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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok. I'm trying to understand Si beyond the stereotype of "it pays attention to details and doesn't like new things," and I'm running up against a few related issues.

What does it mean for an abstract idea to be perceived?

How does Sensation deal with ideas? Are the objects of sensation *by definition* concrete objects that we can see, hear, taste, smell, so that ideas cannot be perceived through sensation? Is it the case that *any* time a person confronts a new idea, they are using Intuition? Obviously judging new ideas requires Thinking or Feeling--I'm talking about the initial perception of a new idea, such as reading it in a book or on this board. The stereotype is that Se-doms are simply not interested in ideas, but this clearly isn't always the case. So how does an Se-dom perceive abstract things?

For me, this gets even murkier when we consider Si. Can the objects of Si be not only remembered sensations, but remembered ideas? If so, how is it different from intuition? If the objects of Sensation can only be physical, concrete things, then how can abstract things like memories (including emotional impressions) be objects of Si?

If abstract entities like ideas and complex concepts can be objects of Sensation as well as Intuition, how do we distinguish between the way Sensation (extroverted or not) and Intuition (extroverted or not) grapple with them?

Sorry for the barrage of questions. I'm not trying to prove anything, I'm just trying to get a handle on this.
 

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Thanks for wording this question so well. I've wondered the same thing. Buddhist philosophy acknowledges thinking and mental awareness as a sixth sense on the same level as touch, feeling, taste, hearing, and smell. Ideas and experience seem to go hand in hand. I wish I knew the difference.
 

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If the information (at the decisive point) comes through the senses, it's sensation.

If the information (at the decisive point) comes from the unconscious, it's intuition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If the information (at the decisive point) comes through the senses, it's sensation.

If the information (at the decisive point) comes from the unconscious, it's intuition.
But Ne relies on information filtered through the senses; Si, like Ne and Ni, ultimately relies on sensory information, but Si often works by dragging up information from the unconscious. So what's the distinction?

And if I read about an idea in a book, is that coming through my senses (because I'm viewing it with my eyes)? Or does it come from my unconscious (because it is not derived directly from visual information)?
 

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But Ne relies on information filtered through the senses; Si, like Ne and Ni, ultimately relies on sensory information, but Si often works by dragging up information from the unconscious. So what's the distinction?

And if I read about an idea in a book, is that coming through my senses (because I'm viewing it with my eyes)? Or does it come from my unconscious (because it is not derived directly from visual information)?
When we read a book, we're perceiving information through the senses and via intuition.
We're taking in the externally given information and adding internally given information to it. All together, this makes up our perception.

When there's an overlap between both sources, which would lead to two different interpretations, our mind decides which source is going to override the other. The source which overrides most often determines our perceiving function preference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When we read a book, we're perceiving information through the senses and via intuition.
We're taking in the externally given information and adding internally given information to it. All together, this makes up our perception.

When there's an overlap between both sources, which would lead to two different interpretations, our mind decides which source is going to override the other. The source which overrides most often determines our perceiving function preference.
What I don't understand is how S-types deal with abstract concepts. Are they at all times using their tertiary or inferior N function? Or can we, for the purposes of MBTI, count ideas as sensations, and put forward some examples of how Se and Si might perceive abstract material on their own, or at the very least, in their respective pairings (Se-Ni and Si-Ne)? I worry that defining sensation strictly in terms of the five senses reinforces stereotypes of Sensors as disadvantaged when it comes to abstraction; I also worry that it confuses our definitions of Intuition, since intuitions must, at a fundamental level, be drawn from Se experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Intuition is not an abstract concept or the perception thereof. Forming or perceiving concepts are the realm of Thinking.
Given that Intuition is a perceiving function, what does it perceive then?
 

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Given that Intuition is a perceiving function, what does it perceive then?
"Sensation (i.e. sense perception) tells us that something exists; thinking tells you what it is; feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it comes and where it is going."

In a word, 'possibility.'


 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
"Sensation (i.e. sense perception) tells us that something exists; thinking tells you what it is; feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it comes and where it is going."

In a word, 'possibility.'


Well, sure. I'd argue possibilities are very much abstract entities, but I let myself get sidetracked. What I really want to understand is Si. I'm responding to sentiments I've seen on these boards by Sensors that sensation is perfectly capable of processing potential future outcomes of scenarios (as well as recollections of the past), and perfectly capable of creative transcendence of the mere realities of the present moment. If we limit the objects of sensation to the objects of the five senses in the present moment, we basically give the lie to those claims.

So, granted that everyone uses all four faculties and all eight functions, can we come up with a better understanding of sensation that accounts for the perception (not the judging--which I agree with you, is the domain of thinking) of purely abstract concepts? Or do we hold fast to the idea that Sensation is not capable of perceiving abstractions? In which case, I ask again how Introverted sensation is supposed to have the abstract memories of past sensations as its object.

Edit: I hope these questions make sense. I just don't like the definition of introverted sensing found on most MBTI pages, basically. It seems underdeveloped.
 

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Well, sure. I'd argue possibilities are very much abstract entities, but I let myself get sidetracked. What I really want to understand is Si. I'm responding to sentiments I've seen on these boards by Sensors that sensation is perfectly capable of processing potential future outcomes of scenarios (as well as recollections of the past), and perfectly capable of creative transcendence of the mere realities of the present moment. If we limit the objects of sensation to the objects of the five senses in the present moment, we basically give the lie to those claims.

So, granted that everyone uses all four faculties and all eight functions, can we come up with a better understanding of sensation that accounts for the perception (not the judging--which I agree with you, is the domain of thinking) of purely abstract concepts? Or do we hold fast to the idea that Sensation is not capable of perceiving abstractions? In which case, I ask again how Introverted sensation is supposed to have the abstract memories of past sensations as its object.

Edit: I hope these questions make sense. I just don't like the definition of introverted sensing found on most MBTI pages, basically. It seems underdeveloped.
As I think you've pointed out, there is a difference between what a function can or can't do and what an individual can or can't do. A sensor can do whatever anyone else can do, but that doesn't mean that it is necessarily his or her Sensation function that is doing it.

A concept is the realm of thinking. The definition of thinking, as per Jung, is the "linking up of ideas by means of a concept." Perceiving concepts also falls within the realm of what's called undirected thinking, passive thinking, or intuitive-thinking (not the same thing as Ne, Ni, Te, or Ti; it is a hybrid).

Abstraction is, in a way, almost synonymous with introversion.

I'm not so sure it is well defined anywhere, even Jung. I would say that Si-users have a preference for that which is familiar to them, but I don't think that is Si itself. Si is not memories. I can show you more quotes by Jung where he uses memories in context of thinking and feeling. Or another diagram from Jung where memory is a separate function altogether.


FWIW, here is Jung's description of Introverted Sensation followed by the Introverted Sensation type:

http://www.wikisocion.org/en/index.php?title=Psychological_Types#Sensation_2

Here is Si as described by Jung's wife (a Si-dom) as retold by Marie-Louise Von Franz:

http://personalitycafe.com/cognitive-functions/431306-si-recalling-comparing-past.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you so much for this! I do think a big part of my problem is trying to assimilate Jung's definition of Si to the contemporary one, which includes conscientiousness and almost entirely excludes abstraction and imagination in favor of photographic detail and present-centeredness. This gives me a lot of trouble, personally, because I see myself in Jung's description of Si and not at all in the picture of Si as dutiful, conscientious, or detail-oriented. On a theoretical level I really appreciate what you posted in the thread about Si-Recalling and comparing to the past:

From this I would say that Si itself is not necessarily about recalling or comparing to past experiences, but that those notions are secondarily related because of what the Si type has absorbed. If anything, it's the auxiliary thinking or feeling that is doing the recalling and comparing to past experiences; whereas Si is the function that has absorbed specific details from reality.
Taking the comparative aspects away from Si and giving it to Thinking or Feeling seems much more consistent with the definitions of perception and judgment.

Abstraction is, in a way, almost synonymous with introversion.
This is beautiful.
 
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All of the inner functions are linked to the collective unconscious.

The theories that don't believe in any mystical quality of life and refute God, have no choice but to go only as deep as the body and stop there. That's where the theories that Si is body awareness or memories comes from. It's makes no sense because it stops too soon.

When you see a tree with branches stretching upward, that is Se considering the world outside our eyes. Flip the tree upside down and see the same branches as roots, that is Si considering the world behind our eyes. It's gets is sensory data not from the Earth's databank, but from the foundation that came before it.

A computer can show a picture on a screen, but the impulses that created the picture contained the same information. Se sees the picture, Si sees the impulses that create the picture.
 

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The way I like to think of it is this: If Sensing, in any given situation, tells us what is, then Si is when we focus on our internal impression of what is. Kind of like an impressionistic painting. It's an introverted function, so by nature it is pretty abstract. Don't let anyone fool you - there's nothing "concrete" about Si. You are still focused on sensations (via five senses), but you are also actively internalizing those things. I find it rather hard to understand myself, even after years of puzzling through it.

Those who have a preference for Intuition do not perceive "ideas" - an idea is just a thought or a possible course of action. But we all have ideas. Ideas are things you actively (and mainly consciously) think about and come up with.

Rather, those who prefer Intuition in any given situation focus on what could be. Where something might be going. This is not an idea. It is just a possibility, something that you cannot perceive by focusing on what is. It's not there via your five senses.

The two work hand-in-hand, though. And it's important to remember we all use both.
 

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Not even Jung viewed S and N as simply "perceiving functions," and if you're interested, you can read more about that in this post.

If you want to read an "Introduction to S and N" I put together a while back (with quotes from Myers and Keirsey), see the spoiler in this post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
All of the inner functions are linked to the collective unconscious.
When you see a tree with branches stretching upward, that is Se considering the world outside our eyes. Flip the tree upside down and see the same branches as roots, that is Si considering the world behind our eyes. It's gets is sensory data not from the Earth's databank, but from the foundation that came before it.

A computer can show a picture on a screen, but the impulses that created the picture contained the same information. Se sees the picture, Si sees the impulses that create the picture.
Thanks, that's a helpful metaphor. Do you think it's fair to substitute Jung's collective unconscious with previous experience, mediated by the unconscious? Or is that too simple?

If Sensing, in any given situation, tells us what is, then Si is when we focus on our internal impression of what is. Kind of like an impressionistic painting. It's an introverted function, so by nature it is pretty abstract. Don't let anyone fool you - there's nothing "concrete" about Si. You are still focused on sensations (via five senses), but you are also actively internalizing those things. I find it rather hard to understand myself, even after years of puzzling through it.
@Julia Bell I think I confused myself by focusing too much on the "concrete" nature of sensation. It makes more sense to me (since I prefer Jung to the modern system) to think of Si as impressionistic, but then I'm totally confounded by how sensation got associated with a photographic memory for details. Any idea where this came from? Was it Myers?
 

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I think I confused myself by focusing too much on the "concrete" nature of sensation. It makes more sense to me (since I prefer Jung to the modern system) to think of Si as impressionistic, but then I'm totally confounded by how sensation got associated with a photographic memory for details. Any idea where this came from? Was it Myers?
Yikes. The only reason to "prefer Jung to the modern system" when it comes to Si is if you're determined to steer clear of reality. Virtually none of the modern MBTI-related theorists — including function-centric theorists like Thomson, Berens and Nardi — continue to subscribe to Jung's original conception of Si, and for good reason.

For more on that issue, and an answer to your question about where the association of sensation with a fact/detail-orientation came from, see this post and this post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
@reckful Thank you. I've always enjoyed your posts.

Your understanding of Keirsey's understanding of N & S mirrors mine. I think ultimately, it makes typing far easier because Ni and Si just confuse the issue (a problem I've admittedly contributed to on this boards). N and S is a clean, simple difference.

To clarify, I never read S and N as "pure" perceiving functions; I assume Jung means them in a kind of Kantian way, in which perception is an active faculty that shapes experience, but the shaping and decision-making happens below the level of conscious judgment. For example, I think of Intuition/Sensation as an old window, with distorted glass; you can be standing inside the room making all kinds of decisions about the world you see through the window, but the peculiarities of the glass determine what you see. This seems pretty similar to your reading, I think.

Edit: missed this--
Yikes. The only reason to "prefer Jung to the modern system" when it comes to Si is if you're determined to steer clear of reality. Virtually none of the modern MBTI-related theorists — including function-centric theorists like Thomson, Berens and Nardi — continue to subscribe to Jung's original conception of Si, and for good reason.
I admit I enjoy thinking of Si because the text is so deliciously opaque. For typing, it's completely useless. But so damn interesting.

2nd Edit: @reckful

No, let me amend that after reading your posts. I do object to the yoking of Sensation and Judgment to conscientiousness. I agree that in *many* cases these go together, but there seems no *in principle* reason why SJs should be particularly dutiful, rather than simply fond of schedules and aware of sensory input. If anyone can answer that, it's you, and I'd very much appreciate it.
 

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If the information (at the decisive point) comes through the senses, it's sensation.

If the information (at the decisive point) comes from the unconscious, it's intuition.
While true to some extent, I think it's a confusing way to explain it.

This is really good:


Intuition is sort of like knowing and understanding the answer without being told the answer.

Like seeing a red octagon and just "knowing" that you're supposed to put on the brakes and stop at it. This is intuitive information.

Sensing doesn't want to do this, nor does it enjoy doing this. Sensing enjoys things to be clear and in explicit detail. None of this guess work or assumption business.
 
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No, let me amend that after reading your posts. I do object to the yoking of Sensation and Judgment to conscientiousness. I agree that in *many* cases these go together, but there seems no *in principle* reason why SJs should be particularly dutiful, rather than simply fond of schedules and aware of sensory input. If anyone can answer that, it's you, and I'd very much appreciate it.
It may be that you misunderstood something in one of those linked posts. I don't believe in "yoking ... Sensation ... to conscientiousness." As between S/N and J/P, I'd say it's very much a J/P thing, not an S/N thing.
 
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