This isn't done. If you're seeing this, it's because I linked to it in another writing, in which case what's currently here should serve for the purposes of that writing.

The Roles Played by Intuition

We use the word intuition in many different ways, primarily for those pre- or non-verbal aspects of cognition. I'll be using the word to denote the structural factors of conscious experience, the things which your cognitions are molded by. Here, I'll outline two complex dichotomies of intuition which have appeared to me upon reflection on my own thought processes.

A note: I'm using the word "cognition" here in a way broader than its usual meaning, to mean deliberate mental processes in general. Maybe a better word will come to me later, in which case I'll go back and edit this.

Two Dichotomies of Intuition

First, the abstract/sensory dichotomy.

Second, the perceptive/active dichotomy.

Four Quadrants of Intuition

These two dichotomies are perpendicular to one another, so that we may use them to talk about 2 x 2 = 4 kinds of intuition:

  1. Abstract-perceptive intuition, for instance the ability to sense when something feels off in a scientific paper written by a crank.

  2. Abstract-active intuition, for instance the often non-cognitive ability to determine the right mathematical object to use in order to solve a problem.

    A great example, from the Wikipedia page on Srinivasa Ramanujan:

    Imagine that you are on a street with houses marked 1 through n. There is a house in between (x) such that the sum of the house numbers to the left of it equals the sum of the house numbers to its right. If n is between 50 and 500, what are n and x?' This is a bivariate problem with multiple solutions. Ramanujan thought about it and gave the answer with a twist: He gave a continued fraction. The unusual part was that it was the solution to the whole class of problems. Mahalanobis was astounded and asked how he did it. 'It is simple. The minute I heard the problem, I knew that the answer was a continued fraction. Which continued fraction, I asked myself. Then the answer came to my mind', Ramanujan replied.

  3. Sensory-perceptive intuition, for instance the ability to sense when something is off in some 'sensorimotor world of activity' you have experience in, such as the judgement of faces. (I choose this example because it's something everyone has natural experience in. But if you're an NBA player, you might notice something off when you're made to play with a ball that's just a bit smaller than regulation size — same idea).

  4. Sensory-active intuition, for instance the ability to know how fast you should go in order to jump across a gap, or how to move in order to position an enemy in an inconvenient spot in a video game. (Knowing what spots are inconvenient requires sensory-perceptive intuition).

Furthermore, both the abstract-sensory and the perceptive-active dichotomies are both dichotomies: in general, intuitions will arise through an interplay of these various ideals. They’re complex dichotomies as well, so such an interplay depends not on the specific weights of the combinations of these ideal types but on noncommutative patterns of interaction. What one might call an intuitive grasp of a video game, for instance, is really a sensory action-perception loop, combining both sensory-perceptive and sensory-active intuitions in order to build and act on an internal model of the game in real time. My developing this theory (not just writing about it, but mentally having and working over the ideas) requires an abstract action-perception loop.