I’m struck by the powerful connection between intuition and self-awareness. It seems that the more I tune into my inner voice, the more in touch I am with my true self.
In this piece, I delve into how intuition and self-awareness work together to shape our experiences and perceptions of the world around us.
Role of intuition in self-awareness
Intuition plays a role in guiding us towards greater self-awareness by helping us identify patterns and themes in our experiences, and by revealing hidden aspects of ourselves that we may not have been aware of.
You might have experienced the connection between intuition and self-awareness in your daily life. Intuition is about how you know something without there being conscious reasoning or analysis.
Trusting your intuition can lead you to making confident decisions and a greater sense of personal fulfillment.
Benefits of developing self awareness
Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. When we are self-aware, we are more in tune with our intuition and can better recognize and trust our instincts.
The benefits of listening to our intuition in developing self-awareness are numerous. For example, by paying attention to our intuition, we can gain greater clarity on our life purpose and direction, and make more aligned and fulfilling choices.
By being more self-aware, we can make decisions that are aligned with our values and goals, and that resonate with our intuition.
how intuition can guide us towards greater self-awareness
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how intuition can help us achieve a deeper level of self-awareness:
- Paying attention to your gut feelings and bodily reactions in certain situations can help you understand your emotional responses and triggers.
- Recognizing patterns in your thoughts and behaviors that can be a sign of underlying beliefs or values that you may want to examine more closely.
- Trusting your instincts when making decisions can help you align your actions with your true desires and goals.
- Tuning into your intuition during meditation or mindfulness practices can offer insights into your subconscious thoughts and feelings.
- Reflecting on past experiences and trusting your intuition to guide you towards positive growth and change can enhance your self-awareness and overall well-being.
This connection between intuition and self-awareness has been explored by many great thinkers throughout history. They include Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, and Jung, to name just a few.
Let’s look at their concepts to grab more perspectives on this topic …
1. Socrates — questioning inner voice
Socrates (469-399 BCE; Classical Athens) believed that by reflecting on our inner thoughts and feelings, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
For example, Socrates often used the method of questioning to help his students explore their own beliefs and values. By asking them to think critically about their assumptions and biases, he encouraged them to develop a more nuanced understanding of themselves and their own perspectives.
Socrates claimed that by listening to our inner voice, we can gain insights into our own desires, fears, and motivations. For instance, Socrates believed that our dreams and unconscious thoughts could reveal important truths about ourselves that we might not be aware of in our waking life (Source: In Plato’s The Republic).
Most of what we know about Socrates comes from his student, Plato.
2. Plato — Innate understanding
Plato (427-347 BCE; Classical Athens) reasoned that intuition was a form of knowledge derived from an innate understanding of reality rather than from sensory perceptions. He had this theory of “forms” or “ideas”. These forms or ideas were universal concepts independent of how we perceived them.
For example, when we see a chair, we recognize it as a chair because we have an innate understanding of what a chair is. This understanding comes from our intuition, not from our sensory experience. We don’t need to see every possible variation of a chair to recognize it as such.
His concept of forms is in his work “Republic,” onwards from Book VI.
Plato also believed that by understanding the forms, we could come to a better understanding of ourselves. For example, if we understand the form of “justice,” we can better understand what it means to be a just person. This self-understanding leads to personal growth and development.
3. Aristotle — practical wisdom
Aristotle (384-322 BCE; Classical Athens) considered intuition essential for reasoning and decision-making. It reasoned that it enhanced self-awareness and one’s ability to reflect on their thoughts and actions.
For example, let’s say you’re walking down a dark alley and suddenly feel a sense of danger. This intuition is drawing on your subconscious knowledge of potential threats and informing your decision to either continue down the alley or turn back. By listening to this intuition, you are also becoming more self-aware of your own emotions and reactions to potentially dangerous situations.
Aristotle’s work “Nicomachean Ethics” looks at the concept of practical wisdom (phronesis) and its role in making sound judgments and choices based on intuitive understanding of ethical principles and practical situations.
4. Descartes — Intuitive thinking
René Descartes (1596—1650; Early Modern France) believed intuition was fundamental to self-awareness.
Descartes gave us “cogito, ergo sum” — “I think, therefore I am“, forming the basis of his philosophy.
He argued that our intuition helps us to know ourselves better than we can know anything else.
“By ‘intuition’ [intuitus] I do not mean the fluctuating testimony of the senses or the deceptive judgment of the imagination as it botches things together, but the conception of a clear and attentive mind, which is so easy and distinct that there can be no room for doubt about what we are under- standing…Thus everyone can mentally intuit that he exists, that he is thinking, that a triangle is bounded by just three lines, and a sphere by a single surface, and the like” (Descartes’ works in Dika, 2023).
Descartes believed that our intuition helps us recognize certain truths about the world without existence of empirical evidence. An example is how we realise the existence of God without physical evidence (Third Meditation in Meditations on First Philosophy; Ref).
>> See my article on intuitive thinking.
5. Kant — Inner sense
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804; Enlightenment Germany) explored the connection between intuition and self-awareness in his philosophical work “Critique of Pure Reason”.
He asserted that intuition, knowing something immediately without the need for reasoning, lends toward awareness of ourselves as thinking beings and of our mental state.
For example, when we feel sad or happy, we have an immediate intuition of our mental state. We are aware of ourselves as feeling beings. When we have a thought or a belief, our intuition allows us to be aware of ourselves as thinking beings.
“Inner sense is, according to Kant, the means by which we are aware of alterations in our own state” — McLear explains Kant’s take on ‘inner sense’ in Kant: Philosophy of Mind.
6. Nietzsche — Underlying motivations
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900; 19th-century Germany) saw intuition as a way for individuals to access deeper truths about themselves and the world around them. He believed that intuition could uncover underlying motivations behind our actions and beliefs, helping us to better understand our desires and values.
One concrete example of this can be seen in Nietzsche’s concept of the “will to power,” which he saw as a fundamental drive underlying all human behavior.
He believed individuals could become more aware of their will to power through intuition and gain greater control over their lives so they could achieve their goals.
“Intuition…amounts to what Nietzsche calls ‘conviction’, or ‘the belief that on some particular point of knowledge one is in posses- sion of the unqualified truth’” (Remhof, 2019 Inquiry article).
7. Jung — Symbolic patterns
Carl Jung (1875-1961 CE; 20th-century Switzerland) also believed that intuition played a critical role in the development of self-awareness.
Jung used the concept of archetypes to illustrate how intuition can inform self-awareness. Archetypes are universal, symbolic patterns that exist within the collective unconscious. By tapping into these archetypes through intuition, individuals can gain insight into their own motivations and behaviors.
Jung also explored the relationship between intuition and creativity. He believed that intuition played a key role in the creative process, allowing individuals to access new ideas and perspectives beyond their conscious awareness.
Jung’s use of archetypes in relation to intuition and self-awareness is noted in his book “Man and His Symbols” by Carl Jung and colleagues (1964).