Redefining “F”

Redefining F Redefining T Redefining N Redefining S Redefining I Redefining E

The familiar letters F, T, N & S are not the primary means by which the CT system operates. But whenever these four letters are used, they mean quite different things in CT than most other systems. This can create issues in translating over from one system to another, which this article aims to address. So, what is “F” in CT? We’re going to go through several possible definitions below, and compare them against what CT means by F.

Definition 1. Emotionality.

  • Feeling strongly
  • Having powerful highs and lows
  • Being very reactive to situations
  • Crying easily
  • Feeling strong love toward people
  • Feeling other’s pain easily
  • Feeling strong anger toward people

CT Answer: No. In CT, F has nothing to do with emotionality. A person’s level of emotional sensitivity & level of emotional affect are not related to F. Emotionality falls outside of the metabolism of cognition, as all eight cognitive processes are non-emotional. Emotion may result from the inevitable net participation of our cognitive processing with our limbic system, but the cognitive processing itself is a separate phenomenon than emotion. If there is any aspect in the model that relates to a stronger tendency toward emotionality, it’s the presence of fallen affect. Fallen affect correlates with higher levels of neuroticism, and thus higher emotional sensitivity and emotional volatility. However, in general emotions or feelings fall outside of the domain of cognition, and all 8 functions can cause emotions to fire from the limbic system as a result of their activity. This doesn’t mean F types are unemotional, but it means all types can be very emotional or not very non-emotional based on other factors.

Definition 2: Aspiration for Harmony.

  • Wanting to prioritize harmony in human interactions
  • Wanting to do good, and be of help
  • Politeness and compassion
  • Sacrificing oneself for others
  • Thinking about how others are doing and addressing needs
  • Being inclined toward wanting to be a good person overall
  • Being merciful rather than tough and unyielding

CT Answer: No. In CT, F is unrelated to a person’s desire for harmony. An F orientation does not mean one avoids conflict. And a T orientation does not mean one is thick-skinned and tough-minded. This harmony-focus dichotomy is more appropriately captured by the Big Five’s Agreeableness/Disagreeableness trait and corresponds to adaptive/seelie versus directive/unseelie attitudes. In CT, a T orientation does not make one opposed to harmony, and an F orientation does not incline one towards it. But a disagreeable (directive/unseelie) orientation, which is independent of cognitive type, does correspond to a tendency to defend oneself at the expense of harmony. An agreeable (adaptive/seelie) orientation corresponds to a tendency to seek social harmony at the expense of oneself.

Definition 3: Making Decisions based on Feelings.

  • Deciding based on doing no harm
  • Deciding based on social considerations
  • Deciding based on group harmony
  • Deciding based on what is emotionally right/true for the parties involved

CT Answer. No. This definition attempts to move F away from being directly synonymous with feelings/emotions and instead defines F as a decision-making process that prioritizes feelings in the calculation and conclusion. But this is still false– or not what CT means by F. F in CT does not necessarily see the feelings in a situation as the most important criteria to prioritize in decision-making.

While the move away from treating F as emotions, but instead as a decision-making process, comes closer to the proper description of J, it is still relying on the same incorrect emotional criteria for F that we see in Definitions 1 & 2. This is simply not the criteria used by CT for F. More on what CT’s criteria is down below.

Definition 4: Making Decisions based on a Value System.

  • Having a set of values and relying on that for decisions
  • Having an abundance of explicit likes an dislikes
  • Developing a personal value system through which all life choices are measured
  • Making a herarchical system of what matters more and less
  • Operating through this self-built value system as often as possible

CT Answer: Not exactly, it depends. The word “value” here is not synonymous with F. Hierarchies of values are an intrinsic part of every cognitive hierarchy. The T type also values, but perhaps he values the criteria of T principles the most. The N type values the criteria of N the most, and gives it assumptions a cognitive priority. To be any type is to have certain implicit values that supersede others and which are prioritized in our cognitive registration of reality. It is impossible to exist as a human without a value structure, but this value structure isn’t F. In CT F is just one specific form of value. So, although F does choose based on value, other functions do too, so this is not the definition of F in itself.

Each function can be said to have values. A Te type can become upset when logistical order is not being sustained. An Ne type may experience frustration when their value for branching potentialities is cut short by a practical demand to choose just one thing. An Se type may value immersive focus and can feel irritated by disturbances to their flow. The F functions are not unique in creating personal value systems. What matters is what types of values F is geared towards, as opposed to the values of other functions.

Definition 5: Making Decisions based on Ethics.

  • Becoming immersed in the politics of human actions and rights
  • Developing a system of moral rights/wrongs
  • Deciding positions on topics based on whether they complement or violate that rational system
  • Taking actions based on how a situation measures up to that ethical system
  • Contending with the question of what’s most conducive to life
  • Changing one’s ethical system based on finding principles more conducive to life

CT Answer: Almost yes. Ethics is a domain of reason that deals with how to best frame/solve problems among living beings. However, this itself is not what F is, at the cognitive level. Other processes, like T, can make arguments for how we might organize our politics and societies, based on certain principles. F cannot be synonymous with the domain of Ethics because other functions are capable of also having discourse in this domain. Nevertheless, ethics as a whole is primarily the production of people exercising their F process, whose definition will be explained in the last section below:

 Definition 6: An implicit mental recognition of biotic & cognitive agents.

  • The treatment of something as a ‘subject’ instead of an ‘object’
  • The difference between an ‘it’ and a ‘they’
  • The assigning of a ‘living’ quality to a thing/being.
  • The treatment of an object as warranting an examination of its ethics/morality.
  • The treatment of an object as warranting a consideration of their living needs.
  • Interfacing with something by understanding it as having qualia/experience.
  • The tendency to anthropomorphize.

CT Answer: Yes. This question comes before the ethical one, because questions of ethics presuppose the cognitive registration of things as beings. The domain of ethics arises when one begins to contend with what needs to be done about these living objects. But the F orientation in CT is that very thing that is capable of identifying and assigning qualia-status to objects. The F orientation implicitly understands that there are objects that are alive, and that this is a self-existent and irreducible class of objects. Thus, while ethics is a very common outcome of F, it is not the definition of F at the cognitive level. Cognitively F is a mode of object-definition, or of object property assignment.

This F a priori category needs to operate, and identify agents, before questions of ethics can arise in the first place. And it also doesn’t necessarily lead to an ethical fixation or politics. F can exist as an awareness. Reality can be experienced and looked at as populated by living beings and that is F working in the brain, whether or not we decide to dive headlong into activism or political debates.

The complete negation of F would by psychopathy, or the inability to identify living agents by some anomaly of brain functioning. However, T types are not psychopathic, as all T types can also identify living agents by virtue of their F process. If a T type, or any type, is psychopathic it’s not because of T, but because of an anomaly in brain functioning.

Please note that this definition of F is not describing “F-lead” types, but the F attribute in the abstract sense, as it may appear in any type’s hierarchy. Relating strongly to this F section doesn’t mean your psyche leads with F, as cognitive typology does not assign a hierarchy based on F, T, N, S “preference.” Instead, this article is only mean to introduce you to what CT means by the F component, which never exists independently but is always tied to either Je or Ji. Thus, to know whether you are a certain type, we must examine whether your biotic registering process is conjoined to Ji or Je metabolism — to produce either Fi or Fe. Both of these have different implicit assumptions about the nature of biotic agents (F).

Compatibility with Myers-Briggs?

If any of the definitions #1-#4 are being used for F by another system, that system is incompatible with CT. If you have come from MBTI and either relate or don’t relate to “F” because of something in definitions #1-#4, please bear in mind we are not talking about the same thing here and typings will not translate over. If definition #5 is being used, there may be potential compatibility with CT, but no system is properly compatible with CT unless they share definition #6.

Why use “F” if it’s not about feelings?

CT’s concept of F is considerably removed from others that have come before it, prompting the question of why use the letter “F” when it is not about feeling? For a full explanation of why Jungian nomenclature is still used in parallel with CT’s own terms, see this article.

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