top of page

Intellect or Intuition ?

“How can one be spontaneous. . .”

” . . . when you know too much ?” 

 An excerpt from an interview¹ with Philip Johnson, this question resonates so closely with most people who partake in a creative process. Johnson goes to elaborate how some architects are burdenened by intellect and “knowing too much” to actually create something good. He claimed to be influenced by architects such as Bernini and Michelangelo, who never had a formal education in Architecture.

So where does this lament come from ? Does education deride one of their spontaneity ?Joe Strummer of The Clash goes on to speak of intuition over intellect in this video ( I came across.

“I must say we don’t know what we are doing when we’re doing it, and that’s why it comes out good. Somewhere between intuition and instinct, and very far from intellect lies true intelligence.” 

Strummer claims that the intuitive intelligence is far more responsible for our success than the intellectual intelligence can ever be. This, he claims, is because of its inability to be formally taught.


Or should we not ? Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

One can look at a piece of art and know what they like about it and what they don’t instantly. The only thing this requires from us is to be aware of our reactions to that piece of art. You then begin to develop your voice, your style and that directly affects your creative process.

It helps to be ignorant, in one sense. To not have an understanding of the intellectual bearing of a creation can free us of some ties. However, what happens to the intellectuals ? Where do they go to create something “good” ? My perception would be that sometimes you need to leave intellect outside the room to let the creative process flow. When the idea strikes, its only then we bring in intellect to give it some structure.


Find your niche; Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Some have a mightier challenge of finding a niche between intellect and intuition. But it’s not impossible. Its been done by creatives before us and people will continue to do so after us. It just needs us to find our balance.

¹ – Conversations With Architects; Book by Heinrich Klotz and John Cook

Recent Posts

See All

My quarterly life crisis

I have been missing from here for awhile now. Like many others who fall off the writing wagon, I will also claim that 'life' got in the way. To start writing again is a daunting task. One feels like a


bottom of page