FOM: Successes of intuition over rigor

Neil Tennant neilt at
Fri Feb 15 10:18:46 EST 2002

On Thu, 14 Feb 2002 JoeShipman at wrote:

> Tennant:
> Here is a modest list of the successes of intuition over rigor.
> 1. Everything is composed of earth, air, fire and water.
> 2. The sun goes round the earth.
> 3. The earth is flat.
> 4. God exists.
> 5. There is an afterlife.
> 6. For every property F, there is a set of all Fs.
> 7. Peano arithmetic is complete.
> 8. Space is Euclidean.
> 9. There is only one kind of infinity.
> 10. Mind is distinct from matter.
> Neil, I don't know if you intended to imply that all these statements have 
> the same epistemological status.  I don't think they do: propositions 
> 1,2,3,6,7,8,9 have been disproved. while propositions 4,5, and 10 are open 
> questions.  Did you mean to suggest that 4,5, and 10 have also been 
> disproved?

No, I do not mean to suggest that. It's my opinion that (with respect to
4, 5 and 10) intuition inclines the non-rigorous to believe, and that the
more rigorous tend to come to disbelieve them. That's all. Very often
intuition find something plausible when it turns out that it may not even
be cognitively significant.


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