A lot of good math books I've used have helped me build intuition by lots of examples. There are philosophy books which employ the same technique in logic, etc. Are meditative practices the Continental equivalent? If so, what does the philosophy of meditation's literature say on harnessing both of them for optimization purposes?

  • 1
    What is to be optimized according to your question?
    – Jo Wehler
    Apr 5 at 10:09
  • 2
    Intuition as metric measured should be optimized. One such way of measuring this might be by seeing if participants can guess answers to problems relevant Apr 5 at 10:46

3 Answers 3


Continental philosophers do not (as a rule) advocate meditation. That's more a feature of Eastern philosophy and Western theology. The main difference between Continental and Anglophone philosophy is that Continental philosophy prioritizes rational introspection while Anglophone philosophy rests more on external validation.

Mathematics is primarily a matter of rational introspection, so the intuitions considered here are more in line with Continental philosophy. But mathematics dovetails nicely with empirical research so it's often associated more with Anglophone philosophy. Don't let that confuse you.

  • +1 The OP would benefit from reading iep.utm.edu/phenom
    – J D
    Apr 5 at 15:07
  • Brain doesn't exist. "Brain" is just an idea in consciousness. See my paper "How Self-Reference Builds the World": philpeople.org/profiles/cosmin-visan Apr 21 at 22:45
  • @VisanCosmin: The mental concept 'brain' refers to an observable phenomena which is assumedly 'real'. I'm a fan of continental language theory, but there is a point where it disappears into its own navel; I try to avoid that. Apr 21 at 23:21

Intuition in a certain domain develops when you are familiar with the domain due to much experience. E.g.,

  • intuition about the character of a person results from interaction with much other people,

  • intuition in science results from doing science by yourself,

  • intuition about the content of an artwork results from having seen works of the same artist,

  • intuition about the goal of a philosopher results from studying other of his/her texts.

Intuition may serve as a heuristic. But it should not be considered the final judgement. It always needs to be questioned and checked. The methods of checking depend on the domain in question. In mathematics it means checking the proof, in philosophy it requires to find the premisses and to check the reliability of the arguments.

Meditation is a wide field of methods. Like insights from intuition also insights from meditation need to checked. Sometimes meditation can be considered the idle state of our brain. IMO neither mathematics nor philosophy can be harnessed to improve meditation.


I do not think there is a general metric for intuition, so if you arrive at a functional conclusion, intuition is valid. For example, a hobby of mine is shooting blowguns. Hang in there with me: Below are two descriptions of how one should aim a blowgun.

Every blowgun has an identical twin spirit. The spirit is very shy and cannot be seen if you look directly at it. Hold the blowgun to your mouth and look only at the target. When you do, the spirit blowgun will appear beside the one in your hand. Between them is the spirit path the dart must follow. Center the spirit path on the target and shoot the dart. If the path is to the target, you will not miss. But if you look at the blowgun the spirit twin will disappear, and the dart will lose its way on the path.

When you hold a blowgun to your mouth and focus only on the target your binocular vision will produce a double image of the blowgun in your peripheral vision. The double image will be sustained only as long as you focus on the target instead of the blowgun. If you center the area between the double image on the target, the dart path will be aligned horizontally with the target, greatly increasing the likelihood that you will hit the target.

Both descriptions contain the requirements to shoot a blowgun accurately. The first intuitively considers the blowgun to be a living entity and takes the spirit world for granted. The second describes it in more or less scientifically accurate terms, based on what we know about binocular vision. Which is the 'valid' description? I mostly buy into the scientific description. But there are moments, when the wind is very still, and the darts improbably strike the center of the target again and again, I know I am in the 'zone'. I feel and see the spirit path. That feeling is the real reason I mess with that dumb hobby in the first place.

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