The Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner

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Howard Gardner proposed in his book Frames of Mind (1983) that intelligence was associated with the potential for problem-solving abilities and the ability to shape items in a context-rich and naturalistic environment. Rather than depending on the confines of the IQ to measure intelligence – which was the standard at the time – Garner proposed seven large categories of intelligence. There are linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, special intelligence, body-kinetics intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence (Jacobus, 2013). Garner used logos and ethos to persuade, not only his peers, but the public to accept his notion of multiple intelligence, and abandon the traditional idea of intelligence being a subject of a single score.
Dr. Gardner had the respect, the expertise, and authority to dictate on matters related to intelligence. He had a Ph.D. from Harvard University and had extensively studied the concept of IQ tests before disputing them. The audience had no reason to doubt his findings on the subject that he was so aware of. Moreover, Gardner presents his arguments using facts, evidence, examples, and history and thus, he appeals to the masses persuasively and convincingly.

Let’s have a closer look at people with linguistic intelligence. As Gardner showed, these were the people who could use words actually either orally or in writing. Such information included the ability to manipulate syntax, phonology, semantics, and pragmatic dimensions of language to articulately develop rhetoric, mnemonics and meta-language skills. The people with linguistic intelligence included but were not limited to, poets, writers, storytellers, and orators in the society.

Naturally, the people with logical-mathematical intelligence are able to use numbers effectively. They are sensitive to logical patterns and relationships, prepositions, functions, and other related abstractions. In the society, such intelligence was possessed by mathematicians, statistician, tax accountants, etc.

The people with spatial intelligence can perceive the visual-spatial world with pinpoint precision and could perform transformations upon those perceptions. They were sensitive to color, shapes, forms, and their relationships to one another. In the society, Gardner could point out hunters, guides, scouts having this intelligence.

Those people, possessing bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, could use their whole bodies to express ideas and feelings and use them to produce or transform things. They were actors, sculptors, mimes. They had specific physical abilities that stand them out among other people in the society.

As well, members of the society with musical intelligence were those with the capacity to perceive, transform, discriminate, and express music in different forms. They were sensitive to rhythm, melody, pitch and tones of musical pieces. Gardner refers to performers, composers, and music aficionados in the society.

Moreover, there were those with interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. The people of interpersonal intelligence could easily perceive and notice distinctions in moods, motivations, intentions, and other people’s feelings. Using their abilities, they could easily influence people to follow a course of action. Those with intrapersonal intelligence had the natural ability to act adaptively based on their knowledge. They could accurately picture themselves and easily gauge their strengths and limitations.

In conclusion, presenting the argument that intelligence is a broader and more pragmatic concept rather than one measurable score was made possible by persuasion. Gardner’s credibility and the logical presentation of facts were indisputable. If his ethos or logos could be questioned, the theory of Multiple Intelligences could not have survived or earned its widespread recognition.


Jacobus, L. A. (2013). A world of ideas: essential readings for college writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 559-572.

August 09, 2021

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