Philosophers tend to define intuition as superior to the analytical talents of our mind. They define it as rational primarily because it is anchored in Ideas, Forms and Archetypes, which are perceived as a priori laws governing and conditioning all existence. In psychology, we find a rather different view. When the historical review is continued we learn that in psychology the tendency is to treat intuition as some sort of unconscious, biased and automatic processing, inferior to controlled analysis. Why this ‘Copernican reversal’ in our history of epistemology has taken place, is more difficult to explain. Historically, psychologists have ignored the notion of intuition.[1] Conceptual development thus remains meager and thoroughly elusive.[2] Osbeck notes that “it suffers from vague and multiple uses of the term, association with diverse experimental phenomena, and from minimal effort to integrate these in a consistent way.”[3]

Bastick maintains that intuition has been a baffling and elusive subject for generations. “The lack of a clear-cut definition and the loose usage of the word has only added confusion to this nebulous matter.”[4] Fischbein points to the fact that “no attempt has been made to identify systematically those findings, spread throughout the research literature, which could contribute to the deciphering of the mechanisms of intuition.” Nor has there been extensive clinical investigation. He adds that “intuition as concept as well as method, revives itself again and again in philosophical disputes, in the theoretical foundations of science and mathematics, in ethics and aesthetics, in pedagogy, and yet very little and very seldom in psychology.”[5]

Hill argues that aside from the works of Carl Jung, there are extremely few references to intuition in psychological literature.[6] Westcott, who is credited with one of few clinical studies on intuition, corroborates this view: “The only grand theory of intuition, which has arisen in psychology, is probably the one presented by Jung.”[7] Moreover, we will discover that it does not provide much new information about intuition. To quote Jung himself: “I say that intuition is a sort of perception that does not go exactly by the senses, but it goes via the unconscious, and at that I leave it and say I don’t know how it works.”[8] Thus, even though it is recognized as the only robust theory of intuition, which has arisen in psychology, it is a meager one. To further prove this point we need only look at the more recent contributions in cognitive psychology, where intuition hardly receives any space at all. The related concept soul shares the same destiny.[9] This may be a paradox for theoretical psychology as long as the promise of intuition is perception of the psyche or soul. Thus we are not only justified in borrowing from philosophy, we are forced to.

In trying to explain these problems, Osbeck emphasizes the widespread tendency to ignore or misrepresent the philosophical heritage of intuition. She writes that the avoidance of epistemological perspectives on intuition might reflect psychology’s development into an empirical science.[10] “Some more obvious possibilities include methodological constraints, predominant interest in folk conceptions of intuition, and unfamiliarity with philosophical literature. Hence a discrepancy between understandings of intuition in psychology and philosophy is frequently acknowledged without elaboration or defense.”[11]

Westcott prefers a slightly different explanation. He emphasizes the advent of positivism, and the rise of analytical philosophy. Here views of reality became suspect, if not properly supported by demonstrative reasoning and empirical observation. “As psychology began to make its break from philosophy, the conflicts of the parent were visited upon the child. The opposition between intuitionism and empiricism has persisted in psychology to the present day, just as it has in philosophy. Though, in psychology it has taken on many different guises, some more deceptive than others.”[12] Yet another twist is the one presented by Bastick, who thinks it is partly due to the division between Gestalt and Behaviorist psychologists. “Any reference to the concept avoided the term intuition and was conducted under designations such as preconscious concept formation, preverbal concepts, instinctive knowledge, cognitive reorganization, etc.”[13] The rest of the story we know as the heuristics and biases tradition, where Gilovich, Griffin and Kahneman still conceive intuition as automatic, biased, rapid, and effortless processing.[14]

I thus start this chapter with Jung who discovered what he termed the personal and collective unconscious. As these repositories are the main domains of interest for intuition, his account is indeed of relevance to us. In brief, intuition gives access to both the personal and collective unconscious, which is identical to the eight and ninth class of consciousness, as described in Buddhism. The former contains all the accumulated personal experience and knowledge. These intuitions may be more or less certain and mature, depending on the individual’s level of expertise.[15] The latter contains “the accumulated experiences of organic life in general, a million times repeated and condensed into types. In these archetypes, all experience are represented which have happened on this planet since primeval times. They represent the laws governing the course of all things we can experience.”[16]

Jung argues that through its perception of these processes intuition can supply certain data, which may be of the utmost importance for understanding what is going on in the world. It can even foresee new possibilities in more or less clear outline, as well as events, which later actually do happen.[17] In building his theory on intuition around archetypes which means original pattern, idea, or model, he is copying the Forms of Kant, as well as the main tenet of Platonic doctrine. In accordance with Jung then, and the core argument of the previous chapter, three levels of intuition are discerned. This is suggested as a main theoretical contribution of my thesis. The first and second levels correspond to intuitions from the personal and collective unconscious. The third level corresponds to the fully developed, mature intuition, the non-dual integral state of mind, elaborated in the previous chapter.

In the third paragraph, my hermeneutic exploration of the historical account is taken one step further, now focusing on more recent works on intuition. This particular approach is chosen, much because such an elongated frame of reference aid us in delineation and validation of reliable dimensions and categories to be applied in the empirical research. A tentative conclusion is that; timing, possibilities, previous experience, and synthesis are important aspects of intuition. There is yet a second purpose involved, and that is to make explicit some of the key contributors, that directly or indirectly have transformed the philosophical concept of rational intuition, into a psychological one, identified with automatic, biased, and irrational processing. With Bergson, and definitely with Jung, pivotal aspects of the rational and intelligible world are defined as unconscious. Thus, we now have the peculiar situation that our consciousness of the rational and intelligible world gradually is disappearing into the great black void of the unconscious, which is often linked to the automatic and instinctive. This is posing difficulties that indeed are reflected in the more recent works on intuition. Here the immediate and direct access, as well as the integral awareness of Ideas, Forms and Archetypes is more or less evaporated.

In the fourth and final paragraph, I look closer at dual process theories. In many ways, these theories reflect the philosophical distinction between the discursive and intuitive mind elaborated in the previous chapter. According to Stanovich and West system 1 and 2 do not really, represent different types of rationality. Rather, “they are terms for characterizing optimization procedures operating at the sub-personal and personal levels, respectively.”[18] We may thus go along with March, and suggest that both systems serve the evolution and fulfillment of an identity, and that both are intrinsically subjective.[19] Perhaps neither one, provide the rationale for a normative theory of rationality. Finally, the age-old question of the efficacy of intuitive and analytical cognition in expert judgment is addressed at the end of the paragraph. Here one conclusion is that in direct comparison, intuition apparently performs as good as analysis.



Carl Gustav Jung 1875 - 1961

Clearly, Jung has influenced psychology, and he is in many ways an instrumental bridge between philosophy and psychology. Jung’s diverse and profound knowledge of Continental philosophy is widely documented.[20] He also had an interest in many aspects of Eastern philosophy and worked with the I Ching. In his exploration of the personal and collective unconscious, he is echoing the eight and ninth class of consciousness, described in Buddhism. In addition, his notion of archetype is a blueprint of the main tenet of Platonic doctrine. It means original pattern, idea or model, which all things of the same type are representations or copies of.[21] And, it is intuition that perceives it. With few exceptions, philosophical epistemology maintains that the rational and intelligible world is to be found intuitively by looking first, not out but into the psyche or soul, and then secondarily, to see how it is innate in the world of physical appearances. Jung took on this challenge, and leaves a mark in history for his effort mapping the psychological reality. With Bergson and definitely with Jung, the rational and intelligible world is thus become largely unconscious.[22] And eventually the intuitive perception of it is, as we will see in dual process theories, equated with automatic and biased processing.

Before we inquire into the details of Jung’s theory we should mention that in addition to its status as an epistemological concept, intuition has status as a behavioral concept. Jung’s theory of intuition is primarily embedded in a theory of personality, not in a theory of knowledge and epistemology. We started out with Plato’s cosmological view on intuition, continued with Kant and Bergson’s more individualized versions, and now we have come to Jung, who embed it in a theory of personality types. For Jung then, intuition is a cognitive event which occurs and which must be accounted for. It is one of four psychological functions, present in all individuals. These four functions attain different degrees of ascendancy during the life of each individual and, in combination with three levels of consciousness and two general orienting attitudes, determine largely each individual’s characteristic behavior. The four functions, which are central in Jungian typology, are thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition.[23] Because I will apply the Myers Briggs Type Indicator®, an instrument originating in Jung’s theory, some space is devoted to all four functions. The psychometric properties of the MBTI are discussed in chapter seven.




Feeling is, according to Jung, primarily a process that takes place between the ego and a given content. It is a process that imparts to the content a definite value in the sense of likes and dislikes acceptance and rejection. Feeling therefore, is an entirely subjective process, which may be entirely independent of external stimuli, though it allies itself with every sensation. Hence feeling is a kind of judgment.[24] Thus, it is argued that both thinking and feeling are rational, but incompatible, in the sense that they both involve judgments and cannot operate at the same time. That is, an object cannot be judged by two standards at once. Valuation by feeling extend to every content of consciousness, and when the intensity of feeling increases, it turns into affect. “Feeling is distinguished from affect by the fact that it produces no perceptible physical innervations, i.e. neither more nor less than an ordinary thinking process.”[25] Jung also emphasizes that he does not see thinking governed by feeling, as intuitive. Thinking dependent on feeling does not follow its own logical principle but is subordinated to the principle of feeling. In such thinking, the laws of logic are only ostensibly present; they are suspended in favor of the aims of concrete feeling.[26]

The distinction between abstract and concrete feeling is an important one. Abstract thinking abolishes the differences between things it apprehends. Similarly, “abstract feelings rises above the differences of the individual contents it evaluates, and produces a ‘mood’ or feeling-state which embraces the individual valuations and thereby abolishes them.” Jung argues that in the same way that thinking organizes the contents of consciousness under concepts, feeling arranges them according to their value. “The more concrete it is, the more subjective and personal is the value conferred upon them; but the more abstract it is, the more universal and objective the value will be.”[27] Feeling is thus a rational function, since values in general are assigned according to the laws of reason, just as concepts are. However, strictly speaking, it is only active, directed feeling which is rational, according to Jung. Passive undirected feeling resembles feeling-intuition and is irrational. The former would be akin to loving, while the latter would capture being in love.




Sensation mediates the perception of a physical stimulus. It is therefore identical with perception. It is related not only to external stimuli but to inner ones as well. As with the other three functions, sensation is either concrete or abstract. Concrete sensation is sense perception. Jung writes that it is always mixed up with feelings, thoughts and ideas. Abstract sensation is a differentiated kind of perception, “which detaches itself from all contamination with the different elements in the perceived object and from all admixtures of thought and feeling, and thus attains a degree of purity beyond the reach of concrete sensation.”[28] Concrete sensation is a reactive phenomenon, while abstract sensation, like every abstraction, is always associated with the will. That is, with a sense of direction. Since sensation is an elementary phenomenon, it is given a priori, and unlike thinking and feeling, it is not subject to rational laws. Jung thus defines it as irrational.



Active Thinking

Thinking is, according to Jung, either active or passive, both of which can be extraverted or introverted. Active thinking is an act of the will and passive thinking is equated with intuition.[29] Thinking is thus an apperceptive activity.[30] In emphasizing orientation of the thinking activity, Jung is copying Bergson, who argues that our thinking is oriented in two directions. Each of these, are for Bergson, subdivided into an exteriorised and interiorised focus.[31] Jung echoes this, when defining active and passive thinking as both introverted and extraverted. The active aspect then, is linked to our ego, while the origins of intuition is somewhere in the personal and collective unconscious.[32] Intuition is thus perception of the self. This is in accordance with the philosophical account, where intuition is seen as able to transcend the ego. In active thinking, the contents of ideation are submitted to a voluntary act of judgment. In passive or intuitive thinking, conceptual connections establish themselves of their own accord, and judgments are formed that may contradict our intentions, he writes.

“They are not consonant with my aim and therefore, for me, lack any sense of direction, although I may afterwards recognize their directedness through an act of active apperception.” The term thinking is thus confined to the active linking up of ideas by means of a concept, in other words to an act of judgment. Active thinking thus corresponds to directed thinking and to intellect. “The capacity for directed thinking I call intellect; the capacity for passive or undirected thinking I call intellectual intuition.”[33] We should here take note of the fact that Jung defines intuition as an intellectual, thinking activity, which might be unconsciously directed, resulting in conceptual connections. Many a reader of Jung is not aware of this, perhaps due to the widespread application of the MBTI where intuition is contrasted with sensing, and presented as a distinct function separate from thinking.

According to Jung, thinking in general is fed on the one hand from subjective and in the last resort unconscious sources, and on the other hand from objective data transmitted by sense perception. Active, extraverted thinking is conditioned in a larger measure by the latter than by the former. The valid and determining criterion for judgment is thus here supplied by external, objective conditions. This is so, no matter whether it be represented directly by an objective, perceptible fact, or by an idea abstracted from objective experience. When we in chapter five discuss intuition and rationality, the issue of a valid criterion for judgment is of special importance. It is thus a point we will return to later. Active, extraverted thinking, therefore, need not necessarily be purely concrete. It can just as well be ideal thinking, if for instance it can be shown that the ideas it operates with are largely borrowed from outside, e.g., have been transmitted by tradition and education. Active, extraverted thinking then, comes into existence only when the objective orientation predominates. Jung also notes that: “our age, and its most eminent representatives know and acknowledge only the extraverted type of thinking.”[34] We may indicate that this is the situation today as well.

So, what then, are the characteristics of active, introverted thinking? “Thinking that is directed neither to objective facts nor to general ideas, one might argue, scarcely deserves the name thinking at all.” However, any thought preoccupied with a concrete object or a general idea, necessarily, stands in a constant relation to the subject. This relation is a sine qua non, without which no thinking process whatsoever could take place, Jung argues. “Even though my thinking process is directed, as far as possible, to objective data, it is still my subjective process, and it can neither avoid nor dispense with the admixture of subjectivity. We may struggle towards an objective orientation of thought but it is impossible to cancel out the parallel subjective process. When the main accent lies on this simultaneous subjective process, the active thinking is introverted.”[35] This thinking is neither determined by objective data nor directed to them. It is a thinking that starts from the subject and is directed to subjective ideas or subjective facts. In this line of argument, Jung is in full agreement with Descartes and Kant. That is, introverted, active thinking resembles a key aspect of the synthetic a priori.[36] Concerning a valid criterion for judgment in this mode of thinking, Jung leaves us with no specific suggestions, except for a reference to Kant. However, it is reasonably clear that the ego of the subject serves the purpose here as well.

According to Jung, the essence of active, extraverted thinking is no less fruitful and creative than the introverted. It merely serves other ends. “The differences are seen quite clearly, when for instance a subjective conviction is explained analytically in terms of objective data. Each mode may feel the other trespassing on its own province, thus they are incessantly at war.” One might think that a clear distinction between objective and subjective data would solve this tension. However, being one-sided, the two orientations cannot do without each other. They may benefit from a process of reflective equilibrium.[37] This is yet another issue we will return to later. When objective data predominate over thinking in great extent, thinking is sterilized, Jung argues. “It is no longer capable of abstracting itself into an independent concept. It is reduced to a kind of imitative, after-thought, which affirms nothing beyond what was visibly and immediately present in the objective data in the first place. It leads directly back to the object, but never beyond it.”

The materialistic mentality is an instructive example, Jung argues. When the point of departure is a second hand objective idea, the very poverty of this kind of thinking is compensated by an even more impressive accumulation of facts around the sterile point of view.[38] In deciding then, whether our active thinking is extravert or not, we must ask by what criterion does it judge? Does it come from outside, or is its origin subjective? A further criterion is the direction the thinking takes in drawing conclusions. Is it principally directed outwards or is it not? [39] By and large, active thinking corresponds to the analytical and conceptual talents of discursive thinking, as described in the preceding chapter.



Intuitive Thinking

Passive, undirected, intuitive thinking is “the function that mediates perceptions in an unconscious way.”[40] Thus, its nature is very difficult to grasp. Right here we find that Jung differs from the many authors who define intuition as immediate. We have suggested earlier on that intuition is an immediate and singular perception, which is unique and embedded, participating of as well as in the duration of life. Jung continues, stating that “everything, whether outer or inner objects or their relationships, can be the focus of this perception. The peculiarity of intuition is that it is neither sense perception, nor feeling, nor intellectual inference, although it may also appear in these forms.”[41] Jung is here advocating that intuition is some kind of non-judgmental, chameleon-like function, so subtle and encompassing, that it can work its way through any of his other three functions.

How are we to interpret this? This would be a rather strenuous and most difficult undertaking, if it were not for the Buddhist perspective, already discussed. There it is suggested that the non-dual, intuitive state of mind is a mixture and a meeting point between the first six classes of consciousness on the one side, and class eight and nine on the other. It thus represents the stabilizing and central point of balance, upholding the coherence of its contents, by being the center of reference. It is their common ground. “The intuitive mind has thus no body of its own, nor any marks, by which it can be differentiated.”[42] Because the intuitive mind participates and is integral to all levels of consciousness, it can be an active ingredient in our body and feelings as well. This might explain what Jung is alluding to here. We may also indicate that his definition of intuition as a non-judgmental function is reminiscent of the Buddhist, non-dual state of mind.

In accordance with the philosophers then, he writes that in intuition the content presents itself whole and complete. However, he also says that we are not able to discover or explain how this content comes into existence. Like sensation, it is an irrational function of perception. As with sensation its contents have the character of being given, in contrast to the derived character of active, directed thinking and feeling contents. “Intuitive knowledge also possesses an intrinsic certainty and conviction, which enabled Plato, Spinoza and Bergson to uphold the scientia intuitiva as the highest form of knowledge. Intuition shares this quality with sensation, whose certainty rests on its physical foundation. The certainty of intuition rests equally on a definite state of psychic alertness of whose origin the subject is unconscious.”[43] More or less unconscious, we might add.

Turning then to extroverted intuition, we find Jung arguing that it is wholly directed to external objects, thus it comes very close to sensation. In many ways, this mode resembles Kant’s empirical intuition. However, this is a rather new twist, as long as most authors align intuition primarily with contemplation of the psyche. “The intuitive function is represented in consciousness by an attitude of expectancy, by vision and penetration. But only from the subsequent result can it be established how much of what was seen was actually in the object, and how much was read into it.”[44] Here we start to recognize main features of what dual process theories define as system one.

In direct opposition to his main definition, where intuition is considered passive, Jung also writes that: “intuition, like sensation, is not mere perception or vision, but an active, creative process that puts into the objects just as much as it takes out. However, the primary function of intuition is simply to transmit images, or perceptions of relations between things.” These images have the value of specific insights, which have a decisive influence on action, whenever intuition is given priority, he argues. “Just as extraverted sensation strives to reach the highest pitch of actuality, because this alone can give the appearance of a full life, so intuition tries to apprehend the widest range of potentials and possibilities.” These are possibilities inherent and innate in the psyche, evolving in and trough the individual intuition. Thus, only through envisioning possibilities, intuition is fully satisfied, and the capacity to inspire and to kindle enthusiasm for anything new is unrivalled. It thus seeks to discover what possibilities the objective situation holds in store, and resembles the hunch, gut feeling, or good nose for objectively real possibilities.[45] Possibilities, is thus one item in my questionnaire.


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, Jung argues.[46] They appear to intuitive perception as subjective images. These contents per se are not accessible to experience. “For just as external objects correspond only relatively to our perception of them, so the phenomenal forms of the inner objects are also relative.” More or less so, we could add, because the inner objects include the archetypes, Kantian Forms and Platonic Ideas, which have a rather permanent character. “Although introverted intuition may be stimulated by external objects it does not concern it-self with external possibilities but with what the external object has released within the person.” Jung argues that it receives from sensation only the impetus to its own immediate activity. It peers behind the scenes, quickly perceiving the inner image that gave rise to this particular form of expression. Every detail of how it changes, unfolds and fades is explored. “In this way introverted intuition perceives all the background processes of consciousness with almost the same distinctness as extraverted sensation registers external objects.”[47] Let us pause for a moment. The ego is by Jung, defined as the center of our consciousness. It is a center embedded, integrated and embraced by the self, which includes the unconscious. Thus, it appears somewhat limited to anchor rationality in only the active aspect of thinking, as long as the ego is its sole reference. The ego is wholly relative to its location in the grander scheme and evolution of the self, thus leaving us with a notion of rationality that is relative.

Jung argues that introverted intuition apprehends the images arising from the a priori inherited foundations of the unconscious. These archetypes, whose innermost nature is inaccessible to experience, are the precipitate of the psychic functioning of the entire ancestral line. Dual process theories do not assign this talent to intuition. The question that is imposing itself here is this; what exactly are the structure, coordinates, and content of the unconscious? We would like to know more about it because it is the domain of the self, where the ego is embedded. Moreover, familiarity with it could provide us with a profound understanding of intuition. “It is the accumulated experiences of organic life in general, a million times repeated, and condensed into types. In these archetypes, therefore, all experience are represented which have happened on this planet since primeval times. The more frequent and the more intense they were, the more clearly focused they become in the archetype. The archetype would thus be, to borrow from Kant, the noumenon of the image which intuition perceives and, in perceiving, creates.”[48]


They may be primitive in the sense that they are not clothed with the dress of any particular time, space or culture, and they are in the same form in children and primitive peoples as they are in highly civilized adults. Here we may again refer to Kant, who claims that time and space, contain a manifold of pure a priori intuition. Space and Time are thus ontologically dependent upon an intuiting act. Apart from our intuiting act then, space and time does not have any objective existence.[49] The personal and collective unconscious of Jung, as well as the eight and ninth classes of consciousness in Buddhism, are thus given specific and particular clothing by Kant’s a priori Forms of intuition.[50]


At the very end of his exposition of intuition, Jung leaves us with this crucial and condensed insight: “Since the unconscious is not just something, that lies there like a psychic caput mortuum, but coexists with us and is constantly undergoing transformations which are inwardly connected with the general run of events, introverted intuition, through its perception of these processes, can supply certain data which may be of the utmost importance for understanding what is going on in the world. It can even foresee new possibilities in more or less clear outline, as well as events, which later actually do happen. Its prophetic foresight is explained by its relation to the archetypes, which represent the laws governing the course of all things we can experience.”[51]


In emphasizing the ability to perceive the laws hidden in the collective unconscious, which govern all that which takes place in the world of physical appearances to use Plato’s terminology, Jung articulates a key feature of the developed intuition.[52] Moreover: “Sensation tells us that a thing is. Thinking tells us what that thing is, feeling tells us what it is worth to us. But there is yet another category, and that is time.”[53] In stressing that things have a past and a future, and that intuition perceives this duration, be it inner, outer, or unified, Jung aligns with all his predecessors. Timing and perception of cycles are thus included as items in the questionnaire. Regarding a valid criterion of judgment then, for this mode of thought, we may suggest the somewhat elusive self.[54]

Yet another point, of particular relevance to the empirical part of this thesis is Jung’s view that “people who live exposed to natural conditions use intuition a great deal, and people who risk something in an unknown field, who are pioneers of some sort, will use intuition. Inventors and judges will use it. Whenever you have to deal with strange conditions where you have no established values or established concepts, you will depend upon the faculty of intuition.”[55] Thus, the respondents are asked to describe two strategic decisions. One is to be characterized by exploration; that is search for new possibilities, experimentation with completely new alternatives and technology, variation, risk taking, and innovation. The other is to be characterized by exploitation of old certainties, refinement, improvement and increased efficiency of existing production, and technology.[56] The assumption then, is that there is more emphasis on intuition in exploration than in exploitation.

The final point then, which we need to address, is Jung’s distinction between concrete and abstract intuition. Just like active thinking can be represented directly by an objective, perceptible fact or by an idea abstracted from objective experience, intuition can be concrete or abstract, according to the degree of participation on the part of sensation. “Concrete intuition mediates perceptions concerned with the actuality of things, abstract intuition mediates perceptions of ideational connections. Concrete intuition is a reactive process, since it responds directly to the given facts. Abstract intuition, like abstract sensation, needs a certain element of direction, an act of the will, or an aim.”[57] This is rather confusing, as long as Jung also defines intuition as the passive mode of thinking, devoid of direction and will, and as given, not derived. However, this is not a new controversy. Kant, in making a distinction between pure and empirical intuition struggles with much the same problem. Below, three levels of intuition are discerned, which may clarify this issue. Here it suffices to say that the third level of intuition resembles the synthesis of abstract and concrete, introvert and extravert, pure and empirical intuition. As such, it is not devoid of direction. On the contrary, it is integral to the involution and evolution of the psyche and self. In summarizing Jung’s view then, we have that:



Intuitive Thinking Active Thinking
Non-judgmental Judgmental
Beyond Rationality Rational
Given Derived
Whole & Complete Separated
Self Ego




Three Levels of Intuition

In concluding this section, and in accordance with the main findings of the previous chapter, I suggest that we delineate three levels of intuition. This may provide us with more nuances, as requested by Teigen.[58] It is also suggested as a main theoretical contribution of this thesis. We have then first, intuitions from the personal unconscious, or the Buddhist’ eight class of consciousness. This level relates to all the accumulated personal experience and knowledge. These intuitions may be more or less pure and mature, depending upon the individual’s way of living and level of expertise, as Baylor points out.[59]

Secondly, there are intuitions from the collective unconscious, that is, the Buddhist’ ninth class of consciousness. This level relates to all the accumulated collective experience and knowledge. Intuitions from the collective unconscious are by Jung held to be generally far more important than are intuitions from the personal unconscious. Here we find the Ideas, Forms and Archetypes, that condition all that we can experience, to quote Jung. The individual can be more or less in contact with them.

In other words, the awareness and access that the individual has to these repositories will wary a lot. The introvert tends to have better access. If say, the individual is totally out of touch with these values and levels of the psyche, these intuitions are not much more than instinctive impulses, as Bergson and Jung points out. They can work their way through the individual mind, body and feelings.[60] With no awareness of these levels of the psyche and self, any activity can have a substantial portion of automatic flavor and functioning. This might include the so-called controlled, analytic activities of system two elaborated in dual process theories.[61] March alludes to the same point when arguing that students of rule following tend to regard the rational model of choice as simply one version of rule following, associated with the identity of the decision maker.[62]

The third level is the developed, mature intuition. We may say that it is this level that corresponds to the proper rational intuition. It is nurtured by, and anchored in, a rich and profound perception and understanding of the personal and collective unconscious, as well as of their mutual and integral relationship. It is the ability to see how Ideas, Forms and Archetypes are reflected and unified with what is going on in the personal ego and the world of physical appearances.[63] A certain amount of inference is required here. Kant thus argues that the analytic procedure is involved in the complete synthetic method, and Bergson emphasizes the counter analysis. However, as inferential thought activity is coming to a rest, the result may eventually be the non-dualistic state of mind as the Buddhist doctrine proclaims. It is a consciousness being conscious of it-self.

Thus, there is immediate awareness of the meaning being in- and unfolded, clothed as it is in specific space and time coordinates. The individual mind and being is here a singular synthesis, as Kant would say, but still not separated. It is unique and embedded. It partakes of as well as in, much like a wave-crest in a wave or a cell in a body. It is integral experience and intellectual sympathy, by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with what is unique in it.[64] The research of Pribram and Penrose on intuition and consciousness indicates that this state of mind is equal to “a global (essentially quantum) large-scale coherent ‘hologram’ activity in the brain”[65] These three levels then, can tentatively be anchored in Jung’s notions in the following way:



Personal Unconscious Collective Unconscious
Introverted Intuition Level One Level Two
Extraverted Intuition Level One Little or no Awareness
Integral Intuition Level Three Level Three



When we merge the model developed in Buddhism, with the one suggested by Jung, we can draw the model below.[66] In a preliminary way, it suggests certain dimensions that may serve as starting point for further discussion and research. It may also facilitate our reading of the more recent works on intuition. Certain aspects of it, aligns very well with a model developed by Baylor that will be discussed at the end of the next paragraph.[67]





Jung calls active thinking a rational function, because it arranges the contents of ideation under concepts, in accordance with a rational norm of which we are conscious. Passive or intuitive thinking is beyond rationality because it arranges and judges the contents of ideation by norms of which we are not conscious, and therefore cannot recognize as being in accord with reason. Only subsequently, we may be able to recognize that the intuitive act of judgment accorded with reason, although it came about in a way that appears irrational. However, there are numerous norms of rationality, many of which we are not conscious, and we can thus not avoid the question; what is the ontological foundation for our normative theories of rationality? Jung does not address this issue properly and we may arrest him on this pivotal point because we have discovered fairly strong arguments, indicating that intuition does assist in the building of such a foundation. Moreover, his conception of intuition seems to stop short at the second level of intuition. The promise of the third level is consciousness of the unconscious. It may thus reveal what norm of rationality the individual ego is evolving by.

Jung maintains that thinking and feeling are rational functions in so far they are decisively influenced by reflection. They function most perfectly when they are in the fullest possible accord with the laws of reason. The irrational functions, sensation and intuition, are those whose aim is pure perception.[68] Intuition functions most perfectly when it is in the fullest possible accord with the archetypes “which represent the laws governing the course of all things we can experience.”[69] The puzzling point then, is that it is defined as irrational. Tentatively, we may indicate that this is because he emphasizes the more common first level of intuition. In philosophical epistemology, intuition is seen as pure perception as well. However, contrary to Jung, it is also seen as main distributor of the intelligible world of pure reason. Thus, it is defined as rational. This may be due to emphasis on the second and third level of intuition. The immediate and direct nature of intuition is seen as closer to the Ideas, Forms and Archetypes than the indirect or reflected nature of analytic, discursive thinking, which is relative to an ego. This is plausible. The fully developed, mature intuition is so to speak integral to these more permanent laws of the psyche. Jung then, breaks the long tradition of conceiving intuition as rational. We must therefore take further note of his definition of rationality.

Interestingly he defines it as an attitude whose principle is to conform thought, feeling and action to objective values.[70] Objective values are established by the everyday experience of external facts on the one hand, and of inner, psychological facts on the other. Such experiences, however, could not represent objective values if they were valued as such by the subject, for that would already amount to an act of reason, Jung argues. “The rational attitude which permits us to declare objective values as valid at all is not the work of the individual subject, but the product of human history.”[71] Jung’s view then, is that objective values, and reason itself, are firmly established complexes of ideas handed down through the ages. “Countless generations have labored at their organization with the same necessity with which the living organism reacts to the average, constantly recurring environmental conditions, confronting them with corresponding functional complexes.”[72] In this line of argument, individual, subjective rationality is not given much guidance. Moreover, this definition of rationality is more or less identical to the one of archetypes. Archetypes are perceived by intuition. In a strict sense then, it is not logical of Jung to define intuition as irrational.

This account is contrasted by his definition of irrationality, which is not something contrary to reason, but something beyond. “The irrational is an existential factor which, though it may be pushed further and further out of sight by an increasingly elaborate rational explanation, finally makes the explanation so complicated that it passes our powers of comprehension. The limits of rational thought being reached long before the whole of the world could be encompassed by the laws of reason.”[73] A completely rational explanation of an object that actually exists is thus a Utopian ideal according to Jung. Only an object that is posited or postulated can be completely explained on rational grounds, since it does not contain anything beyond what has been posited by rational thinking. This is the case with empirical science, because by deliberately excluding the accidental it does not consider the actual object as a whole, but only that part of it which has been singled out for rational observation.[74] Such an object is usually devoid of its full context. It therefore tells us only half the story, according to Jung. This view on rationality is thus consonant with Kant’s notion of the analytic a priori, and with reasoning system 2, which will be elaborated later on. It also reflects the view of Bergson, who limits the use of the word intellect to discursive thinking, while intuition is defined as supra-intellectual.[75]

It is on this background then we must understand Jung, when he defines thinking and feeling as directed, rational functions. “When these functions are concerned not with a rational choice of objects, or with the qualities and interrelations of objects, but with the perception of accidentals which the actual object never lacks, they at once lose the attribute of directedness and, with it, something of their rational character.”[76] The kind of thinking or feeling that is directed to the perception of accidentals, is irrational, and is either intuitive or sensational. They find fulfillment in the absolute perception of the flux of events Jung writes, as if echoing Heraclitus and Bergson. “Hence, by their very nature, they will react to every possible occurrence and be attuned to the absolutely contingent, and must therefore lack all direction. For this reason I call them irrational functions.”[77] Again, Jung is opposing himself. He defines intuition as the ability to perceive, and even foresee processes and possibilities, thus it must possess an innate direction. We will return to these issues in the succeeding chapter on intuition and rationality.



[1] Shirley & Langan Fox, 1996, p. 563-565, Hill, 1988, p. 137, Osbeck, 1999, p. 229.

[2] Baylor, 2001, p. 243. Hogarth, 2001, p. 6.

[3] Osbeck, 1999, p. 229.

[4] Bastick, 1982, p. 8-9.

[5] Fishbein, 1987, p. ix, 3.

[6] Hill, 1988, p. 138.

[7] Westcott, 1968, p. 32.

[8] Jung, 1968, p. 14.

[9] Kaufman & Helstrup, 2000, p. 313. Teigen, 1999, p. 412.

[10] Osbeck, 1999, p. 229. See also Teigen, 1999, p. 412-413.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Westcott, 1968, p. 16.

[13] Bastick, 1982, p. 4.

[14] Gilovich, et al. 2002, p. 51.

[15] Baylor, 2001, p. 243. Fischbein, 1987, p. 54.

[16] Jung, 1971, p. 400-401. My italics.

[17] Ibid. p. 401.

[18] Ibid.

[19] March, 1994, p. 61.

[20] Jung, 1964, 1968, 1971, 1989.

[21] Jung, 1971, p. 413, 437-439. In the previous chapter, the unique world argument served to illustrate how a Form or Idea relates to the particular. It is portrayed canonically as that of likeness, or more precisely, as the relation of original to image. It is also reasonably clear that Jung’s 4 functions reflect Platonic epistemology. For a modern discussion see Gilovich et al. 2002, p. 203.

[22] Ibid. p. 483. “The concept of the unconscious is for me an exclusively psychological concept, and not a philosophical concept of a metaphysical nature.”

[23] Jung, 1968, p. 33. His model is thus a cross, where thinking & feeling and intuition & sensation are opposites.

[24] Jung, 1971, p. 434.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid. p. 482.

[27] Ibid. p. 435.

[28] Ibid. p. 462.

[29] Jung, 1971, p. 481.

[30] Ibid. p. 412. Apperception is by Jung, defined as a psychic process by which a new content is articulated with similar, already existing contents in such a way that it becomes understood, apprehended, or clear. “We distinguish active from passive apperception. The first is a process by which the subject, of his own accord and from his own motives, consciously apprehends a new content with attention and assimilates it to other contents already constellated. Passive apperception is a process by which new content forces itself upon consciousness either from without, through the senses, or from within. In the latter case, it is from the unconscious, and it compels attention and enforces apprehension. In the active aspect the activity lies with the ego, and in the passive, with the self-enforcing new content.”

[31] Bergson, 1949, p. 51. Passive here resembles intellectual sympathy, which is equated with intuition.

[32] Jung, 1971, p. 425. “By ego I understand a complex of ideas which constitutes the center of my field of consciousness and appears to possess a high degree of continuity and identity. Hence I speak of an ego-complex. The ego-complex is as much content as a condition of consciousness, for a psychic element is conscious to me only in so far as it is related to my ego-complex. But inasmuch as the ego is only the center of my field of consciousness, it is not identical with the totality of my psyche, being merely one complex among other complexes. I therefore distinguish between the ego and the self, since the ego is only the subject of my consciousness, while the self is the subject of my total psyche, which also includes the unconscious. In this sense the self would be an ideal entity which embraces the ego.” For a brilliant and thorough discussion of the self, see Karterud & Monsen, 1997.

[33] Ibid. p. 481. My italics.

[34] Ibid. p. 342-343.

[35] Ibid. p. 344.

[36] Ibid. p. 383. Kant argues that our Self-consciousness is a synthesis and a unity in it-self. As such, it is in the end, the instrument that facilitates and guarantees a synthesis, with any judgment. Due to the fact that the unity of our Self-consciousness necessitates such a synthesis, Kant calls it transcendental.

[37] Rawls, 1971, p. 20.

[38] Jung, 1971, p. 345-346.

[39] Ibid. p. 342.

[40] Ibid. p. 453.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Govinda, 1969, p. 74.

[43] Jung, 1971. p. 453.

[44] Ibid. p. 366.

[45] Ibid. p. 367, 369. In the MBTI intuition is the perception of possibilities, patterns, symbols, and abstractions, forging ground in new areas. Briggs, 1998, p. 176, 178.

[46] Ibid. p. 398, 453. Jung thus draws a distinction between subjective and objective intuition. “The former is a perception of unconscious psychic data originating in the subject. The latter is a perception of data dependent on subliminal perception of the object and on the feelings and thoughts they evoke.” Though, he does not draw the likely conclusion that they may unite in one singular perception.

[47] Ibid. p. 399. My italics.

[48] Ibid. p. 400-401. My italics. A particularly good example on this is the work of Schønberger & Govinda, 1992. They make a persuasive correlation between the I Ching and the DNA code.

[49] Wong, 1998, p. 50-51. It is in this sense Kant’s theory of space and time is constructive. This is a point we will return to when intuition and rationality is discussed.

[50] Thus timing is used as item in the questionnaire.

[51] Jung, 1971, p. 401. My italics.

[52] These laws are the main occupation of those who study Geistwissenschaft, or spiritual science, e.g. the Rosicrucians, and the Theosophical and Anthroposophical Societies.

[53] Jung, 1968, p. 13-14. Jung relates intuition to the hunch, and writes: “That is what is called intuition, a sort of divination, a sort of miraculous faculty. ….. It is a function by which you see round corners”

[54] In doing so, we may also refer to the Greeks, who inscribed know your self, at the temple in Delphi.

[55] Jung, 1968, p. 13-14. My italics.

[56] March, 1994, p. 80, 237.

[57] Jung, 1971, p. 453. My italics.

[58] Teigen, in Stanovich & West, 2000, p. 698. See also Baylor, 2001, p. 243. See also Teigen, 2001.

[59] Baylor, 2001, p. 239. She suggests two types of intuition, immature and mature, which are differentiated by the level of expertise in a given knowledge domain. We will return to her work.

[60] Vaughan, 1979, p. 55.

[61] Of the many techniques suggested, facilitating access to these repositories, meditation figures prominently. The flux of thought is then easier rearranged and synthesized into clearer pictures, new ideas and solutions. Stress may inhibit intuitive problem solving.

[62] March, 1994, p. 59. The rational model of choice is described in the chapter on rationality.

[63] Wilber, 2000, p. 40. Wilber describes this as holonic consciousness. A holon is a whole that is a part of other wholes. Bohm does the same when discussing participatory thought. See Bohm, 1996, p. 84, and Moxnes, 1999, p. 1427, and Wilber, 1979, 2001.

[64] Bergson, 1949, p. 23-24. See also The Unique World Argument of Plato, which we did discuss.

[65] Penrose, 1994, p. 368. Beck & Eccles, 1992, p. 11357-61 represent the more notable exception from this view. However, they as well present a quantum mechanical model for the relationship of brain activity to conscious intentions.

[66] Jung, 1968, p. 17.

[67] Baylor, 2001, p. 238. See also Cappon, 1994. His work is discussed below.

[68] Jung, 1971, p. 459.

[69] Ibid. p. 401.

[70] Ibid. p. 414. “To have an attitude means to be ready for something definite, even though this something is unconscious; for having an attitude is synonymous with an a priori orientation to a definite thing, no matter whether this be represented in consciousness or not.”

[71] Ibid. p. 458.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Ibid. p. 454.

[74] Ibid. p. 455.

[75] Ibid. p. 108. My italics.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Ibid. My italics.