Intuition as a Source of Knowledge

Intuition as a source of knowledge seems to be the exact opposite of the scientific method.  It is a form of knowledge that seems to come from within and requires no experimentation.  Many people dismiss it as unreliable, and it often can be.  But sometimes, given the test of time and in the appropriate situation, if we act on this type of knowledge, it can and has turned out to be accurate.

Types of intuition

There are multiple examples of this type of knowledge.  I will list a few common ones, based on experience and conversations I have had over the years.

  • couple.in.loveIntuition has been described as “love at first sight.” Although this example may sound ridiculous to non-romantics, there are enough people with successful marriages who acted on this innate knowledge to recognize it might have at least some validity to it.

  • Women tend to pay more attention to their intuition, hence the age-old term “a woman’s intuition,”  especially if they find themselves in the company of a potentially dangerous or predatory person.  It can be expressed in sentences such as “something is wrong right now, but I cannot put my finger on it” or “I don’t feel safe being alone with this person.”  In my own experience, both as a child and as a woman, I have experienced this.  In general, women also tend to “be more in tune with” another’s mood or how that other person is feeling compared to their male counterparts.  But, I must admit my own intuition in this department falls short.

  • children.playingWe use intuition as a source of knowledge more often as children than as adults.  Children use their intuition when they run to their mothers instead of a relative with whom they are less familiar when, for example, they hurt themselves.  If their mothers are not available, they will often go to and seek comfort from the person with whom they are most familiar in a situation where they feel unsafe or unfamiliar.  They do not make this decision based on making calculations of how many times someone has comforted them, but on where they feel the most safe.

  • Longing – Can be motivated by something that takes place.  In my own experience, I experienced “longing” at 16, when I looked down over Rio de Janeiro from the Påo de Açúcar also known as Sugarloaf Mountain.  It was the simultaneous sensation of feeling awestruck, the sudden awareness of the small and finite nature of my being relative to the universe, and my desires for both a greater understanding of the universe and a connection with whatever was responsible for such natural beauty.  rio1Our control over longing is limited and It is typically a desire/experience that originates “inside our being.” Longing can also occur in a seemingly random, momentary burst “from within” that we cannot fully explain or even understand at the moment we experience it. e.g. a random, fleeting longing to escape the world or to experience something outside this world.

The significance of intuition

What we should recognize from our intuition is that, although not scientific, everyone uses it at some point and it has proved reliable at times for all of us as human beings.  It only seems logical to concede its existence.  Most of us would agree we can name a time where we “just knew” something and by acting on that “gut feeling,” we turned out to be right.  On the other hand, as we mature, we realize which situations in life where intuition might be helpful and in which circumstances it could actually hurt or prove to be detrimental to us.  Intuition as a source of knowledge will not help with how to dismantle a bomb, but it can prove helpful when we make decisions on, say, who we should spend time with and who we should trust.

Copyright © 2013 RationalWorldview.com
  • Pamela Chandler Woodall

    It interests me that you include intuition in your list of ways to obtain knowledge. Intuition wouldn’t be the runners up on my list but then again as I thought about it in relation to “knowledge” then yes, this makes sense.

    After giving a friend a massage she remarked that I touched muscles she didn’t know she had. Iv’e heard this before so my answer is almost always the same “well, I had very good training, plus I was recruited to massage family at the age of 4!” And I always include “add intuition and you’ve got a good massage.”

    Intuition is word I use rather loosely and it’s the only word that best describes where I get my sense of touch. As I said, I was trained well, but knowledge obtained this way can only can only take you so far. Once I figured that out my comfort with my skill returned to the innocent knowing of a 4 year old.

    I love science and I trust in science to search the mysteries of life. But I also trust and rely more heavily on what is within. That place of unknowing and knowing. Maybe it’s the surface of our unconscious mind and someday science will have an answer? Who knows. What I do know is that I need it, revel in it and love it deeply.

    • rworldview

      Thanks so much for sharing, Pam. You make some really good points and your experience as a massage therapist is a really good illustration of how we can and do gain knowledge from intuition.

      I think, many times, particularly in school, we are taught to eschew anything but science to obtain knowledge about the world around us. But I believe this to be a fallacy because the scientific method, though reliable, is simply not applicable in many situations when we need to obtain information about the universe.

  • Pingback: How do we obtain knowledge? > Rational Worldview