The Intuitionist

I couldn’t help but continuously come back to this idea that there sort of normative epistemologies that we’ve been taught to follow—while simultaneously being told to “go with your gut” during the stressful moments of decision fatigue. The Empiricists/Intuitionist Dichotomy that’s developed through this text and the ways in which the Inutitionists are framed, like on page 20 “Been too many changes in the guild over the last few years—just look at the messy rise of Intuitionism, or the growing numbers of women and colored people in the Guild…” (20) has me my stomach churning a little bit. Western culture has spent so much time making sure that the lines of rationality and empiricism exist in contradistinction with intuition and imagination or even spirituality. This book made me think more about how epistemologies can be “othered” like the fact that we would potentially cringe at the idea of a Native American woman who claims that her “blood memory” provides her with untraceable embodied knowledge. Or the fact that some Far Eastern cultures could make the claim that our panpsychic universe has ways of meaning-making. Or that when my mother in the Middle East reads the coffee grounds at the bottom of her friend’s cup, her intuition in conjunction with the material world is a form of Theory and praxis.


This book has me lamenting dearly that there is so much knowledge and many ways of “knowing” that we have ignored for many years. Even the idea of intuitively knowing the malfunctions of an elevator is a sort of inter-material discursive interaction between human and nonhuman subjects. At this point I’m just kinda sad that empiricism and rationality feels like erasure.

2 thoughts on “The Intuitionist

  1. You make a great point about the ever-present dichotic distinction in this book. Naturally, when I think of dichotic identification, my mind goes to Said’s “Orientalism” and the idea of ontologically defining yourself. So, perhaps as a way to lift (or depress even further) your spirits, I would just like to offer that, through an Orientalist lens, not only does Empiricism become an erasure of Intuitionism, but the same goes for Intuitionism on Empiricism (in the novel, that is). Throughout the book, both sides seem to be attempting to conquer the other through sabotage and, ultimately, winning the election in hopes of finally being able to forever squash their dreaded opponent’s ideologies. Which, like you pointed out, inherently highlights how many modes of thinking have been ignored due to Orientalist, dichotic mindsets.

  2. This tendency to fall or divide into binaries has been a recurring one this semester. I’ve been wondering what to do with this and honestly haven’t come up with an answer. But just now I almost wrote “I’ve been trying to process this,” which makes me wonder if this has anything to with our increasing reliance on technology, as one of our readings (of course I can’t remember which at the moment, but I think it might have been McGann) suggested. Or is it just the tendency of human nature to understand everything as opposing opposites (light v darkness; good v evil; Empiricism v Intuitionism; “orient” v “occident”; etc.)? Surely this has been happening for far longer than digital technology has been around. But it seems that all of our texts so far have been wrestling with this problem. Can we compare solutions? And if power is the ability to dictate knowledge, what happens when we find out that what we thought was wisdom has just been a long con all along?

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