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Ellinas

Intuition and logic - the inter-relationship

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Ellinas

Wasn't sure if this might not be better in Starters' Orders, but decided to put it here for now, see how things develop and maybe a Mod can move it further down the line if it seems appropriate.

Anyhow, I was reading the latest Fortean Times yesterday.  In an article about changelings, I found the suggestion that intuitive awareness (the term used was "psychic intuition", but let's keep the loaded, and possibly redundant, term "psychic" out of it) peaks around age 7 before being buried under adult logic/intellect.

The source, according to the article, is the opinion of a ghost-hunter called Andrew Green.  The article was not by Mr Green, and I've no idea on what data, if any, that opinion is based.  Nor am I particularly bothered to find out.

The context was the question of why children seem to experience, perhaps, more than their fair share of so called paranormal encounters, have "imaginary" friends etc.  My understanding is that adolescents tend to be associated with poltergeist phenomena (admittedly, not necessarily an issue of intuition, but it does make the point that youth and oddity can go together).  I also remember seeing my then infant nephew apparently fixated by a blank space on the wall of my parents' living room and crying in some distress every time he looked at it.  The paint was not that bad a colour, so presumably something was in his in brain that was not in those of the rest of us.

Let's assume that "intuition" is a reality.  I don't know that there's evidence to satisfy the materialist intellect, but as a matter of common sense and experience, it exists, so that will do for now.

My questions are:

  1. Are intuition and logical thought mutually exclusive?
  2. Can intuition and logical thought be made to work together?
  3. To what extent does an open attitude toward intuitive awareness affect perception?

I have not really formulated answers as yet, but my immediate thoughts are:

  1. Intuition is source of information for the mind to work on, logic is a method by which the mind works;
  2. The two can work together provided logical thought is used to evaluate, rather than to proscribe the collection of, information from an intuitive source;
  3. If logical thought proscribes intuitive material, the mind will habitually reject the intuitive and may become inured to its' input.  To this extent, at least, we make our own universe by restricting how we perceive it.

Thoughts?  Or even intuitions?

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Moonsmith
11 hours ago, Ellinas said:

My questions are:

  1. Are intuition and logical thought mutually exclusive?
  2. Can intuition and logical thought be made to work together?
  3. To what extent does an open attitude toward intuitive awareness affect perception?

Hmmmm.

Does "Intuition" have to be non-materialistic?  Must it have a source beyond the experience or received information of the inspired?  If so I shall find it difficult to answer beyond the boring suggestions that:

  • humans include instinct in their range of information sources

and

  • humans have powerful imaginations.

I have deliberately not read your answers to your own questions before typing this - it is easy to achieve on my little notebook computer.

If inspiration is permitted an origin within the wonderful thought mixer that is the human brain then my answers are:

1. Not in the least.

2. They are made to do so all the time.

3. A lot.

I shall now re-read the OP together with your answers.

If I am allowed a mundane definition of "intuition" without wrecking your intended question Ellinas then I could expand.  If not then I shall not deflect your OP.

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Ellinas
22 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

Does "Intuition" have to be non-materialistic?  Must it have a source beyond the experience or received information of the inspired?

...

If I am allowed a mundane definition of "intuition" without wrecking your intended question Ellinas then I could expand.  If not then I shall not deflect your OP.

You are allowed whatever definition you want,  Fill your boots.  I purposely gave no definition of what "inspiration" might be and people can go on whatever tangent they see fit.

Also, I'm not sure it will turn out to be much of an issue what definition is adopted.  Regardless of whether the source is external, internal, physical, esoteric or whatever other adjective anyone can think of, the issue is not so much what it is (and maybe that's for another thread) as how it may be validly utilized.

Bottom line - why should I trust my gut instinct or a flash of inspiration when I have no rational basis to do so?  No reason at all, on the face of it.  But there have been times when it's been helpful - even in matters as mundane as my work when I've had thoughts along the lines of "if I run this case it will go wrong because there we will be a problem with X".  Further digging has then proven that "X" was, indeed, in the background.

 

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Moonsmith

In fact you have just made my main point.

Let's wait and see what others think.  I bet there shall be examples of intuition overriding logic or intention.  I KNOW that folk here have been guided by their gods and I for one accept that regardless of the workings of my own universe.

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Veggie dancer
On 11/18/2018 at 12:21 PM, Ellinas said:

I found the suggestion that intuitive awareness (the term used was "psychic intuition", but let's keep the loaded, and possibly redundant, term "psychic" out of it) peaks around age 7 before being buried under adult logic/intellect.

 

My questions are:

  1. Are intuition and logical thought mutually exclusive?
  2. Can intuition and logical thought be made to work together?
  3. To what extent does an open attitude toward intuitive awareness affect perception?

I wonder if the reason intuition peaks at around 7 is because our education system trains our logical brains rather than our intuitive side. So we learn to work more logically and rely on logic more and more.

i believe intuition comes from the older more animal parts of the brain. I also think our intuitive thought is far more powerful and advanced than our logical thought.

If you catch a ball you use your intuition you don't logically calculate where the ball is going to be you just react intuitively. Your brain has intuitively done ridiculous calculations to work out where the ball will be and the required movement to intercept it in a split second. If you over logically think it you hinder your ability to catch the ball. Same goes for difficult dance moves or acrobatics and sports: it's better not to 'think' (logically) but to react. 

I think the difference you see between Olympic archers (very calculated aiming) and traditional archery (see and shoot) really highlights the difference. You can see traditional archers on YouTube shooting from horse back hitting tiny targets with a dozen arrows in the the time it takes an Olympic archer to take aim.

im digressing:

1: no logic and intuition are not mutually exclusive. But I think logic lacks subtlety it can steam roller our intuition that is actually more powerful but more malable 

2: I think they can work together if we our logical side can trust and respect the power of our intuitive side. Giving our logical side something else to do can help too: to distract it.. 

3: i think an open attitude can help but that's still sort of located on the logical side and requires a letting go and giving up and trusting on the logical part which can be tricky on the other hand little kids and some people are a bit more oblivious and just do rather than over think which I think allows them to be really intuitive. Ignorance is bliss.

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Moonsmith
5 hours ago, Veggie dancer said:

I wonder if the reason intuition peaks at around 7 is because our education system trains our logical brains rather than our intuitive side. So we learn to work more logically and rely on logic more and more.

This seems right to me - I wonder to what extent language also drives this peak.  At the age of seven [ish] a child has transitioned from its internal language [by which it makes sense of a world without names] to conventional language perhaps without yet losing the former.    It is in a position to interpret the former into the latter so that ideas that were unbounded in the internal language can be realised in "our world".  Veggie, as you watch your baby dream - what language is he  dreaming in.  How is he explaining his universe to himself?  What decisions and associations is he making that may one day emerge as ideas in English?  What frustrations might there be as he cannot find English words to express ideas and just lets them go.

The most creative of my children is dyslexic and still uses baby words occasionally.  She was mocked for doing it at school but I think it got her around those frustrations sometimes and let her realise her ideas.  [She's a well respected Head of English in a secondary school now 🙂  ]

I am getting deja-type as I brag once again about my 17,000 words on intuition: "Ah is for Realisation".  The separation of the solving mind from the busy mind I saw as important where it could be achieved.

Edited by Moonsmith
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Ellinas

My logical mind questions whether it is indeed correct that intuition peaks at age 7.  There may be good reason to say so, but i have to treat it with some suspicion, albeit accepting that children work in a way that appears more instinctual/intuitive (if there's a difference).

Be that as it may - is it correct that logic is unsubtle?  I find some of the logic that leads to descriptions of the current scientific understanding of the fundamental physics of reality far too subtle for my head.to wrap itself round.  On the other hand, I can think of a person in my office in relation to whom intuition tells me quite bluntly to distrust.  Logic would suggest I analyse that reaction - but I rather suspect the distrust will continue.

Is it true that intuition is more powerful?  Intuition does not construct MRI scanners or space stations.

Nor am I going to suggest that intuition is weaker.  In was a highly intuitive reaction which lead me, after a period of feeling increasingly uncomfortable, a decade ago, to tell my wife she needed to see the doctor despite no particularly obviously dangerous symptoms.   That lead to a diagnosis of cancer.

Why would intuition depend on distracting the logical mind?  That doesn't seem to me to add up to the two "working together".

Nor does it address a further possibility - why can logic not have an intuitive element?  Sometimes we have to work a priori - why should not intuition at least inform that part of the process?

Two aspects to the working of the mind.  The answer has to be keeping them in balance somehow - but where is that point of balance?

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wandering_raven

I agree that intuition doesn't have to have a non-material explanation and there isn't the conflict between logic and intuition that some people think there is.  (though I'll post a bit about why there seems to be a conflict between the two in a minute...)

On the point about children and imaginary friends, I have a good memory for my early childhood and can remember quite clearly a lot from when I was 2-3 years old.  I had loads of imaginary friends and I made them up the same way the adult me makes up characters for novels.  I used to play with them, have lively conversations with them, pretend to be them and go on adventures with them (or while pretending to be one of them).   Also, if I played with toys like lego, the lego people would be my imaginary friends and I'd act out their adventures with the lego.  Same thing with other toys that were people (or animals, or cars, or anything that I decided could be a thing with its own personality) and I even sometimes drew them (when I was a bit older, more like 5+), cut them out and acted out their adventures.  This sort of thing went on from as early as I can remember and through the whole time I was at primary school.  At twelve I hit on the crazy idea that I could buy exercise books with my pocket money and write my imaginary friends' stories down.  I still acted out their adventures in my head, then wrote it all down. And nothing's changed since then... (okay, well nowadays I use a word processor)

It underestimates children to take the view that an imaginary friend must be some kind of external thing (a ghost or similar).  I get that a few people might be a bit freaky to see a child alone in a room talking to "people" that the adult can't see (thankfully my parents didn't take this view) but that's an adult-centric interpretation of a child's world, and one which implies that the child isn't clever, creative or imaginative enough to invent an imaginary friend.  It also underestimates adults if you believe that we've lost an ability that we had as a child - all that's happened with me is that the social expectation to not carry on actual, out-loud conversations with figments of my own imagination became an issue, around the time that I realised I was literate enough to write it all down instead.

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Earthdragon

Here is a famous quote from Einstein

"

I believe in intuitions and inspirations. I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know that I am… [but] I would have been surprised if I had been wrong

“I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

_

Now giving weight to the thoughts of well known  and very able people's opinions is pretty natural however the specific problem solving abilities and specialisation of scientists, for example, doesn't necessarily imply intelligence across the gamut of human experience. But this quote from Einstein is emphatic and seems couched in the context of his reliance on logical thought for the development of his theories.

----

If we are accepting that intuition exists then to answer the questions you put Ellinas would we not need to define it as a process? Why are you not interested in any data that might be available to make the concept clearer??

If we are proceeding according to our own experience of intuition as a basis for looking at it then I could use the example of my faulty lock on our aged Fiat Scudo van. Key inserted and turned it spins fruitlessly without unlocking the door. Any amount of turning produces the same  result. Stopped using it ages ago. A couple of weeks ago I tried the lock for some reason and it span without engaging. The day after I approached the van and got my keys out. I had this strong sense that the key would work (it's not worked for years) , I simply knew that it would open. There was not any debate in my mind leading up to this feeling. There was not even any decision as to whether I would try the lock. Key went in , engage and door unlocked with a very well behaved clicking action on the first turn. What was all that about? I really don't think the feeling I had caused me use the key any differently to all the times previously. It is possible there was an element of precognition in this event. 

On 11/18/2018 at 12:21 PM, Ellinas said:
  • Are intuition and logical thought mutually exclusive?
  • Can intuition and logical thought be made to work together?
  • To what extent does an open attitude toward intuitive awareness affect perception?

1. As processes I  don't think so. I have had dreams wherein I knew I was dreaming at the time, I engaged with the content of the dream and I had a sort of logical evaluative thought process going on at the same time. This has happened only a few times but leads me to think "No there are not"

2. I use logic to evaluate and interpret intuitions.

In Druidic terms the divine inspiration of "Aisling"  is the experience of imagery and knowledge gained at one's spiritual centre and  associated with the key markers of one's individual and Druidic path. The evaluative internal process (incorporating logic in the usual sense of the word) is the common manifestation of a process called imbas - while the external poetic outpouring is a rarer manifestation of it.

Also I believe that the concepts about one's world view can open the mind (I use the term rather than the brain) to the faculties of intuitive awareness.

3. It can heighten perception. One notices things that would go unnoticed otherwise. Openness of attitude isn't the same thing as exploration and cultivation of such a faculty though.

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Moonsmith
23 hours ago, Ellinas said:

There may be good reason to say so, but i have to treat it with some suspicion, albeit accepting that children work in a way that appears more instinctual/intuitive (if there's a difference).

I understand that within Western culture, that there are a number of peaks, not all related to biological steps.

So called "primitive" hunter gatherer groups do not demonstrate these peaks nearly so markedly but there are many reasons that might account for this, not the least being opportunity!  I do not know whether they maintain a higher level of "background creativity / intuition".  How would you measure it?  Innovation among traditional cultures would be one hell of a PhD study.

I'm currently more creative than I have ever been -  mainly because making my living does not get in the way.  I have been fortunate in that large swathes of my life have either encouraged creative thinking or allowed space for reflection.  My methods scared the crap out of some of my German civil servant clients!

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Ellinas
On 11/22/2018 at 10:38 AM, Earthdragon said:

If we are accepting that intuition exists then to answer the questions you put Ellinas would we not need to define it as a process? Why are you not interested in any data that might be available to make the concept clearer??

Not least because of this:

On 11/22/2018 at 10:44 PM, Moonsmith said:

 I do not know whether they maintain a higher level of "background creativity / intuition".  How would you measure it?

How indeed.

It seems to me that the definition of intuition is uncertain.  I've read stuff about the "animalistic" and "older" areas of the brain, of unconscious thoughts jumping the barrier to the conscious, and I can understand a view that intuition is an illusion created by imagination, interpretation and coincidence.  I've never seen anything that approaches being more than supposition on any of these ideas.

Given the inability of science to even begin to explain consciousness (in my view - no doubt some would disagree), the a-priori nature of positions on how the mind works (which seem to me either or both of pseudo-scientific and wholly inadequate), I am sceptical of the capacity of logical discussion to clarify the nature of the intuitive.

Arguing over the unknowable is a very plausible outcome of a quest to define intuition, and one that carries with it the possibility of de-railing a discussion of how an intuition assumed to exist on the basis of common sense and experience (which, whatever that intuition may be, by the nature of the ordinary use of the word is not part of logical thought process) may be allowed to inter-react with those processes.  All we need to assume is that there is such a thing and it works often enough to be valid.  Whether that is correct, and, if so, how it works, can be explored separately.

Hence my lack of interest, at least in the context of this thread, and my doubt that we need to define the concept to work out how to use it.  If that's the case, then I will immediately give up all hope of ever having any idea of how it may be utilised alongside my logical facilities.

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Moonsmith
16 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Given the inability of science to even begin to explain consciousness (in my view - no doubt some would disagree), the a-priori nature of positions on how the mind works (which seem to me either or both of pseudo-scientific and wholly inadequate), I am sceptical of the capacity of logical discussion to clarify the nature of the intuitive.

Hi Ellinas 🙂

You seem to use the term "a priori" somewhat more loosely than does, say Kant.   You are of course right; once you have brought down the barrier of "a priori" then further discussion prevented.  Christianity took as a priori that the sun circled the earth.

To answer part of your question [and in part 🙂  ] : many scientific discoveries have started with intuition.  A "guess" may well be brought about by whatever is intuition. The majority of these intuitions have withered under the logic and observations of the day.  Some have been resurrected as that logic changes. Others have proven more robust and have developed into theories.

I would agree that we are a long way from knowing how the mind works but the whole point is that we are on our way to that discovery - or to a discovery that fits the evidence available and does not run contrary to any of that evidence.  It may well be a burst of intuition that gets us to that position.

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Ellinas

I tend to use the term in a fairly non-technical fashion - something along the lines of 2b in this link

You are more sanguine than I about the prospects of such a discovery.  I very much doubt if measurements of which bits of the brain light up and when will ever explain awareness.  Unless the burst of intuition gives us a new method of measuring, it will remain in the realms of philosophy, I suspect.

I also rather suspect that all intuition has no better standing than guesswork in logical terms.  Perhaps the question is how we know when to trust our guesses?  The approach of "wait and see" has the advantage of a certain empiricism, but I'm not sure that it is a particularly satisfying answer.

Edited by Ellinas
Too many dots and not enough spaces

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Moonsmith
3 hours ago, Ellinas said:

also rather suspect that all intuition has no better standing than guesswork in logical terms.

Sorry rest of Valley - this is going to get even more boring!

My work on intuition, in which I examined what was at that time called "the lightbulb" or "Ah ha!" moment demonstrated that this was frequently not  the case.  My work was limited to Management Development and the way in which learning was applied in practice.  I'm looking at the pompous self indulgent piece of work right now!  It's almost embarrassing to read but the work is sound.

Thanks to the convoluted methods of F-ing Miles and bloody Huberman, I was able, in a highly unscientific way [Well it was a M A dissertation not a bloody thesis] to show that the brain is able to use information from a vast range of inputs and make associations and connections that emerge as new thinking in the forms of suddenly occurring solutions: insights.  It was not a comfortable discovery to find that my carefully crafted training events were not taken away and applied but just formed part of the conglomeration of data in the cranial storage.  A piece of work for which a major motorcar dealership had congratulated me and had on its basis promoted my mentee, I showed to be as much to do with Startreck as it had to do with my training.  The highly appropriate series of decisions made by the young director were however, not guesswork.  They were the work of the intellect as it subconsciously mixed its pallet from a vast range of colours of which my input was but one.

Putting distance between the learning and it's application promotes insight.  Distance might be time but also distraction that allows thoughts to link with the whole data storage within the brain before being pressed into service.  Others picked up my ideas and were looking at the idea that all inbound thoughts connect or are presented to the whole stored memory.

I found that exercise and [appropriate] music helped enormously in this process.  Gregorian chants had been used by Rose since the sixties but even heavy metal can be appropriate for some learner/thinkers. A relaxing weekend proves very powerful.  Workaholics are less likely to benefit from insight.

I also found that where solutions discovered in the more conventional ways produced relief and a certain self congratulation, solutions that arose from insight elicited a kind of bliss, an exaltation at their emergence.  Insight often carries with it not only a solution but the means of achieving it as well.  The downside is that it often looks unconventional and the enthusiasm of its emergence is damped by a conservative system.

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Earthdragon
5 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

Putting distance between the learning and it's application promotes insight.  Distance might be time but also distraction that allows thoughts to link with the whole data storage within the brain before being pressed into service.

I think people can come up with insights and relevant takes on things seemingly out of the blue but actually retrieving ideas that they have worked on subconsciously for a long while. 

Rather than boring there is an element of this thread that to me relates to magic: namely the lodging of intentions within the subconscious which are manifested as behaviour or perception later down the line. This is one definition of magic.

Has anyone ever noticed a friend or colleague espouse an idea or information as though they have come up with it themselves when in fact they received a perhaps undeveloped version of that idea previously from your own self? I've noticed this down the years on many occasions and usually don't try to remind the person that I spoke to them about it originally though with a good friend it can be the subject of some prodding banter hehe...

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Moonsmith
3 hours ago, Earthdragon said:

that to me relates to magic: namely the lodging of intentions within the subconscious which are manifested as behaviour or perception later down the lin

Phew!  Thanks for that ED.

I had held off my prosaic take on insight.  I did not want to steamroller those who see insight as externally sourced.  For those who do that's great, I wouldn't argue, I'd be intrigued.

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Ellinas
On 11/27/2018 at 3:14 AM, Moonsmith said:

My work on intuition, in which I examined what was at that time called "the lightbulb" or "Ah ha!" moment demonstrated that this was frequently not  the case.

I have a vague feeling we're talking at cross purposes

I do not dispute, at least for current purposes, that intuition exists.  I do not dispute that the process of background mental process that you describe is likely to be at least a part of it.  I may be inclined to wonder whether intuition is  a single phenomenon, but that is for another time.

However, it must be correct that an idea, a solution, that appears to come out of nowhere with no overt reasoning process will have "no better standing than guesswork in logical terms".  For anyone looking on, even for the person experiencing it, there seems no reason to trust the intuition any more than one would trust a guess.  Data analysis may work for the purposes of deciding what intuition may be - but I can't see it helping to identify it in an individual instance.  It's that instance that interests me.

True, some intuitions may be immediately supportable.  I can think of an instance when I solved a puzzle over whether a particular legal argument was viable.  The problem, even there, is that, logically, I cannot say definitely whether it was intuition or just noticing a circumstance that others had ignored.  Had I come up with some more obscure and less immediately testable theory or idea, how would I be able to tell that it was not a random guess?

Maybe the issue isn't what intuition may be, but rather how do we know that we can trust any particular possible example of it (save where the support is immediately identifiable).  At the moment, I'm still struggling to get beyond "wait and see" - and possibly keep your fingers crossed.

Admittedly, I have no idea what the concept of a sensation of bliss or exaltation might be.  Maybe I've never intuited anything, if that is its' fingerprint.

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Moonsmith
3 hours ago, Ellinas said:

I have a vague feeling we're talking at cross purposes

Almost certainly.

3 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Admittedly, I have no idea what the concept of a sensation of bliss or exaltation might be.  Maybe I've never intuited anything, if that is its' fingerprint.

Almost inevitably.

 

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Earthdragon
20 hours ago, Ellinas said:

However, it must be correct that an idea, a solution, that appears to come out of nowhere with no overt reasoning process will have "no better standing than guesswork in logical terms". 

Hi Ellinas,

I hope you don't mind me raising  a connection at this point with something you mentioned in another thread?

Would you extend your comment above  to say the presence of the eagle in your meditations? Is that sort of thing a random occurrence in your eyes or might it link symbolically to something that either logic or intuition or a combination of those might be able to interpret. 

Additionally were there any feelings that accompanied your experience of the eagle that might link to any thought processes that included logic or intuition? 

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Ellinas
On 11/29/2018 at 7:05 PM, Earthdragon said:

Would you extend your comment above  to say the presence of the eagle in your meditations? Is that sort of thing a random occurrence in your eyes or might it link symbolically to something that either logic or intuition or a combination of those might be able to interpret. 

Additionally were there any feelings that accompanied your experience of the eagle that might link to any thought processes that included logic or intuition? 

A question similar to one that had already occurred to me.

It's one I find difficult to answer.

I suppose I have an oddly dualistic approach - possibly born out of decades of professional training and experience , where I am obliged to compartmentalise and discount my emotional responses for the purposes of logical analysis.  Us lawyers can be shockingly unshockable and, in the eyes of those around us, unfeelingly harsh.  Perhaps that gives me an outlook that is at once frustratingly vague and annoyingly certain in that vagueness.  I don't have any inclination or imperative to reach a conclusion where possibilities, beliefs or feelings are not verifiable.  I don't have any inclination or imperative to reject a possibility, belief or feeling just because it cannot be verified.  The existence of a possibility belief or feeling is, itself, a matter of fact - but nothing more than that.

Would I say that it is a random occurrence?  Because I cannot show it to be anything else, I have to admit of that possibility.

Do I think that it is a symbol of something within my psyche?  Because I cannot show it not so to be, I have to admit of that possibility.

Do I think that it "appears to come out of nowhere with no overt reasoning process... [and has] "no better standing than guesswork in logical terms""?  Well, the term "guesswork" seems a bit out of place, but, swapping it for your "random occurrence" - yes.  It may or may not have some meaning or symbolism, but, looking at it from a logical standpoint, insofar as I am able to do so, it cannot be distinguished from the random.  I may choose to look at it otherwise, but I cannot do other than admit that I may be talking unconscionable half-wittery in so doing.

Do I think that logic and/or intuition can interpret it as a symbol?  Of course.  But that says nothing as to whether it has any objective, verifiable symbolism within my psyche.  I can interpret an awful lot of things as symbols, either by argument or gut feeling, and change or discount that interpretation at will.

Were there any feelings that accompanied the experience?  Beyond a mild surprise, I really cannot remember.  If there was an emotional reaction, I would likely have left it to one side as irrelevant.

Perhaps that background and approach explain why I find it so puzzling to incorporate the intuitive and the logical into a single, coherent process.

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