Memorable words

Reason vs. Intelligence

I found this fascinating, and had never really thought about the difference between the Reason and Intelligence. I’ve been trying lately to counter a bad tendency of mine to hastily synonym-ize two words that are different, and use them interchangibly. This is a perfect example, although I don’t completely agree with the negative slant that Fromm seems to place on intelligence. Also, aside from this clear distinction, it is interesting to see what the relationship between intelligence and reason is, and how the two faculties complement each other, particularly in an arena like scientific discovery, or political science, diplomacy, conflict resolution. Imagine decision-making in these instances based on reason (objective-for the common good) rather than strategy devised by intelligence (subjective-self interested).

“Reason is man’s faculty for grasping the world by thought, in contradiction to intelligence, which is man’s ability to manipulate the world with the help of thought. Reason is man’s instrument for arriving at the truth, intelligence is man’s instrument for manipulating the world more successfully; the former is essentially human, the latter belongs to the animal part of man.” – Erich Fromm


One thought on “Reason vs. Intelligence

  1. Hi, Violetta!

    The United States was founded on the premise that all men shared the capacity for reason – but not intelligence. If you remove the sexism inherent in the statement, then this is an excellent premise. And it kept us well for a long time.

    I don’t know if you read these comments, but I wrote a piece on the difference between dissent and poisonous invective in January:

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