Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thoughts on Intuition

Today I came across this article on The Science of Intuition and I'm realizing, especially reading the comments on the Facebook page that as soon as you start to talk about "intuition", all of a sudden you are talking about "soul" and "God in you" and lots of other so called "spiritual" phenomena. I appreciate that the cognitive and neuroscientists are beginning to get a better handle on a lot of this in terms of articulating what is actually going on so that we can pull one more of our human life experiences out of the "mystery soup".

As I suggested in my previous post, I think a lot of our intuiting is being influenced by patterns of neurology and biochemistry that are entrenched/programmed from conception on and (I'm just intuiting here...) are triggered or activated by things with which we identify in the external world. There is a form of "resonance"/coincidence there between the patterns that have already been established neurologically and biochemically and what we experience as reinforcers or validators of those patterns in the external world. And, trust me folks, the images, the archetypes, the art, the stories, the media, it's all out there, from the Bible stories some of us grow up reading, to the cartoons we watch on television, to the stories we read of historical figures, including "spiritual masters" and teachers, and all of the "intuitives" and "psychics" that are now managing to get more and more attention via the internet. There are plenty of opportunities to make a link between what we feel or have felt on the inside and what we see in the external world, and then interpret our experiences in the same way others have been interpreting their own experiences for hundreds if not thousands of years.

I appreciate that this article suggests that intuition can be "domain specific"; i.e. in areas where you have invested significant energy in getting to know the nuts and bolts of the subject matter, then you are more likely to have intuitions with regards to that subject matter, intuitively synthesizing and conceptualizing. I also appreciate that this article points to the fact that intuition is better practiced deliberately, and, maybe most importantly, validated by more Rational Analysis after the fact. From my current perspective, I see that as taking what you get from the processes of your limbic brain/subconscious mind and integrating them with the functions of your the prefrontal brain. If you are unwilling to get rational validation of your intuitions, then I would suggest that is your limbic brain wanting to maintain control, rather than submitting itself to the prefrontal brain; i.e. that's the less evolved part of your brain not submitting to the more highly evolved part of your brain.

It is not obvious to most people, but almost all evolving processes are full of this kind of "inertia" or resistance to change. A truly perfect example is that of butterflies. Before metamorphosis, imaginal cells in the caterpillar begin to express themselves and the caterpillar's immune system responds by trying to destroy them. Eventually though, the imaginal cells multiply and clump together, feeding on what is left of the caterpillar's insides and building the structures of what will eventually be a butterfly.

So it is with almost anything really "new and transformational" in the realm of human life and culture. The first voices are almost always squelched, but eventually, when there is a "critical mass" then things really start to change. Given the complexities of the human brain and human culture, it is easy for me to understand why human emotional and psychological development has not been able to keep up with our technological developments - truth is, the technologies are not nearly as complex as our brains! And it took Life a very long time just to equip animals with a limbic system. The prefrontal brain is a much more recent development and much of its functioning depends on proper training. To get that proper training you have to have a culture that supports it. To get the culture that supports it, you have to have a critical mass of brains that have already been effectively trained and they have to survive long enough to pass those effective training processes down to future generations. It's a really tight loop when you think about it.

Nevertheless, out of all of this seeming "chaos" and complexity of human individuals and human cultures, we have a new "global nervous system" that has also evolved; i.e. the internet. And if there is one fairly sure way to get your intuitions tested, it's to put them out into the world via the internet and see what happens - especially if you throw yourself in the mix with other, more highly trained "rational thinkers". Again, though, as I suggested above and with the references to Ken Wilbur's "Pre-Trans Fallacy" in my previous blog, the key is not focusing on the limbic brain or the pre-frontal brain only; i.e. intuitive versus rational - it's about being able to effectively integrate the capacities of both.

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