Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Modes of Development (4)

So far, I have been content to deal with the primary modes i.e. cognitive, affective and volitional, which I believe are central with respect to the balanced integration of the psyche. Though personalities can indeed differ to a substantial degree, in the end, successful integration requires corresponding integration with respect to the three primary modes.

However the manner in which these modes are expressed remain unique for each personality.

However much attention has been placed in recent years on what Howard Gardner refers to as "multiple intelligences". Now Gardner identifies 7 key variants here in a manner that I would find somewhat arbitrary. These comprise linguistic (words and language), logical-mathematical (logic and numbers), musical (music, sound, rhythm), bodily-kinisthetic (body movement control), spatial-visual (images and space), interpersonal (other people's feelings) and intrapersonal (self awareness).

One could question whether these are indeed distinctive abilities for - certainly in terms of the primary modes - they involve inevitable overlap. For example linguistic would entail a mixture of overlap of cognitive and affective modes. Certainly logico-mathematical would represent a more exclusive cognitive type ability. However cognitive development in the more general sense would not necessarily require special logico-mathematical ability! And bodily kinisthetic would - from my perspective - represent a more purely instinctive use of both cognitive and affective modes!

Then in other respects, these categories may appear too general. For example there are many different expressions of musical ability. One for example could have a fine singing voice, without a demonstrated ability to play a musical instrument. And one could be gifted in playing just one instrument e.g. drums, without a special ability for any other. And then we would have to distinguish as between performance and appreciation. So many who greatly appreciate music (in at least some of its varied forms of expression) may not be equally gifted with respect to performance.

And bodily-kinisthetic ability - just again to give one more example - covers a very wide range.

For example the various sports require a particular type of kinisthetic ability which to a degree is exclusive to that sport. Therefore, someone who is a gifted golfer may not display a marked ability for other sports e.g. tennis. Though there are many who display a general ability for participating successfully in a wide variety of sports, this may owe a lot to other factors such as physical endowments, peer support, opportunities for practice, personality characteristics etc.

Then, because of the arbitrariness of defining "multiple intelligences", additional abilities have been suggested e.g. naturalist (concern for the environment), spiritual/existential (religion and ultimate issues) and moral (ethics and values).

Here we can perhaps recognise a greater emphasis on volition (in the fundamental drive or motivation common to all human experience). However it is interesting that it is given here a somewhat secondary role, whereas I would rightly see volition in a very true sense as the most important of all!

For example one could be a passionate believer in the value of scientific truth. However this passion itself does not reflect the cognitive - but rather the volitional - capacity of the psyche. And without this prior underlying motivation for meaning (in whatever form) it is hard to see how any of the "multiple intelligences" can truly find expression.

One key issue that in fact clearly separates the primary modes (cognitive, affective and volitional) from the secondary modes ("multiple intelligences") is that full balanced integration of the personality (which can only be properly viewed in a dynamic - and necessarily approximate - open-ended manner) requires appropriate development of the primary modes through all major bands of the spectrum.

In other words balanced integration cannot entail - for example - Band 6 cognitive with Band 2 affective development.  Rather Band 6 integration  requires - though the precise manner that this is obtained is indeed unique for each individual personality - corresponding Band 6 development with respect to cognitive, affective and volitional modes respectively.

However, this requirement with respect to integration does not equally apply to the development of "multiple intelligences".

In fact, very often, marked development with respect to just one intelligence - enabling a recognised expertise - is associated with very limited development with respect to others.

Also in most cases -  even when one is especially gifted with a particular talent - development takes place over a very limited range of the spectrum.

This would seen especially the case with bodily-kinisthetic ability. For example a truly gifted footballer may be paid a salary of over €100,000 per week for this unique talent. However it is not really meaningful to envisage that such ability requires development through all stages of the spectrum.

However, I would still caution very much against the view that these talents therefore represent unco-ordinated " lines of development". In fact a far more interesting scenario, I believe prevails, which I will return to in a future entry. 

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