Do you think there is an intrinsic merit to intelligence?

  • #26
149
0
This is really the foundation for my argument. As far as I can tell, there doesn't exist a well defined, impartial and objective metric for measuring the importance of an asset or quality in someone. By that reasoning, I conclude that on a purely individual basis (i.e. outside of the confines of society), intelligence has no outlying importance in comparison to any other quality. I'm glad to see that other people share this view, it's pretty annoying when people are infatuated with their own intelligence as if it holds any weight in comparison. These kind of observations are what prompted this post.
We have scholastic results, scholastic degrees and honors designations, credit reports, criminal background checks, licensing tests, certification tests, IQ tests, placement tests, personality tests, aptitude tests, scholastic competitions, peer review, brain scans, and etc. The argument could be made that we don't have "a well defined, impartial and objective metric for measuring the importance of an asset or quality" for modern art either - yet somehow a value is established. Rather than a narrow definition of intelligence - perhaps a value should be reached by weighing the collective results?
 
  • #27
We have scholastic results, scholastic degrees and honors designations, credit reports...peer review, brain scans, and etc. The argument could be made that we don't have "a well defined, impartial and objective metric for measuring the importance of an asset or quality" for modern art either - yet somehow a value is established.
To demonstrate through analogy, in mathematics there are very well defined, concise methods of determining quantities. I'm sure you are very familiar with this. However, in society, all of the criterion you listed are merely subjective and often fundamentally indeterminate. These "metrics" you've suggested aren't absolute, universal or complete to define anything really. There is no absolute, impartial method of evaluating the quality of art, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one considers a masterpiece another may consider to be utterly worthless. Who is right? Neither one of them truly is, it is purely a matter of opinion. You cannot simplify it more than that. Whether or not degrees, designations, etc. constitute an accurate and concise way of measuring the value of intelligence is ultimately a matter of opinion as well. A degree is only a sufficient way of determining one's value because of the value society imposes on such things. I understand it is completely impractical and absurd to assume there is such a measure that adequately evaluates the value of something in a mathematically rigorous sense, but I am merely arguing that intellect in itself is not intrinsically more important than any other quality in someone. It is only when we attempt to label these qualities that they gain any significance, but this is a result of the subjective nature of the human opinion.
 
  • #28
11
0
For my part, and considering the inherent diversity among humans, I don’t see the benefits of trying to measure something like intelligence. It is, for me, something immeasurable. I don’t think you can, nor should one try to define a metric or quantify a value for it. Things like IQ or aptitude tests can be bias and culture specific. In this respect I think there’s not much difference in measuring intelligence from who can jump the highest, if one tried to measure intelligence.

What we might measure as intelligence is usually a reflection of our own expectations. Take the concept of Justice. Justice means different things to different people. Our Laws try to mirror our perceptions of Justice but almost never capture the whole of our evolving perceptions of that idea. As our perceptions of Justice change the Laws change. Our perceptions of intelligence can also change and mean different things in different points in time. These concepts, for me, are moving targets that we could probably never capture. In the same token, I don’t think they should ever become monolithic and stagnant.
 
Last edited:
  • #29
Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
5,844
712
For my part, and considering the inherent diversity among humans, I don’t see the benefits of trying to measure something like intelligence. It is, for me, something immeasurable. I don’t think you can, nor should one try to define a metric or quantify a value for it. Things like IQ or aptitude tests can be bias and culture specific. In this respect I think there’s not much difference in measuring intelligence from who can jump the highest, if one tried to measure intelligence.

What we might measure as intelligence is usually a reflection of our own expectations. Take the concept of Justice. Justice means different things to different people. Our Laws try to mirror our perceptions of Justice but almost never capture the whole of our evolving perceptions of that idea. As our perceptions of Justice change the Laws change. Our perceptions of intelligence can also change and mean different things in different points in time. These concepts, for me, are moving targets that we could probably never capture. In the same token, I don’t think they should ever become monolithic and stagnant.
Just because it is difficult bordering on impossible to even give a perfect testable definition of intelligence doesn't mean that we can't have non-perfect definition. If we take intelligence as the ability to take in and apply new information (the higher your intelligence the larger the quantity/quality of information you can take in and better quality of applying) then we can measure intelligence within a field. Overall we can suggest someone is intelligent if they are good at their field and we can apply this kind of reasoning to multiple fields.

Qualifications with a heavy emphasis on coursework and problem-questions are a good (not perfect) way of measuring intelligence if done correctly and I don't doubt our ability to improve testing. The word intelligence has a useful meaning considering that people can use the term to convey a meaning that someone else will understand.
 
  • #30
11
0
Qualifications with a heavy emphasis on coursework and problem-questions are a good (not perfect) way of measuring intelligence if done correctly and I don't doubt our ability to improve testing. The word intelligence has a useful meaning considering that people can use the term to convey a meaning that someone else will understand.
I understand your meaning... my only problem is codifying this notion. Proficiency at something doesn't necessarily reflect intelligence. Such as possessing a McDegree for example, pardon the aphorism. Someone who is skilled as a mediator, or a storyteller possesses a different intellectual focus from that of an engineer or mechanic. it's just that for me intelligence is much too fluid a concept.
 
  • #31
149
0
How do we identify that a person lacks intelligence?
 
  • #32
11
0
How do we identify that a person lacks intelligence?
lol.. why do you want to? Or... what is it exactly are you wanting to measure?
 
  • #33
russ_watters
Mentor
19,927
6,393
To demonstrate through analogy, in mathematics there are very well defined, concise methods of determining quantities....

There is no absolute, impartial method of evaluating the quality of art, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one considers a masterpiece another may consider to be utterly worthless. Who is right? Neither one of them truly is, it is purely a matter of opinion.
There is an enormous difference between 'difficult to quantify/define' and 'does not exist'. A piece of art has a value that is determined by the people who bought/sold it. Just because it is subjective doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Clearly, intelligence has value, as you seem to somewhat acknowledge:
I would think it's obvious that a high intellect has many "valuable" applications.
While at the same time, you say:
But what one considers "valuable" is entirely subjective to me, and in that sense I can't see any true justification for the thought that intelligence is inherently a more meritorious quality than any other.
Well 'more valuable' is certainly subjective, but in your OP you didn't say "more" or "less" valuable, you said no value:
I've been wrestling with this idea that, beyond the context of today's society, knowledge, intelligence, wisdom,...etc are essentially worthless and just as mundane and trivial as say... hair color.
That's just nonsense (and illegal in some contexts!) and frankly, this whole thread just sounds to me like an unfocused/rambling whine.
 
  • #34
There is an enormous difference between 'difficult to quantify/define' and 'does not exist'. A piece of art has a value that is determined by the people who bought/sold it. Just because it is subjective doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Clearly, intelligence has value, as you seem to somewhat acknowledge: While at the same time, you say: Well 'more valuable' is certainly subjective, but in your OP you didn't say "more" or "less" valuable, you said no value: That's just nonsense (and illegal in some contexts!) and frankly, this whole thread just sounds to me like an unfocused/rambling whine.
People seem to be over thinking this one entirely too much, and inferring that I'm saying that intellect has no value whatsoever in the world. The argument isn't that intelligence is worthless in society, it's that there is no intrinsic value of intelligence, just as there is no intrinsic value to currency. It's just paper. So as you quoted me in saying, "*beyond the context of society*" it only has value on a individual basis, and therefore is as important or unimportant as deemed by the individual them self. Obviously intelligence is valuable when intelligence is required, i.e. theoretical physics, analytical thought, but I never provided an argument to the contrary. So to say this is nonsense leads me to believe you bestow a great importance on your own intellect, and feel that somehow I'm trying to detract from it, which I'm not. That's just nonsense.
 
  • #35
Evo
Mentor
23,161
2,855
This thread is going nowhere, I meant to close it the other day. The more intelligence a person has, the more they are capable of understanding. More understanding leads to being more capable of doing things, on any level.
 

Related Threads on Do you think there is an intrinsic merit to intelligence?

Replies
36
Views
3K
Replies
32
Views
6K
Replies
10
Views
2K
Replies
18
Views
3K
Replies
15
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
1K
  • Last Post
5
Replies
124
Views
14K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
38
Views
4K
Replies
4
Views
5K
Top