I am sure that most people are familiar with the experience of something becoming clear. It might be something as trivial as the answer to a crossword puzzle or a major breakthrough in understanding. A “Eureka” moment. Many people have described this as a moment of revelation, where the idea appears in their mind from “outside”. Some describe a voice or a vision.

For this discussion I will refer to this as an “Insight” and to explore what this means to me rather than what it might mean to others.

Where do Insights come from? I am an engineer and have invented a few things, so many of my Insights have be to do with new widgets. I have a predominantly visual imagination so it would tend to be pictures that pop up in my mind rather than words.

It seems to me that having an Insight is a process of synthesis from a huge amount of stuff that is in my mind including a lot that I am not immediately aware of knowing. There is all the things that are “obvious” and bits of impressions and undigested experiences. All of this is originally from “outside”. I imagine it as fragments that have been lying dormant suddenly starting to join up.

An Insight is a marvellous thing and a star in the state of being alive. But in its primal state it exists only in one mind. It is not accessible to scientific study.

Having had an insight, say the invention of a better mousetrap, the next step is to describe it. This can sometimes be hard work but the end result is a description that is accessible to others.

Very frequently It is at this point that one discovers fatal flaws in the Insight!