Intuition And Science

Bunge, Mario

Few words are as highly ambiguous as "intuition." Its unqualified use is so misleading that its expulsion from the dictionary has been earnestly proposed. But such a procedure would not be practical because the word is firmly entrenched in ordinary and even in technical language, and many new terms would have to be introduced in its place. Philosophers and scientists do not usually agree on the meaning of "intuition." Among philosophers, intuition, without qualification, is almost always a faculty of the human mind which differs from both sensibility and reason and is no less than an autonomous mode of cognition-namely, sudden, total, and accurate apprehension. Scientists, on the other hand, are mostly concerned with inferred knowledge, which is mediate, partial, inaccurate, and laboriously elaborated. They are not inclined to believe in immediate apprehension of ready-made ideas and in sudden secure self-evidence but, rather, in more or less rapid constructions and in quick fragmentary inference.

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