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Intuition and intellect



Intuition and intellect

This paper connects disparate existing ideas. It does not follow a logical deductive path. It starts in many places and leads many places to paint a picture of reality that is consistent with what we know, internally coherent and extraordinary in its implications. Our two fundamental assumptions are a crossroads where these paths meet and diverge. There are many reasons for adopting these assumptions and many implications of them. The journey across this terrain is more intuitive than intellectual but it is an intuition firmly rooted in intellect.

Western academia knows how to develop and foster intellect but not intuition. Those in the creative arts are more aware of what intuition is and how it can be developed. This is ironic since many of the greatest scientists such as the physicists Einstein, Bohr and Feynman were more intuitive geniuses than intellectual ones.

Intuition is a pattern recognition process. It senses when many pieces fit together to form a coherent whole not unlike facial recognition in which many features combine to form the face of someone familiar. Carl Jung saw intuition and sensation as opposite sides of the same coin[7]. These are Jung's two `irrational functions'. The former is focused on immediate experience and the latter on where the experience came from or may lead too. Intuitive people can be blind to to the stone that is right in front of them and sensation types can be blind to the implications of what they see.

Intuition was crucial in developing these ideas and is crucial in comprehending them. Intuitive talent is becoming increasingly important. Intuition has always led the way in creating the new idea or seeing the new possibility that intellect could develop. As we have mastered the territory that is well defined enough for intellect to deal with more of the major issues we confront fall outside of that domain.

Intuition is not as quick as intellect but it is deeper. Intellect can easily grasp things as a series of complex operations. This is impossible for intuition. Intuition must know how the operations relate to each other and to existing understanding. Intuition tries to make as many connections as it can. It easily makes connections with little or no meaning or relevance. Intuition tends to see too may connections or possibilities and intellect too few. Creativity often requires a difficult union between these two.

Intuition takes time. That is why it often helps after thoroughly exploring and understanding a problem to shift ones attention elsewhere. There seems to be an unconscious process of making connections that can often solve otherwise intractable problems. Of course there is no intuitive only or intellectual only learning. All learning involves sequences of steps, playing with ideas and relating new ideas to old ones.


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