Our orientation to “sensing” and “intuition” (S/N)
Carl Jung introduced the sensing/intuition axis. As discussed earlier, this axis indicates orientation towards the senses (direct sensory input) or towards the higher cognitive functioning. This axis was also identified by Plato in the Divided Line. This axis is shown in the figure below.
Figure. The sensing/intuition axis was defined by Carl Jung. In the Sensory Mind model, this axis represents orientation to the senses (vision, hearing, and perhaps other senses) or towards the higher cognitive skills based upon them.
A Sensor loves sensory stimulation. They enjoy activities that are sensory-rich in the way they stimulate the body. They love going to movies – preferably those packed with action and sound. They seek sensory experiences. They are more reactive and less contemplative.
An Intuitive is comfortable dealing with thoughts, ideas, and concepts. They can easily spend a lot of time in their head. As result, they are often comfortable being with their self. They don’t need a lot of outside stimulation in the form of people or things.
An Intuitive is good at putting ideas together in a structure. This is one of the highest levels of left/right brain synergy. The left brain is great at knowing facts and coming to deductions about them. But, it is an additional skill to be able to combine the facts in a meaningful way to support or create larger concepts that need the right brain architecture.
“Listen to your intuition.” Intuition is one of the highest uses of our mind. It comes to us from the right brain….it is something that just “feels” good or right…or, even bad or wrong. We “feel” intuition first. And, it is a smart, human intuition. It has been something ruminating in the background. The right brain feeling has been informed by the left brain on many issues. The “feeling” that comes to you is already pretty smart. But, then, your left brain needs to be receptive to appreciating it and putting it into terms the left brain can understand – thoughts and words.
Animals have what we would call “intuition”. They are very astute visual observers of their environment. They are aware of just about everything in their environment and can become alert, frightened, comfortable, or inquisitive depending upon the entirety of the sensory stimuli they receive. Humans can likewise process information from many sources and feel an intuition about something. When we are in an outdoor environment, we can use input from all of our senses to give us a feeling about that environment. For example, a soft rustling of leaves in the top of the trees, with a cool wind, distant thunder and darkening skies tells us that a storm is coming and we should move towards shelter. Advanced animals likewise have this ability.
Humans can apply this same “intuition” at higher cognitive levels. We can be in a social environment and understand the mood of the room based upon lighting, sound, and level of conversation. It creates a feeling that is non-verbal. A “woman’s intuition” is not magical. Intuition is based upon real sensory input and facts/conclusions developed by our left brain. In many cases we will be unaware of all the input that goes into our feelings or intuition. In a business environment we are aware of the people in the room, how most of them think about the issues to be discussed, expressions on faces, and body language. Some of the “facts” about the environment have been previously determined by our left brain thinking about the situation. We might have a well thought out plan for our presentation to the group, but in a discussion we must be spontaneous in our reactions. We will react to the entirety of the environment including people’s expressions and reactions. We rely on our feelings and intuition for our final and expressed behaviors.
A person who is intuitive can also be creative. An intuitive is able to understand a fairly complex array of facts and situations and be able to develop a novel approach towards solving the problem or creating a solution to meet the needs of all constituents. This is a skill that we hope our leaders have, whether they lead small or large groups of people.
The “intuition” described above involves parallel processing of information from several different sources. This is clearly a right brain function. However, much of the information or conclusions that are fed into the intuitive right brain function come from left brain fact gathering and conclusions based upon reasoning. High left brain functioning involves being able to gather the correct facts and use reasoning to analyze them and come to conclusions based upon those facts. This left brain functioning could be likened to the base skills expected of an engineer. The addition of right brain intuition enables the person to assimilate facts and conclusions from several sources or areas of inquiry and create something new from them.
Our left brain is rational and logical. It is very much a rational decision maker that runs like a digital computer. Although both the right brain and left brains have higher levels, it is likely that the control of the highest level human functions come from the right brain – our intuition. Carl Jung described the intuitive in terms consistent with right brain function. He described intuition as being unconscious and bringing forth ideas and seeing possibilities in situations. Also, the common usage of intuition refers to non-verbal feelings and ideas that come to us. In the end, it is likely that the highest functioning of the human mind comes from the highest cognitive skills of our vision-based right brain.