Philosophy: All About Intuition

Philosophy without intuition is like air without oxygen. Sure, one can consider it. But it’s devoid of life sustaining content.

What is intuition? Does the fish crawling in the mud, searching for food, go according to intuition? Or is the fish making inferences? In Scientia Salon, confronted to that notion of mine, professional philosopher Massimo Pigliucci sneered that [when thinking about intuition] “thinking about fishes was not useful”.

Still fishes crawl, and they think.

Not An Obsolete Point Of View

Not An Obsolete Point Of View

In Latin, “intuitionem” means to look at, to consider. “Inferre” means to carry over.

People love to consider their faculty of reasoning is beyond that of animals. It makes them feel special. Anything else would be fishy, assuredly.

That’s definitely a form of speciesm. When a trout and a moray eel, or a grouper, establish a cooperative strategy for fishing (the grouper and trout are fast, the eel sneaks in cavities were prey tries to flee) do they intuit, or infer?

In an attempt to make themselves more noble, some philosophers invented the notion of “Socratic knowledge”.

When Socrates killed in combat four men, and desperately fought a rear guard action to (successfully) save a friend, after an Athenian defeat, was he using Socratic knowledge, or a type of behavior a lion does intuitively understand? Socrates obviously survived thanks to vitally important thinking, but not of the sort one has put in writing. Yet.

Philosophy is not exact science. Exact science uses bits of strictly defined logos (=logic), supported by incontrovertible facts. The philosophical method, instead, is all about guessing.

Guessing is crucial for science. No guessing, no science. All science starts with using judiciously the philosophical method. Guessing can rest on just one fact. Exact science rests on statistics, giving rise to incontrovertible theories about what the facts are, instead.

An example is the changed mindset in Greece after a giant meteorite landed in the north of country, more than 2,400 years ago. It was visited for centuries, and it made many Greeks realize that heavens was full of rocks (so the Moon is a rock, and thus the Earth another big rocky ball, etc.)

Inference is a point by point diagram. Quantum Physics shows us that this is not how the world works: the Quantum embraces the totality, and then determines the solution, establishing thus the point by point carrying on. This is exactly how electrons are carried around the chlorophyll molecule.

This is how mathematicians establish mathematics. Research mathematicians even endow terms in equation with personalities, using expression like “this guy”, “those guys”, etc… They play with their expressions exactly as my five year old daughter plays with her dolls: she pretends (as she puts it), and they pretend, just the same (I am a research mathematician, by the way, and talked in the best departments; I sneer when I see the likes of Hawking repeating what I exposed, to them, decades ago; there were Quantum loopholes in the standard General Relativity “Black Holes” reasoning).

Guessing the behavior of mathematical terms as if they were little guys with feelings is how mathematicians do it (trust that many of them not to tell you this, it would look undignified; dignity is everything to academic types, their mortgage depends upon it, let alone their self-worth).

When philosophy is fully deductive and thoroughly proven, it’s called science. When science is in the process of being guessed, it’s a philosophical debate.

It took 135 years to verify French mathematician Adhémar’s theory of the glaciations from the variations of Earth orbit (published 1842). What was it before that? Just inference, or intuition? I say both.

In truth, Adhémar’s theory was incorrect in the details. However he correctly predicted the existence of Antarctica (but with more ice than it has). Yet, Adhémar’s basic hunch, that glaciation arose from Earth’s orbit, and different insolation in the northern, versus the southern hemisphere was right.

So Adhémar got the first order of the theory right.

Take myself as an example: I suggest a number of first order theories.

1) For example I suggest that Lamarckism, that is, teleological evolution, really happens, because, well, our main physical theory, Quantum Physics, is teleological. The Quantum considers where things are going to find the solution.

How do we go from Quantum to life? Very simple: DNA, RNA and other molecules or crystals making the architecture of life are exquisitely delicate, full of hydrogen bonds, where hydrogen atoms are tunneling about, Quantum Mechanically. Those Quantum processes depend upon the space in which they deploy. Change the space, and the teleology changes.

All this is guessing, but it is very well informed guessing, and it suggests experiments.

2) Another example: I suggest inertia has to do with Quantum Entanglement. Now that’s really wild, but there are reasons for it. I do not know whether this is reasoning as a scientist, or a philosopher, or both.

However, let’s suppose for a moment this idea turns out to be true: at some point, someone, would have had to have the idea first. And the first idea, the first hunch, is the hardest. The first imaginative hyperjump into another world of possibilities.

3) Still another example: Dark Matter, I propose, has to do with remnants of incomplete Quantum Collapses. That too is an example of informed intuition, necessary in the first step towards checking whether this is true, or not. And whether it can become science.

Newton was not obsolete when he called his activities “Natural Philosophy

Inventing new thinking without using the philosophical method is impossible. Old truth: that’s science. Emerging science arises from philosophy.

Patrice Ayme’

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5 Responses to “Philosophy: All About Intuition”

  1. ianmillerblog Says:

    Ultimately, new science emerges from an induction/guess, depending on your point of view. Feynman said, “Guess, compute, compare with observation”, but in my view, the guess is taken from observations/experience.

    Needless to say, I have alternatives to (2) and (3).


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