"The Man Who Wasn't There"

Notes by Howard Gardner

I recently read the Science Magazine discussion of Anil Ananthaswamy's "The Man Who Wasn't There". This spurred me to write the following response. The original article can be found here. 

Of the various intelligences, intrapersonal intelligence—understanding of self—has always been the most difficult to describe, conceptualize, and measure.  After all, who is qualified to judge how well a person  understands himself or herself?  I often quip that only Person X’s therapist can assess how well Person X understands Person X.  But of course that assumes that the therapist has good INTER-personal intelligence. Anyway, this book is one of the first attempts of which I’m aware that  provides neurological and psychological insights into the understanding of self.  It does not answer any questions, but it raises some of the right ones.


Collective Intelligence

Notes by Howard Gardner

Especially for those of us interested in collaboration (see Good Collaboration at, the idea of a collective intelligence is intriguing. It is important to know, empirically, at what tasks groups working together perform well, and why they do so. And in an era where connection is easy to initiate and virtually ubiquitous, it’s important to know which forms of collaboration are most effective.

In this article, my colleague Tom Malone takes a popular view that intelligence is singular, of a piece. And indeed, to the extent that he uses standard problem solving puzzles (e.g. cross puzzles or mental arithmetic), he is basically speaking about linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, the forms routinely measured on IQ tests.

However, Malone also notes that the groups need members who can understand one another and who do not dominate the conversation. In making these references, he is effectively ‘smuggling in’ interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. Moreover, if he were to broaden the set of tasks posed for a group; for example, recognition of artistic styles, or discriminating among kinds of animals, or creating memorable tunes, he might well find that other human intelligences prove to be at a premium.

To read the article in its entirety click here.