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Intellect and Intution

this was extracted from a conversation following a previous post exploring the philosophy and science of covid politics:

For Henri Bergson, intuition is our animal instinct informed by our analytic intelligence. Much like we have been saying, Bergson critiques the fetishizing of our analytic side, and he would agree that we cannot be intuitive without using analysis. Otherwise it is just animal instinct, and I don’t think that is possible in any absolute sense for a human being.So obviously we are not talking about pure types here, for when we do we are letting the abstractions of our analytic side blind us to the way thought actually works, which is by abstracting/constructing identities from an infinite plane of pure relations. Rather than getting caught up in talk of any pure types and the inevitable calls for balance or synthesis–a purely dialectic and insufficiently creative movement–let’s “analyze” your nice example of romance.

It is certainly a problem that men often face–they try to “solve” a problem when all a woman wants is someone to hear and understand the problem. This illustrates my earlier point about problems that Deleuze explores into the heart of mathematics and logic: Solutions cover up and obfuscate problems. It isn’t that we shouldn’t try to solve problems but that we should, when approaching any thing or problem, rather than ask what is it?, we should ask what processes give rise to it, how it can connect with and produce other things, what are its range of possibilities? This can be rendered as a simple calculus that gives us the differential of a function when dealing with a scientific problem, but more generally this is also what spiritual perception is all about.

We can train ourselves to look at things not by dividing them up into preformed categories but getting a feel for all that they can do and letting our categories and solutions flow from a spiritual pragmatics rather than being misled by the categories we have inherited from our language and culture.But we all must use the languages we have inherited from the past. Even if one may learn to think very creatively and spiritually, one still must translate those insights into the analytic structure of language. The issue is not so much about fooling ourselves into thinking we are being objective when we are being subjective, or creative when we are merely being cliche, for we can pretty much assume we are always doing all of these things unavoidably. People do need to realize that for sure. But what we also always must do is use all our faculties to find and create the best possible path through possibility space.

There is no guarantee that any particular combination of analysis and intuition is called for in any situation. But unless we are willing to think differently, to question received categories of thought, we are doomed to merely improvise and synthesize along lines that are doomed to circle around the same old problems, constantly solving but never really understanding the problem space we inherited from the past.


I think everyone has a basic animal insecurity that drives their intellect to find out what “is really going on” so they can be prepared. But sensitive people often become more traumatized by early failures of this faculty and so become hyper-intellectual in an effort to find some kind of secure ground of truth (or, as you say, pretend they have done so, which doesn’t fill the void but may win them attention which can make them feel more secure). Modern philosophy is burdened to the core with this essential doubt that, from Decartes to Derrida can never really find a safe ground, even when it thinks it does.

But if the intellect can recognize its limits, as I think it does in philosophy with people like Derrida, or in just the awareness sensitive people like you have of the impossibility of truth as a faithful representation or mimesis, then it can surrender its impossible and anxious task of finding or being its own ground, and relax into its proper role as mediator. It can let go of its precarious throne where it judges in never-ending undecidability(Derrida’s term), and join the plane of immanence(Deleuze’s term), the larger being/becoming that enjoys the discovery and creation of truth so much that it overcomes its fear and unconscious certainty that the ground it is looking for is indeed its own end.

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