Intelligence is the ability to deal with a broad range of abstractions. Whatever a child’s natural endowment, the use of intelligence is an acquired skill. It has to be acquired by a child’s own effort and automatized by his own mind, but adults can help or hinder him in this crucial process.
[Man] survives by means of man-made products, and . . . the source of man-made products is man’s intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to grasp the facts of reality and to deal with them long-range (i.e., conceptually). On the axiom of the primacy of existence, intelligence is man’s most precious attribute. But it has no place in a society ruled by the primacy of consciousness: it is such a society’s deadliest enemy.
Today, intelligence is neither recognized nor rewarded, but is being systematically extinguished in a growing flood of brazenly flaunted irrationality.
Intelligence is not an exclusive monopoly of genius; it is an attribute of all men, and the differences are only a matter of degree. If conditions of existence are destructive to genius, they are destructive to every man, each in proportion to his intelligence. If genius is penalized, so is the faculty of intelligence in every other man. There is only this difference: the average man does not possess the genius’s power of self-confident resistance, and will break much faster; he will give up his mind, in hopeless bewilderment, under the first touch of pressure.