A Theory of Conceptual Intelligence: Thinking, Learning, Creativity, and Giftedness

A Theory of Conceptual Intelligence: Thinking, Learning, Creativity, and Giftedness

A Theory of Conceptual Intelligence: Thinking, Learning, Creativity, and Giftedness

A Theory of Conceptual Intelligence: Thinking, Learning, Creativity, and Giftedness

Synopsis

Li briefly outlines three generations of intelligence research over the past 100 years with attention to the origins and limitations of early investigations and the resulting confusion and disagreement in modern reinterpretations of the findings. He discerns an emerging consensus among scholars and researchers that intelligence should be considered primarily as a product of thinking and learning. To find the essence of how thinking is possible and what learning is, Li investigates theory and research in cognitive psychology, developmental linguistics, animal behavior, and many other related disciplines. He proposes the notion of conceptual intelligence, i.e., human intelligence, as a result of thinking and learning through concepts. Li traces how the human species created concepts, and how conceptual thinking and conceptual learning make the human species intelligent and creative. There is nothing mysterious, intuitive, or innate about it. Our past thinking and learning has created the intelligence of today,and will continue to create our intelligence in the future. How to think deeper and learn better are the difficult questions for us now as we consciously venture into new arenas of problem-solving and cognition.

Excerpt

The scientific study of intelligence is barely a hundred years old. The founding fathers (Paul Broca, Francis Galton, Alfred Binet) began by measuring human heads. Their utter failure to discover any significant relationship between skull characteristics and intelligent behavior did not deter later searchers. They began searching from another direction: to detect and measure an invisible entity called "intelligence quotient" (IQ). The contemporary fad is to measure electroencephalogram (EEG) and reaction time (RT). This book begins by a brief outline of the three generations of intelligence research and their modern reinterpretation.

The 1980s witnessed the competition between two theories, Robert Sternberg's (1984, 1985) triarchic theory of intelligence and Howard Gardner's (1983) theory of multiple intelligences. By the 1990s we saw some integration effort (Anderson, 1992) as well as some revival of interest in IQ (Herrnstein &Murray, 1994). This was counterbalanced by David Perkins (1995) who tried to outsmart IQ by learning it, thus learnable intelligence. Few researchers today would equate intelligence to IQ-most would probably subscribe to Perkins's view that "intelligence quotient is not intelligence but one aspect of the complex phenomenon of intelligence" (Perkins, 1995, p. 57). So, what is that complex phenomenon?

Unfortunately, contemporary experts cannot agree on what intelligence is. Twenty-five experts gave 24 different definitions and opinions of intelligence (one paper was co-authored) in a 1986 survey by Robert Sternberg and Douglas Detterman. One researcher characterizes intelligence as "describing the elephant" (Humphreys, 1986). Amidst such confusion, I was able to trace an evolving consensus for over seven decades that intelligence is composed of thinking and learning. Regrettably, however, major contemporary theories of intelligence fail to treat . . .

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