My troubles with Intuition led to me defining it.

Ok, so I keep around a lot of my old blogs that part of me really wants to delete, see I don’t mind being wrong, I often am, but I don’t always like having a reminder around…but I keep them around for a purpose, so I will not forget about it and keep working at it.  So, in my Meyer’s-Brigg’s dissections and a few other points I argue that intuition is a function of logic, which if you read a great deal of science, math, and philosophy that often portrayed in opposition to each other.  Now, I still held onto this idea for a bit, knowing that is was contrary to established thought and have be chewing on it.  See, the problem for me is that my intuition is very logical, when I have to make an intuitive decision and then revisit it to break it down, I can see logic at the core.  So, it was  a bit of personal bias all jumbled up in it, but I have been trying to hammer it down.

So, like the word context, the definition of intuition itself is a royal pain in the arse.  First, it is all too often confused with instinct, or feelings, or belief, it becomes connotatively and denotatively muddled. Well, I dislike muddled and I dislike ambiguity, these things create barriers to communication and since intuition is a fairly important component of philosophy and human cognition, I am not willing to settle for some vague pseudo-definitions.  So like my definition of personal context, which I reduced down to an equation (Inherent epistemology+Socio-Cultural epistemology+Life Experience=Personal Context), I am going to hammer out a definition of intuition as well.

Ok, so the problem with intuition is that everyone has it and thus my earlier assertion of it being a function of logic cannot apply to everyone since not everyone has a mental make up that favors logical thinking, neither is everyone feeling, rational, empirical, judgmental, etc.  In short, intuition is a function of one’s personal context.  What is intuition then? Intuition is in my perspective a survival function for the conscious intelligence, what replaces a great deal of instinct in beings with conscious thought (interesting test there for a philosophical zombie I am sure, if one has no consciousness and I argue intuition requires consciousness then a philosophical zombie could not exist since it is supposed to be indistinguishable from a non-zombie human, and a lack of intuition would certainly make it different, unless it was replaced fully with instinct….hrmm something to think on).  Now Intuition is a subconscious (or preconscious if you like) process, it is reactionary but not a foreign and unknowable agent, we can with some effort trace back an intuitive decision provided we desire to do so.  In survival based situations, perceived existential threats, or when just busy and in a hurry and lacking the current mental power to direct out conscious mind towards a particular task, intuition plays an important role in making a decision.  Though as with many survival based developments in human cognition, we apply it more broadly than the likely naturally selective factors involved in it required.  So, when the proverbial crap hits the fan a decision must be reached quickly, this is the survival role of intuition, which is going to be based on our on individual personal context.  See, our conscious existence is not the totality of who we are, we like to think the frontal cortex is in the drivers seat, after all that gives us total self-determination and accountability, and who enjoys thinking they are mere meat puppets to basic neurology? Well, like it or not, and modern neuroscience agrees, we are more often than not just that, see we cannot hold all we know, which is just a tiny of sliver of all that can be known in our conscious minds, we would fail as social organisms and not be able to meaningfully interact with anything if we did, we essentially be something far other than human, and I quite like being human failings, foibles and all that.

Intuition is then a function of personal context, so if one understands their own context and has a decent approximation of another person’s personal context you can more readily grasp how that particular neurotype is going to utilize their intuition when it is required.  In this sense too, since intuition utilizes one’s epistemologies, aka knowledge, what we know, how we know, etc. (and a reminder here, it does not matter if what we “know” is right, wrong, or irrelevant) will be influenced in it’s accuracy vs fallibility based upon the individuals knowledge base.; this is why many scientific discoveries have come about via intuition and not just conscious application of logic and the scientific method. Likewise, careers that require frequent and rapid decision making often put individuals with experience in charge, because their intuition is better honed due to a more expansive knowledge base.

So intuition is a sub (or pre) conscious utilization of our knowledge when applicable or how we know things, i.e. epistemology as a survival mechanism.  It is suspect at all times, but in reality does not have to be completely accurate, it needs to be accurate enough often enough to mitigate a disaster, keep one safe, and probably was pretty easily selected for biologically since bad intuition can have potentially fatal results.  Since intuition is based on personal context, anyone who has a suspect knowledge base, a rigid ideology or worldview, pseudoscientific tendencies, well their intuition should be suspect as well.  From a survival perspective then when folks have multiple intuitive responses and no time to reach a consensus, go with the person with the largest or most applicable knowledge base to that situation, don’t let ego get in the way, especially when there is no time for it dealing with an immediate existential threat.  Trusting one’s intuition in situations where a quick decision is needed is an important part of human cognition, relying purely on intuition though over rational thought though is not likely to net a high enough long term reliability to be a desirable approach to one’s existence. Yet, since we often do rely on our intuition, it is a good idea to understand how one thinks, processes, interprets, and stores social and sensory data, to better understand how we come to these quick decisions, and remember that our ways of knowing influence what decisions we come to intuitively, so check your facts, vet you ideologies, metacognate, and understand who you are through a healthy sense of self identity and self understanding and not just rote learning, take some conscious control in directing how your subconscious processes work, and then you can eke out more self-determination instead of being an exceptionally predictable culturally programmed rote learning robot, which makes you a potential victim for pretty much any scam artist one can think of.


2 thoughts on “My troubles with Intuition led to me defining it.

  1. 1kingart3 says:

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
    …Rational thought or Intuition ?
    You are in good company thinking thinking came first.
    I think there is far better evidence that intuition came first.
    My page “What its About” might interest you.
    There I assume that intuition is the basis of mind.
    I also assume that logic is a convolution of intuition,
    rather than intuition being a convolution of logic.

    –happy daze


  2. You know, I had not actually put some conscious effort into which came first, more looking at the current extant inherent wiring. Which is why I went with consciousness over intuition, but I do not think consciousness necessarily means rationality. I suppose I will at some point have to do more work on consciousness as well, I tend to see most of our tendency to view consciousness as horrendously anthropocentric, believing it means complex thought vs an understanding of existing within an environment, etc. So, for example I do not believe humans are the only biological creatures that experience some form of consciousness, we just have an extremely complicated conscious experience. So, in our current existence as humans, intuition goes back to being a survival function utilizing what we have learned, but plenty of other creatures learn, even share information socially such as primates, dolphins, elephants, etc. I suppose the debate has to focus on when one makes the differentiation between having consciousness and not, I tend to hold views similar to Dan Dennett in this regard, that it is not some clear cut “your conscious or not”, but instead a gradient. So, I do not think rational thought as we understand it would be required at all for intuition, just the ability to modify behavior through acquiring and utilizing data, thus being above instinct which is a hardwired response. So, intuition should improve though in both complexity and potentially accuracy (assuming accurate information and knowledge) with increasingly complex consciousness, thus for one wired to be inherently logical, it would influence one’s form of intuitiveness, but is not the origin of intuition itself. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, thus why I see intuition as originally a survival function, and like so many other developed neurological processes that remain and a honed over generations, that we begin to utilize what originally may have had a fairly narrow survival function into something far more expansive, in relation to our ability to think consciously, but it did not form as a result of rationality and what we now see as logical thought, which would originate in biological pattern thinking. Logic get’s tricky though, there is the understanding of logic in the form of mathematics, or folks may perceive it in relationship to arguments and syllogism, granted they are fundamentally the same processes, just how folks view the word logic can vary quite a great deal, such as Spock who was not defined as much by his pure logic as his pure rationality as it intersected with logical thinking. Good stuff to think about for sure though.


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