Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: new horizons

Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: new horizons (Completely rev. and updated.). New York: BasicBooks.


Gardner's background: developmental and neuropsychology. Update/expansion of 1983, 1993, and 1999 texts.

Part I: The Theory

Ch. 1: In a Nutshell

Covers a brief history of Binet and the IQ test, leading to SATs. Much like Robinson, points out that these measurements/evaluations are great if you want to become a college prof--or think like one. But otherwise?

Intros MI theory; intelligences are "human cognitive terms of a set of abilities, talents, or mental skills" (6).

What Constitutes an Intelligence?

Attempts to quantify intelligence; general faculty of intelligence called g. MI theory framed in biological origins of human problem-solving skills (7). Explains his methodology/criteria for defining these intelligences (7).  "An intelligence must also be susceptible to encoding in a symbol system--a culturally contrived system of meaning that captures and conveys important forms of information" (8)-- e.g., language, picturing, mathematics, musical notation.

The Original Set of Intelligences

Musical: Cites violin prodigy Yehudi Menuhin. Notes brain function in certain areas related to music, and is one of humanity's earliest activities/forms of expression. (8-9)

Bodily-Kinesthetic: Babe Ruth. Motor cortex functions. Split second calculations and recalculations based on movement, changing wind speed, etc. (10-11)

Logical-Mathematical: Barbara McClintock (microbiologist). Rapid problem-solving, multiple variables and hypotheses evaluated then accepted or rejected. Often process is nonverbal. Often measured by IQ tests. Different areas of brain more responsive/active for this type of processing. (11-12)

Linguistic: TS Eliot. Broca's area. Language acquisition and development consistent across cultures; notes how language may be invented (e.g., in deaf populations). (13)

Spatial: "Mapping" physical locations in the mind. (Photographic memory?) Representational accuracy in depiction (isn't this hybridized/expressed through bodily-kinisthetic or linguistic?). (13-14)

Interpersonal: Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller's teacher). "Builds on a core capacity to notice distinctions among others--in particular, contrasts in their moods, temperaments, motivations, and intentions" (15). (15-16)

Interpersonal: Virginia Woolf. Knowledge of "internal" aspects of person, self-knowledge and comprehension. Frontal lobes. Cites autistic children as examples of individuals with impaired intrapersonal intelligence.(16-18)

Newly Identified Intelligences

Struggled with two suggestions/considerations: naturalistic and spiritual. Argues for the viability of naturalistic intelligence (cites Audobon and Darwin as examples; detail, identification--visual, auditory, sensory-- of flora/fauna). Hesitates on what comes to term existential-- "Big Questions"--intelligence. (18-21)

The Unique Contributions of the Theory

Basically, stop privileging one form of intelligence over another. People may or may not be "gifted" in one form of intelligence over another. Many blend /have equally strong areas.

Three Takeaways:

  1. All of us have the full range of intelligences
  2. No two have exactly same intellectual profile (due to both nature and nurture)
  3. Just because you have that intelligence doesn't mean you act intelligently.


The three biases: Westist (idolizing Socrates/classical LOGICAL thought); Testist (preference for that which can be tested); Bestist (assumption is that there is a best/preferred way to solve any/all problems). Again, reminiscent of Robinson's admonitition that leaders of tomorrow will need to think differently/process differently.

Ch. 2: The View After Twenty-five Years

Covers the principal developments in Gardner's thinking/theories since original publication. Distinguishes some of the new directions, distinguishes between intelligences and domains, nature and form of different intellectual profiles. (25-27).

Additional Intelligences

Considered humor intelligence and moral intelligence, but decided neither one qualifies. Sees humor as aspect of logical capacity; morality not a computational capacity, as all other intelligences are. (27-29)

The Scientific Basis of MI Theory

Brain mapping, psychology, and foresees role of genetics.(29-31)

Intelligences and Domains

Distinguishes between intelligence and domain (discipline, or craft):

  • Intelligence: computational capacity (biophysical)
  • Domain: any kind of organized activity within a society in which one can readily array individuals in terms of expertise (direct qte, 31) (sociological)

The Three Meanings of Intelligence

(Semantics of Intelligence)

Intelligence as a species characteristic. Human/nonhuman capacities.Consider importance of this Lexical distinction.

Intelligence as individual difference. Assumption intelligence is a trait-- examination of individual differences on a trait of interest (33). Consider application in research domains.

Intelligence as fit execution of an assignment. Cannot be characterized without a goal/purpose, choices, and value system of participants. Consider implications for Education.

Profiles of Intelligences