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Hi folks, INFJ here.

Before getting to the meat of this post, I first want to explain why I decided to write it. I first got the idea to write about Ni as an Ni to--hopefully--clear up some of the confusion about the function. While I realize a large part of the PerC user base are indeed INJs, this post is geared towards those who are new to typology and trying to figure out what the heck everything is (and those poor INJs who read descriptions of Ni and leave more confused than they started), and for those who are just interested in the functions. I figure, as an INFJ, I have a special capacity to communicate the machinations of Ni that other types don't (sorry INTJs), and thus am responsible to do so in order to help make things more comprehensible, even if to only a few people. I also want to help dispel some of the cultural mythology surrounding Ni; just because we're rare doesn't make us cooler.

So without further ado, I will attempt to explain my brain. This will be interesting.

First thing's first: my brain never turns off. I can actually count on one hand the amount of times in my life my brain has stopped thinking and just done. It was only once, during an especially hard workout at the gym. Other than that, my brain works from sunrise until my head hits the pillow (and usually for a little bit thereafter as I'm trying to sleep). This isn't necessarily a good thing, but it's not something I've ever really been able to easily control, either. Now, I'm not saying that other functions don't think, but because Ni's realm is subjective observation, it makes sense that it wouldn't ever really stop working; you're in your own head all of the time, whether you want to admit it (*cough* extraverts *cough*) or not. In this same vein, one component of Ni that I have noticed is a heightened awareness of mental processes. I usually have a good idea/guess of what's going on in the lower levels of my consciousness, even if I can't easily articulate it.

In addition to that, something I noticed early in life (maybe around 8 or 9) was that I don't think like most people do. I say "think" loosely, here (Ni definitely does not think in conventional manners, either); my main mode of thought is a state that I liken to the Genesis creation story--a presence hovering over the ocean of the unconscious, watching images, memories, hunches, ideas, anything like that, bubble to the surface of my consciousness. I can feel (not feel in the physical sense) the ideas colliding together underneath, sometimes producing images worth pursuing, sometimes just creating an explosion of color or snippets of songs or half-baked thoughts before those vanish back into the sea. It's hard for me to use more direct language here, partially because the metaphor is of an ocean, but partially because there really isn't good language to describe the way this process works. A particle accelerator might also be a fit description--sending a bunch of ideas together into one collision and seeing what's let over in the explosion.

I do want to note, however, that my more kinetic vocabulary here is somewhat intentional. Ni seems to have this quiet, mystical stereotype surrounding it, slowly converging to a solution. This simply isn't the case. While its users may not look the part, Ni is a highly playful process. It's the exact same process as Ne, but where Ne uses external objects as the source of its, Ni uses internal, mental "objects". In this sense, Ni has the same relationship to thoughts, ideas, memories, all of that stuff, as Ne has to events, people, trees, all that stuff. Basically, Ni behaves in a very similar way to how Ne-doms act: bouncy, off-the-wall, and unpredictable, but that behavior is expressed through the mental understanding of "self", as opposed to a physical body. This side of INJs tends to come out when they're around people they trust with their precious thoughts. I have an INTJ friend who though I had to have been Ne because of how excited I got about my ideas around him. The basic thing he overlooked (among other things--this difference in attitude causes some pretty distinct differences between Ne and Ni) was that I only acted so excitable around him--he's one of my closest friends. I rarely share my thoughts to people, including those who know me well, otherwise. (I tell myself it's because they're not worthy of my thoughts, but it's actually because half of what I say makes no sense when I say it. Finding the language to describe our thoughts is the bane of INFJs. INTJs just don't care about communicating them.)

So, for some more specific functions of Ni. One thing I want to say before I start: people seem to think Ni-types can see the future. That's not true. Ni is future oriented in the sense that it's always trying to figure out what's coming next. However, as opposed to Ne, which is concerned with generating more and more possible futures, Ni is more singular. It moves towards a single observation from the plethora of data that inferior Se pick out. This process happens quite quickly, and may often seem mystical or psychic to those around the INJ, very often it is not mystical or sudden to the INJ. There was a girl in one of my classes who wore Chacos fairly often. (For those of you who don't know what Chacos are, here's an image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/8a/81/08/8a81087ab7a27b5e0ebb5187e6e82d85.jpg. They're basically fancy sandals). Anyway, I was doing an exercise with her one day, I noticed her sandals, and I immediately wondered if she had ever been a camp counselor. I asked and she revealed that she had been for a few years. Now, to the observer, this seems like an odd exchange, and perhaps a little creepy; here we were working on Spanish and I suddenly inquire about her personal life. In my mind, however, I remembered my own summer as a camp counselor and that a number of the other counselors had worn Chacos because apparently they're just awesome for camp. So when I saw hers I had to wonder if she had been a counselor (I can't imagine why anyone would wear Chacos otherwise, frankly). Of course, I didn't think about all of this at the time, it just came to me. I could only point to my thought process after the fact, as when she asked why I had been curious in the first place.

Ni's tendency to make out-of-the-blue observations does lend for an interesting effect. I, personally, never feel like my creations are mine, per se. My best ideas usually come to me in that sudden 'ah-ha' moment, or totally unconsciously. When I wrote my class' senior song for graduation, I was working with a friend's poem about mountains. I realized after the fact that I had written the melody in an up-and-down zig-zag fashion, like a ridge of mountains, without realizing. I probably wouldn't have even thought about it if the director hadn't said that both the lyrics and the music were some of the better he'd seen in a while. I thought I'd just written a cheesy little song, but on closer examination there were touches--entire swathes, even--of creativity that I hadn't even realized I'd put in. The same holds true for those moments of future clarity and other areas as well.

Another important thing to note is that an INJ's accuracy in prediction will be heavily influenced by how much he gets out. Because the information Ni needs to work is gathered through Se (and, by extension, Fe/Te), if that is too far repressed or the extraverted judging function isn't used in healthy manner, the INJ's intuitions will be separated from reality, and thus he will frequently be wrong. I've noticed this dynamic between myself and my INFJ sister. Both of us are definitely INFJs, but she gets those future intuitions more often and is right more often, but I would say I'm more intuitive than her in terms of thought and conscious recognition of patterns. The difference is that a) her feeling function is overwhelmingly strong, so she's just more in tune with people and b) she gets out more than I do. Since she is actively engaging her Fe and I tend to let mine fall by the wayside and start tert-looping with Ti, her predictions are more accurate. Mine tend to have less to do with reality because I tend to fall into the Ni-Ti loop more than she does (my Fe and Ti are also quite close in strength, anyway, which doesn't help; Ti scrutinizes much of what I intuit and thus never share my hunches until after the fact, which is no fun). Basically, to all you INJs out there who just want to huddle in their rooms, you're not doing yourself any favors. The only way to have a strong Ni (which I know every last one of you is quite proud of) is to engage the world and give Ni information. I realize that many of the people on this forum are young (myself included), and that our brains will change drastically as we move from adolescence into our early adulthood, it's never too early to start leaning to Extravert. Simply put, if you value your intuition, get out of yourself and engage the real world (and your Fe/Te and Se), otherwise you'll just be the "artist and crank" Jung talks about in his book.

My, this is getting long. I hope you all are still with me. Here's a kitten for a momentary distraction:
kitten-2.jpg
Aren't its eyes just precious?

*clears throat* Now that we've got that out of the way, let's move on to another aspect of Ni, one that I find gets overlooked quite often, but is still equally important, and a function that I find is more pronounced in my personality than the mystic, 'flashy' parts.

Both attitudes of intuition deal with perspective in different ways. Ne tends to bounce between objective perspectives, such as the physical angle that one looks at an object, whereas Ni looks at the subjective perspectives of the object--what assumptions a certain frame of mind brings to the table and how switching frames can lend different possible interpretations of the same thing. Ni is like looking at Mars through a wide variety of different telescopes, but from the same external frame of reference. Ne, then, is jumping on a rocket ship and orbiting around Mars, observing through maybe only one or two main telescopes (and that metaphor is accurate in more ways than one). Ni concerns itself with how we look at things to solve problems, and Ne concerns itself with what about those things we look at. Ni’s perspectives are inherent to the mind, whereas Ne’s perspectives are inherent to the objects themselves. To Ni, a phenomenon such as the cognitive functions is not necessarily “real”. It is an idea to help frame certain functions that we observe in neurobiology and cognition, but not something with actual substance and being. Ne-doms are more likely to consider the functions something as actually there in reality. Maybe not entirely as we understand it, but still having some manner of being that resembles what we understand. Math is another good example here: Ni users are more inclined to say that math is merely an abstraction of reality—good for understanding the world, but ultimately something created by humans and consequently it has no being of its own. Ne might say that math is something humans actually observed in the universe, and that it has to exist out in the world in some form. This ultimately illustrates the difference in attitude between the two functions: Ni is introverted and wants to assimilate objective reality to the subject. Thus, it understands systems of thought as mental, products of its own synthesis. Ne is extravert and wants to assimilate the subject to objective reality. Thus, it understands systems of thought as being observed in the real world, having some actual existence in reality. Neither side is technically true, but I want to illustrate the diametrically oppositional nature between Ne and Ni. Both are intuition, but they take it in two very different ways. They’re two sides of the same coin.

I apologize; I tend to get caught up in aspects of theory that I find interested and neglect the more concrete parts of my point. Since this a post about Ni, I will be focusing mostly on its function of perspectives for the next section.

As I said, Ni’s concept of perspective is primarily mental. INJs have an almost instinctive knowledge of mental frames of thought and may often enjoy playing the boundaries of meaning and categories. For instance, I often find myself ponder the limits of certain ideas, meanings, words, systems of thought, etc. It’s easy to mistake this process for Ti, since it is a very conscious process in the INJ and thus doesn’t fit the “mystic” category, but it is still Ni nonetheless. An INFJ might find that puns are not as punishing to their humerus faculties than many people seem to think they are. They enjoy the manipulation of language to include layered meanings and paradoxes. (Of course, their taste in double entendre may be a little more “refined” depending on how much self-respect they have.) I myself also enjoy the concept of contronyms: words that have two meanings that mean the opposite of the other. For example, clip: to attach to, or to cut, as with scissors; dust: to remove dust or to apply dust; or, most recently, literally, which means both literally and figuratively. INJs may find a similar interest in paradox because of Ni’s subjective view of perspective; they enjoy seeing where two frameworks come into conflict, but because Ni grants them a sort of meta-perspective over all mental systems, they will likely not see this as a problem, and can resolve the paradox by switching frames to reconcile the two differences. Ni’s meta-perspective over perspectives actually is the “thing” that makes Ni itself. It floats over frames of thought and merely watches how they interact with data, switch as necessary and taking note of paradoxes between the two, but never troubling themselves too much with said paradoxes, because those problems can be alleviated by simply switching perspectives.

In fact, this behavior of Ni, to observe rather than engage, is perhaps the source of much of the mystic hype surrounding it. INJs are stereotypically quiet, reserved, but acutely perceptive about people and the world. This lends types who are not INJ to view them as sort of removed, or having a higher perspective of the world. But in some sense, they do; it’s just how their brains work. At its most sophisticated, Ni is capable of switching between drastically different frames of thought as fluidly as Ne might circle a table to get all views of it. It uses this meta-perspective to see patterns unfold in many different contexts, synthesizing its observations into singular wholes. This gives them an ability to predict outcomes with great accuracy, but as mentioned before, this ability is limited by the amount of information the INJ allows himself to receive from the outside world. Because Ni views things in terms of the perspectives they represent, they may feel drawn to other patterns of thought and deeper meaning: symbols, archetypes, the mysterious, anything that gives their Ni something to search for. INJs may feel permeated by a sense of longing, or that something is being hidden from them; they are acutely aware of their own point of view’s limitations.

For me, this manifested most strongly about five or six years ago. I remember sitting in a class and then realizing that the government—infrastructure, laws, all of that stuff was not real. Everything that I had previous assumed to be set in stone was simply and agreement made between people based on the writings of a bunch of dead people. Another example was some thinking I did more recently, about a year or two ago. I’ve always held that time can be viewed as half of a ripe grapefruit. Of course, this expression is meaningless, but that was the point. I had decided that humans only perceived time, and thus I could describe it as any bizarre thing I could imagine and commit no logical fallacy. This, however, was merely on manifestation of a greater curiosity of mine: I’ve always wanted to know what the universe looks like. INJs may have experienced thoughts of a similar nature—wanting to transcend our mortal coil and view the world from a higher plane. There, we think to ourselves, we might see things for how they really are, or find a meaning to all of this. In some ways, I think, at least for myself Ni’s greatest desire is to somehow go beyond what is human and see the world from a perspective that our old telescopes can’t offer. Perhaps, in some ways, we want to take a few of our favorite telescopes and take a flight around Mars.

I’d like to think that my desire for greater understanding is more than just my mind wanting to use Ne, but I think both are true in some sense. INJs, and INFJs in particular, will spend most of their lives trying to get a handle of some greater meaning in the world, whether they’re aware of it or not. For the INTJ, they grow their understanding of the world through knowledge of the world—if they know everything, then maybe they’ll be able to see everything as it is. For the INFJ, we try to go beyond the realms of human thought and maybe catch a glimpse of the world through the eyes of the divine.

But I’m getting a little too mystical about all of this stuff. Ni is not necessarily better or more interesting than the other functions. Rather, it’s merely one perspective of the world, and, last time I checked, there are about seven billion of those. Hopefully this article has been interesting, and, more importantly, informative. Thanks for reading!

Sources/Bibilography:
*I avoided in-text citations because a) this is a forum post, b) a lot of this is my own thinking, influenced by the following, and c) in-text citations are annoying and a pain in the butt to keep up with.
Psychological Types, by Carl Jung
Personality Type: An Owner's Manual, by Lenore Thomson (I would be remiss without saying most of my initial writing about perspective was derived from Thomson. Seriously, read her book. I don't agree with her on all points but it's a great work for those looking to understand typology more deeply).
Michael Pierce on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmDcT_Pujk8vOcxk_IcnxtQ
John Barnes on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDGA__XpoN80SQNLQSiNAVQ
Experience/My own thoughts
 

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Thank you so much for your contribution. That was a beautiful in-depth explanation. I'm sure it will help a lot of people. I've been struggling to figure out if what I am noticing in my cognitions are in fact Ni or Ne, and it gave me a clearer picture of Ni. I've been researching the functions so much to try and figure out exactly what it is I'm using as well as the order in my functional stack.
 

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Thank you so much for your contribution. That was a beautiful in-depth explanation. I'm sure it will help a lot of people. I've been struggling to figure out if what I am noticing in my cognitions are in fact Ni or Ne, and it gave me a clearer picture of Ni. I've been researching the functions so much to try and figure out exactly what it is I'm using as well as the order in my functional stack.
My pleasure, really. :) I'm glad I could help.
 

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Thank you for sharing your first person experience on Ni.

This is something I've yet to be able to articulate. Only because it's a big part of me for so long (I am ancient) that I don't notice its presence much. I am not saying that I am treating Ni as a piece of furniture at home that I use but can't describe. Yet I AM treating it this way, not abusing but seeing without seeing.

I often find that I can identify functions in others, especially functions that are below the line.

One thing though. A function doesn't stand on its own. Ni requires an enormous amount of data to run. Sometimes it's like a beast that chases after me to dig on some subject matter that intrigues it. If not, Ni is mostly subconsciously taking in everything via Se (raw data) before being mixed and matched with whatever data already in the system. The results are also stored somewhere ready to pop out when called upon.

Looking at it from a reverse angle is to find a Se-dom Ni inferior type who is living in the here and now (Se) while all the here and now is funneled to his Ni for processing. Since Ni is the inferior function, the mix and match results are not as precise and accurate. When Ni is an introvert function, it has large capacity to store data (think about Si dom who can recall the past with accuracy). Se is more a taking and dumping function, like sand passing thru a sifter.

This is my attempt at trying to explain how Ni-Se works based on my own naval gazing since finding out about MBTI last year (yes, I had gone thru 2/3 of my life not knowing about MBTI).
 
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Thank you for sharing your first person experience on Ni.

This is something I've yet to be able to articulate. Only because it's a big part of me for so long (I am ancient) that I don't notice its presence much. I am not saying that I am treating Ni as a piece of furniture at home that I use but can't describe. Yet I AM treating it this way, not abusing but seeing without seeing.

I often find that I can identify functions in others, especially functions that are below the line.

One thing though. A function doesn't stand on its own. Ni requires an enormous amount of data to run. Sometimes it's like a beast that chases after me to dig on some subject matter that intrigues it. If not, Ni is mostly subconsciously taking in everything via Se (raw data) before being mixed and matched with whatever data already in the system. The results are also stored somewhere ready to pop out when called upon.

Looking at it from a reverse angle is to find a Se-dom Ni inferior type who is living in the here and now (Se) while all the here and now is funneled to his Ni for processing. Since Ni is the inferior function, the mix and match results are not as precise and accurate. When Ni is a dominant function, it often works at a maximum strength performance level due to processing speed. Se is more a taking and dumping function, like sand passing thru a sifter.

This is my attempt at trying to explain how Ni-Se works based on my own naval gazing since finding out about MBTI last year (yes, I had gone thru 2/3 of my life not knowing about MBTI).
Yeah--I was really trying to describe Ni as purely as I could, but I couldn't really do that without implicating Se's enormous effect on its function. That's why I spent that paragraph talking about how INJs need to get out; their Ni will only be as good as their experience.

I'm actually not very well-versed in Ni as an inferior function (surprise, surprise), so thanks for your insight. I have an ESFP friend who I really need to analyze more for this very reason.

I may go more in depth with the Ni-Se axis eventually, but that would require more understanding of all NJs and SPs, so that will have to wait. Thank you, though; the insight is always appreciated.
 

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Nice job! I also am put off by descriptions that describe Ni as simply "knowing" or as predicting what will be. I think that sounds arrogant and misconstrues Ni to sound "special." Ni is merely, as you say, a perspective shifting function that is searching for/holds to its own subjective truth outside the opinions of other people (Ni>Fe). I'm also glad to see you mention Lenore Thomson's book, which I would also agree is one of the best sources out there for typology. I also like how you mention Ni's relationship to language in terms of puns. That might have to do with Ti, too, but coupled with Ni, it's more about packing as many different meanings (contradictory/paradoxical meanings, too) into one word. As an example, look at James Joyce's works (Finnegans Wake especially! Good luck.), who I'm convinced is INFJ.

Here's a very in depth INFJ profile, which touches on a lot of what you say:
Socionics - the16types.info - SolitaryWalker's NF Profiles
 

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I also am put off by descriptions that describe Ni as simply "knowing" or as predicting what will be.
Yes, I find this frustrating. Not only is it unhelpful to those learning, but it's unhelpful to INJs who are trying to figure out why they're so darn weird; it sets an obscure and unreasonable bar that sheds no light into the process.

I think that sounds arrogant and misconstrues Ni to sound "special." Ni is merely, as you say, a perspective shifting function that is searching for/holds to its own subjective truth outside the opinions of other people (Ni>Fe). I'm also glad to see you mention Lenore Thomson's book, which I would also agree is one of the best sources out there for typology. I also like how you mention Ni's relationship to language in terms of puns. That might have to do with Ti, too, but coupled with Ni, it's more about packing as many different meanings (contradictory/paradoxical meanings, too) into one word. As an example, look at James Joyce's works (Finnegans Wake especially! Good luck.), who I'm convinced is INFJ.
I'll definitely look into that. Thanks for the recommendation.

Here's a very in depth INFJ profile, which touches on a lot of what you say:
Socionics - the16types.info - SolitaryWalker's NF Profiles
Another article I will make sure I read. :)
 

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This was a really fascinating read, and it gave me a lot of insight that I didn't have. I find it funny how I sometimes was able to compare your Ni description to my Si, and see where the similarities and differences with subjective perception lies.
 

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Because it seems mysterious, the descriptions tend to put words like "mysterious" "archetype" etc. But the fact remains that Ni is a perceiving function, so you need experiences! Without interacting with the world (and gaining experiences), there is no reference point(s) to freely shift your perspectives and all that. Not many descriptions, I find, describe Ni in terms of experiences, which you touch upon. For that reason, I find this description and this description ("It is neither magical nor mystical") better than others.

It's interesting to see a reference to Ti, especially how an Ni process can be mistaken as a Ti process. As the one scoring high on both Ni and Ti, I see some possibility that I might be confusing between the two...

Finally, it's not hard to find an example of a person who over-relied on Ni and little on Se creating an imbalance: Nietzsche, according to this article.
 
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I appreciate the effort you went to writing this :)

It was a very interesting read.

I want to expand the part where Ni takes a view that objects in the external world aren't necessarily solid things but arbitrary mental constructs applied to the world, contrasted with Ne viewing such mental constructs as being derived from the world itself as if a thing that existed to be discovered.

You have essentially touched upon the essence of introversion and extroversion and I think all introverts would have some relation to Ni and all extroverts to Ne.

Reading chapter seven (I think it was 7) of Jung's psychological types, he discusses the ideas of feeling into and abstract feeling. That is feeling into (Fe) projects their own feeling into the object, and appears to them that this feeling does exist in the object itself. The object is desirable, undesirable, good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant.
Abstract feeling (Fi) sees the object as already having its own feeling and so does not impose or project into the object. It retreats from the object. The individual itself feels a desire, lack of desire, good, bad, pleasantness, unpleasantness towards the object. These qualities their own mental constructs and not something to be found inherent in the object.

I assume this would apply to Se, Si and Te, Ti which is why the introverted functions are often described as abstractions.


And thank you for clearing up that Ne and Ni are quite similar, pretty much the same process but where the attention is placed is what differentiates the two. I see a lot of misconceptions that Ni and Ne are completely different entities that function in very different ways. They are both intuition, both deal with potential and possibility. Ne is focused on external objects, Ni focused on internal objects.
 

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It's interesting to see a reference to Ti, especially how an Ni process can be mistaken as a Ti process. As the one scoring high on both Ni and Ti, I see some possibility that I might be confusing between the two...
I think I should explain my meaning behind this. This is a problem I had as I studied Ni--as I mentioned in the original post, I'm very aware of my thought process, so whenever I received those 'ah-ha' moments, I always felt a little cheated out of the magic of the moment because I could always point to reasons why I had come to those conclusions. Because of Ti's association with deductive logic (if we change this, then all of these consequences must result from that change) and its subjective nature, I find it quite easy to mistake Ni for Ti on a superficial level. What I had to learn was that I understood my premonitions after the fact, so, in a sense, I was using Ti to understand them, but the original thought was intuitive. Being a Perceiving/Irrational function, Ni cannot be consciously controlled, as a Judging/Rational function can. Thus, even though the two functions can appear similar, Ti is always under conscious control. Even if Ni accesses it to make deductions unconsciously, that is still Ni's processing. This means, at least for me, much of what I had assumed to be Ti was in fact Ni.
 

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And thank you for clearing up that Ne and Ni are quite similar, pretty much the same process but where the attention is placed is what differentiates the two. I see a lot of misconceptions that Ni and Ne are completely different entities that function in very different ways. They are both intuition, both deal with potential and possibility. Ne is focused on external objects, Ni focused on internal objects.
Yep, and the author of this article discusses her lack of understanding regarding differences between Ne and Ni, when she was teaching a writing class. Different kinds of intuition, hence different kinds of creativity.
;)
 
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Because it seems mysterious, the descriptions tend to put words like "mysterious" "archetype" etc. But the fact remains that Ni is a perceiving function, so you need experiences! Without interacting with the world (and gaining experiences), there is no reference point(s) to freely shift your perspectives and all that. Not many descriptions, I find, describe Ni in terms of experiences, which you touch upon. For that reason, I find this description and this description ("It is neither magical nor mystical") better than others.

It's interesting to see a reference to Ti, especially how an Ni process can be mistaken as a Ti process. As the one scoring high on both Ni and Ti, I see some possibility that I might be confusing between the two...

Finally, it's not hard to find an example of a person who over-relied on Ni and little on Se creating an imbalance: Nietzsche, according to this article.

A distinction which may help you differentiate between the two:
Ti is judgment, that is there is reflection and deliberation to form an understanding of what is. Ti can form/synthesis connections but they are derived.
Ni is perception and the product of perception is given. Such as when you open your eyes you just see the world around you. You do not reason to bring objects into your vision, you just see.
 

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I want to expand the part where Ni takes a view that objects in the external world aren't necessarily solid things but arbitrary mental constructs applied to the world, contrasted with Ne viewing such mental constructs as being derived from the world itself as if a thing that existed to be discovered.

You have essentially touched upon the essence of introversion and extroversion and I think all introverts would have some relation to Ni and all extroverts to Ne.
I don't think it was a mistake for Jung to say that the I/E dichotomy was the most important; that single attitude colors our entire psyche, each function adopting that attitude as it relates to its sphere. I think a good model for understanding the functions in this respect could be rewritten as 'In', for the case of Ni. Introversion flowing through an intuitive filter. The way the functions are abbreviated right now seems to implicate the attitude from the function.
 

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I don't think it was a mistake for Jung to say that the I/E dichotomy was the most important; that single attitude colors our entire psyche, each function adopting that attitude as it relates to its sphere. I think a good model for understanding the functions in this respect could be rewritten as 'In', for the case of Ni. Introversion flowing through an intuitive filter. The way the functions are abbreviated right now seems to implicate the attitude from the function.
Yes. When I initially came across cognitive functions I saw them as separate things. Ni, Ne, Si, Se, Ti, Te, Fi, Fe all a separate parts of cognition. Then reading Jung my view shifted seeing there two key concepts coming into play, not eight discrete parts. The attitude (introverts/extroversion) and the functions (intuition, sensation, thinking, feeling).
 

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Yes. When I initially came across cognitive functions I saw them as separate things. Ni, Ne, Si, Se, Ti, Te, Fi, Fe all a separate parts of cognition. Then reading Jung my view shifted seeing there two key concepts coming into play, not eight discrete parts. The attitude (introverts/extroversion) and the functions (intuition, sensation, thinking, feeling).
I also initially thought of them as eight sort of "building blocks". I find that many descriptions portray them as such, which bothers me. I realize that going too far in depth loses an audience, but it seems like they should be as theoretically correct instead of going so far as to basically say "Te types are jerks, Ti types are nerds, Fe types are over sensitive, Fi types are over emotional, Se types are thick, Si types are narrow minded, Ne types are ADD, and Ni types are prophets." One of these things is not like the other...
 

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I also initially thought of them as eight sort of "building blocks". I find that many descriptions portray them as such, which bothers me. I realize that going too far in depth loses an audience, but it seems like they should be as theoretically correct instead of going so far as to basically say "Te types are jerks, Ti types are nerds, Fe types are over sensitive, Fi types are over emotional, Se types are thick, Si types are narrow minded, Ne types are ADD, and Ni types are prophets." One of these things is not like the other...
I think the other issue is we are attempting to define what they are, and that is a thinking process. You can define what a tree is (thinking). You can define what it is worth to you (feeling) (ok perhaps a little trickier). But how do you explain and define to someone the mere seeing of a tree? It is something you experience. It's like attempting to explain the colour blue to a blind person. Perception functions are being filtered through thinking when it is defined/labelled and put into a system.

And then this comes to my struggle, how do I know what I am mentally experiencing does line up with a particular function? The way someone experiences blue may not be how I see blue, but we are both still seeing. Identifying how one sees is not the same as experiencing of seeing.
 

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Such as when you open your eyes you just see the world around you. You do not reason to bring objects into your vision, you just see.
It's stable, sure, but is it really given? We don't need reason to zoom in or be blind towards particular aspects yet we do it daily, to a unique degree. I don't know if we ever just see: to see, one needs to acknowledge I would think, is it "sight" otherwise? I go back to "blind sight" again with this one : it's up for debate. But every single sight, object, direction is specific, finally tuned to the individual, selected. One individual looks at a scene and is overpowered by it, another looks at the same thing with glazed eyes : they're not seeing the same thing. Arguably, one of them isn't even seeing. You have three individuals on a trip and they all come back with vastly different "themes" from the same experience. Every individual has a "theme" to their sight. A natural tuning. Sight and attention are incredibly subjective thing. Preference in perception is the general nature of that focus.

Though I get what you're trying to get across lol~
 

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I think I should explain my meaning behind this. This is a problem I had as I studied Ni--as I mentioned in the original post, I'm very aware of my thought process, so whenever I received those 'ah-ha' moments, I always felt a little cheated out of the magic of the moment because I could always point to reasons why I had come to those conclusions. Because of Ti's association with deductive logic (if we change this, then all of these consequences must result from that change) and its subjective nature, I find it quite easy to mistake Ni for Ti on a superficial level. What I had to learn was that I understood my premonitions after the fact, so, in a sense, I was using Ti to understand them, but the original thought was intuitive. Being a Perceiving/Irrational function, Ni cannot be consciously controlled, as a Judging/Rational function can. Thus, even though the two functions can appear similar, Ti is always under conscious control. Even if Ni accesses it to make deductions unconsciously, that is still Ni's processing. This means, at least for me, much of what I had assumed to be Ti was in fact Ni.
A distinction which may help you differentiate between the two:
Ti is judgment, that is there is reflection and deliberation to form an understanding of what is. Ti can form/synthesis connections but they are derived.
Ni is perception and the product of perception is given. Such as when you open your eyes you just see the world around you. You do not reason to bring objects into your vision, you just see.
Based on this I theorize this can explain why people who don't extravert/introvert enough may have hard time deciding on their type. Get locked down to one of the two orientations, fall into the loop, hence confusing between the two functions. Throwing my idea out there.

Back to the original topic. Thanks for the clarification (and to both of you). It looks like I am closer to Ni then? I have a fairly strong Ti also though -- this due to the fact that I am doing math, then. I still believe certain thinking (no pun intended) process can yield two cogent explanations (in this case, "this is Ni" vs "this is Ti"), causing confusions.
Like the OP, I will write down my own episodes (well, what I believe is Ni, though the third one I don't know).

Five years ago, for some reason I thought the professor I invited to give a talk for the club I was leading was a vegetarian (you know, there is always free food ;)). I was sure but still wanted to ask if that was the case, and received an affirmative answer. I didn't even know why I was compelled to ask. I talked to her once, and perhaps from her face, gesture, my first impression of her, etc may have picked up some sign that she may be morally opposed to eating animals. I didn't ask about her reasons, so these I don't know.

Similar episode here also
Meet with a potential advisor, and within the first few minutes, and you already "know" how his advising style will be; and you are sure about your thoughts to the point you don't feel the need to ask. I met two potential adviser while I was visiting the campus, had my ideas about their advising style, only to be confirmed later by other graduate students.
Guess I will focus more on my current adviser. Didn't take long for me to see that he would be pretty hands-off and I should expect to work on my own for the most part. I was mostly introducing myself and explained the work I did; he was generous with his time (and attention); and he was friendly and courteous. But I felt there was a certain layer that I couldn't seem to penetrate so to speak. Nice and generous yes, but felt a bit of coldness also. I am not sure if those happened before reaching my conclusion, or after. I am inclined to think those thoughts happened almost concurrently.

Third one. My officemate was complaining to me that he goes to bed early enough (we have an 08:30 class this semester...T___T) to get up at 7 but he keeps getting up at 6 and wide awake despite not having enough sleep. My first response to this was: "I suppose that you think about the early morning class at the back of your head, which makes you not want to oversleep; once you get up, you can't fall asleep for fear of sleeping through the lecture". Even though my statement was far from a rigorous deduction, I feel this can reasonably be attributed to Ti. Or can be Ni (associations and unification of ideas, hence with a convergent bent) quickly connecting dots together inside my mind. Which brings me to (emphasis mine)
And then this comes to my struggle, how do I know what I am mentally experiencing does line up with a particular function? The way someone experiences blue may not be how I see blue, but we are both still seeing. Identifying how one sees is not the same as experiencing of seeing.
 
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