Intuisjon og Rasjonalitet



How intuition is defined in philosophical and psychological theory is explored in the previous chapters, thus we have addressed the first research question. A second concern is how intuition relates to rationality. In recapitulating our main findings, we face the puzzling fact that philosophers define intuition as rational while psychologists tend not to. Why? In order to answer this question I do three things. First, I look into the issue of rationality. What is rationality per se? Apparently, there is no brief or elegant answer. Rather, there is a multitude of perspectives and this state of affairs is characteristic of the classical theories of normative rationality as well. Secondly, it is argued with Seung, that intuition is the ontological foundation for any normative theory of rationality. That is, in his examination of three well-known forms of rationality; formal and instrumental rationality, and Rawls’s ideal constructivism, the impossibility of constructing a normative system of rationality without using some normative intuitions, is demonstrated. Thus, it is argued that our normative view of rationality may be usefully informed by intuition. Consequently, I then further refine my sketch of the required theory of intuition. Criteria for rational judgment are also discussed and a supplementary version of reflective equilibrium, that is intuitive equilibrium, is suggested as proper frame of reference.




What is Rationality?

It is, according to Dawes, the potential outcomes, their probabilities, and their values to the decision maker, at the time the decision is made, that lead us to judge a particular choice to be wise or foolish.[1] But what is rationality per se? This notion as well, is thoroughly elusive. Numerous entities are rational or irrational: beliefs, preferences, choices or decisions, actions, behavioral patterns, persons, and even institutions. According to Elster, who distinguishes more than 20 senses of rationality, the connotations of the term range from the formal notions of efficiency and consistency to the substantive notions of autonomy or self-determination, leaving us quite confused.[2] March writes that in many of its uses, rational is approximately equivalent to intelligent or successful, and it describes actions that have desirable outcomes.[3] That is, it serves the best interests of the person making the decision in terms of his or her current assets, which include “physiological and psychological capacities, as well as social relationships and feelings.”[4] Heterogeneous meanings of rationality are thus characteristic of the literature, and a brief review does not provide us with a proper definition.[5]

Elster elaborates on individual and collective rationality. His thin theory of individual rationality leaves unexamined the beliefs and the desires that form the reasons for the action, whose rationality we are assessing, with the exception that they are stipulated not to be logically inconsistent. Consistency within the desire-, and belief system, and between these systems and the action for which they are reasons, is what rationality in this sense is all about.[6] This thin theory aligns with Føllesdal’s first kind of rationality.[7] However, Elster feels that acting rationally means something more than acting consistently on beliefs, and desires that are consistent. His suggestion is that we look at: the way in which our beliefs and desires are shaped. “A belief may be consistent and even true, a desire consistent and even conformable to morals, and yet we may hesitate to call them rational if they have been shaped by irrelevant causal factors, by a blind psychic causality operating behind the back of the person.”[8] Rather, they should be well founded and supported by the available evidence, to quote Føllesdal.[9]

The difficulty of course, is to delineate the causal origin, and what sort of psychic causal history our beliefs, desires and values have, as well as what exactly would qualify as the right sort of history. That is, we would like to extend our perception of the unconscious, this being a key attribute of intuition. On these crucial issues, he has relatively little to say, but more to say about the wrong sorts that distort rationality. In brief, they include four drives or cognitive defects. First, there is adaptive preference formation, which is the often unconscious - adjustment of wants to possibilities, contrary to the deliberate adaptation favored by character planners. Secondly, there is preference change by framing, which occurs when the relative attractiveness of options changes, because the choice situation is reframed in a way that rationally should make no difference. Thirdly, wishful thinking which is the shaping of beliefs by wants, and finally, inferential errors or unfounded judgments stemming from defects in the cognitive apparatus.[10]

To say that truth is necessary for rational beliefs, and ethical goodness for rational desires, is to require too much in Elster’s opinion. Rather, he argues in accordance with Føllesdal, that substantively rational beliefs, or subjective probabilities, are those, which are grounded in the available evidence. That is, “the positive characterization of rational beliefs can be made in terms of the notion of judgment, defined as the capacity to synthesize vast and diffuse information that more or less clearly bears on the problem at hand, in such a way that no element or set of elements is given undue importance.”[11] In its emphasis on a context-rich synthesis, this definition shares intrinsic similarities with the one of intuition and reasoning system one. Apparently, it is opposed to the one of the ‘rational’ reasoning system two with its emphasis on abstraction of complex situations into “canonical representations stripped of context.”[12] However, Elster does not specify what qualifies as evidence, and this is indeed an intricate issue epistemologically speaking.[13] We need only remind ourselves of the Ideas and inner objects elaborated by Plato Jung.[14] Their reality cannot be dismissed. I shall come back to this later.

Føllesdal moves this issue somewhat further along when arguing that our beliefs may go well beyond the available evidence, as they do in the case of the more theoretical parts of scientific theories. “But there should be no other competing theories that would be better supported by the available evidence.” Furthermore: “The specification of the criteria of well-foundedness would recapitulate epistemology and scientific methodology.”[15] To some extent, we have covered the pivotal issue of epistemology. The philosophical account makes it reasonably clear that we are justified in claiming intuition to be a relevant component. When Føllesdal then arrives at the other tricky part, namely specification of the phrase available evidence, he leaves the reader solely on his own. That is, he does not elaborate the issue.

So where are we then? I have argued that the evidence required for our beliefs, desires, and values to be well founded necessarily must include knowledge of our own psyche and self. Unfortunately, the self is more or less unconscious and thus not easily accessible.[16] Moreover, this whole business of valid criteria is further complicated by our concern for what beliefs we should hold, given a certain amount of evidence, and to what extent it is rational to actively search for additional evidence before we allow our beliefs to settle.[17] In the case of the pure scientist he may very well go on collecting data forever, as truth is the ultimate goal of his enterprise, causing him to postpone belief formation. The demand for optimal amounts of evidence leads to an infinite regress and this is the general argument for satisfactory levels of evidence.

Concerning substantially rational desires or preferences, Elster suggests that autonomy is for desires what synthetic judgment is for belief. Autonomous desires are desires that have been deliberately chosen, acquired or modified – either by an act of will or by a process of character planning. This, he argues, is the ideal of self-determination underlying the Stoic, the Buddhist and the Spinozistic philosophies. Thus, he as well devotes an entire chapter of his book The Multiple Self, to Buddhism.[18] In recapitulating Buddhist doctrine, we are justified in stating that the intuitive mind or manas is a key on the path to knowledge of the self and thus to autonomy.[19] Bergson emphasizes a similar point.[20] Implicit then, in Elster’s view is that rationality requires profound self-awareness, and knowing the answer to questions like; who you are and what the meaning and purpose of your life is. Ideally, we would like to have awareness of, and consistency between our unconscious values and preferences and those that we are conscious of. Such self-awareness is rare so we may end up questioning the entire idea of rationality. In addition, it is indeed impossible to have perfect knowledge about the future and about consequences following from each alternative thus, it is hard to choose among alternatives. Moreover, if we did have such enlightened self-awareness would it not be subjective?

In discussing well founded values, Føllesdal’s makes the important point that when we say a person is rational we tend to focus almost exclusively on the consistency and well-foundedness of his or her beliefs and do not take his values or ideals into account, even though the former may be contingent upon the latter. “This disregard of a person’s values when we judge his rationality probably reflects the widespread tendency to regard question of ultimate values as beyond the realm of rational justification.” In yet other words, “It is often claimed that while one may choose means towards an end in a more or less rational way, there is no notion of rationality that applies to the evaluation of ends, or values.”[21]

So, what is his solution to this dilemma? The most promising approach to it is according to Føllesdal, to acquire well-founded values through the method of reflective equilibrium. Thus, we will take further note of it later. Here it suffices to say that the method of reflective equilibrium may fall victim to at least two types of critique. The ultimate job of reflective equilibrium is to say which cognitive states are justified and which are not. It is thoroughly embedded in the tradition of analytic epistemology. I have voiced the concern that such epistemology may be ontologically dependent on intuition. In the next paragraph, this argument is made explicit. Secondly, Stich makes the argument that if primitive tribesmen or pre-modern scientists or our own descendants think in ways that are quite different from the ways we think, few of us would be inclined to suggest that all of these are equally good. Some ways of going about the business of belief revision are better than others. “But just what is it that makes one system of cognitive processes better than another, and how are we to tell which system of reasoning is best?” In yet other words, profound cognitive diversity pose serious challenges to reflective equilibrium.[22]

Because of these problems and uncertainties, most modern theories of rational choice involve assumptions. They can be distinguished with respect to four dimensions: knowledge, actors, preferences, and decision rule.[23] We ask; what is assumed with respect to; information decision makers have about the state of the world and about other actors, preferences by which consequences are evaluated, number of decision makers, and the decision rule by which decision makers choose an alternative or utility preference? Similarly, Elster tries very hard to develop notions of proper judgment and autonomy but concludes that they will have to be understood as mere residuals after we have eliminated the influence of distorted drives or cognitive defects.[24] Likewise, in discussing rationality of action Føllesdal argues that: “Rationality always has to do with what the agent ought to choose, given his or her limited perspectives on the situation, with a limited amount of information, limited imagination and time for considering different alternatives, and not a question of choosing from within a vast set of alternatives that lie there ready for one’s inspection.” He thus concludes that rationality as well-foundedness of belief, values and action is clearly a normative notion not a descriptive one, and adds, “most of us are not very rational in this sense most of the time.”[25] We may thus feel, rightly, that this is not good enough, being left with a limited, normative definition of rationality that is a simple negation of a long list of distortions and modifications, which also fails to be descriptive. A question that perhaps can facilitate further inquiry is thus the following: What is the ontological foundation of our normative theories of rationality?

In summarizing this paragraph, then, we may admit that we do not have proper conceptual elegance or agreement on the issue of rationality per se. Rather, there is a multitude of perspectives, and this is the state of affairs in classical theories of normative rationality as well. They are discussed in the next paragraph. However, we may indicate that rationality is related to synthesis and autonomy, and that it is facilitated by intuitive awareness of our psyche and self.




Intuition as Ontological Foundation for Normative Rationality

Strategic thinking and decision-making are intrinsically related to the issue of rationality. In the next chapter, it is indicated that human responses often deviate from the performance deemed normative according to various models of decision-making and rational judgment. This gap then, between the normative and the descriptive can be interpreted as indicating systematic irrationalities in human decision making. However, Stanovich and West who thoroughly and brilliantly summarize the debate, suggest four alternative explanations that preserve the assumption that human behavior and cognition is largely rational.[26] They posit that the gap is due to performance errors, computational limitations, the wrong norm being applied by the experimenter, and different construal of the task by the subject.

In this paragraph, I go along with Stanovich & West and work on their third interpretation, namely, that the wrong norm is applied. In order to vindicate my position I will argue with Seung, that intuition is the ontological foundation for any normative theory of rationality. That is, in his examination of three well-known forms of rationality; formal and instrumental rationality, and Rawls’s ideal constructivism, the impossibility of constructing a normative system of rationality without using some normative intuitions, is demonstrated. Thus, I maintain that our normative view of rationality could be usefully informed by intuition. In applying this rationale, I then consequently further refine my sketch of the required supplementary theory of intuition.

By constructivism, we may refer to the thesis; that normative propositions and standards are constructed by human beings. This thesis is opposed to intuitionism, the thesis that normative propositions and standards are discovered by intuition.[27] Seung argues that though the three forms of rationality are different from each other, they are motivated by a common concern, namely normative scepticism, which stems from distrust in the normative ideas delivered by our intuitive understanding. Let us then start by looking briefly at formal rationality or constructivism. According to Seung, Kant’s categorical imperative may be considered the fountainhead of formal rationality. It is a doctrine revived by Hare & Gewirth. “Its method is to derive normative rules and standards from the principle of rationality without appealing to substantive ideas, which are given by normative intuition.”[28] Seung argues that whether formal constructivism is implemented in terms of the formal rules of thought or the logical property of moral language, its ultimate concern is to circumvent normative scepticism by refusing to rely on normative intuitions. According to Seung, the best example of a purely formal procedure can be found in R. M. Hare’s work:


“To him all moral judgments are prescriptive. That is not to say they are pure commands, but rather, that they are supported by reasons. He tries to anchor those reasons in the connection between description and evaluation. …. Furthermore, to make a moral statement is to make it on principle. Hare maintains that principles are created by our actions and decisions. And they do not stay the same after being created and adopted. Our decisions and principles constantly interact with each other. They mutually revise each other. Hare also says that moral judgments can only be verified by reference to a standard or set of principles which we have by our own decision accepted and made our own. …. He also follows Sartre’s lead in accepting the Kantian requirement of universalizability. That is, a prescription is not moral unless it can be universalised, and a moral prescription is valid only if it can be derived from a principle that can be universally accepted.”[29]


To some extent we find the same approach in March’s work. He suggests that we treat decision making as a way of creating preferences and identities, at the same time as preferences and identities are treated as a basis for decisions and their justification.[30] Seung inquires into how Hare’s prescriptive method controls for the diversity of empirical content and maintains the universality of its prescriptions but is not convinced that it works. Essentially there are four elements in Hare’s imaginary test of universalizability and they are logic, facts, inclinations, and imagination. The universal prescriptivity is derived from the logical properties of moral language. Facts and inclinations can be empirically ascertained and from these three factors we can always derive right moral prescriptions as long as we have sound imagination, Hare maintains.

Seungs critique is focused in the question: How can we tell whether a principle can be universalised? “To be sure, prescriptivity and universalizability alone cannot make moral judgments; they have to presuppose empirical content that is, the speaker’s aims and situation. But empirical content is likely to generate the diversity and multiplicity of prescriptions, thereby making it impossible for Hare’s method to produce universal prescriptions that can be accepted by everybody.”[31] This is the most critical question for Hare’s theory according to Seung. His program can thus succeed only if he can find a way to overcome the relativity of perspectives. Apparently, moral prescriptions made by formal procedures are incurable agent-relative. Different agents favour different prescriptions. But their differences may be negotiable. They can perhaps be resolved by agreement.[32] This is the hope that has inspired certain advocates of instrumental rationality.  

We may say that instrumental rationality or constructivism began with Hobbes’s theory of social contract. His conception of instrumental rationality was reaffirmed in Hume’s thesis that reason can only be the slave of the passions. “To be a slave is to be an instrument. Reason can perform only the instrumental function of devising a system of rules and standards for the fulfilment of our passions because it is incapable of having its own norms and values.”[33] This is the heart of instrumental constructivism, according to Seung. David Gauthier, who stipulates two conditions in his contractual approach, has recently elaborated it. First, the agents are supposed to be nontuistic. That is, they take no interest in each other, nor are they affected by mutual feelings of love or hatred. Second, they are equally rational, but their rationality is restricted to the maximization of individual utilities.

Seung goes on to describe the two types of rational choice recognized by Gauthier, namely straightforward and constrained maximization. The former is the maximization of individual utility with no constraints whatsoever. It resembles the principle of rational choice in the world of perfect competition. In a free market there is no need for constraints. “The unconstrained operation of free markets produces optimal results for everybody concerned. But when markets fail, the individually rational choices produce collectively sub-optimal results. Such a situation is characterized as the Prisoner’s dilemma.”[34] A society whose members all seek nothing but individual interests is perhaps destined to collapse into competitive chaos.

Straightforward maximization thus has to be replaced by constrained maximization. Gauthier identifies those constraints as morals. By morality he means not any particular moral code or convention, but any set of impartial constraints on the pursuit of individual interest. The idea of fairness or impartiality is here the essence of morality.[35] Seung asks: In the world of subjective values and nontuistic people, what kind of agreement can be accepted as fair and impartial? Gauthier has tried to answer this question “with his theory of rational bargains. This is his derivation project, where instrumental rationality is converted into instrumental justice.”[36] How does Gauthier perceive justice then? Justice is a compromise between our weakness and our strength. If we are strong, we do not need it, and if we are weak we cannot get it. Justice is a necessary ‘evil’ for those living in the world of equal power, where none of them has the power to dominate the others. It has only instrumental value. No one wants to seek it for its own sake.[37]

Gauthier admits that such a view of justice and morality can subvert moral order as a cooperative adventure for mutual advantage. He thus tries to find a way “to cope with the menace of nontuistic people and its instrumental justice, through the astounding claim that it is not the justice of real people.”[38] Instrumental justice is the justice of the economic man. He is like a pig, in his search for maximization of utility. Opposed to this is the ordinary man who applies essential justice, which is anchored in critical rationality. Critical rationality is recognized as reflective, and identified with autonomy. In his critique of Gauthier, Seung emphasizes that autonomy is defined with the notion ‘critical reflection’ and critical reflection with autonomy, thus it is circular. Moreover, we can critically reflect upon, and examine our own preferences only by appealing to objective values. In yet other words, Gauthier begins with the subjectivity of values and preferences. His acceptance of nontuism as his premise follows from the subjectivity of values and preferences. However, neither essential justice nor essential rationality can be constructed from subjective preferences. They presuppose objective values and standards, which in turn cannot be accounted for without accepting the intuition of those values and standards.[39] Seung thus concludes that in many constructivist projects substantive intuitive ideas are introduced under the guise of formal requirements.

Turning then to Rawls’s ideal constructivism, we find that in one important respect, it differs from formal and instrumental rationality. He does not believe that normative rationality or constructivism can get anywhere by totally rejecting normative intuitions. “Though he does not derive his two principles of justice directly from intuitive ideas, he acknowledges his use of intuitions in setting up the constructivist procedure in the original position. He says that the social ideals of liberty and equality are the ultimate source for the constitutive constraints on the original position… Unlike formal and instrumental constructivism, ideal constructivism is meant not to avoid, but only to tame and control our intuitive ideas and normative scepticism.”[40] What intuitive ideas then should be the basis for constructing the principles of justice, Seung asks. For Rawls, there is no determinate answer, and it is a most difficult problem for any theory of justice. His foremost methodological problem is thus how to cope with the indeterminacy of intuitions. Rawls writes; “No doubt, any conception of justice will have to rely on intuition to some degree.”[41]

Having made plausible the argument, that any normative theory of rationality is ontologically dependent on some normative intuition the question thus arises: What is the nature of normative intuition? Part of the answer may be found in existing theory, elaborated in previous chapters. A brief recapitulation would include the theory and methods of Plato, Kant, Bergson and Jung, as well as the three levels of intuition.



Methods of;

Rational Intuition

Discursive Thinking

Plato Dialogue Dianoia
Kant                      Synthetic Analytic
Bergson Metaphysical   Science Physical Science
  Personal   Unconscious Collective Unconscious
Introverted Intuition Level One Level Two
Extraverted Intuition Level One Little or no Awareness
Integral Intuition Level Three Level Three




Normative Intuition

 There are many forms of normative intuitionism. However, we may limit our discussion to the transcendent and the immanent. They resemble the conceptual distinctions worked out earlier on and capture the main tradition. That is, transcendent intuition equals Plato’s and Kant’s rational intuition, and immanent intuition shares many properties with Jung’s view. This paragraph is thus to be read as an extension of earlier chapters, where three levels of intuition were discerned. Seung argues that immanent intuition is the intuition of positive or prevailing normative standards and values in any given society, while transcendent intuition transcends all particular societies. As such, immanent intuition is both normative and descriptive.
“Immanent intuition is a part of our daily life; every day we recognize the positive norms of our society and govern our life in accordance with them except for the rare occasions on which their authority appears to be suspect. These positive norms constitute not only the order of our society, but also the selfhood of its members. Hence, our intuition of those positive norms belongs to our nature as social beings. Our linguistic and moral intuitions belong to what is generally known as commonsense intuition, and our common sense should be regarded as an essential feature of our nature.”[42]

Loss of confidence in immanent intuition leads to normative subjectivism and skepticism. Such a loss can take place on an individual or a collective level Seung writes. He makes the interesting observation that it has induced massive cultural upheaval on two occasions in the West: in Renaissance Europe and in Sophistic Athens. “On both occasions, distrust of natural or positive intuition created a normative crisis for the whole culture.”[43] Under such circumstances, there are only two ways to overcome the normative chaos Seung argues. One of them is the positivistic appeal to the power that can sustain a social order and the other is the idealistic appeal to transcendental norms, which requires transcendental intuition. “In ancient Athens, Socrates and Plato proposed transcendental intuitionism against the positivism of Thrasymachus and Callicles. In Renaissance Europe, the positivism of Machiavelli and his heirs was countered by rational intuitionism.”[44] The critical thinkers of modern Europe distrusted both positivism and idealism according to Seung. “They could not endorse positivism on normative grounds (Might is right); they could not accept idealism on epistemic grounds (How can we know there are transcendental ideals?). Since they could embrace neither, they had to devise their own procedures for constructing normative standards. Thus began the modern tradition of normative constructivism.”[45]


In the previous paragraph, it was indicated that ideal constructivism is the only viable form of constructivism. It does rest on certain normative ideals, thus we cannot avoid questioning their origin. They can come from only two sources. They must originate either in transcendental norms or the immanent positive norms and values of our culture. Transcendental normative idealism is identical to early Platonism. More specifically, it can be related to mathematical Platonism and intuitionism, in which the heaven contains the complete edifice of mathematics from arithmetic and geometry to calculus and topology. Among the many scientists who subscribe to such ontology, Penrose is perhaps the more acclaimed one. “To me the world of perfect forms is primary (as was Plato’s own belief) – its existence being almost a logical necessity – and both the other two worlds are its shadows.”[46] However, the later Plato emphasized what we may call the bedrock version, where the Ideas, values and virtues are immanent in that which comes about of Necessity.[47] That is, they are Forms and Archetypes, innate and inherent in any mental and material form, dressed in the specific clothing of Kant’s Time-Space continuum.[48] The challenge posed to the philosopher, is for her to intuit them.


We started out looking briefly into Platonic epistemology, which is echoed by many of the main contributors to European philosophy. Here Socratic dialogue figures prominently. Thus, if we leave out Kant and Bergson’s method of intuition and scrutinize dialogue, we must admit that what Socrates is seeking is a conceptual definition that spells out the essential property or eidos of all instances of certain values and virtues like courage, temperance, wisdom or the good. However, in the Meno we are made aware of a paradox, namely that we cannot seek to define something unless we already have some idea of it. In order then, to clarify a main point we should carefully examine how normative intuition is discovered, not constructed. Consider first the fact that in the early dialogues, we find three examples and definitions of courage and seven of temperance but unfortunately, none of them qualifies as an eidetic or essential definition. Wittgenstein’s critique is thus that these examples share no eidos but only a family resemblance. How does Plato address this intricate subject? Seung suggests that his account on intuition evolves and matures with his later work, most notably in the Republic and Timaeus, and that eventually it differs somewhat from the approach of Socrates.

Let us see how this goes about. First, in Meno, he tries to account for intuitive knowledge through his doctrine of recollection. By interrogating a slave boy, Socrates elicits some basic propositions about squares and their diagonals. Since the boy had never been taught geometry in this life, Socrates argues that he must have known it in his previous life. Thus, he is now only recollecting what he has known all along. This argument is vindicated by Jung, who in numerous cases discovered ancient mythological themes in the dreams and paintings of people who had no education, nor acquaintance with such symbolism.[49] Baylor and Ausubel argue along the same line of reason.[50] However, the question of how this knowledge arrived there in the first place is still with us. Seung makes the insightful argument that the theory of recollection and innate ideas cannot deliver what Plato wants for his theory of Forms, namely their independent and a priori existence. “Although the doctrine of innatism assures that innate ideas are independent of sense perception, it cannot guarantee that those ideas are objectively real. … The doctrine of innatism would make the existence of Platonic Forms dependent on the empirical existence of human minds. The realism of Platonic Forms would be replaced by the subjective idealism of human minds.”[51] This critique, it seems, may be less severe if our mind is also a non-local, spiritual matter, capable of transcending ego boundaries.

Plato’s next step is introduced in the Republic. Here he engages his interlocutors in the definition of justice, and discredits the proposed definitions one after another. The inquiry then takes an unexpected turn. It moves on to the issue of how to construct an ideal state. That is, he starts not with the single individual, but with the whole republic. In the ideal state all participants benefit reciprocally by division of labor based on natural aptitudes and virtues, by cooperation, and by exchange of goods and services. In such a context, justice arises. “You remember how, when we first began to establish our commonwealth and several times since, we have laid down, as a universal principle, that everyone ought to perform the one function in the community for which his nature best suited him. Well, I believe that that principle, or some form of it, is justice.”[52]

This view of justice is not presented as a result of a laborious attempt at conceptual definition. Rather, it is a synoptic view. What is good for the individual also facilitates and is facilitated by the state of affairs in the whole republic. The additional subtle and pivotal point is thus that: “All this time [justice] has been under our very noses from the start, and we never saw it. We have been as absurd as a person who hunts for something he has all the time got in his hand.”[53] That is, in dialoguing they exercise a philosophic virtue, which is good, because they are to be philosophers. In yet other words, in discovering and pursuing what they as individual souls, can be good at, they are acting rational and just.[54]

The final step in Plato’s stroll along the unpaved road of intuition is to be found in the Timaeus. The unique world argument, which I did discuss, illustrates the synoptic view of normative intuition even more explicitly. The roaring ambition is here to construct a model not of an ideal state but of an ideal world. We note that the reasoning is identical. To recapitulate; “What was the living creature in whose likeness he framed the world? We must not suppose that it was any creature that ranks only as a species, for no copy of that which is incomplete can ever be good. Let us rather say that the world is like, above all things, to that Living Creature of which all other living creatures, severally and in their families, are parts. For that embraces and contains within itself all the intelligible living creatures, just as this world contains ourselves and all other creatures that have been formed as things visible.”[55] Again, it so to speak dawns upon us, that we are one humankind one world, not two. In addition, such a non-dual, synoptic view is not at all alien to diversity and proper individualization. On the contrary, its objectivity is embedded in subjectivity and this is required in order to uncover the hidden Ideas and mechanisms instrumental to our individual growth and fulfillment.

The recent work of Damasio et al. Unity of Knowledge may be seen as a step in the same direction. They write that the key to bridge building is the discovery of epigenetic rules, that is hereditary regularities in mental development.[56] What are the epigenetic rules if not the Ideas, Forms and Archetypes of the collective unconsciousness? The heuristics made explicit and conscious. After all, humans share 99 percent of the same gene pool. Velmans work on consciousness and reflexive monism should also be mentioned. Drawing on recent scientific discoveries, he provides an understanding of how consciousness relates to the brain that is neither dualist nor reductionist. The precise manner in which entities, events and processes are translated into experiences depends according to him on the location in time and space of the observer and the exact mix of perceptual, cognitive affective, social, cultural and historical influences, which enter into the construction of a given experience. In this sense, each conscious construction is private, subjective and unique. “In this vision, there is one universe (the thing itself) with relatively differentiated parts in the form of conscious beings like ourselves, each with a unique, conscious view of the larger universe of which it is a part. In so far as we are parts of the larger universe that in turn experience the larger universe, we participate in a reflexive process whereby the universe experiences itself.”[57] In summarizing then, on normative intuition, we may refer to the rather lengthy discussions provided earlier on which culminated in discernment of three levels of intuition. Thus, here it suffices to quote Bergson who defined it as integral experience.[58]


Reflections on Intuitive Equilibrium

Before we draw to an end we may reflect a little more on criteria for rational judgment and for assessing cognitive processes. Throughout this chapter, we have seen that a central issue is the rationality of ideas and values and their role as formal requirements in normative theories of rational justification. Føllesdal makes the important point that when we say a person is rational we tend to focus almost exclusively on the rationality of his or her beliefs and do not take his values or ideals into account. “This disregard of a person’s values when we judge his rationality probably reflects the widespread tendency to regard question of ultimate values as beyond the realm of rational justification.” In yet other words; “It is often claimed that while one may choose means towards an end in a more or less rational way, there is no notion of rationality that applies to the evaluation of ends, or values.”[59] This then is the focus of the current section, and I suggest we coin the notion intuitive equilibrium, which may buy us some new land. Let us start by listening to Føllesdal’s solution to the dilemma. The most promising approach to it is according to him the method of reflective equilibrium. It is the end stage in Rawls ideal constructivism, which ultimately has to rely on intuition to some degree, according to him-self.[60] It is hard to find anyone who expresses the notion of reflective equilibrium more eloquently than Goodman does:


“How do we justify a deduction? Plainly by showing that it conforms with the general rules of deductive inference. An argument that so conforms is justified or valid, even if its conclusion happens to be false. An argument that violates a rule is fallacious even if its conclusion happens to be true. …. Analogously, the basic task in justifying an inductive inference is to show that it conforms to the general rules of induction. …. Yet of course, the rules themselves must ultimately be justified. …. But how is the validity of the rules to be determined? … Principles of deductive inference are justified by their conformity with accepted deductive practice. Their validity depends upon accordance with the particular deductive inferences we actually make and sanction. If a rule yields unacceptable inferences, we drop it as invalid. Justification of general rules thus derives from judgments rejecting or accepting particular deductive inferences. A rule is amended if it yields an inference we are unwilling to accept; an inference is rejected if it violates a rule we are unwilling to amend. The process of justification is the delicate one of making mutual adjustments between rules and accepted inferences; and in the agreement thus achieved lies the only justification needed for either. All this applies equally well to induction.”[61]


As indicated earlier on there are some problems with this approach and thus with Føllesdal’s definition of rationality. The ultimate job of reflective equilibrium is to say which cognitive states are justified and which are not. It is thoroughly embedded in the tradition of analytic epistemology. I have voiced the concern that such epistemology may be ontologically dependent on intuition. It is thus legitimate and necessary to inquire into the nature of intuition and how to justify it. Is it possible then, that reflective equilibrium as a criterion for assessing rational cognitive processes could be refined so that it better captures intuition? When we look closer at the passage above there are thus two points that demand a bit of interpretation.[62]

First, Goodman claims to be explaining what justifies deductive and inductive inferences. In using the term inference, he is implicitly referring to analytical cognitive processes and not intuitive ones. If we accept the claim that there are cognitive diversity in the world we can ask; What is it that makes one system of cognitive process better than another and how are we to tell which system of reasoning is best? After all inferential and non-inferential thinking, that is nous and noesis, has been with us all the way from the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition to our present dual-process theories. Consciously or not, Goodman sidesteps this thorny issue. For a start, I thus suggest that intuitive equilibrium can complete the picture somewhat. In intuitive equilibrium the deduction of rational, transcendental intuition, and the induction of empirical, immanent intuition is akin to reflexive monism, and it may move us towards a integral, synoptic, non-dual state of mind. The distinction between rational and empirical intuition was elaborated in the section on Kant.

A second point that needs some elaboration is why a particular set of inferential rules is justified if it passes the reflective equilibrium test. This critical question applies equally well to non-inferential rules. One sort of answer is that if a set of rules passes the test this counts as good evidence.[63] Right here we are reminded that neither Føllesdal nor Elster provide a profound account on what exactly qualifies as evidence. This is indeed the crux of the matter. I have argued with Jung that; “our age, and its most eminent representatives know and acknowledge only the extraverted type of thinking.”[64] It is conditioned primarily by objective data transmitted by sense perception. In intuitive equilibrium good evidence is not limited to the outer objects but embraces the inner objects, a term that might justly be applied to the contents of the unconscious and the psyche. According to Jung, the relation of inner objects to consciousness is entirely analogous to that of outer objects though their reality is not physical but psychic.[65]

In the recent work of Gilovich, Griffin and Kahneman they allude to the same rationale: “The material essence of some aspects of contagion has a basis in fact; the spiritual essence does not, according to current doctrine, but we must be humble about things like this. ‘Action at a distance,’ a hallmark of magical thinking in the past, is a scientifically accepted aspect of modern physics, and “mind over matter,” another such hallmark, is now recognized in areas such as psychoneuroimmuniology.”[66] In concluding this paragraph then, we can refer to etymology, which teaches us that the root of the word rationality is the Latin word ratio, which essentially is the relative value, relationship or proportion between two or more things. If the rules pass an intuitive equilibrium test, we may thus say that it counts as good evidence because the reality taken into consideration is integral. In other words, the end result may be a tighter consistency between Plato’s episteme and doxa, Kant’s a priori and a posteriori, and Bergson’s physics and metaphysics.





How does intuition relate to rationality? In order to answer this research question I did three things. First, the issue of rationality was addressed. Apparently, there are heterogeneous meanings of rationality and this is the state of affairs in classical theories of normative rationality as well. However, we may indicate that rationality is related to synthesis and autonomy and that it is facilitated by intuition of our psyche and self. Secondly, it was argued that intuition is the ontological foundation for any normative theory of rationality. That is, in examination of three well-known forms of rationality; formal and instrumental rationality, and Rawls’s ideal constructivism, the impossibility of constructing a normative system of rationality without using some normative intuitions was demonstrated. Thus, consequently I tried to complete my sketch of the required, supplementary theory of intuition. In concluding this chapter then, we may quote Seung, who expresses a main point:


“Without Platonic Forms, we would be prisoners of our positive norms and share with the denizens of the Platonic Cave a fate of benighted existence. The syndrome of the Platonic Cave need not be limited to the tribal consciousness of a primitive society; it is equally present in the positivistic consciousness of our scientific world. For the positivistic consciousness is governed as much as the tribal consciousness by its own provincial norms and standards. Positivism has its own cave, the cave of an exclusively materialistic universe, and this cave is so deep and dark that it allows no view of any other dimension of reality.”[67]



[1] Dawes, 1988, p. 7.

[2] Elster, 1983, p. 1. See also Elster, in Fløystad, 1982, p. 111-127.

[3] March, 1994, p. 1-2. See also Simon, 1997, p. 89, and Parson, 2000, p. 310.

[4] Dawes, 1988, p. 8.

[5] Ibid., Bazerman, 1998, March, 1994, Elster, 1983, 1986, Plous, 1993, Beach, 1997.

[6] Elster, 1983, p. 1.

[7] Føllesdal, 1982, p. 304-305.

[8] Elster, 1983, p. 15.

[9] Føllesdal, 1982, p. 304-305.

[10] Elster, 1983, p. 25.

[11] Ibid. p. 16. My italics.

[12] Stanovich & West, 2000, p. 662.

[13] Popper, 1989, p. 35, 174-175. On a side note, we may here refer to the accepted Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, which in brief states that; “objective reality has evaporated.”

[14] Jung, 1971, p. 398. “Introverted intuition is directed to the inner object, a term that might justly be applied to the contents of the unconscious. The relation of inner objects to consciousness is entirely analogous to that of outer objects, though their reality is not physical but psychic.” The enduring tension between Naturwissenschaft and Geistwissenschaft may further illustrate this distinction.

[15] Føllesdal, 1982, p. 305. My italics.

[16] Elster, 1985, p. 257. As indicated previously, the self may itself ultimately be an illusion.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Elster, 1983, p. 1, 21. Elster, 1986, p. 28, 233-263.

[19] Govinda, 1969, p. 73-75.

[20] Bergson, 1949, p. 24-25.

[21] Føllesdal, 1982, p. 306-308. See also, Løwendahl & Wenstøp, 2003, p. 111-112.

[22] Stich, In DePaul & Ramsey, 1998, p. 95.

[23] March, 1994, p. 7.

[24] Elster, 1983, p. 24. See also Diecidue, 2001.

[25] Føllesdal, 1982, p. 305-306. Regarding rationality of action, he finds the rational model of choice, described in the previous chapter to be the best framework currently available.

[26] Stanovich & West, 2000, p. 645, 649.

[27] Seung, 1993, p. x, 61.

[28] Ibid. My italics.

[29] Ibid. p. 72-73.

[30] March, 1994, p. 262.

[31] Seung, 1993, p. 74.

[32] Ibid. p. 96.

[33] Ibid. My italics.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid. p. 97.

[36] Ibid. p. 118.

[37] Ibid. p. 110.

[38] Ibid. p. 111.

[39] Ibid. p. 118.

[40] Ibid. p. ii.

[41] Ibid. p. 8. My italics.

[42] Ibid. p. iii. See also, Gilovich, 2002, p. 13

[43] Ibid. p. iv. See also Forrester, 1975 and Kauffman, 1993.

[44] Ibid. See also Levinas, 1973.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Penrose, 1994, p. 417. The other two worlds are here the material and mental. See also, Popper, 1989, p. 189, 206, Bohm, 1981, p. 53, Fischbein 1994, Parson 1995, 2000, and Cheyne, 1997.

[47] Cornford, 1937. See also Feferman, 2000, and Thompson, 1998.

[48] Kemp Smith, 1999, p. 447. “For Plato Ideas are the archetypes of the things themselves, and not, like the categories, merely keys to possible experiences.” See also Majer, 1995 and McDowell, 1998.

[49] Jung, 1968, p. 42-45. “Our mind has its history, just as our body has its history… A study of the structure of the unconscious collective mind would reveal the same discoveries as you make in comparative anatomy…. Though a child is not born conscious, his mind is not a tabula rasa.”

[50] Baylor, 2001, p. 238. Ausubel et al. 1978, p. 104-105. The reader may refer to chapter three.

[51] Seung, 1993, p. 188. My italics.

[52] Cornford, 1955, 427C-434D, p. 124.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid. 502C-509C, p. 207.

[55] Cornford, 1937, 30C-31B, p. 39-40. My italics.

[56] E. Wilson, in Damasio et al., 2001, p. 12. See also Wilson, 1998, and Damasio, 1994.

[57] Velmans, 2000, p. 233, 235. See also Laszlo, 1995, p. 130, and 2003, p. 83-133.

[58] Bergson, 1949, p. 62.

[59] Føllesdal, 1982, p. 306-308.

[60] Rawls, in Seung, 1993, p. 8.

[61] Goodman, 1965, p. 66-67.

[62] Stich, in DePaul, 1998, p. 98.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Jung, 1971, p. 342-343.

[65] Ibid. p. 398, 453.

[66] Gilovich, et al. 2002, p. 216.

[67] Seung, 1993, p. 210.