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A Crucial Difference Between Intellect and Intelligence


We spend a lot of time acquiring intelligence at the expense of developing intellect.

Intelligence is built by gaining information, knowledge from external agencies, from schools and universities, teachers and textbooks. The intellect is developed through your individual effort by exercising the faculty of questioning, thinking and reasoning. Not accepting anything that does not admit logic or reason. Know the difference between the two. And that any amount of intelligence gained cannot per se build your intellect.

The intelligence acquired from external agencies is much like data fed into a computer. Consider, a computer charged with a complete knowledge of fire extinguishers, firefighting and fire escapes. All the knowledge stored in its memory cannot help the computer act on its own. If the room catches fire, it cannot escape. It will go up in flames. Likewise, all the knowledge you acquire is of no use to you without an intellect.

You need a powerful intellect to put the knowledge, intelligence gained, to practical use in life. That explains why among millions of doctors graduating from medical schools only a few have discovered life-saving drugs and surgeries, finding cures and remedies. So too, millions of engineers have passed out of engineering schools but only few design something unusual like the Panama Canal or Eurotunnel. It is their intellect that renders their performance outstanding. Besides hindering success and progress, intelligence without intellect could destroy peace and happiness in the world.

Not realising the importance of the intellect in life people make no attempt to develop their own. Instead, they merely indulge in acquiring intelligence through surface reading of others' periodicals and publications. Few go into the depth of any literature. Education has lost its meaning and purpose. For generations human beings have turned into intelligent robots and are traversing through life without awareness, much less enquiring into the meaning and purpose of life. Herbert Spencer, a profound thinker and writer, was a rare luminary. Someone asked him if he was a voracious reader. He said: "No sir, if I were as big a reader as others, I would have been as big an ignoramus as they."

The world today is in a state of chaos due to the perversion in human development − all intelligence and no intellect. That explains why even highly educated businesspersons, professionals and scholars become alcoholics, are short tempered and succumb to worry and anxiety. It is the mind that craves alcohol. It is the mind that loses its temper. Again, it is the mind that constantly harbours worry of the past and anxiety for the future. When the intellect remains undeveloped and weak, it is unable to control the vagaries of the mind. The frail intellect looks on helplessly as the mind devastates the person. In such a condition the business, profession and even family relationship run into shambles. On the contrary those having developed a powerful intellect, with or without academic distinction, can hold the mind under perfect control and direct action to spell success and peace in life.

The educational systems the world over must be held responsible for the debacle of the intellect. It is their primary responsibility to strike an equable balance between acquiring intelligence and developing the intellect. Only by maintaining this essential equation can governments be run, businesses conducted, professions practised and families live in peace and prosperity.

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