The idea of non-discursive, or intuitive intellect, is the form of intellect where knowledge is not broken up into finite pieces (like humans), but rather a single act of understanding. This is generally attributed to God's intellect. Is this form of intellect generally considered possible? Here's two (one and two) examples of people which apparently think intuitive intellect, at least how they define it, is problematic. Is it really?

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    If it is generally considered possible depends on the meaning of "generally" and "possible". The idea arguably goes back to Brahman/Atman of Upanishads, and appears in the West at least as early as Plotinus and his One. Kant was of the opinion that "intellectus archetypus" is conceivable, although adamant that humans have none of it. His idealist successors (Fichte, Schelling) and some life philosophers (Bergson) were more optimistic. Kant's model for this intellect radicalized how our productive imagination relates to its own creations, most intimate comprehension without dissection.
    – Conifold
    Nov 26, 2016 at 22:02
  • @Conifold Interesting, but this question is more if it's possible for God to have these traits, not humans.
    – APCoding
    Nov 26, 2016 at 22:04
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    Anything possible for humans is possible for God. But if humans are discussing something it better be something in some way accessible to them. The Upanishads and Plotinus explicitly state, and Kant and his successors imply, that they are indeed talking about the Divine intellect.
    – Conifold
    Nov 26, 2016 at 22:41
  • @Conifold I see, makes sense. Do modern philosophers share the same or similar views?
    – APCoding
    Nov 26, 2016 at 23:04
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    The Boethian solution to reconciling God's foreknowledge with free will was adopted by Aquinas, and remains a canon of Catholic theology to this day. It appeals to God's eternal view as "single complete grasp of all events in the entire span of time" from beyond time. Modern debates on eternalism are reviewed by SEP.
    – Conifold
    Nov 26, 2016 at 23:27

6 Answers 6


I feel that this is an issue best addressed by analysis of the question. The phrase 'intuitive intellect' may be an oxymoron. When people speak of intuitive knowledge they usually mean 'knowledge by identity' and not the results of intellectual activity. Thus they speak of 'non-intuitive immediate knowledge'.

Where knowledge is produced by intellectual activity then it may be incorrect activity (there's many a slip 'tween cup and lip) and so it can only ever be provisional or contingent. Aristotle concludes that true knowledge entails an identity of knower and known precisely because intellectual activity is never fully trustworthy or in complete contact with the reality being intellectualised.

The idea of knowledge that is 'not broken into pieces' is discussed by the physicist Paul Davies in his popular book 'Mind of God'. He concludes on grounds of logic that if it is possible then it must be by way of the practices of the mystics, who seek to go beyond the intellect to realise the unity of consciousness.

Where the intellect is informed by a realisation of unity this would be a profound state associated with with the phenomenon of 'nonduality' and also with what in esoteric Christianity is called 'Christ-consciousness'. Only at this level would knowledge cease to be fragmented by our language and concepts, and it could be attained only by becoming what we are, in other words by means other than the intellect.

For progress we would need to define the phrase 'intuitive intellect' very carefully, and I suspect that there's no way to do it that makes much sense.


It could be argued that intuitive intellect is all there really is, and that the pieces into which we analyze thinking are not about intelligence, but about self-verification, social expectations and reverse engineering of designs for re-use.

From a point of view like Dennett's, the brain is a massively parallel device: it makes holistic decisions based upon its entire internal state at any given instant. It is not a serial computer, like a Turing Machine. The idea that thought is piecemeal and sequentially comes together is part of our historical limitation to serial channels of communication, and has nothing to do with the actual experience of thinking.

If you take that to an extreme (well beyond Dennett's own position), direct intuition is what we do. It is all we do, intellectually. Whatever has happened as put our brain in a given state, but the thought comes together instantaneously out of the whole of our experience.

Mystical experience, which we attribute and generalize to God, may simply be experience without the attempt at linearization, a time where we are aware that this is what is going on, a passing instant when the brain is honest with itself about its own nature and is not immersed in social requirements to make sense to itself as it would to another being.

In a psychoanalytical frame, we would think of God in those instances because we have breached the social contract and omitted our natural obligation to other story-driven beings. So we over-correct and remind ourselves of the Timeless, Ultimate Being and consider the communication to be with Him, instead.


I've done some reading into the subject, even though the second page is a 404. The first page was not very clear logic to explain the notion of "intuitive intellect" although it did give a clear account of the history of the theory.

In short it's not possible for a mind that's made of matter, that exists within a limited time frame, so the question is equivalent to "does god exist" and "what is a mind that exists in other dimensions of space time". Scientifically, and for pragmatic philosophy, the answer is a god like intellect has no relation to the current understanding of time and space.

Without a doubt, an intuitive intellect can only be ignorant of all knowledge, else it must exist in a non-linear time sequence whereby it has learnt everything that can happen before it has happened.

For a start, God-Mind is not a logical concept, that there should be one or many gods is entirely arbitrary and un-knowable, and to attribute no ego to a mind is also immaterial. Nothing in reality has a singular entity without parallel, and there is no logical reason to suggest that god has a singular entity. Saying that there is only one universe, is like saying there is only one habitable planet, just because we live in a particular one, unable to see beyond it. So... Gods, God, Mechanism(s) are subjective convictions, as conjectural as UFO's and Ghosts, whether there is one holy spirit or many.

So what do the pages say on the subject? Apparently, the intellect would be non-deductive. It has no need to perform any processes of logic, maths, prediction, comparison, opposition, because it knows everything intuitively without resorting to human like rational thought.

The God Intellect, we can call it, also does not have the same relationship with memory, subconcious, and sense perception, because it knows everything relevant to itself. It hears all possibilities and senses and memories like millions of tv's simultaneously and millions of memories effortlessly because there is no delineation in between knowing everything and thinking of a single thing. The intuitive intellect supposedly is aware of solutions without having thought of them, because it's subconcious and concious are merged into some kind of singular super efficient system.

Spiritualists who belive in devine thought within the human self, like Sikh, who believe that their priests pass on the touch and knowledge of devine mental clarity, see god as something else than an intuitive creator. They qualify intuitive thought as the third mode of thought after sense perception and rational thought, simply the act of being aware and controlling the functions of the mind totally.

So, if an awareness never had to resort to logical deduction, because it knew everything already, it would be essentially pure in it's access to all information, free from cause and effect, from sense and purpose, else it would be an empty mind, which does not doubt anything because it does not rationalize, it is in a form of simple stasis.

a mind can occupy a state of relative stasis which can be termed intuitive intelect, but a mind cannot be free of cause and effect while existing in a linear time sequence, and also be within the universe or be made of matter, because infinite amounts of time are necessary to learn the answer to every bit of information that can exist and to predict how they change through the entirety of time...

  • Fixed second link
    – APCoding
    Nov 26, 2016 at 22:28
  • Do you have anything to back up your arguments, such as that the God-Mind is not logical?
    – APCoding
    Nov 26, 2016 at 22:33
  • i quote: The Western tradition of philosophical discussion of the existence of God began with Plato and Aristotle, who made arguments that would now be categorized as cosmological. ... note the word cosmological. cosmological and logical are not the same thing. Nov 26, 2016 at 22:47
  • Where do you quote this from? Also, those would be arguments for God, not against God.
    – APCoding
    Nov 26, 2016 at 22:52
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    it's referenced here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existence_of_God ... it's an argument for godS, it is subjective to suggest one versus many godS... Nothing in reality has a singular entity without parallel, and there is no reason to suggest that god has a singular entity. Saying that there is only one universe, is like saying there is only one habitable planet, just because we live in a particular one, unable to see beyond it. So... Gods, God, Mechanism(s) are subjective convictions that are rooted in conjecture only, just as intelligent life on other planets is only theory. Nov 27, 2016 at 5:09

What ever in the world do you mean by "god"? And how exactly would you propose to verify your supposition regarding an attribute of "intuitive intellect" to what ever in the world it is you mean by "god"? One of the funny things about deity is that you can attribute to it any thing you care to, be that anthropomorphic ("this deity is a bearded white guy in the sky"), imponderable ("this deity is the creator of creation"), impossible ("this deity is perfect and all-powerful") and what have you - even contradictory features such as "this deity possesses and demonstrates non-discursive, intuitive intellect. This deity's intellect is the form of intellect where knowledge is not broken up into finite pieces (like humans), but rather a single act of understanding." Since deity is non-falsifiable, non-verifiable, and wholly imponderable - who's to say otherwise (except anybody that cares to)?

And what is to be made of this notion of "non-discursive" or "intuitive" intellect? Is this yet another description of "background" and "network" (and entirely human) or is "non-discursive, intuitive intellect" simply oxymoron? In otherwords, if it is intellectual or even merely intelligible, is it still intuitive?? If we take your meaning of non-discursive to be along the lines of "not proceeding by reasoning or argument" and intuitive as "using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive", then combine those with "intellect" in a general sense of "the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively" then we simply have oxymoron. So maybe you mean something else?

In the sense that what you are describing is yet another way of talking about "background" and "network" then consider what Wittgenstein said in Philosophical Investigations:

Imponderable evidence includes subtleties of glance, of gesture, of tone.
I may recognize a genuine loving look, distinguish it from a pretended one (and here there can, of course, be a 'ponderable' confirmation of my judgment). But I may be quite incapable of describing the difference. And this not because the languages I know have no words for it. For why not introduce new words?—If I were a very talented painter I might conceivably represent the genuine and the simulated glance in pictures.
Ask yourself: How does a man learn to get a 'nose' for something? And how can this nose be used?

What to make of knowing and not knowing you know?

Is it the difference between having a word literally on the tip of your tongue but not knowing how to pronounce it and the actual pronunciation? Is it that once pronounced, you "knew it all along"? Is it that you can make a knowledge claim and independent tests can verify the claim without you being able to explain how you knew in such a way that others can duplicate your capability of making certain claims? Certainly there is an enormous difference between merely fitting the world to a weltanschauung (a view of it) and verstehen (an understanding of it) but what of the case where verstehen is not only empirically verifiable, but unpronounceable?

How then would this what ever in the world it is you mean by "god" and its capacity for "intuitive intellect" or even the acceptance of its "possibility" be anything other than like so many of the utterances by the sly little weaver insisting the naked emperor's clothed in fine raiments of gold? Is the suppositional speculation adequate to the occasion of accepting a possibility, or, is it merely the pernicious, imponderable nonsense bandied about by so many metaphysicians as if the chatter of biddies across a laundry line were philosophical investigation?

I know the answer... it is just on the tip of my keyboard...

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    This sounds more like a personal problem than an answer to a question. Just because you don't understand doesn't mean that everyone doesn't.
    – user3017
    Nov 28, 2016 at 8:35
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    @PédeLeão and yet the OP has given no indication of what they mean by their use of term - shall you just presume that their number of angels dancing upon the head of a pin is the same as yours? Where is the love of wisdom in that? (Hint: there is none - such is the trafficking of weltanschauung, not philosophy).
    – MmmHmm
    Nov 28, 2016 at 15:28

i think that an intuitive understanding not broken up into finite pieces is possible however highly difficult to attain. It is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge being just knowing a bunch of things, and wisdom being actually understanding the thing at the deepest level. The problem being that in order to prove that that exists you would need to be able to transfer said wisdom to the other person for them to believe you had it. Most people build levels of knowledge on top of things they didn't fully understand to begin with further convoluting their understanding. Also Intuitive understanding cannot be easily turned into linguistic form. Its like trying to describe the math of a sytem without leaving out any variables. you can imagine the surface of water with all its imperfections and fluctuations and intuitively understand how it behaves, but describing that to someone else using linguistic or mathmatical tools becomes extremely cumbersome at best.

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    Why is this a persuasive answer to the question (in your mind)? What research could confirm it?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Sep 14, 2017 at 22:13
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    Hi, while your answer is related to the topic, we are looking for answers that are based on some already established positions. Yours, for example, seems to be somewhere between Goethe's (acquiring the ability) and Hölderlin's (ineffability), somewhere near Hegel and many Eastern authors/positions. Would you please try to reconstruct where your view evolved from? And how is this related to God's ability or contemporary authors (as asked per comments)?
    – Philip Klöcking
    Sep 15, 2017 at 10:37

It is possible, but I can't prove it, only you can taste it by seeking for yourself, you have to became one with the moment of now to be one with god and see beyond the dualistic reason. For that you have to pay attention to thought and forget the outside all the time, so that time does not exist anymore, just now exists, not after, not before, just present. Without any intention of realizing, just percieving on the real undescribable truth.

It is an infinite trajectory, hard to understand looking with dualistic limited reason, infinite it is because even when you have the idea you became one with now, you can't affirm it, it is an idea, because the affirmation makes you not one anymore, the affirmation is dualistic. In an internal way, inner mind, any words vibrated make it unstable, so you have to percieve the act of silencing the mind, to reach another kind of reason, killing it by not feeding it with false truth, it is profound and undescribeble, it has to be lived to be understood, but the main key is: I don't know! Because you already are the whole knowledge. Sorry for bad false english, but the philosofy is of good old truth. Peace.

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