TEXT KAROLIINA WALLDÉN EDITING JULIA UOTILA
Chocolate or strawberry?, wondered a boy in a jersey at an ice-cream stand.
Even though small choices are sometimes the significant ones, the holidays are not usually considered the time for serious decision-making.
So, for us, it is a perfect time to dig a bit deeper. Why do certain things feel better than others? Why do we choose one walking path over another? Today we are going to explore human processing from the perspective of intuitive thinking.
Let’s start with the most obvious: Asta Raami, how would you, as an intuition researcher, define intuition?
Intuition is defined as an integral part of human thinking and together with reasoning faculties, it forms a basis for thinking. In everyday life, people utilize intuitive faculties, whether they are aware of it or not. Intuition is superior to conscious reasoning in many situations, like in complex cognitive tasks, and imperative in innovations and realizations, in which there is something totally new. We all have different forms of intuition, one, for example, is based on expertise, whereas another one is related to evolution and some to cultural learning.
People, such as artists, scientists and visionary business leaders, whose work is based on creative thinking, are commonly said to be relying on their intuition when working. You have focused on, for example, the experiences of the people who use their intuition and studied such factors as the development of intuition and intuitive processes as a way of knowing. What made you to want to study intuition?
One goal for me, in doing my doctoral thesis, was to open up a collective discussion about intuition. Intuition holds cultural stigma and it is seen as inferior to conscious reasoning. This is much more than just individuals and their experiences, this is about the type of topics that are culturally acceptable and the manners available for discussing them. This is why I wanted to draw the attention to the experiences of intuition: our common goal should be factual and scientific discussion of these topics too.
There is a lot of work to be done with the concept of intuition and its socially acceptable expression. The study of intuition does not fit in easily into the field of material science - and that’s why there is a special need for discussion about the interfaces. Furthermore, we have to deal with the ambiguous topics, such as what is viewed as scientific and what is not. Even if there wasn’t discussion about the topic, it doesn’t mean that intuition wouldn’t exist - rather, the very absence of conversation can be a sign of a need for new concepts and words.
How would you describe the connection between intuition and learning?
Intuition is often seen as a sudden and random revelation. However, intuition is a two-way channel. If you can get intuitive insights you can also harness your intuitive skills to acquire information. This is called intentional intuition. I’m comparing the use of intentional intuition to archery. The first step is to find the target, to understand what problem needs to be solved. The second step is to tune the bow, and, actually, after this, comes the most challenging step. You need to release the arrow: let the conscious mind loosen up the control over reasoning, as intuition functions outside the linearity of language and words.
From the perspective of intuition, the human brain works like a snowy slope. The first time that you slide the slope, you form a path and the next time it is likeable that you use the same one. The brain work in a similar way: they always use the quickest and energy efficient route. Learning is like that. Impossible problems don’t actually exist, but rather, the issue is that your thinking is so well-established and settled that you can’t see new or alternative routes or solutions. The real challenge is to understand how one may overcome one’s own, habitual ways of thinking and understand the limits of reality.
Why is it relevant to study this topic right now, why is it so current?
When you think about our common goals and global, enormous problems, like climate change, that are really difficult to work on, I think we are stuck with our thinking and can’t see other kind of solutions. Consequently, there is a need to expand the limits of the known. From intuition point of view impossible problems do not exist, there is only inability to see the solutions. Normally when we try to solve a problem, we try to find more information, analyze, categorize and study even more. However, when we think about a problem that is yet to be resolved, the studies of the thoughts of Nobelists and inventors suggest that we should start with working with ourselves to figure out what is preventing us from seeing the solution. This is actually a really radical opening and, indeed, the very stuff of Dare to Learn.
The world of education is now hyped up about artificial intelligence, technology that is based on logical reasoning. How is the concept of intuition related to this discussion?
Yes, there is a continuous discussion about how artificial intelligence will solve problems with somewhat simple generalizations. When you think about this from the perspective of intuition, the AI is not comparable to human intelligence as a whole.
Of course there are spheres, in which AI can be very helpful, like rational reasoning, calculation and so on, but it is crucial to remember that human mind is associative and it can recognize meaningfulness. With technological development, the actual teaching can focus more on such aspects as the development of intuition, empathy skills and surpassing oneself, all of which are factors that AI will never be able to grasp. Further, if we want to develop better AI we need intuition and creativity.
Despite Asta Raami’s valuable pioneering work with the concept of intuition, there is still a lot to work on and a great need for new concepts and terms. Before we get to enjoy her workshop in Dare to Learn, it is time for all of us to decide between chocolate and strawberry.
CALL-AND-RESPONSE, crossover tunes of curiosity.