- the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. “An eminent man of great intelligence.” Synonyms: intellectual/mental capacity, intellect, mind, brain, brains, brainpower, powers of reasoning, judgment, reason, reasoning, understanding, comprehension, acumen, wit, sense, insight, perceptiveness, perception, perspicaciousness, perspicacity, penetration, discernment, sharpness, quickness of mind, quick-wittedness, smartness, canniness, astuteness, intuition, acuity, alertness, cleverness, brilliance, aptness, ability, giftedness, talent; informal braininess, “a man of great intelligence”. Antonymous: stupidity, a person or being with the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Plural noun: intelligences“extraterrestrial intelligences”
- the collection of information of military or political value. “the chief of military intelligence”. Synonyms: information gathering, surveillance, observation, reconnaissance, spying, espionage, undercover work, infiltration, ELINT, cyberespionage, humint; informal recon “a former agent for British military intelligence”
But to better understand the idea, I go farther down in time to say, intelligence is about survival. Since childhood, children are learning he abilities of their parents, relatives, and associates on how to hunt and how to find and collect some fruits, roots and vegetables to survive. Thus depending on the situation you can do, or you must do different acts, depending on the occasion or the season, with the purpose of eating.
In general, humans survive in part because they cooperated among them, to a certain point. They even form teams to facilitate the survival of the group, and to some degree they also invented the division of labor.
Then, all the actions we have to learn with the purpose of eating almost daily, is intelligence. In some way language is also a sign of intelligence, for it serves to communicate with others to see what is the plan of the day, etc. Intelligence also serves to identify the rank of the different people of the team to avoid quarrels. This is important specially in times of hunger, when the food gathered is not enough.
As we began to be farmers and to have domestic animals, human societies become more complex, and the division of labor becomes more intense. So much as some people can be unable to do what other people can do. As the density of people per square mile becomes greater, resources to feed become scarcer, and periodically it can happen some wars among groups of people unrelated, or coming from far away. In this point to participate in wars is also a form of intelligence, for the new arrivals want to kick us out of our lands, etc.
Intelligence is the capacity of human brain to learn, and the meaning of learning is a way to memorize ways to become useful to the family and the group close to us. In societies closer to our own intelligence also means to recognize social ranks and respect those of higher rank than us. To confront with people of higher rank is a risky bet, for we can be defeated or maimed or killed. Then, is a part of our intelligence to be able to guess our capacity so as not to confront people with higher social rank.
And to finish with modern societies, there exist a great diversity of works such that to learn the more difficult of them requires years of training. Here is when the concept intelligence becomes more elusive and difficult to appraise.
Because is very difficult to understand how a pianist can have this wonderful and complex art, or other examples, like a violinist, or other musician, we had invented some myths. The ancient invented the concept of the muses that explain the artistic arts, like people making speeches, reciting poetry, etc. Even technology was considered an art, and it comes from the ancient Greek word, techné meaning art. But it is an art of doing material artifacts, like arms, boats, and other more or less complex things, like pottery, works with metals. etc.
In ancient Greece and other civilizations existed other abilities, like to write and read, to recite poetry, and to perform magic and religious rites, divination and other.
In general, we reserve the word intelligence to the most complex task humans are able to learn and perform. But somewhat we had been able to separate the word intelligence when commenting on the field of the arts and sports. So, when speaking about a famous pianist or a singer, we speak of talent instead of using the word intelligence. In the case of sports, as the performance involves some physical strength we do no use the word intelligence, and we speak of winners and champs. But if you check farther on this matter, everything from arts to technology and dialectics, the basic means to acquire those abilities is training. The more complex is an ability the more need of training has any one.