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The Essence of Human Intelligence

In the last few centuries, nothing has influenced the world as much as science. The growth of scientific knowledge in the last five centuries has transformed the way man lived on this planet. The essence of scientific knowledge is that scientific theories are based on reasoning that can be explained by logic and proven by experiment. One distinguishing feature of the scientific knowledge as compared to earlier knowledge is that science believes in superiority of knowledge to the creator of  knowledge. Hence, any person can challenge the theories pronounced by even the greatest scientists like Newton and Einstein. It was a major departure from the earlier methods of acquiring knowledge, where the creator of the knowledge was given higher importance than the knowledge itself. For example, the theories or principles based on religious texts like Bible, Koran or Gita cannot be contested by any one since these were supposed to be created by God Himself or by his messenger. The result is that this knowledge became frozen in time as it lost the capacity of assimilation and growth.


Thus, while there is widely a consensus on the knowledge of science which presumed that even the greatest scientific theory was fallible and hence, amenable to change, the religious knowledge did not change with time as it were considered to be a gospel truth which can never be contested or changed. Even discussion of this knowledge is nothing less than blasphemy, that is to say, the greatest crime a human being can commit that may attract death punishment in many countries.


However, a man is man in spite of his beliefs and thoughts. A scientist can be a man of faith and a faithful man can be a scientist. Science and faith fused with each other as the time progressed. The element of faith or infallibility of knowledge gradually seeped into science. Scientists unknowingly and unconsciously believed some theories to be the gospel truth and stopped asking basic questions which they were expected to do in order to know the whole truth. They started calling some of these theories as laws (like laws of gravitation, Newton’s laws of motion, etc.) thereby placing them above doubt and questioning. They stopped asking questions regarding these theories as these were gradually treated by the scientific community as gospel truths. The element of faith in science surely brought stability in the theories but stunted the growth of science.


We can see the element of faith creeping in many scientific theories particularly those promulgated by great scientists. For example, Newton proved that the force between two material objects is equal to G m1.m2/r2 where G is the universal gravitation constant, m1 and m2 are the mass of the matter and r is the distance between the objects. This theory has stood the test of time yet there is no explanation why the mass attracts in the first place and not repulse each other like the charges of the same type. Further, if all masses only attract each other then why the universe is not sinking (but expanding)? Why the force is proportional to the masses but inversely proportional to the square of their distances? The scientists seem to be satisfied by simply knowing the relationships (within the Solar System) without concerning about the cause of the relationship. The same complacency can be seen in calculating the force between the electric charges and magnets, which merely explains that the same charges repulse and the opposite charges attract by a relationship without explaining  the relationship itself.


Even in modern physics, the theory of atom universally accepted by scientists is the Bohr’s theory. It states that an atom is the most basic particle of a matter that consists of positively charged nucleus (consisting of positively charged protons and neutral neutrons) and the negatively charged electrons which revolve around the nucleus of the atom.





This Model of an Atom is Purely Hypothetical


Scientists calculated the weight, electric charges of these basic particles and the radius of the atom. Yet the scientists stopped asking questions about how the protons and neutrons were placed in the nucleus? Or why the protons do not experience the forces of repulsions due to their extremely small distances with each other (this force would have phenomenon as the size of nucleus is thousands of time smaller than the size of atom)? Or from where the electrons came and started orbiting the atom. After all, if they are coming from somewhere, they must first be attracted by the powerful force of attraction caused by the (positive) nucleus. In fact, if you look into any scientific theory, you would find that faith is as common in science as in religion as numerous hypotheses have been accepted by the scientists as gospel truths.


Difficulty arose when the scientific methods of investigations and knowledge were applied on human beings. Here the scientists failed miserably. Psychology, which is best defined as the science of behaviour and cognitive process also failed to explain most of the fundamental concepts like intelligence or love which we all know from our experience. There are many such concepts relating to human behaviour, which scientists have failed to define and explain. In this article we shall discuss one such concept “intelligence”.


Definitions of Intelligence

More than 85 years ago, 17 eminent scholars attended a symposium during which they were asked to express their ideas about intelligence and they produced nearly as many distinct opinions [1]. The situation is not different today as there are numerous definitions of intelligence in circulation. These definitions are so divergent from each other that if you remove the word “intelligence” from them, perhaps you will not be able to guess that they are actually defining the same concept.


One of the simplest and widely accepted definitions of intelligence was proposed by David Wechsler, which defines intelligence [2] as follows:


Intelligence is the capacity to understand the world and the resourcefulness to cope with its challenges.


A distinguished panel of experts [3] defined intelligence as following:


Intelligence refers to individual’s ability

  • to understand complex ideas
  • to adapt effectively to the environment
  • to learn from experience
  • to engage in various forms of reasoning
  • to overcome obstacle by careful thought.


Scientists are also not sure, as to whether or not, intelligence is a single ability or multiple-ability. One group of scientists called lumpers view intelligence as a single capacity while the other category of scientists called splitters view it as divided up into many separate mental abilities [4]. For example, Spearman [5] believed that intelligence can be explained only by a pervasive overall mental ability that can be called as “g” factor for general intelligence factor. However, most of the psychologists consider intelligence as multiple traits.


Stemberg [6][7]gave Trairchic theory of intelligence which divides intelligence into three traits i.e. analytical intelligence, creative intelligence and practical intelligence. Gardner [8] gave the theory of multiple intelligences, which stands for intelligence as  multiple that can be divided into eight different types of intelligences. One group of investigators headed by J. P. Guilford concluded that intelligence was made up of no less than 120 different types of abilities [9].


The disagreement over the concept of intelligence does not end here. Some scientists believe that creativity is the most important component of intelligence, otherwise even the greatest scientists like Newton and Einstein could not be called intelligent. However, others argue that creativity should not be part of intelligence. Then there are other types of intelligences like Emotional Intelligence (EQ), proposed by Golman who believed that high IQ makes you a good manager only. It is only high EQ that makes you a leader in life. We also find concepts of spiritual intelligence, fluid intelligence (inherited ability to think and reason) and crystallized intelligence (accumulated knowledge-information acquired from experience of a lifetime), proposed by other scientists, as distinct traits of intelligences [10].


However, most of the traits associated with intelligence cannot be measured. How can you measure emotions? How can you measure creativity? The universal method of measuring intelligence is by a simple IQ test devised by Binet and Simon, which can be completed often in minutes. The IQ test is so universally accepted as a measurement of intelligence that most of the management colleges, universities and even companies select students or employees based on their scores in the IQ tests.


 Fundaments Questions about Intelligence

We have discussed earlier that scientists have stopped asking questions beyond a point. The first question that naturally comes to our mind while thinking about IQ tests is, if a person is illiterate, he will naturally score zero marks in the IQ test. So whether must we consider him to be unintelligent? If this were correct, then our ancestors must be surely dumb and about half of the population of the world, which is illiterate or semi-literate even today, must be dumb and unintelligent as they would surely get zero score in the IQ tests. Though scientists have devised some IQ tests for illiterate people also, based on symbols, but by the very definition of intelligence, IQ tests give the score relative to others. Thus the intelligence of an illiterate person can be measured only in respect of another illiterate person. Therefore, there is no way that his intelligence can be compared with that of a literate person.



This absent minded genuis would have scored below average mark in IQ test



As GRE, GMAT, SAT, CAT are more or less IQ tests which are often the most important criterion for selections in universities, we all know the tricks of scoring high marks in these tests. We all know that we cannot score high marks in these examinations unless we work hard and practise a lot of problems. This means that even if you are educated and intelligent, you cannot score high marks unless you practise these tests. That means that intelligence improves with practice. Then the question arises as to whether intelligence is an inherent quality which cannot be changed or a skill that improves with practice. The discussion clearly reveals that IQ tests surely cannot be accepted as a criterion for measuring intelligence. Then what is intelligence?



The Mystery of Understanding


Now, let us try to get the simplest definition of intelligence. One definition states that Intelligence is the capacity to understand the world and the resourcefulness to cope with its challenges. Some experts’ definitions also state that intelligence is the ability to understand complex ideas and solve the real life problems. Thus broadly speaking all definitions converge on a simple definition that intelligence means understanding the real life problems and solving them. However, this amounts to presume that intelligence cannot be measured since it is difficult to simulate a real life problem and get its solution in a short time. In fact, most of the real life problems can be solved only in years or at least in months.


However, no explanation has ever been given as to how we understand problems and try to solve them. The fact of understanding is taken for granted without explanation. It is a mystery as to how we understand problems and find solutions for them, which are absolutely new.


Thus we find that even this simple definition of intelligence is only hypothetical as we believe that two masses attract each other by the universal law of gravitation since we have no clue as to how we understand complex ideas. We can argue that before understanding the complex ideas we must first understand simple or basic ideas as the complex ideas are composed of simple ideas. 


It can be further argued that the simplest ideas are those that we learn first. Thus we can say that in the process of growth, a person first understands simple ideas during his childhood and gradually he learns complex ideas in life. Yet, how does a child understand a simple idea? 


‘Idea’ is defined in the Oxford dictionary as a conception or plan formed by mental effort. So no idea or plan can be expressed without the help of language. Thus the necessary ingredient of an idea is language. However, the difficulty inherent in this presumption is that when a child is born, he does not know any language. He learns to speak a particular language as he grows up. All children learn to speak as they grow up. Since language itself can be considered to a basic idea, we can say that if a child is intelligent he will learn to speak. The more intelligent a child is, the faster he will learn than the less intelligent ones. We know that all children learn to speak basic words within a few months. But can anyone explain how a child learns a language from nothing?


If we just observe a child learning new words of a language or a new thought, we may find that he is learning from the language of his parents or sibling. For example, his mama would point a finger on herself and say “mama”. The child somehow co-relates the non-verbal sign of the mother and the word “mama” and desires to pronounce the word “mama”. Gradually he co-relates all the three i.e. the non-verbal signal of his mother, the verbal signal of her mother (mama) and the pronunciation made by him of the word “mama” by his conscious effort. He really does not know how he pronounces the word ‘mama’. Yet his desire to understand the word ‘mama’ fixes this word in his memory and his vocal cords work together to pronounce the word ‘mama’. He learns that the person who loves her and takes care of him is called his “mama”.


Thus a child learns the verbal communication from the non-verbal communication as in the beginning his vocabulary is zero. This concept of learning is so basic and fundamental that it can never be explained by any scientific theorem. It is like, once you know that earth revolves around the sun and the moon around the earth, you can find the basic laws which are true in both the cases but you can never expect a scientist to explain how the sun, the earth or the moon came into being in the orbit.

Aatmic Science Understanding of Intelligence

The basic principle of the Aatmic Science is that the material world is created or formed by the manifestation of soul. It is similar to the formation of a human being or any other living being from a single fertilized cell. The soul can be compared with a software program of the CNC Machine, which, once put into operation, automatically produces the machine part as per the computer program. The ancient western philosophers like Aristotle and the philosophies of the Upanishads and the Gita believed that the body is the reflection of soul in the material world. Thus the soul and the material bodies are mirror images of each other. Please see the basic principles of the Aatmic Science for detailed information.


In the Gita, Lord Krishna explains the creation of the universe in the following words:

“Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Mind, Reason and Ego- thus eightfold are my Nature. This is My lower aspect; but know thou My other aspect, the higher – which is jiva (Atman) by which this world is sustained. Know that these two compose the source from which all beings spring; I am the origin and the end of the entire Universe. (Gita VI,1, 4, 5)”

Here Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether represent the five states of matter i.e. solid, liquid, gas, plasma and light. For details regarding the creation of the universe and life please read the article Creation of Universe and Life: The Aatmic Science Theory.


In order to know the soul, we have to take an analogy from the material world. Here some basic principles can be stated as following:


(a)                  All the material objects have an imperceptible image or field.

(b)                 The imperceptible field of the material entity can be measured only by a similar material entity


The Imperceptible Image of Matter

All material entities have an imperceptible image which cannot be measured or felt by the material world. For example, we know that all masses attract each other. Scientists believe that each mass creates a gravitational field which extends to infinity. When an object is kept in the gravitational field, it experiences a force of attraction in the direction of the field. However, such a gravitational field has never been seen, felt or measured. The only way to know, whether or not, a field is present is by experiencing a force on another material object. If the gravitational field is present,  the matter placed in the field must experience a force in the direction of the gravitational field.


However, we are not sure if any field of gravity really exists. For example, if the body is accelerating, it will experience the same force as that of the gravity created by a mass. For example, our weight will change in a lift even though the same mass of earth exists and the same field of gravity is present. Thus if you are sitting in a closed room and experience a gravitational force, there is absolutely no way of knowing whether the force is due to the gravity of a mass or due to acceleration. If one is sitting in a satellite which is orbiting the earth in a geostationary orbit, one would not experience any force at all since the centripetal force of the satellite (due to its circular motion) perfectly balances forces of gravity. Since the forces created due to acceleration and the gravity are identical, we also cannot say if the mass really creates any gravitational field at all.


Similarly you must have also noticed the electrical field and the magnetic field shown around an electric charge or magnet. We know that these fields shown in the diagram are imaginary and hypothetical.




The Hypothetical Electric Field of an Electric Dipole


The Hypothetical Magnetic Field of a Magnet


Scientists draw these fields by simply observing the forces exerted by the electric chargers or the magnet on an electric charge or a magnet. We then trace the direction of force we get from these lines of fields. Thus we find that all material entities have a field around them, which is imperceptible to the material world.


Only the like entities can measure the imperceptible fields

Do you know that a neutron can easily pass through matter without getting embedded to it? Why? Because it does not experience any force being neutral in an electric charge. If  matter does not have any electric charge, it can not experience any force due to another electric charge. Similarly, a non-magnetic substance cannot experience any magnetic force due to another magnet. In the same way, no gravitational force can be experienced by an entity which does not have any mass. As a matter of fact, the fields can be measured only by measuring the force on a similar entity.


Thus we measure a physical entity by its imperceptible image. We measure the mass of the sun by measuring the force between the earth and the sun (created due to the gravitational field) and the distance between them. Similarly we measure the mass of the  earth by knowing the force it exerts on the moon or on a unit mass. An electrical current is measured by measuring the force which it exerts on a magnet by virtue of the magnetism created by the current (moving electrons). We measure the magnetism by measuring the force it exerts on another magnet. Thus we measure a particular material property of the entity by measuring its effect on another similar entity.


 The Concept of Soul

Just like every material body has an imperceptible field, so every imperceptible soul has a material body. Since the soul is imperceptible to the material world and the body is the image or reflection of the soul in the material world,  we make following hypothesis based on the observation of the material world.


(a)                           Body is the material manifestation of soul in the physical world

(b)                           Only the soul of a person can experience the soul of another person from the observation of the material body



This explains the concept of intelligence based on the principles of the Aatmic Science.


The Aatmic Science defines Intelligence in the following words:


Intelligence is the capability of an individual to understand another entity (living or no-living) more completely from one or more physical manifestation of the entity like face, signature, writing, texture of the skin, voice, walking style etc.


Now let us go back to the example of the learning of language by a child. When his mama says the word “mama” and points a finger towards her, what she is trying to tell the child is that she is his mama. The child understands the mind of his mama through her external manifestations, which include speech, facial expressions, body-language etc. Here the child understands the mind of his mama from her external manifestations of the soul i.e. body and speech. Thus, in this process, the knowledge in the mind of ‘mama’ is transferred to the child through the physical manifestations of her body.




Knowledge is transferred from a mother to child by non-verbal communication


Similarly, when ‘mama’ wants her child to walk, she should be saying the words like ‘get up’, ‘stand’ or ‘walk carefully’, but the child does not know the meaning of any of these words at that age. However, through the external manifestation of the body of the mother, he learns the knowledge  subsisting in the mind of her mother.


This explains how we learn the simple concepts or ideas of life. Now from these simple concepts we build more complex concepts. We often learn these complex ideas in our schools or colleges. Here also the teacher explains these concepts through verbal and non-verbal communication. We often do not understand as to how we learn better through a teacher than from books. What happens during teaching is that a good teacher, through his speech and verbal as well as non-verbal communication, transfers his knowledge to our minds if we are receptive and attentive in the class. A person is more intelligent if he understands the mind of the teacher more easily. Similarly, the more intelligent or better the teacher is in communicating his knowledge, the faster he would be able to transfer the knowledge or his piece of mind to his students.



Learning is best from an Intelligent Teacher


If you are really intelligent, you can even learn new knowledge even without the help of a teacher. You can learn even the most complex form of knowledge purely by the study of a book or an article. Books do not have the physical manifestation of the teacher as only words and sentences are written in a book without the physical manifestation or  facial expressions, the movement of eyes, the ups and downs of the speech of the teacher. Still if the book is well-written by an intelligence teacher, you can grasp the mind of the teacher directly from the book which has only a limited manifestation of the soul of the teacher viz. the language


The Formal Definition of Intelligence Quotient

We can formally define intelligence quotient (IQ) as following:


A person can be considered more intelligent if he can understand a more complex concept; at a faster rate, than a less intelligent person, from minimum physical manifestation.


The Real Meaning of Intelligence

We may view different definitions of intelligence and believe that since intelligence is a complex concept, it cannot be explained by a single definition. Hence, all different definitions represent different facets of intelligence. 


However, if you believe in unity in diversity, you may believe that all the different definitions of intelligence are actually manifestations of the same Intelligence. It is analogically similar to the human soul which is manifested in the physical world through diverse physical entities viz. body-parts like eyes, ears, legs, heart etc. The soul of  man is just one and the same is true with the Aatmic Science definition of Intelligence which correctly explains all possible definitions of intelligence. The Aatmic Science definition is the essence of all the definitions of intelligence as it can explain all the divergent concepts of intelligence, as described below:


  • Understanding the world: On the basis of the Aatmic science definition of intelligence, it becomes easy to explain how we understand the world. The Aatmic science states that the physical body is the material manifestation of the soul. The soul which is present in all living and non-living entities is actually part of the universal soul known as Parmaatman or God. In simple terms, we can compare the individual soul as a cell of the body, which has the same intelligence as the body. The success of cloning has demonstrated that even one single cell of skin or liver can be developed to make the identical specie. Still the individual cells of the body are not isolated from each other but connected with each other like the network of computers. The virus in one computer can affect all computers just like any harm on one part of the body does affect the other part of the body. Similarly, in the world also, all the living beings are connected like different cells of the body even though each cell has its own individuality and life. Thus by the help of our soul we find ourselves connected with other persons’ souls like a thread connects different beads of jewellary.  Thus due to this interconnection of souls we can understand the mind and reasoning of other individuals. This explains how we understand the world.


  • Creativity: All living beings are by nature creative. No human being can ever repeat any action in life. If we are asked to write an essay on any topic ten times, we may write it in ten different ways. If you ask even a child, he can write a poem, write essays and create new tunes. The question is, if every human being can create new things, why we consider only some people to be creative. The difficulty with creation is that though it may be new, yet it may not be liked or accepted by others. For example, I may make a tune or write a song every day but no one, including myself, may appreciate or like the song. Thus the real creativity is one which may be created by one person from his own mind (or heart) but it is liked and appreciated by others. Thus we create some songs, music, stories or even new scientific theories. There is no scientific explanation as to how some one can compose a music which is liked by millions not only of the present generation but also of the future generations. An intelligent story-writing is one where the writer, through his stories, can actually touch your mind and cause the desired emotion. A good movie can make you cry or laugh. A good leader can motivate you to sacrifice your life for a cause. These are but examples of creative intelligence where a person, through his intelligence, directly communicates with your mind, makes your mind learn new things through the verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Solving the Real Life Problems: Almost all the problems we encounter in our life are unique as the material world is constantly changing. Even during our studies, when we practised mathematical problems, they were all different from each other. Even in IQ test, no problem is ever repeated. How do we solve these problems? By the Aatmic Science principle, the written language or a mathematical or analytical problem is a physical manifestation of the mind of the examiner. We understand the mind of the examiner through these physical manifestations. If we understand the mind of the examiner, we give the right answer. (For details please read the article “How IQ Tests Measure Intelligence?”). Similarly, all the real life problems are solved by understanding the mind of persons or the group of persons. For example, police officers by studying the methods of crime and observing the material evidences, understand the mind of the criminal. Since each person is unique, his mind is unique and so his soul is also unique. Investigators thus reconstruct the person from his external physical manifestation and catch the criminal. Even in our day-to-day life, we solve the real life problems like managing the boss or subordinates or clients by simply understanding their mind and reasoning thorough their external behaviour. Once we understand the mind of another person, we know what the person wants? Then we find the solution as if these problems had  originated in our own mind. A good judge does not deliver his judgment based on the logic of the attorneys, but he grasps the mind (and soul) of the accused person in the course of the trial proceedings, through the physical manifestation (like facial expressions, emotions etc) of the accused or his attorney (who is also aware of the truth). A good judge, while arriving at the judgment, gives more importance to the testimony of the accused person, witnesses and the attorneys through their body language, and less importance to the logic like  arguments and case laws. A good judge cuts across all arguments and understands the mind of the person to arrive at the truth.


  • Emotional Intelligence: There is a beautiful Urdu couplet “Tum Itna jo mushkara rahe Ho; Kya gam hai jisko Chhupa rahe ho” (You are smiling profusely; what is the pain that you are trying to conceal?). We know from our experience that just because a person is smiling, it does not mean that he is happy. We can easily distinguish between the genuine smile and  a fake smile. Just because a person says “I am OK” you don’t believe that he is OK as his facial expressions or the body language will speak the truth. If you are in love with a person, the person concerned and the whole world will understand it even if you have never uttered a single word expressing your love. Similarly, even if your lover says to you a hundred times in a day that he loves you, you know that he doesn’t, if he doesn’t. Emotions can hardly be expressed in words. Only those people who are emotionally blind, can accept the spoken or written words as truth. The emotionally intelligent person (as all of us, to some extent, are) will know the mind of the person through his external manifestation like the expressions in his eyes. Thus emotional intelligence is the capability to understand the emotions or the emotional mind of a person through his external manifestations.



In this article we have discussed the inability of scientists to understand and explain the concept of intelligence, which we all know intuitively. The article explains that intelligence, similar to any other human trait like love, is created by the soul of the person which interconnects all beings. Since body and mind are the manifestation of the soul, the mind of a person can understand the mind of another person through the external manifestations of his body. This is what can be defined as intelligence. The article demonstrates that the Aatmic Science definition is the only complete definition of intelligence as it can explain every other trait which has been associated by scientists and psychologists with the concept of intelligence.



(1)                Thorndike, E. L. et. Al (1921), Intelligence and its measurement: A symposium, Journal of Educational Psychology,  12 123-47

(2)                Wechsler,  D. (1975);  Intelligence Defined and undefined, American Psychologists, 30, 135-57

(3)                Neisser et al (1996) Intelligence known and unknown, American Psychologists, 51, 77-101

(4)                Mayr, E. (1985) Growth of biological thoughts: Diversity, evolution and inheritance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

(5)                Spearman C. (1927), The abilities of man. London Macmillan

(6)                Stemberg R . J. (1985); Beyond IQ. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

(7)                Stemberg R . J., Wagner, R. K., Williams, W. M., and Horvath. A. (1995). Testing common sense, American Psychologists, 50, 912-927

(8)                Gardner, H. (1983), Frame of Mind: The theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books

(9)                Guilford, J P. (1967), The nature of human intelligence. New York: McGraw-Hill

(10)            Kagan J and Segal J (1992), Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc

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Author:Awdhesh K Singh



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