Chapter 16: Intuition and the Noetic
Dean Radin Intuition traditionally refers to a way of knowing through ‘immediate apprehension’, meaning to know without the usual constraints of space or time, and unmediated by the ordinary senses (Osbeck, 2001). This meaning is similar to the Greek words noēsis or noētikos, which refer to ways of knowing based on inner wisdom, direct understanding, or impressions that transcend rational analysis. The English version of noēsis is the word noetic, described by William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience as ‘states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority’ (James, 1902: 371). Noetic experiences manifest as intuitions that appear in a flash, out of the blue, with correct answers to otherwise intractable scientific or technical problems, or with complete scores to intricate musical compositions, or with optimal solutions to complicated decisions. Because of the emphasis placed on rational knowing in Western scholarship, and especially because of the scientific tenet of physicalism – the belief that ‘mental entities, properties, relations and facts are all physical’ (Crane & Mellor, 1990: 185) – the traditional meanings of intuition and noetic ways of knowing came to be regarded as an inferior epistemology at best, and superstitious nonsense at worst. For about half of the twentieth century, the enthusiastic adoption of physicalism led many psychologists to embrace the peculiar Catch-22 whereby minds concluded with...
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