learning is expansion



If we reflect about the circumstances in daily life under which we speak of intelligence, we will notice that we do so when we refer to the consensual abilities of a human or non-human animal.  Consensuality takes place as the spontaneous coherent  behavioral transformation of two or more organisms in a particular domain of coexistence as a result of their living together in recurrent and recursive interactions, and the behavioral domain that arises through consensuality is a consensual domain. Flexibility of behavior according to the circumstances of living with conservation of living is what an observer connotes when he or she speaks of intelligence, or, better, of intelligent behavior. 

The ability to behave adequately in a situation that an observer sees as a problem is what an observer calls problem solving.  As such, problem solving is only a manner of talking by an observer about the operation of an organism in a consensual domain when he or she does not know whether the organism  will behave or not behave according to what he or she considers adequate.  The capacity for consensuality and plastic behavior to which we refer as we speak of intelligence differs according to the different manners of living of the different organisms.  Different manners of living occur as different domains of operational structural coherences between organism and medium, and as such they entail different possibilities for intelligence as different domains of plastic behaviors. 

In summary, when we speak of intelligence in daily life, we connote the capacity that an organism has to participate with others (or with the medium) in the constitution, expansion, and operation in a domain of consensual behaviors (or of plastic dynamic coherences) while under the continuous structural changes that it undergoes in its individual life (see Maturana and Guiloff, 1979).  In these circumstances, what can we say about intelligence in the human and chimpanzee lineages?  Let us have first an indirect approximation.”

The Origin of Humanness in the Biology of Love, p. 54
Maturana,H.R. and G. Verden-Zöller, ed. P Bunnell, Imprint Academic 2008

the expansion of intimacy is a compelling pleasure


Intelligence if of course also an attribution by an observer (who could be oneself), just as is the case for knowledge, learning, and understanding.  We attribute intelligence when we observe plasticity in relational behaviour.  Thus when we observe rote behaviour we may attribute knowledge, and when we see precision in doing something repeatedly, we attribute skill. 

An attribution of intelligence is always made with respect to the domain in which the observer apprehends the behavior.  This is how some writers, such as Daniel Goleman, have come to speak of as “multiple intelligences”.   I don’t think that the intelligence as a behavioural quality differs, but it does apply to different domains as we distinguish them.

Nonetheless, we also like to consider what I could name a “meta-domain” or  a look in which we reflectively consider how a being acts in a variety of different  operational and relational domains.  It is only in this look we can claim that “Johnny is intelligent”.


is this wolf acting intelligently?

(permission to use image pending)

10,000 hours

In his book “Outliers” Malcolm Gladwell is largely concerned with the systemic nature of success, that is not only ability but context, timing, etc.  He reports on the research done by K. A. Ericsson in the 1990’s about music students, and what it took for them to become successful musicians.   This research is the source of the notion of 10,000 hours to become an expert; and of course it is a more of a poetic than an analytic summary of what it takes.

“Everyone from all three groups started playing at roughly the same age, around five years old.  In those first few years, everyone practiced roughly the same amount, about two or three hours a week.  But when the students were around the age of eight, real differences started to emerge.  The students who would end up the best in their class began to practice more than everyone else; six hours a week by age nine, eight hours a week by age twelve, sixteen hours a week by age fourteen, and up and up until by the age of twenty they were practicing – that is purposefully and single-mindedly playing their instruments with the intent to get better – well over thirty hours a week.  In fact by age of twenty, the elite performers had each totalled ten thousand hours of practice.  By contrast, the merely good students had totalled eight thousand hours, and the future music teachers had totalled just over four thousand hours.”

Gladwell, M.  Outliers p. 38