Historically, intuition has been seen as a lower form of knowledge than reason because emotion and sensing are considered separate from the mind and consequently less intelligent than rational thought. Because of this connection to emotions, intuition has also traditionally been associated with women. Scholars in feminist theory have attempted to shed a light on this gendering of intuition by calling attention to the fact that “[r]epresented as radically subjective, closer to having a ‘hunch,’ to ‘feeling it in your bones,’ intuition’s sensitivity is trivialized in claims that women are reduced to reliance on intuition, whereas men are capable of proficiency in reason” (Code 390). When placed in opposition to reason, intuition is often referred to as a weaker version of knowledge that an individual develops when lacking the capacity for stronger reason.
Affect theorists, however, do not privilege reason over intuition. In fact, they view intuition as a significant form of knowledge. In “Intuitionists: History and the Affective Event,” Lauren Berlant examines intuition as a legitimate source of knowledge by discussing the “professionalization of intuition” in two historical novels (846). According to Berlant, intuition is an instinctual sense that an individual experiences in response to stimulus, an ability to gather information and emotions and then unconsciously process the available data to generate a sense of a particular situation. Intuition works like a muscle memory for it is situational and in a constant state of flux. Intuitive sense takes events that a person experiences into account every time it must generate a response to a new stimulus. Because intuition depends on an individual’s own experiences, a person’s intuition will often differ from that of another.
Berlant, Lauren. “Intuitionists: History and the Affective Event.” American Literary History 20.4 (2008): 845-60.
Code, Lorraine. Encyclopedia of Feminist Theories. New York: NetLibrary, Inc., 2000.