How can we keep from trying to explain something that came out of nowhere to solve a problem as something that was “sent down from above”?
Intuition is often referred to as “readily available knowledge“, which has the property to “suddenly” appear in the head of an individual. But we often fail to take into account the fact that we have long been preoccupied with solving this problem.
Intuition is viewed as a method to attain philosophical knowledge, ability to perceive information, the method of decision-making in critical situations, and ability to successfully deal with the situation during uncertainty, and also as an instinct. With such an extensive activity context, it is necessary to clarify that “intuition” is primarily a cognitive process.
However, it does not work the way we are accustomed to think: when thinking process leads to intuitive response. This process follows “different rules”: after a long process of thinking over and over and failing to come up with an idea, we suddenly come up with the right idea! When trying to explain intuition, we must remember that we do not have enough knowledge about the workings of the brain inside our skulls.
The fact is that at the conscious level, only a tiny fraction of information is processed. Not surprisingly, our unconscious state contains much more information than we are able to notice.
We can confidently say that an individual knows a lot more than he thinks he does! After all, any problem to be constantly focused on can exert a lot of pressure! And, as philosophers like to say, “the ray of enlightenment” requires as much energy as well-known laser beam, so prolonged pressure to think over and over ultimately prevents creative solutions. Switching to other types of activities and taking breaks can be very helpful.
Strictly speaking, intuition differs from other types of cognitive activities primarily by having unconscious “incubation period”, “distraction from the problem,” which creates the illusion of surprise in the final outcome.
Trust your body
In general, there are body, sensual, intellectual and social types of intuition.
Body (or physical) intuition. By and large, intuition is the ability to use “unconventional” sources of information, specifically, our own body sensations in order to solve a problem. No wonder that in some areas of psychological practice a popular phrase “trust your body” is used. People who use body intuition are doing exactly that, they rely on body sensations and based on those, they reach conclusions and make decisions in areas where other sources of information are traditionally utilized. Some of these examples include decision-making when purchasing shares at stock exchange or during relationships with others people.
The source of knowledge also includes “body memory”, a striking example of which are unique skills of athletes and musicians. If you try to consciously figure out how the ball hits the soccer goal or a basket, then this will certainly be a result of a minimum set of complex physical calculations. And an athlete, who has no idea about physical calculations and equations, simply sends the ball into the basket, guided solely by the acquired intuitive body sensations.
The example with musicians is even more perplexing. It is known within professional circles that a violinist is able to feel the change in musical tone, “spacing out” with a fingertip the lengths in tenths of a millimeter.
Sensual or emotional intuition. Strictly speaking, this type of intuition is the most “famous” since it is familiar to almost everyone, and is even reflected in such famous expressions as “cold feet”, “stone heart”, “troubled soul”, which show manifestations of anxiety that plays an essential role in our sense of security.
This type of intuition, perhaps, is also the most widely available as various types of “hunches”. It sometimes happens in life, when everything seems to be perfect, but the heart and soul are restless and tell otherwise. But not everyone is capable of trusting these intuitive signs, and notice these manifestations of anxiety some time after something had happened. And then they begin recalling that they did not feel right the day before for some reason, while adding to this a bunch of prophetic dreams and premonitions.
Bearing this in mind, this type of intuition is perhaps the most unverifiable, because it is a characteristic of those who lived through an event. And after the fact, it is difficult to distinguish between the presence of intuition and fantasies or desire to become famous. Although it is widely known that one of the passengers of the sunken “Titanic” did not board the ship at the last moment, having forewarnings.
Insight solves puzzles
Intellectual intuition. Conventional science views this type of intuition as a complex joint outcome of the rational and sensory perception, when a difficult task of intellectual thinking is aided by old and reliable methods of understating the world through symbols and images. If we examine numerous examples of “insights” in technical and scientific fields, it is apparent that the “enlightenment” contains some symbolic “hint”.
These hints help us to understand the essence of what a few seconds ago seemed just a jumble of formulas, facts and results of calculations devoid of any logic. It can be that the elements of insight has long been brewed in the head of the creator and intuitive approach only helped to solve the puzzle. No wonder Robert Sternberg and Todd Labert identified five “components” of creativity: knowledge of the matter, creative thinking skills, reckless personality, intrinsic motivation and creative environment.
Intellectual intuition sometimes includes “subcategories”: professional, scientific and creative, although there is no need in categorizing them this way. All of the three subcategories are identical to each other.
10 seconds without mysticism
Social intuition. Famous American psychologist David Myers in his book “Intuition. Its Powers and Perils” also identifies social intuition, by which he means many different in origins types of unconscious features of our perception of individuals of our own kind. So, for example, figuring out whether a certain person is dangerous to us and what his intentions are, takes only ten seconds after we first met with this person.
Our conscious and unconscious assessments of a stranger often diverge, even to the point of being the opposite. The more often we see a person, the more attractive he or she seems to us. We tend to attribute certain properties to someone we meet, relying on unrelated factors, such as environment in which we have met the person.
In order to paint the complete picture, we must mention that the outstanding Russian philosopher Nikolai Lossky has also introduced the type of mystical intuition, by which he meant something related to the highest form of intellectual knowledge in the field of “abstract ideas”, the type of mathematical way of thinking. In general, this kind of intuition can be safely called the “most rare” because it is clearly a characteristic of only several dozen of people in history, most of whom never intersected in time and space.
A wife or a psychic?
Men’s and women’s intuition. In conclusion, it is worth to mention the differences in intuitive abilities among genders. More correctly, perhaps, it is not about male and female intuition, but rather about different abilities in its use. Numerous studies show that women are much more “intuitive” than men.
Traditionally, it is related to a number of female characteristics, including greater empathy, which is based on better recognition of the human emotional states. Life experience confirms that women are more precise in determining whether a person loves someone, or pretends to, or who of the two people is the big boss and who is subordinate, whether a particular person is lying or telling the truth.
So, all sorts of jokes about “psychic” abilities of wives trying to determine the truthfulness of “presented evidence” from a guilty spouse can be quite justifiable.