Imagination, Reason, and Intuition
Primates are visual animals, and we think best in pictorial or geometric terms. Words are an evolutionary afterthought. The power of pictures, as epitomes or encapsulators of central concepts in our culture, may best be appreciated in studying what I like to call canonical icons,â or standard images that automatically trigger a body of associations connected with an important theory. (Stephen Jay Gould, 1996, Dinosaur in a Haystack, p. 249)
Spinoza distinguishes among three subsystems of the mind:
1. The imagination: Spinoza’s imagination receives the material that the senses and the memory continually pour into the mind.16 It also contains certain mechanisms that permit the rapid organization of this mass of thoughts, like the mechanisms that associate all of the events that arrive in consciousness at the same time. This level is important to the extent that it brings forth the psychic materials that can be elaborated later.
2. Reason allows for the relatively logical organization of the material produced in the imagination.
3. Intuition is nourished by those aspects of the human mind that contain more of the aspects of nature. These are no longer the fully formed Ideas of Plato and Descartes, but a know-howâ inspired by this complexity of which humans are a part. To be alert to our intuitions is to admit that there exist forces that regulate thoughts.