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Why do philosophers consider their memory and perception as a valid source of knowledge but not their intuition? Aren't memory, perception and intuition (pre)processed/coloured by the same unconscious processes before we get aware of it?

Kobe

June 15, 2008

Response from Peter S. Fosl on June 17, 2008
A very good question. At first blush philosophers' practices might seem arbitrary, indeed. There are a number of considerations, however, that might help those practices seem more sensible to you. First off, it's important to define the concept of "intuition". You might be surprised to learn that the concept has a long history and that it has a number of meanings. In one sense it means something like the way the intellect apprehends things. Philosophers who find ancient and medieval philosophy convincing still do give that sense of "intuition" considerable credence. Secondly, it means something like, "our basic moral commitments." Many ethicists still appeal to moral "intuitions" in this sense to guide and limit moral deliberation. On a third, scientific level, intuition might be thought of as something like an educated guess. It's true that philosophers don't think of "intuition" in this sense as source of "knowledge"--though they are likely to respect its standing as a way of generating hypotheses, which can then be tested and scrutinized. You may be interested on this score, however, to learn that philosophers don't give either sensory "perception" or "memory" unqualified credence either. There's been a lot of work done by philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists on the deceptiveness and limitations of both memory and perception. The objects of perception and memory require corroboration and testing against criteria of credibility before they may be added to a body of evidence or used in a procedure of justification. That perception and memory enjoy a somewhat higher epistemic status than intuition follows from their having a better track record in these contexts in the face of scrutiny, testing, agreement, and corroboration than intuition.


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