Excerpts from doctoral dissertation by Anne Salisbury, PhD published September 1998
“Neuroscientists reported yesterday compelling new evidence that intuition plays a crucial role in helping people make sensible decisions.” – The Washington Post (Stein, 1997, p. A14)
Original thinkers in many fields who documented the ways in which they arrived at their ideas and inventions acknowledged the role played by their intuition.
Arthur Koestler (1964), the journalist, author and nominee for the Nobel Prize, comments:
“Their virtually unanimous emphasis on spontaneous intuitions, unconscious guidance, and sudden leaps of imagination which they are at a loss to explain, suggests that the role of strictly rational thought-processes in scientific discovery has been vastly over-estimated since the Age of Enlightenment.” (p. 208)
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the great mathematical physicist, noted that he thought almost entirely in images. He stated, “my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe did not come out of my rational mind” (Das & Gorman, 1995, p. 94). Thinking, to Einstein, was instead an intuitive process of freely playing with images, words and explanations (Einstein, 1946).
In the latter half of the 20th century there has been an upswelling of interest in the field of intuitive thought in our continuing “age of reason.” (Harman & Rheingold, 1984). Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut, founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in the 1970’s to research human consciousness after he experienced profound altered states during his return trip from the moon (Harman & Rheingold, 1984). Mitchell felt that the solution to our current worldly problems would be through the development of our intuitive powers (Rowan, 1986).
Weston Agor (1991), director of the Master of Public Administration Program at the University of Texas at El Paso, also saw the importance of intuition. He set up the Global Intuition Network in the 1980’s to study it. This organization is made up of scientists, mathematicians, psychologists and business people interested in the accessing of intuition (Cappon, 1993).
Intuition is a vital part of our existence, therefore it is valued, investigated and pondered over. There are many meanings given to it primarily by philosophers, psychologists and mystics. I have arrived at the following definition: Intuition is the act or faculty of knowing immediately, directly and holistically without rational processes and without being aware of how we know. It is also the channel or process through which one claims to access the purported realms of universal truth and absolute knowledge.
In closing, it is important to note that intuition is essential to our growth. It affects our experiences in making choices. In turn, our intuitively based choices affect society. Understanding it more completely will hopefully make it easier for us to nourish its appearance in our lives.