REFLECTION: Intuitive and discursive PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 April 2014 11:14



These are two general ways of knowing, thinking, understanding and communicating. One, the intuitive, is of the automatic, instantaneous type, while the other, the discursive, requires some stages of analysis and reasoning.

They need not be opposed to each other. In fact, they should not be, since it’s good that we develop both of them to the hilt, because they correspond well to our condition in this world. We have need for both of them.

Of course, of the two, it is the intuitive that is more perfect, since in our ultimate and definitive state—in heaven—everything will be intuitive. In heaven, we can expect to see, know and communicate everything in one go, and not anymore in stages.

This affirmation somehow presumes faith, since with reason and the purely human ways of thinking alone, we may not be talking at all of an ultimate and definitive state, much less, of heaven. This means that without faith, our reason can go anywhere and nowhere. Let’s hope we can see the intrinsic relationship between faith and reason.

The intuitive way depends on the way we are—our temperament, dispositions, aptitudes and biases. It also hinges on our experiences and the knowledge accumulated through the years that imbue in us a certain direct affinity and familiarity with certain realities that we can apprehend without much thinking.

In the end, the intuitive way is an expression of the kind of spirit we have—whether it is a good spirit or bad, whether it is a spirit of the flesh, of the world, or of God. It’s good that we are aware of the variety of spirits that can prevail over us, and know which one to choose.

Yes, there’s need to have discernment of spirit, not only the one of the others and of the world in general, but also and especially the spirit that each one of us has. We have to be more aware of this need and even more adept in handling it.

That’s because being constitutively spiritual by nature, we have to be aware at least of the kind of spirit we have, and develop it properly by connecting it with what we may call the proper and original spirit for us—none other than the Spirit of God, our Creator.

This much, St. Paul already hinted when he talked about the spiritual man and the carnal man who, he said, cannot “perceive the things that are of the Spirit of God, for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined.” (1 Cor 2,14)

It’s very telling that St. Paul said that “the spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged of no man.” (1 Cor 2,15) In effect, he is saying how important it is, therefore, to have the proper spirit, that is, the Spirit of God.

From these considerations, we can already see how to develop our intuitive way of knowing and understanding. We have to work on our temperament and dispositions observe things and study a lot, etc. Most of all, we have to see to it that our spirit is vitally linked to the Spirit of God through the doctrine of our faith, prayer, sacrifice, virtues, sacraments, etc.

In effect, our intuitive way should be driven by love, the proper love which is the love of God. That is the kind of love that understands everything. Compassion and empathy make us know and understand beyond what reason can articulate.

That’s why St. Paul said: “charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13,7)

The discursive way is also very important in our life since this the more natural way of understanding, knowing and communicating given our conditions now. It lends itself more easily to our human need for unity and communion.

With our present conditions, the intuitive way has a very limited range and is often stuck in one stage or level. It is the discursive way that makes things going, since it favors dialogue and a continuing discovery of things.

We also have to sharpen this discursive way by having an open-mind, being very observant and eager to relate things and discover relationships. We have to study the art of logic and productive dialogue.

As in the intuitive way, this discursive way is best pursued when it is inspired by true love. That’s when we know what and how to say things, have a good sense of timing and a very discriminating choice of words, etc.