Monday, September 10, 2012

Intuition and Perspective

Previously, I tended to see intuition as a kind of deception that held a privileged position. Our intuitions varied too greatly between individuals and, especially, different cultures to be any kind of accurate description of the facts. Naturally, discarding intuition makes foundationalism crumble, leading eventually to my Epistemic Lenses/Vantage Points/Perspectivism once one realizes that Coherentism and Pragmatism can only rule out very wrong ideas but not necessarily discover true ones. However, intuition cannot really be removed from the forefront; even if we deny that intuition is discovering true facts we cannot deny that in everyday life we really just use reason to bridge the gaps between new information and old intuition. Only those of us who are aware of the frailties of foundational epistemology try to get away from that method of thinking and living.

It seems to me now that perhaps there is a place for intuition if we accept the kind of pluralism suggested by Epistemic Lenses.

If one craves honesty, then one must admit that intuition does not discover true, objective facts. If they did, then all intuition would have to come to the same conclusion – perhaps with a handful of exceptions that we could call diseased intuition. However, we also see that science does not seem to hang on to anything – it is free floating as its foundations cannot be established with rigor, with some branches standing on especially ghostly cornerstones. This is where I tend to mention Epistemic Lenses, where the world looks different depending on what presuppositions and values one interprets the world through. Intuition, however, could also serve as an explanation of Epistemic Lenses: we intuit certain foundational beliefs that make it possible to interpret the rest of the world, but intuition varies because it proceeds from the nature of the one who intuits.

Intuition is not true, but through intuition we can come to starting beliefs that make it possible to understand the rest of the world. But the intuitions vary from person to person, making the world as seen through each person's eyes different from the world as seen through other eyes. Not so distinct that we cannot relate to one another, but distinct enough that the perceptions are not identical.

Do we intuit values? I do not think that we do. I would not use the word “intuit” here. Do I intuit that strawberry ice cream is superior to vanilla? Do I intuit that it would be better for people to be allowed to make their own decisions for their lives? Rather I would use the word “love.” I love strawberry ice cream more than vanilla. I love that people choose their own paths. We confuse “love” for “intuition” when we want others to love as we do, but once we are comfortable with the sliver of loneliness that stems from loving without the support of the nature of the world, then we see that intuition and love work in different ways to form our perspective.

But which is more basic? Which is more primary: love or intuition? We intuit the world according to what we love, and we love according to what we intuit. That is, we see the foundations of the world the way that we want to see them, but we also desire according to how we think the world is. I can not say which one has first privilege. I want to say that it is probably messy and layered, with an intuition being reevaluated by a love which leads to a new intuition and probably a new love.

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