XXXI, 2, 2021: Intuition and its Forms. The Prospects and Problems of Intuitionism. Edited by Stefano Besoli and Luca Guidetti
Since ancient times, the concept of intuition (epibolé, intuitus) has denoted a direct and immediate relation with any object whatsoever, a relation involving the object’s actual presence. This definition, which applies to intuition in all its versions, is so wide as to include apparently antithetical views, depending on how the relation’s immediateness and the object’s presence are understood. For if it is a relation, then, even if it doesn’t feature any intermediaries, its relata must be distinct, which is the claim of all the views that emphasize the object’s presence to a consciousness, a faculty or, more generally, a property and a way of being of a subject. However, conceiving intuition as an object’s position before a conscience, in the visual way typical in the first instance of classical Geek philosophy, yields the paradox that a relation is intuitive insofar as it removes, at least in part, the distinction between subject and object and so ceases to be a relation, leaving room for various forms of coincidence or compenetration of the terms, after the fashion of the intuitionistic views of, e.g., Plotinus, Spinoza and Bergson. This depends on the fact that, from an epistemic point of view, an immediate relation that requires the object’s presence is inherently unstable, as it tends to collapse either onto the higher limit of the annihilation of the distincts, which is the typical outcome of idealistic, conscientialist, and even mystical views (according to which intuition is an internal or monadic relation), or onto the lower limit of their discursive multiplication, which is a mark of the realist dilution of objectual presentiality in various forms of comparative objectivation. However, it is clear that such an objectiva-tion involves what is essentially a suppression of the very concept of intuition, leading to its replacement by such bases of triadic or polyadic relations as ‘A intuits B as C’ (see, in this regard, F. Kambartel, Anschauung, in J. Mittelstraß (hrsg. von), Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie, Metzler, Stuttgart, 1995, Bd. 1, p. 120).
The easiest way to solve the difficulties associated with the need to reconcile the relation’s immediateness with the object’s presence would then seem to be precisely to get rid of intuition as an epistemic relation, conceiving it instead, after the fashion of some recent positivist and analytic trends, as a form of direct and extralogical – that is to say, aesthetic, moral or sentimental – contact of the subject with the world. However, this does not address the issue of the unity and presence to the mind of complex objects or relational structures, with reference to which (along with “simple” objects) discursive thought unfolds. And apart from that, the most serious flaw of the solution lies in its evading the issue of the “principles”, an issue that incessantly re-emerges within any form of comparative reasoning. Aristotle already pointed out that «it is by another method, not by proof, that we acquire knowledge of the first principle» (Gen. an., Il, 6, 743), «for while the other propositions are shown through these [the first principles], these cannot be shown through anything else» (Top., VIII, 3, 158 b 2). This is why knowledge of the principles appears «higher than any other » (An. post., I, 9, 76 a 21): it is an intuitive knowledge of those truths that do not require any proof, «for to prove anything is impossible unless one begins with the appropriate principles» (Top., VIII, 3, 158 a 36).
The immediate possession of the principles does not eliminate, then, the necessity of demarcating them with respect to the acts and structures of “consciousness” (however conceived). On the other hand, articulating the various moments in which such a demarcation consists requires that a non-mediated unity capable of displaying the sense of any discursive articulation be posited as a ground for the mediated processes. The problem of intuition lies wholly within this particular figure of complementarity, according to which intuitive knowledge establishes in fact an intimate relation between the knowing subject and the object known, but on the other hand always requires, as it expresses itself, a certain degree of objectivation, and hence of opposition of the object to the subject, which is true even in the case of self-knowledge.
In other terms, intuition is represented or expressed through mediation, which in turn is realized or performed through intuition. In any genuine concept of intuition emerging in the period that spans from classical Greek thought to the end of the Nineteenth century, these two aspects, the static and the dynamic, exhibit a continuous dialectical ten-sion; however, an emphasis on the former may obscure or weaken the latter, and vice versa. Thus, for instance, with Kantian sensible intuition, the emergence of the given downplays, in its static receptivity, the dynamic character of sensation, which requires the archetypal or creative intuition of the understanding as its expressible but non-performable complement. A complementary reversal of Kantianism yields the intellectual intuition of the first phase of German classic idealism, especially in Fichte and Schelling. Here intuition presents itself as the principle – which can be performed but never wholly expressed – that provides the background for the acts of a nature-oriented consciousness. Such a polarity is still operative in Brouwer’s intuitionism, where the dynamic aspect of the “intuition by construction” turns the “intuition by evidence” typical of classical logic and of the naive concept of number into a merely partial moment, an instant or product of the mind, within the procedures of calculation and generation of mathematical entities. On the other hand, Husserlian phenomenology, addressing the theme of the constitution of experience, gives to “essence vision” a new and in many respects unprecedented task. According to Husserlian phenomenology, it is crucial to overcome the polarity of evidence and constitution, highlighting the originary link between sensible givenness and categorial universality in the acts of fulfilling of the knowledge-intention. In this way, intuition loses the merely functional qualification that belongs to the “criterion” or the “higher faculty” of individuating the principles, as-suming instead the operating character of a correlation of consciousness and world that establishes itself from the beginning.
On the other hand, in Husserl’s view, evidentness, as the “giving of something in itself” (E. Husserl, Formale und transzendentale Logik. Versuch einer Kritik der logischen Vernunft (1929), in Hua XVII, P. Janssen (hrsg. von), Nijhoff, Den Haag, 1974, p. 167), the manifestation of things in their originary way of being, is neither a criterion nor a fact, for it possesses its own graduality, a «universal teleological structure» that extends to consciousness in so far as intentionality and evidentness «are essentially co-belonging» concepts (E. Husserl, Formale und transzendentale Logik, pp. 168 sq.). Qua the «universal mode of intentionality», evidentness is not the static mark of an epistemic certainty of a psychological kind, leaving aside any question about the sense of the being that lies at its ground. On the contrary, by being at the centre of the issue of intentionality, evidentness is the problematic heading of the whole question of being as it is addressed by phenomenology, for it makes clear, by virtue of being the ostensive character of everything we experience, that the manifestation of any single objectual givenness in a specific domain of sense can never constitute, in principle, its absolute givenness. At this juncture of thought, intuition – whether in the role of Anschauung or Intuition (cf. E. Husserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Erstes Buch: Allgemeine Einführung in die reine Phänomenologie, in Hua III/1, K. Schuhmann (hrsg. von), Nijhoff, Den Haag, 1976, § 24, p. 51), of categorial or essence intuition – becomes the manifesto of a philosophical reflection that, by virtue of its own distinctive status, does not pretend to break loose from the articulated texture of experience, but rather aims at deriving, in its wake, the nature of the material a priori and of its inherent contingency (cf. E. Husserl, Formale und transzendentale Logik, Ergänzender Text V (1920-1921), pp. 379 sqq.). As Heidegger himself came to recognise, Husserl’s discovery of categorial intuition made it possible to turn the a priori in a «title of being» (M. Heidegger, Prolegomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs (SS 1925), GA 20, P. Jaeger (hrsg. von) 1979, p. 101), in so far as a priori knowledge is no longer modelled on discursive reason, but can now be viewed as operating in an intuitive way by grasping essences that can be described as material in that they possess a determinate content, resisting any characterisation in terms of mere empirical typicalities, but also in terms of Kantian categorial forms. According to Husserl’s phenomenology, there is then a necessity that is grounded in the essential particularity of contents: such a necessity cannot translate into a formal a priori expressing analytic conditions of a merely subjective nature, for it must rely on the mereological pattern of the structure of experience. As a consequence, intuitive thought relates to a dialectic that links the abstract and the concrete, requiring a synthesis which does not involve the presence of any absolute givenness or of totally independent contents. This precludes any outcome in which every essential intuition or ideating abstraction can be self-sufficient in non-relational terms, precisely because any such intuition or abstraction is subject to a grounding relation.
(click on the titles to view the abstracts)
Stefano Besoli, Luca Guidetti, Premessa
Marwan Rashed, Hišām ibn al-Ḥakam et Sulaymān ibn Ǧarīr entre stoïcisme et kalām : de la négation du tiers-exclu à la distinction entre « chose » et « existant »
Aldo L’Erario, Rethinking Aristotelian Intuition after the Downfall of the Intuitionist Reading
Matthias Koßler, Von der göttlichen Schau zur Erfahrungserkenntnis: Intuition im Hoch- und Spätmittelalter
Gennaro Luise, Matteo Negro, Antonio Giovanni Pesce, L’intuizione intellettuale nel tomismo
Riccardo Chiaradonna, La terza meditazione di Plotino
Frédéric de Buzon, Le primat de l’intuition dans les débuts de la philosophie moderne. Structure et usage d’un acte de l’esprit chez Descartes
Simone Guidi, Acies mentis. Il progetto cartesiano di un’epistemologia dell’intuitus e il suo ripensamento metafisico
Stefan Klingner, Kant and the Rationalist Myth of the Given
Ives Radrizzani, Place et fonction de l’intuition dans la philosophie fichtéenne
Erik Eschmann, Ästhetische Kontemplation als besonnene Intuition. Wie intuitive Erkenntnis bei Schopenhauer interesselos sein kann
Rocco Ronchi, Che cosa è reale? Il metodo bergsoniano della intuizione alla prova della relatività einsteiniana
Gerhard Heinzmann, L’Intuition épistémique
Francesco Allegri, W.D. Ross e l’intuizionismo in etica
Ernesto V. Garcia, Intuitions in 21st-Century Moral Philosophy: Why Ethical Intuitionism and Reflective Equilibrium Need Each Other
Luca Guidetti, Moritz Schlick e il problema dell’intuizione nel Neopositivismo
Stefano Besoli, Esercitare lo sguardo: intuizione categoriale e complessità del vedere nel mutare della fenomenologia da Husserl a Heidegger