It is particularly important to distinguish between the ‘Feeling Function’ as a psychological function and the many other common uses of the word ‘feel’. Jung acknowledged the possible confusion: we say we feel happy, sad, angry, regretful, and so on; we have a feeling the weather will change or the stock market will fall; silk feels smoother than burlap, something doesn’t feel right, etc. Clearly we use the word feeling quite loosely, since in a particular context it may refer to sense perception, thoughts, intuition or an emotional reaction.
Here it is a matter of clearly defining our terminology. We can measure temperature according to degrees Fahrenheit, Celsius or Réaumur, distance in miles or kms, weight in ounces or grams, bulk in cups, bushels or pounds—so long as we indicate which system we are using.
In Jung’s model, the term feeling refers strictly to the way in which we subjectively evaluate what something, or someone, is worth to us. This is the sense in which it is rational. In fact, to the extent that it is not coloured by emotion (which is to say, influenced by an activated complex) feeling can be quite cold.
Indeed, the feeling function, as a mode of psychological orientation, must above all not be confused with emotion. The latter, more properly called affect, is invariably the consequence of an active complex.
Feeling is distinguished from affect by the fact that it produces no perceptible physical innervations, i.e., neither more nor less than an ordinary thinking process. – Carl Jung, CW 6, par. 725
Affect tends to contaminate or distort each of the functions: when we are angry we can’t think straight; happiness colours the way we perceive things and people; when we’re upset we can’t properly evaluate what something is worth to us; and when we’re depressed our perception of possibilities dries up.
© Adapted from Daryl Sharp’s Personality Types: Jung’s Model of Typology, reproduced with kind permission of the author.