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Intuition Notes - Theory of Knowledge

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Intuition Quotes

  • “I believe in intuitions and inspirations...I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice." (Steve Jobs)

  • "Intuition is the clear conception of the whole at once" (Johann Kaspar Lavater).
  • “Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way” (Florence Scovel Shinn)
  • “I’m supposed to be a scientific person but I use intuition more than logic in making basic decisions” (Seymour R. Cray)
  • “Knowledge begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to concepts, and then ends with ideas” (Immanuel Kant)
  • "Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind." (Immanuel Kant)
  • "Intuition is reason in a hurry." (Holbrook Jackson).
  • "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." (Albert Einstein)
  • "There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance." (Albert Einstein)
  • "Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next." (Jonas Salk)
  • "It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover." (Henri Poincare)

Intuition Definitions 

  • "Intuitions are the judgments, solutions, and ideas that pop into the consciousness without our being aware of the mental processes that led to them." (Haidt and Joseph)
  • "Intuition is an immediate form of knowledge in which the knower is directly acquainted with the object of knowledge." (Science Daily: Intuition)
  • "Intuition is the immediate knowledge of the truth of a proposition, where ‘immediate’ means ‘not preceded by inference.’" (Encyclopiedia of Psychology)
  • “Intuitions are the judgements, solutions and ideas that pop into our consciousness without our being aware of the mental processes that led to them. When you suddenly know the answer to a problem you’ve been mulling over or when you know that you like someone but can’t tell why, your knowledge is intuitive.” (Jonathan Haidt and Craig Joseph, quoted in ‘Theory of Knowledge, A Course Companion’ page 194)
  • “intuition is the result of the way our brains store, process and retrieve information on a subconscious level” (Professor Gerard Hodgkinson )

Intuition in general 

As with all ways of knowing, it is challenging to determine what way is providing a paritcular insight. For example, an insight which has come from intution can quickly be justified using reason and then labelled as an insight of reason --even though it really came from intution. Intuition is tricky because it can be hard to notice exactly when something is intution, rather than reason or emotion.

Another difficulty is distinguishing intuition from instinct. Intuition is effortless in the moment, but it relies on previous experience. It can be thought of as insights provided by the subconscious mind. Whereas instinct is a naturally built-in, innate and biologically fixed insight promoting evolutionarily adaptive behaviours.  

Here's an example from a book called Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gigerenzer. In the book he says he is both intuitive and rational. "In my scientific work, I have hunches. I can’t explain always why I think a certain path is the right way, but I need to trust it and go ahead. I also have the ability to check these hunches and find out what they are about. That’s the science part. Now, in private life, I rely on instinct. For instance, when I first met my wife, I didn’t do computations. Nor did she." Instinct isn't the exact same thing as intuition, but it's hard to know which thing we're using in a given situation. When Gigerenzer met his wife, was he using instinct, intuition, or emotion? We can't really know. 

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