Intuition: Knowledge as a Premonition


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Intuition: Knowledge as a Premonition

It is hard to argue that intuition exists. But how does it work and what is it? Everything incomprehensible disturbs us. So does intuition encroach on the familiar picture of the world or just add colors to it?

Exact knowledge of what the other person will say, a second before he opens his mouth. An alarming feeling that something happened to a loved one on the other side of the world at that moment. The inexplicable belief that a meeting or trip, an important and long-planned, must be canceled, although there is no reason for this …

The intuition is many-sided, and people who have never encountered its manifestations probably do not exist. Nor does it exist those who were able to completely “tame” their intuition, master it with hidden mechanisms and use it correctly in any situation. Although modern science is confident that this is what we should strive for.

Left and right hemisphere

Numerous definitions of intuition boil down to something like the following: “that which we cannot know, but still know from somewhere.” And strangely enough, scientists do not see this as any contradiction. They distinguish two types of thinking depending on the dominant hemisphere of the brain.

Left-hemisphere thinking is responsible for analysis, building logical chains, a sequence of conclusions – it manages the logic and ordering that form the basis of today’s attitude to life. And the right hemisphere is responsible for associative perception, creative processes and those very intuitive insights, with the mechanics of which I would like to understand.

And when we suddenly dawn on an intuitive insight, it does not come from any mystical realms. It is generated by the activity of the right hemisphere of the brain.

“We live in a world of an infinite number of dynamic connections between objects, between people around us and virtual images,” explains psychophysiologist Vadim Rotenberg. – In order not only to adapt to this world, but also to try to change it in accordance with your needs, you need to perceive these connections in all their diversity.

In mentally healthy people, the ability to perceive the world as a whole, to capture all these connections is provided by the right hemisphere of the brain. This is where information from all the senses comes first and foremost, and it is the right hemisphere that is closely connected with the limbic system responsible for our emotions. ”

It is easiest to illustrate this with an example from detective or spy movies, when a hero, having barely entered home (or even not yet entered), feels anxiety and realizes that someone has been here. This is an absolutely normal manifestation of intuition.

Tens and hundreds of the smallest details of an eye fix at once. But the left hemisphere takes minutes and even hours to analyze all the details and come to the conclusion that the door mat is shifted a couple of millimeters, and the collar on the hanger in the hallway is bent differently. The right hemisphere perceives the picture instantly and in its entirety. And, comparing it with the image stored in the memory, it sends an alarm: something is wrong!

In the same way, the right hemisphere is able to detect connections between objects that are not described by formal left-hemisphere logic – and yet exist. We still have to understand the nature of these connections, but Vadim Rotenberg is sure: “thanks to the intuitive“ grasping ”of connections not included in the logical chains, discoveries in science occur that cannot be reached by a consistent analysis of the facts.”

Of course, such insights do not occur from scratch. Famous examples with the bathtub of Archimedes and the Newton’s apple do not indicate that the great scientists made their discoveries by chance. It’s just that the right hemisphere is connected to the work of the left hemisphere “in the background” at some point. And it discovers those very illogical, but still existing connections. This is followed by the exclamation of “Eureka!”

In a word, the work that requires time from the left hemisphere, and sometimes it turns out to be completely impossible, can be done by the right hemisphere in a split second. And maybe, however, not to be – it depends on many factors.

Steve Jobs who foresaw the future

Many modern electronic devices have an “intuitive interface.” Thank you for this is Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple. In 1984, he invented a computer controlled by a mouse, whose programs could be seen on the screen. Prior to this, it was required to enter long lines of codes and jump the cursor over endless tables with the names of programs.

The programming world felt insanely complex, which was clearly proud. And the defiant simplicity of Jobs’ decisions fell completely out of the court: his first project ended in complete failure. But Jobs was a tough and stubborn perfectionist who was not afraid to rely on his intuition. And if he saw a computer with icons on the screen, he made just such a computer.

Then he saw teardrop-shaped computers, tactile screens, and a global music store in virtual space. Each time it was illogical. And today we are not able to imagine that all this did not exist. “The hardest part is doing simple things,” said Steve Jobs. “It takes a lot of courage to follow the call of your heart, your intuition.”

Information doesn’t solve everything.

Relations between the cerebral hemispheres are not distinguished by “reciprocity”. And if the right is able to come to the aid of the left, then the opposite, alas, is not true. Quite the contrary: as soon as we allow the left hemisphere to seize the initiative, intuition does not have the slightest chance.

In our rational society, which does not want to admit that it is impossible to explain, the sixth sense lives on the rights of a poor relative. Try, for example, to say at the meeting that “you have the feeling” that the new development strategy is unsuccessful … To make a modern rational sane person listen to intuition is actually an impossible mission. Meanwhile, scientists and those familiar with the latest scientific advances insist on the benefits of intuition.

“We believe that it would be better if we collect as much information as possible and spend as much time as possible on thinking it over. But there are times, especially under stress, when haste is not harmful, when our instant judgments and first impressions can offer more effective ways to adapt to this world, – writes in his book “Insight. The Power of Instant Solutions »Malcolm Gladwell. “Excessive information is not an advantage, it is enough to know very little to discern the main attribute of the subject.”

The same point of view is shared by John Lehrer, the bestselling author of How We Make Decisions: “The extra time spent on making a decision does not guarantee that it will be successful.” So, we need to carefully monitor how we make decisions, train this skill in ourselves, fix what movements of thoughts and emotions led us to conclusions that later turned out to be true. And of course, trust intuition more.

Experience and fresh ideas

Our intuition is more varied than it seems: a sudden decision or years of experience, optimism or caution may suggest the right decision. Psychologist William Duggan believes that ordinary intuition is just an internal instinctive sensation. But there are other types of it.

The intuition of experience is fast and works exclusively in familiar situations. So a professional tennis player knows where the ball will fly from under the opponent’s racket. The more we improve in our specialty, the better we understand standard working situations and the faster we solve the problems of the same type.

Strategic intuition works slowly, but in new situations when fresh ideas are needed. Illumination comes suddenly, but thanks to it, a long-tormented problem is solved. To do this, you need to recognize the novelty of the situation and turn off the intuition of experience.

Psychologist, Nobel Prize winner in economics Daniel Kahneman sees a big difference between short-term and long-term forecasts: “The fireman’s premonition that the house is about to collapse is not arranged in the same way as the forecasts of the Middle East specialist on the prospects for the development of the region. Intuitive competence can develop only if situations are regularly repeated and it is possible to study them for a long time; it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to become a specialist. ”

But when we, succumbing to the voice of intuition, deceive ourselves, this can be useful, the scientist believes: “We exaggerate our chances of success, and this optimism is one of the driving forces of the economy. He is balanced by a “fear of failure”, so that our life passes between bold expectations and modest decisions, ”Kahneman tells Philosophie in an interview.

Inspiration Order

“Intuitive perception is more similar to perception by the sensory organs, which is also irrational, as long as it depends primarily on objective stimuli of physical rather than mental origin,” Karl Gustav Jung wrote about the emotional nature of intuition.

“Therefore, about emotions, intuition“ knows ”more than logic. In interpersonal emotional relationships, which are based solely on multi-valued connections, the principles of logic do not work, ”notes Vadim Rotenberg. “If you can analyze why you love someone, it is doubtful that you really love him.”

However, John Lehrer believes that the close connection of intuition and emotions also has a downside. He considers the phenomenon of intuition akin to emotional memory. Caught in a situation of choice, we weigh the arguments on the scales of logic, and in the meantime, our emotional memory has long found analogies in previous experience. And if the past decision was successful, intuition pushes us to action. And if not, he warns against them.

Say experienced exchange players can invest based on intuition. But if you are buying securities for the first time, then it is better to study the financial statements of companies, rather than relying on the right hemisphere.

The “division of labor” would be optimal, in which the left hemisphere would solve logical problems, and the right side would take on the emotional side. For the vast majority of us, this balance is clearly shifted to the left, Myers insists in the book “Intuition.”

But restoring harmony is not an easy task. After all, we are trying to understand the mechanisms of the right hemisphere and are looking for ways to “turn it on” as needed, guided by … the same left hemisphere logic. A vicious circle or a riddle? Rather, the case when the answer can give insight.

Intuition: Knowledge as a Premonition

They heard a “clue”

And they took this seriously – even letting go of a vacation, leaving a job or interrupting a trip seemed at first glance a very strange act. Our readers shared their stories on the site.

“I felt I should stay.”

“An amazing story happened to me. A few years ago, my husband and I had to go on vacation. On the eve of departure, when the suitcases were already packed, I suddenly realized that I should definitely stay. I felt this, as they say, in my gut, like an order: you need to stay. After much talk and debate, my husband left alone. And since I didn’t have any special affairs, I spent most of my time with my mother. We dined, chatted, laughed, remembering my childhood, her youth … It was an easy time. And once, when I was about to leave, she did not let me go for a long time. I even thought about staying overnight, but I had plans for the evening … My mother died at night. Then I remembered my feeling: that’s why I couldn’t leave. ”


“I have the strength to make an important decision”

“For eight years I worked in the office, holding on to a good salary. It was boring, but I could not decide to leave. Once my husband and I flew for three days to Istanbul – a beautiful city full of life. I don’t know why, but I got on the plane with confidence that I would be back soon. On the very first day after the vacation, I wrote a letter of resignation … I made it easy, because I felt that I was doing the right thing. And a month later I found a job in the tourism sector and in four years I traveled with groups all over the world. ”


“My diagnosis was not confirmed”

“After the birth of my second child, I had to take up my health closely: examinations, analyzes. And the most important thing is oncology. It took a long time to wait for the results, I was very worried. And then one day I get home, I go into the room where the TV works, and I see this story: the judge at the court session read out the verdict and, banging the hammer on the table, renders the verdict: “Innocent!” I entered the room literally at that moment! And it immediately became clear to me that there was no need to worry, everything would be fine with me. Needless to say, the diagnosis really was not confirmed! ”


“My grandmother warned me about the danger”

“A few years ago, my friend and I went on a trip to the Amazon. Describing it in a nutshell will definitely not work! In some fragile little boat, in unsanitary conditions, we moved along the river for ten days … At the end of the trip, half of our expedition was poisoned by local cooking – we ate what we cooked on board. Terrible abdominal pains, fever … Horror! At night, delirious, my beloved grandmother came to me in a dream. And she advised me … to eat a banana. I obeyed – and I really felt a little better.

At the very least, we arrived at the next point of travel – Manaus. I was still very weak and just lay there, waiting for departure. And here I again dreamed of a grandmother. She literally demanded that I no longer board the ship. As a result, he sailed without us, and my friend and I boarded the plane. After a couple of days, we learned about the shipwreck and dozens of victims … My dream did not deceive me. Although, on the other hand, it was hard not to notice what condition the ship was in! ”


The myth of female flair

Women are more emotional than men, they better understand the experiences of other people and have a sixth sense that allows them to foresee what cannot be predicted on the basis of logic. Statements of this kind have been repeated so often that they now look like irrefutable truth. But is it?

Apparently, the ancient Greek thinker Aristotle was the first to speak on this subject. Male nature, he believed, is perfect and full, while a woman is prone to emotions, which means less stable and less worthy of trust. Following him, Immanuel Kant, an 18th-century German philosopher, argued that female philosophy was not to reason but to feel. A century later, the English naturalist Charles Darwin contrasted “masculine energy and genius” with “feminine compassion and intuitive abilities.”

These theses are echoed by “historical” arguments: since a woman for a long time could only be realized at home, in the family, and did not have access to social and professional activities, she developed not abstract thinking, but emotional intelligence, which allows one to capture the intentions and feelings of other people . Apparently, it remains only to conclude that men own wide fields of pure reason, and women – the wrong swamp of intuition?

However, this “truth” is strongly refuted by the large study conducted by the English psychologist Richard Wiseman. 15,000 men and women examined pairs of photographs, one of which showed a sincere smile, and the other a false smile.

Prior to the experiment, at the request of the researchers, participants rated their intuition. 77% of women and 58% of men considered it good. Then all participants had to indicate which of the two photographs a person smiles sincerely. The difference between the sexes was minimal … and not in favor of women!

So, a sincere smile was determined by 71% of women and 72% of men. And one more amazing detail. When a woman was depicted in the photo, men more accurately assessed the sincerity of her smile than women in the case of a man’s picture. It turns out that the opinion of the great on female intuition is nothing more than a prejudice!

All articles in this dossier
  • Michel Cazenave: “The main thing is to understand whether intuition is not deceiving us”Michel Cazenave: “The main thing is to understand whether intuition is not deceiving us”
  • How to learn to hear intuitionHow to learn to hear intuition
  • Can we foresee the future?Can we foresee the future?
Text: Elena Shevchenko, Yuri Zubtsov, Irina Graz
Photo Source: Getty images

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