Sunday, 15 June 2014

Is Intelligence an Ability?

I argue that intelligence is not an ability. IQ and intelligence are marks of a social movement that is conceptually grounded on the idea of the "universal object". The universal object is an object, and its behavior, that is supposedly present to all life-forms, and that all life-forms have a measurable ability to articulate. More than an anthropomorphic formulation, though humankind is its primary focus, the "universal object" is a premise, an assumption, that appears to facilitate the comparative measure of the ability of not only individuals, but species. I challenge that premise.
The successful articulation of objects (as a working definition of IQ), must be grounded on objects conceived by the individual. IQ (and intelligence) is, therefore, not a measure of ability but an empty description of matches made of objects conceived by the test-subject to objects presented by the examiner. A "match" is a mapping, and mappings are always contingent, not instructive.

Thus, IQ test results can only provide the test-subject with the prescriptive moral code embedded in the test-objects selected by the examiner. IQ is a measure of fit between an individual and the social model provided by the test. The general commitment to the IQ test is a statement of commitment to its model of social stratification.

Opposing the idea of the species-universal object is the idea that not only individuals, but species have a unique set of conceived objects: there are no universal objects. The ability or "intelligence" to articulate these objects is necessarily infinite because spontaneous. Empirical evidence that appears to bear this out is provided by the example of the waterhole, where all species - irrespective of their "intelligence" are equally adept at survival (subject to physical limitations), even for those species that purportedly have no cognition, such as plants. Another example that casts doubt on the premise of the universal object and its social manifestation (intelligence) is the idea of "social intelligence" which appears as a lacuna in the universal-object model of intelligence (and IQ).

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