Intelligent vs Intellectual

 intelligent vs intellectual

I don’t know how often people confuse the two words – Intelligent and Intellectual – and nor do I have a tabular representation of their differences. What I do have is a perspective about it, which in itself, my friends, is what I think, is a differentiating factor between intelligence and intellect.

Lets first take a look of the Google definitions I have found for both the words. I have included, from the list of definitions, only the ones that interest me.

Intelligent: Having or showing intelligence, esp. of a high level
Intellectual: A person possessing a highly developed intellect
– Google Search

Okay those definitions are not actually the ones that interests me. What interests me and what can get me closer to my perspective, is the definition of the intangible assets that the above definitions speak about – Intelligence and Intellect. Back to Google definitions,

Intelligence: The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.
Intellect: The faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, esp. with regard to abstract or academic matters.
-Google Search

Alright, time for me to talk. Let me be direct and without any more prologues.
I define these words as:

Intelligent: A person who possesses enough or more than enough knowledge, through acquisition or creation, relevant to a certain context or contexts.
Intellectual: A person who possesses perspectives about the knowledge that he has acquired or created, irrespective of the context.
– SJ

You can have an intelligent person who is not intellectually sound and also the reverse holds true.

When I am on a table full of physicists and I start speaking about the religious mythologies with their scriptures and their stories and their legacies, I might sound like a less intelligent person to the lot, even though my knowledge in what I am speaking is up to the mark of many religious scholars. However if I can bend and twist the same knowledge according to my perspective about the knowledge I have about religion and let them know what I think it means, or what I take from it, I am suddenly an intellectual. A particular knowledge may be not relevant on the table, but the perspective suddenly finds its own relevance.

Similarly, if I start puking out the facts that I know about physics, the modern research, the past legacy of physics in front of the same group, I am this intelligent guy who knows what he is taking about. I am at the right table. But if someone asks me what my view are about a certain implication of a certain theory and I give the look of a dumb-founded cat, they might just get the hint that may be I am not that intellectual after all.

We constantly are doing this differentiation, though not consciously all the time, but we do. A person with intelligence and intellect both, about something, is usually the one who is revered. You miss one of those things and you are half way there, but not quite complete. This incompleteness is strikingly evident at many group discussions, debates and public meetings.
However, this difference will be obvious enough only to people who themselves are intellectual; not just intelligent; and of course not to the people who are neither. This is because it requires an understanding of perspectives, of different facets, to distinguish such factors – a quality possessed naturally by the intellectuals.

Now I do know, that this may be a definition that is no where directly highlighted or mentioned, but this is what I believe their definition is, and this is how I can differentiate the intelligent and the intellectual. Just a perspective it may be, but some perspective none the less.

I would also like to follow up this discussion with another blog post showcasing a hypothetical group conversation where we can clearly identify and isolate both of these qualities.

Finally, before leaving, let me present a paraphrased version of my own definitions:

The intelligent knows,
the intellectual has his perspectives.


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