Defining subtle concepts may always be controversial and intelligence is no exception. For the purpose of this brief introduction I will attempt to look at an overview of definitions. I hope you find it useful.


Can be defined according to Weschler as ‘the ability to think rationally, act purposefully and deal with one’s environment’.

I.Q measurements as we know them today were formulated by Charles Spearman in 1904 who generally looked at abstract reasoning as a sign of IQ which was often genetically determined. This has since been used to judge and classify children and adults in education, health and career matters.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences was proposed in 1983 by Howard Gardiner in his book ‘Frames of Mind’. He differentiated intelligence into different sensory modalities rather than a single general ability which could be defined as the ability to pass intelligence tests. IQ has not been updated since it was first defined and measured over 100 years ago. It has to be said that there is little else that hasn’t been updated in over a century!

1. Linguistic (Traditional I.Q. Measurements)

2. Logical-mathematical (Traditional I.Q. Measurements)

3. Visual-Spatial (tendency to be gender weighted to male side of the brain)

4. Bodily-kinaesthetic

5. Musical

6. Interpersonal (tendency to be gender weighted to the female side of the brain)

7. Intrapersonal (tendency to be gender weighted to the female side of the brain)

 Naturalistic – to understand and live in nature

 Existential and moral intelligence – to understand transpersonal aspects, that which is perceived as lying beyond the material world.

These new classifications have helped remove stigma and judgement by valuing aptitudes, abilities and gifts of others. They have informed education by encouraging best teaching practice by the use of learning styles based on the first 7 of these ’Intelligences’.

Zohar & Marshall (2003) define spiritual intelligence in their ground breaking book S.Q, The Ultimate Intelligence’ as:

“the intelligence with which we can place our actions and our lives in a wider, richer, meaning-giving context; the intelligence with which we can assess that one course of action or one life-path is more meaningful than another.”