Re: future of intelligence?

From: Darin Sunley (
Date: Sun Feb 27 2000 - 23:28:36 MST

<> wrote:

>In a message dated 2/26/2000 11:01:40 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> writes:
><< To denigrate the weakening of the definition of intelligence >
>You keep saying 'including abilities denigrates, or weakens intelligence'.
>Explain how this happens. I see no reason that adding other abilities to
>intelligence somehow magically waters mathematical / verbal abstract
>symbolic reasoning down.

I did not say that it weakens intelligence, I said it weakens the
*definition* of intelligence. They are, I assure you, two very different
things. The map is not the territory, and all that...

>It doesn't makes that behavior less valuable, inherently,it just raises
other >behaviors up. That's like saying if other people get taller, you'll
be >shorter.

Intelligence, and those other abilities, are of the same fundamental kind.
None of them are, prima facie, more important then any of the others.
Intelligence is not "higher" then the others, nor has it ever been.
Accordingly, you cannot "raise" abilities to the level of intelligence,
anymore then you can raise oranges to the level of apples. They are all
fruit. Intelligence is an ability. As is musical ability, or verbal ability.
You COULD refer to apples as "red oranges", but you'd sound silly.

"Raising" cognitive abilities, relative to each other, is as ludicrous as
"lowering them". They are all the same.

Apples are apples, oranges are oranges, and they are both fruit.

Intelligence is mathematical/verbal abstract symbolic reasoning ability, and
musical intelligence is musical ability. They are both cognitive abilities.

I don't see how I can be any more clear. What I am against is the purposeful
mangling of a word with a perfectly clear definition ("intelligence"), in
order to refer to objects for which there is ALREADY a perfectly clear word
("cognitive ability".) All I am against is the creating of meaingless jargon
for the sole puropse of creating controversy. ("Ooh, look! This
psychologist's book has completely re-defined human cognition. Let's buy
it!"). I've noticed this occurrs in pop-psychology all too often. A
perfectly straightforward word is redefined in a tortured, illogical, and
not particularly useful way in order to generate enough cognitive dissonance
in the potential reader to induce them to purchase the book.

>Two, you also assert "the universal all-importance of symbolic reasoning".

I just reread my email, and I'm genuinely puzzled as to how you extracted
this from my message. I am not asserting ANY such "universal importance", I
am *referring* to it, as a belief other people seem to have held. I disagree
with this assertion. I commented at length in my email on my disagreement
with this assertion. I commented that, in disagreeing with this assertion, I
found myself in agreement with Binet, QueenMUSE, Gardner, and you.
Quotations, traditionally, allow one to refer to an assertion without
implying one's agreement to it.

> On the other hand, explain why empiricism would be less ridiculous a
>in a notoriously soft science such as behavioral development, or psychology
>in general? Finally at this point in history, perhaps empirical evidence
>begins to dribble in about the brain's workings, but for now it isn't yet
>time to claim we have empirical knowledge of the mind, yet. Soon ...

Ignorance of the facts is never an excuse for unbridled speculation, except
as fiction, clearly marked as such. (Dental history would be 2000 years
ahead if Aristotle could have been bothered to count his wife's teeth :))
(YES, that was facetious.)) Freud had that excuse. Binet may have had that
excuse. Gardner is a contemporary to MRI scanners, and functional cognitive
science, and working theories of vision rigourous enough that they actually
work when you tell a computer to emulate them, AND is working in the
post-Piaget era. He doesn't have that excuse.

Darin Sunley

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