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Feeling functions?

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    Feeling functions?

    My cousin and I are both really interested in cognitive function theory. I came to learn about it through MBTI and later learned more about cognitive function theory through various disjointed sources. Unfortunately, I have no idea what school of thought my definitions are even coming from, it's an amalgamation. My cousin meanwhile is into Socionics... and while we agree on the definitions of most functions, we seem to differ quite a lot on the Judging functions and especially Fe and Fi.

    I want to know - how do you define Fe and Fi? Is there a particular school of thought you follow or is it an amalgamation? Do you believe different systems work with different definitions or are they all describing the same thing? If the latter, how do you reconcile differences in description? Do you bother reconciling or do you just throw certain definitions out? If you like/dislike certain definitions, why do you feel that way about them?

    (I know there's been some discussion of this across a couple different threads but I wanted a dedicated space for feeling functions specifically ^^)

    I'll try to describe the differences in how my cousin and I define the feeling functions. Let me say first that I don't know any Socionics!! My cousin's descriptions are pretty much all I know, but I think some of the definitions I've picked up are from Socionics like the way I understand the intuition functions.

    My understanding of the feeling functions is based on the broader way I categorize cognitive functions. I'm pretty literal with the words "perceiving" and "judging" - I see the perceiving functions as being about taking information in and judging functions as being about evaluating information.

    I understand thinking and feeling functions as evaluating two different types of information, with thinking functions evaluating info that's concerned with "things"/"data"/"logic" and feeling functions evaluating info that's concerned with "people"/"preferences"/"ethics" to put it as simply as possible, with heavy air quotes in acknowledgment that these probably aren't the best words for what I'm trying to say.

    I define introverted functions across the board as internal/"subjective" and extraverted functions across the board as external/"objective" (with the obligatory disclaimer that I don't believe it's possible for human beings to be "objective" so the word "external" is more accurate).

    For these reasons, the way I understand feeling functions is as systems that evaluate "value" with regards to ethical considerations, preferences, etc.

    Extraverted feeling, by my definition, is in tune with the values of [a] society or group and, when used well, has a genuine understanding of what and how much things matter to people in that society or group, and what kinds of ethical considerations are valuable to that group based on agreed-upon assessments. My cousin keeps summarizing this definition as being "groupthink," but that isn't what I'm trying to say here at all. This function, to me, mirrors extraverted thinking, which by my definition works with similarly agreed upon logical evaluation systems like "chronology" (to give a very simple example); in this case, Fe is doing the same but with ethics and values. They might evaluate a piece of art by its cultural impact, for example. I think this is extremely valuable.

    Introverted feeling, meanwhile, uses an internally constructed metric for evaluating the same types of information Fe evaluates. This could be described as personal preferences and principles which come from inside.

    I think it's easiest to describe what I'm talking about with an example from my favourite anime, Death Note, which illustrates the two coming into conflict - you don't need to be familiar with it to understand the example, I'll give context. So the way I type the characters is that L and Soichiro are both using Fe, and Light is using Fi. Neither L nor Light use Fe and Fi as one of their first two functions but I think the example works. So - L is a detective who has little consideration for the law. Soichiro is a police officer who has a lot of regard for the law, and Light is Soichiro's son who is helping with the case. When L decides on a course of action for solving the case that breaks the law, Soichiro argues with him about it. This is an argument that L understands and respects - L and Soichiro are both using Fe, and "the law" makes sense to L as an agreed-upon set of standards decided on by this particular society. He engages Soichiro on those terms, acknowledging that yes, this method is illegal but in the long term it will help to solve the case (which in Death Note is a mass international murder which is affecting and threatens to introduce a new system of judgment to all of society), and that in this particular moment, that would be better for society than following the law. L isn't just making this up from his head, he has a long and proven record of solving every case he's ever attempted, and failure to resolve the case will mean a new world order where one single person (Light, actually... but that isn't relevant to this example) will get to evaluate "good" and "evil" for everyone else. Soichiro concedes to this because his primary concern when making evaluations isn't with protecting the law specifically, it's with making evaluations that are in tune with society's values and ethics, and in this case, resolving the case is the most important thing to doing that.

    However, when L makes similar propositions to Light, he ends up getting really frustrated with him. This is because, unlike Soichiro, who explains his disagreement by deferring to the law as an agreed-upon body, Light just says "Sorry, but that's against my principles." There is nowhere for the conversation to go from here because Light's principles are based in himself. That said, the principle in question in this example is that he refused to lead someone on for the benefit of the case because it's against his principles to manipulate someone's feelings - so it's not like I think Fi is inherently selfish, but it is self-centered. (I also don't think Fe is inherently super flexible, but in the case I described, flexibility was consistent with the overall goal and considerations.)

    Fe and Fi can both come to the exact same conclusion, they just go about it differently. I don't really see any point to moralizing either function or prioritizing one as better than other, both have their good points and I think when used well they're both powerful. When used poorly I think both of them can have issues. Nothing more and nothing less. I don't mind disagreement on my definitions but I find it a little annoying to be told that the reason for the disagreement is because I'm somehow moralizing the functions, and positioning one as good and the other as bad. If you want to reduce my definition of Fe to "groupthink," that's your problem, not mine.

    My cousin's definitions are very different. I'll summarize them as best as I can but please be aware that this is just my description of how I understand what she's conveyed and may not be an accurate representation of how she understands the functions.

    If I'm understanding correctly, my cousin sees the Judging functions as being about evaluation and manipulation, with the extraverted functions being concerned with manipulation and the introverted functions being concerned with evaluation (rather than the external vs internal spectrum I use to define these terms). The types of information Thinking and Feeling functions deal with are different; Thinking functions deal with "things"/"data"/"logic" and Feeling functions deal with "people"/"relations".

    Introverted thinking and introverted feeling are concerned with evaluation; in Ti's case it evaluates the "quality" of information and Fi evaluates the "quality" of relations, assessing specific, one-on-one relationships. This is based on an idea of attraction/repulsion, where the person using introverted feeling will feel a sense of attraction toward or away from a particular person or thing and pursue (or not pursue) a relationship accordingly.

    Extraverted thinking and extraverted feeling are concerned with manipulation; extraverted thinking looks to manipulate facts/data and extraverted feeling looks to manipulate relations (which I think refers more to atmospheres than specific one-on-one relationships). This is done through controlled emotional expression (or maybe more accurately "impression"), where the person using Fe expresses particular emotions for the purpose of persuasion or to create a certain type of atmosphere.

    This is sort of where my understanding of what she was saying stops; up until here I can kind of follow but when she gets into certain specifics she loses me. For example, when I was explaining my definition of Fe she told me that Fe doesn't care about other people, and that they're particularly interested in creating environments where people feel free to express themselves due to the relationship Fe has with Ti. I find this really confusing; I don't understand why Fe would favour one particular type of atmosphere over another. She used the example of my sister, who we both think is Fe-dom, to illustrate this, because my sister can be loud and vulgar, but I don't think her vulgarity is a form of "self-expression" and while I do think it's partly to create an easygoing environment, my cousin seems to think that she just doesn't care how others feel about it because she's expressing herself. I think this is very untrue; my sister is very aware of how she's perceived and if she thought it were turning (most) people off she would definitely stop and probably feel embarrassed about it. My cousin used my own objections to my sister's vulgarity as evidence of Fi because Fi apparently tends to be more polite since they're invested in keeping relationships... even by her own definitions this makes no sense to me. My objections to my sister's vulgarity aren't because it's "rude," it's because she's my little sister and it feels awkward listening to her use graphic sexual expressions (and also I'm easily repulsed by random things). Also, so many of my conflicts with my sister happen because she thinks I'm not polite enough.

    My cousin also said that because of the emphasis on personal relationships, Fi can be really good at reading individual people when used well and the reverse when used badly. She said that this is why TeNis often put their trust in the wrong people and are blindsided when the relationship goes badly. This was really weird for me; my dad has been typed at TeNi since before I was born probably and I agreed with that typing. He's actually really good at reading people. The way I understood Fi inferior based on my own definitions of the functions was that there's a sort of touchiness around personal judgments of things like preferences and ethics. There may be a strong personal code, but because it often can't be explained "logically," it's a point of discomfort and something they don't want to be pressed on. This is pretty true of my dad; he's usually really good at explaining himself and when it comes to preferences and values he sometimes can come up with a "rational" way to explain how he got to his conclusion, but if you press him on it he can get frustrated, defensive, and inflexible.

    I feel like since listening to my cousin some of the things she says do make sense to me and expand meaningfully on my understanding of Feeling functions; I think I could extend how I understand Fe to include evaluating (and potentially influencing? I'm not 100% sold on this one) atmospheres, and the "attraction/repulsion" description of Fi seems to put into more technical terms what "internal preferences" could look like. This doesn't feel inconsistent with the way I already understand the Feeling functions; it makes sense to me that someone who's attuned to the interests/values of a group would also be attuned to group atmospheres as part of that.

    Other than this her descriptions kind of feel like she's speaking a totally different language.

    I don't know though. I could be totally off but this is where I'm at right now. I'd love to hear from other people about the Feeling functions.
    Last edited by inkreservoir; 03-03-2022, 10:31 PM.


    • inkreservoir
      inkreservoir commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh my god sorry for the literal wall of text; I wrote this on my phone and had no idea how long it is until I hit post.

    • inkreservoir
      inkreservoir commented
      Editing a comment
      I want to add for clarity -

      1) My cousin (if I'm understanding correctly) specifically sees extraverted thinking as manipulating facts etc for pragmatic purposes.

      2) While the evaluation/manipulation dichotomy balances introversion and extraversion in the Judging functions for my cousin's definition, I see the balance between these functions with my definitions as being because we all need a personal way to make judgments as well as a way which draws on the outside world. So Te/Fi and Fe/Ti aren't detached from each other, I just don't specifically see the relationship as being "evaluation and manipulation." It's more like Je makes use of external evaluation systems and Ji makes use of internal ones.
      Last edited by inkreservoir; 11-11-2021, 04:59 PM.

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    Last edited by inkreservoir; 03-03-2022, 10:31 PM.