How Many Intelligences Do We Have?

Nine seems to be the right answer

Thanks to Comfreak from Pixabay.

The theory of multiple intelligences

The American psychologist Howard Gardner, in his book Formae Mentis, on the basis of research and literature on subjects suffering from lesions of neuropsychological interest, manages to distinguish as many as nine fundamental forms of intelligence, deriving from different structures of the brain and independent of each other. Here are the nine intellectual macro-groups:

Linguistic intelligence

It is the intelligence linked to the ability to use a clear and effective vocabulary. Those who possess it usually know how to vary their linguistic register according to needs and have a tendency to reflect on language. This type of intelligence could seem strictly intellectual, but in fact it is really emotional too. A poet who’s looking for the right word to fully express his feeling is trying to link the emotivity with the rational part within him, using the language as a medium. Just by the mere fact that you’re on this platform though, you’ve mastered this intelligence to a quite high degree!

Logical-mathematical intelligence

It involves both the left cerebral hemisphere, which recalls mathematical symbols, and the right one, in which concepts are elaborated. It’s the intelligence that concerns deductive reasoning, schematization and logical chains. This kind of intelligence is the type involved in IQ tests, originally developed to spot children in need of a special assistance at school by Alfred Binet, a 19th century french psychologist. Maybe you could have more difficulties with this one, don’t worry: according to a study published on Nature by University College of London, your IQ can increase by 21 points or go down by 18; so don’t despair and take your sudoku journal in your hands, you got it!

Spatial intelligence

It concerns the ability to perceive shapes and objects in space. Those who possess it normally have a developed memory for the environmental details and the external characteristics of the figures; they can orient themselves in intricate places and recognize three-dimensional objects on the basis of rather complex mental schemes. This form of intelligence essentially manifests itself in the creation of figurative arts. Think of a Michelangelo imagining the David out of a marble lump, it takes a lot of mental vision beforehand and of course a ton of skill afterwards!

Body-kinesthetic intelligence

This intelligence involves the cerebellum, the fundamental ganglia, the thalamus and various other parts of our brain. Those who have it, have a mastery of the body that allows them to coordinate movements well. In general it can refer to those who make creative use of the body, such as gymnasts and dancers. A good example can be Cristiano Ronaldo, approaching the area he makes a lot of complex physical calculations like trajectory, ball speed and spin in a split second and before you can figure out this magic, the ball is blowing the net and the arena bursts out.

Musical intelligence

Normally located in the right hemisphere of the brain, but people with musical culture process the melody in the left one. It is the ability to recognize the pitch of sounds, harmonic and counterpoint constructions. Those who have it, usually have a marked talent for the use of one or more musical instruments, or for the singing modulation of their voice. An impressive aspect of this intelligence is the absolute pitch , often called perfect pitch, is a rare ability, 1 over 10.000, of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone. And you, have you ever tried to guess which note your cousin is playing on the guitar? Try it, you could be suprised of your hidden talent!

Intrapersonal intelligence

It concerns the ability to understand one’s individuality, to know how to insert it in the social context to obtain better results in personal life, and also to know how to identify with personalities different from one’s own. It is considered by Gardner a mirror “phase” of interpersonal intelligence, where the latter represents the extrospective phase. A perfect representant of this intelligence is Heraclitus, the 475 BC greek philosopher who said: “As far as you can walk, and not even walking the whole way, you could ever find the boundaries of the soul: so deep is its lógos”. Lógos is a greek term and it indicates the reason that governs the whole universe.

Interpersonal intelligence

This kind of ability involves the whole brain, but mainly the pre-frontal lobes. It is about the ability to understand others, their needs, fears, hidden desires, to create favorable social situations and to promote beneficial social and personal models. It can be found specifically in psychologists, more generally in those who possess strong empathy and social interaction skills. A great example of this intelligence is Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and the unconscious mind.

Naturalistic intelligence

It consists in knowing how to identify certain natural objects, classify them in a precise order and grasp the relationships between them. Some human groups that live in a still “primitive” stage, such as the aboriginal tribes of gatherers-hunters, show a great ability in knowing how to orient themselves in the natural environment recognizing even the smallest details. A perfect example of this faculty is Charles Darwin, the famous father of the evolution theory of species.

Existential intelligence

This last intelligence represents the ability to consciously reflect on the great themes of theoretical speculation, such as the nature of the universe and human consciousness, and to derive conceptual categories that can be universally valid from sophisticated processes of abstraction. A fitting model for this quality is Albert Einstein, the genial father of relativity who curved the whole universe with his mind!

Under this theory the meaning of intelligence is therefore to be understood as particular abilities of which the individual is endowed. Although these abilities are more or less innate in individuals, they are not static and can be developed through exercise, even being able to “decay” over time. Gardner himself then mentioned that classifying all manifestations of human intelligence would be too complex a task, since each macro-group contains various subtypes. And you? What kind of intelligence you already have and which one would you like to develop further?

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