Peter Posted May 10, 2017 Share Posted May 10, 2017 At times we have been discussing intuition on this thread and I found these old insights. Peter From: Michael Hardy To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Intuition Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 17:23:07 -0400 (EDT) Mike Rael stated in his post of 5/17/01 that: >Rand herself was about as intuitive as they come. John Kimball <email@example.com> objected (5/18): >The Random House College 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 To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: My stay at the hospital...what happened Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 14:23:52 -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 To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 09:04:08 -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 To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Intuition as second-order epistemological integration Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 10:31:19 +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 To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 09:07:16 -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 To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition Date: Thu, 24 May 2001 22:28:18 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 To: objectivism Subject: Re: OWL: Intuition as second-order epistemological integration Date: Thu, 24 May 2001 08:48:52 -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 super speed. 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 To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 23:42:28 -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: Roger Bissell To: objectivism Subject: OWL: What is Intuition? Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2001 01:52:12 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 To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Intuition as second-order epistemological integration Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2001 13:16:58 -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 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now