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The symbiosis of subjective and experimental approaches to intuition

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Commentary on ‘The View from Within’, edited by Francisco Varela and Jonathan Shear

We all have had convictions (i.e. a hunch about how to solve a problem, an inkling about the intents of another, or a wariness of a situation) that we were unable to substantiate on a purely logical basis. Such intuitive experiences have intrigued philosophers for centuries, although the construct of intuition as such has generally been given an undeserved cold shoulder by researchers. As Peugeot, in this issue, observes, ‘It is therefore very surprising that so few studies have been dedicated to the study of the subjective experience which is associated with it’ (p. 43). Peugeot is correct in her observation that modern research has had little to say explicitly about intuition and its subjective concomitants. However, this omission may be as much a matter of terms as it is of fact. Specifically, if we consider the definition of intuition we see that a considerable amount of research that has been called by other names, actually reveals important insights into both the cognitive processes that lead to intuition and the subjective experiences associated with it. Moreover, because this research explicitly relates subjective experiences to more objective measures and methodologies, it circumvents a central criticism that can be levelled against the first-person phenomenological methodology used by Peugeot; namely that it may not reflect underlying processes, nor even necessarily the subjective experiences that it purports to measure.
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Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: University of Pittsburgh.

Publication date: 1999-02-01

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