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  • Type: FiSe
  • Development: ll--
  • Attitude: Unseelie

@Auburn it makes me very happy to see that you have deepened your understanding of Fi. It seems very rare for someone who doesn’t have it themselves. I find the posts all the more beautiful because it gives me sort of a glimpse into how these insights are arrived at from a Ti perspective. (I have a fascination with wanting to know what life, or consciousness, is like, to other people.)

So, I will try to answer with my own perspective as a Fi, and I can only hope it makes sense, since Fi is by nature, subjective, emotional, and difficult to communicate. I bet my stream of consciousness was way more all over the place. I had to let it coalesce overnight, and then heavily edit what I typed, for clarity.

Ok, so, what qualifies something as fundamental to my essence?

From my personal experience, it largely has to do with how things are evaluated through my “Fi database”. This is basically analogous to a “Ti database”, but it includes personal emotional data, and is subjective, intensely personal, and partially subconscious. I thought it interesting when I asked my high-Ti boyfriend why he finds it so important to mentally collect so many facts on so many different subjects, and he said, roughly, ‘To detect bullshit. i.e, in order to have the most comprehensive knowledge base on anything that could be important, so that I will be able to defeat any opponent by being able to call them out if they are wrong.’ I quite admire it, to be honest.
So then for me, the purpose of an Fi database, would be to amass and keep tabs on personal life experiences (‘one foot in the emotional register’), in order to figure out what is most important to me in life. What everything boils down to in the end. How to rank everything in terms of personal importance, so as not to be deceived by people (with either malicious intent, plain igornance, or are just somehow different from me) trying to force feed me what is and isn’t important, what I should or shouldn’t do, or care about, what my priorities should be.
So yes, this is a completely inside-out job. And yes, I do take it very seriously. I am the one who curates this database, because no one else has had my exact experiences, has walked my life’s path. Likewise, I respect everyone else’s right do their own, as long as no one does any harm. Live and let live.

How I built up the database? starting when I was old enough to desire to make sense of my emotions (mabye 5-7 y.o. but idk), since as a sensitive person, my emotions (especially the negative ones) were strongly affecting me and my sense of self among others (who experienced less/different ones) and made me alienated from others. Out of necessity, I learned to manage my emotions alone in private. I started tracing them back, locating the thoughts that precipitated them them, and what external events prompted me to have those thoughts. And I started saving them in my “feelings database”. As if an event and/or a thought is a lookup key, and each corresponds to one or more emotions.
When it started growing to a certain point, is when I started drawing on it to do cognitive empathy–a process I best understand as being described by the “Fi: Permeability” section under Behaviorism & Mythology on this site. To locate the corresponding feelings in the Fi database when someone else experienced a particular event, and bring them back up into my present. When the “database” got complete enough, I considered was when I had experienced a reasonably full range of human emotions, which made me feel like I had pretty much the range of human emotions, and was therefore decent at empathizing with others [although the condition is, that other human beings experience emotions similarly, which some people do take issue with. I’ve previously heard people in MBTI groups I was in who test as INFJ, claim this process drives them crazy when INFPs do it, but I believe their own cognitive biases and daimon functions play a role in that, but I digress.] Positive feelings are in there too. Life’s little pleasures, life’s great pleasures, and how my subjective experiences of things change over time (Si also has a database, as alluded to in this thread, and here may be some of the overlap, but differ in perceived purpose and relation to the subject, I think).

The older I’ve gotten, the database has grown to kind of like “big data”, and I have even forgotten how I came to know some of the specifics of what I know. I can only see it from a more zoomed out perspective. But nevertheless, I know the process has been without wax the whole way, cause I was there. So, for one thing, with cognitive empathy, many connections have become semi-automatic. So less having to consciously think, “how would I / did I feel in this situation?”, it just happens when I see people sometimes. Also, I’ve started addressing more intricate questions, based on patterns in the frequencies of some feelings and how reliably they followed certain events. How heavy of emotional imprints they have left. As the case may be, how damaging they have been to my psychological well-being, and what it has taken to recover. Looking at all of it from a more distant perspective, I see how it boils down what’s ultimately important to me vs what is just a great big distraction that people make a fuss about, but will soon be forgotten. It reminds me of equanimity and the Asian parable of the man who just said “Is that so?” to everything that happened.

In any case, I periodically ask myself if something is not essential / if it drops away, by querying the Fi database with questions like, “If today was my last day, would I still spend it doing this?” “Is this going to matter in 3 years? 6 months?” “Would I *really* be any happier with any more money?” “Am I going to regret behaving like this so often in the end?” Other “check-ins” (a term I’ve seen used elsewhere about Fi) are more routine, like, “wait, why do I care so much about (insert current activity here) again? Is it really worth *this* much of the time I have on earth” Or, “Before I do this action, am I *sure* I would be ok if someone else did this to me if the situation were reversed” … and just sort of feel into the answers. My Fi lets me know the answers, because it’s been building this database up for life, experience by experience.

As the database grows and becomes abstracted out, is how it becomes about motives, and character. And the interest in the roots of good and evil–more like Plato’s forms–after seeing the patterns so many times over and over what has caused the most suffering for myself and others throughout life and history, by tracing those incidents back to their common denominators. Generalized concepts such as evil, good, roots, and character emerge.

When I learned about Descartes in college philosophy, it was interesting because I had kind of had my own version of his experience, with the main difference being that, Descartes strikes me as very Ti. (Is this correct?) “I think, therefore I am” vs “I feel, therefore I am”? A lot of his views I agree with; however, one thing that jumped out at me as disagreeing was this: “Descartes also held that, unless people believe in God and immortality, they will see no reason to be moral.” First I thought it was because he didn’t have Fi; however, I have since seen Ti come to some very high moral conclusions too.

From an inside out perspective, is where my conscience/moral compass/core values come from. There isn’t anything really that’s more core about me, at least in the present way I know myself in this lifetime. I can only presume it is what people are talking about when they talk about a little voice that whispers what’s right and wrong. It is without regard to what I get punished or rewarded for by the external world, or whether or not anyone else understands. Cause in the end, well…God will understand, if there is a God. That’s why they say he’s the only one who can judge us. Now, I consider myself agnostic, so speak of deities with a grain of salt. But I disagree with Descartes that belief in one is absolutely necessary (for *everyone*) in order to care about living a moral life. I see the conscience and spirituality as coming from within, and religion from without (contextual affiliation).

I’ll close with some resonating quotes.

I feel this relates to Fi values:
“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind.” -Khalil Gibran

I feel this quote by Viktor Frankl relates to being fundamental to essence:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

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