Jung's personality typology uses a few basic concepts and principles to derive 16 personality ways of being in the world. Here, I sketch the conceptual building blocks of Jung’s model, focusing on the psychological functions of sensation, intuition, thinking, & feeling. 1/thread
In a previous thread I described Jung’s notions of extraversion and introversion. Extraverts tend to orient their energy to external objects, whereas introverts tend to orient their energy toward the archetypes those objects constellate. 2/26
To understand any phenomenon in the world, we need to know that it is, what it is, what it is worth to us, and its horizons/possibilities. These are the 4 functions, which Jung further subdivided into 2 categories of irrational and rational functions. 3/26
The irrational functions of sensation & intuition, also called perceiving functions, operate to a large degree passively. They correspond to what Kant called the cognitive power of sensibility, a receptive power capable of taking in perceptual impressions of the world. 4/26
Sensation is how we orient to concrete, here-and-now perceptual qualities of the world through our five senses, whereas intuition is a more ephemeral mode of unconscious perception that concerns how we take in the temporal and archetypal qualities of things in the world. 5/26
One can also think about the irrational functions in terms of temporality. Whereas sensation shows us what a thing is like now, intuition discloses what a thing could become. Sensation concerns the present and actuality. Intuition concerns the future and possibility. 6/26
The rational functions of thinking & feeling, also called judging functions, operate more actively. They correspond to what Kant called the cognitive power of understanding, a spontaneous power through which we judge and categorize our perceptions. 7/26
The purpose of the thinking function is fairly clear. Through thought, we cognize, judge, infer, deduce, and plan. Thinking is the function most people have in mind when they casually use the words ‘rational’ or ‘rationality.’ 8/26
What was Jung up, to calling feeling a rational function? By feeling Jung did not mean tactile sensations (e.g., feeling that something is soft), hunches (e.g., the gut feeling that someone is lying to us), or having affects (e.g., having an experience of sadness or anger). 9/26
Jung used the word feeling to refer to the subjective valuations we make: whether we like, dislike, or are indifferent to something. “In the same way that thinking organizes the contents of consciousness under concepts, feeling arranges them according to their value.” 10/26
The feeling function involves judgments just as much as thinking does, and thus “feeling values and feeling judgments—indeed, feelings in general—are not only rational but can also be as logical, consistent and discriminating as thinking.” 11/26
All 4 functions always operate in each of our psyches, and most of this is relatively unconscious. Our typology hinges upon which function for which we are “best equipped by nature.” This the superior function, which is most differentiated & under greater conscious control. 12/26
Jung makes this point in a characteristically awesome way: “Just as only one of the four sons of Horus had a human head, so as a rule only one of the four basic functions is fully conscious and differentiated enough to be freely manipulable by the will.” 13/26
The 4 functions thus give us 4 basic function types: people for whom thinking, feeling, sensation, or intuition is dominant. This deepens when we add in Jung’s observation that “no individual is simply introverted or extraverted…[but] is so in one of [their] functions.” 14/26
In other words, each of our psychological functions can be oriented primarily outward toward external objects or inward toward their archetypal roots. Thus, we can think about eight primary types determined by the superior function of the personality: 15/26
We are now in a position to sketch the operation of the total personality. Jung’s model of the psyche makes much of opposing tensions/compensations. He observed that strength of operation of one rational/irrational function corresponds to weakness in its paired function. 16/26
Taking sensation and intuition as an example, Jung writes, “When I try to assure myself with my eyes and ears of what is actually happening, I cannot at the same time give way to dreams and fantasies about what lies around the corner.” 17/26
Thus the superior function implies a corresponding inferior function that is least under conscious control and readily identifiable via our persistent foibles, troubles, and embarrassments: the part of us that “just happens to us” despite our best intentions. 18/26
The diagram above shows how to derive the inferior from the superior function: simply flip the attitude and function pair. If the sup function is extraverted, the inf function is introverted. If the sup function is rational, the inf function is the other rational function. 19/26
Thinking types have inferior feeling functions, intuitive types have inferior sensing functions, & so on. Your superior & inferior functions can’t be both extraverted or both introverted, since a conscious orientation always implies an unconscious compensation & vice versa. 20/26
Finally, Jung observed the superior function has a sidekick function: “the rule holds good that besides the conscious, primary function there is a relatively unconscious, auxiliary function which is in every respect different from the nature of the primary function. 21/26
The auxiliary function has the opposite attitude as the superior function (if the sup function is extra, the aux is intro & vice versa), & that the aux function will be irrational if the sup function is rational, or rational if the sup function is irrational. 22/26
The final tertiary function is to the auxiliary function as the inferior function is to the superior function, though with less intensity. The tertiary function operates largely unconsciously, though not with the same pull toward negativity/failure as the inferior function. 23/26
So Jung’s whole model just 4 basic concepts & principles: (1) 2 attitudes (extra/introversion); (2) 4 functions; (3) the principle that development proceeds by making the unconscious conscious; and (4) the principle of conscious-unconscious complementarity/counterbalancing. 24/26
Jung’s model thus implies 16 types: 4 functions, one of which is superior and can have 1 of 2 attitudes (extra/introverted) makes for 8 basic function-types, multiplied by 2, since once the superior function is fixed, there are only 2 possibilities for the aux function. 25/26
A Jungian personality type is this a complex arrangement of balanced strengths and weaknesses in the way that someone orients and adapts to the world (i.e., how they take in and manipulate information, and how they direct their energy). 26/26
You can read a more elaborated version of this thread in a blog post on my website. Future posts/threads may explore such things as the richness and complexity of the individual function types.
Jung is often a terribly unclear, nonlinear writer and it can be very difficult to understand what he is up to in his texts. In part I’m writing these threads to try to lay out my understanding of his thought to render it more straightforward and digestible.
For example, this thread pulls together fragments from the main body of his theoretical piece on types in his book, two different lectures he gave on typology, and his extensive glossary of terms that served as an appendix to Psychological Types.

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