Permutations of Type
I view type rather simplistically, like I would the characteristics of any other system. In a sense, we are constructed in a binary fashion.
The human psyche, both consciously and unconsciously, must acquire input and produce output in order to be considered sentient. Input is acquired through both sensate (S) and intuitive (N) processes, which complement each other; however, they do produce very different information about the exact same subject. As well, two types of rationalization produce the psyche's output, and they also complement each other; rationalization based on relative values (F) produces much different output than a process wanting to determine ultimate utility of everything (T).
Imagine a circle. There are no objects, life forms or temporary information in that circle; it contains the sum total of your opinions, knowledge, perceptions, skill and experiences. Outside that circle are objects, beings and your own body that comprise the world in which your psyche must operate. To be able to operate, it must have links to both inside and outside that circle, and various parts within that circle must also have both input and output capability.
Consciousness will precipitate around one dominant function employed in either an introverted or extroverted mode. If your dominant function operates inside your circle then you are considered an introvert; an extrovert's dominant function operates outside the circle. To be sentient, this dominance forces two constraints upon the precipitation of its secondary function: if the dominant is an input function, the secondary must be an output function, and if the dominant function is introverted then the secondary must be extroverted, or vice versa.
Because the two input functions produce different perspectives, one (S or N) is selected to be the primary source of information. Once that choice is made, it does not eliminate the other input function; that function is simply given lower priority, which is a less complex process than having to arbitrate continually. Input is required both inside and outside your circle so if the primary input function is introverted then the secondary input function must be extroverted, or vice versa. Similar formulations hold true for the structure of output (T and F).
The four functions are placed in a hierarchical structure in order to maintain a stable consciousness. This means that the dominant function can always usurp the others, and the operation of the others are obscured by the function(s) operating above it. Note that both input functions feed both output functions regardless of which function is dominant; however, the data from the primary input function is rationalized first and foremost by both output functions. As well, the primary output function treats the secondary output somewhat like another input source; thus rationalization is further rationalized.
A function evolves to operate either inside or outside your circle, not both. Inside and outside are polar opposite arenas so a function adapts to its particular milieu. A function operates much differently outside your circle than it would inside your circle, and it cannot be in two places at the same time so one mode is suppressed to varying degrees (not prioritized) in order to maintain psychological stability.
Hence, sixteen permutations of type can be produced. The primary input and output function get to run the show; one is in charge but totally dependent upon the other. The two lower-priority functions are filtered and ignored to varying degrees creating hidden agendas; we like seeing these functions at work in our partners. Our unconscious is produced by functions wanting to operate in the opposite arena; this can happen when a function finds the normal arena far too stressful - looking for escape. Such activity produces uncharacteristic behaviour.
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