What is the origin of non-incremental, revolutionary intuition and intelligence?

For example, a human mind like Albert Einstein's can "come up" with revolutionary ideas and theories that correctly adhere to the law of physics. On the other hand, another mind can't even understand this theory, let alone "create" or come up with one.

Where does this initial intelligence and intuition (accurately proven) come from? Or what are the means by which modern humans achieve "origins of" intelligent intuition that adhere to science or nature? (Not talking about prophecy.)

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    $\begingroup$ General relativity was not a non-incremental idea; it built on a great deal of knowledge of other ideas. Can you a provide another example of a non-incremental idea, a definition of "non-incremental" that suits your purposes, or maybe an edit to the question that doesn't include this requirement? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 5:00
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    $\begingroup$ Pursuing some confusion on @caseyr547's answer, might you also clarify whether you're interested in the evolutionary origins of intuition, or the means by which modern humans achieve ("origins of") intuition? It seems this discussion will default to "both" somewhat haphazardly without clarification on your part. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ Please read tag wikis, theory-of-the-mind is about how we come to believe hat others have minds and has nothing to do with this question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 22:55

1 Answer 1


A couple of other interrelated perspectives are presented below.

The first perspective comes from the article Artificial Intelligence, Logic of Discovery and Scientific Realism (Alai), where they state, using scientific discovery as an example (as per the example in the question), that

if the process of discovery is rational, mustn’t it therefore follow rational criteria and rules, hence a logic? On the other hand, it is well known that chance, luck, and insight often play an important role in discovery.

Effectively, almost like a case of someone 'tripping over' the final piece of their theorem. The author goes further, contending that if their were a rational set of steps, thus

if discovery were just a matter of rule following, why couldn’t anyone learn the necessary rules and become a great scientist? Or why couldn’t the scientists themselves just follow the logic of discovery and program in advance new discoveries, and rapidly achieve such results as a cure for cancer, or the cold fusion of atom, which while sorely needed still elude the efforts of researchers?

Meaning, according to this article's perspective, that luck, chance and insight play a major role.

The final factor, insight, is alluded to in the website Einstein's Pathway to Special Relativity (Norton), taking the example scientist from the question, Albert Einstein and how he developed, for example, the Theory of Special Relativity, which started when

he began to think about ether, electricity, magnetism and motion.

Essentially, he had insight by

pondering these developments that led Einstein to discover the special theory of relativity in 1905.

A key point made is that

The discovery was not momentary.

This is crucial, the ideas didn't just 'pop' into his head, the theory was the outcome of having learned and developed an insight in the background information, latest developments in relevant disciplines and of course,

in Einstein's own reckoning, seven and more years of work.

As an independent researcher, (and I am not comparing myself to Albert Einstein), the discoveries that I have found, have had successfully peer reviewed and have been published come from having some specific insight, through background reading, training, education etc, to topics and skills required relevant to the discovery, as well as a lot of work to bring these insights together with new observations to make a discovery.

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    $\begingroup$ The paper for which this is based on is an invalid source as it does not answer the origin of intelligence. it only provides a philosophical explanation with no human based provable experiments to validate. This is a very bad pseudopsychology answer validated by the community which is so sad that it is funny. $\endgroup$
    – user3832
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 20:25

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