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mental faculty
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Intelligence is a property of mind that encompasses many related mental abilities, such as the capacities to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn.

For the US television series, see Intelligence (U.S. TV series)



"A Government resting upon the Will of the People has no anchorage except in the People's Intelligence."— Howard University, Founders Library Reference Room, above the south doorway
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  • Some recent philosophers seem to have given their moral approval to these deplorable verdicts that affirm that the intelligence of an individual is a fixed quantity, a quantity that cannot be augmented. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism; we will try to demonstrate that it is founded on nothing.
    • Alfred Binet, Les idées modernes sur les enfants (1909), 141.
  • She should be my counsellor,
    But not my tyrant. For the spirit needs
    Impulses from a deeper source than hers;
    And there are motions, in the mind of man,
    That she must look upon with awe.
    • William Cullen Bryant, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 353.
  • There are maybe two or three thousand people in the world as smart as us, little sister. Most of them are making a living somewhere. Teaching, the poor bastards, or doing research. Precious few of them are actually in positions of power.
  • Your intelligence often bears the same relation to your heart as the library of a château does to its owner.
  • There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.
  • Government resting upon the will and universal suffrage of the people has no anchorage except in the people's intelligence.
    • President Grover Cleveland at the celebration of the sesquicentennial of Princeton College (October 22, 1896).
  • Perhaps, in spite of her brilliance, she’s too young to realize the hostility of the world toward intelligence.
    • Mark Clifton, in Star, Bright. Originally published in Galaxy magazine (July 1952); collected in Fadiman (ed.) The Mathematical Magpie, p. 73
  • She had found the answer to her affliction—conformity! She had already learned to conceal her intelligence. So many of us break our hearts before we learn that.
    • Mark Clifton, in Star, Bright. Originally published in Galaxy magazine (July 1952); collected in Fadiman (ed.) The Mathematical Magpie, p. 75
  • We've reached a truly remarkable situation: a grotesque mismatch between the American intelligentsia and the American electorate. A philosophical opinion about the nature of the universe which is held by the vast majority of top American scientists, and probably the majority of the intelligentsia generally, is so abhorrent to the American electorate that no candidate for popular election dare affirm it in public. If I'm right, this means that high office in the greatest country in the world is barred to the very people best qualified to hold it—the intelligentsia—unless they are prepared to lie about their beliefs. To put it bluntly American political opportunities are heavily loaded against those who are simultaneously intelligent and honest.
  • It is an article of passionate faith among 'politically correct' biologists and anthropologists that brain size has no connection with intelligence; that intelligence has nothing to do with genes; and that genes are probably nasty fascist things anyway.
  • The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
  • Ultimately, it would certainly be desirable to have an algorithm for the selection of an intelligence, such that any trained researcher could determine whether a candidate's intelligence met the appropriate criteria. At present, however, it must be admitted that the selection (or rejection) of a candidate's intelligence is reminiscent more of an artistic judgment than of a scientific assessment.
  • Keen intelligence is two-edged, It may be used constructively or destructively like a knife, either to cut the boil of ignorance, or to decapitate one's self. Intelligence is rightly guided only after the mind has acknowledged the inescapability of spiritual law.
  • Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.
  • When the best way to the Governor’s favour was to be intelligent, intelligence would become the fashion.
    • Somerset Maugham, The Door of Opportunity (in Collected Short Stories 2), p. 406
  • Though he had both esteem and admiration for the sensibility of the human race, he had little respect for their intelligence: man has always found it easier to sacrifice his life than to learn the multiplication table.
    • Somerset Maugham, Mr. Harrington’s Washing (in Collected Short Stories 3), p. 189
  • The more you observe nature, the more you perceive that there is tremendous organization in all things. It is an intelligence so great that just by observing natural phenomena I come to the conclusion that a Creator exists.
    • Carlo Rubbia. The Brazilian magazine Veja asked Carlo Rubbia, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics, “Do you believe in God?; reported in Evolution Is Not a Fact, Awake! magazine, 1998, 8/8.
  • The intellect has only one failing, which to be sure, is a very considerable one. It has no conscience. Napoleon is the readiest instance of this. If his heart had borne any proportion to his brain, he had been one of the greatest men of history.
    • James Russel Lowell, reported in a Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 353.
  • I believe in "intelligence," and I believe also that there are inherited differences in intellectual ability, but I do not believe that intelligence is a simple scalar endowment that can be quantified by attaching a single figure to it—an I.Q. or the like.
  • I once spoke to a human geneticist who declared that the notion of intelligence was quite meaningless, so I tried calling him unintelligent. He was annoyed, and it did not appease him when I went on to ask how he came to attach such a clear meaning to the notion of lack of intelligence. We never spoke again.
  • I'll call "Society of Mind" this scheme in which each mind is made of many smaller processes. These we'll call agents. Each mental agent by itself can only do some simple thing that needs no mind at all. Yet when we join these agents in societies—in very special ways—this leads to true intelligence.
  • We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
  • Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.
  • It appears to me that one defeats the fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one's intelligence.
  • No doubt, sulking populists in every era stay mean as weasels because they despise any form of superior intelligence except shrewdness.
    • Kent Owen, Review of Profscam: Professors And The Demise Of Higher Education in The American Spectator (May 1989), p. 44.
  • He told me that it isn't what you do but how you do it that shows whether you are clever or not.
  • As the saints and prophets were often forced to practise long vigils and fastings and prayers before their ecstasies would fall upon them and their visions would appear, so Virtue in its purest and most exalted form can only be acquired by means of severe and long continued culture of the mind. Persons with feeble and untrained intellects may live according to their conscience; but the conscience itself will be defective. … To cultivate the intellect is therefore a religious duty; and when this truth is fairly recognized by men, the religion which teaches that the intellect should be distrusted and that it should be subservient to faith, will inevitably fall.
  • Every thing connected with intellect is permanent.
    • William Roscoe, reported in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 353.
  • Men of limited intelligence are so exposed to boredom and this is due to their intellect’s being absolutely nothing but the medium of motives for their will. Now if at the moment there are no motives to be taken up, the will rests and the intellect takes a holiday since the one, like the other, does not become active of its own accord. The result is a terrible stagnation of all the powers of the entire man, in a word boredom. To ward off this, men now present the will with trivial motives that are merely temporary and are taken at random in order to rouse it and thus bring into action the intellect that has to interpret them.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life,” Parerga und Paralipomena, E. Payne, trans. (1974) Vol. 1, p. 331.
  • So-called good society recognizes every kind of claim but that of intellect, which is a contraband article; and people are expected to exhibit an unlimited amount of patience towards every form of folly and stupidity, perversity and dullness; while personal merit has to beg pardon, as it were, for being present, or else conceal itself altogether. Intellectual superiority offends by its very existence, without any desire to do so.
  • We live in a culture in which intelligence is denied relevance altogether, in a search for radical innocence, or is defended as an instrument of authority and repression. In my view, the only intelligence worth defending is critical, dialectical, skeptical, desimplifying.
    • Susan Sontag, "Women, the Arts, & the Politics of Culture: An Interview with Susan Sontag" in Salmagundi, No. 31-32 (Fall/Winter 1975), p. 29; later published in Conversations with Susan Sontag (1995) edited by Leland A. Poague, p. 77.
  • The three greatest mistakes that can be made—lack of intelligence, lack of resolution, or lack of responsibility.
    • Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, (translated by Rex Warner, in the Penguin Classics), Book 1, Chapter 9 (p. 80)
  • It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.
  • Here I had tried a straightforward extrapolation of technology, and found myself precipitated over an abyss. It’s a problem we face every time we consider the creation of intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity — a place where extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied — and the world will pass beyond our understanding.
  • The eulogies of my intelligence are positively intended to evade the question “Is what she says true?”
  • I grieved to think how brief the dream of the human intellect had been. It had committed suicide. It had set itself steadfastly towards comfort and ease, a balanced society with security and permanency as its watchword, it had attained its hopes—to come to this at last. Once, life and property must have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and work. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no unemployed problem, no social question left unsolved. And a great quiet had followed. It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers.
  • To be an intellectual really means to speak a truth that allows suffering to speak.
    • Cornel West, "Chekhov, Coltrane, and Democracy: Interview by David Lionel Smith." The Cornel West Reader (1998).
  • Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended.
  • I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 398.
  • The hand that follows intellect can achieve.
  • In short, intelligence, considered in what seems to be its original feature, is the faculty of manufacturing artificial objects, especially tools to make tools, and of indefinitely urging the manufacture.
  • Instinct perfected is a faculty of using and even constructing organized instruments; intelligence perfected is the faculty of making and using unorganized instruments.
  • For the eye of the intellect "sees in all objects what it brought with it the means of seeing."
    • Thomas Carlyle, Varnhagen Von Ense's Memoirs, London and Westminster Review (1838).
  • The growth of the intellect is spontaneous in every expansion. The mind that grows could not predict the times, the means, the mode of that spontaneity. God enters by a private door into every individual.
  • Works of the intellect are great only by comparison with each other.
  • Glorious indeed is the world of God around us, but more glorious the world of God within us. There lies the Land of Song; there lies the poet's native land.
  • A man is not a wall, whose stones are crushed upon the road; or a pipe, whose fragments are thrown away at a street corner. The fragments of an intellect are always good.
  • The march of intellect.
    • Robert Southey, Sir Thomas More; or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, Volume II, p. 361.
  • It is impossible to feel pride in one’s intelligence at the moment when one really and truly exercises it.
  • Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence.
    • Albert Edward Wiggam, as quoted in Philippine Almanac (1986), p. 344.
  • The intellectual power, through words and things,
    Went sounding on, a dim and perilous way!
  • Three sleepless nights I passed in sounding on,
    Through words and things, a dim and perilous way.

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