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The 8th Intelligence

From Chapter 4, Are There Additional Intelligences? in Intelligence Reframed by Howard Gardner ©1999:

In the first edition of Frames of Mind, I listed seven intelligences largely because these intelligences best met my eight criteria, but I readily conceded that the decision to enumerate seven entailed neither logical nor scientific necessity. Since then, I have repeatedly been asked about any expansions of the list. At first, I gave a lighthearted response:

“My students have often asked me whether there is a cooking intelligence, a humor intelligence, or a sexual intelligence. They have concluded that I can recognize only the intelligences that I myself possess.” More seriously, I have contemplated a number of candidate additional intelligences but until recently have thought it prudent not to expand the list.


Here, I consider directly the evidence for three “new” candidate intelligences: a naturalist intelligence, a spiritual intelligence, and an existential intelligence. The strength of the evidence for these varies, and whether or not to declare a certain human capacity another type of intelligence is certainly a judgment call. My mission here is to explore anew the process of identifying an intelligence to voice my reservations about extending the concept in less secure directions.

Cover of Howard Gardner's "Intelligence Reframed"

What if Gardner had not separated these three “new” candidate intelligences?  Is it possible that they intersect in a unique way creating The 8th Intelligence?

Curious to find evidence of The 8th Intelligence in your life?


Listen to The 8th Intelligence Podcast to join the inquiry. 

Emily Lauderback Stewart interviews experts in their field to expand Gardner’s definition of The 8th Intelligence, highlighting different applications and experiences of it in real people’s lives. 


Episodes will be interviews with different people. The framework for the interviews will be Gardner’s Eight Criteria for Identifying an Intelligence. The intention for the podcast is transparent qualitative research.  Can we definitively qualify the expanded definition of The 8th Intelligence from the content of the interviews?

While Gardner did eventually add Naturalistic Intelligence, which was then referred to as the 8th intelligence, this site hypothesizes that The 8th Intelligence is the ability to perceive patterns that demonstrate a divine order in the material world and to be aware of the intersection of spirit and matter. The Eighth Intelligence is an intelligence that bridges the original seven in Gardner’s theory.  An intelligence that not only recognizes and experiences patterns in nature, but also connects those patterns to a divine order that transcends the material.  While The 8th Intelligence does indeed experience patterns in nature, those patterns extend to cosmic, spiritual, and existential realms. The 8th Intelligence allows those patterns and connections to be experienced within the other intelligences.


Perhaps if we can agree that indeed there is an eighth intelligence that transcends the material plane, perhaps THEN we can learn to truly cultivate and honor The Eighth Intelligence for the benefit of our planet and all living beings who reside here. Agreeing upon belief systems and dogma is not necessary to acknowledge that we as a human species have an inherent capability—an intelligence to varying degrees—to work with patterns that connect matter and a divine order.

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