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What Does Existential Intelligence Mean?

Christina Andrew Oct 07, 2020
The ability of human mind to think and relate to the complex philosophical questions about the existence of life, death, and beyond, is existential intelligence. Here is more on its meaning, its traits, and the best career options for people having existential intelligence.

Howard Gardner Theory

The term existential intelligence comes from the book 'Theory of Multiple Intelligences' by Dr. Howard Gardner, authored in 1983, where he explained that a human mind can be categorized into different kinds of intelligences, and that every individual has all of these intelligences, but some or at least one of them is prominent.

The Bigger Picture!

There are different ways of approaching the same goal. These different ways come from the different types of intelligence of different minds. Existential intelligence is one of the many ways people contribute towards achieving that goal.
Some people are clueless, or rather scared, to think about the realities of life. Scared because of their religion or because of the truth. It's a huge thing to understand, accept, and then stick to certain realities. People with existential intelligence are not afraid to look into the depths of truth to find hidden answers, to think of other possibilities.
These people have the capability to believe and understand things that cannot be seen through the eyes. Proofs about their beliefs may or may not exist, but they know what they believe in, and they stand by it. They can easily see themselves in a bigger picture.
They understand their role in others' lives, and how they play a small but important part of the whole game. They are in constant search of their purpose of living.
The different intelligences included musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. These were only eight intelligences he wrote about, but later added one which he thought was an important aspect that couldn't be excluded―the ninth intelligence―existential.
According to Gardner, the ability of the mind to go deep into topics about the reality of human existence, that of the planet, the purpose of living, death, multiple dimensions, needed to be categorized into a separate kind of intelligence, and that became existential intelligence.
This theory was further studied by various philosophers, psychologists, and it got various other names―spiritual intelligence, cosmic smart, wondering smart, or metaphysical intelligence.
Like some people have a hand in music, some are good at logic while some have mastered the art of writing and speaking, and all of these are done without effort, it comes to them naturally.

Existential Intelligence Traits

  • They tend to be closer to nature. They understand and respect its beauty.
  • They are naturally highly introspective.
  • They have a deep connection with their inner selves.
  • Meditation and relaxation is something they value and enjoy.
  • They have their own set of beliefs.
A person has all the intelligences in him, but some of them are more prominent, existential intelligence can come to a person at any time of his life. It can be from the very start, as a kid, or it can come at a later stage in life. Adults can experience this when it becomes dominant.
It may also happen when people show prominence in various areas, and later on, one in particular becomes dominant. Some examples of people with existential intelligence would be Jesus, Buddha, Socrates, St. Augustine, Wayne Dyer.
For children who show existential intelligence, their parents must be supportive and patient with them. These are curious little kids that have thousands of questions in their minds.
They would frequently ask questions like:

  • What is in space?
  • What is death?
  • If God is one, why are there so many religions?
  • Are there other dimensions?
  • Are there other creatures like us in some other planets?
  • What and who is God?
  • Why do we live?
  • Where do we go after death?
  • What are ghosts? Are they real?
These are questions that are difficult to answer, although it is important they don't remain unattended. When the age is right, parents must give their kids little ideas about these questions. They must read books with them, and explain to them, and clear their doubts.
Career options for kids with such inquisitive minds would be: Psychologist, Member of the Clergy, Psychology teacher, Therapist, Counselor, Theologian, Writer, Entrepreneur.