An intuitive intellect is thought to grasp objects immediately without the need for conceptualization and without the need of being affected by an object. For this reason it is thought as an archetypal or creative rather than echtypal intellect: it literally creates its object in the act of intuition. As contrasted with man's form of knowledge, which requires conceptualization and the givenness of an object, the intuitive intellect is the kind of cognition generally thought to pertain to God.
Although Kant regards this conception of an intuitive intellect as merely problematic, he uses it as a heuristic device by means of which to underline the characteristics of the human, discursive intellect. Since discursive knowledge is not the only logically possible form of cognition, he can use its opposite as a means of emphasizing the difference in perspective between transcendental idealism and transcendental realism.
Indeed, one can argue that this idea of an intuitive intellect, closely related to the theocentric model of knowledge, is implicit in all forms of transcendental realism as its normative model. For example, when the transcendental realist regards sensation and sensation alone, without any conceptualization, as the ultimate source of knowledge, he treats our sensibility as if it presented its object already determined, as if it were a form of intellectual intuition. Likewise, rationalists appeal to a form of intuition that can be characterized as explicitly intellectual, e.g., Spinoza's scientia intuitiva.
The wedge Kant drives between our discursive intellect and the problematic intuitive intellect allows him to highlight the differences between transcendentally realistic and transcendentally idealistic epistemologies. Against the empiricists he asserts the need of conceptualization in human knowledge; against the rationalists he asserts the need of sensation.