This is a followup to the CT Psychoanalysis thread, but I decided it'd be best to split this into its own thread. The question left by the first thread is -- "If we do not define hierarchy by quantity/amount of a function, then on what do we define it?"
The answer to this is something I think has been implicitly understood by various Discord discussions, but I want to place it in clear language here as much as I can. I won't succeed, but I hope to provide an initial draft for discussion. @teatime , @jelle and others - please feel free to fill in my gaps and/or correct any of this. Here goes!
~ FIRST DRAFT ~
The world as it appears before us (our phenomenology) comes with implicit ontological assumptions that are predicated on our functions and functional hierarchy. Now, this phenomenology is pre-epistemic, so a person's learned epistemic viewpoint may actually be at odds with their phenomenological reality.
Cognitive type is pre-thought, which means that thoughts, as they appear to our mind, have already undergone the information metabolism necessary for them to function, and that metabolism is outside of any/all conscious control. In other words, we cannot change the way our brain generates thoughts, even though we may be able to change our thoughts after they've formed. And even then we'd be changing "contents", not the metabolic process itself. And this manner of forming thoughts is what generates our phenomenology, which is different for the types.
Now, ontology is the field of philosophy dealing with the nature of being - or "is-ness" as I like to call it. Although we might say our phenomenology is composed of all our psychic components as a whole, hierarchy relates to an implicit ontological priority in our functions.
This implicit priority is not identical with articulated philosophical positions, but is instead lived out at every moment. A person lives out and embodies what they consider "real" in a multitude of ways. Now since we can't necessarily rely on a person's favorite epistemology (theories of knowledge) as indicators of a person's phenomenology or ontological priority, this leads to interesting challenges in how to go about verifying it. I don’t think it’s impossible, but I'll tuck away the question of verification for now and just aim to outline the core idea.
Unfortunately, because implicit ontological priority is pre-thought, there is no way I know of to describe these experiences without borrowing certain philosophical concepts as approximations to what the ontological priority looks like in practice. So I’ll be using some such terms to describe these pre-cognitive embodiments below:
For the Je-lead type, this ontological priority approximates to a sort of pragmatism. Ontological truth is experienced in terms of what is responsible for causes. The nexus of cause is the 'mover' that is most real. An idea may be considered 'right' or 'true' if it is descriptive of consequential understandings, and things are tested for their truth-value based on what merits they have in describing the unravelling world. "By their fruits you shall know them" is one idiom that approximates this ontological position. What is most 'real' is defined as those ideas and things which result from the causes and effects of life. For Fe, this can lead to a kind of consequentialism, and for Te this can lead to materialism. Again these are implicit, not necessarily synonymous with explicitly held philosophies.
The hierarchy of the Je-lead is therefore subordinated to this pragmatism, and what it means for Je to sit at the top of the hierarchy is that it has ontological priority over other functions’ implicit assumptions. Thus, if Ji's essentialism is put to use, it is to describe the essential laws of this causality-truth. If Pi is put to use, it is to elaborate and flesh out a historically based dissertation of how active agents (or enacted ideas/views of operationalization) dictated the past and will dictate the future. And if Pe is put to use by Je, it is to creatively experience/ explore the world; a world intuited already to be comprised of object-relations and where the governing reality is one ruled by outputs, and altered by understanding its "engineering" (Je) principles. Je then uses Pe as an inspirational engine and leverages its real-time abilities to amp up their causality-game.
Definitions, too, then come to be defined by the qualities of a thing's function. The understanding of life then comes to be described by functional properties and utilities.
And to that end, the being-ness of “reality itself” is intuited implicitly as a vector, a start and a destination; a forward movement. If this is deified, then the apex principle or deity is understood as a Mover. There are several other forms this could take, such as viewing life fundamentally as a mission, a game or something where all components are instrumental to the foundational "purpose".
Now of all four lead types, the Je types are the easiest to identify here because, being Articulators, they also tend to explicate their ontological priorities. The remaining three types are not so straightforward with their fundamental experiences of being.
For the Ji-lead type, this ontological priority approximates to a sort of essentialism. This word is inexact, but for the Ji type reality is implicitly intuited as being comprised of singulars with properties. The "is-ness" of a thing is not dependent on its function, but on what class of thing it is; by its essence. Reality is understood discretely. Definitions are given based on what cannot be omitted from something without it ceasing to be what it is, in a self-existent sense. This causality-independence leads to thoughts that are not contingent on effects. In the ethical territory, Je's consequentialism is contrasted here to a kind of Ji deontological ethics. An act is bad "itself" regardless of whether it has a bad outcome, because the categories of good and bad are defined essentially. A person is "this" or "that" sort of person, not based on what they do or say, but on an intrinsic property of their being. The examined person can be the subject themselves as well, which is what eventuates into Ji identity.
But as it relates to the widest questions of life, Ji is monolithic and ideological in its experience of reality. First-principles thinking leads to the largest questions being answered (or I should say “sensed”) as one all-pervasive principle or thing. From the biotic angle this thing could be love, goodness, God. In more abiotic varieties this monolith might be determinism or a favored math theory, but always the answer to “what is reality” has a key, singular property or monad. The essential element of Ji here is its monadic nature, wherein all other things are explained in relation to it, and as subordinate to it.
But this impulse exists independent of whether the Ji lead has actually written a thesis to this effect, or if they’ve subscribed to a corresponding philosophy. As mentioned, articulation is not necessary here, as it is a felt experience of life. The distillation of the cosmos to a singular property, is something they may only come to articulate when they develop Je. Which leads into the next part.
The hierarchy of the Ji-lead is subordinated to this monopolizing singularity of “is-ness”, and what it means for Ji to sit at the top of the hierarchy is that it has ontological priority over other function's core assumptions. Thus if Je's articulation is put to use, it is to describe the constituents of that essential and single reality, or the singular property of a thing. If Je’s knowledge of causality is used, its understandings of object-relations are used as secondary evidence for this sensed a priori "is-ness" – perhaps in a monolithic model or theory. If Pe’s exploration of life is used, it is to give expression or artistic representation to the essential properties sensed in things; to embody a given being-ness. And if Pi is used it is to track the progression through time of that key principle responsible for, and sitting at the base of, all other things.
For the Pi-lead type, this ontological priority approximates to a type of universal process; to the course of change itself. The unfolding film or story of an object’s evolution across time is itself the truth of its ontology. Things are never “one” thing but are the whole of it; as the aggregate of all states shifted into along the way. A concept/idea is defined therefore by its Alpha and Omega.
The merits of an idea are therefore measured by this time-dilated view of what the idea “is”, as a temporal whole. There is no discreteness of definition that is possible, as the definition is never singular or platonic, but instead always temporal and panoramic. Reality itself is viewed this way, and all fundamental questions (i.e. “what is life”, “what is truth”, “what is God”) follow through this definitional pathway towards their answers. We find examples of these answers in the words of Iain McGilchrist when he says: “there are no things, only processes”. The same ontological priority can be sensed in Rupert Sheldrake when he says the universe doesn’t have laws, only “habits” it falls into, given certain conditions and timeframes.
In the course of daily life, this temporal ontology can manifest in an episodic description of oneself, of societies, nations and everything else. A person’s “is-ness” may be viewed by their role in the grand theatre of life; the act they played in the music. And they may understand that even the actors in this play are part of a larger evolution of the “play” itself across universal time.
The hierarchy of the Pi-lead is therefore subordinated to this experience of the universe as a process, and what it means for Pi to sit at the top of the hierarchy is that this temporality has ontological priority over other functions’ implicit assumptions. Therefore, Pi may write or elaborate on certain Je philosophies or pragmatic action-vectors across generations to showcase what that Je idea really is; unveiled by time and stripped naked of its egoic concept of itself. Pi will use Je as a prop for its narratives, as a means to convey what reality is by way of historical analogy. Now if Ji is used by Pi, it will be to give discrete formulation to these time principles and bring them into public view. Yet, the Pi-lead will only be using Ji’s ability to distill essences in order to describe the essential nature of this time-contingency. And if Pe is used by Pi, it will be to live out experiences in the present vibrantly and actively. Then, through these present experiences, they can expand their understanding of what the properties of reality are, in their most dilated forms.
For the Pe-lead type, their ontological priority is evidenced in their relationship to what is real-time (the present), which is always given the highest implicit reality. This disposition is the most difficult to explain in the Pe type, as all people experience the present with a degree of realness. But while the other three types carry some phenomenological schema, idea or concept that mediates between them and the “is-ness” of life, it is only the Pe-lead type that embodies this sensed contemporary truth in every moment of the day.
In a million micro-choices, the Pe-lead type reveals what really holds primacy by operating through observation and real-time navigation of situations. Thus, while many Pe-lead types may hold a given philosophical preference (a favored schema or paradigm they fancy), their mind and body evidence what is ultimately held in the highest ontological regard by how they approach the universe at each second. Schemas and theories, which try to approximate the “is-ness” that permeates every moment, are thus only attempts to capture this dynamism. They can only help to explicate this sensed truth of the perpetual, immediate explosion of cosmos in the embodied being and mind.
And as the Pe-lead, by default, lacks articulation, this felt truth can lead to dramatized displays of that “is-ness”, as they actively participate in both being the universe, and relaying the universe to the world in the testimony of their existence as channel and celebration for what is.
The hierarchy of the Pe-lead is therefore subordinated to this experience of the universe as the present, and what it means for Pe to sit at the top of the hierarchy is that this contemporality has ontological priority over other functions’ implicit assumptions. Thus, when the Pe-lead type accesses their Ji, they do so to attempt to give an essential description to this dynamism as is happening to them and everyone else around them; the situation we are all caught in. Ne may explain this situational truth by dramatizing what we all know things feel like, are like, right now through real-time parodies. In so doing, Ne reveals to the world a window of what it already knows more vaguely; the humor of how thing sound, look and feel. Se may explain this situational truth via vivid realism and persistence effects; by commentary on what comprises the drama of being-ness in the most carnal sense. If instead the Pe-lead type accesses their Pi, it is to elaborate, in narrative tales what the experience of reality is like. They may detail the life of a character, or set of characters, undergoing situations which – by their theatrical portrayal – encapsulate the conditions of being and living as a human. And if the Pe-lead uses Je, it is to enrich and deepen their capacity to embody/experience “being” through an expansion of agency.
While the above explains the ontological priority that the lead function has over the whole psyche, it doesn’t necessarily explain the extended relationship the lower three functions have amongst themselves or how the chain-of-command is composed below the lead process.
If it was merely the case that the lead process and the quadra described the person’s type, then being a Ji-lead Gamma (for instance) ought to suffice in describing the psychology of the person, no? Except that is not what we see. The bottom three functions are not indiscriminately arranged. If that were the case, we might imagine seeing an equal distribution of development levels which pair Ji equally with Pe, Je, and Pi. But instead what we see is Ji pairs far more frequently with Pe, less so with Pi, and least with Je in the same person. Likewise, Je pairs more frequently with Pi, less so with Pe, and least with Pi. This is supported thus far within the database. As a matter of statistics, when accounting for the extroverted bias of the celebrity sphere, the function most likely to develop next in a person is what we’ve been calling the auxiliary, followed by the tertiary and then the polar.
But why would the functions develop more easily in a certain order? Given what we know of what’s involved in elevating a process to consciousness, we can suggest that there are asymmetrical challenges in integration. There are different emergent obstacles in the way of opposing views of ontological truth giving space for one another’s reality.
Not forgetting that even the auxiliary is a challenge to the lead process’ ontological supremacy over all psychic experience, it appears to represent a far lower hurdle for integration – suggesting that Je+Pi and Ji+Pe have more ontological resonance, or at least less dissonance, than any other pairs.
The conductor (Je+Pi) and reviser (Ji+Pe) pairs appear to represent two domains of operation that are imperative for cognitive functioning. While each of the four energetic functions represents a cognitive circuit that calls upon various brain regions to fulfill a given task, two meta-circuits appear to be in place. It seems Je+Pi /Ji+Pe are structurally designed to act as a complementary pair in the sharing of their information flow. It is easy to see why this structure would be selected for, given the emergent consequences of internal function dynamics.
Let’s take Je as an example. In order for Je to comprehend the causality at play in a given situation and act upon it, its greatest impediment is a lack of knowledge of the landscape. A commander cannot go into battle without understanding the territory, nor can “right action” be intuited without understanding the context on which it hinges – since Je’s operation is contingent on external happenings, rather than essences. In this way, Pi is directly complementary to Je’s ontological priority – as was elaborated in this thread. While it does not share any features in common (P/J or E/I), it also conflicts the least with its aim while supporting it directly.
By contrast, Pe is an impediment towards Je’s vector of action insofar as it cannot be straightforward and is taken in a frenzy of trajectories, while offering no context from which to formulate the best trajectory. Their shared E orientation creates an augmentation of energy, yes, but also friction against Je’s core aim which is to successfully achieve the order it desires. We can think of Pe as being Je’s jovial buddy who he has a great time with, but who distracts him from work and is ultimately not good for him. Pi, on the other hand, is more sobering for Je to encounter and offers a sense of caution/prudence, but this is ultimately more suited towards Je’s goals.
As for Je’s relationship to Ji, Jung rightly intuited that the polar function struggles the most with integration due to its antithetical disposition towards the primary function. Despite how the polar function sits along the same J/P axis, or perhaps even because of this, it manifests as a direct enemy in competition to the “is-ness” of the lead process. Every assumption about what constitutes reality is challenged by other half.
This direct ontological disagreement between the primary and polar processes is not easily overcome. Of all three lower functions, it is the most challenging to synthesize even if, in reality, it is the other side of the same coin. Therefore, in terms of hierarchy it falls fourth, despite its intense libido charge.
All of this can also be said in the inverse. If we take a Ji-lead, for instance, we see that the function that’s the least antagonistic to it is Pe, whose real-time exploration of reality offers a necessary wellspring of free spontaneous information from which Ji can seek and find the essential and universal features of life, without worry over imminent trajectories and end-outcomes. The chance nature of Pe’s information-relay is not a bother for Ji who seeks to extract out principles that work anywhere and always. Thus, Ji+Pe complement each other in their gifts while having the least friction – even though friction is still there.
More ontological friction is present between Ji and Pi, since Pi carries with it implicit assumptions that compete adjacently with Ji in the introverted domain; offering a schema of what constitutes truth that is non-essentialist but temporally-bound. Ji’s quest for the universal nexus of a thing competes with Pi’s understanding of things as a process.
And of course the most antithetical process to Ji is Je for reasons mentioned above. It is cast the farthest back in terms the acknowledgement of its pragmatic ontological understanding.
The meta-circuit’s place in the psyche.
But while this gives an account for the challenges of integration among the functions, and the difficulties that lead to their organization (dom/aux, tert/polar), is this merely an emergent self-organization or are these fixed psychological positions?
I cannot say for sure, but presently I believe that this structure is fixed. Even if we have an FeSi l-l- type, Si remains the auxiliary because Fe’s relationship to Si is never nullified or altered. It will always remain the case that Fe is paired with Pi in the conductor circuit, and the conductor circuit takes priority over the other function combinations.
This presents us with a view of cognition in which the top two processes are a unit which has its antithesis in the latter two. Each pair of two functions here represents a self-contained set of J/P & E/I attitudes, and a complementary ontological view that has great power in the psyche.
(Sidenote: It occurred to me here, that the proper name for the l-ll development level would be “antithetical”, denoting how the psyche of the l-ll type appears to be siding with the other half of itself like a double-agent)
Framing this as thesis and antithesis also appears correct to me, since the Conductor is he which puts forth a plan, and the Reviser is he which opposes it or finds it in need of review. The two pairs of functions come together to combat one another, sometimes tripping each other up and preventing operation. It seems sensible to me that the psyche would self-structure in such a way that would allow these divergent views to exist in their own domains.
Perhaps this is in some way responsible for the global divisions we see among conservative and liberal political parties, which Big Five research (so far as it is helpful) affirms is correlated to temperament? This may be the result of the natural division we see within types. Although there are people with one or both of their lower functions developed, they represent the minority.
Errr, some afterthoughts?
The “energetic toll” previously mentioned is therefore only secondary.
^ This is a diagram I used before to explain why functions are classed as 1/2/3/4. However, this energetic toll has a more upstream cause, which is the difficulty in integrating a function's ontological premises and how much they compete with the lead process.
This view has a series of other implications that I find congruent with the data. For example, the higher rates of flat affect samples with lower-two function developments.
The effect that developing the bottom two functions may have on the personality is... one of uprooting their ontological foundation. If they both come into prominence, their core assumptions about the "is-ness" of life are in jeopardy. Thus, it can trigger an existential crisis.
The dilemma @heresy describes within himself comes to mind, where there can be a crippling doubt (Ji+Pe) that thwarts the lead process' ability to feel as though its foundation is solid and even worth fighting for. The Je-lead with Ji+Pe conscious is outnumbered in their own psyche, thus creating the antithetical development level.
We see this again in l-ll Peterson who, even when discussing his points, appears to be trying to justify to himself very aggressively why his own Je actually is "right", despite considerable mental opposition. He narrates this inner struggle out to the public in his videos, and in so doing (and succeeding to retain his Je ontology), he shows the world the merits of Je even when confronted with the heaviest ontological opposition.
I wonder what you guys think of this? The full implications are still coming into mind for me but I'm interested to hear your thoughts!
As a newbie at this, I can't say very much; but in any case, I take it as some interesting food for thought. Being me, I have to self-reference here and learn to grasp the concepts through developing myself first. It makes sense that the hierarchy is lived out at every minute. It makes me think about how my lower functions would have to really become a part of my life to show up in the vultology signals. While I'm very familiar (too familiar, actually) with conflicts between functions and their opposing orientations (shadow), I hadn't thought much about conflicts between dominant and polar functions, etc., especially intrapersonally. But I've started to see more how Fi and Te could "fight" for space in an individual's consciousness. This seemed to precipitate a slight identity crisis of my own. For one thing, it hit me how much less I could stand to do Fi excessive contempt, in some situations, and that the alternative would be Te. Not really sure how that would even play out. Probably with a lot of energetic toll.
For myself as an l-ll dev, I found your comments on Implications on Dev Levels to be helpful in understanding myself better and in clearing up some of the thoughts running through my head.
The effect that developing the bottom two functions may have on the personality is… one of uprooting their ontological foundation. If they both come into prominence, their core assumptions about the “is-ness” of life are in jeopardy. Thus, it can trigger an existential crisis.
@auburn Still processing the majority of the info in this thread, but wanted to make an addition to this text above. It seems to me that the causality here must run in both directions. An existential crisis in one’s current dev level can precipitate the conscious emergence of one or both ontological adversaries, and in the ensuing conflict there is the possibility of one or more resolution(s) in the psyche, just not clean, easy, or permanent in nature (aka ‘the psyche requires maintenance’).
EDIT: I also wanted to add that your explication of the antithetical dev level was very helpful, and helped me “solve” the vultological riddle of one of my favorite writers. In case anyone is curious the writer was David Foster Wallace, who appears NeTi I-II Adaptive (w/ Flat Affect) to me in the longest interview of him I could find. He can often be seen wincing in psychic pain while wishing to Revise his own answers to questions right after leaving Conductor-mode for his baseline Ne. I could imagine that the antithetical psychology might tend towards prolific output(s) as it attempts to work out in real-time the consequences of a mind “set against itself”.
For one thing, it hit me how much less I could stand to do Fi excessive contempt, in some situations, and that the alternative would be Te. Not really sure how that would even play out. Probably with a lot of energetic toll.
@janie I feel as though this could be a very significant observation. Te does seem to provide an answer to the question: How can Unseelie Fi create a happier world, one that is much less deserving of disgust? Te forcefulness in the external environment would then step in to right the wrongs perceived by Unseelie Fi. However, the world is a very big place, and this “answer” of Te-action requires an iron stomach and will to be carried on indefinitely, because there will always be creatures worthy of disgust if we feel it worthy to be disgusted by them. Rather, I think the more sustainable solution comes from integrating more of Seelie Fi into consciousness, but how to cultivate that specifically I wouldn’t have the foggiest.
This is off topic, but to provide an answer to unseeliness, my thought would just be mental health self-work. I used to be ae little deeper on the far end of unseeliness, and I like to think that maybe I've balanced it out to reasonable levels. It was years of therapy, self-help books, deepening my relationships with my friends, and purposefully / directly addressing and owning up to any repeating personality traps I was falling into. It's hokey, but the enneagram helped a bunch.
Direct and sustained self-honesty along with a hope / intent to better myself and my reactions to people really did it! I was told by more than a few people that I came across harshly sometimes, or that I could be mean, and that made me sad honestly! The intent came from the realization that I'd lost the ability to know when I was being short with people, or if I was being a bummer. I wanted to do better by people, and also myself. Getting back in touch with some seelie aspects of Fi has been very good for my happiness 🙂
Some very interesting ideas above^
I'm formulating some replies to them.
But I also wanted to import another member's (Jelle) response via Discord:
Fodor was also a staunch defender of nativism about the structure and contents of the human mind, arguing against a variety of empiricist theories and famously arguing that all lexical concepts are innate. Fodor vigorously argued against all versions of conceptual role semantics in philosophy and psychology, and articulated an alternative view he calls “informational atomism,” according to which lexical concepts are unstructured “atoms” that have their content in virtue of standing in certain external, “informational” relations to entities in the environment.
The idea you’re trying get across is called Nativism
This stuff got me...
Hahaha. I was reading the part about how dialogues between the arrangements of the Je+Pi and Ji+Pe functions may have been complimentary structures in nature, that they are statistically overrepresented as wedded together at the highest rate. This was 3 months ago when I was at the lowest point in my life, taking like 7 xanax a day, snorting superfluous proportions of adderall, ecstasy, cocaine and really just rotting away from within like an old log. I read maybe a quarter and understood maybe a quarter of what I read, and that was all I really got from it. But this is the first time in over half a decade I’ve been sober for over 6 weeks and I feel amazing. I came back today and as I was reading the part about how dialogues between the arrangements of Je+Pi and Ji+Pe functions may have been complimentary structures due to their ability to supply the requirements of each other, my dad asked me to watch my baby sister while he took care of errands. I was thinking about how statistically the functions are most underrepresented as conscious in relation to the hierarchy, and the Conductor Reviser stuff. About halfway through, I came to the conclusion that Hierarchy is only a manifestation of how compatible the needs and values of the lead function are with the remaining 3, and that we basically have a lead function with no innate structure known as hierarchy. For about an hour I sat there thinking I was some sort of retarded genius and I was dying with excitement at the idea of sharing the information with you guys, thinking of examples of how I could support the claims. Then dad came back, I finished the reading and I was so so disappointed lmaoooo.
Anyways I just thought I’d share that because for me it was so god damn hilarious. And heartbreaking to learn I’m a dumbass in the midst of my ecstasy, which was funny in and of itself. I know it’s very Te reasoning, but at present, I no longer believe that an internal structure of function hierarchy exists. I can imagine no evidence as to why what we conceptualize as hierarchy is anything besides a manifestation of how our lead function’s goals, values and needs are provided for by the remaining 3 functions. I can’t believe the Conductor and Revisor functions are meta structures either, for the same reason. Just my 2 cents lol.
That being said, Auburn actually discovered this entirely on his own and I’m impressed as hell that he continues to pull this type of shit off. And the information itself is so incredibly fascinating. This is one of the most interesting things I’ve learned about typology in over a year I’m sure. Thanks Auburn. You’re badass as hell!
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