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the capacity for thought and rational cognition, in contrast to, for example, such mental capabilities as feelings, will, intuition, and imagination.
The term “intellect” is derived from the Latin translation of the ancient Greek concept nous (mind), and its meaning is identical. In their theories Plato and Aristotle treated nous as the higher, supraindividual, rational part of the human soul; the “mind” as the first stage in emanation of the world, its flow from the single prime source, is a development of Neoplatonism. This meaning of the term was also adopted by medieval Scholasticism (intellect as divine intellect). In contrast to “reason” as the lower cognitive capacity (for elementary abstraction), the term “intellect” was used in Scholasticism to signify a higher cognitive capacity (suprasensory grasping of spiritual essences). These concepts were employed by Kant in an opposite sense: understanding, or intellect (in German, Verstand), as the ability to form concepts, and reason (in German, Vernunft) as the ability to form metaphysical ideas. This word usage became widespread in subsequent German philosophy and was definitively established by Hegel with his concepts of understanding (intellect) and reason. The former as a capacity for abstract-analytical differentiation is a preliminary condition for higher, rational, concrete-dialectical comprehension.
Since the end of the 19th century diverse quantitative methods for evaluating intellect, the level of mental development, by means of special tests and specific systems for statistical processing of these tests in factor analysis have become widespread in experimental psychology.
In animal psychology certain reactions of which higher animals, for the most part monkeys, are capable are regarded as intellect (or “manual thought”). Such reactions are characterized by sudden solutions of problems, easy reproduction of solutions once they have been discovered, their transfer to situations somewhat different from original ones, and, finally, a capacity to solve “two-phase” tasks.
In Soviet psychology the concept of intellect is used mainly in theory of individual-typological features of personality development (see B. M. Teplov, Problemy individual’nykh razlichii, Moscow, 1961, pp. 252–344). On a more general level intellect is a synonym for thought, the mental development of the individual.
IU. N. POPOV