Monday, October 10, 2005

Emotional Intelligence

One of the difficulties in explaining integrated thinking is our reluctance to categorize anything but logical reasoning as intelligence. Reading a book called Logic Made Easy, I was struck by how often studies have shown that reasonable and intelligent people do not think according to the dictates of logic. Logical statements are very often subject to rather significant misinterpretations.

I love pure logic; calculus is the one course I absolutely required my sons take in high school. There is an elegance and a clarity in pure reason that is unmatched anywhere else in life, an order so profound that it seems to reside both inside us and around us.

And yet what I have written already requires more than pure reason of my reader. Intelligence is more than reason; it is the ability to respond to reason using all our resources and capabilities. It requires an awareness of our senses and the way that a proposition resides in our body as well as our reasoning, a capacity for wisdom that is more than pure reason.

I am not a great fan of emotional intelligence. Does the phrase mean that some intelligence is unemotional? Who gets to decide? As hyphenated Canadians have long observed, the act of modifying a noun (like intelligence or Canadian) seems to indicate that the thing itself, the essence of the thing, is distinct from the modified version. My intelligence (by which I mean both the information that comes to me and the ability to make meaning from it and transform that meaning into action) is not subject to modifiers. It involves a very clear-headed reasoning and quite often a dispassionate observation of the many factors that would be lost in a logical proposition. Often, these factors include noticing that I am experiencing an emotion and following that reaction to its source. Often, they include noticing the probable emotions of other people, before or after they have occurred.

Integrated thinking is another description of this kind of intelligence: the ability to track multiple streams of information, to observe or create patterns of meaning in these streams, and to respond in ways that influence multiple systems. It is an awareness that the best thinkers and the most influential people are those who are more alive and more aware more of the time. Their intelligence is always more than reason; it always includes emotions, sensory acuity, and the ability to weave disparate capabilities into a single, seamless understanding.

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