Rational intuitions involve a particular form of understanding that gives them a special epistemic status. This form of understanding and its epistemic efficacy are not explained by several current theories of rational intuition, including Phenomenal Conservatism (Huemer, Skepticism and the veil of perception, 2001; Ethical intuitionism, 2005; Philos Phenomenol Res 74:30–55, 2007), Proper Functionalism (Plantinga, Warrant and proper function, 1993), the Competency Theory (Bealer Pac Philos Q 81:1–30, 2000; Sosa, A virtue epistemology, 2007) and the Direct Awareness View (Conee, Philos Phenomenol Res 4:847–857, 1998; Bonjour, In defense of pure reason, 1998). Some overlook it; others try to account for it but fail. We can account for the role of understanding in rational intuition by returning to the view of some of the early Rationalists, e.g. Descartes and Leibniz. While that view carries a prohibitive cost, it does contain an insight that may help us solve the problem of giving understanding its due.