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Rational Functions


Rationality refers to that which accords with criteria.

The rational is the reasonable, that which accords with reason. I conceive reason as an attitude whose principle is to shape thought, feeling, and action in accordance with objective values. Objective values are established by the average experience of external facts on the one hand, and of inner psychological facts on the other. […] Thus the laws of reason are those laws which rule and designate the average ‘correct’ or adapted attitude. Everything is rational which harmonizes with these laws, and everything irrational which contravenes them.

Psychological Types, Jung

The rational functions are also often referred to as the "judging" functions, and this is due to the fact that they are always trying to come to some judgment or conclusion about someone or something, but in order to come to a judgment there must be something to judge it by; a criterion or standard of some sort. Thus the fundamental point of focus for the rational type is establishing criterion, and this is criterion that ultimately conforms that which is at the outset unreasonable into a highly reasoned order. Anything outside of this criteria is unreasonable and therefore devalued or unimportant. In the sense of reaction, the rational must either have a reason to come to a reaction (a contradiction or infringement on criteria, something of that nature) or substantiate a reaction with a reason ("I reacted this way because...").


Thinking tells us what a thing is.

The term ‘thinking’ should, in my view, be confined to the linking up of representations by means of a concept, where, in other words, an act of judgment prevails, whether such act be the product of one’s intention or not.

Thinking refers to judging or evaluating things through logic. It's concerned with the impersonal mechanics of something. Consequently, thinking’s focus is on the inanimate qualities of things, those aspects of reality which are abiotic, objective, and particular, as this is a function that makes specific and purposeful use of language. Thinking seeks to see how information coincides with standards of true or false, valid or invalid, functional or nonfunctional. Additionally, thinking is systematic, because logic is concerned with the inferential validity of systems. Jung referred to thinking as the use of the intellect. But he is not referring to intelligence. Intellect simply refers to the faculty of the mind that is able to reason out things in an objective manner, and acquiring knowledge of the raw workings of things.


Feeling tells us what a thing is to us.

Feeling is primarily a process that takes place between the ego and a given content, a process, moreover, that imparts to the content a definite value in the sense of acceptance or rejection ('like' or 'dislike'); but it can also appear, as it were, isolated in the form of 'mood' [...] Hence feeling is also a kind of judging, differing, however, from an intellectual judgment, in that it does not aim at establishing an intellectual connection but is solely concerned with the setting up of a subjective criterion of acceptance or rejection.”

Psychological Types, Jung

Feeling judges or evaluates things through values and sentiments. Feeling is not just emotions. However, emotions are an integral part of the feeling function. Rather, feeling can be referred to as the process of making sense of emotions, or the evaluation of emotions; or the establishment of values derived from emotional responses and feeling-tones. The feeling function can be properly described as a process of reasoning. The type of rational justifications from feeling are just different from that of thinking.

Jung explains as in the previous quote that Feeling is a subjective process, although our current knowledge tells us that that is supposed to be something that the introvert does. What is instead meant by subjective is referring to subject in general, to things of personal sentiment and significance. The focus of feeling is on the personal, sentient qualities of things. These qualities are standards of harmony, good or bad, desirable or undesirable, moral or immoral, ethical or unethical. And while thinking is more systematic, feeling does indeed create value-systems. They are judging functions so it’s expected for each function to be systematic on some level.

In summation, thinking judges things by impersonal, mechanical standards, while feeling judges things by personal, sentimental standards.



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