Discernment comes from the ability to recognize complex patterns and forms. Complex forms aren’t instinctual, but they are recognized using the same hardware and mental process as instinctive forms. Examples of complex forms:
We don’t have to go through a checklist of characteristics in order to identify these things as distinct from other, similar-looking things. We know them instantly, as soon as we see them. Unlike our instinctive ability to recognize secondary sexual characteristics and “monsters” (big, has teeth, etc.) no one is born with the ability to recognize these complex forms outright. They have to be constructed.
One way to do this is by reading a description of a form we’ve already seen, but haven’t yet formalized in our minds. This is because we already have the building blocks, but we haven’t yet decided to prioritize this pattern for the discernment process because mental energy is finite.
I believe that having “intuitions” is the subjective experience of creating a new complex form in the gray matter for easy future recognition. This usually takes the form of some kind of vision, and this vision state is the “very slow thinking” thing I referenced in the title.
This sort of thinking seems to require a preexisting white matter network, a lot of mental energy, and a long period of acetylcholine-seeking, introverted, endogenous cognition. People who experience this vision state in a diluted form tend to describe it as “holistic” thinking or “mass associative” thinking, and I have done so myself. The next step up from this seems to be a genuine vision, as in a seamless mental movie that occurs spontaneously like a dream, where the meaning often (but not always) has to be extracted afterward.
The best way to inspire this cognitive state seems to be a combination of mental autonomy, urgency, salient mortal stimuli, and a recognition that survival will depend on perfect attention to details in an unpredictable situation. In order to experience this yourself, I want you to do a thought experiment that is probably out of the ordinary for you if you aren’t a psychopath: pick someone out of a crowd and plan out how you’re going to follow them home, break into their house, and murder them without getting yourself killed by that person or their housemates in self-defense.
Because it’s an unusual situation (unless you’re a professional killer and familiar with the trade talk), you can’t make recourse to thinking it out in words. You immediately switch to a visual mode (unless you lack the hardware). There are an awful lot of details to consider very quickly. The level of danger is high, but also unknown, and the immediacy brings your brain into a hyperfocus state.
Don’t actually do it though, that would be bad and I would feel bad.