In Remembrance of Isaac Newton: Discovery, Intuition & Knowledge

“To myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself and now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”  Newton

The late great Catholic thinker Peter Drucker once remarked that the single greatest skill one’s parents can depart upon their child is the demonstrative capacity to be effective.  There are antecedents to this that most educators ignore, given our exclusive propensity toward positivist endeavors, we ignore the very culture in which discovery or the skill of discovering is learned.

An American Protestant theologian, named Francis McConnell (d. 1953), wrote in his diary of a powerful experience he had in elementary school.  He was assigned algebra homework and the very last question perplexed him enough that he went to bed without finishing it. Upon waking, an image came to mind of its solution.  He immediately recognized that his subconscious mind was working on the equation while asleep.

The term ‘intuition’ has been irrevocably damaged by Immanual Kant.  For Kantian epistemology, intuition is akin to sense perception of a given exterior object.  In reality, the term encapsulates much more.  The agnostic psychologist Carl Jung had a much better appreciation of how intuition is shaped within the contours of extraordinary exertion. For when the ‘entire’ person engages reality the subconscious mind works to assemble data that is preconscious or precognitive.  These relations aren’t empirical or positivist, but they exert influence on perception, conception and judgment.  Strictly speaking, these intuitions are embodied as an emotional reserve shaping resolution.  Remember the agrarian adage, “when the whole person is engaged, there is no work!”

It was the same for Isaac Newton.



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