Insight: Created by Experience

In reflecting on the value of insight, I find I am compelled to give it something of a substance, and a shape. It seems most people perceive of "insight" as an intuition of sorts, or a power of comprehension that evolves spontaneously. I tend to see this quality, however, as something absolutely reliant upon experience of the world. In my eyes, insight simply cannot exist without a base of knowledge.

To cite a minor example, my father once rented a car during a family trip to Arizona. It was very like the car we had at home, which I had been driving for months. He would not, however, let me drive the rental; not only was I inexperienced in driving on mountainous roads, but the vehicle was different as well. If I watched and learned as he drove, I might be allowed to drive some of the way back. I complied with my father's offer, and I began to take in his own process. He started the car but only moved it minimally to get, as he explained to me, a "feel" for this vehicle. Before he permitted me to take the wheel later, I conducted the same, tentative measures. I fully understood my father's reasoning, for the car was indeed different from what I was used to, and becoming familiar with it was essential to handling it well.

What I had witnessed was, in fact, my father's insight into a particular situation, because he had the life experience to foresee probabilities. Skills and knowledge, taken in, fuel an even greater knowledge as experience builds upon experience. This then allows insight, or a perception of the potentials and layers of a thing or circumstance. Empirically established, it is an invaluable tool in reasoning, as it is in life.