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Author Topic: Insight and Intuitive Inference  (Read 27077 times)

Richard Moodey

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #15 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.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

B. Tillman Russell

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #16 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!




Richard Moodey

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #17 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." 
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

B. Tillman Russell

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #18 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
« Last Edit: October 20, 2012, 10:38:37 PM by B. Tillman Russell »

Richard Moodey

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #19 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
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

mounce.d

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #20 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

Catherine B. King

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #21 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.

Richard Moodey

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #22 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
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Catherine B. King

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #23 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 



Richard Moodey

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #24 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
 
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Catherine B. King

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #25 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 

Richard Moodey

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #26 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
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

mounce

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #27 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.

k_ringkamp

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #28 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.

Catherine B. King

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Re: Insight and Intuitive Inference
« Reply #29 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