intelligence

Born from Within

Baroque Library Hall at the Klementinum in Prague"Wisdom does not loom large in the modern psyche. It has been replaced by knowledge, which does not pretend to emotive value; in its least appealing forms, it even eschews such associations. It is strictly about things and the manipulation of them; and, unsurprisingly, it’s directed outwardly, towards the technologies of life and not their meanings. So we have many people who, externally speaking, are able but not wise; active but not prudent.

And perhaps this defines our society and our age as much as any other set of words: activity without prudence, or, imprudent doing.

To have prudence is to have foresight, to attend to. But attention is born from within, not from outward circumstances; and in the great esoteric traditions, as well as the traditional religions, attention is of a divine origin, not a worldly one."

~ Lee van Laer, on "Inner Wisdom," from Parabola Magazine, Spring 2014

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The Difference Between Wisdom and Understanding

Excerpt from The Forms of Things Unknown: An Essay on the Impact of the Technological Revolution on the Creative Arts by Herbert Read:

Le Penseur (The Thinker), Auguste RodinA distinction which runs through the whole development of human thought has become blurred during the past two hundred years. Implicit in all ancient philosophy, acknowledged by medieval scholastics and the natural philosophers of the Renaissance, and even by Locke and Newton, is a difference of kind, if not of value, between wisdom and understanding.

By wisdom was meant an intuitive apprehension of truth, and the attitude involved was receptive or contemplative. Intellectus was the name given to this faculty in the Middle Ages.

Understanding, on the other hand, was always a practical or constructive activity, and ratio was its name — the power by means of which we perceive, know, remember and judge sensible phenomena. Philosophy was conceived as an endeavour to perfect this constructive power of the mind as an aid to wisdom.

To clarify perception, excluding all distortions due to emotion and prejudice; to analyse statements so that our knowledge is consistent; to establish facts, so that our memory is consolidated; to bring the inquiring will into harmony with the intuitive intellect, so that our judgment is true and constant — such have been the aims of all who called themselves philosophers.


See also: "The Forms of Things Unknown: A 1963 Essay on the Role of the Creative Arts in Society," Brain Pickings, August 29, 2012

Sticking with Your Future

"We tried to predict which cadets would stay in military training and which would drop out. We went to the National Spelling Bee and tried to predict which children would advance farthest in competition. We studied rookie teachers working in really tough neighborhoods, asking which teachers are still going to be here in teaching by the end of the school year, and of those, who will be the most effective at improving learning outcomes for their students? We partnered with private companies, asking, which of these salespeople is going to keep their jobs? And who's going to earn the most money?

In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn't social intelligence. It wasn't good looks, physical health, and it wasn't I.Q. 

It was grit.

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."

~ Angela Lee Duckworth

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Lost in a Challenge

"We're social animals, not rational animals. We emerge out of relationships, and we are deeply interpenetrated, one with another. And so when we see another person, we reenact in our own minds what we see in their minds. When we watch a car chase in a movie, it's almost as if we are subtly having a car chase. When we watch pornography, it's a little like having sex, though probably not as good. And we see this when lovers walk down the street, when a crowd in Egypt or Tunisia gets caught up in an emotional contagion, the deep interpenetration. And this revolution in who we are gives us a different way of seeing, I think, politics, a different way, most importantly, of seeing human capital...

...face-to-face groups are much smarter than groups that communicate electronically, because ninety  percent of our communication is non-verbal. And the effectiveness of a group is not determined by the IQ of the group; it's determined by how well they communicate, how often they take turns in conversation...

...The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or a task -- when a craftsman feels lost in his craft, when a naturalist feels at one with nature, when a believer feels at one with God's love. That is what the unconscious mind hungers for. And many of us feel it in lovewhen lovers feel fused."

~ David Brooks, from "The Social Animal," TED Talks, March 2011

See also: Brooks, D. (2011). The social animal: The hidden sources of love, character, and achievement. New York: Random House. 

Measuring Non-Standard Forms of Intelligence

Measuring Non-Standard Forms of Intelligence

"It's like we have a ruler that is very precise for half of its width or length. Right? I'm interested in those folks that don't do well on those kinds of tests, that don't do well on the standard IQ test or don't do so well on the SAT test, let's say. What I want to know is what they know that's not being reflected in that test. Or another angle on it is, I want to find out more about what didn't happen in their educations that made them do poorly on that test or in their life experience." ~ Mike Rose