What Is Intuition?

My intuition made me work. Many people think that the progress of the human race is based on experiences of an empirical, critical nature, but I say that true knowledge is to be had only through a philosophy of deduction. For it is intuition that improves the world, not just following the trodden path of thought. Intuition makes us look at unrelated facts and then think about them until they can all be brought under one law. To look for related facts means holding onto what one has instead of searching for new facts. Intuition is the father of new knowledge, while empiricism is nothing but an accumulation of old knowledge. Intuition, not intellect, is the open “sesame” of yourself.

- Albert Einstein, as quoted in Einstein and the Poet: In Search of the Cosmic Man

Podcast of the Day

Turns out that Galileo was right and Aristotle was wrong: in a vacuum, a feather and a bowling ball will fall from a tall building at exactly the same speed. This is not to say that Aristotle wasn’t a brilliant thinker; empirical evidence shows he just had a wrong intuition. Even the most powerful intuitions we have can be misleading. Why is it, then, that many philosophers treat them as crucial when arguing for a conclusion? Can intuitions lead us to important truths about the world, or do they merely teach us about ourselves? John and Ken trust their instincts with Alvin Goldman from Rutgers University, author of Knowledge in a Social World.

Listen to the Philosophy Talk episode: Is intuition a guide to truth?

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

The word intuition is derived from the Latin intueor – to see; intuition is thus often invoked to explain how the mind can “see” answers to problems or decisions in the absence of explicit reasoning – a “gut reaction”.

Several recent popular psychology books – such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow and Jonah Lehrer’s The Decisive Moment – have emphasised this “power of intuition” and our ability to “think without thinking”, sometimes suggesting we should rely more heavily on intuition than deliberative (slow) or “rational” thought processes.

Such books also argue that most of the time we act intuitively – that is, without knowing why we do things we do.

But what is the evidence for these claims? And what is intuition anyway?...

Continue reading Ben Newell's article: What is Intuition?

Bonus Link of the Day

This entry addresses the nature and epistemological role of intuition by considering the following questions: (1) What are intuitions?, (2) What roles do they serve in philosophical (and other “armchair”) inquiry?, (3) Ought they serve such roles?, (4) What are the implications of the empirical investigation of intuitions for their proper roles?, and... (5) What is the content of intuitions prompted by the consideration of hypothetical cases?...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Intuition by Joel Pust

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 Attention | Intelligence | Wisdom

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