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Main Forum Topics => Insight => Topic started by: B. Tillman Russell on August 30, 2012, 09:41:56 PM

Title: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: B. Tillman Russell on August 30, 2012, 09:41:56 PM
Much ink has been spilled recently attempting to explain how human beings make split second evaluations and then attempt to justify their implicit, automatic evaluations after the initial attitude has been formed. I am thinking of Gladwell's book Blink and also Haidt's recent book The Righteous Mind dealing with moral reasoning. A couple of questions have arisen while reading these books which have their origin in a close reading of Insight.

1.) Are some insights intuitive inferences? That is, do some insights emerge spontaneously from the subject in its concrete operation in the world? My answer based on my reading of Insight and Method would be that Lonergan would have no problem with the notion of intuitive inference.

2.) If some insights emerge spontaneously, then can one say strictly that insight  is a product of rational self consciousness? In other words, what exactly has insights? If the subject does not control the emergence of insights, then what does? The unconscious? If it is the unconscious, how exactly would Lonergan demarcate this domain? And further, what  exactly makes that which supplies insights "rational"?

I think these questions have a great deal of relevance both to Lonergan's work and recent work being done with the notion of the adaptive unconscious. An area particularly germane to my own research interests.

Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks!
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Del Allan on September 01, 2012, 08:15:55 AM
An interesting question.  I would suspect that the "rationality" of insights which emerge from the unconscious is related to the ability of the subject to process data, making the subject, not the data or initial insight, relevant. 
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: B. Tillman Russell on September 01, 2012, 09:04:43 AM
Thanks for the response. Ok, so if I understand you correctly, the initial insight emerges spontaneously from the unconscious, from there the subject acts upon this insight, processing it, relating it to other knowledge, and by doing so somehow produces a rational insight from an irrational one?
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Del Allan on September 01, 2012, 09:27:50 AM
Yes, that is what I mean.  Those initial split-second 'insights' are not necessarily accurate, rather based on sense perceptions and emotional responses.  It is the work of the intellect to bring meaning.  This is what I think anyway.  I was directed to this forum through an email I received yesterday.  This brief conversation with you has caused me to dig out my Insights, (which has very small print now and I don't believe the print was so small thirty years ago when I purchased it, for some strange reason!)  I am going to re-read it, but perhaps in an electronic Kindle version with enlargeable type. 
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: B. Tillman Russell on September 01, 2012, 12:57:11 PM
Excellent...I am glad to hear you are dusting off your copy of Insight! Hopefully this forum will provide impetus for us to continue our study, at least that is what I am hoping:)

Here are some further thoughts along the same lines. I remember Lonergan saying, if I remember correctly,  in some lectures that I was listening to a few years ago that insight structures the data of experience and consciousness. In other words, data is not fully form until it is structured by the act of insight.

But if insights can be intuitive inferences, albeit quick, associative, and often incorrect, then they are often formed without explicit formation of questions for intelligence. If that is the case then what forms them? In other words, even the utterances that are the cognitional correlate of the givenness of perceptual data and free images are in some sense formed through intuitive inference. Yes?

Lonergan seems to suggest so in a passage explicating cognitional process, placing the levels in the cells of a 3X3 matrix in  ch. 9 of Insight.

He states: "The second level presupposes and complements the first. The third level presupposes and complements the second. T]he exception lies in free images and utterances which commonly are under the influence of the higher levels before they provide the basis for inquiry and reflection."

He seems to appeal here again to the operation of the higher operation of the subject.
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Del Allan on September 01, 2012, 04:45:05 PM
Hello again:

You said, "In other words, even the utterances that are the cognitional correlate of the givenness of perceptual data and free images are in some sense formed through intuitive inference. Yes?"  I suppose that is correct; I doubt very much we could tease apart data from the subject.  As Kant asserts, we cannot know the world as it is, only as we perceive it to be.

Could you give a little more clarity to your notion of 'intuitive inferences' please.  Would these intuitive inferences be spontanious accuracies without a reference point in experience?

Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: TomHalloran on September 01, 2012, 09:01:03 PM
Gentlemen
You might find it helpful to read the first of the three Donald Mathers lectures which is entitled Religious Experience. (It is published in A Third Collection but is also available in both text and audio format at the associated site: Lonergan Archive).  In particular, check out the section on The Ambiguity of Experience (or what is meant by experience).  And in any case remember that "insights are a dime a dozen" -- and more often than not, untrue. Intelligence is one element in the dynamic structure that is knowing; judgment/reasonableness/rationality is a further element.
Onwards
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Romero D Souza on September 02, 2012, 03:17:30 AM
Dear Readers of Lonergan,
Happy to reflect on the thought of Insight with intuitive Inference...The two questions raised by Till & then the response given by del as well as the dialogue which carries on...is itself a marvel to look at how one reflects and shares one thought...Its true that we are all subjects by which I mean individual rational subjects and we share a different world of contexts. The question which dawns and seeks to see the ray of light is...Can there be something called insight which is not from the rational and the emotional? Is there an intuitive inference in all that we do, say, think? Therefore, a reflective question: Can there be objectivity?
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Del Allan on September 02, 2012, 06:44:27 AM
Thank you, Romero.  Can there be objectivity?  We can never separate ourselves from any experience, we are always going to look at the world  and our experiences through our particular lens, we are always going to give meaning to something based upon our experiential base, so I rather doubt if 'true' objectivity is possible.  Such an interesting question.
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: B. Tillman Russell on September 02, 2012, 11:45:30 AM
Del Allan,

It would probably take more than a brief post to fully explain what I mean by "intuitive inference", but I will try to state in a few lines the properties that I think belong essentially to its concept.

Intuitive inferences are spontaneous correlations, impressions, and(or) evaluations concerning the attributes and relations of distinct units of data/experience without explicit awareness on the part of the subject that he/she is "doing" anything to the data. Where by "doing" anything I am referring to questions for intelligence and reflection for which the subject is aware of formulating.

I guess a couple of my questions are in this light, (a) what precisely is the "subject" if its activity most of the time is not transparent to itself? And (b) how can we speak of a "subject" whose operations are not "subject" to it.

TomHalloran,

Thanks so much for the Mathers suggestion. I will definitely read it and post my thoughts.

Romero,

Great question about "objectivity". I think Lonergan would argue that there are several senses of objectivity, namely experiential, normative, and absolute objectivity which correspond to the three cognitional levels of experience, intelligence, and judgment. It might be good for me to go back and look at this in Insight. It may throw some light on the topic. Thanks.
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Phil McShane on September 12, 2012, 11:10:02 AM
Hello all,
and a couple of suggestion from PhilMcS!
First, as someone suggested, we need to dig around in experience so as to get the shock  of how swift insights occur, especially routine. Think of  the return of a 100 m.p.h. tennis-serve ... the receiver goes speedily right through the levels be attentive, be intelligent, be reasonable, be adventurous, be responsible. It is useful, moreover, to focus on "be adventurous" : have or get a plan. Previous normal responses are called in pretty spontaneously, but think of those responses that surprise us: the player turns to handle the serve in some weird and novel way. Also note how hard it is to understand that process of the leap to plan. Thomas has fifty pages on it: Ia IIae: qq. 6-17. It is interesting to note the way one shifts through Thomas' 12 steps between receiving a menu and handing it back with an entree plan enjoyably selected. Also i would note, in response to one query, that a plan may need to be thematized either pre- or post-  the  execution of it, and the same holds for the formulation of insight at any level.
Secondly, the question of objectivity. Good players are brilliantly objective  in handling a play. An obvious exception is penalty-taking in soccer, the analysis of which is quite tricky. But the main point I would make is that understanding objectivity is the very tricky task of climbing through the book Insight to page 413, where Lonergan invites the reader to take a luminous stand for themselves.     .   
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on September 17, 2012, 08:55:23 AM
I find it useful to keep in mind that whenever I use a word competently, or understand a word uttered or written by another, my using or understanding depends upon one or more insights.  I understand "insight" to refer to an act by which a person grasps relationships.  I often think of the account of Helen Keller's grasp of the relationship between her teacher's using her finger to write letters on Helen's hand, at the same time that she is feeling water with her other hand.  My understanding of the nature of insight is grounded in my understanding of a child's learning: (1) language, (2) the world to which language refers, and (3) the skills needed to be able to use both language and the world.  Much of this occurs before the self-conscious reflections that lead to critical judgments of the probable truth or falsity of propositions.  I strongly suspect that experiences of telling or being told lies are important to the development of the distinction between truth and falsity.   

An account of grasping the relation between an arbitrary sound and its referent is radically different from a behavioristic account of conditioning by positive and negative reinforcements, but does not necessarily rule out the possibility that operant conditioning can be a partial explanation of language learning.  We have very solid evidence that operant conditioning works.  It is especially effective in the training of animals.  Human learning adds some to the ways animals learn, rather than totally negating these processes.  Of course, there is also good evidence that animals solve problems by an internal act that is probably very much like a human insight.
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: B. Tillman Russell on September 22, 2012, 09:06:57 AM
Thank you PhilMcS and Richard Moodey for the thoughtful and helpful replies.

It was said "Previous normal responses are called in pretty spontaneously, but think of those responses that surprise us: the player turns to handle the serve in some weird and novel way. Also note how hard it is to understand that process of the leap to plan." I love this concept of the "leap to plan". It emphasizes that the human being is always in some way oriented to experience and is not simply responding to it.

Would I be on the right track in thinking that the space between the givenness of experience and the response
is the leap to plan, which permits certain types of insights and discourages others? Further could the "leap to plan" be expanded through self-appropriation.? In other words, as I bring more of experience into the sphere of the "plan", I provide more psychological space to interpret, or bring perhaps moral and ethical evaluation to my concrete operations in my life-world.

If the "leap to plan" is needed for any intuitive inference then intuitive inference may be unaware but it is not purely unconscious. My subject is acting  to prepare itself to hit the 100 mph tennis ball but I might not be aware. There is inference happening, it is acting in a conscious way, but perhaps not in total awareness.

This also relates to the very interesting post on language and operant conditioning. I could not agree more that the grasping of relation between arbitrary sound and referent is radically different than stimulus-response conditioning. I really like the statement "Human learning adds some to the ways animals learn, rather than totally negating these processes." Fascinating, it seems like to me that intuitive inferences are truly insights that are not fully appropriated. They are a stance towards experience, requiring on same nascent level, perhaps, a leap to plan, which is a higher level of operation than operant conditioning. However, this does not mean that stimulus-response reactions do not hold in potential this act of insight or evaluation, that goes beyond simply grasping a base correspondence, say between sensations that bring pain and those that bring pleasure.

The further question at this point would is for me? What permits the transition from the spontaneity of the organism to stimuli to having the psychological space to "perform" a leap to plan leading to insight? Thanks again!
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on September 27, 2012, 08:10:39 PM
I am not sure how well this post responds to specific issues that have been raised, but it is an important dimension of the way I think about insights.  I have been impressed with the work of Jean Piaget and Larry Kohlberg.  I think that their "stages" may not be as universal or as stable as they say, but their description of the learning process as having the two "moments" of assimilation and accommodation has been of great heuristic value for me.   I think of assimilation as very similar to Lonergan's "experiencing."  It is using existing cognitive schemata to cope with interactions with the environment.   I prefer to speak of cognitive schemata as sets of acquired dispositions, the residues of past experiences.  Accommodation is the modification of dispositions to bring them into better equillibrium with the structure of the environment, as experienced in repeated acts of assimilation.  Accommodation generally involves the integration of simpler sets of dispositions into more complex sets.  I have interpreted this as an act of insight, a grasp of relationships that had been present potentially, but now have become actual.  The relationships are not just among existing dispositions, but also among those dispositions and aspects of the environment that don't quite fit into the previous set of dispositions.  A practical insight might be described as a "leap to plan."
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Romero D Souza on September 30, 2012, 04:24:36 AM
yes...i think there is a way upward as well as a downward....U can have a look at the method Lonergan proposes...
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on September 30, 2012, 04:29:02 PM
B. Tillman Russell asks:
"The further question at this point would is for me? What permits the transition from the spontaneity of the organism to stimuli to having the psychological space to "perform" a leap to plan leading to insight?"
Moodey:  First, I think of the "leap" as being the insight, but that might be because I don't fully understand how you are using "leap to plan."  Second, I believe that the transition form the spontaneity of the organism is the result of asking questions.  I interpret the second transcendental imperative, "be intellegent," not to be an impossible admonition to have a higher IQ, but to be an exhortation to ask questions, specifically, to ask questions of my own experience.
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: B. Tillman Russell on October 03, 2012, 08:03:47 AM
Thanks for the response Richard Moodey and Romero and sorry for the late reply on my part, I have been staying very busy as a grad student:)

Richard Moodey states "First, I think of the "leap" as being the insight, but that might be because I don't fully understand how you are using "leap to plan."

This question helps me clarify what is helpful about the notion of the "leap" to plan. A "leap" implies an uncertainty and an lack of subjective awareness that the notion of an explicit question for intelligence seems to lack. The "to plan" aspect of the notion implies not an insight but an orientation towards experience leading to insight. Thus, in the same way as a question for intelligence occurs prior to the occurrence of insight, a leap to plan occurs prior to an intuitive inference. The difference between the two is in the level of awareness on the part of the subject of explicitly formulating questions for intelligence. It seems to me that explicit questions for intelligence are what some psychologists have called "controlled" processes, on the other hand, intuitive inferences are more "automatic" processes. What I like about the "leap to plan" is that it provides a half-way house between explicit questions for intelligence and the knee-jerk reaction of the organism to stimuli.

As PhilMsC mentioned earlier "Also i would note, in response to one query, that a plan may need to be thematized either pre- or post-  the  execution of it, and the same holds for the formulation of insight at any level."

My reasoning is the leap to plan is a nascent, somewhat unaware, thematization which permits the occurrence of insight.

Second, I believe that the transition form the spontaneity of the organism is the result of asking questions.  I interpret the second transcendental imperative, "be intelligent," not to be an impossible admonition to have a higher IQ, but to be an exhortation to ask questions, specifically, to ask questions of my own experience."

I really like this statement, and I couldn't agree more, however, I wonder if the leap to plan could be placed between primal spontaneity and the explicit formation of questions. Of course, one could say that questions are always formed even if one is unaware of formulating them. To this I would ask, what is a question for intelligence if it is not thematized by a subject as such...

Thanks again for the responses!



Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on October 17, 2012, 05:27:35 PM
I want to go back to B. Tillman Russell's second point in the post that started this thread:

"2.) If some insights emerge spontaneously, then can one say strictly that insight  is a product of rational self consciousness? In other words, what exactly has insights? If the subject does not control the emergence of insights, then what does? The unconscious? If it is the unconscious, how exactly would Lonergan demarcate this domain? And further, what  exactly makes that which supplies insights "rational"?"

I do not believe  that a "what" can have insights.  I believe that insights are always acts of intelligent animals.  I would say that insights are always acts of persons, but there is some evidence that non-humans sometimes solve problems in ways that appear to the human observers to be remarkably like insights.   Although I have considered myself to be a disciple of Lonergan since 1958, when I first read "Insight," very soon after that first reading I became critical of Lonergan for having written his person-centered philosophy in impersonal language.   So I don't want to say that that "insight is a product of rational self consciousness."  "Consciousness," no matter how it is adjectivally qualified, is an abstraction, incapable of acting. 

 The person (or animal) does not control the emergence of insight, because insights emerge in the context of the tension of  inquiry, but the tension of inquiry, no matter how intense, does not guarantee that insight will occur.   For me, to say that the unconscious might control the emergence of insight would be inconsistent with what I mean by "control," because I make intention a necessary component of what I mean by "control."   I'm uncertain about the notion of an "unconscious intention to control." 
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: B. Tillman Russell on October 20, 2012, 10:36:21 PM
Dick states:

"The person (or animal) does not control the emergence of insight, because insights emerge in the context of the tension of  inquiry, but the tension of inquiry, no matter how intense, does not guarantee that insight will occur.   For me, to say that the unconscious might control the emergence of insight would be inconsistent with what I mean by "control," because I make intention a necessary component of what I mean by "control."   I'm uncertain about the notion of an "unconscious intention to control."  "

This is a very helpful paragraph. I do not in the main have many issues with it. What I would perhaps say is that it seems that many insights do not appear to emerge from the intention of the subject, that is from an explicit context of inquiry where "explicit" refers to self-conscious formulations of questions for intelligence or reflection. In other words, in many cases the tension of inquiry does not make its appearance in consciousness as a search for an answer. Of course, this does not mean the tension of inquiry is not prerequisite to any insight, it only means that this context is not always an explicit possession of the subject qua subject, that is the subject as inquiring intelligence conscious of being inquiringly intelligent. So my further question is if the subject as subject is not in control of creating this context of inquiry than what, or who, creates this context of inquiry. I tried to answer this question earlier by the useful concept of the leap to plan as a context of inquiry which could function as midway point between stimulus-response reaction and explicit questions for intelligence.

Thanks again,

Tillman
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on October 23, 2012, 11:22:13 AM
Hi Tillman,
I think that what you mean by "leap to plan" is somewhat similar to what I mean by "interest."  In his discussions of patterns of experience, Lonergan says that different interests generate different patterns of the flow of conscious experiences.  The interest-->pattern combinations are: biological, aesthetic, dramatic, practical, intellectual, moral, and religious.  The interest is prior to any explicit formulation of an intention, and often patterns my experience without my consciously formulating an explicit intention.  What Lonergan calls the "polymorphism of human consciousness" seems to be verified by my personal appropriation of the dynamic structure that is recurrent in my conscious living.
Best regards,
Dick
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: mounce.d on October 26, 2012, 03:48:46 PM
Lonergan tries to unravel some of this in a technical way with his use of lower and upper blades applied to propositions (maybe that was Romero's reference?).  David Oyler gave a nice operational presentation of this over at the Lonergan_L discussion group in regard to a question about nominalism where he shows how thinking about thinking leads to the universal viewpoint that Lonergan presents in the second half of Insight.

“So it comes about that the extroverted subject visualizing extensions and experiencing duration gives place to the subject orientated to the objective of the pure desire to know and affirming beings differentiated by certain conjugate potencies, forms, and acts grounding certain laws and frequencies.” Insight 16.4.2

which gives rise to, “theoretical understanding, then, seeks to solve problems, to erect syntheses, to embrace the universe in a single view.”  Insight, p,442
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Catherine B. King on October 27, 2012, 10:51:43 AM

Hello Del: I think your take below about objectivity, compared with Lonergan's take on it (objectivity) in Insight, reflects the current and vast philosophical gulf that Lonergan was trying to get at in his work.  If I may suggest this?: a good reading of the chapters devoted to "objectivity" in Insight will bring your statement into a qualified relief, where you say:

 "Can there be objectivity?  We can never separate ourselves from any experience, we are always going to look at the world and our experiences through our particular lens, we are always going to give meaning to something based upon our experiential base, . . ." 

So, based on that reading and your question, I would ask you: Does what you say mean that we cannot be truly objective, on principle?  But then, what do you mean by objectivity?   I am guessing from your statement that you do not mean what Lonergan means by objectivity, nor does your meaning match what we actually do when we think and act in the world in terms of what we know--when we are not thinking about objectivity or knowing as such.

And I hear you about the fine print . . .  .

Catherine

Thank you, Romero.  Can there be objectivity?  We can never separate ourselves from any experience, we are always going to look at the world  and our experiences through our particular lens, we are always going to give meaning to something based upon our experiential base, so I rather doubt if 'true' objectivity is possible.  Such an interesting question.
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 04, 2012, 08:27:47 AM
Hi All,
I have spent the last few minutes rereading the posts on this thread, and want to reflect on the image that the word "leap" ("leap to plan") evokes for me.  I imagine crossing a stream on stepping stones, and coming to a spot where the next stone is just a bit too far away for me to reach it by taking another step.  I have to leap.  Lonergan, ISTM, presents us with several kinds of leaps, all of which are more risky than simply taking another safe step.  There are at least three general kinds of insight: (1) direct, (2) inverse, and (3) reflective.  (There might be more, but these are the ones I tend to focus on the most.)  It is important for me, however, to recognize that to decide is to take a risky leap that differs from every kind of insight. 

I think that the notion of "leap to plan" involves a decision, as well as the direct insight behind the conception of the plan and the reflective insight that the plan is a good one.  Because, unless I decide, I will not execute the plan.  When action is the outcome (as in the tennis example), the actor must decide to act.  Because these insights and decisions can occur so quickly (blink), it is easy to oversimplify, in the manner of the radical behaviorists, the complex cognitive and decisional processes involved in executing a novel return of a tennis serve.

Experiential, normative, and absolute objectivity are ideals associated with cognition, but effectiveness and morality are ideals associated with decisions and the subsequent actions.   Where pragmatists are mistaken, in my not so humble opinion (IMNSHO), is that they make effectiveness the ideal for cognition as well as for action.

To understand what Lonergan meant by "objectivity," it is necessary to overcome the bias created by the persistent belief that knowing is looking.  It is a constant struggle to overcome this bias, because it is so deeply embedded in ways we talk and write about knowing.  This relates to Del's comment:  "we are always going to look at the world and our experiences through our particular lens."  I judge this to be an expression of valid insights and judgments   
in the language of the counter-position.  It implies what Rorty calls "the spectator theory of knowledge."   I believe that there is indeed what Catherine calls a "vast philosophical gulf" between the language of the position and the language of the counter-position.  Because so much of our common sense talk about knowing is in the language of the counter-position, it is a recurring struggle to stay on Lonergan's side of that gulf.   Again and again, I find myself occupying the counter-position, and have to decide to take the risky leap back to the position.

Best regards,
Dick
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 04, 2012, 12:49:04 PM
Hello Dick:

First, I enjoy reading your posts for the clarity of thought that they express.  Second, I'd like to respond to some of what you say about the "leap"--which I have copied below:


"It is important for me, however, to recognize that to decide is to take a risky leap that differs from every kind of insight. . . .I think that the notion of 'leap to plan' involves a decision, as well as the direct insight behind the conception of the plan and the reflective insight that the plan is a good one.  Because, unless I decide, I will not execute the plan.  When action is the outcome (as in the tennis example), the actor must decide to act.  Because these insights and decisions can occur so quickly (blink), it is easy to oversimplify, in the manner of the radical behaviorists, the complex cognitive and decisional processes involved in executing a novel return of a tennis serve."

Yes, yes, and yes--so quick, a huge movement of thought seems to occur faster than time and space will allow--which is another point entirely.

However, we can look (ahem) at another dimension of the leap, as it were, by unearthing and distinguishing the completely different kinds of questions that underlie knowing, deciding, and doing (including saying) in "real time" (to use common language).   In this sense, and in a mature and well-working consciousness, there is no leap, but rather a constant and interactive flow--from understanding and knowing the real that we can (or the speculative, or coming as close as we can about it) to committing ourselves to intelligent and reasonable act in that real-time. We actually move from one set of questions to the other constantly. The more differentiated is our interior structure, the more thoughtful and "mature and well-working" our consciousness tends to be.  (In this sense, the logical fallacy of jumping to judgment, before we understand anything, is more of a leap than a flow.)

But I think, in our analyses, it's helpful to go to the source, or to keep our thumb on the pulse, as it were, that is general empirical method? That is, the generalized questions WHAT IS IT  and IS IT SO are about factualness--where we are exploring, understanding, and knowing factual reality. 

On the other hand, the generalized questions that underlie reflecting and deciding, and then actually doing, (as you suggest) though they rely on the movements in our prior understanding/knowing complex for their intelligibility and reasonableness, still do not intend or aim at knowing facts. Rather these questions are about creating history and ourselves in it.

The below questions pretty-much match what you say in the movement of meaning in your paragraph above. So my input here doesn't disagree-with but rather supports your thematics there. Generally, those questions that follow and flow from our knowing complex of meaning are (variably):

What would/could/should I think/do/say? What is actually worthwhile for me to think/do/say?  Would/could/should I do/say it? Will I ...."execute"?  And then the decision (yes I will, no I won't), and then the act (actually saying/doing in real time, or not).

Notice that some are questions for  meaning, and some are questions for yes/no kinds of answers. Our knowing/judging are also tied to yes/no responses; however, whereas those are yes/no about the real, our yes/no in this second set of questions (where deciding occurs) move us towards the act (execution). Here, we do not respond yes or no; rather, here we act in place of saying yes/no, which puts us right into the concrete and way beyond merely thinking. Act is where our yes/no of judgment and deciding are transformed into our one-being. That is, and in commonspeak, we cannot board a plane that has left already.

As an example, actually studying about any what-is-it-questions is our having already answered the "what should I do?" (for meaning) and "should I do it?" (for deciding/yes/no) questions. Here, in fact, as we actually study, we are already living in the response to that later set of questions.

Also, briefly, I think you are oh-so right about (what I would call) field-reality envy--not only in sociology, but also in so-many in the other human-related fields.  My take on it is that (a) we have equated the term "science" with the data of "physics" and related fields, where science really means method, and where method can apply to any data, including the data of the mind.

And (b) worse, philosophically, the "taking a look" notion marries most everyone to the duality of brain-mind, and where brains are real and minds cannot be--hence, the problems in the neuro-sciences, and where human fields have no import on reality--they give lip service to it, but not really. Further, those who resonate with the utter wrongness of that idea, including historians, don't know how to fix it--haven't read or understood Lonergan's paradigmatic philosophical corrective.

The reality fallacy is all-pervasive and deep-set, and, as you know, has worked its way into all sorts of common and field/theory assumptions--(that's the philosophical gulf again).

Best,
Catherine 


Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 10, 2012, 03:52:34 PM
Catherine,

Thank you for the connections to the different kinds of questions.  Distinguishing among them is a recurring moment in the personal self-appropriation that is the basis of the ongoing process of conversion. The kind of question to which a personal act is the response is an element by which the different kinds of acts or operations must be distinguished.  And the culturally-induced tendency for all of us to express our insights in the language of the counter-position is evidence for me of the truth of my assertion that conversion is never "once and for all," and that personal authenticity is never secure.

In addition to the different kinds of questions that generate different kinds of personal acts, I like to add that these different kinds of personal acts result in different kinds of products, e.g., an utterance, an external symbol, a performance, an artifact.  I argue that every experience is a learning experience.  Connectionists in neuroscience argue that every experience results in some modification of the weights of synaptic connections in our multilayered neural network.  I do not disagree, but I don't study the weights of synaptic connections.  My claim is that every experience results in some modification of the person's acquired dispositions.  "Disposition" is an empirically unobservable theoretical construct, but, contrary to the radical behaviorists, I believe that it is impossible to investigate human actions, or even the behavior of animals that can learn, without referring to some kind of disposition.  "Habit" is my prototypical dispositional term.  I see no contradiction between the connectionists focus upon changes in synaptic connections and the social psychological focus upon acquired dispositions.   They are both products of every experience.

Best regards,
Dick
 
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 10, 2012, 04:16:19 PM
Hello Dick:

You say:  "I argue that every experience is a learning experience."  Insofar as the basic structure is a set of questions(generalized, but concretely always with content), and inisofar as questions invite insights, every experience is a learning experience. 

Also, what you say about connectionists in neuroscience seems to be true, and my reading in that field backs that up as far as it goes.  Many in the field are thinking under the supposition of the mind-brain/body split, or as Lonergan speaks of it, the notion that knowing is taking a look; and if you cannot see it, it isn't real. The insight about this issue will not occur easily or at the merely-objective level. Rather, it will occur, if it does, as also an internal shift.  We can hope. 

Catherine 
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 10, 2012, 04:24:23 PM
Hi Mounce,

This is a delayed response to your post of October 26.  You write: "Lonergan tries to unravel some of this in a technical way with his use of lower and upper blades applied to propositions (maybe that was Romero's reference?).  David Oyler gave a nice operational presentation of this over at the Lonergan_L discussion group in regard to a question about nominalism where he shows how thinking about thinking leads to the universal viewpoint that Lonergan presents in the second half of Insight."  I intended to read what David Oyler had written before responding, but there have been so many suggestion about things to read that I haven't yet read this.

I have several responses to Lonergan's scissors metaphor. 

(1) I understand the upper blade in any inquiry to be the heuristic structure, and the lower blade to be the more specific content of the inquiry.  That more specific inquiry includes both data and lower-level propositions that have resulted from previous formulations of insights and judgments that these propositions are probably true. 

(2) Upper blades can vary in generality.  Classical, statistical, genetic, and dialectical heuristic structures are each very general (high level) upper blades, but the highest-level, most general upper blade consists of the heuristic expectations of acts of experiencing, understanding, and judging. 

(3)  In addition to classical, statistical, genetic, and dialectical heuristic structures, I use the variation-selection model found in the theories of biological evolution, classical micro-economics, and operant conditioning theory.  I regard this as a very general heuristic structure that cannot be reduced to any combination of the other four. 

(4) A metaphor that is both an alternative and a complement to the scissors metaphor is Michael Polanyi's metaphor in which all acts of knowing and doing are regarded as metaphorical "from-to" movements.  In terms of this metaphor, a heuristic structure is a cognitive tool from which an inquirer attends to the object of her inquiry.

“So it comes about that the extroverted subject visualizing extensions and experiencing duration gives place to the subject orientated to the objective of the pure desire to know and affirming beings differentiated by certain conjugate potencies, forms, and acts grounding certain laws and frequencies.” Insight 16.4.2  In this compact sentence, Lonergan uses the ontological "potency, form and act," but implies the epistemological "experience, insight, and judgment."  These both ways of expressing the most general upper blade.  This sentence also implies Lonergan's notion of the complementarity of classical and statistical heuristic structures, and their products.

I also want to point out that when Lonergan says of theoretical understanding that it seeks "to solve problems, to erect syntheses, to embrace the universe in a single view” (IN 442), he has expressed his insight in the language of the counter-position -- he equates knowing with "viewing."

Best regards,
Dick
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: mounce on November 14, 2012, 01:11:25 PM
Another analogy is the circle, the one on which it does not matter where you start, what matters is that you complete the circle.
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: k_ringkamp on April 26, 2013, 02:34:59 PM
You raise an interesting question.  You ask if an insight is the product of an unconscious or conscious.  Lonergan states in his book that an insight is post sensori-image but pre-cognitive  Hence, it is not a thing but a mediation among sensori-image-cognitive.  So in one sense, an insight is a mediation (a point of integrity) between the unconscious and conscious.
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Catherine B. King on May 02, 2013, 12:14:23 PM
Hello K-Ringkamp: 

Indeed the question of the relationship of insight to the conscious and the unconscious is, as you say "interesting," and is certainly no-small-thing (pun intended) in our fields of interests that intersect so intimately with Lonergan's contributions to philosophy and to their relationship with psychology. Let's do a little speculative-descriptive (of our experiences) work, informed by some of Lonergan's theoretical work on cognition and our own self-understanding?

First, we are developmental: so that I think we should (consciously) rid ourselves of the idea (if we have that idea) that there is a fine line or "wall" of any sort between what is unconscious and what is conscious, any more than there is a fine locate-able line between an acorn and a fully mature oak tree--it's rather an active continuum where, as you suggest, having insights is a part of that "activity." The conceptual forms of conscious and unconscious serve us well, IF we realize the specifically-human, as well as the individually-specific, development and other activities that underpin these notions.

From there, we can draw from Lonergan's work to understand that insights do not happen in a vacuum (though they seem to sometimes) but are a response to a prior wondering-to-questioning, and where that wondering-to-questioning is (a) spontaneous to our intelligent activity (given); (b) is into or about what we sense and/or imagine; and (c) pass "into the habitual texture of one's mind" (see Insight, chapter 1/1: "A Dramatic Instance").   

I have italicized what above to signal that it's not the sensing or imagining that are doing the wondering/imagining, but our (quite different) active intelligence-on-the-move. That activity is our seeking to insight-understand the intelligibility/meaning of the presentations of sense and imagination. That intelligence, again, is active and has a basic trans-cultural structure--which can be differently formulated. That is, the theory can be developed and reformulated, but not the activity as such--we are discovering new things as we continue our study, as is predicted by the theory itself, and as is implied by the open structure of wonder/questioning--as open to the unknown.

If the above is the case, and so-as not to write a formal treatise here, then it seems to me that insights are across-the-board activities (the board being the unconscious and the conscious--as K-Ringkamp suggests). The activity of quest-to-insights always has content and serves to pass what we have insighted (meaning and intelligibility) "into" the "texture of one's mind."

Applied to the beginning of post-birth infant consciousness (and probably before), and along with the infant's already-constituted needs (like hunger and a raft of given but developing social requirements), what is so-passed, at least in part, becomes what in psychology is referred to later as unconscious material--variably differentiated feelings, images, and patterns of behavior, attachments, and associations, all learned (wonder-to-insighted), woven-in, in undifferentiated fashion, with our given needs and their normative patterns of development, and with all of its potential for repression, obsession, creativity, understanding, and misunderstanding. 

Further, if so, then the what-content of (what we refer to as) both the unconscious and the conscious (the texture of one's mind), such as they are for each of us, is itself spontaneously interactive (feedback-loop, if you will) but generally on the same upwardly developmental drive (Lonergan's finality) towards being. 

And if so, by the time we reach and implement our given potential for serious and sustained self-reflection (and philosophical introspection), our becoming-open to what is "buried," seemingly forgotten, but oh-so-affective in us, coupled with our present developmental plane and life-context, becomes the key to inviting (in hopeful fashion) the emergence into now-consciousness of not only our insights, but of the prior questions that are essential for our insights to occur. (We should emphasize the actual occurrence of questions and insights, and not our merely thinking about or conceptualizing their occurring.)

But much of what in psychology is named anxiety is in fact a question or set of questions  emerging on that general drive that, on principle, will invite an insight or set of insights. As tensional our questions are INtensional which means they anticipate insights; but as anxious we are either not ready for their occurrence (yet), or we REALLY do not want to entertain them. This later is about the flight from understanding where what we would understand, we fear, because it has concrete transformative implications for the meaning-set-up for our present real-life living. (See Insight where Lonergan talks about sensors and repression.)   

The question, then, becomes from whence do our questions emerge? But I think that the misunderstanding of insights as happening as somehow separated from our questions and occurring "out of nowhere" (as our experience might suggest) probably is keyed to the fact that our basic structure (as a set of general questions), while not unconscious or conscious, works on finding order with-in-and-about the content of both, always in  the conflicting mire of what, in a coverall, way, we can refer to as our experience.

Food for thought,

Catherine
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on May 05, 2013, 12:19:31 PM
Hi Catherine et alia:

Without in any way taking issue with points that have been made, I want to explain the language I use to get at something at least similar to what I believe Lonergan to have meant when he wrote about the results of insight passing into the texture of ones mind. 

I find the term "disposition" very useful.  I mentioned this in an earlier post as a social psychological analogue to what in neuroscience might be called a pattern of strengthened synaptic connections.  In his classic article on "Attitudes and other Acquired Behavioral Dispositions" (Psychology: The Study of a Science), Donald Campbell notes that he conceives of dispositions as having both representational and programmatic functions.  A simple illustration is that the inner disposition that corresponds to the visible/audible word "chair" includes both the mental image by which I recognize some objects to be chairs and my habit of sitting on these kinds of objects.

So I describe my state of mind at time one as the totality of my acquired dispositions at time one.  I have said that I believe that we each learn from every experience.  The state of my dispositions at time one is modified, however slightly, by my experience -- either active or passive -- at time two.  Consequently, the state of my dispositions at time three differs from their previous state at time one. 

So it is not only insights that modify the state of my dispositions (enter into the texture of my mind), but all of my experiences, passive as well as active.   

I also like to use the language of dispositions in thinking and writing about Lonergan's notion of the polymorphism of the conscious subject.  My interests shift throughout the day, resulting in different patterns of experience.  These recurring interests are cycles in which one disposition, for a time, has a higher priority than other dispositions.  These shifts in dominance of dispositions generate shifts in the tension of inquiry.  In a dramatic pattern of experience, for example, I become more interested in what Goffmann calls "the presentation of self."  In an intellectual pattern of experience, my interest in self-presentation to others declines in favor of my interest in knowing the truth.  So also with biological, aesthetic, moral, religious, and practical patterns of experience.

I use "disposition" to refer to a theoretical construct.  It is not a visible object, like a chair or a neuron, nor is it an operation of which I can be conscious, like an insight, judgment, or decision.  But, I would argue, "the texture of my mind" is also a theoretical construct, neither an observable object nor a conscious act or operation.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Catherine B. King on May 06, 2013, 11:24:29 AM
Hello Dick:

If I understand you correctly (I have not read your referenced text to D. Campbell on this), disposition is probably a good term to correspond to what Lonergan is referring to in that passage on the texture of one's mind, at least partially.  And by partially I refer to your note about Campbell where you say he:


". . . conceives of dispositions as having both representational and programmatic functions.  A simple illustration is that the inner disposition that corresponds to the visible/audible word "chair" includes both the mental image by which I recognize some objects to be chairs and my habit of sitting on these kinds of objects."


Then you talk about different times (moments of occurrence?) followed later by: 

"So it is not only insights that modify the state of my dispositions (enter into the texture of my mind), but all of my experiences, passive as well as active."


In relating Lonergan's work to the above, I think it may be helpful to distinguish between (a) what you are overtly talking about in your note and (b) HOW you are talking about it.  That is, (a) you overtly refer to the visible/audible word "chair" that includes both (a) your mental image and (b) your habit of sitting on this kinds of objects (or your ongoing daily experiences). However, (b) you also speak of RECOGNIZING some objects to be chairs.

But if you recognize chairs either/both as sensible objects and/or as images, how does that recognition happen? Doesn't that recognition imply some other activity of mind and, if so, what activity(ies) is that?  I think this is where Lonergan's work on insight can help fill in a notion of disposition and its relationship to the mind''s texture that (if Campbell doesn't advert to other aspects of the mind's operations) gives us a fuller understanding of the intentional mind, its operations and activities, and how those relate to its "texture" as the insights occur and then pass into that texture. Also, the experience of mind (not yet the knowing of it) always has content, but is not separate from having questions and insights about that content. Rather, wondering and having insights are integral parts of that experience (as a broader/encompassing term, like the term mind is).

Briefly, to recognize is also a minded, mindful event--it's of consciousness. That is, in a highly contextual moment, we first wonder where to sit. In this case, we already have wondered about and insighted, a long time ago, the general meaning of "chair," our past experiences with chairs and sitting, and we have developed images of them. All have already passed into that texture of mind and are now at-the-ready for me to spontaneously bring them forward to inform our new now-questions (where should I sit?) and their new insights: Aha! here are some chairs. Which one? decision: this one will do, whereupon I sit down. 

Emphasis:   highly contextual moment with lots of prior wonderings, questions, insights, images, feelings, and thoughts as a part of that at-the-ready texture upon which we draw, and re-imagine/rethink (recognize), as we go through our here-and-now experiences.  Further, insights do not happen in a vacuum but are always a response to (active or passive) wondering.  Consciousness is many-faceted, but central to it is the experience of wondering, e.g., where to sit.

Also, you say:


"I use 'disposition' to refer to a theoretical construct.  It is not a visible object, like a chair or a neuron, nor is it an operation of which I can be conscious, like an insight, judgment, or decision.  But, I would argue, 'the texture of my mind' is also a theoretical construct, neither an observable object nor a conscious act or operation."


Hmmm....we can understand either disposition or the texture of my mind as a theoretical construct, for sure, though the texture of my mind is more of a common descriptive metaphor used, at that early point in the text (of Insight, ) to imply but not yet to give full theoretical treatment to, that aspect of cognitional theory.  It's helpful, however.

We can go further than theoretical construction.  That is, for not only constructing but also for verifying cognitional theory, in this specific case of theory development (cognitional), happily, we ARE able to consult the evidence of our own minds' activities to personally make that confirmation. So YES, it's a theoretical construct, but that's not all--NO it's not beyond observation--where observation means not only seeing/sensing, but also asking the incisive questions of the data under consideration--of what we see and otherwise sense. 

That is, NO, the mind is not directly sensible. However, what is sensible is what we ask about. We do not understand anything real by merely sensing. And YES--the mind's activities are heartily manifest in the sensible world. Neuroscientists are finding that when we think in certain definable ways, those ways manifest in the observable physics of the brain--and neuroscientists are doing much more than merely sensing. For instance, they are understanding that different thoughts and kinds of thoughts are manifest in different parts of the brain. For the more fully-human sciences however (much more than brain), those mind-activities manifest in a plethora of ways, e.g., recognizing ever-so-quickly a chair as a chair, and choosing to sit in this particular one without further ado. 

Furthermore, and beyond mere construction of a theory, in the application of most if not all physical theories the relationship between theory and concrete needs to "jog" when we return from the clarity and uniformity of the theory to the messy field of its concrete applications.

Not so for a qualified cognitional theory. For instance, when I ask a question with specific content, for instance, "What is that light coming from the cave?"  I have manifestly asked a "What is it?"-type question.  As manifest in the concrete field of applications, that general type-question shares its identity (it's identical) with the specific question about the light in the cave--no jog occurs between the construct of theory and the manifestation of it for its concrete verification.

The deeper problem, of course, is how we view the real. Do neuroscientists merely sense the brain, or do they ask intelligent questions of the intelligibility of what they sense?  Is it merely the sensing of the question at hand (what is that light?, its letters, or sounds), or is it that, as intelligent beings working on an intelligible universe (in this case the question about our own minds), we are involved with the same complex series of concretely manifest activities.

Finally, the texture of one's mind is implied in our memories and in our spontaneous ability to instantly recall what a chair is so that we can sit in it--in the vast complex of so many other ordered and disordered con-textual meanings.  The memories we recall may be partial or full, true or untrue, right or wrong; however, that we have memories and that we spontaneously bring forward contextual meaning to inform the here-and-now is a fact of our existence.

Again, too long; but we certainly can agree that nothing about philosophy or cognitional theory is overly simple.

Catherine

Title: Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
Post by: Richard Moodey on May 06, 2013, 02:45:51 PM
On Recognizing Chairs and Faces

Part of the habitual texture of my mind is my ability to distinguish chairs from tables, and another part is my ability to recognize the face of my daughter, Claire, even when she is surrounded by many other faces in a crowded place (an airport or train station).  I find "disposition" to be a useful term, even if very general, for referring to one aspect of my memory of the very general image of chair as well as to an aspect of my memory of the much more specific image of my daughter.  My memory of what she looks like has much more content than does my memory of what a human face looks like.  So I can recognize something that resembles a generalized "human face" in a cloud formation or in the pattern of light and shade on the moon, but I have never seen Claire's face in the clouds or on the moon. 

I believe that recognizing either a chair or Claire requires an insight, a grasp of the connections between a remembered image and a visual act of perception.  I distinguish between the dispositions -- aspects of which are the remembered images -- and the insights that grasp the correspondences between the images and the sense perceptions.

Non-humans also grasp these kinds of connections.  A nice example is that of the imprinting of the shape of a human on a gaggle of goslings, the members of which then treat that person as if he were mother goose.

Best regards,

Dick