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Intuitionism describes different philosophical, mathematical and partly also psychological positions that give priority to intuition . It is often assumed that certain facts are immediately recognized or proven. A distinction must be made mainly between the use of words in epistemology , intuitionist ethics and metaethics as well as mathematical and logical intuitionism .

Epistemological intuitionism

In the classification of epistemological positions, 'intuitionism' denotes the view that epistemic, cognitive and possibly metaphysical facts are immediately understandable and can serve as axioms on the basis of further philosophical argumentation . 'Intuition' can be epistemologically related to knowledge from pure reason ( a priori knowledge), more unspecifically to the appearance of the existence of a state of affairs, or more generally to conditions that include sensory experience and introspection .

Early modern times - 17th and 18th centuries

The epistemological position is usually associated with René Descartes and Claude Buffier . The so-called Scottish School ( Thomas Reid , Dugald Stewart , Sir William Hamilton , Pierre Paul Royer-Collard ) follows on from this, initially contradicting the skepticism of David Hume and later also the sensualism of Étienne Bonnot de Condillac . This trend has been called "intuitionism" since the 19th century, which also describes its successor, the so-called French eclecticism . Shaftesbury and Francis Hutcheson pursue similar ideas, which are also received in the "Scottish School" , whereby sensation and feeling are emphasized as immediate evidence and oppose the empiricism of John Locke .

19th and early 20th century

Since the 19th century there has been a trend towards ethical theory-building which uses "intuitionism" as a self-designation.

The theorists of so-called French eclecticism combine concepts from the Scottish school with ideas from German idealism . Representatives include Victor Cousin , Adolphe Garnier (1801–1864), Théodore Simon Jouffroy and Pierre Janet . Wilhelm Traugott Krug also describes ideas by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi as "intuitionism". The latter is influenced by Shaftesbury and Hutcheson and their emotional orientation and also tries to establish direct access to metaphysical truths and objects to Locke, Hume, George Berkeley and now also Immanuel Kant . The speculative idealism of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling , who - against Kant and those mentioned above - adheres to an intellectual viewpoint , also moves in this line .

Henri Bergson takes up the ideas of intuitionism and develops the approach further. He juxtaposes scientific discursiveness and philosophical “intuition”.

In Bergson's wake, in turn, Edmund Husserl developed his phenomenological method of ideation or vision of being, which assumes an immediate epistemic approach to things or values, independent of scientific theory formation. Max Scheler ties in with his philosophy of values .

Late 20th and early 21st centuries

An “intuitionist” orientation is ascribed to various positions, for example with reference to Vladimir Lossky (1903–1958), Martin Heidegger , Knud Ejler Løgstrup and Theodor W. Adorno , who also conveyed the element of direct access to reality emphatically or rationally Contain or defend positions.

Even in disciplines of today's theoretical philosophy, “intuitionism” is used as a classification term, although as a rule no explicit continuity with the aforementioned positions is represented.

Ethical and metaethical intuitionism

According to Robert Audi , in today's epistemology of morality, "moral intuitionism" is a collective term for positions that - unlike utilitarianism and deontological ethics like that of Kant - agree on the following theoretical obligations:

  • There are several irreducible principles of morality. (On the other hand, in widespread elaborations of utilitarian and deontological ethics, especially in Kantian ethics, only one or a few moral principles are assumed from which other moral truths can be derived or to which these should be traceable in a logical manner.)
  • Each of the moral principles relates to a natural reason that implies a prima facie duty.
  • These moral principles are intuitively knowable, so they are not only grasped by conclusions (inferential).

Because of the third thesis, it is a variant of epistemological fundamentalism , i.e. a theory that postulates the ultimate foundations of the justification of knowledge. Opposing positions are the empiricism of utilitarianism, the rationalism of the Kantian deontological ethics, and furthermore the noncognitivism .

Some authors distinguish between naturalistic and “metaphysical” intuitionism. The latter is understood, for example, as being bound by the thesis that expressions such as “good” refer to “ethical objects” that human consciousness encompasses when it acquires ethical knowledge.

Moral intuitionism has forerunners in Henry Sidgwick , George Edward Moore , Max Scheler , William David Ross , Hastings Rashdall (1858–1924), but distinctions are made, for example in Moore. Current representatives include Robert Audi , Noah Lemos (* 1956), Grant C. Sterling , Russ Shafer-Landau (* 1963) and William Donald Hudson .

Gerd Gigerenzer understands “intuitionistic ethics” as a heuristic of simple and evolved rules of thumb for intelligent complexity reduction.

Intuitionist math and logic

Mathematical intuitionism holds that mathematics is an actively constructive activity. All mathematical objects are constructs, produced by ideal mathematicians, who nonetheless remain finite and thus cannot really construct currently infinite mathematical objects. In order to be able to exclude non-constructive proofs , the laws of the elimination of double negation (non-non-A = A) and the exclusion of a third alternative in logical opposites (A or non-A) must be suspended from classical logic. That is why classical mathematical theories such as Peano arithmetic need to be revised. While syntactic translations into intuitionistic statements are easy to accomplish in the field of arithmetic, the intuitionistic approach in analysis and other theories of higher mathematics increases the complexity enormously. Opposite positions in the philosophy of mathematics are logicism ( Gottlob Frege : mathematics can be reduced to logic), formalism ( David Hilbert ), predicatism ( Bertrand Russell ). A staunch opponent of the reduction of mathematics to logic was also Henri Poincaré at the beginning of the 20th century .

LEJ Brouwer is the founder of mathematical intuitionism. The starting point for this intuitionism (to radicalize Fregeschen logicism, to revise classical mathematics and also to discard various logical principles) is the concept of infinity, because the infinite is never as a finished whole (as "actual-infinite", e.g. as there would be an infinite number of numbers), but should be understood as a mere possibility of unlimited progression (as “potentially infinite”, e.g. insofar as one can specify a subsequent number for every natural number, see also finitism ); so that the general validity of the principle had to be denied by the excluded third party, since it could not apply unrestrictedly when applied to infinite subject areas. Today's representatives are, for example, Anne Troelstra or Dirk van Dalen . For the reasons given above, constructivist mathematics requires a revised logic. This basis is provided by intuitionist logic . In addition to Brouwer, Andrei Kolmogorow , Errett Bishop , Arend Heyting , Gerhard Gentzen , Stephen Cole Kleene , Kurt Gödel , Saul A. Kripke , Paul Lorenzen and Michael Dummett were involved in the development of intuitionistic logic systems . The mathematician Hermann Weyl , who came from the Hilbert School, was also close to intuitionism at times and sparked a debate between intuitionists and the Hilbert School in 1921 ( fundamental crisis in mathematics ).

Other uses of the word

One has also spoken of “intuitionist” positions with reference to Pawel Alexandrowitsch Florenski and Nikolai Lossky as well as Martin Heidegger , with the latter with reference to his criticism of rationality and the assumption of an immediate “encouragement of being”, which every “reification” of the individual Precedes beings.

Individual evidence

  1. George Bealer : Art. Intuition (Addendum), in: Encyclopedia of Philosophy , 2. A., 732f, here 732.
  2. ^ On the following, see G. Pflug: "Intuitionismus I", in: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Vol. 4, pp. 540–42.
  3. Cf. M. Adam: The intellectual view in Schelling in its relationship to the method of intuition in Bergson , Diss. Hamburg, Patschkau (Schlesien) 1926.
  4. Cf. Pflug, lc with reference to H. Bergson: L'intuition philosophique , in: La pensée et le mouvant. Essais et conférences. Alcan, Paris 1934, German: Thinking and creative becoming. Articles and lectures. EVA, Frankfurt am Main 1948, new edition Hamburg 2007.
  5. Oliver Garbrecht: Rationality Criticism of Modernism : Adorno and Heidegger ″, Diss. 1999, Munich 2002 online at google books , ISBN 3-89675-652-4 .
  6. ^ So the characterization of Robert Audi: Moral Knowledge and Ethical Pluralism, in: John Greco / Ernest Sosa (eds.): The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, Oxford: Blackwell 1999, 271-302. See generally also Ders .: The Good in the Right : A Theory of Intuition and Intrinsic Value, Princeton University Press, Princeton - Oxford 2004 (Paperback 2005), ISBN 978-0-691-12388-2 .
  7. Also this classification according to Audi.
  8. ^ For example, William K. Frankena : Ethics , Prentice Hall 1973, ISBN 0132904780 .
  9. ^ For example, Jan Narveson : The libertarian idea , Broadview Press 2001, ISBN 1551114216 , p. 110, available from Google Books .
  10. Cf. George Edward Moore: Principia Ethica . Cambridge 1962 (1903), § 90, p. 148.
  11. Gerd Gigerenzer: gut decisions. The intelligence of the unconscious and the power of intuition . Munich 2007.
  12. Cf. Leon Horsten:  Philosophy of Mathematics. In: Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
  13. See for example LEJ Brouwer (Ed.): Intuitionism , introduced and commented on by Dirk van Dalen, Mannheim - Leipzig a. a. 1992, ISBN 3-411-15371-7 .
  14. Cf. Wolfgang Stegmüller : Main currents of contemporary philosophy. Vol. 1, Stuttgart 1989, p. 438.
  15. ^ See for example C. Chant: Art. Florenski, Pavel Aleksandrovich , in: Stuart Brown / Diané Collinson / Robert Wilkinson (eds.): Biographical dictionary of twentieth-century philosophers , Taylor & Francis 2002, ISBN 0415286050 , p. 238.
  16. Oliver Garbrecht: Rationality Criticism of Modernism: Adorno and Heidegger ″ , Utz, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-89675-652-4 , p. 269f ( partly online at Google Books ) (dissertation University of Munich 1999, 299 pages).