Why people can’t describe introverted Feeling

Most descriptions of introverted Feeling suck.

They’re either circular, truistic, or just plain wrong.

Circular definitions tend to say that introverted Feeling is about:

Feelings and values.

Many throw in beliefs for good measure, as if other cognitive functions are not about beliefs.

The “just plain wrong” category usually conflates feeling with emotion.

What is a value?

Value is an ambiguous term, so substituting “feeling” with “value” doesn’t clarify anything.

Values can mean “the things we place importance on”, but it can also mean “our standards or principles of moral behaviour”.

This latter definition leads to people drawing on specifically moral examples to illustrate how introverted Feeling works.

But Fi is not just about moral circumstances. I can use Fi to decide if a movie is a good movie or a bad one. That’s not a moral judgement.

What is missing from these descriptions is that introverted Feeling applies as much to objects, people, places, and events as it does to moral circumstances.

“Values” doesn’t really capture this. It’s just a partial synonym that people use because they don’t know how to define Fi more precisely.

And because they don’t know how to define Fi, they tend to focus on the negatives (like indecision, stubbornness), or entirely other-centred positives like empathy, caring, being a good listener, and so on.

Jung defined Fi

Jung describes Fi as a process that aims to find a kind of primordial image underlying external objects.

It is stimulated by objects, but then devalues them in search of a more intense vision.

This does apply to values and morality, but only because values and morality are a subset of things about which we can feel, and from which we can extrapolate ideal images.

But it’s more pertinent and more accurate to understand Fi in an everyday context rather than focusing on moral situations, which are already complicated by their very nature.

An INFP should have, for example, some kind of feeling for what an ideal library would look like, based on all their past experiences and observations of different libraries.

The ideal library is not a moral concept, and it’s not really a “values” concept either.

Instead it’s almost an archetypal image, and it is identified, understood, and assessed by the INFPs introverted Feeling.

You’re doing it constantly

The focus on values and morals exists because the INFP is most visible when they choose an unconventional path over a “moral” issue.

No one stops an INFP to ask them how their local library compares (feeling-wise) to the ideal image of a library deep in the recesses of their soul.

But for most of us, moral controversies are few and far between. It’s not enough to accept INFP descriptors based on other people’s observations:

Quiet, a good listener, has an unusual lifestyle.

It’s just because there’s such a thing as an ideal way to live your life, that INFPs are mistaken for simply having “strong values”.

6 thoughts on “Why people can’t describe introverted Feeling

    • I used to think that, but actually I’m excited to discover that the “feeling image” produced by Fi also informs our actions and exercise of skills. So using the library example, if it comes time to build a library (or even pick one to spend time in), the Fi user knows immediately “by feel” what to aim for.

      The ideal then is a guide for action, choices and creation, rather than just a measure to hold reality up to.

      • Do you mean that you can aim to perform ideal actions, rather than achieve ideal outcomes?

        But is the former more likely to be satisfactory?

        Is unattainability intrinsic in ideals?

        • I think it’s going to be hard to understand, because we don’t share that function. It’s like if one of us perceives the world through sonar, and the other one uses infrared sensors.
          That said, we can still try! And maybe later I can do a post on introverted Thinking, which I suspect is your dominant or auxiliary function.
          I stated before that Fi can inform actions, and that’s an exciting discovery for me. But I need a better term than “inform”…
          …so let’s say that I’ve been trying to learn a martial art, and for years I’ve been training with unsatisfactory results. In my training I tend to focus on a couple of things: my internal sense of my body (introverted Sensing), and analysing my teacher, asking him how he does the art, and trying to “problem solve” it by thinking analytically (extroverted Thinking).
          It turns out that introverted Sensing and extroverted Thinking are my two weakest functions. They take more effort to use, and they are crude and underdeveloped.
          My exciting discovery is that I can instead focus on the “feel” of my teacher performing moves, and simply “imitate” this feeling image. I’ve been practicing like that, and it has surprised me that I don’t need to do anything except imitate the feeling.

          In hindsight, my efforts to analyse and scrutinise my own movement and training got in the way. It’s not that the analysis wasn’t valid, but that the functions I was using aren’t “hooked up” to the parts of my mind and body that would implement all the gross and subtle aspects of the martial art.

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