by Jorge Aveleira
Keywords: psychology, Jung, consciousness, reality, personality, psyche, model, process.
One of the earliest works of C.G.Jung is Psychological Types. That book raised great interest among the psychological community, as it demonstrated in a sensible fashion the possibility to systematize and classify a number of attributes of personality according to a logical framework. The interest in further exploration of the structure outlined in Jung's typology by the consciousness orienting functions and other psychic components has been considerably reduced. In later works by C.G. Jung himself and followers that appraise the psychic structure and paths of psychological change and evolution, the main focus of attention is usually directed to other notions such as archetypes, collective and individual consciousness and unconsciousness, anima/animus, persona, complexes, etc.
The aim of this article is to illustrate a new and daring approach for the organization of some basic components of the Jungian Psychology, tentatively paired with some concepts from Physics and Philosophy. A most relevant status will be given to the rational and non-rational nature of the consciousness' psychic functions. The existence of a third nature will be proposed and justified, and the resulting structure may work as a functional model for some fundamental psychic processes. That model shows stable-dynamic evolving characteristics and offers a reasonable solution for the so called "2 and 3 problem". It possibly assists in the understanding of several manifestations that hold psychological interest and may also be further extended as a simple prototype for perceived or conceived instances of reality.
C.G. Jung's Psychological Types contains an analytical narration of historical data and philosophical concepts related to the psyche, descriptions and interpretations about traits of personality and it also presents original concepts that have become subject of further and extensive work by himself and followers. Some of those concepts are essential for the purpose of this article, and a brief description follows below. The Taoist yin-yang polarity is briefly characterized. The names of the psychic functions are typed with the first letter in capitals to highlight their position as key elements of consciousness and the psychic structure.
Yin and yang constitute the basic polarity of any and every manifestation of reality, according to Taoist philosophy. Yin is feminine, dark, passive, flexible, gentle. Yang is masculine, bright, active, hard, determined. Yang brings yin and yin brings yang, according to the general expression of transmutation: yang=> yin=> new-yang=> new-yin=>.... The arrows => should be read as "brings", and also as "transmutes into".
C.G.Jung instituted the concepts of introversion and extraversion as the two basic psychic dispositions. Extraversion corresponds to a fundamentally active, exuberant, participating and accepting attitude towards objects, and it will be associated here to yang polarity. Introversion corresponds to a fundamentally passive, watchful, reserved, circumspect and defensive attitude towards objects, and it will be associated here to yin polarity
Thinking, Feeling, Perception and Intuition are the four functions of the ego. A brief description of some of their attributes will be presented in the next section. Thinking is opposite to Feeling, and Perception is opposite to Intuition. Thinking and Feeling are rational functions, while Perception and Intuition are non-rational functions.
The concept of ego may be regarded as "I", the center of consciousness and of the individual will. The ego orients itself inside the field of reality by means of the four functions mentioned above and according to one basic psychic disposition, introverted or extraverted. The concept of self corresponds to a deeper and more enigmatic psychic component, and it is often associated to a directing nucleus or deeper urging that instigates the ego towards growth, change and evolution (1).
So, according to Jungian typology we should consider the following arrangement:
Basic dispositions: Extraverted and Introverted
Consciousness orienting psychic functions:
The Main function, together with one of the two basic dispositions, defines the psychological type of each individual. So we have eight traditional psychological types:
3.Three natures and six psychic functions
C.G.Jung established the existence of two different modes or categories for the human comprehension of reality through the ego, the rational and the irrational. In the absence of a better term, those two different modes will be identified as originating from, or belonging to, a rational universal nature and to a non-rational universal nature. The four functions of the ego are subject to classification based on their nature.
- Rational or Concrete nature (yang)
The rational functions Thinking and Feeling are particularly capable to accomplish analytical or sympathetical appraisal, evaluation, ranking and judgement. The rational functions bring effort, substance and sense of proportion to consciousness. They may be regarded as part of a yang, hard and concrete nature. Within the physical realm, Thinking and Feeling may be philosophically associated to the concepts of Energy and Matter, respectively.
- Non-Rational or Abstract nature (yin)
The non-rational functions Perception and Intuition are particularly capable to yield and deliver. The non-rational functions bring growth to consciousness. They may be regarded as part of a yin, soft, abstract, pliable and encompassing nature. Within the physical realm, Perception and Intuition may be philosophically associated to the concepts of Space and Time, respectively.
Those four functions and two natures, combined with the two basic psychic dispositions, were estimated by C.G.Jung as capable to adequately compose a model for the orienting functions of the ego's consciousness. That model is utilized to explain several motivations and attitudes of individuals (3). The influence of the self on the ego is considered responsible for changes in the personality and for assisting in an evolving psychic process that leads to internal discoveries and to individuation (4).
At this point, some well defined and important differences arise between the proposed model and traditional Jungian typology. The Thinking function within this model in its present level will be associated on a permanent basis to yang polarity, so Feeling should hold yin polarity. Perception will be associated to yang, so Intuition should hold yin polarity. The rational and non-rational natures were already associated to permanent polarities, respectively yang and yin. Those associations will imply further on in a reexamination of the role of the two basic psychic dispositions.
|Rational, concrete, ego, yang||Thinking, Energy||Feeling, Matter|
|Non-rational, abstract, ego, yin||Perception, Space||Intuition, Time|
- Subtle-concrete or Rational-inspiring nature (new-yang)
The conceptualization of a third nature is the next step to build the proposed model. That third nature will be called -subtle- and it may be often associated to the psychic component known as the self. The subtle nature emerges from interactions between the rational and non-rational natures, and for its turn it exerts influence upon them. The subtle nature belongs to a subtle-yang, or new-yang class, that appears in the traditional Taoist process of transfer and transmutation of contents: yang=> yin=> new-yang..., here concrete=> abstract=> subtle or rational=> non-rational=> inspiring. Those transmutations are characterized more clearly ahead, and also by the pictures in this section and following one.
The subtle nature is represented, in the same way as the rational and non-rational natures, by two yin-yang opposite and complementary psychic functions, here named Reflection and Confidence. Those two functions are particularly capable to induce purposeful changes in consciousness and personality, either dynamic change, in the case of yang Confidence, or stabilizing change, in the case of yin Reflection. Those yin and yang polarities are permanent features of the subtle functions on an exclusive basis, in the same way as it was established for the rational and non-rational functions. The subtle functions may be regarded as part of an universal fluid that impels everything towards stable-dynamic evolution. Within the physical realm, Confidence and Reflection may be philosophically associated to the concepts of Electricity and Magnetism, respectively.
A most relevant feature of the subtle nature is its "density", its degree of substantiality. The subtle nature is more dense than abstract nature, and less dense than concrete nature. The following chart may help to clarify this point:
Following, a short description of some characteristics of each psychic function. Detailed descriptions of the first four ones may be found in several works, starting with C.G.Jung's Psychological Types. The traits of personality conferred by Confidence and Reflection are much the same as those that are associated in Jungian typology to extraverted Feeling and introverted Thinking types.
-Rational, concrete, ego, yang:
-Non-rational, abstract, ego, yin:
-Subtle, inspiring-rational, self, new-yang:
Perhaps the reader may be advised here to notice that Reflection and Confidence should not be matched to the concepts of yin Thinking and yang Feeling. There is some similarity and even an affiliation between those components, but not an identity. The subtle functions possess distinct existence and their own nature, holding subtle differences in quality, density and bearing in relation to the rational functions. Those differences are the single most relevant issue for the present study. Follows some reasons for that distinction:
The concept of Reflection is only barely comparable to that of Thinking in introverted disposition. The substance of Reflection is less material, less corporeal, less selfish, more ethereal, universal and subtle than the substance of the utilitarian Thinking. Reflection is more interested in finding absolute meanings than in advances and intellectual expansion as does Thinking. Reflection brings philosophical and deep understanding to consciousness and personality.
The concept of Confidence is only barely comparable to that of Feeling in extraverted disposition. The substance of Confidence is less concrete, less selfish, more diffuse, penetrating, universal and subtle than the substance of the pragmatic Feeling. Confidence transmits animation, stimulus and promising expectations anywhere it acts. Confidence brings optimism to consciousness and personality.
It should be noticed also that introverted or yin Thinking and extraverted or yang Feeling simply do not exist at the present level of detail of this model. Two other instances of the psychic functions according to Jungian typology do not have correspondent functions at this level of the model: introverted Perception and extraverted Intuition. The instances of yin Thinking, yang Feeling, yin Perception and yang Intuition simply are not primarily necessary for an understanding of the consciousness functional structure at the present level of detail of the model that is under construction. Possibly the spatial illustration of the model that follows will aid to grasp the meaning and rationale of this restriction.
The two subtle functions, Reflection and Confidence, are affiliated and also subtle-analogous to the rational functions. They were probably identified in Jungian typology as being part of the rational functions when expressed through opposite basic dispositions. The Reflection function probably was classified by C.G.Jung as being a component of Thinking in the introverted disposition, and the Confidence function was similarly classified as being a component of Feeling in the extraverted disposition (6). The very concept of basic psychic dispositions may have resulted from equating the subtle nature to the rational nature with transposed polarities for its functions, and from witnessing the presence and cooperative efforts of different amounts of Thinking+Reflection and of Feeling+Confidence in personalities under study and interpreting their manifestations as if they originated from single psychic functions:
- Thinking+Reflection, in a personality where the yin and subtle Reflection is stronger or more conscious than the yang and concrete Thinking, will probably look like something comparable to Thinking in the introverted disposition.
- Thinking+Reflection, where yang Thinking is stronger than yin Reflection, will look like extraverted Thinking.
- Feeling+Confidence, where yang Confidence is stronger than yin Feeling, will look like extraverted Feeling.
- Feeling+Confidence, where yin Feeling is stronger than yang Confidence, will look like introverted Feeling.
We have then a set of only six psychic functions and polarities at the first functional level of this model. All they are simultaneously present supporting every personality and showing different degrees of consciousness / unconsciousness:
|Rational, concrete, ego, yang||Thinking, Energy||Feeling, Matter|
|Non-rational, abstract, ego, yin||Perception, Space||Intuition, Time|
|Subtle, inspiring, self, new-yang||Confidence, Electricity||Reflection, Magnetism|
4.The psychic process of development of consciousness
The two following pictures show flat diagrams of the six psychic functions and their interaction according to the same yang=> yin=> new-yang or rational=> non-rational=> subtle logic of the former spatial arrangement. The set of those interactions is named here Psychic process of development of consciousness, or also simply Psychic process. Picture 2 interprets a hypothetical personality where the conscious share of the psychic process includes the rational Thinking function. Picture 3 does the same for a personality where that role belongs to the Feeling function.
The psyche of each person operates as if its consciousness orienting functions were related in accordance with one of the processes depicted in those diagrams, permanently and exclusively. According to this model, each individual psychic process advances through those transfers and transmutations of contents from one psychic function to the next, following the Taoist yang=> yin=> new-yang... logic. That conception is perhaps exceedingly broad and daring, however it has been confirmed in a regular and increasing fashion by most of the evidence observed by the author until now.
Some affiliated concepts were placed inside the poles of the flat diagrams, to help discerning the role and attributes of each psychic function. Those concepts are estimated to hold some similarity, to the extent that they share a common essence that pervades each pole and nature. For example:
The names given to each psychic function (Mother, Father, Child, etc.) are intended to hold a strong symbolic meaning and they are deeply related to their role in the psychic process. It should be possible to appraise the character and disposition of each psychic function in relation to the attitudes, actions and concerns of an individual from the point of view of their names as attributed here. Each individual consciousness possesses three functions that are more conscious in relation to the opposite functions. The psychic process of development of consciousness contemplates two groups of three functions --one from each nature-- as being logically associated: Thinking, Intuition, Reflection; and Feeling, Perception, Confidence. Those functions appear as:
Each individual consciousness possesses also three unconscious functions, opposite to the three more conscious ones:
The Child function, altogether with the Difficult and Limited functions, conveys characteristics that are studied in Jungian typology as belonging to the so called Inferior function. The main objective of the psychic process of development of consciousness as illustrated here is first to grow and develop the Child function, that should be understood as to significantly increase its level of consciousness.
The conscious psychic energy is unequally distributed among the three natures, and within each nature it is unequally distributed among the two opposite functions. Inside groups of individuals holding a conscious Thinking psychic process one can recognize Thinking, Intuitive and Reflective types. Inside groups that hold a conscious Feeling psychic process one can recognize Feeling, Perceptive and Confident types. Indistinct, mutable and multifaceted types are customary, similarly to what also happens within the traditional Jungian classification. The identification of the psychic process of development of consciousness as a whole (conscious Thinking process or conscious Feeling process) seems to be more conclusive and easier to accomplish. The overall extraverted or introverted disposition depends on the polarity resulting from the summation of the energies of the six psychic functions involved in the psychic process, according to their individual presentation.
The arrangement of psychic functions and polarities that this model illustrates is highly stable, showing cohesion between its components, that are connected by yin-yang attraction. At the same time, it is also highly dynamic, and is able to grow from itself through a process that is modeled by yang=> yin=> new-yang=>... transmutations following the Taoist logic between the psychic functions. The author considers that this model may perhaps contribute as an additional tool for the investigation of topics as the structure of consciousness, differentiation of psychic functions, individuation, psychic ruptures, interactions between consciousness and unconsciousness, and more.
5.Consciousness and Physical Reality
Overly extravagant as this notion may sound, the author is strongly persuaded that physical reality itself exists according to the same pattern that was illustrated for the psychic realm. That conviction was established first from noticing a curious and almost palpable rhetorical and philosophical similarity between the qualities associated to the three natures, the six psychic functions and six elementary notions of Physics, namely Matter, Energy, Space, Time, Electricity and Magnetism. Subsequent investigation, however plainly amateurish, lead to detect meaningful coincidences favoring a prospective validity of the model when applied to actual Physics. For example:
The extent of this article does not allow to present a complete account of all the coincidences, congruities and developments that lead to suggest the connection of this model to physical reality. All those notions towards that unity are lacking to date any quantitative proofs and also a proper evaluation of their plausibility. In spite of that, the similarities encountered were deemed as meaningful and consistent enough to justify this speculative attempt to present basic abstractions of Physics following the structure of this model; the analogies furnished here offer a vision of intriguing relationships, though still unproven, between elements of the physical universe. Those relationships match the structure of the functional consciousness as it was depicted here, and repeatedly suggest that consciousness and physical reality may share that same logical basis, that is, a single universal psychophysical process.
The body of this article was adapted and condensed from the chapters on Psychology and Physics of the book The Blue Egg: A subtle encounter with reality by Jorge Aveleira, Xlibris 2000, www.xlibris.com/TheBlueEgg.html (http://www.xlibris.com/TheBlueEgg.html).
© 2001 Jorge Aveleira
Please do not copy beyond the limits of your own individual study.
I would like to register my thanks to the following professionals who kindly dispensed with their reading, commentary and criticism on the contents of this article. Their courtesy does not necessarily represent an endorsement of the notions that were developed here.
Robin Robertson, PhD, psychologist, magician, mathematician, writer. His web site address is: www.angelfire.com/super/magicrobin/index.html (http://www.angelfire.com/super/magicrobin/index.html).
(1) Whitmont, Edward C. - The symbolic quest, The C.G.Jung Foundation, 1969. A busca do Símbolo, p.195, Cultrix, Brasil, 1990.
(2) Franz, Marie Louise von - Jung's typology, 1971. A tipologia de Jung, p.11-38, Cultrix, Brasil, 1990.
(3) Jung, Carl Gustav - Psychologishe typen, 1920, Rascher & Cie AG, Zurich, 1960. Tipos psicológicos, p.389-467, Vozes, Brasil, 1991.
(4) Whitmont, Edward C. - The symbolic quest, The C.G.Jung Foundation, 1969. A busca do Símbolo, p.196-197, Cultrix, Brasil, 1990.
(7) Aveleira, Jorge - The blue egg, p.59-60. Xlibris, U.S.A, 2000.
(6) Idem, ibid., p.60.
(7) Idem, ibid., p.93
(8) Idem, ibid., p.69-70