From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
I know that I know nothing --Socrates
"I think, therefore I am" --René Descartes
"How vain the opinion is of some certain people of the East Indies, who think that apes and baboons, which are with them in great numbers, are imbued with understanding, and that they can speak but will not, for fear they should be imployed and set to work."—Antoine Le Grand, c. 1675
Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. More generally, it can be described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context. There are conflicting ideas about how intelligence is measured, ranging from the idea that intelligence is fixed upon birth, or that it is malleable and can change depending on an individual’s mindset and efforts.
Several subcategories of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence or social intelligence, are heavily debated as to whether they are traditional forms of intelligence. They are generally thought to be distinct processes that occur, though there is speculation that they tie into traditional intelligence more than previously suspected. Despite their use of the word ‘Intelligence,’ some terms may have little or nothing to do with the mentioned cognitive processes.
Intelligence is most often studied in humans but has also been observed in both non-human animals and in plants despite controversy as to whether or not some forms of life exhibit intelligence. Intelligence in machines is called artificial intelligence, which is commonly implemented in computer systems using programs and, sometimes, specialized hardware.
History of the term
Intelligence derives from the Latin verb intelligere. A form of this verb, intellectus, became the medieval technical term for understanding, and a translation for the Greek philosophical term nous. This term was however strongly linked to the metaphysical and cosmological theories of teleological scholasticism, including theories of the immortality of the soul, and the concept of the Active Intellect (also known as the Active Intelligence). This entire approach to the study of nature was strongly rejected by the early modern philosophers such as Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and David Hume, all of whom preferred the word "understanding" in their English philosophical works. Hobbes for example, in his Latin De Corpore, used "intellectus intelligit" (translated in the English version as "the understanding understandeth") as a typical example of a logical absurdity. The term "intelligence" has therefore become less common in English language philosophy, but it has later been taken up (with the scholastic theories which it now implies) in more contemporary psychology.
- Human intelligence
- Intellectual history
- Neuroscience and intelligence
- Sex and intelligence
- The problem of knowledge