Home | Problems
with Mainstream Concept of EI
Defining EI, Gods, and Education
This morning I woke up feeling more motivated than yesterday. Does that mean I am more emotionally intelligent today? According to Dan Goleman, I guess it does. He says that the ability to motivate oneself is part of emotional intelligence. (I am not sure if he means while you are asleep, though!)
Anyhow, I was thinking
about the connection between motivation and fear.
Now take the case of a bear chasing a man in the woods. If the man feels motivated to run, would we say he is emotionally intelligent? Is this really a helpful way to think of emotional intelligence? This leads to a question: Which definition of emotional intelligence is most helpful to the world? To humanity?
I have pretty much concluded we are all just guessing at what emotional intelligence is. Also, the definition you like is going to depend on your values. This is a big problem with trying to define it. It is a lot easier to get people to agree on something like what is black or what is 2+2.
Maybe we could say that emotional intelligence is a bit like the concept of a god. Maybe it depends a lot on a) Whether you believe in it at all and 2) What you believe about it.
Here is a quote from an article I read the other day. It is an article in a magazine for doctors. The writers were trying to figure out if emotional intelligence can be measured. Here is the quote:
Personally I believe emotional intelligence does "exist." And I believe it is important. Very important. For one thing, I believe it offers us hope to stop killing each other. I believe it offers hope for us to stop focusing on the accumulation of wealth and material things. I believe it offers hope for us to treat children and teenagers in more emotionally supportive and understanding ways, as well as to put more value on their feelings and thoughts.
Honestly, I believe the concept of emotional intelligence offers us more hope than the concept of gods. The "god" concept has lead to countless deaths through recorded history and continues to divide the world. Though the definition of emotional intelligence is hard to agree upon, and it may be a concept, or "construct", (1) which is very hard or impossible to measure, I think it has a bit more chance of being universally accepted than any one concept of a supernatural being. Then again, the concept of emotional intelligence is now suffering from the same problem that the concepts of various gods has suffered from, ie widespread ignorance and repetition without thought.
We might even be able to make a case that the concept of emotional intelligence as promoted by Dan Goleman, Reuven Bar and David Caruso has spread more rapidly than any religion in history. I hesitate to add David's name to the list, but it is harder and harder for me to see the difference between his concept of emotional intelligence and Dan and Reuven's. More and more I see the three of them promoting emotional intelligence as an ability to conform and adapt emotionally to the status quo and then be considered "successful" in socially conventional terms. Below I have a link to my writing on what I cynically call the common definition.
I disagree with this view of emotional intelligence. I feel offended by it in fact. I believe the most highly intelligent people, whether intellectually or emotionally, are not conformists. I believe they rise above the masses, even above the masses of highly "educated" people. I put educated in quotes because I want to draw attention to the fact that there are different kinds of educations. One is in the university and one is in life. One may result in a degree and one may result in wisdom. One may result in the ability to speak phidish and market toothpaste (*) and one may result in the ability to comfort a crying child or a suicidal teen. One may result in the ability to win wars, another may result in the ability to prevent them.
Other EQI.org Topics:
Links & notes
Note about toothpaste
1 - the word "construct"
I don't like using words like "construct". Words like this are part of the language of phidish, the needlessly complicated language PhD's use. If you haven't studied psychology or read a lot of things written by PhD's in psychology, you probably won't know what the word means. As a reader said once I don't think it should be necessary to learn a new language to learn about something.
...the html version of the file http://www.upf.edu/bolonya/butlletins/2006/gen1/emotion.pdf.
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