C2. Intuition

The existence of memory is an undeniable fact whereas the concept and definition of intuition seems more nebulous and seems to me to have not been given adequate consideration. Wikiepdia defines it succinctly as: “Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without recourse to conscious reasoning,” and continues to qualify it further as “Different fields use the word “intuition” in very different ways, including but not limited to: direct access to unconscious knowledge; unconscious cognition; inner sensing; inner insight to unconscious pattern-recognition; and the ability to understand something instinctively, without any need for conscious reasoning.”

It has been established well enough by historical example , that often science does not progress in anticipated directions and in an orderly fashion. It certainly seems that the most important breakthroughs would appear to come in flashes of intuition, whereby the answer to a long standing and vexing problem is suddenly grasped and comprehended in an instant. Mathematicians appear to advance very obviously in this fashion. This been covered in many books especially those by Arthur Koestler but I give a couple of brief instances.

Karl Friedrich Gauss described in a letter to a friend how he finally proved a theorem on which he had worked unsuccessfully for four years: (Montmasson 1931)

“At last two days ago I succeeded, not only by dint of painful effort but so to speak by the grace of god. as a sudden flash of light, the enigma was solved…… For my part I am able to name the nature of the thread which connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible”.

On another occasion, Gauss is reported to have said:

“I have had my solutions for a long time, but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them”.

Thus far, it has been postulated that in near perfect trance or random firing state, a structure of firing synapses in the brain is more likely to reproduce an accurate or correct interpretation of the external world of nature and its mechanisms than an inaccurate one, simply through the operation of the Principle of Least Action. If a scientist is attempting to divine a mechanism of how, say, molecules combine to form a certain complex molecule and there are literally millions of possible combinations and permutations, the task might seem beyond him or even the largest computer to check through all the possibilities. However if he has all the elements of the problem in his mind at a subconscious level, and he sleeps on the problem, or manages to bring about a self induced trance state, where the elements of that problem are allowed to insert themselves into the otherwise random blankness of his mind, then on a quantum scale it will take slightly less energy for the synapses firings in his brain to take up the structure to form a holocept that duplicates what actually occurs in nature, than any other possibility.

The correct answer then presents itself through resonance with actuality, if perhaps he can bring himself out of trance state with some conscious vestige of its memory. Such a scenario seems almost too disarmingly simple to be a basis of explanation for the operation of intuition, but that is no reason why it should not be plausible. In more specific terms of the theory, the intuitive process can be described as follows. Having absorbed all the relevant facts in the memory, these are materialised as holocepts and combined, or parts superimposed over the top of each other in holoceptual palimpsests. The more variable facts there are in a particular problem, the more combinations and permutations multiply so the mind has to shuffle through an impossibly large number in order to get a chance of hitting on anything like the right sort of combination that would take an impossibly long time without some external guiding force or tendency. But we have this guiding tendency in duplication theory: if circumstances can be made sufficiently random, with no external perturbations to disturb the randomness of the action of the particles, or the firings of the electrical currents across the synapses of the brain, then the structures of the holocepts created therefrom, will tend to form in the way that emulates most accurately structures in the external world. In other words, the mind in trance will tend to form holoceptual structures that duplicate those in nature.

It is also seems not unreasonable to postulate that the brain has some sort of mechanism for detection of this resonance or energy release potential which is interpreted as a glow of well being or thrill of aesthetic pleasure, leading to the pleasure of accomplishment, so that the brain or the whole metabolism knows in a flash of illumination when the right answer has been chance achieved.

A further interesting point is the means whereby, once the correct understanding of nature has been grasped in holocept form, that information is relayed to others. In science, the problem usually has a relatively limited number variables to shuffle about, so that once the correct solution has been intuitively chanced upon, the scientist is usually capable of working backwards and thus building a logical sequence of small deductive steps, manipulating these steps so that the correct end result is obtained from the original separate bits of data. Very often this process of confirmation is carried out retrospectively by means of a mathematical proof. Each individual logical step is in fact an intuitive jump on a very small scale in itself, but so small is the jump concerned that it appears obvious, and has the appearance of logical deduction. Once this framework of logical steps has been constructed in retrospect, it then becomes possible to communicate the concept and explain it verbally, graphically, or mathematically to others in these small ‘logical’ steps, so that they might quickly comprehend it without having to juggle and consider all the relevant facts endlessly before the right relaxed conditions prevail and the flash of insight is at last attained.

It would seem obvious that a series of small intuitive steps guided in the right general direction is a much easier process to assimilate than the one large intuitive jump that the original thinker working it out for the first time ever, has to make. So it can be seen that the method of communicating knowledge to others through any form of language, is a process of breaking down one large intuitive jump into a succession of little insights, all guided in the right direction. Gradually information is imparted step by step, in the right order until the collection of small insights builds up to the intuitive grasp of the whole concept that the originator perhaps had first to make in one step.

In the Arts, the intuitive process works in the same way, but on a much wider scale, not so capable of being broken down into small steps, so that it lacks the precise definition of explanation available to the sciences. The concepts attempted by the artist, the impressions of nature as he comprehends it are on a much grander scale than those of the small precise steps taken by the scientist or mathematician, and inevitably, his task of communication is much harder, and it will never be broken down into the small logical steps required for efficient communication. A poet might intuitively recognise some fundamental truth of the universe, while considering memories of his observations of life in dreamy, absent minded state (Wordsworth’s impressions recollected afterwards in tranquility or Coleridge’s composition of his striking poem, Kubla Khan). Such a fundamental truth will inevitably involve an imponderable multiplicity of facts, compared to the limited number of components that might be involved in a scientific problem, and the artistic task of communicating this intuitive knowledge to others is correspondingly much greater.

The intuitive jump the artist has made is so great and so general that he is probably, and no doubt temperamentally incapable of breaking his insight down into the little jumps required for others to easily grasp his truth. However, he might try to communicate the gist of it in the form of a few well chosen words, or lines and colour in a painting, which might serve to spark off, or instigate the same sequence of thoughts, or holocepts, which he enjoyed. A single visual art work, for instance, might therefore be regarded as a sort of instant trigger to instigate in others, hopefully, the same holoceptual sequence that the artist experienced, a form of communication based on a minimum of initiating information. The observer would then have inculcated within in him similar understanding or neural patterns as inspired the original artist. Exactly the same arguments can be applied to reconcile the Eastern way of acquiring wisdom through trance and stilling of the mind, with the Western approach of small jumps of apparent deductive logic. In essence, they are the same but on a different scale, despite the fact that they may at first appear as completely at odds with each other as is possible.

The Eastern mystic concentrates on emptying his mind via any one of the many techniques for doing so such as contemplation, fasting in isolation, yoga, or even the dervishes spinning like a top on one spot: there are many such techniques but all concerned with emptying and stilling the mind. To most Western scientists this might seem the antithesis of the way in which he acquires wisdom and knowledge of the the way in which nature operates. But if emptying the mind of structured thought patterns equates to a random pattern of firing synapses, then if that randomness starts to approach a near perfect of singular state, what might occur? By the arguments set out above, certain problematical circumstances in the external world that were under consideration before the trance state was assumed may, given a tiny initial instigation, be replicated almost at a stroke assuming enough necessary data in detail has been previously assimilated and still perhaps stored in part in short term of chemical storage molecules, albeit in a chaotic or unordered manner which did not seem to present any coherent resolution. This sudden replication in holocept form of the structures under consideration in the external world is at once recognised because in that it presents itself perhaps as the only possible answer, and also by the generation of an increase in the to convert the rest mass of the duplicate image or into a amount of energy: the Eureka moment indeed.

The Eastern method of gaining such insights or wisdom is on a much larger scale than the western scientist means of making small breakthroughs, and the latter may consider that his mind is working on an essentially deductive basis, but there is this intuitive process of instant duplication being the crucial mechanism underlying both. The Eastern mystic method of making large intuitive jumps in grasping the beauty of nature (or the laws of the universe) is perhaps closer to the way in which the minds of great poets or artists work in the West. An artist of the stature of Van Gogh obsessively considers the way in which he views objects and then manages to present such images, the way his mind sees things, on canvas. Initially the response of the public might be blank incomprehension, because it is so different from anything else experienced hitherto. But because there is a facet of this representation of the external world, not necessarily purely visual, which is accurate then it starts to ring true an increasing number of others, so that the pictures invoke in their minds the same considerations that prompted to artist to represent the external world in the way he did. In short, the minds of the viewing public are instigated to a certain extent into operating in the same way as that of the artist beyond a mere presentation of a single image on a canvas. In short the minds of the artist and the observer start to resonate to a limited extent in that they both now share a new understanding of the way in which a particular subject exists.

The reason why a poet’s few verses should seem so beautiful, so right, is hard to explain: impossible certainly to explain in scientifically acceptable terms since the concept, the beauty of nature, is far too wide to be summed up in a series of small graduated steps. So the difference between the arts and the sciences is mainly one of scale: the artist stands back and surveys the beauty of the wood, without necessarily being able or even wanting to appreciate the individual wonder of a component tree, and even less the capillary action that forces the sustaining liquids up into such heights, and how the leaves act to absorb the power of sunlight through photo synthesis. The artist serves to remind his fellow man of the overall scheme of things that has occurred to him in a flash of insight, and he tries to share his vision of truth, or how nature operates, by attempting to instill a similar reaction through his art in others, preferably in the most economical way possible. But both routes to acquiring increased understanding of the external world are based on the same intuitive process of resonance brought about through by emptying the mind into random motion having first been curious enough to consider vast amounts of seemingly formless unconnected detail.

The above section on intuition was drafted in maybe about 2016, and since then my description of the operation and function of intuition has been updated and revised somewhat, but not enough to change the above paragraphs in any radical extent. For many years I had tended to avoid the subject of consciousness as being such a generally contentious and confused subject, incapable of agreement by centuries of leading academics as to its precise definition, never mind its function, that I had left it well alone.

However in mid 2021 it occurred to me that a fair number of aspects of consciousness might be explained by the combination of the functions of memory together with intuitive ability. Accordingly I drafted a paper on this basis entitled ‘Consciousness’ (10 pages) and this is attached with a number of other papers, including another on Intuition (2020: 10 pages) under section K below. It updates and my deliberations and conjectures on the subject as described in the sections drafted earlier and described above.