The original human brain seems to have been little different from the brains of our animal ancestors. Then, a cosmic catastrophe may have triggered, through mutation, the addition of that extra layer our brains now possess. Alternatively, those extra-terrestrials who allegedly created ‘the Adam’ (refer Christianity’s Bible) may have lifted us to the top of the totem pole of life forms.
Our impressive capacity for conceptualisation, manual manipulation, and cultural expression is evident, in spite of the reality that human greed and the associated accumulation of material far exceeding normal need display our collective ‘clay feet’. The human mind obviously requires some quality ’re-boring’ (so to speak).
During my study of psychology, I learnt that intuition is an ‘ah, ha!’ event; that this event Is an insightful glimpse of the past, or the present or the future; and that this glimmer of understanding would have been drawn from accumulated knowledge.
Since I had no background experience of reference to my ‘gut feeling’ about my bowel, is the human mind able to tap into, or draw upon, a warning in ‘cloudland’ saying “There be crocodiles lurking here”?
Is this what some of us refer to as a ‘gut’ feeling? About 25 years ago, while waiting for a gastroscopy, I had a persistent feeling over the waiting period that I should also have a colonoscopy; that is to have my bowel examined as well.
The surgeon found a pre-cancerous polyp. It would develop into cancer. I have had 5 such polyps, found through 17 colonoscopies. These were carried out every 2 years; sometimes more frequently.
Was my ‘gut’ feeling evidence of intuition?
How about study and direct observation? As for study, how does one filter out any egocentric defence of a prevailing but challengeable explanatory position? With observation, are the human being’s five senses and their processor, the brain, even when assisted by equipment which can register forces operating beyond human perceptual capabilities, able to perceive and measure all the forces and influences ‘out there,’ including acquiring (perhaps) the maths needed to manipulate this potential ‘evidence’?
An example is consciousness. Neuroscientists rely on neural traces established in the brain through experience to explain the workings of the brain, but cannot pin down the location of consciousness, or the sub-conscious, or even the mind which told them about such matters. Hinduism’s Upanishads claim, on the other hand, that the mind is not conscious; and that it is only an instrument of consciousness.
This suggests that consciousness is outside the physical operation of the brain. Is it a force, or facility, or an ‘atmospheric’ influence?
Knowledge can hit one on the head (usually the brain) in the guise of a conscious intuition; does it originate inside or outside the brain? Knowledge can be imposed upon one through a dream; who has not experienced that when seeking to solve a significant problem? Confusingly, knowledge can be imparted through a psychic phenomenon, such as a dialogue with the spirit of a dead person (through a clairvoyant) or through a near-death experience (n.d.e.) or through a spiritual experience. The usual path to knowledge is, however, through study and observation (including measurement).
Anyone who has had first-hand exposure to these paths will be the first to admit that psychic and spiritual (including n.d.e.) experiences are personal, non-repeatable, thereby non-verifiable, and possibly unreliable. But then, how reliable is the human brain? As the evidence from neuroscience is not encouraging, what reliability can one place on intuition and dreams?
To want to know is ubiquitous. Yet, mankind may be the only species in the animal kingdom whose wants exceed its need – to know, that is. Like all animals we seek to know where to find sustenance, security, and peace; but we also seek to know just for the sake of knowing.
To know just for knowledge brings forth those who want to know how we know (a most complex issue), and the reliability of such knowledge. The path to knowledge is, of course, multifarious.