What is intuition?

Intuition is frequently associated with creative thought, spotting patterns, having insight, coming to understand patterns and changes, seeing things in new or alternative ways. It is often described as an imaginative process, and it’s associated with the future and potential. What’s possible? What is going to happen? Using the imagination, we can get an idea, we can try to predict change.

Intuition gives outlook and insight; it revels in the garden of magical possibilities as if they were real. [“The Psychology of the Transference,” CW 16, par. 492.

Carl Jung

In neuroscience, there is a network associated with many of these abilities. This network is called the frontopolar network. It’s often researched to be related to counter-factual thinking. This is when you imagine something different compared to how it currently is. It’s also researched to be involved in more complex thought. For example trying to draw information from an abstraction, trying to do something you’ve never done before. Trying to understand information when there is something unclear about it. It’s not unscientific to talk about intuitive types or people with an intuitive preference, there’s actually a lot of research on how we all use the brains to think differently.

Intuition and Sensing

An intuitive is less likely to pay attention to what you say and what you do and more likely to think about why you said it. They may notice things you’re not even aware of yourself.

There are two networks more involved with sensing, the attention network,  and the habitual network. Those who use those two networks more are more likely to be sensors. Those who use the imagination network more, are more likely to be intuitives. What this means is we can assume overall, that intuitives are more interested in hidden or vague information, and that sensors are more interested in obvious, tangible, concrete information. We can also assume that sensors are more about maintaining a habit, and that intuitives are more about changing a habit.

Education, Neojungian Academy

Intuition has a value, and that value is freedom, self-direction, privacy, and originality. An intuitive working in an environment that is heavily regulated, and where everything is monitored, can feel repressed. They enjoy creative thought and freedom is often associated with some form of rebellion. We’re not just like everyone else, we’re allowed to stand out somehow. Or we do, even if we’re not allowed to.

Intuition is a little peculiar. And it’s always changing in some direction or another. An intuitive tends to always look at things in an original way. They always have a new perspective or a new way of interpreting the situation. The interpretative nature of intuition is important here: all intuitives tend to juggle different possible interpretations. Here, the outlook is not what is “real”, the interest is not in the traditional definition. Just because something has been established to be true does not mean an intuitive will see it as such. An intuitive has to think on their own, is it really real? is it really true?

Intuitive generally need to come to an answer on a topic on their own. If they’re interested in something, they don’t just take your word for it, they question, weigh, and try to think about if it makes sense or not. This makes intuition more subjective than sensing. How an intuitive will understand something depends on their own reasoning skills and their mental state.

Is intuition irrational?

Intuition is a question of perception, what you see, how you define or understand what you see. Because of this, it’s sometimes described as irrational. An irrational type is driven not by rational reasons, not by a desire to be good, or a desire to be powerful or rich, but just by patterns and the interest in patterns. You’re trying to learn, you are in tuition, trying to figure out something you don’t understand.

So as an intuitive type, it can feel like you’re on a roller coaster. If you’re fascinated by something, you can’t help but want to learn more about it, even if you don’t understand why. Intuitives are driven by their curiosity, especially intuitive dominant types, like the ENFP, ENTP, INFJ and the INTJ. Does that make it more irrational than being for example a feeling or a thinking type?

Interpretative and existential intuition

The differences in interpretation allows for creativity. It is said about some intuitives that they will always do the opposite of what you say to them. This is often a sign of interpretative intelligence – extroverted intuition. It’s said about others that they will always have a different explanation for what happened than the one you give. That’s often a sign of existential intelligence – also called introverted intuition.

The two different forms of intelligence are both related to intuitive thinking. The difference is that interpretative intelligence starts from the situation and in the reaction to what another person tells you, and what you think about it. Existential intelligence starts in the subject and what you are thinking and how you want to express your thoughts to the world. It’s about controlling and organizing your own mind, your thoughts, and your theories. It’s more detached and less excited by new ideas.

Interpretative intelligence is a curious process, it’s about your reactions and impressions of the world and how you study the world around you. Where interpretation is like the skill of a detective, existential thought is the skill of a philosopher. But the two forms of intuition are overall more similar than they are different. The priority is the same: to come to a personal understanding of the world and how it works.

So to understand what intuition is, consider the following things:

  • How world the world look if our mouths were located in our right hand instead of on the face?
  • What would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?
  • There are two kinds of people. Those who eat breakfast, and those who don’t. Who is more likely to get their ears pierced?
  • Does Steve use an ipod or an mp3 player?
  • Draw a square in 4 dimensions on a normal paper.