Thursday, 21 August 2014

Science and Intuition - A Collection of Quotations

The most recent Sixty Symbols video was bit of a departure from the standard fare.

Philosopher Jonathan Tallant discusses the role of intuition - or gut feelings - in science.

It is an interesting debate. To what extent should scientists make decisions based on intuition?

There are arguments for and against. Many of these have been appearing in the comments section.

It also raises questions about what is really meant by "intuition".

Here is the main video on Sixty Symbols.



And the interview continues on my occasional philosophy channel, PhilosophyFile.



As part of my preparation, I had some special friends collect some quotes about science and intuition.

I did not use them in the video, but they are well worth sharing. Thanks to the people who found them. Quote finding fiends!

I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research. 
— Albert Einstein Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931), 97.

The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know why or how. 
— Albert Einstein Quoted in Forbes (15 Sep 1974). In Larry Chang, Wisdom for the Soul (2006), 179.

The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them. 
— Albert Einstein Address (1918) for Max Planck's 60th birthday, at Physical Society, Berlin, 'Principles of Research' in Essays in Science (1934), 4.

It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover. 
— Henri Poincar├ę In Science and Method (1908) translated by Francis Maitland (1914, 2007), 129.

I’m supposed to be a scientific person but I use intuition more than logic in making basic decisions. 
— Seymour R. Cray In transcript of a video history interview with Seymour Cray by David K. Allison at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, (9 May 1995), 30.

My view of the matter, for what it is worth, is that there is no such thing as a logical method of having new ideas, or a logical reconstruction of this process. My view may be expressed by saying that every discovery contains an 'irrational element,' or 'a creative intuition,' in Bergson's sense. In a similar way Einstein speaks of the 'search for those highly universal laws ... from which a picture of the world can be obtained by pure deduction. There is no logical path.' he says, 'leading to these ... laws. They can only be reached by intuition, based upon something like an intellectual love (Einf├╝hlung) of the objects of experience.' (1959) 
— Karl Raimund Popper The Logic of Scientific Discovery: Logik Der Forschung (2002), 8.

Notion without intuition is empty, intuition without notion is blind. 
— Immanuel Kant In Ralph Keyesr, The Quote Verifier, 52.

Science does not mean an idle resting upon a body of certain knowledge; it means unresting endeavor and continually progressing development toward an end which the poetic intuition may apprehend, but which the intellect can never fully grasp.
— Max Planck In The Philosophy of Physics

Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind... The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only through their union can knowledge arise. 
— Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason (1781), trans. Norman Kemp Smith (1929), 93.