Who first introduced the concept of IQ?

IQ myth

Until well into modern times, a person was considered to be "intelligent" when he was able to combine an abundance of spiritual human virtues: cleverness, reason, clarity of reason, but also strength of faith "when his head was still in heaven", such as Rudolf Steiner put it. The ancient and Christian cardinal virtues, as represented in the five wise and five foolish virgins, were considered an unwritten law of intelligence for millennia. This changed radically with the advent of modern science and technology in the 17th and 18th centuries. The human being was no longer seen primarily as a spiritually endowed being, but merely viewed as a kind of complicated machine. La Mettrie, the court philosopher of the Prussian King Frederick the Great, proclaimed that everything in humans is machine, including the soul and the thought processes. Man is a perfect clockwork in which the mind only functions as a well-oiled calculating machine.

Cyborgs and androids

The idea of ​​the »machine man« and the invention of the computer have become the foundation of robotics (since 1921) and classic artificial intelligence research (AI) in the 20th century. AI research started in America in 1956 with ambitious goals. One was certain that with the computer they had finally found a suitable model of the human brain, and hoped that it would be able to surpass the intelligence of its biological model in a short time. It is a tragic myth of our modern times that robots could one day surpass humans in terms of intelligence and even develop awareness and feelings. Films, computer games and cult books are now overpopulated with cyborgs, androids, aliens, robocops ... - computer-controlled "beings" that fascinate because of their captivatingly cold intelligence. With films like »Terminator«, the offspring of a hyperintelligent machine man who has become a killer, the modern superstition of humans is illustrated in a futuristic and martial way.

How the IQ myth shapes modern civilization

With the emergence of the modern concept of intelligence and the intelligence tests, the Christian-humanistic image of man, which started out from the human being as an ethically oriented being, was shelved. Intelligence and the intelligence quotient (IQ) have become a universal measure and have subjected numerous areas of life, from kindergarten to university, to their laws and norms. Based on this logic, the distribution of chances in life and access to the societal meat pots are decided more or less directly via the factor of intelligence. In America, a career in business or science is hardly possible without being able to show an intelligence test such as a police clearance certificate. In Germany, too, the intelligence tests caused a sensation last year when the government demanded that migrants have to submit an intelligence test with positive values.

It is hardly surprising that at a time when the "IQ myth" is setting the tone of research, studies such as PISA meet with a striking response. The staggering belief in PISA across the education sector reflects how deep the intelligence myth is in our bones.

The school sifts

The renowned psychologist Francis Galton, nephew of Charles Darwin, was the first to venture into the mechanical measurement of human intelligence. In 1904, a society for child psychology was commissioned by the French government to create a test that could be used to identify mentally handicapped children.

The intelligence tests developed by Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon were, however, designed to be astonishingly mechanical - they measured the circumference of the head or deduced the children's intelligence from the speed of their reactions. Shortly afterwards, the intelligence tests were further developed by William Stern and in 1912 the term "intelligence quotient" was introduced for the first time. On this basis it was finally possible to outsource the special schools for less intelligent children.

Today all educational systems and types of schools have long been subject to the dictates of the intelligence quotient. Anyone who wants to be successful in school needs good grades, i.e. good skills in handling cognitive exams. In plain English: good intelligence. Other talents play a subordinate role in most schools. Listening, writing down, memorizing, reproducing are the usual learning patterns. Those who do not master this scheme have hardly any chances in school - and thus also in later life. As a result, the modern school has primarily become a distributor of life chances on the one-sided basis of a large-scale intelligence test.

The intelligence and the evil

At the same time when the idea of ​​robots was born, when the mechanistic intelligence tests were being developed, and shortly after the devastation of World War I, Rudolf Steiner gave the lecture series "The question of education as a social question". In it he warned urgently against the danger of the mechanization of intelligence, the social coldness of intelligence and the associated excesses of the intelligence myth: “People can barely succeed if they exert their intelligence and do not have particularly wild instincts, according to the To look at the light of the good. But this human intelligence will get more and more the inclination to think out evil and to insert evil into man in the moral, evil in knowledge, error. … After all, it is not for nothing that the intelligence can instill so much pride and arrogance in contemporary people. «Anyone who follows the development of modern civilization carefully will notice that Steiner rightly issued the warnings. A few years later, people's increasingly "cold and evil intelligence" invented the Third Reich, the Holocaust, a racist social order, and later the atom bomb, genetic engineering and the killer games.

The discovery of "emotional intelligence"

Since the 1990s, the one-sidedness of the concept of intelligence and its devastating cultural effects have become more and more apparent.

First of all, the often cited relationship between high IQ and professional success could be put into perspective. Because, as it was finally found out, this connection exists primarily for simple and mechanically structured professions. However, in professions that require greater creativity, responsibility or even leadership skills, the intelligence schemes fail. Researchers like Howard Gardner ("Multiple Intelligence"), Daniel Goleman ("Emotional Intelligence") and Marshall / Zohar ("Spiritual Intelligence") have finally shown that successful and happy people can fall back on one ability above all else: emotional intelligence ( »EQ«). According to some modern intelligence researchers, today it can be said that emotional intelligence is far superior to cognitive intelligence.

A few years ago a study was published in which 62 of the most successful companies in America ("Fortune 500") were thoroughly examined. The result was that it was not the perfect management system or the excellent marketing strategy that were decisive for success, but the particularly high emotional intelligence of the management team. The traditional school, on the other hand, seems to be the only reserve today where cognitive intelligence is still the dominant factor for success.

But whether a school leaver builds a sustainable social network, whether he will lead a successful relationship and whether he feels integrated in an appreciative team at work or in his hobbies - all this depends primarily on his emotional intelligence. The great consolation here is: In certain respects, emotional intelligence is better trained than cognitive intelligence!

Above all, it is the eventful social ventures that act as strong educators of emotional intelligence - be it theater projects, circus, boy scouts, holiday camps, school trips or charitable, social and political engagement. Then we can only hope that our children's teachers will bring one thing above all else with them: emotional intelligence.


Rudolf Steiner: The question of upbringing as a social question. GA 296, August 16, 1919, Dornach 1997

Daniel Goleman: Emotional Leadership, Munich 2002

Howard Gardner: Farewell to IQ: The framework theory of multiple intelligences, Stuttgart 2005

Daniel Goleman: EQ. Emotional Intelligence, Munich, 2001

Carl Liungman: The cult of intelligence. A critique of the concept of intelligence and the IQ measurement, Berlin 1982

Ian Marshall, Danah Zohar: IQ? EQ? SQ !: Spiritual intelligence - the undiscovered potential, Bielefeld 2010

Michael Birnthaler: Adventure Education and Waldorf Schools, Stuttgart 2008