157 quotes about intelligence to better understand it

What is intelligence? How do we measure it? What are its forms, degrees and impacts? At what point can we say that a person is intelligent? When can we talk about intellectual giftedness or even genius? This is what we are going to try to understand with the 157 quotes about intelligence in this article.

quotes about intelligence

Intelligence intrigues and fascinates. It is a subject of great debate and research. But despite major scientific progress, in particular in the field of neuroscience, “being intelligent” remains very subjective. Not everyone agrees about a definition of intelligence as it manifests itself differently in different people and it covers so many different areas. In fact, these days, we talk more about multiple intelligences than intelligence “plain and simple”.

With these quotes about intelligence, I hope that we can give you some food for thought about the following:

  • Intelligence in general, according to the perception of authors, scientists and thinkers: how can we recognise its relationship to knowledge and intellect, what role does it play in human beings and what are the implications?
  • Emotional intelligence is now considered to be a major advantage when it comes to success, work and personal fulfilment.
  • Giftedness continues to raise questions and is shrouded in myth.

Then, quotes about artificial intelligence to help you think about the positive or negative impact of this new form of intelligence. Other quotes about collective intelligence are a reminder of how intelligence multiplies or does not multiply among individuals depending on whether it applies to a team or to a crowd. Finally, quotes about genius and  talent, to tell us more about the link between intelligence, genius and talent.

To end, I offer a few quotes from people who are known for their creative intelligence, their artistic or scientific genius.

By putting words and ideas behind the overly vague term intelligence, we hope that these quotes about intelligence will offer you some new angles and perspectives.

1. Quotes about intelligence in the broad sense of the term

What is intelligence?

  • “To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true intelligence.” Confucius
  • “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Stephen Hawking
  • “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”  Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • “Intelligence is not the ability to store information, but to know where to find it.” Albert Einstein
  • “Someone’s intelligence can be measured by the quantity of uncertainties that he can bear.” Emmanuel Kant
  • “Knowing others is intelligence; . knowing yourself is true wisdom” Lao Tseu
  • “Intelligence is a crazy horse; you must learn to hold its reins, to feed it good oats, to clean it, and sometimes to use the whip.” Nietzche
  • “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein
  • “Intelligence is what always remains young in a man.” Émile Auguste Chartier, known as Alain
  • “Intelligence is not what you know, but what you do with what you don’t know.” Jean Piaget
  • “If you asked ten people to define intelligence, you would probably get at least ten different definitions.” Catherine Devreux
  • “Is not true knowledge of the world to know how to reflect in a plural manner, to know how to take into account several forms of understanding of the world, and not just one?” Josef Schovanec
  • “The only thing that characterises intelligence is adaptation in nature. The true test of intelligence is survival, it is life itself. An intelligent system is sustainable. My definition of intelligence is freedom. To achieve it, more neuro wisdom is needed.” Idriss Aberkane

The mind, knowledge, success and intellectual capacities are not necessarily synonymous with intelligence

quotes about intelligence
  • “The mind only has flashes, intelligence has beams.” Anne Barratin
  • “What we confuse: intelligence and performance. What we combine: skills and success. What we superpose: potential and intellectual efficacy.” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin
  • “I rage against calculating intellectual quotient. Intelligence is not graduated. It has multiple facets, among which are the capacity to imagine, to be interested.” Albert Jacquard
  • “Intellectual is not always synonymous with intelligent.” Alexandra David Néel
  • “For better or worse, intelligence can come to nothing when the emotions hold sway.”  Daniel Goleman
  • “The wise man is not the man who provides the true answers; he is the man who asks the true questions.” Claude Lévi-Strauss
  • “Gardner’s researches into human potential revealed eight forms of intelligence in life: linguistic, logico-mathematical, visuo-spatial, naturalist, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily and musical.” Catherine Cuche and Sophie Brasseur
  • “Knowledge without justice ought to be called cunning rather than wisdom.”  Plato

The link between intelligence, conscience and responsibility

  • “Intelligence that is incapable of envisaging context and planetary complex makes you blind, unconscious and irresponsible.” Edgar Morin
  • “Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also…..With a little self-criticism one can see through the shadow-so far … This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”
  •  Carl Gustav Jung
  • “Intelligence is the only tool that allows man to measure the extent of his unhappiness.” Pierre Desproges
  • “The supreme exercise of intelligence is decision. There are hundreds, thousands of brilliant analysts, but few decision makers. Decision – once you have done 80% analysis – is the void between the moment you make the leap and the moment you succeed. So you need courage because you have to leap. There is no intelligence without courage.” Olivier de Kersauson
  •  “Consciousness is the light of intelligence to distinguish good from evil.” Confucius
  • “True intelligence operates silently.” Eckhart Tolle
  • “Realising you are an imbecile is a sign of intelligence.” Philippe Geluck

Being intelligent through education

  • “Every human being has a unique combination of intelligence. This is the fundamental educational challenge.” Howard Gardner
  • “Schoolmasters are the cultivators of human intelligence.” Victor Hugo
  • “Intelligence buys back ignorance.” Naïm Kattan
  • “The difference between intelligence and education: intelligence provides a better life.” Charles F. Kettering

Lack of intelligence

  • “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts and the stupid ones are full of confidence.” Charles Bukowski
  • “I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.” Tennessee Williams
  • “When silliness and intelligence come face to face, intelligence always wins.” Jean Dutourd
  • “Man barely discovered intelligence before he tried to involve it in his own stupidity.” Jean-Yves Cousteau

The difficulty of being intelligent

  • “If I’m a fool, they tolerate me; if I’m right, they insult me.” Goethe
  • “Excessive intelligence is a twofold evil: it causes suffering and nobody dreams of feeling sorry for the person who suffers. On the contrary, it can incite jealousy and aggression and thereby amplify the suffering. We never say about someone: “He’s nice, but the poor thing is too intelligent!” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin
  • “Everything happens as if intelligence, to be acceptable, should go hand in hand with extreme modesty of manners to escape from and be cleansed of an original sin.” François-Michel Durazzo
  • “Intelligence comes at a cost or is denied.” Albert Camus
  • “The difficulty for gifted people is not directly related to their difference but their sense of feeling different.” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin

2. Quotes about emotional intelligence 

What is emotional intelligence?

  • Emotional intelligence is a way to recognise, understand and choose how we think, feel and act. It forms our interactions with others and our own understanding. It defines how and why we learn; this allows us to establish priorities; determine the majority of our daily actions. Research suggest that it determines at least 80% of the success in our lives.” J. Freedman
  • “Emotional intelligence grows through perception. Look around at your present situation and observe it through the level of feeling.” Deepak Chopra
  • “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Daniel Goleman.
  • “The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions.” John Mayer.
  • “Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike.” Daniel Goleman

Cognitive intelligence versus Emotional intelligence

  • “It’s very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it’s not the triumph of heart over head – it is the unique intersection of both.” David Caruso.
  • “Out of control emotions make smart people stupid!” Daniel Goleman
  • “A great deal of intellectual intelligence depends on emotional intelligence.” Michael Gurian.
  • “In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels” Daniel Goleman.
  • “What counts when it comes to behaving in an intelligent manner is not so much the strength of the faculties as the way in which we use them; in other words, the art of intelligence, and this art is refined through exercise.” Edgar Binet
  • “Even though a high IQ is no guarantee of prosperity, prestige,,or happiness in life, our schools and our culture fixate on academic abilities, ignoring the emotional intelligence that also matters immensely for our personal destiny.” Daniel Goleman.
  • “IQ and technical skills are important, but emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.” Daniel Goleman.
  • “More than intelligence is necessary to act intelligently.” Fiodor Dostoïevski.
  • “CEOs are hired for their intellect and business expertise – and fired for a lack of emotional intelligence.” Daniel Goleman.

Emotional intelligence is a source of success

  • “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.” Gandhi
  •  “If you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Daniel Goleman
  • “The strength of character and emotional intelligence to face your failures and learn from them are at the core of success.” Robert Kiyosaki
  • “As much as 80% of adult “success” comes from EQ.” Daniel Goleman.
  • “In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives.  Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relations.” John Gottman.
  • “When emotional intelligence merges with spiritual intelligence, human nature is transformed.” Deepak Chopra
  • “What I’ve come to realize is that emotional intelligence was the only way I knew how to lead, and is, in my option, the only way to inspire real change.” Kevin Allen
  • “What really matters for success, character, happiness and life-long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills— not just purely cognitive abilities.” Daniel Goleman.

3. Quotes about collective intelligence

quotes about intelligence
  • “Individual work allows you to win one match, but team spirit and collective intelligence allow you to win the world cup.” Aimé Jacquet
  • “Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and whilst each member of our team is an expert in what they do, not one of us is as smart as all of us together as a team.” Kenneth Blanchard
  • “When two forces unite, their efficiency double.” Isaac Newton
  • “Each individual intelligence is born from collective cooperation between billions of neurons; each collective intelligence is born from cooperation between several individuals.” Edgar Morin
  • “None of us know what we all know together”. Euripides
  • “There are more ideas in two heads than one.” Jacques Chirac
  • “The stone has no hope of being anything other than stone. But to work, it assembles and becomes temple.” Antoine de Saint Exupéry
  •  “Individually we are one drop but together, we are an ocean.”  Ryunosuke Satoro
  • “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”  Steve Jobs
  • “The world needs new leadership, but the new leadership is about working together.” Jack Ma
  • “You only need to remove one for a house of cards to collapse.” Dominique Muller
  • “Wearing the same jersey is not what makes a team, it’s sweating together.” Aimé Jacquet
  • “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford
  • “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”.   African proverb
  • “None of us, acting alone, can achieve the success.”  Nelson Mandela
  • “The intellectual quotient of a crowd is equal to that of the stupidest member of the group.” Jean Dion

4. Quotes about intellectual giftedness

What does it mean to be gifted or prodigious?

  • “A gifted personality is always marked by a twin seal: powerful intelligence with qualitatively different operation, intense sensitivity that impregnates every moment of life.” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin
  • “Being gifted means thinking in a different system, being equipped with a special form of intelligence. It also means growing up with hypersensitivity, invasive emotionality that stamps the personality. It is not a child with a plus, despite the ambiguous terminology, nor a genius who has been given everything.” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin
  • “The genuinely gifted are more intelligent people, but they do not go on about it. They feel humble and not more intelligent than others; others are just as intelligent as they are; they are intuitive, so are others; they have values, so do others; they are curious and passionate about everything, others are too; they have the memory of an elephant, they are not the only ones; they are called eagle-eyed, they are not the only ones; they are hypersensitive, others are even more so; they are fine, many others are doing fine too. But they are the only ones who are all these things at once. And many more besides. Because outside the composite picture, they each have their own personality.’ Béatrice Millêtre
  • “There are different forms of giftedness as there are different forms of intelligence. When it comes to intellectual giftedness, we also find a wide variety of cognitive profiles. The combination of these with emotional, motivational traits and personality go on to make each person unique.” Catherine Cuche and Sophie Brasseur
  • “In the end, being gifted is perhaps firstly thinking with the heart, well before thinking with the head.” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin

Intellectual giftedness: a different kind of intelligence

  • ‘To think of oneself as giftedness at an adult age, you have to understand that it is less about a high intellectual level than intelligence with singular components that change the way you perceive, understand and analyse the world. You have to have accepted that the emotional dimension is an essential component in the personality of a gifted person.” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin
  • “Being gifted consists of being different, with very good intellectual abilities and a particular kind of brain function.” Claire Grand
  • “Basically, since you were very young, they have been trying to put you (gifted people) in a round box, but you are a square; not only does this not work, it is destructive and destabilising.” Béatrice Millêtre
  • “Not all gifted people are geniuses, and they don’t all end up on drugs or outcasts, but they all feel, at one time or another, that they are different, because they truly are.” Cécile Bost
  • “The singularity of their way of thinking and their emotional functioning are what characterise the gifted child. A gifted child is a child who is different.” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin

Intellectual giftedness: hypersensitivity and increased creative and intuitive intelligence

  • “Everything is too much: too many questions, too many emotions… and in superlatives, even in hyperlatives: hyper-reactive, hyper-sensitive, hyper-emotional… Mentally over-efficient people experience events in their life with extraordinary intensity. What touches them, positively and negatively, seem to make them resonate like a crystal glass. Even minor incidents can take on unexpected proportions, especially if they affect their value system. Perceptions, emotions, sensitivity: everything is multiplied. In fact, the entire sensory and emotional system is hypersensitive. This fine perception is neurological and starts with the perception of reality.” Christel Petitcollin
  • “Being gifted is having emotions on the tip of your tongue, always, and thoughts at the edge of infinity, all the time.” Jeanne Siaud-Facchin
  • “We the gifted have a true feeling for perceiving the possible emergence of a worrying anomaly under the smallest incident.” Grégoire Lacroix
  • “An over-efficient brain is made to create. Whether it is about manual, intellectual or artistic creation, your brain has to be able to imagine, invent, conceive, manufacture, produce, construct…” Christel Petitcollin

5. Quotes about artificial intelligence

quotes about intelligence
  •  “While primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have proved very useful, I fear the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans.” Stephen Hawking
  • “AI is far more dangerous than nukes.” Elon Musk
  • “The sad thing about artificial intelligence is that it lacks artifice and therefore intelligence.” Jean Baudrillard
  • “The robot must not be too intelligent or it won’t want to do anything.” Jean-Marie Gourio
  • “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” Isaac Asimov
  • “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.” Elon Musk
  • “You can teach a computer to say: “I love you”, but you cannot teach it to love.” Albert Jacquard
  • “Knowledge without wisdom is artificial intelligence.” Juliana M. Pavelka
  • “Mechanical soldiers piloted by artificial intelligence that operate on the ground, in the air and at sea, will always obey orders, never feel fatigue or pain, and will never have problems with conscious or a family to repay.” Enki Bilal
  • “I’m not afraid of computers. I’m afraid they may come to miss us.” Isaac Asimov
  • “If these robots become humanised, will human beings become robotised?” Paul Guth
  • “Instead of worrying about what machines can do, we should worry more about what they still cannot do.” Gary Kasparov

6. Quotes about talents, skills and genius

  • “Genius is having talent all the time; talent is having genius from time to time; intelligence is knowing that you have neither genius nor talent.” Philippe Bouvard
  • “While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
  • Jack Kerouac, used by Steve Jobs in Apple advertising
  • “Genius is talent provided with ideals.” Somerset Maugham
  • “Talent is like a mystery we have to solve using the multitude of clues life leaves behind.” Alexandre Pachulski
  • “The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso
  • “I have put my genius into my life; I have only put my talent into my works.” André Gide
  • “No scientists that created anything have an IQ lower than 120 or 130.” Dr Avner Ziv
  • “Talent hits a target no one else can hit.” Arthur Schopenhauer

7. Quotes from 12 famous personalities known worldwide for their genius and creative intelligence

Leonardo da Vinci

  • “He who thinks little, errs much.” 
  • “To know how to listen is to possess, in addition to one’s own, the brains of others.” 
  • “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” 
  • “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” »

Marie Curie

  • “You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals.” 
  • “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”  
  • “Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” 
  •  “Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.” 

Albert Einstein

  • “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” 
  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” 
  • “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  
  • “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”  


  • “I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” 
  • “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.” 
  • “Doubt is the father of creation.” 
  • “The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and. dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it. had nothing else in the universe to do.” 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • “I choose such notes that love one another.” 
  • “True genius without heart is a thing of nought – for not great understanding alone, not intelligence alone, nor both together, make genius.”    
  • “I continue to compose because anything else makes me tired.” 
  •  “I don’t like people who don’t laugh. They are frivolous people.” 

Frida Khalo

  • “Anguish and pain – pleasure and death are no more than a process of existence.  The revolutionary struggle in this process is a doorway open to intelligence.”  
  • “Don’t build a wall around your own suffering or it may devour you from the inside.” 
  • “To create your own paradise, you have to draw from your personal hell.” 
  • “Don’t mind me. I come from another planet. I see horizons where you see borders.” 

Elon Musk

  • “Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.” 
  • “If you can’t beat them, join them” (on the subject of cyborgs) 
  • “There’s a one in billions chance [we’re in] base reality.” 
  • “If the rules are such that you can’t make progress, then you have to fight the rules.” 


  • “Man must harmonize mind and body.” 
  • “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”  
  • “Respectful and grateful towards my Masters, I will give their children the instruction I received from their fathers.” 
  • “A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.”  

Marcel Proust

  • “Our intellect is not the most subtle, the most powerful, the most appropriate, instrument for revealing the truth. It is life that, little by little, example by example, permits us to see that what is most important to our heart, or to our mind, is learned not by reasoning but through other agencies.” 
  • “It is better to dream your life than to live it, even if living it means dreaming it.” 
  • “We love only what we do not wholly possess.” 
  • “Is not absence, for the one who loves, the most certain, the most efficient, the most lively, the most indestructible and the most faithful of presences.” 

Isaac Newton

  • “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” 
  • “A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.”  
  • “What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.” 
  • “No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.” 

Charles Darwin

  • “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” 
  • “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” 
  • “A mathematician is like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.” 
  • “Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.”

Stephen Hawking

  • “I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” 
  • “My goal is simple.  It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” 
  • “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” 
  • “Quiet people have the loudest minds.” 

What about you, do you know any quotes about intelligence? Feel free to share them in the comments!

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