1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Intuition
INTUITION (from Lat. intuēri, to look at), in philosophy, a term applied to immediate or direct apprehension. The truth of a theorem in geometry is demonstrated by a more or less elaborate series of arguments. This is not the case, according to the intuitionalist school of philosophy, with the apprehension of universal principles, which present themselves as necessarily true in their own right, without any sort of proof. The fact that things which are equal to the same things are equal to one another is apprehended directly or immediately without demonstration. Similarly in ethics the intuitional school holds that the principles of right and wrong are immediately apprehended without reference to any other criterion and without any appeal to experience. Ethical intuitionalism sometimes goes even farther, and holds that the conscience when faced with any particular action at once assigns to it a definite moral value. Such a view presupposes that the moral quality of an action has, as it were, concrete reality which the special faculty of conscience immediately recognizes, much in the same way as a barometer records atmospheric pressure. The intuitionalist view is attacked mainly on the ground that it is false to the facts of experience, and it is maintained that many of the so-called immediate a priori judgments are in point of fact the result of forgotten processes of reasoning, and therefore a posteriori. Minor grounds of attack are found in the difficulty of discovering in certain primitive peoples any intuitive conception of right and wrong, and in the great differences which exist between moral systems in different countries and ages.