Reading Rhythmic Diaspora’s post a day or two ago brought about thoughts on the subject of ‘intelligence’ and having been involved in discussing a couple of sticky subjects like ‘religion’, ‘profanity’ and ‘values’ in this space during the past few days, it occurred to me that maybe I could add a few thoughts on this as well. Tricky shit, I know – but what the hell!

Beginning with the conventional definition, Wikipedia reports that: “…at least two major “consensus” definitions of intelligence have been proposed. First, from Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns, a report of a task force convened by the American Psychological Association in 1995:

Individuals differ from one another in their ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought. Although these individual differences can be substantial, they are never entirely consistent: a given person’s intellectual performance will vary on different occasions, in different domains, as judged by different criteria. Concepts of “intelligence” are attempts to clarify and organize this complex set of phenomena. Although considerable clarity has been achieved in some areas, no such conceptualization has yet answered all the important questions and none commands universal assent. Indeed, when two dozen prominent theorists were recently asked to define intelligence, they gave two dozen somewhat different definitions.

A second definition of intelligence comes from “Mainstream Science on Intelligence”, which was signed by 52 intelligence researchers in 1994:

A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—”catching on”, “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do.”

Okay, that part being out of the way, let’s get to the commonly used measuring device for ‘intelligence’ or IQ tests. In my view, IQ tests do not measure what I would consider to be true ‘intelligence’, as these tests are usually culturally biased and oh so limited in their scope, so I’ll not waste time on that.

Stephen Jay Gould, who I have long admired for his variety of uncomplicated papers on evolution and ethology, was an evolutionary biologist (among other facets to his scientific makeup) and a well known critic of ‘intelligence theory’, made the following claims about ‘intelligence’: Intelligence is not measurable. Intelligence is not innate. Intelligence is only partly heritable, and what is inherited is mutable. Intelligence cannot be captured in a single number.

Other ‘experts’ have posited other theories. Howard Gardener’s ‘Multiple Intelligence’ theory broke ‘intelligence’ down to around eight different components, Robert Sternberg’s ‘Triarchic’ theory proposed three fundamental aspects and suggests the need for balance between the ‘analytic’, the ‘creative’ and the ‘practical’ forms of intelligence. Daniel Golman and others developed the concept of ‘emotional intelligence’.

All well and good, but conflicting views and no consensus, or ‘unified field’ if you will. However, for me, it is Krishnamurthi’s view on ‘intelligence’ that makes the most sense and is how I personally apply the concept with regard to my day to day existence.

In Krishnamurthi’s view, “…Intelligence is not personal, is not the outcome of argument, belief, opinion or reason. Intelligence comes into being when the brain discovers its fallibility, when it discovers what it is capable of, and what it is not…. When (thought) sees that it is incapable of discovering something new, that very perception is the seed of intelligence, isn’t it? That is intelligence …The discovery of that is intelligence. ..Thought is of time, intelligence is not of time. Intelligence is immeasurable… Intelligence comes into being when the mind, the heart and the body are really harmonious… Now what is the relationship of intelligence with this new dimension?…..The different dimension can only operate through intelligence: if there is not that intelligence it cannot operate. So in daily life it can only operate where intelligence is functioning ...”

If you can ‘see’ what Krishnamurthi means in his brief exposition of what he considers ‘intelligence’ and it makes sense to you, I assure you that it will make all sorts of conflicting ideas fade out and make analysis within the inner spaces free of the dross and garbage.

But this is only a personal view and, like everything else in this life, is conditioned and impermanent.