*NOTE*I've always been very insecure about my intelligence, and I am starting this thread in order to cope. With that said, I will get started.

Intelligence is a very nebulous concept. I am not a psychologist, and I am largely ignorant about psychological theories relating to intelligence. I believe, however, it may be helpful to approach the subject from a more philosophical place. There is a problem with the word intelligence, at least in how it is commonly understood. We often compliment people and things by praising their intelligence. "You got an A+ on that assignment? You must be very smart." "That novel really made me think; it is a very smart book." "Your child already said her first words? What a smart baby!" This seems not only harmless, but good and right; after all, we are raising the subjects of these examples up. The problem is, if one person is smart, then that means that someone else isn't. The words intelligent, smart, bright all imply a binary, one that I am skeptical actually has a basis in reality.

Furthermore, there is a value judgement occurring in all of these examples. It is a good thing to be intelligent. If that's true, though, what does it mean to be unintelligent? While very few people will say that a highly intelligent person is more valuable than a less intelligent person, such a judgment is subtly implicit in the way intelligence is understood by people. Everybody wants to be intelligent. Nobody wants to be unintelligent. Because intelligence is relative, though, if it actually exists, then some people must be smarter than others. Furthermore, because intelligence is almost universally valued, everyone who society deems unintelligent or less intelligent are devalued. This, in my opinion, is a problem. Keep in mind, this is all unconscious. Again, few people consciously think that smart people are more valuable than less smart people. By the very nature of the way intelligence is commonly understood, however, this value judgement is still taking place.

It should go without saying that hierarchically valuing some people over others is morally and ethically problematic. Why, then, do we have this concept of intelligence?

Incidentally, this is also the problem with organizations like Mensa. Maybe instead of using the word intelligence in all of their material, they should use the more neutral problem solving.

I am curious what people think about this idea, so please contribute to the thread.