Platonic Knowledge by Intuition

  • Colin Cheyne
Part of the The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science book series (WONS, volume 67)


Intuition has been suggested as the means by which we gain platonic knowledge.1 An immediate problem is that the term ‘intuition’ is employed with a wide range of meanings.2 If these uses of the term have anything in common, it is that intuition is related to the acquisition of belief by a process that is apparently immediate and non-inferential. I shall identify those uses that are most often associated with the purported acquisition of platonic knowledge and show that none of them refers to a process that both exists and could perform as claimed. It is important to examine each notion separately. There is the danger that evidence for one intuitive process may be adduced as evidence for another, somewhat different, process. One process may genuinely yield some sort of knowledge, but be incapable of yielding platonic knowledge. The other ,if it existed, might yield platonic knowledge, but any evidence for the former would, of course, be irrelevant to the existence of the latter.


Conceptual Knowledge Sense Perception Causal Power Causal Process External Reality 
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  1. 1.
    This chapter is based on Cheyne (1997b).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Noddings & Shore (1984, ch. 1 & 2) give a useful historical survey of the varying use of the term in philosophy, theology, and psychology, although they do not make much progress in disentangling the various concepts. Bastick (1982, p. 25) identifies twenty properties associated with the general use of the term.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    ‘And such is the way of all superstition, whether in astrology, dreams, omens, divine judgements, or the like; wherein men, having delight in such vanities, mark the events where they are fulfilled, but where they fail, though this happen oftener, neglect and pass them by.’ Bacon (1620/1960, p. 51)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kurtz (1985) contains an extensive, critical examination of such results. Colman (1987, ch. 7) contains a brief but devastating refutation of the ‘best’ evidence for the existence of telepathic powers.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Parsons (1979–80, p. 151) and Tieszen (1989, p. 5) argue for intuition-of while Steiner (1975, p. 131) claims there is only intuition-that. Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Of course, Berkeley concludes that the source of the ideas is the will of God, rather than material objects, but the relationship is with an objective reality for all that.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Cheyne
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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