As an INFJ, I feel that this description is helpful.After having read their insights, I'm more interested to hear how XNFPs and XNFJs understand their Ne / Ni, and how these functions concretely manifest themselves in their lives...-
Ni: external stimuli are deconstructed into various tiny fragments. These fragments are not put into boxes and 'filed' as Si would do; instead, the 'pieces' are all put together and combined in a whole new way, resulting in an ever-changing, fluid mosaic, this mosaic being the peculiar world view of Ni-users which they draw their data from.
Ni users can choose to direct their focus to 1 piece in the mosaic. The meaning of the piece depends on the surrounding pieces. A blue piece surrounded by other blue pieces is not the same as a blue piece surrounded by red pieces. Because of the fluidity of the mosaic, Ni users can see how the meaning of a piece changes when the surrounding pieces change...
After re-reading my improvised analogy, I feel I've complicated things instead of clarifying them (for myself and others), but yeah... I'm trying to understand this on a conceptual level...
The easiest thing to understand about Ni, is that it enables people to look at things from various angles or perspectives. From what I've gathered, Ni-users consider our perception to be inextricably linked to our biases and assumptions. They try to shake this up by 'redefining the rules of the game' every once in a while, throwing off certain assumptions and looking at things in a different light. Could this, perhaps, be a good description of the Ni way of evaluating a problem... "Playing the same game several times, but using different rules each time"?
I feel you're right: '...our perception [is] inextricably linked to our biases and assumptions.' That was one reason I pursued counseling: so that I could understand my own biases and assumptions. Through exposing and understanding those biases and assumptions, I could then redefine my 'mosaic' (as you beautifully wrote!).
I often tell others that life is an idea that they've created and continually redefine. For instance, my 'lens' in which I examine life at this moment can be through the lens of an 'INFJ' or a 'Type 3', but when I go to volunteer I see through the lens of the role of 'prospective doctor' or when I go and spend time with my family I see through the lens of the role of 'close friend'. But these roles are terms that I'm defining or re-defining day after day. If, say, the role doesn't work or the lens isn't beneficial then I redefine it. The world 'out there' is the same, but my idea of the world isn't.
But since this is an introverted function, I express it either through Fe or Se. Through Fe, I feel like 'reaching out' and encouraging others with the 'idea' I have within. Often times it's a 'vision' of what a better life may be for that person regardless of how 'vivid' that 'vision' is. My logic is that since I'm a human being and the other person is too, then it may be possible that our 'ideas' are more similar than different. Through Se, I act (or at least want to!) in the moment to materially create the 'vision' I have within in the external world.