As we understand the word, and, in vain, pursue attempts to comprehend the concept, “intuition” is the acquisition of knowledge, without proof, evidence or conscious reasoning nor any understanding as to how the knowledge was acquired. It is a purported species of “knowledge,” arrived at entirely without the process of thought. To reverse the usual format, we will first express our final conclusion, and thereafter state our supporting argument. We do not believe in any such thing. Critics, if any, have patience and kindly read on.
Any cursory reading of history, will inarguably reveal, that man’s great progress and advancement, proceeded to the degree that he employed his reason and intellect; and was retrogressive in periods when he did not. The Medieval “Dark Ages” was so named by later historians, for the reason that it is a period, exemplified by a dearth of reason or intellectual advancement, and exemplified by witch hunts, burning of “non- believers” and superstitious attribution of plagues and natural catastrophes, to black magic, practiced by the malignant influence, of arbitrarily chosen ethnic minorities.
The aptly named, 18th Century, “Age of Enlightenment,” effected a “sea-change” (actually, a “tsunami”) in man’s development, since it by contrast, extolled man’s use of his reason and empirical experience, rejecting, atavistic aphorism, superstition and irrational thought.
Our shining hero, is the 18th Century English philosopher, John Locke, who, famously declared that man is born with a “tabula rasa” (a blank slate), and that knowledge is acquired only through life experience. This, the enlightened philosophy of “Empiricism,” is in complete contradiction, to the “Rationalist” school of philosophy, which held that, not all knowledge is learned; some, they believed, is inspired. In fact, it is the Rationalist belief, that babies are born, inspired with certain inclinations and ideas. It may be interesting to observe, with respect to our theme, that Rationalists believed that basic information is “intuited”. Again, we feel that such a view is pure, unadulterated mishagas.*
As one grows older, it seems, he comes to understand a wise old observation on life, “The days are long, but the years are short.” One occasionally, takes the time to look back on the seemingly, unbelievable number of his expired years, and may, indeed, recall, albeit in a shadowy or vague manner, limited snippets of some unique or, especially memorable events. He may, interestingly, as, apparently is quite common, have moments when, considering the many years that have past, and the uncountable number of changing events, he has doubt as to whether a distinct recollection, is merely of some dream, rather than an actual experience.
To proceed to the point, it is incontrovertible, that conscious recall, of the multitude of long past, daily memories, is not possible; except perhaps, under professional hypnosis. As time goes by, we all experienced a plethora of events of every kind; certainly, too much to remember. But neurologists advise, that the brain has a remarkable capacity for the independent storage of past memories; so that its records very far exceed our capacity for recollection.
If we may be permitted to again refer to the revered, English philosopher, and Enlightenment empiricist, John Locke, [whose theories have, over the centuries, morphed into the status of undeniable common sense] it will be recalled, that the great man observed that we are born with a blank slate, and that everything, of which we have knowledge, has been acquired by experience. His theory, and the showing that the brain forgets little, will, we believe, amount to a rational explanation, of the so-called “miracle” of the purported concept of intuition.
The hint, firm hunch or feeling of prediction, or confident judgment, could not have logically, or conceivably, been created by some irrational, unthinking, personal provenance. The world recognizes the validity of Locke’s philosophy (life experience is the sole source of man’s knowledge) and therefore, the so called “intuition” would appear to be a feedback, or retrieval of inaccessible (forgotten) memory. The apparently magical hunch or immediate judgment, is in rational terms, the (unaware) result of some retrieved past experience.
However, in this great and tolerant Nation, where no manner of opinion should properly be discouraged, the reader, if he desires, may continue to think of “intuition” as the product of a miraculous talent, but if so, we would request that, to be generous, he also explain the noted, contemporary, absence of hobgoblins.
*Askin. Yiddish for “crazy talk”