Thursday, 24 September 2015

What is Intuition? Excerpt from The Genius Famine (my forthcoming book)

From Edward Dutton & Bruce G Charlton. The Genius Famine - why we need geniuses, why they're dying out, and why we must rescue them. University of Buckingham Press - in the press.

From the Chapter - The Creative Triad

What is intuition?

We could approach intuition by stating that intuition is the mode of thought of the private soul/ the real self/ inner consciousness - that is to say the most profound, the most secret, fundamental mode of thought. Intuition can be contrasted with two (lower, subordinated) modes of thinking: passions versus reason; the body v the brain; gut-feelings v head-knowledge; instinct v logic. These two modes are not absolutely distinct, but we think they can usefully be distinguished.

So, what is the thought mode of intuition? It is not by instinct nor by logic - but by something of both, and more. Therefore, intuition is a mode of thinking which simultaneously uses emotion and logic but operating in a context of (for example) motivation, purpose, meaning and relationships. In a nutshell, intuition uses all possible modes of thinking; and this is why it intuition leads to a greater feeling of sureness, of certainty, than other and more partial forms of thought.

The result of intuition is therefore an evaluation which is uniquely convincing because it is validated by the full range of positive responses. It is an insight that satisfies both logic and reason, and also ‘feels’ right. By contrast, if we use only (for example) logic, or only emotions, to evaluate something; then the evaluation will be incomplete, and evaluation in one sub-mode may be contradicted by evaluation in another sub-mode - as when logic and emotions reach different conclusions, point in different directions, contradict one-another – and we feel confused or torn because our head and our heart are in conflict.

Only the evaluations of intuition are fully satisfying, fully convincing, and harmonious. Only the evaluations of intuition mobilize the whole range of thought modes. Thus intuition is the most powerful mode of thought, and the only mode of thought capable of mobilizing the fullest degree of motivation. Intuition is what makes us care most about ideas: it is what engages us with creativity. This is why intuition is necessary to the highest levels of creativity, to the greatest attainments of genius.