

So if I were to typologically analyze the above paragraph I think I can demostrate this endless process.  If fact, I will.  I'm going to analyze the above paragraph for functional content as if I was analyzing a dream.  I should preface this by saying that by "picking" on this one paragraph, I don't mean to "get up in your face".  I don't think, having read it through now, that it will come off like this, but I had the thought that I might come off this way.  Really I am just following my inspiration and trying to apply my mousy, detail-oriented inquisitiveness in a way to respond to some broader chunks of what you are writing about here...

In my experience,

With this introductory phrase you indicate that what you are about to say is based on your experience and so we will politely understand that you are open to other experiences in the future or those experiences of others that might provide contradictory data for the claim you are making in this sentence.  This implies an extrovert's sense of contextualizing the value of what one is saying while acknowledging the introverted spaces of truth that each individual brings to the conversation.  Also, you are implicitly claiming that your accumulated sensory experience is being addressed and that this sensory experience is valuable in determining truth. 

typology tends to excite a certain kind of mania.

You are explaining why you have a negative valuation of typology by using a word which carries with it a negative valuation.  Typology and mania are terms that invoke a context of some specialized knowledge and so have a thinking flavor of specificity.  There is, perhaps, a soft blend of the literal and the metaphorical in this statement depending on how you define mania.

A mania of abstraction and abstract categorization.

Here is a phrase which specifies the content of the mania.  The terms abstraction and abstract categorization do not carry with them (necessarily) further negative values but indicate what the excessive content amounts to more precisely.  As such they are a categorical clarification of the truth claim of the first sentence. 

This phrase may also be fleshing out a metaphor.  In this case, you are intuitively mapping the conversation that is invoked in your experience around topology and a creative phrase "a mania of abstraction and abstract categorization".  Of course, it could be that you mean something more exactly defined by mania in which case this is not a metaphor but the application of a definition.

Because the word mania probably has a negative connotation to many, there is the opportunity for a polarization of feeling to occur inviting those who negatively value typology to postively value this statement and those who positively value typological discussions to negatively value this statement. 

We keep trying to make people fit these abstract categories.

Here is another explanation of the mania, what is being done in excess.  This is not metaphoric, but a more straightforward claim as to the goals of those who are engaged in typological discussions.  It invokes the idea that people are wasting effort or stuck like a broken record at doing something that is not valuable in the end.  It contrasts with the previous metaphoric intuition by stating a plainer fact as you have witnessed in your sensory experience.  It also invokes a metaphor of applying ideas to a situation as like putting objects into other objects. 

It implies a negative valuation in its own right without explicitly saying so.  It invokes a sense that a lot of effort is being given, but that it is not progressing towards completion because we are still 'trying'.  There is a sense of a goal and a continual failure to meet that goal, again implying a negative valuation of the effort.

These categories can function like a Procrustean bed,

Here is another metaphor that attaches to the specified perseverating activity of "abstraction and abstract categorization".  Now it is the categories themselves that are metaphorized. 

Now I had to look up Procrustean bed and here is what Wikipedia had to say...
A Procrustean bed is an arbitrary standard to which exact conformity is forced.

Your knowledge of classical metaphor is now proven to be erudite.  Personally, I'm impressed but not surprised that your allusion is concisely and accurately chosen.  This allusion also implicitly demonstrates knowledge in two ways: a) it indicates breadth of metaphoric references and b) it indicates depth of knowledge beyond that which is strictly common.  By giving the general reader an opportunity to have to look something up, you imply that your knowledge is also well connected and applicable across a wide space of experience.  Depending on one's tendency to project intent onto you as the author and depending on one's general valuation of you and/or your perspective, one could see this as confirmatory or creative, over-wordy or illustrative, clever or manipulative. 

By not stating this as a bolder metaphor "but these categories are a Procrustean bed", but the slightly softer "like a", you show some deference to the listener as not necessarily being "on board".  Of course, your habits of speech may have also determined your choice of wording here so a determination of your intent in this aspect is probably unreliable.  However, you are a poet and you probably had some consciousness in how you phrased this sentence even if you were more concerned with busily getting down your ideas rather than editing them for the particular impact or emphasis on the intended reader as you might were you composing a poem.

at times even limiting our ability to look at  urselves and others with an open mind.

A damning critique indicating that the tool used is self-corrupting.  In the context of the greater arguement this is the crucial point that makes it easy for one to either consider abandoning typological discussions or feeling a need to defend them.  This kind of logical self-negation of the efforts of typological discussion registers on the thinker's mind.

This I agree with, but this is not a true is but a feature of psychological typology, one that makes writing about or otherwise discussing typology difficult because one must always consider the context (and there are so many contexts).  It is inevitable that one will discover the monofunctional faults of others as they grapple with these ideas.  It is also a difficulty that Jung understood.  He has a few disclaimers/apologies and such in Psychological Types that indicate this. 

In doing the analysis of your paragraph above, I feel that I have verified what I had previously suspected...that if one looked for functional content in the behavior of others, one would find a fair mix of all four functions in constant play.  In this paragraph, I think feeling stands out but intuition and thinking make strong contributions.  Sensation is there but in the background.  All of this assumes that I did a fair and accurate job of analyzing this little text.  In isolation, this analysis may say a lot or just a little about the speaker themselves. 

What I suspect is that we develop all four functions but one or two functions have the most authority in the "board room of the ego" as I have come to call it.  To me feeling was in charge in this little text and thinking and intuition made good, coordinated contributions that nicely amplified the meaning this paragraph created.  But the tone of the whole paragraph was a value judgement.  Sensation came in as the grounding of the claims to truth and the fact that you could move toward some specificity regarding the facts of your experience is helpful, but it wasn't as focused as the use of metaphors and the paradoxical relationship that the value judgement orchestrated.

Honestly, I have never analyzed what someone has said this way before.  I may have to try it a few more times to see whether this might be helpful.  It is very much a thinking way of analysis by breaking down, categorizing and resynthesizing into a functional picture.  This is definitely a "diversion" of an intuitive thinker!