The human race has evolved from Stone age Homo sapiens to anatomic modern humans through striving to improve ourselves. We have achieved this development through seeking answers for ourselves and expanding our intellectual knowledge on the beautiful home we call Earth. Other than intellectual knowledge, the ways of knowing assisted us through developing our genuine human qualities. Such as the ability to love, to express gratitude and to believe. However, some ways of knowing acts as a check to our instinctive judgements as regards of verification and agreement. Instinctive judgements are defined as the automatic and unconscious thought we receive when forming a conclusion. Personally, I also believe that not only the ways of knowing confirms our instinctive judgement, but also develops and builds them. The two ways of knowing that will be explored in this essay are faith and intuition as our religious beliefs and ethical morals may shape the choices we make. In my exploration of the essay prompt, Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments, I will be applying faith and intuition to form the knowledge question: How does the ways of knowing intuition and faith check and shape our instinctive judgements?
Faith can be seen as one of the ways of knowing which structures our instinctive judgements. It is defined as the belief in the spiritual aspects of a religion or simply the confidence in something or someone. Religion can be considered as free willed but I personally disagree as we can also be born into a religion due to family influences. Religion can form the foundation of our judgements as our faith in it’s beliefs can possibly interfere with the decisions we make. An example would be how Muslims are forbidden to eat pork due to the belief that pork is haram. When we dedicate ourselves to a religion, the constraints in becoming a believer displays the moral values (of that particular religion). But how do we know whether or not the decision to eat pork or not was independent and free willed or related to Islamic beliefs? The instinctive judgement of the Muslim would choose not to consume pork as he himself believes that “pork is haram”. This clearly shows how our faith in religion can shape our decision making as the Holy Quran states that pork contains bacteria and toxins which takes away the purity of believers. The religious commitments that believers choose to undertake influences our instinctive judgement as our moral obligation change and this varies as between different people as we all choose to believe different religions.
The counterargument that can surface from this perspective is that both Muslims and vegetarians may choose not to consume pork, but for different reasons. The issue with saying that religion and faith shapes our instinctive judgement is incorrect because vegetarians may also agree that consuming pork is unethical despite the fact that they might belong to another religion or they might be atheists. If Muslims and vegetarians both decide to abstain from pork, then it is clear that religious beliefs are not the determining factor to their instinctive judgements. Therefore, the argument saying that faith and religion shape our morals, leading to changes in our instinctive judgements, would be incorrect. Vegetarians could have used other ways of knowing to come to the conclusion of not consuming pork. As a flexitarian myself, the reason I try not to consume meat (and pork) is simply because I am emotionally attached to animals and I believe it’s ethnically wrong to kill animals just for the sake of my hunger. However, I think my environment has shaped this ideology as well as my parents have always taught me that red meat can increase my chances of hypertension. I feel guilty and fearful emotions and I believe this is what steered me away from consuming pork. Therefore, our faith in religion is not what checks our instinctive judgements but it all depends on our upbringing environment and our personal ethnical values as individuals.
Intuition can also be seen as one of the ways of knowing which shapes our instinctive judgements. Intuition is defined as the ability to gain knowledge, without reasoning or how the information was gained. More commonly, intuition can also be the gut feeling (or sensation) we experience consciously, that can’t be scientifically explained for it’s origins. For example, intuition would be when you are deciding your outfit for the day and your unconscious self tells you to pick blue. The logic behind the reason you decided it was blue and not any other color is unknown, but these impulses are intuition as it reflects your unconscious thoughts, gaining knowledge with no reasoning. But how exactly does intuition check and shape our instinctive judgements? Our ethical values and morals can shape our natural instinct towards particular behavior and activity. Our ethics can be considered intuitive as most of us share similar views (e.g. stealing is bad) from our moral principles. It is intuitive to many of us that stealing is bad simply because we know that it’s wrong to take something that does not belong to you. This clearly shows how ethical we are as humans can mold and check your instinctive judgements.
The counter argument that can surface from this perspective is that mental illness can disrupt our intuition. The issue with saying that our ethical values shape our instinctive judgements is incorrect because our mental wellbeing can also achieve the same result. Mental illness shapes our intuition because it affects how we respond to daily events and also depends on our ability to focus. If being mentally ill or having different ethical values can shape my intuition, then clearly, ethical values are not the only determining factor here. Therefore, the argument saying how ethical we are can check your instinctive judgements, would be incorrect. In the study, Intuition in depression, conducted by Carina Remmers and Johannes Michalak in 2016, it is proven that depressed individuals are unable to make decisions. Their conscious mind goes into rumination which continuously thinks of negative thoughts. In this study, we can clearly see how rumination affects depressed individuals (this is also applicable to other mental illness) and it can hinder our intuition as it stimulates a restricted knowledge processing style for individuals. Therefore, our moral values are not what checks our instinctive judgements but it depends on how mentally healthy and stable we are as individuals.
In summarization, I agree that “Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments” to a limited extent. Our faith in religions does not check our instinctive judgements but rather our upbringing environment and personal ethical values do. With intuition, our moral values are not what checks our instinctive judgements because ultimately, it is influenced by our mental state. Ways of knowing to a limited extent are a check on our instinctive judgements, however, only through verification and confirmation.