Thursday, October 31, 2013

Women's Intuition and Aristotle on Why Tired Babies Cry

There are two basic ways of knowing: intuition and rational thought. Intuition is the grasp of the truth immediately, while rational thought progresses through a series of steps to demonstrate a conclusion from several premises. We're all familiar with the notion of a "woman's intuition," which is often derided by men and is compared negatively to logical reasoning, which men associate with themselves. This is demonstrated humorously by a Monty Python sketch featuring an annoyed logic professor:
For example, given the premise, "all fish live underwater" and "all mackerel are fish", my wife will conclude, not that "all mackerel live underwater", but that "if she buys kippers it will not rain", or that "trout live in trees", or even that "I do not love her any more." This she calls "using her intuition". I call it "crap", and it gets me very *irritated* because it is not logical.
Now, this is an exaggeration, obviously, but it expresses the view that many men have toward "intuition."

It should be noted, however, that angels gain knowledge by intuition and not through rational thought; so, if women really are more intuitive, they are, in that way, more angelic than men. It seems we men have to go through all the extra work of logical demonstration when women can often recognize the truth right away.

Recently this was demonstrated to me. I was telling my fiancee how it is so mysterious to me that young children cry and throw fits when they're tired. When they're hungry, and are presented with food, they stop crying and eat. When they want a toy, and are given it, they cease their blubbering and play. But when they're tired, and have the ability to sleep well within their grasp, they don't sleep, they go on crying! Why? Why would this be?

My fiancee answered, immediately and matter-of-factly, "They don't want to miss anything."

At first I didn't understand. Wait.... what? Where did that come from? Where did you get that idea? Huh?

But then I thought about it a bit, and applied some lessons I learned from philosophy courses, and came to see she was right! Behold as I demonstrate, using Aristotle, that this woman's intuition is spot-on.

1. All human beings by nature desire to know. (The first line of Aristotle's Metaphysics.)
2. All knowledge begins with sense experience. (The foundation of Aristotle's theory of knowledge.)
3. Thus if one wants to fulfill the desire to know, one must be gaining sense experience or reflecting on it.
4. When one is sleeping, one cannot gain sense experience or actively reflect on it.
5. Thus, the need for sleep conflicts with the desire to know.

To a child, practically everything is new and wonderful and exciting. Every waking moment is an adventure of discovery--that's why the only way to bore a child is to make them sit still and keep them from exploring their surroundings. Sleep interrupts this exercise, causing distress and dismay in the child, whose desire to gain experience overrides their desire to allow this natural bodily function to take its course. We all face moments like this in our lives: when we need to go to the bathroom but are in the middle of an enthralling movie; when we're on the phone late at night with our significant other, enjoying every moment, but are fighting to stay awake; when we're listening to a fascinating lecture but are so hungry we contemplate eating our note paper. To kids, though, everything is as enthralling and exciting and fascinating as that.

Now, see, I had to spend two paragraphs explaining all that, whereas my fiancee nailed it in one sentence (and I'm sure many of you moms already got the gist before I wrote a word). Not every flash of intuition is going to be valid... but I'm willing to give it some credence.

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