As we live our everyday lives, we are constantly forming our own opinions about what is going on around us. Naturally, when a person does not entirely know something, they tend to think of “a reason why”, and these self-created explanations act as a type of knowledge. This tendency to form our own conclusions is intuition. Therefore, since intuition is a part of human nature, we should only discard any type of explanation when it is clearly wrong. Though, how can we truly determine when and if particular intuitive explanations are wrong?
The only logical answer is that these explanations can only be “wrong” and discarded when they contradict explanations derived from other ways of knowing such as emotion, reason, and perception. Emotions are often the guiding force behind intuitive explanations. Then, are they perhaps too closely related to ever contradict each other? If this is true, then intuitively appealing decisions should not be discarded. Since intuition is often based upon a person’s feelings about the world around them, it has a strong influence over every decision that is made.
However, I believe that emotions can be unreliable and tend to make even an explanation to a simple event heavily subjective. If this holds true, then emotions can make it difficult for a person to discard intuitive explanations when they truly should. Are intuitions deceitful then? If they are, how can we ever determine which ones to act upon, or can an intuitive explanation seem to be better than it truly is? Of course it can, especially when interacting with others. For instance, I have personally watched several of my friends fall in and out of what they believed was love.
They feel strongly enough to almost instantly say that they “know” they love someone for whatever reason. In fact, their emotions are so overwhelmingly strong that they may even fail to notice several important things about that person’s personality. Then, a few weeks pass; and then a few months pass; and then the relationship is over. In this case, the relationship ended because of the short sighted nature of emotions. Intuition was used as a leap of faith that connected emotion and knowledge.
Sometimes, but not always, emotions can skew our intuitions to a point at which things which should be evident are overlooked. Would then, in this case, it be better to reject this intuition? Some are likely to say yes because of the painful memories that would remain. However, how could we grow as individuals if we never allowed ourselves to fail? To me, life, in general, is about learning from mistakes in order to understand how to cope when both better and worse things cross our paths. After all, “we cannot know anything about what the universe is like independent of our experience of it”1
With that being said, it is easy to see that perception also plays a role in whether or not intuitively appealing decisions are accepted or not. As humans, we tend to rely heavily on sense perception, particularly sight. I cannot count the number of times I have heard an individual say “I will believe it when I see it”. More often than not, people only see what they want to see. Then, does perception lead us to incorrect explanations? Our perception can never be purely objective. For instance, when my sister and I reminisce about the past, we have differing accounts of what occurred and what was said.
This does not necessarily mean that either one of us is purposely lying about these moments, but that the events were interpreted differently and time allowed these differentiations to increase. Likewise, when a crime is committed, eye witnesses are often questioned about what occurred and make a statement based upon their explanation of an event. These accounts are often used as evidence and a basis in court cases. However, an individual may fail to fully understand the circumstances of an event, much less an interaction between two unfamiliar people. A person’s ability to retell events all depends upon their perception and understanding.