Tonight I had the pleasure of bringing the first event in the Philosophical Implications series to fruition with the support of the Brisbane Club and PhD academic, Samuel Pearson. The topic centred upon Samuel’s research topic of Social Intelligence.
Samuel presented early findings to suggest that success in social situations is predicated upon the cognitive abilities of divergent and convergent thinking. Interestingly, these cognitive abilities are independent of IQ.
Samuel’s research focuses on characteristics individuals possess that contribute to their social intelligence, namely their divergent and convergent cognitive abilities, but it is of philosophical interest to ponder the implications of the social on such cognitive features, and in turn how these cognitive features may influence the social.
Philosophers have pondered the problem of the social under the umbrella term social ontology, which is concerned with the question of what makes up the social realm. Just placing two people side by side does not render the placement social. It would seem the social requires elements such as collective intentionality, group agency, institutions, language, the law and even money.
A for social intelligence research: Does or can social intelligence contribute to the development of social characteristics, such as collective intentionality, group agency and so forth?
Taking it further: The individual is something that we seem to take for granted given that we experience ourselves as individuals with feelings and sensations that are distinct from those of others. Might such a categorisation may be naïve or even erroneous? Might it be possible that what we consider individual, i.e. “you” and “me” are but facets of one social process refracted in different ways? Under that somewhat unintuitive and warped view of reality, how would one explain social intelligence?