[Religious Types 11] Community’s Supporting Functions

4 05 2012

[Previous Post in the Series]

Variation is essential for the adaptation of any organism. Since the organism as a whole, though, is defined by the constancy of its adaptations over time, variation must be strictly delimited. Adapting to slowly adapt is quite common and successful. The minor variations that differentiate one member of a species from another rest, in part, on this phenomenon. Slow variation, preserved in the species through individual variation, provides the species with the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstance.

The cognitive functions serve as one such mechanism through which the community, operating in many ways like an organism, adapts. Here the individual variation preserved at the biological level provides the basis for social variation that defines the community’s structure. Internally, this results in the stabilization of a typological distribution akin to the stabilization of an arrangement of cells and organs within a complex organism. These processes, in turn, produce much of the material that the community puts to use in adapting to its environment.

Some care needs to be taken with this formulation. No matter how integrated a community, it does not rival the integration of an individual. A community is not conscious nor does it possess an unconscious. While Introverted Sensation serves an important centralizing role, it would be wrong to call it a ‘primary’ function like that held by an individual. This also means, however, that the community can sustain functional diversity in a more robust way than can an individual. What the community lacks in agency and integration, it gains in adaptability and permeability. While its members alienate functional attitudes antithetical to their own, communities incorporate and exploit contrary functions.

If Introverted Sensation has much to do with the reproduction of the community, then we might look to what Introverted Sensation tends to minimize as evidence of what tends to amplify the process of variation. That points us directly at Introverted Intuition. Whereas Introverted Sensation attends to the present and compares it to the past, Introverted Intuition attends to the present and speculates about the future. It draws upon past experience, of course, but does so to provide material for speculation. Rather than repeat the past, it considers how the past might be changed, i.e. varied.

When Introverted Intuiters make alliances with those Extroverted Thinkers and Feelers who employ Introverted Intuition as a secondary function, you encounter a group willing to alter the community’s mores to suit concerns they have regarding the emotional well-being of the community or the community’s inattention to an external situation. Their small numbers mean that their impact will usually be small. Their presence and behavior fosters slight shifts in the community’s mores.

This changes when the community has become dramatically maladapted to their environment. At this point, there is the opportunity for individuals to have a dramatic impact on the mores of their community. The variations produced in this period of stress are likely to be uneven, some more successful than others. However, by virtue of this variation, the community as a whole is likely to find a new set of mores that will return it to a state of homeostasis with its environment. The variation of Introverted Intuition provides the community with tools that improve its capacity to adapt to times of sudden change.

However, with just these functions, it is unclear to see how these adaptations get adopted more broadly. In order to get a sense of both the general stability of the community and its capacity to adapt rapidly in times of crisis, we need to turn our attention to the remaining four functions. The introverted judging functions and the extroverted perceiving functions have not been discussed. Individuals who make use of these as their primary function form slightly less than half of the remaining population, with these four functions being fairly evenly distributed amongst them. None of these functions have a close relationship to Introverted Sensation but nor is their operation opposed to it. Rather, they seem to play the role of supporting functions.

Since there is such a significant difference between the distribution of Introverted Intuition and Sensation, it may initially seem strange to see them so evenly represented in their Extroverted expressions. There is a straightforward reason for this, though. Extroverted perceivers are focused on the relationship that holds between the objects of perception rather than on the relationship between experiences of those objects.

Extroverted Intuitives envision more global applications of established communal habits of perception. The elaboration of a well-known myth to describe and understand a changing political situation is a good example of this. By contrast, Extroverted Sensers tend to apply practiced habits of perception to new objects, identifying new instances of application. They give breadth and depth, respectively, to the forms produced and maintained in Introverted Sensation.

We see some unevenness when we turn our attention to the Introverted judging set. While not uncommon, Introverted Thinking is significantly rarer than all of the other four supporting functions. Speculating quite freely, I would suggest that an Introverted Thinker can detach themselves from communal consensus more easily than their Feeling cohort and willfully refuse to return to it. That makes the types contribution to the community less constant, making its appearance somewhat less often selected. Concerned primarily with conceptual relations, they can be quite critical of communal notions in conflict with their own without being concerned with the community’s response.

This contrasts with Introverted Feeling’s attention to their own emotional and valuative responses. These individuals, while capable of disengaging from the ideals of the community, still focus on their emotional world which is most stimulated in the communal environment. Even when the Introverted Feeler is alienated from their community, they are likely to reflect upon that alienation deeply, turning it into a response they direct at the community.

Both functions, however, can lead individuals to be quite supportive of their community. An Introverted Feeler in harmony with their community can experience their ideals deeply, with great emotion. Similarly, an Introverted Thinker  in harmony with their community’s concepts can very naturally apply them in more sophisticated ways, extending their range.

This suggests that, communally, the introverted judging functions play a regulative role. The core of individuals who favor these functions form a crucial and flexible network that can serve as a bulwark against change or the vehicle of change’s incorporation into the community. In times of stress, these will form the core of the group whose dissatisfaction provides the soil for the products of Introverted Intuition to take hold.

From this group, the material can spread to others and as it spreads, it can take root among Introverted Sensers. This process is simple enough to understand. As the material becomes more common, so too does experience of it become more common. It becomes part of what some Internal Sensers expect and seek to have sustained in their experience (assuming, of course, the products of Introverted Intuition are successful adaptations, which they need not be).

The trick, then, is this: as the material produced by Introverted Intuition passes into a larger community, it is adopted in ways alien to its production. The material, to the extent that it acquires a life within the community, depends upon Introverted Sensation for its preservation. That’s where I’ll pick up the next post.

[Next Post in the Series: What is Mine is Yours, What is Yours is Not Mine]

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