I am having a major thought attack. A new book is out and it's absolutely fascinating to me. "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" has captured my brain and isn't letting go. The new philosophical mindset that it discusses could be shortened to Buffyism. And shows the genius of our girl. Don't believe me?
The premise of the book is "the less thinking and consulting you do, the better off you will be." Gladwell backs up this theory with miles of study on people such as cops, triage doctors, teachers, cooks, mothers, CEOs, you get the idea. The concept of "mother's intuition" isn't intuition, but snap, or "Blink Thinking." You have a sense that your child is in danger. In your subconscious, you Blinked the knowledge of: bike, rain, crazy friend, should be home already... Child is in danger.
Doctors in the ER have had years of experience in snap decisions. They retain the knowledge that led to sucess and drop the choices (all in the subconscious in theory) that led to death, etc. So someone comes in with something the docs have never seen before and based on snap decisions, the doc in charge makes a choice of treatment and saves the guys life. Because seconds count, and the doctor has learned to rely on her "instinct."
So how does this mean that Buffy is smarter than, say, Aristotle or John Locke? Buffy would reject (if she was faced with the word, because she rejected it in theory many times) the notion of Empiricism, which states that our theories should be based on our observations, rather than our intuition. The Watcher's Council entire philosophy is based on Empiricism. They study, they read, they experiment (in completely controlled environments) and as a result, their actions are arcane and stilted. Here comes our girl who fights with instinct. She relies on her instinct more than her book learning. At one point, Giles is angry with her for not wanting to "train" with a book-taught method. She sighs, he blindfolds her, hands her a ball, and hides, sniggering to himself that she hasn't studied enough of this particular method of "hunting" to find him with the ball. Without much thinking, Buffy bounces the ball off the wall and beans Giles in the head. She smiles and leaves.
According to Empiricism, "jumping to conclusions" is the worst thing possible. Today's method of thinking and solving problems encourages long detailed discussions, research, question the research, consult other theories, on and on. Buffy ALWAYS jumps to conclusions. Her Blink Thinking is without long, over-processed thought, and she is always right. A perfect example is her roommate in college. She immediately comes to the conclusion that the roomie is evil and should be killed. The Scoobie gang doesn't trust her, goes to extraordinary lengths to change her mind, and Buffy is proven to have been right all along.
Buffy immediately assumes an earthquake in Season 4 is a portent of doom. She (once again) is pooh pooh'd for her "rash" thinking. Guess what? It was yet another apocolypse. If she was able to sit still long enough and study Rene Descartes, she would have understood him completely. He argued that the source of all knowledge was human reason. If you start with intuitively-understood basic principles, you can deductively derive the truth without overblown research and analysis. Now the big question (for me, at least) is how is this instinct inherent?
Here's my theory, and I think it's founded in canon, even though Joss said he doesn't know science. NERD ALERT:
Slayers are genetically predisposed to be slayers. We know there is something in their biology that makes them unique. Their blood carries a certain property that makes it identifiable as "slayer's blood." this is referred to by Spike, by Faith and the Mayor, and by research from Willow and Oz. For the sake of my husband's glee, I'll refer to it as "midichlorians." And because Andrew called it that, as well.
There is a genetic heredity in slayers. Giles and Buffy discussed in Season 5 the passing on of previous slayers knowledge from one generation to the next. Since most slayers were far less successful than Buffy, it is possible that the previous slayers lacked the time to explore this inherent knowledge. Buffy is able to meditate (and do the hokey pokey in the desert) to connect to the First Slayer (in fact, the First Slayer comes to Buffy to share knowledge and advice on two separate occasions with her). For the sake of the panties that are getting in a wad with my husband about this, we'll say it is a mystic heredity. Joyce does not carry this in her.
I will go out on a limb and say that this "midichlorians" in the slayers is there from birth. Kendra was taken away at birth to be raised and trained. Something identified her from the beginning as a Potential. Same goes for the Potentials of Season 7, as well. Something about them (okay, honey!) mystically set them apart, but it resides in their biology. (Slayer's blood is different than other humans' blood.)
Buffy shatters the "tabula rasa" theory of empiricism. If we are born with a "blank slate," we wouldn't have the instinct to suckle, the knowledge to cry, the inherent reflexes we are all born with. In the "Tabula Rasa" episode, they are all "wiped clean" and revert to their true, pure selves. This helps the homosexual cause as Willow KNOWS she is gay and is instinctively attracted to Tara, and vice versa. Buffy immediately seeks to protect the weak, in this case, Dawn. When confronted with vampires, she is afraid, but when she is forced to make a Blink Thought, she stakes and kills a vampire. She has inherently retained the ability to fight, and to fight like a slayer.
I'd go a step further and say that Buffy's Blink Thinking is what saved the world over and over. Routinely she left the gang to research while she fought. They poured over books and papers while she did what she did best. "React to a bunch of vampires." Blink Thinking is a more modern approach to Rationalism, but that just puts Ms. Summers in the company of Kant and Descartes. And I'll wrap this geek-fest up with the words of Giles: I can defeat you with my intellect.
And let's not forget how well Buffy did on her SATs. And without studying. I need to back away from the coffee. Oh, look! Football!