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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE INTELLIGENT?


Intelligence – it's an elusive quality in many respects - there are countless interpretations as to what it means, yet no single answer to satisfactorily explains this enigma.


Climb inside the minds of some of the greatest masters of thought, and you'll find they frequently talk at odds with each other when postulating upon such a broad topic.


But what does intelligence really mean?


Does it lie solely within pure intellect, or can anyone become intelligent simply through sheer will?


Read on to explore these questions and more - let’s see if being ‘book smart’ is enough to call yourself a genius!



Brief History


Many thinkers have explored and discussed the concept of intelligence throughout history.


Aristotle first proposed what seems to be the predecessor of intelligence, namely “reason.”


He considered “reason” to be the thing that set humans apart from other species.


Charles Darwin further developed this idea in his theories on varying degrees of complexity, calling the notion mental powers.


The term "intelligence" itself was later introduced by George Romanes, referring to an organism's capability to adapt to its environment, again somewhat influenced by the previous evolutionary theories.


With time different intelligence tests were developed by researchers - they were developed over the years until more standardized multiple-choice tests were created.


The purpose of the test was to give you a number that you can use to determine how intelligent someone was - this is what we now know as the Intelligence Quotient, or IQ.


Throughout this long journey, intelligence has remained a fascinating subject for philosophers, scientists, and laymen alike.


But this still does not answer the question of what intelligence is - is it a single ability that one has, or is it more complex than that?



Types Of Intelligence


Intelligence remains a particularly elusive concept, but one thing is clear - it is not about just one cognitive ability we can measure independently.


One great example of this is the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, developed by psychologist Howard Garder, which has revolutionized how we think about intelligence.


It proposes that we can't capture different types of intelligence in one straightforward definition.


According to this theory, there are eight distinct facets of intelligence, such as linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.


Each type of intelligence represents a different approach to learning and problem-solving.


Only a few people are strong in all areas - each individual has unique talents and abilities which lend themselves to certain kinds of intelligence.



Emotional Intelligence


Emotional intelligence is a somewhat different concept from what is traditionally considered to be intelligence but is just as important nonetheless.

It is an essential component of successful functioning in the world.


It involves being aware of one's own and other's emotions and using this insight to navigate better social dynamics such as communication, relationships, and decision-making.


Emotional intelligence is independent of most standard forms of cognitive intelligence.


Thus, people may excel in traditional academic areas without having any particular strength in emotional understanding or regulation.


Intelligently managing emotion, both one's own and that of others is nonetheless a crucial ability for success in many contexts.



Measuring Intelligence


Of course, we cannot talk about the meaning of intelligence and what makes someone intelligent without talking about how it’s measured.


Standardized tests have been used for decades to measure a person's intelligence, and many options exist.


In some cases, age and grade level may inform which test best suits a particular individual.


The tests are mainly designed to measure two distinct abilities.


One is crystalized intelligence which focuses on the knowledge you have stored over the years.


Fluid intelligence, which is the other ability, shows your skills in processing new information and using it in problem-solving.


Despite the value of such assessments, many have argued that a number should not define intelligence.


It should instead be based on individual strengths and weaknesses.


Ultimately, these tests provide helpful information about how far a person has come and where they should focus further development.


Additionally, understanding test scores can help students gain insight into college entrance exams and other educational opportunities throughout their academic careers.



The Bottom Line


So, the question remains - what does it mean to be intelligent?


Perhaps we can all find a little piece of intelligence in ourselves – whether that be book smarts, people skills, or good old common sense.


Maybe intelligence is relative.


After all, creativity has been shown to increase with IQ – so perhaps the more important question is: how do you define intelligence?


And more importantly, how can you use your own definition of intelligence to your advantage?


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