Through a Jungian Lens

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Irrational? You Bet!

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While I was on another walk, yesterday, I came across a “photo shoot” that was being done using a professional model in People’s Park near the en trance to the Changzhou Grand Theatre.  I didn’t waste any time getting a few photos of the model and of the crew involved in the taking of the photographs. No one seemed to mind that a laowai, a foreigner, was taking photos.

First, I want to admit that this is a beautiful young woman.  For me there is a sense of freshness, af barely being out of childhood.  Yet, at the same time, I sense that she has paid a price that cuts deep into her soul for the role she now gets to occupy.  Dreams have been betrayed as she moved into the role of model wearing rose-coloured glasses.  Now having said all of this, I realise that these words are not based on any rational function, but are for the most part, founded in my irrational function.

“Sensation and intuition are the two functions Jung labeled as irrational (perceiving).  Each is a way of perceiving simply what is – sensation sees what is in the external world, while intuition sees (or somehow “picks up”) what is in the inner world.” (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 13)

Why are these two functions, sensation and intuition considered irrational by Jung?  By irrational, Jung doesn’t mean crazy or even outside of logic.  What Jung is referring to are the things that exist outside of our feelings or outside of our thinking.

The physical perception of something does not depend  on logic – things just are.  Similarily, an intuition exists in itself; it is present in the mind, independent of reason or a rational process of thought.” (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 13)

Now, there is the same dynamic of each of us using both functions in order to perceive the world around us.  But as with the rational functions, one of these two irrational functions is dominant, or preferred by the psyche.  In order to be clear, I want to say that we can’t “choose” which function we will have as our dominant function.

So, what have I learned about my “self” in terms of which irrational function is dominant?  I would have to say that intuition is my dominant function with sensation being secondary.  My guess is that the split would be something like 85% intuition and 15% sensation.  Of course this causes me end of grief with others as I don’t notice (sense) so much around me while I am taken up with inner, subjective realities.  Yes, I am the one who always leaves cupboard doors open, someone who often looks like he is in outer space.


6 Responses

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  1. I ‘major’ in intuition too. I find it a marvelous mode in which to perceive the world.


    September 7, 2010 at 7:19 am

    • 🙂 Welcome to my world. 🙂

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

  2. I like the photo, of course, it’s a nice shot of a beautiful person, but I always like your writing.
    I find myself being very irrational at times because I am a very reactive person, that reactivity being based on both sensation and intuition, although, unlike you, I am not quite sure in what proportions 🙂


    September 7, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    • Thanks for the comments about my writing, Michael. When I use the word irrational, I am talking more about using non-rational data for making primary decisions. For example, if a person has a dominant sensation function, then the final decision must accord to what the senses (objective data) tell the person. If anything contradicts what the senses say, then it is ignored. Jung doesn’t use the word irrational as it is used in common contemporary language usage. And that causes its own problems for those studying Jung’s works.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

  3. We need a better word than ‘irrational’. This has so many negative connotations, and yet the ability to judge from our intuition is extremely important. Intuitive comes close but again has been hedged with ridicule.

    The understandings we can gain from using a-rational processes are frequently much deeper and more real than those arrived at logically or rationally.

    This girl looks sad to me… her youth does look lost.

    Lotus Light

    September 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    • I agree with you Lotus. Yet, in terms of trying to understand what Jung has written, one needs to allow for a larger possibility for the word irrational. This multiple meaning feature is common to so many words that it is way to easy to miss the messages in spite of the words being used. Language is a very poor tool for communication, but it is the best tool we have yet.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

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