Timothy Williamson (2008) has argued that we should not construe philosophical evidence as consisting of intuitions.

Do intuitions generate philosophical evidence? And, if so, what sort of evidence do they generate? Is that some kind of philosophical bootstrapping?

What is even meant by 'intuition' in philosophy: are we talking about the elegance, simplicity, etc., of a view, or is that not strictly speaking an "intuition"?

I'd especially like an answer that incorporates 'phenomenological' intuitions.

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    Please make this less generic, as is the answer is the multipage SEP Intuition article.
    – Conifold
    May 7 '19 at 18:37
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    Here's a good online article on precisely this subject: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/phc3.12387 May 8 '19 at 0:58
  • thanks @Conifold i was hoping for too much i guess, something punchy yet interesting
    – user38026
    May 8 '19 at 14:29
  • it's probably tacit coherence, right?
    – user38026
    Sep 23 '19 at 21:42

"Intuition is like instinct because you cannot do anything about it. It is part of your consciousness, just as instinct is part of your body. You cannot do anything about your instinct and you cannot do anything about your intuition. But just as you can allow your instincts to be fulfilled, you can allow and give total freedom to your intuition to be fulfilled. And you will be surprised at what kinds of powers you have been carrying within you.

Intuition can give you answers for ultimate questions – not verbally but existentially. You need not ask, What is truth? Instinct won’t hear, it is deaf. Intellect will hear but it can only philosophize; it is blind, it can’t see. Intuition is a seer, it has eyes. It sees the truth – there is no question of thinking about it.

Instinct and intuition are both independent of you. Instinct is in the power of nature, of unconscious nature, and intuition is in the hands of the superconscious universe, the consciousness that surrounds the whole universe, the oceanic consciousness of which we are just small islands – or better, icebergs, because we can melt into it and become one with it.

In some ways intuition is exactly opposite to instinct.

Instinct always leads you to the other; its fulfillment is always dependent on > something other than you.

Intuition leads you only to yourself.

It has no dependence, no need for the other; hence its beauty, its freedom and independence.

Intuition is an exalted state needing nothing. It is so full of itself that there is no space for anything else.

In some way intuition is like intellect because it is intelligence"

Osho, From Misery to Enlightenment, Chapter IV

Intuition plays outside of your rational mind. Intuition cannot be understood logically or philosophically because intuition is a property of your consciousness or life force. You, as a conscious living being, intuitively know what's right and what's wrong. Intuition is doubtless and right by itself; it doesn't need any reasoning to make it valid.

Intuition can never come as a product of your thinking. Intuition can never take u a form of a logical conclusion. Intuition is more like love: it rises spontaneously.

  • If you have a reference to a philosopher who takes a similar view this would help support your answer and give the reader a place to go for more information. Welcome. Sep 23 '19 at 20:40

Intuitions are answers that come from nowhere and play a role in inference, such as abduction, and can even be modeled mathematically as in non-deterministic finite automata. Intuitions are nothing more than a label for the scientific observation that most neural computation happens beneath conscious philosophizing. Philosophy has historically been primarily a rational pursuit, but since the Berlin and Vienna Circles in particular has admitted a lot of empirical claims from science proper particularly in analytical philosophy.

In a sense, all common sense responses are intuitive. By what rational process do you conclude your name? You don't. You just intuit the answer. From a phenomenological perspective, an intuition is simply a truth that appears spontaneously and feels right. Note, that this tends to be heavily influenced by our society which provides us with metaphysical presumptions and language from the time we are born. Heidegger wrote Time and Being in the early 20th century as a phenomenologist to push back on objectivity, and examined the historical causes of our intuitions in Western Society and asked us to re-examine our intuitive notions.

In the philosophy of math, a classic example of how Euclid's intuitive axioms blinded Western society to non-Euclidian geometries for thousands of years serves as a warning that unexamined intuitions may blind us to reasonable conclusions.

Modern neuroscience in the form of the research of Antonio Demasio shows us that the brains philosophers use for their rational discourse are wired neurally to irrational neurocomputational portions of the brain (the limbic system) to use reason. That is, emotions and their biases lie at the base of the Enlightened mind. Also see Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow.

To deny intuition as a partial means to finding truth would have to reject empiricism and its finding on how philosopher's brains work.


Similarly to the above answers, intuition is a form of stimuli building quietly on the consciousness, allowing us to react accordingly, and most would say, correctly to a situation.

This may not be a generic definition, but if we accept that, then it can be philosophically accepted and incorporated into a understanding that has fundamental effects on many other schools of thought.

Phenomenologically, the inuitions we receive are made of substance, insomuch as the mind can be called substansial.

Intuition is seen as simplistic because of the usage of the core agreeable viewpoints that one holds true to oneself.

This does lead into the moral relativism/absolutivism argument, and this leans towards a relativistic standpoint - that because of the writing done by society on the tabula rasa that we are born as, we hold certain morals as facts that define our character.

So, our intuitions are drawn from our moral beliefs, and are resounded by us and others in a variety of situations.

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