Where does intuition actually help us?

I never really understood what intuition was before started looking at it in class. I knew I had it, but I never tried to reason what was going on when my intuition was at play. Before I was aware of what intuition was I would say I barely trusted mine unless it was a very strong feeling because I don’t like to make assumptions about a situation. But that being said when I have little time to think about a decision I would have to trust my intuition as well.

I just started learning Spanish this year, and it is an area that I don’t have that much knowledge in, so when it comes to doing reading comprehensions where there are many new words, I rely a lot on my intuition. So maybe we trust our intuition in times when we have no other solid knowledge to rely on, but there will always be that doubt present.

I have noticed while doing comprehensions, some sentences I just understand without having to think too much even if I don’t know the meaning of all the words, but I have also noticed that when I am really really stuck, I try and reason out what might be happening in the passage by looking at the context around it. The latter is a slowed down version of the former. But usually I can really quickly understand sentences when I am through with the unit, and know what they might be talking about, so contrary to my first statement when you are more comfortable with a situation and know more about, your intuition is then more reliable, or manifests in as a ‘stronger feeling’.

I remember in grade 10 when I changed my monologue for drama 4 days before the final performance, Ms. Parr had asked me to session with her for 15 mins just to discuss the character and try something out. The character I was playing was celebrating her 18th birthday, where she goes ballistic and kills her family. Although I had only read the mono once or twice before the meeting, I was able to intuitively characterise Sophie (the character’s name) because the things she was saying were relatable and, since she was close in age to me, I did not have to consciously think a lot about her mannerisms because there were in a way familiar to me. I was able to quickly draw upon my own experience, as well as how I had seen other teenagers act. So in this situation when I where I had some experiences and emotional understanding, I was able to unconsciously draw upon these experiences and embody them. So there is intuitive acting, but then other roles require more research, more time, more effort. For example, in Royal Hunt of the Sun, the character I was playing existed in a completely different time period, had no parents, experienced brutal wars, none of which I could directly relate to. So for this character, I spent a lot more time to understand the context, consciously put myself in his context. And creating a convincing story in my mind. I had to reason out my emotions. So once again these examples show, when you have experienced something, intuition can help you make decisions. But acting is a unique example because it deals with emotions,  which I think I understand better than other things because I am empathetic and observe people, but emotions are also more universally understood and a level of connection between humans, so intuition can be trusted here more so than maybe in science.

In areas like the natural science, intuition plays a major role in just recognising how the world should work and applying that to another situation, but even if intuition leads you to the correct answers, reasoning is given more weight in science, for if you can’t logically reason/ explain a phenonimnon you haven’t ‘proven’ why it occurs. And the universe is less predictable than humans, for example, quantum mechanics is very unintuitive, as things on the microcosmos don’t behave in the same way as things we observe, so it would be difficult to trust your intution in this area od knowledge.

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One Comment

  1. Nicholas Alchin Reply

    Thanks Aarushi. You’ve illustrated your answer with some original and powerful examples. And I think you rightly highlight the issue of ‘speed’– rational thought is slow, so evolution has given us intuition- a way of processing rapidly. In fact, intuition came first (with instinct), and the slow rational thought came later.

    The slow pace of the rational thought is a problem; we can cannot analyse everything or we would never get anything done. But the power of rationality is that it allows us to counter the intuitive biases and errors of intuition. So the two are complementary systems.

    Hope you have had a great break


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