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Saturday, 9 January 2016

Where does intuition come from?

Intuition is the complex, as of yet unexplained phenomenon which enables people to gain knowledge without any direct or obvious pathway from raw, disconnected components, to a unified, coherent idea. The source of intuition is unknown, and therefore knowledge gathered through it is often questioned for its usefulness, validity and accuracy.

The source and process of intuition can be viewed in a mathematical way. I propose a viewpoint, not my own or original, that takes into account our human perspective and its relationship with the physical reality truths.

This can be boiled down to our own nature, and its necessary obedience of any natural principles or laws. In essence, this means that we are part of the universe, on the deepest and loosest level of connection, through the fabrics that span the farthest regions of the world, by the most fundamental principles such as time or gravity; and more intimately in our environment, through the fabrics that span closer regions of the world, by more specific principles such as biochemical processes and brain interpretation of sensory signals.

We can therefore access these laws within ourselves, by ourselves, as a function of our position in the immediate and broader universe we are found in. Not only are we observers of the environment and all its phenomena, but we are first and foremost, part of it. From the most basic levels through to the highest, we are a prime sample, test subject or specimen of the universe itself.

Much of the universe can be considered not to be accessible to our perception in an obvious way, such as light in our eyes and matter against the Pacinian corpuscles in our skin. Yes the spectrum of sensation that is available, the synergy between different senses, as well as our considerable processing power of all of them through the brain, amounts to a respectable amount of information.

By a process of reverse engineering, we can therefore work out the fundamental truths from the superficial expressions of these truths in ourselves and our lives. Higher, more virtual interpretations of these signals may occur mostly or solely within the brain, with minimal novel sensory input, such as in the case of intuition in matters of social interaction. Lower, physical interpretations of signals occurring in a more physical sense, may provide starting points and clues to fundamental laws, such as gravity, movement, diffusion, etc.

In a first instance, these ideas are purely experienced, and therefore not laid out systematically in an academic sense. Whilst the latter process greatly enables the dissemination and progress of those ideas, it is important to not dismiss the process of gathering these experiences in itself; for they are the basis of any further knowledge.

"There is no true interpretation of anything; interpretation is avehicle in the service of human comprehension. The value ofinterpretation is in enabling others to fruitfully think about anidea."
- Andreas Buja, Professor of Statistics

This can be achieved to varying degrees, depending on people's different abilities to reverse engineer these occurrences back to the fundamental truths. It is therefore expected that any given knowledge resulting from it may be more or less usable or accurate, since the processors of intuitive knowledge are people. Like a furniture factory, each person may well have equally valid raw materials (wood) and aspirations for the end-point knowledge (furniture), but different ability to accomplish this determines whether the end product really is of high quality or not.

Intuition is therefore a variable. This is important in appreciating that its knowledge products cannot be treated in black and white. They may be ill-intentioned conclusions or useless concepts, as well as enlightening nuggets of truth and direction that ultimately guide us through our exploration of the universe.