YOUR HOST: Towards Intuition, With Misgivings

Stan wrote a lot of interesting things in the last post in an attempt to make sure that he is not misunderstood. I apologize for taking so long to reply, but it was challenging for me to read. I'll try to make my observations brief, because he clearly wants to get on with a project in reasoning that takes the validity of intuition as a means of probing the 'non-physical' as given (more on that later!)...

Stan does not deny the effectiveness of science as practiced in its domain, which he covers with the gloss 'empiricism.' In fact, he is at pains to make sure that he is not painted as 'anti-science.'

I agree. Science does seem to be the best means of investigating the natural world.

Stan invokes both Popper and Einstein in defense of the use of intuition in science.

I agree that scientists use intuitions to guide their investigations and reasoning process all the time, and that it is not necessary to shoehorn investigation of intuitions into the research program in order to call it scientific. The problem of where the hypothesis comes from (abduction) is interesting, but not critical to science as generally practiced. I don't care if a hypothesis comes from an astrology column! All I care about is whether it makes a claim that can be tested, and thus in principle falsified. For this reason, however, I do deny that intuitions can be formally invoked as part of the hypothesis/theory/model etc. under consideration.

Stan then goes on:

"Maybe more pointedly, “can evidence via intuition ever point to the validity of an intangible existence?” Or maybe, “can evidence via intuition provide enough certainty to support belief in an intangible existence?”

You see, I believe that it can, and I believe that, in spite of having no tangible empirical data to back me up."

OK, well, I believe that, too. I do think that what Stan defines as 'internal experiential evidence' exists, and that it might be valid for the system that it describes: that is, it might correspond with truth at least as well as any type of evidence. However, I also believe that the potential validity of that description is confined to the system in which the experience takes place, and that could present a severe limitation.

Stan concludes:

"This path, then, is non-empirical; I wonder if you wish to take off and leave the land of the tangible, for the possible existence beyond tangible? Can we accept the existence of intuition as a tool for acquiring evidence? Can we see that there are things that can be accepted as true or valid, without tangible physical evidence? If not, then I suggest that the philosophy being held to is metaphysical naturalism, which is a lock-down situation. I know that you denied that, but then you also seem to absolutely require physical test results for non-physical entities; so one of those must be an error, possibly my error of interpretation.

Can we move on into the arena of intuition?"

Obviously, if we don't accept this as a condition for further investigation, Stan feels the discussion grinds to a halt. It's been too good a discussion, too thoughtful, for me not to want to see where Stan's line of reasoning ends. So, by all means, Stan, continue. All I ask is that you keep in mind that neither of us has presented any justification for widening the sphere in which our private intuitions could be said to be generally valid. I expect that in order to do that, you will have to appeal to what you call 'intuitive evidence' based upon the First Principles. I look forward to your next post.

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