In the last letter, we looked at the rational function "feeling" in its introverted mode. With this letter, we turn to the other rational function on the introverted side of the compass: introverted thinking. Surprisingly, these two types are very much alike, even though they are functional opposites. Everything we can say about introverted feeling, said Jung, we can say about introverted thinking, except there it is thought rather than felt. When the inner images are apprehended by thinking, we could refer to the resulting gifts as "conceptual."
Introverted Thinking: The Conceptual Gifts
Engaging logic to apprehend the inner images, introverted thinking arouses the archetypal images of the collective unconscious.
"The primordial images are awakened from their slumber and emerge as operative factors in the thinking process . . . rather like invisible stage managers behind the scenes" (CW 6, par. 513).
The world within is the primary orientation of this thinking. It seeks to continually enhance the clarity of the illusive inner image. It begins with the holistic, universal image and unites diverse ideas and concepts.
It relentlessly builds conceptual hierarchies and networks of relationships. Like a mountain climber of complex thought, it ascends one staging area after another until the summit is attained--the unifying insight or theory.
Oriented and directed to the archetypal matrix, it surveys ideas and concepts of all sorts, formulating hypotheses, theories, and principles. It uses objective facts and data as needed to build its insights and theories, but objective facts are not its primary focus.
"Its aim is never an intellectual reconstruction of the concrete fact, but a shaping of that dark image into a luminous idea . . . Its task is completed when the idea it has fashioned seems to emerge so inevitably from the external facts that they actually prove its validity" (CW 6, par. 628).
The formulation of the new idea or theory may come as a surprise, for introverted thinking does not clearly see the end from the beginning; rather it sees the end only vaguely, and delights in discovering its nature more fully. It will resolutely pursue the image until it emerges as a coherent idea.
And what ideas! They have often been the insights, theories, philosophies, formulas, and concepts that have shaped the stream of human thought.
James Graham Johnston
Orienting people to their gifts and well-being.