[Religious Types 10] Type at the Communal Level

29 04 2012

[Previous Post in the Series]

The discussion of evolution may seem like a tangent, but it isn’t. It cuts close to the heart of what is at issue in talking about personality types, the determination of how best to live. Understanding the sort of world that gave birth to the typologically diverse human population provides us with a basis for developing an ecological sense of typological diversity, raising the question of how to live from an individual level to a communal one, where it more properly belongs.

First, though, we will need to look at some statistics. This won’t be anything deep or complicated, but it is essential to this discussion.

Okay, using this here, let me get a rough tally of distribution according to *primary* function:

Introverted Intuiting: 3-7% (3.6%)
Introverted Sensing: 20-28% (25.4%)
Introverted Feeling: 9-14% (13.2%)
Introverted Thinking: 7-11% (8.7%)

Extroverted Intuiting: 8-13% (11.3%)
Extroverted Sensing: 8-14% (12.8%)
Extroverted Feeling: 11-18% (14.8%) [Secondary function strongly favors Si (12.3%) over Ni (2.5%)]
Extroverted Thinking:10-17% (10.5%) [Secondary function strongly favors Si (8.7%) over Ni (1.8%)]

One key trend here is the primacy of Introverted Sensation. This shows up in three distinct ways.

First, it is the most common primary function, almost twice as common as the second- and third-most common, and firmly twice as common as the fourth- and fifth-most common primary functions. Second, if we examine the the two most common extroverted primary functions, we notice that both share Introverted Sensation as their secondary function. Taken with the commonality of Introverted Sensation as a primary type, we can see that nearly half the population has a strong reliance upon Introverted Sensation.

There is also a subtler, third indication of Introverted Sensation’s primacy. The function contrary to it, Introverted Intuition, is the least common of all the primary functions. The next most uncommon primary function (Introverted Thinking) is more than twice as common. Recall that the primary function develops, in part, from a withdrawal from the ‘devilish’ function. This implies that Introverted Sensation is the most uncommon function to experience as alien.

While it may seem odd that an introverted function would characterize a species, it makes more sense once we reconsider the discussion in the last post. The community itself can become one of the primary pressures on evolution and Introverted Sensation provides a key advantage in adapting to the community.

Let’s look at the description of the Introverted Sensation function:

Introverted Sensing often involves storing data and information, then comparing and contrasting the current situation with similar ones….the image can be so strong, our body responds as if reliving the experience. The process also involves reviewing the past to draw on the lessons of history, hindsight, and experience.

This attitude has some clear application outside of the social context that we need to note. Careful attention to the similarities between one situation and the next is the basis for distinguishing when the situation has changed in a way that might be dangerous (e.g., “these berries were red last I ate them, but greenish now”). Focused on perceiving rather than judging, this fosters a conservative attitude (e.g., “They weren’t green last time, I won’t eat them green”), but that is often a very good approach to take.

This functional attitude has a clear cultural dimension, too. Focused on comparing one cultural moment to the next, it fosters a set of behaviors rooted in adherence to the mores of the community. Those mores are Internal Sensation at work, the effort to compare each cultural moment to a ‘similar’ one and establish continuity between them. It is what we would call a ‘traditional’ attitude and it does seem to be a pervasive trend in human culture the world over, though the forms it can take are many. Even our comparably un-traditional modern society has its strong bureaucratic and legalistic underpinnings.

This is useful in preserving workable (if not ideal) practices over the course of generations. Moreover, since the environment in which the community thrives is often stable, it simultaneously preserves workable adaptations to the broader environment. It also creates a stable and easily negotiated social world. The less time spent negotiating the social environment leaves the individual with more time to access and use its resources, as well as to deal with extra-communal issues (e.g., hunting and gathering food).

From our perspective, though, this streamlining of social interactions has another advantage. It doesn’t just preserve effort, but also time. The time that it makes available is exactly the sort of resources that an individual can exploit in order to develop an alternative primary function. Over the long evolutionary scale, that can lead to a shift in the overall typological make-up of a community.

Tellingly, the next most common types are the Extroverted judging functions  (Feeling and Thinking). This pattern mimics in space the pattern that defines an individual over time. Just as an individual with a strong introverted focus needs an extroverted focus, so too does a community with a strong introverted focus need extroverted members who can negotiate the complexities that Introverted Sensation’s emphasis on continuity cannot always deal with well.

Also, just like with the individual, the judging types provide an important counter-balance to the perceiving types. Both thinking and feeling functions are willing to adjust and eliminate what seems unnecessary or wrong. They also aid in negotiating conflicts between two forms preserved in tradition that have come into some form of conflict. Extroverted Thinkers and Feelers ask after the value of a practice, distinguishing values and ideas that seem to underlie or organize the forms of Introverted Sensation.

Extroverted Feeling supports social forms that ease social tension and maintain communal bonds while Extroverted Thinking attends to those that are well-suited to the demands of the environment upon the community.

In the relationship between these three functions, we see something akin to the operation of natural selection and reproduction at work. Introverted Sensation facilitates the preservation of forms in cultural memory, while Extroverted Thinking and Feeling provide a means for selecting some of those forms over others.

The prominence of these functions among individuals in the community provides the ‘engine’ for the intensification of evolution within culture. The judging functions, by operating on a conscious level, over the course of an individual’s life, test and eliminate adaptive strategies more quickly than natural selection alone.

Now, readers familiar with the basic algorithm of evolution will notice that this picture leaves out an important element: variation. Over the course of the next post or two, I want to turn to the other functions and seek out where variation enters into this picture.

[Next Post in the Series: Evolution’s Algorithm and the Other 5 Functions]

PS–Though a reader may not see it, there is a clear direction to all of this. While I have not been able to foresee all the twists and turns to this, the overall direction has remained stable. It has been much like driving through a city without a map, but with a visible and vibrant downtown rising above it all toward which all the various turns are directed. Even when I seem to go away away from that destination, it is in order to get back to a path that will take me all the more surely to it. It feels a bit like the conceptual equivalent of navigating Miami.

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