8 Intelligences: Are You a Jack of All Trades or a Master of One? | Best of ’16


Currently I think there are eight intelligences
that I’m very confident about and a few more that I’ve bene thinking about. I’ll share that with our audience. The first two intelligences are the ones which
IQ tests and other kind of standardized tests valorize and as long as we know there are
only two out of eight it’s perfectly fine to look at them. Linguistic intelligence is how well you’re
able to use language. It’s a kind of skill that poets have, other
kinds of writers, journalists tend to have linguistic intelligence, orators. The second intelligence is logical mathematical
intelligence. As the name implies logicians, mathematicians,
scientists have that kind of intelligence. They’re able to do mathematical proofs. They’re able to do scientific reasoning
and experimentation. And it’s great to have language and logical
intelligence because most tests really focus on that. And if you do well in those tests as long
as you stay in school you think you’re smart. But if you ever walk out into Broadway or
the highway or into the woods or into a farm you then find out that other intelligences
are at least this important. So the third intelligence is musical intelligence
and that’s the capacity to appreciate different kinds of musics, to produce the music by voice
or by an instrument or to conduct music. And people say well music is a talent. It’s not an intelligence. And I say well why if you’re good with words
is that an intelligence but if you’re good with tones and rhythms and timbres nobody’s
ever given me a good answer which is why it makes sense to talk about musical intelligence. And at certain cultures over history musical
intelligence has been very important. The fourth intelligence is spatial intelligence. That’s the intelligence which allows us
to handle and work in space that’s close by. A chess player would have spatial intelligence. A surgeon would have spatial intelligence. But there’s another variety of spatial intelligence
which we use for a much broader navigation. That’s what an airplane pilot or a sea captain
would have. How do you find your way around large territory
and large space. Similarly with the fifth intelligence bodily
kinesthetic intelligence it comes in two flavors. One flavor is the ability to use your whole
body to solve problems or to make things. And athletes and dancers would have that kind
of bodily kinesthetic intelligence. But another variety is being able to use your
hands or other parts of your body to solve problems or make things. A craft person would have bodily kinesthetic
intelligence even if they weren’t particularly a good athlete or dancer. The sixth intelligence and seventh intelligence
have to do with human beings. Interpersonal intelligence is how you understand
other people, how you motivate them, how you lead them, how you work with them, how you
cooperate with them. Anybody at any workplace with other people
needs interpersonal intelligence. Leaders hopefully have a lot of interpersonal
intelligence. But any intelligence can be used in a pernicious
way so the salesman that sells you something you don’t want for a price you don’t want
to pay, he or she has got interpersonal intelligence. It’s just not being used in a way that we
might prefer. The seventh kind of intelligence is difficult
to assess but it’s very important. It’s intrapersonal intelligence. It’s the understanding yourself. If we go back a way in history and prehistory
knowledge of yourself probably wasn’t that important because people did what their parents
or grandparents did whether they were hunters or fisherman or craftspeople. But nowadays especially in developed society
people lead their own lives. We follow our own careers. We often switch careers. We don’t necessarily live at home as we
get older. And if you don’t have a good understanding
of yourself you are in big trouble. So that’s intrapersonal intelligence. The eighth intelligence which I added some
years ago is the naturalist intelligence. And that’s the capacity to make important
relevant discriminations in the world of nature between one plant and another, between one
animal and another. It’s the intelligence of the naturalist,
the intelligence of Charles Darwin. I missed it the first go around when I wrote
about it but I tried to atone by adding it to my list. And by the way you might say well but nature
isn’t so important anymore. But in fact everything we do in the commercial
world uses our naturalist intelligence. Why do I buy this jacket rather than another
one? This sweater rather than another one? One hair style rather than another? Those all make just the naturalist intelligence
because the brain is very adaptive. And when an old use of a brain center no longer
is relevant it gets hijacked for something new. So we’re all using our naturalist intelligence
even if we never walk out into the woods or into the savannah of East Asia. The two other intelligences which I’m interested
in, one of them is called the teaching or pedagogical intelligence. The intelligence which allows us to be able
to teach successfully to other people. Now you could have two people who have exactly
the same expertise and knowledge in the field but one is a very good teacher and the other
isn’t. That probably doesn’t surprise individuals
so much. But what got me fascinated was as young as
two or three kids already know how to teach. Now what does that mean? You show a child how to do something let’s
say a three or four year old and then you ask the child to explain it to an older person
or to a younger person. And even the three or four year old will explain
it very differently to a young person, will go through details, point things and speak
slowly. And with an older person it would be much
more elliptical and say well you do this and that and then you can figure it out. So that shows as young as three let’s say
we already have teaching intelligence. The other one is one which I think is going
to be difficult to prove to a skeptic but I call it existential intelligence. And existential intelligence is the intelligence
of big questions. Philosophical questions, artistic questions. What does it mean to love? Why do we die? What’s going to be in the future? My pet bird might have more musical intelligence. The rats who are scurrying around the floor
might have more spatial intelligence. But no other animals have existential intelligence. Part of the human condition is to think about
questions of existence. And I like to say every five year old has
existential intelligence because five year old are always asking why this, why that. But the difference between a five year old
and a philosopher is the five year old doesn’t pay too much attention to the answer whereas
philosophers and other people who develop existential intelligence are really very interested
in how we attack questions like that. So again where there’s eight intelligences
or ten or twelve is less important to me than having broken the monopoly of a single intelligence
which sort of labels you for all time. I think if we lived forever we could probably
develop each intelligence to a very high degree. But life is very short and if you devote too
much attention to one intelligence you’re not going to have much time to work on other
kinds of intelligences. And so the big question is should you play
to strength or should you bolster weakness? And that’s a value judgment. Scientists cannot give you an answer to that. If, for example, you want to be a jack of
all trades and be very well rounded then probably you’re going to want to nurture the intelligences
which aren’t that strong. If on the other hand you’re dead set on
really coming to the top of some particular heap then you’re probably going to find
the intelligences that you’re strongest at and really push those. And, you know, if a parent came to me and
said well should we supplement or should we accentuate I would say well tell me what you
would like your child to do. Or better let the child tell you what he or
she wants to do rather than say well science says you should do one or the other. I think it’s a question of values, not of
science. Some people think there’s such a thing as
humor intelligence. But, in fact, I don’t. I think humor intelligence is simply the operation
of a logical intelligence in some realm like human nature or physical nature or the workplace. And what happens is in humor there’s a certain
expectation and you flip that expectation so it’s logic but it’s logic that’s
played out in different kinds of ways. People had mentioned there’s such a thing
as a cooking intelligence, a humor intelligence and a sexual intelligence. And I quipped well that can’t be intelligences
because I don’t have any of them.

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