Author: Spiros Kakos
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Science people tend to laugh at the importance other people show at intuition. But they shouldn’t laugh at all. If one has read at least some History of Science, then he will know that the greatest scientific discoveries came to be due to intuition and intuition only!
Just think about it. The idea of a “invisible field affecting other masses from distance instantly” would certainly look absurd at the time of Newton. The idea that “time is relative” would certainly look irrational at the time of Eistein. However these great ideas, which came to be not as a result of experiments but as a result of the fantasy of some great people, are the ideas which formed physics! In a way, a genious is more irrational than rational! And this is what makes him (or her) unique. Pincare emphasized the role of intuition in mathematical discoveries and Riemann actually found out the way prime numbers are distributed based only on intuition. And surely someone cannot say that the new String Theory or the Multiple Universes theories of todays physics have come to life based on “evidence” or “experiments”… And the catalogue goes on…
Since we are kinds we are taught how to think. But only if we think differently will we discover new things! Only if we forget how to think will we actually think freely! And in order to open new doors, we must forget of the axioms on which we were once based upon. Our “Geometry” was based on many axioms which we all thought as “correct” for thousands of years. Look what happened when we simply chose to change them: a whole new universe of new Geometries came into existence! The same applies for all other scientific fields. Science was supposed to always seek the truth. But since many years ago, it has seized to do so. Whenever a certain axiom worked sufficiently for some time, “scientists” just forgot that it was an axiom and started looking at it as if it were some kind of “innevitable truth”. And then everything can go wrong…
Intuition is what humans use to formulate axioms. And in that sense it is much more fundamendal and of “higher essense” than Logic or any other human construction which is based on such entities (i.e. axioms). Intuition is the keyhole through which we glance at Reality. Logic and other methodologies are just by-products of intuition. Intuition looks at the world directly, while all other methodologies we have available only look at the cosmos through the lens we have built for them.
What could happen when we stop thinking that everything is made of matter? What could happen when we stop thinking that something can be right and wrong at the same time (see Dialethism), as an electron can be in many different states (see quantum mechanics)? What could happen we we stop thinking that humans are nothing more than inorganic molecules bound together? What could happen if we stop thinking that a set of electic currents can produce that unique immaterial thing we call “consciouness”? What could happen if we trust our inner feelings about us having a purpose here on this cosmos? What could happen if we trust our intuition that there must be a reason for something to exist instead of nothing? What would happen if we stop thinking that free will is an illusion (as many materialists today claim) and start thinking that it may actually exist (as our feeling tells us so)?
Our intuition tells us that the answer to many of the abovementioned questions could be the key to finding out who we really are. Or as someone might say: to remember what we once knew about who we are, before out analysis-mania ruined everything. Are we scientific enough to trust our feelings?
In the words of Wittgenstein, “Man has to awaken to wonder – and so perhaps do peoples. Science is a way of sending him to sleep again…”
Related article: Scientific theories: The illusion of their “progress”
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Some good thoughts on Intuition Spiros. I recommend that you look at Walker Percy’s “The Message in the Bottle”. In it he shows how difficult language is to come by, and consequently intuition or guessing is involved in all kinds of understanding and daily life.
Your claim that intuition looks at the world “directly” is interesting (but probably wrong). Intuition is often looking beyond what is present to our sense perception, making a guess about something that we can not see. Intuition and “faith” are very similar in that we trust or believe despite being somewhat uncertain.
If we take Hume’s problem of induction seriously we would see that most things in life are uncertain, and it is only through faith that they seem to be certain. We have a deep faith that our world will not change, that our empirical observations will be useful tomorrow.
How we choose to respond to uncertainty is the mark of our character.
Intuition is the only way we can see the world as closely as “it is”. Anything else (e.g. Logos or Science) is BASED on intuition. Unless you believe that axioms (on which science is based) are somehow proven…
I think I would rather put it, “Intuition is the only way we can see the world as it MIGHT be.” Some skeptics would say that we cannot see the world as it is, even with intuition. But if we go that far, to even say our intuitions can not be reflecting anything real, than I’m not sure what we can do anything other than throw up our hands and say, “everything is an illusion!” (But even that we would not be able to know!) I think even the skeptic has to admit that the world MIGHT be the way our intuition sees it. But we also have to admit that our intuitions MIGHT be wrong in whole or in part – that our intuitions might be an illusion (Because sometimes our intuition does fail us).
I don’t think I said that the axioms upon which the sciences are based have been proven. If they have been “proven” in any way they have “proven useful” to many – at least for the time-being. Scientists, like religious people place FAITH in certain principles, certain Intuitions (For example they place faith in an intuition that observations made today will stand tomorrow. For instance, hydrogen gas and oxygen will burn to create heat and water; and the reaction won’t create Silver or Hamburgers the size of the moon, or the Mona-Lisa). We have to admit though that we do not ‘know’ what will happen tomorrow – with absolute certainty. Maybe tomorrow the world will be different and hamburgers will fly out of the walls – as the result of a reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. We have FAITH however that our empirical observations will remain the same (At least I have this faith). Despite this faith, I still have to admit that it is possible (Not contradictory) for the world to be very different tomorrow – Maybe tomorrow the world will be more like Wonderland or Oz, or a bizarre dream, But I’m not counting on it.
Some scientists don’t understand certain principles/axioms/intuitions to be the objects of faith, rather they say that these things are the TRUTH – they say they KNOW tomorrow will not be like wonderland, that empirical observation uncovers absolute truth (But this is Dogmatic, no?). My hope is that tomorrow they wake from some convincing dreams (indistinguishable from reality)!
As a humanity, we have all been conditioned or indoctrinated, for all of history by ‘theological’ exegesis, particularly by those with their own ‘religious’ claims and agendas, to accept that a literal proof of God is not possible for faith. And thus all discussion and apologists ‘theodicy’ is contained within this self limiting intellectual paradigm and bubble of presumption, especially evident in the frictions between science and religion. It would now appear that all sides squabbling over the God question, religious, atheist and history itself have it wrong! That bubble could now burst at any time!
The first wholly new interpretation for two thousand years of the moral teachings of Christ is published on the web. Radically different from anything else we know of from history, this new teaching is predicated upon a precise and predefined experience, a direct individual intervention into the natural world by omnipotent power to confirm divine will, command and covenant, “correcting human nature by a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries.” So like it or no, a new religious claim testable by faith, meeting all Enlightenment criteria of evidence based causation now exists. Nothing short of a religious revolution is getting under way. More info at http://www.energon.org.uk
We do not need biological evolution as much as we need ethics. And ethics of the “old time” that is. Our dogmatic thinking which calls for all old ideas to be worse than the newer ones, cannot be applied to ethics. (and not in many other sectors, but especially ethics) Science must start listening to religion as religion has learned to listen to science.