Hierarchy as Ontological Priority
March 25, 2020 | By Auburn

Cognition as Phenomenology

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.

Hierarchy as Ontological Priority

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.

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