The Cognitive Functions Handbook: Perception Functions
In last week’s article we discussed the four decision-making Cognitive Functions, the judgment functions. This week we will pick up where we left off, turning to the four information-gathering Cognitive Functions, the perception functions.
We will briefly define the perception functions and then dig into the myriad of concepts regarding how the perception functions work and interact with the other functions around them.
What Are the Perception Functions?
The perception functions allow us to see. They allow us to see the potential of the world around us (Extraverted Intuition), the potential path forward for ourself (Introverted Intuition), the present reality of the world around us and the experiences of others (Extraverted Sensing), and our own personal memories and experiences (Introverted Sensing).
The perception functions also create the interplay of attraction between individuals. More on that in a moment. Elementally, Chase has linked the functions to the four classic elements, with each function corresponding to one of the four.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne) seeks to be desired by others. Ne is aware of long-term consequences and can predict outcomes. It is future oriented for the collective, sees what others want, and exists to provide choices for the paths of others.
- Synonyms: Prescience, the great Yin, potential energy, metaphysics, desirability, consequences, the why behind the action
- Elemental Affinity: Water
Introverted Intuition (Ni) wants to find the best path forward. Ni provides future orientation for a single individual, acting as a source of desire that pushes the Ni-user to accomplish what they aim at. Ni utilizes its willpower and focus to push through obstacles, overcome adversity, and realize it’s goal.
- Synonyms: Willpower, the great Yang, personal choice, desire, passion, wants, source of hope, tenacity, relentless
- Elemental Affinity: Fire
Extraverted Sensing (Se) is naturally aware of the moment-to-moment experiences of those around them. Se seeks to give experiences to others and wishes to imprint future memories on other people. Se-users remember primarily through objects — or totems — and they utilize other people as objects to remember their history with them.
- Synonyms: Experiences, kinetic energy, reality, actions of others, shared experiences, seeking attention, others’ pasts, the how, showing, rejection, immediate reactions, performing
- Elemental Affinity: Air
Introverted Sensing (Si) is aware of its own experience and own sense of duty. Si-users want to receive experiences from others and want to remain comfortable while doing so. Like memory-foam keeping the imprint of everything that touched it, Si-users store memory within themselves, able to look back at their own past and pull up relevant experiences. Si-users utilize endurance, attention, and perseverance to fulfill what their duty obligates them to.
- Synonyms: Duty, perseverance, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, self-discipline, routine, effort, attention span, experience, faith, personal safety, needs
- Elemental Affinity: Earth
1) Cognitive Axis
Cognitive Axis between the perception functions is the input-output process of internal to external perception. Ni and Se are always be linked on an axis, as are Si and Ne. The ability to give an experience to others is drawn from the intention and desire to give that experience. And the ability to provide choices to others is drawn from one’s own personal experience.
The Ni/Se Axis
An Ni-user can only know what it wants if it sees what options are available with their Se. And Se-users can only find what they want if they know what to look for with their Ni. Extraverted Sensing is aware of what other people are doing, and Introverted Intuition picks which options it desires accordingly. An Ni-user’s desire for their future is drawn from what they see other people are doing or have done.
A high Ni-user (Hero or Parent) will lead with what it wants, using their Se to find that premeditated desire. But a high Se-user (Hero or Parent) will lead with what it sees other people doing, and then decide which of those things it wants most. Sometimes, the script can flip, where the high Ni-user must see more options before it knows what it wants, just as a high Se-user can sometimes know what it wants ahead of time, but this is not primary.
Furthermore, an Se-user seeks to give other people an experience so that the Se-user can receive attention from others. Extraverted Sensing is a conduit of Introverted Intuition, which translates desire into experience, and possibility into reality.
The Si/Ne Axis
Because of the repetitive nature of time, an Si-user’s experiences is the key they use to unlock future possibilities. Chase says it in many lectures — All that has happened before will happen again. The Ne-user’s “super-power” of prescience is primarily created by their ability to remember things they have experienced with their Si.
The more experiences an Si-user has in their hard drive, the more accurately they can predict the future with their (Ne), and the more helpful the choices they can give to others. Ne is aware of what other people want. Based on what other people want, the Ne-user can get a sense for what they should do (Si).
2) Cognitive Synchronicity
Cognitive Synchronicity is what happens when compatible functions interact with each other, between psyches. Earlier I mentioned that the perception functions demonstrate how attraction is created between people. Cognitive Synchronicity goes back to one of Chase’s earliest lectures, where he remarks that human psyches are like radio transmitters (Mr. Radiohead), each with a capacity to transmit and receive signals.
The source functions are radio beacons, giving out signals. And the extraverted functions consume these signals. This is the fundamental process that creates Cognitive Synchronicity.
Ne is aware of what other people want. It consumes the Ni-signals of desire like a sponge consumes water. An Ne-user seeks to be desired, primarily by Ni-users. The Ne-user provides choices for an Ni-user, who picks what they want from the options provided.
An Ni-user directs the Ne-user with what it wants, often bringing them along for the ride on the path the Ni-user has chosen. Though an Ne-user is literally shaped by the desire of an Ni-user, the Ni-users are also shaped by the paths an Ne-user gives them. Ne-users lay out paths for Ni-users that Ni-users would not find for themselves otherwise. No one can make a choice unless a choice is available to begin with. Ne-users ensure this cycle of choosing continues.
Si-users want to receive experiences. And Se-users love to give those experiences. This is similar to how Ne-users love to give choices to Ni-users. Se-users live for the shared experience with others. Those they share experiences with are often Si-users. Se is the primary function that obligates and Si the primary function that accepts obligation.
Si-users want to be comfortable. Se-users are aware of the comfort level of those around them and seek to imprint a good experience on those around them. Si-users are a source of loyalty and attention, which the Se-user attempts to obtain through performing well for the Si-user.
3) Cognitive Asynchronicity
Cognitive Asynchronicity is the interaction of incompatible functions between psyches. While Cognitive Asynchronicity produces conflict, it is also the gateway to growth. The ancient Proverb about iron sharpening iron demonstrates this process.
When two Ni-users interact, both will naturally want to choose. They want each other to give the other space to make a choice. An Ni-Parent may demand that its desire be held primary because of how responsible it is when exercising their freedom of choice. But an Ni-Inferior may feel crushed when their choice is taken away, unleashing their Demon on the other. It is the responsibility of high Ni-users — with some Ne available via their Nemesis or Critic — to be considerate of the desires of Ni-Childs and Inferiors and provide choices where appropriate.
What two Ni-users can teach each other is the ability to persevere using willpower. To push through the obstacle to achieve what is desired, and to learn to know how to tell what they actually want, can all be taught via the camaraderie with a fellow Ni-user.
Two Se-users will naturally compete for attention from each other and from other Si-users. The Se-users want to be rewarded with attention for their performance. But two Se-users can reward each other by showing each other how to perform better.
As always, it is the job of the higher Se-user — who has some Si available via their Hero or Nemesis — to provide attention when appropriate.
A healthy camaraderie between two Se-users manifests as a two-way education on how to do better, give better experiences, and boost each other’s ability to secure healthy attention from an Si-user. Two Se-users together is like having a “wingman” who will help guide you through the process of performing and leading you to improve your “game”, whatever it might be.
Two Si-users will naturally want the other to make them feel comfortable and to provide a good experience. With higher Si-users — who have some Se available via their Unconscious — this can be a good thing for their development, giving the high Si-user an opportunity to perform. But for two lower Si-users, it will lead to obliviousness and likely discomfort.
What two Si-users can teach each other is how to depart from the unknown with more regularity, or how to value tradition to the appropriate degree. A lower Si-user (with high Ne), is always pushing into the “what if”, while a high Si-user is always staying in the comfort of the predictable “what has been.” These types can challenge each other to push forward into fear and the unknown, but also maintain a foundation to stand on based on what is already “known”.
A high Si-user can teach a low Si-user how to endure better, and show them how to embrace some of the wisdom within the “conventional”, as Chase says. And a high Ne-user can teach a low Ne-user how to be less afraid of the unknown, and push into the future with a healthy curiosity, and learn to pick up on new patterns and possibilities.
Two Si-users can also demonstrate to each other which positive habits to take on. The receiving Si-user will need to try the habit on for themselves, so that it can be documented into their Si database. These habits can help the Si-user improve their desirability to other people.
4) Cognitive Orbit
Cognitive Orbit is similar to Cognitive Synchronicity, but Orbit takes place within your own psyche. It takes place between the Ego and Unconscious, and between the Subconscious and Superego. It is the transfer of information from one function to its compatible function in another side of the mind. For example, an Ne-Hero is in Orbit with its Ni-Nemesis, and information flows both ways.
This Orbit is between “What I want” and “The consequences of what I want.” Or between “My future” and “Everyone else’s future”. When an Ni-Hero desires something, for example, their Ne-Nemesis will show them all the ways their desire can end in bad consequences. With further development of the Unconscious, this forces the Ni-Hero to choose more carefully when it desires something. The moment an Ni-Hero chooses to desire, worry regarding the consequences of that desire is immediately translated down to the Nemesis.
An Ne-Hero, however, has a different relationship with its Orbiting Nemesis. As Chase says in season 18, episode 14, one reason an Ne-Hero constantly gives other people choices is in the hope of other people reciprocating choices to them. The Ne-Hero wants to ensure its Ni-Nemesis always has choices so that it doesn’t have to worry about its own future.
One could argue that the source of an Ne-Hero’s desire to give other people choices comes from the Nemesis itself. Introverted functions are the source of the extraverted functions, regardless of what side of the mind they are on.
This Orbit is between one’s own experience and the experience of others. An Si-Inferior is afraid of being uncomfortable and receiving a bad experience. The Se-Demon stands alert in Orbit. It waits to protect the Inferior and lashes out to give someone else, literally, a demonic experience of destruction and extreme discomfort, if its own Inferior is violated. This Orbit between the Inferior and the Demon is, as Chase as said, If I can’t be comfortable, NO ONE can be comfortable. The Demon protects the Inferior by ensuring that others respect it.
An Se-Hero worries with their Si-Nemesis that they do not have enough good experiences or memories to look back on. This causes the Se-Hero to constantly seek out new and exciting shared experiences that will travel down to their Si-Nemesis and fill that hard drive with lasting memories.
Again, one of the reasons extraverted Heroes act in the way they do is because of the worry sourced from the Nemesis. The Hero acts in compensation to the Nemesis in order to make the Nemesis worry less.
5) Reflector Functions
The Reflector functions represent the built-in preference for how we like to do things based on our personality. Reflector functions are two different methods of accomplishing the same end. You will walk through life predominantly with either an Si or an Ni approach. Should or want, endurance or willpower, these are the two roads before each of us, and our Ego naturally follows one of them.
The statement “The Ego is the Reflection of the Superego” follows this same logic. EVERY SINGLE FUNCTION in the Superego is the other Reflector Function of the Ego.
Ni-Heros does not give a damn what they should do. An Ni-Hero is born into the world with the tendency to ignore what they “should do” and a tendency to take a short cut through the effortful-way. The Si-Demon is not happy about this. It realizes the fatal flaw of the Ni-Hero is it’s complete disconcert for the effort that could truly make it’s Se-Inferior great.
This battle between the Hero and Demon, Chris Taylor’s Battleground of Titans, is the power-house battle between the two most powerful sources in the psyche. If the Ni-Hero does not listen to the Si-Demon telling it it needs to put in more effort, and spend some energy focusing on the “should,” the Demon will eventually explode.
In season 18 episode 15, Chase talks about the conflict between the Si-Child of INxPs and their Ni-Critic in the Battleground of Innocence. The Ni-Critic, with a desire to experience being young again, can push the Si-Child into addictive behaviors to have that feeling of pleasure that, however fleeting, makes the Critic feel youthful.
A wise Ni-Critic propels the INxPs into divine discipline through empowering the Si-Child with its willpower, allowing them to push through obstacles and develop strong and healthy habits to ensure a good future.
Also in season 18 episode 14, Chase lays out the distinction between Se and Ne as being reactive vs. being proactive. An Ne-Hero or Parent, with their ability to see into the future and perceive possible or likely outcomes, puts effort into preparing for those outcomes. However, in the moment, the Ne-user is typically slow to react to a problem, even if it is prepared for it.
The opposite is true for a high Se-user. They may not prepare very well — as they tend to consider future “possibilities” as unreal — but they can react with incredible speed and precision in the moment, though they may not have the tools to do so well for lack of preparation.
Thus, any reflector between these functions is going to pressure the Ego into being more prepared and more reactive, to see into future consequences and immediate reactions, and to balance physical competency with metaphysical consideration.
The Foundational Principle for All Cognition
Everything in this world can be reduced to the basic principle of the Yin/Yang equilibrium. We take breath in and push it out again. We exert force on muscles to squeeze, and then we release. The Cognitive Functions are no different. The introverted, source, functions are our stability, and the extraverted functions provide input and challenge to that stability. These functions are always tied together on a string of what we take in and what we put out.
When two introverted functions clash in Asynchronicity, our extraverted functions can be better attuned to how we express ourselves. And when two extraverted functions clash in Asynchronicity, our introverted functions can be sharpened and our foundation made stronger.
“The world hangs on a thin thread,” Carl Jung once said. It is within the balance of this thread that allows our minds to even exist in the first place.
Want to Learn More?
If any of these concepts are new to you or you just want to sharpen up on them, we have a lot of content for you!
The Learning Tracks:
If you haven’t noticed our new homepage, it’s now designed to provide more direction for learning and with much more of an emphasis on helping someone new to the science learn what’s what. You can follow the tracks to find a lecture relevant to the concepts discussed in this article.
The membership area has exclusive member lecture series’ as well as all the past episodes of the email-exclusive season 18 lectures on Cognitive Mechanics, which give a more in-depth look at the topics discussed in this article!
- Coach Jay Ackley’s recent article discussing the difference between Ni and Se-Hero provides an analysis to help further understand Cognitive Axis between the perception functions.
- Our recent article and interview with Chris Taylor gives an exclusive exciting preview of content for a member lecture coming later this summer! Chris introduces the brand-new concept of the Cognitive Battlegrounds, an extension of the Reflector Functions.