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Peikoff on Emotions as 'Tools of Cognition'


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#1 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 01:18 AM

In the course of reading the new book, Understanding Objectivism—based on transcripts from Leonard Peikoff’s superb lecture series given in 1983--I came across this somewhat startling passage. I say somewhat startling, because these comments seem to represent a significant departure from Ayn Rand’s dictum that “emotions are not tools of cognition.” Believe it or not, this particular excerpt convinced me, at the time, that a reconciliation between Branden and Peikoff was a real possibility. (I probably should be acutely embarrassed to admit such a thing.)

When I first heard this lecture in 1983, I saw these comments by Peikoff as indicative of his willingness to break free of Rand’s orbit and be open to taking a fresh perspective on Objectivist epistemology. It appeared to me that Peikoff, in the aftermath of Ayn Rand’s death, was moving in the same direction that Nathaniel Branden had taken following the 1968 schism. Peikoff’s comments seemed to echo much of what Branden had said in the 1970s about the importance of using one’s emotions--in conjunction with reason--to enhance one’s capacity for full conscious awareness. Like Branden, Peikoff was warning Objectivists about the ways in which emotional repression can distort conscious awareness.

Peikoff is here addressing the problem of rationalism—i.e., the erroneous cognitive policy of focusing on abstractions while ignoring the concrete reality to which concepts refer.

The process of removing the blinders from your eyes and taking your concept back to its concretes, I call reduction.

I want to add one more thing to this point, a crucial tip, on how to keep the word (like ‘value’ or ‘life’) connected to things rather than to words. Of course, you can remind yourself, you can make it a policy, but there is a crucial mental process that, if you have it and allow it to operate, will do that for you to a significant extent. In the seminar, we were trying to figure out why it was that half the seminar—and it was the male half—felt quite at home with this process of deduction from definitions, and even if they disagreed with one particular argument, they could really grasp it. On the other hand, the women in the seminar looked simply aghast; they couldn’t figure out what was going on; they felt uncomfortable, they were bored, and they wondered, “What is this guy doing when he says, ‘life has got this attribute, and the statue has this attribute?’ ” [NOTE: The prior discussion examined the differences between “the basic alternative of existence vs. non-existence” confronting living organisms as opposed to inanimate objects like statues.-DH]

We were trying to elicit what it is that [women] do that prevents this from seeming natural. And my wife came up with this—she said she finds this floating definition method revolting, or she used some word like this; she said that what keeps her tied to the concretes when she uses the word “life” is emotion. She said as soon as you think “life,” the automatic connector, the thing that then comes to her is particular living things for which she feels strongly. And she gave us a list. For instance, a cat we had that we loved very much that died. Or a dog that she once had. Or I think she threw me in there as an example. Or she likes the plants (we have certain ones in the apartment). In other words, she was saying that what was automatically the context that stood in her mind was a series of concretes bound together by a positive emotion. And therefore, “life” to her was important because it invoked a certain feeling of the things she liked. Therefore, when she heard the word “life,” that constellation was present right away. And from that perspective, the idea that “life equals self-sustaining action” just simply baffled her. She thought, “This is from another dimension.”

I think that is very, very helpful, because it points out that emotion can function, and should function, as a crucial psycho-epistemological agent, as a crucial means of keeping you in contact with reality. And therefore, it is not an accident that people who are inclined to floating definitions are, in my experience, typically characterized by a pronounced psychology of repression. They are very much on the premise of shunting aside emotion—emotions are unreliable, they’re bad, they’re subjective. These people feel uncomfortable with emotions. They automatize a detachment from their emotional lives. And consequently, they have cut off the mechanism that the mind provides to keep us in that kind of immediate, automatic, psycho-epistemological contact with the concretes of reality. And they end up manipulating terms.

The same thing could be done, in one way or another, whether it’s positive or negative emotions, with virtually any concept. For instance, with “value”—if you just think, “that which one acts to gain and/or keep”—then of course, you’re just lost in the clouds. But if you think your wife, money, your house, clothes, and so on—if those are the things you like, if that’s what you have emotion for, then the word “value” will immediately convey those concretes to you; if you have the feeling and let it function, you will have an invaluable tie to the details, to the concretes, that you otherwise won’t have.

This is only the beginning of a long discussion of the role of emotions in thought and life. But I hope I’ve shocked you by coming out in favor of emotions, rather than against them. I hope you also see that I am not saying that all cognition is driven by passion, that objectivity is impossible, although undoubtedly there are people who think that is about to come. Emotions are not the means of justifying your conclusion—that would be mysticism or subjectivism—but they are essential to automatize the process of concretization; in other words, to automatize the tie to reality of your concepts.

Understanding Objectivism, pp. 59-60



#2 Michael E. Marotta

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 09:59 AM

The difference is, though, that your senses tell you about the external worlld and your emotions tell you how you "evalue" those perceptions. Your senses tell you that something is red or cold or prickly or bitter, but your emotions do not. That is what Rand meant when she said that emotions are not tools of cognition. They do tell you about yourself, though.

That said, I can see why, Dennis, you thought that Peikoff had started down a new road.

... it is not an accident that people who are inclined to floating definitions are, in my experience, typically characterized by a pronounced psychology of repression.


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#3 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:37 AM

The difference is, though, that your senses tell you about the external worlld and your emotions tell you how you "evalue" those perceptions. Your senses tell you that something is red or cold or prickly or bitter, but your emotions do not. That is what Rand meant when she said that emotions are not tools of cognition. They do tell you about yourself, though.

That said, I can see why, Dennis, you thought that Peikoff had started down a new road.


The problem, of course, is that, where emotions were concerned, Rand had a tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water. Or, at least, she didn’t do an adequate job of educating others not to do that.

She said that, since emotions are automatic value-appraisals based on prior self-programming, emotional responses shouldn’t be used for the purposes of cognition. She undoubtedly knew that this does not mean you turn emotions off for all cognitive processing—but that’s what many students of her philosophy took her to mean. And she never bothered to correct that mistaken impression.

The point, of course, is that emotions provide important evidence which reason must identify and integrate before it qualifies as knowledge. Peikoff pointed this out from the perspective of avoiding rationalism by keeping your mind tied to concretes. Branden’s focus was much wider—he stressed the importance of never shutting yourself off from emotional material that could be important data, like your ‘visceral sense’ of whether a person was being deceptive. Sometimes we get nonverbal cues that only come through on an emotional level and can be difficult to identify. (This is what people often call “intuition”—another orthodox Objectivist taboo.)

Rand’s stalwart opposition to anything that smacked of “mysticism” prompted her to rule emotions out as having any important role to play. She often conveyed the sense that reason and logic could function in an emotional vacuum. As Branden said, she may not have told her readers and fans to repress emotions, but much of her writing had the effect of cheering them on for doing so.

#4 Brant Gaede

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 03:28 PM

Rand's standard position, as expressed in AS, was that in any conflict between mind and emotions, disregard emotions in deciding what to do. That was the advice Dagny got in GG. Absolutely terrible advice unless you're in the clouds with your airplane on instruments. That's probably what killed JFK jr. If she had put more thought into it she would have come to a more nuanced position, I'm sure, except AS was nothing about nuance.

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#5 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 04:04 PM

Rand's standard position, as expressed in AS, was that in any conflict between mind and emotions, disregard emotions in deciding what to do. That was the advice Dagny got in GG. Absolutely terrible advice unless you're in the clouds with your airplane on instruments. That's probably what killed JFK jr. If she had put more thought into it she would have come to a more nuanced position, I'm sure, except AS was nothing about nuance.

--Brant


What killed JFK Jr. was that he was a C- student of instrument flight and left the airport just before sunset. Like any Kennedy Buck he did not doubt his ability to handle his plane. Lessons? Who needs lessons? I'm a Kennedy.

Ba'al Chatzaf
אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#6 Brant Gaede

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 05:02 PM


Rand's standard position, as expressed in AS, was that in any conflict between mind and emotions, disregard emotions in deciding what to do. That was the advice Dagny got in GG. Absolutely terrible advice unless you're in the clouds with your airplane on instruments. That's probably what killed JFK jr. If she had put more thought into it she would have come to a more nuanced position, I'm sure, except AS was nothing about nuance.

--Brant


What killed JFK Jr. was that he was a C- student of instrument flight and left the airport just before sunset. Like any Kennedy Buck he did not doubt his ability to handle his plane. Lessons? Who needs lessons? I'm a Kennedy.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I flew out of that same airport he departed from--Caldwell--for years. I never overflew my ability without an instructor on board. I have suffered spatial disorientation in clouds--my instructor wanted me to experience it. I couldn't fly by my instruments and maintain proper control. By the time we were done, I could. I also had spin instruction although it wasn't required for my private. Years ago spin instruction was standard but too many people were being killed by it so it was changed over to spin prevention. Kennedy had get-to-it ittis. A lot of small plane pilots have killed themselves and their families because they just have to get somewhere by a certain time and date.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--Libertarian--objectivist Objectivist, not an Objectivist Objectivist


#7 Robert Campbell

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 10:49 AM

Dennis,

This passage from Understanding Objectivism is indeed significant.

The Peikovian reduction hasn't always been to concrete instances, but in this portion of his lecture course, Peikoff is treating it that way.

Robert Campbell

PS. Anyone who has the original course on tape or CD is welcome to comment on the accuracy of Berliner's rendition.

#8 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 02:17 AM

Dennis,

This passage from Understanding Objectivism is indeed significant.

The Peikovian reduction hasn't always been to concrete instances, but in this portion of his lecture course, Peikoff is treating it that way.

Robert Campbell

PS. Anyone who has the original course on tape on CD is welcome to comment on the accuracy of Berliner's rendition.


Thanks, Robert. I'm glad we agree on that.

I don't have tapes of the original course, but I did take fairly extensive notes when I attended the lectures in 1983. So far, the book and my notes match up very well.

I think this book may well be the best thing to ever come out of the ARI/orthodox wing of Objectivism.

#9 Peter Taylor

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 04:34 PM

From: Michael Hardy hardy@math.mit.edu
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: Intuition
Date: Sun, 20 May 200117:23:07 -0400 (EDT)
Mike Rael stated in his post of 5/17/01 that:
>Rand herself was about as intuitive as they come.

John Kimball <kimball@ncia.net> objected (5/18):
>The RandomHouseCollege Dictionary defines intuition as the: '1. direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension ..' This appears to fly in the face of Rand's basic epistemology as I could not find no reference to the concept of intuition in any of the major works by Rand. This seems to be an unwarranted assumption on the part of Mr. Rael. I would appreciate having the references that would justify this conclusion.

The word "intuition" appears to admit several definitions, one of which was endorsed by Leonard Peikoff in an article in the 1985 volume of _The_New_Scholasticism_, titled "Aristotle's Intuitive Induction." Peikoff explained that the way in which we become aware of the truth of logical axioms cannot be by logical deduction --- that would clearly be circular reasoning --- but is a rational cognitive process that involves coming to understand the concepts involved and what the proposition says, and that that process is called "intuitive induction."

"Intuition" also means something like "emotional without feeling", which needs to be explained more long windedly less mysteriously to be understood. Recall Peikoff in his 12-lecture basic course saying an emotion results from a super-rapid subconscious evaluation of something as good or bad. At one point in that course he tersely mentioned that a similar super-rapid subconscious process could result in a conscious hunch, whose justification is not conscious. That is also called "intuition." Perhaps Mike Rael had that in mind.
Mike Hardy

From: Jackie Goreham <chrissycrunch@objectivists.every1.net>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: Re: My stay at the hospital...what happened
Date: Mon, 21 May 200114:23:52 -0700 (PDT)
I would have to say that I agree that Objectivism and intuition do not mix, that there is some evidence that what Rand lived and what she wrote had a slight disconnect in this area. After all, this was a woman who described love at first sight with her husband and also described it in her main characters (Roark and Francon and Taggart and Galt). In fact it is kind of a running joke that objectivists just 'know' who each other are in a crowd by their 'way' of looking.

I think it is important, if somewhat difficult, to separate Objectivism the philosophical system from Rand, the woman. The philosophy allows for no contradictions, but we know the person lived some.

As for the topic at hand, I know only one objectivist and that's my boyfriend. I have never met another in person. If I were to make all people I know pass a philosophical test I would be a very lonely person indeed. There is value to be found in relationships with people who think differently than I do.
Jackie Goreham

From: Jeff Lindon <jefrey@monkey.org>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition
Date: Tue, 22 May 200109:04:08 -0400 (EDT)
I agree with Kurt's distinction (5/19) between senses of "intuition", and have often thought that the term takes unfair abuse.

Along the lines Kurt suggests, I think of an intuition (in its secularized sense) as a conscious awareness of pre-verbal subconscious processes. Depending on a person's psycho-epistemology, those processes will be predominantly rational or irrational. Granted that intuition is *not* a means of knowing, I do wonder whether it's a necessary stage one goes through (even if only briefly) when grappling with large, difficult problems.

Suppose that after thinking about a complex problem for a while, you can think of several different ways of proceeding, but you're not sure which is best. How do you decide -- not which is best, but which to
*investigate* first? Well, your subconscious is munching on lots of things, and the only conscious awareness you have of those calculations is a "sense" or "feel". Let's say you sense that one approach to solving the problem will prove to be the best. If pressed on the issue, you may have a hard time giving concrete reasons for your sense, precisely because you don't understand the problem. But you have to decide how to proceed *somehow*, and the fact is that if you've cultivated a rational psycho-epistemology, your subconscious will generally do a good job in these kinds of "preliminary evaluations". Sometimes it takes the conscious mind a lot of (necessary) effort to see just *how* good our intuitions actually are.

Consider artistic creation as an example. Rand argued in her fiction writing lectures that it would be not only counterproductive but literally impossible for an artist *consciously* to justify each choice he makes while creating a work. The only workable method is to rely on your subconscious while writing and then *edit later* using your conscious judgment. Hopefully (and with practice, over time), your subconscious judgments come to embody your conscious principles fairly consistently. But the conscious mind is always the final arbiter. (My experience as a composer confirms the value of this method.)

(I would add here that I am not convinced that one could always verbalize *all* the reasons one had a particular intuition. Also, in my own experience, if my conscious mind contradicts my intuition, there is very often something that my conscious mind is missing. Again, that feeling does not constitute *proof* that the conscious mind is wrong, but if one knows that one has a predominantly rational psycho-epistemology, then such intuitions should set off warning bells.)

I reconcile Rand's attacks on intuition with the position she takes elsewhere by supposing that she would suggest a word other than "intuition" for what I have been describing. That makes the term a little bit like "faith", which I've discovered that many people use simply to mean "confidence". But whereas the alternative between "confidence" and "faith" is obvious, I can't think of a better alternative to "intuition" off-hand.
-Jeffrey Lindon

From: Matthew Ferrara <educator@att.net>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: Intuition as second-order epistemological integration
Date: Tue, 22 May 200110:31:19 +0000
Just to weigh-in on the intuition-question:
I do not think that intuition is counter-Objectivism in any way; in fact, from what I can tell from Rand's writings, she's not entirely counter-intuitive (in both meanings of that phrase): Note that some of her characters like Rearden and even Cherryl (Taggart's wife) take long journeys toward knowledge by identifying, clarifying, and reflecting upon a "peripheral sense" or what we could call "gut feeling" that something in their experience was not "quite right." They then proceed to investigate their surroundings and then come to clear, rational knowledge that the people around them are acting in an irrational manner, guided by their feelings. Many times in Atlas, Rand refers to a character's sensation of something on the "edge" of their cognition that is fleeting, but re- occurs often enough to induce them to further pursue clarification. In fact, in a sense, Rearden's character is this very journey from sense-perception of "something is wrong" to "explicit knowledge" that his premises were wrong.

I think it is too easy to simply "reject" intuition because it is often equated with feelings, which are also often "rejected" by Objectivist thinkers in an off- hand manner. Rather, I think that intuition has to be put in its proper position in the epistemological hierarchy. Many great scientific discoveries have come from what we would call an "intuitive" notion of an hypothesis or experiment, which led to the discovery of a result that then was clarified "backwards" so to speak to a more full, explicit knowledge. Thinkers like Suzanne Langer or Polanyi (The Tacit Dimension) have excellent discussions on this "metacommunicative" or not-yet-expressed dimension of human thought.

It is important, from the standpoint of Objectivism, to make sure that intuition is not considered a "primary" tool to knowledge and not used as the sole basis to guide one's overall actions or life; but like emotions,
intuition is a second-order activity of the rational mind.

It may help to start from a definition: I think intuition can be considered just like Rand's concept of emotions: Both are indicators or feedback-mechanisms (positive and negative) of one's thought processes. Intuitions are often "not-yet-clarified" or emerging recognitions of facts of reality. In some ways, they may be recognitions of fact that have happened faster than linguistic or fully-logical expression has occurred - although such description later emerges.

Intuition in this sense would not be the same as "revelation" or mere "gut-impulse" that religious or psychologies of noumenal-worlds/minds would have us believe (always refreshing to bash Kant this early in
the morning! grin!). And while it may not be a "rigorous" tool of knowledge like "pure logic" it still may play a valid function in cognition, so long as it remains a "stage" of knowledge and not the final or determining aspect of it.
Good morning!
Matthew Ferrara

From: Brian Gordon <briangordon@livetolearn.com>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition
Date: Tue, 22 May 200109:07:16 -0700
All,
Intuition is indeed a fascinating topic, as we all use it, yet it seems at first glance to run counter to objectivism. In fact, Nathaniel Branden has pointed out that sometimes one's intuition is correct while one's reason is not.

I think that intuition is an unconscious conclusion one has reached – the criteria and decision-making process are unconscious. This does not mean that some reasoning has not taken place, simply that one is unaware of it. I once took an excellent course entitled "The Skilled Facilitator's Workshop", in which the participants' goal was to learn to facilitate group meetings effectively and to improve the group's ability to function. This involved pointing out inappropriate behaviors, areas of conflict, and so on, and oftentimes I (and others) would pick up on things intuitively rather than explicitly. When I asked the instructor about this, his point was this: Whatever you have noticed intuitively, there is evidence for, and you must bring that evidence into your consciousness. You cannot present your intuitive beliefs to anyone, because then they lack any facts to deal with.
It was a great workshop! Very objectivist, now that I look back on it.
Brian Gordon

From: Ming shan <mingshan87@hotmail.com>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition
Date: Thu, 24 May 200122:28:18
Merlin Jetton wrote (5/22):
> I wish to second Kurt Keefner's remarks (5/19) about "secular" intuition.

I wish to third them; I have not seen as much common sense brought to the discussion about intuition in a long time. He definitely based his remarks on careful observation.

>Indeed, this form of intuition is a requirement for being a skilled, or more skilled, mathematician. Here, of course, it is hardly a mere, mystical feeling. Consider the mathematician in search of a solution to a problem,
>which might be a path to a proof. By analogy, this intuition is the ability to see the glimpses of light down a possible path before the path is more fully lit through fuller exploration and work.

OK, that's great, but what about the mathematician who had it the most, in abundance, Srinivasa Ramanujan? This guy filled notebook after notebook after notebook with incredibly complex and deep theorems and formulae of Number Theory, but he rigorously proved not one of them. He had a power of insight that is rare, even among mathematicians. He could see clearly what the solution would be to something, and he did not need to prove it, because he already knew it was right. Some mathematicians these days are busy going
through his notebooks and rigorously proving the entries he put down; so far, it's all panning out. That's how good the guy was at this type of insight.

My point is this: surely R's power of insight does not really come from "reason." The proof is that the man barely had a high schooler's understanding of trigonometry.

What we are calling intuition here strikes me as very much the same thing that Spinoza called "the third kind of knowledge." But he said that it only arises from "the second kind," which is reason. But if it only arises from it, then (1) it is surely different from it, and not the same thing, and (2) it is superior to reason.
Mingshan

From: Mike Rael <moochy_hope@yahoo.com>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: Re: OWL: Intuition as second-order epistemological integration
Date: Thu, 24 May 200108:48:52 -0700 (PDT)
Good morning yourself, Matthew:)
I really appreciate the way you fleshed out my original post on this subject, though I doubt you had the intention of doing that :) I don't have the energy or patience to check through Atlas, for example, to bolster up my position about intuition. I just know what I know.

I really have no criticism at all. You point out that Rand's characters use intuition (true). You mention that intuition is a stage of knowledge only (true). You say that intuition is part of the creative process (true). You infer that reason is the final arbiter of knowledge (true).

About my only disagreement is that intuition is not simply the unconscious filling-in of holes in logic that have been derived at superspeed. Ain't nuthin' wrong with gut impulses, Matt. Sometimes, for whatever reason, gut impulses are right while our "rationally derived" reason is wrong! That's why some women going down the bridal path need to heed it when they get a strong inner feeling that they shouldn't be
there--despite all the "logic" that insists they are in the right place!
Best always,
Mike

From: James H Cunningham <jameshcunningham@juno.com>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition
Date: Fri, 25 May 200123:42:28 -0400
Ming Shan wrote (5/24):
"[the 'third kind of knowledge' - intuition, as in the case of Srinivasa Ramanujan] is superior to reason."

And how?

Surely I could not begin to understand - let alone create - such intricate mathematical theorems without relying on a conscious reasoning process; indeed, to decide what I shall eat for dinner takes enough thought on its own, and I have not enough leisure for those high pursuits. Are you saying that Ramanujan's intuition is superior to my reason, when I cannot even decide my diet without some mental plodding-out?

When I was a child I was forced to put two and two together - when I eat food that tastes bad, I dislike putting it my mouth; and when I dislike putting something in my mouth I should not eat it - but now it is intuitive
that I not eat food that I dislike; still I went through conscious reasoning at some point, so I should hardly think that my intuition is contrary to and higher than reason. It is simply something that followed.

And why is what you describe above intuition, in the non-reasoning sense? Ramanujan was equipped with a mind more able to grasp complex truths than mine or yours, and quickly; that he needed think less does not mean that he needed not _think_ at all; why not consider that his 'reasoning ability' was sufficiently inborn that no real effort was required to prove to himself that he _was_ correct? It is not necessary for me to 'think' to add simple sums, and I am rarely asked to prove my answers afterward; why is it so much to think that a man of a much greater mind can handle greater thoughts, without striking the call of superiority to reason?

Anyone who theorizes must do so before proving any theories he puts forth. If Ramanujan had proven his own work, would you consider it less intuition and more reason?
James H Cunningham

From: "Ming shan" <mingshan87@hotmail.com>
To: atlantis@wetheliving.com
Subject: ATL: James on intuition
Date: Tue, 29 May 200108:18:49
>James:
> >Ming Shan wrote (5/24):
> >"[the 'third kind of knowledge' - intuition, as in the case of Srinivasa Ramanujan] is superior to reason."
> >
> >And how? And why is what you describe above intuition, in the non-reasoning sense?

> >Ramanujan was equipped with a mind more able to grasp complex truths than mine or yours, and quickly; that he needed think less does not mean that he needed not _think_ at all;
>

>Mingshan:
>Well, I never said nor implied that the man was not *thinking*; that depends on your definition of the word.
>
>why not consider that his 'reasoning ability' was sufficiently inborn that no real effort was required to prove to himself that he _was_ correct?
>
>That was exactly my point; the problem, though, was the relationship between that "inborn ability" and "reason." It is not necessary for me to 'think' to add simple sums, and I am rarely asked to prove my answers afterward;
>
>That's fine, but you're not a mathematician. No one is asked to prove anything when it's just "simple sums," but mathematicians are required to prove what they claim. That's an integral part of mathematics.
>
> >why is it so much to think that a man of a much greater mind can handle greater thoughts, without striking the call of superiority to reason?
>
>Because of a simple fact that you're neglecting in R's case: he had only the skimpiest of education in any kind of "formal" mathematics.
>Something like "reason" was not necessary in his case therefore. My full statement was My point is this: surely R's power of insight does not really come from "reason." The proof is that the man barely had a high schooler's understanding of trigonometry.
>
>Also because, it's not the thoughts we are debating about, but the way those thoughts occurred.
>

> >Anyone who theorizes must do so before proving any theories he puts forth. If Ramanujan had proven his own work, would you consider it less intuition and more reason?
>

>No, simply because, again, it's not the thoughts or their proof that's interesting, but *how* those thoughts occurred in the first place.

>And in R's case, he had so many occurring to him that were deep and important.
>

>Love,
>Mingshan

From: Roger Bissell <AchillesRB@aol.com>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: What is Intuition?
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 200101:52:12 EDT
The recent discussion of the nature of intuition has been quite interesting, and I would like to suggest another way of looking at intuition in re thinking. As against the idea some suggest that intuition is relatively more unconscious and thinking relative more conscious, I think it's more helpful to see them both as different kinds of conscious cognitive processes. In support of this, here are some ideas I have gleaned recently from a non-Objectivist thinker, along with some personality-type-related thoughts stimulated by his ideas...

Howard Margolis in PATTERNS, THINKING, AND COGNITION (U. of Chicago Press, 1987) claimed that cognitive activity tends to be either a combination of broad focus with loose "scan control," which he labeled "intuitive" -- or a combination of narrow focus with tight "scan control," which he labeled "analytical," which is reasonably synonymous with "thinking." Since induction would seem as though it should work better in the former case (intuitive preference), while deduction would seem as though it should work better in the latter (thinking preference). I find this approach very persuasive.

However, I want to suggest another way of looking at it. I think that what Margolis is describing as "intuition" by loose focus, broad scan control is actually ~extraverted~ intuition (intuition directed toward the "outer world," which is the kind of intuition that is used by introverted thinkers, who are not nearly so analytical as their extraverted thinking brethren (and sistern...?). And the form of intuition used by extraverted thinkers may not even be recognized as such by them -- focused as they are on assessing the external world and how it can be changed, improved, corrected, etc. – but their intuition almost surely has a tighter focus and narrower scan control (since internal or "introverted" and thus not ranging around in the environment, but instead in their own internal store of ideas) than the kind used by introverted thinkers. In compensation, though, the thinking of TJs (extraverted thinkers) is easier to apply in flexible, broad fashion to assessing and planning things in the world than the thinking of TPs (introverted thinkers).

In other words, I think Margolis' model is somewhat oversimplified, but helpful in aiming us in the right direction. His suggestion that a stronger preference for intuition would make one's thinking relatively
fuzzier is an interesting hypothesis, but the type results I have seen do not bear this out. My wife has a stronger intuitive preference than thinking, but she is a very precise thinker--and I have a stronger
preference for thinking than for intuition, but I am a much fuzzier thinker than her. So go figure! Perhaps we are the exception to the rule, but I think the answer lies elsewhere. I am very precise and focused in my inductive, model-building process, but this is not usually regarded as thinking, but rather intuition. My wife is very precise and focused in her deductive, analytical process, but her strong inner vision, being more in the "tacit" dimension, is overlooked by those who see only her logical thinking process.

I encourage others to read Margolis' work, but discussion of the above is welcome, in any case.
Best regards,
Roger Bissell (INTP)

From: Jackie Goreham <chrissycrunch@objectivists.every1.net>
To: objectivism@wetheliving.com
Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition as second-order epistemological integration
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 200113:16:58 -0700 (PDT)
Mike, I don't know to whom you are referring, but eliminating emotion is Vulcan, not Objectivist. I repeat that if there is a disconnect between your emotions and your thoughts then you have made an error somewhere. There should be no disconnect. Emotions tell us nothing other than that we are having an emotion. We must use reason to identify its cause. It might be a tip off that something is wrong, sure, why not. Like a symptom... But our emotions are not "right" or "wrong" really. It's just that they either do or do not fit the context. They are only right or wrong based on our thoughts: reason.
Jackie Goreham
Semper cogitans fidele,
Independent Objectivist,
Peter Taylor

#10 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 01:45 AM

Well, I guess Peikoff voted against intuition before he voted for it.

Some men who propose an alternative to reason are explicit emotionalists. Others, however, seeming to eschew reason and emotion, uphold the cognitive efficacy of a variety of candidates, such as intuition, revelation, dialectic inference, Aryan instinct, extra sensory perception, or drug-induced trances,

OPAR, p. 160 (December, 1991)


Nineteen years later. . .

Podcast: What about intuition? (3-15-10)

You can use the word for a rational process. . .It simply gives subconscious integration of information, observation, stored knowledge. . .”






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