5. The metaphor of the semaphore

Despite all the reflection on the previous points, we may not have explained the different concepts of intelligence and their main characteristics with the desired clarity. In this respect, we think that there is a terminological difficulty due to the nature of language.

Consequently, let us establish a relation between the functioning of our mind and its different parts with the world of automobiles, trying to find parallelisms that help to differentiate the concepts with precision and simplicity.

It is worth taking into account that when a fair amount of people use the word intelligence as the equivalent of the infrastructure of State highways along with the global technology of the automobile industry plus something strange in case someone tries to understand them. His or her initial premise is that nobody knows for sure what intelligence is!

The idea is to give an example to clear up what we have said previously, not to demonstrate that it is the truth. All right, upon a better understanding of the concepts, there may be a tendency to accept them as correct or very possible.

Analyzing the concept of automobiles, we can compare the degree of conceptual complexity and derivations that it could present. Any vital impulse system will probably be satisfactory for our purpose, but the automobile example is very graphic, and everybody is familiar with automobiles.



5.a) Concept and parts of an automobile

An automobile is not the same as a car, or a train, a truck, a boat, or a plane. That is, its meaning is more complicated than the solely literal something that moves, and although we all know what an automobile is, its definition is not simple. Just the same, intelligence is not memory, creativity, mathematical or musical ability, nor other abilities or intellectual capacities.

Another subject more obscure than the concept of the automobile –because it demands an additional step– is evaluation in regards to power to make comparisons between different automobiles, models, and brands; in short, the goodness or measurement of the capacity and efficiency of a specific automobile. An approximation would be the average velocity reached, but the velocity is more of a final effect than a capacity.

The subject becomes even more complicated if we suppose that we cannot see the automobile, that we can only observe its effects; that is, people or things that moved from one place to another in a particular time with some comfort and safety.

  • Relational automobile

    A solution for identifying the concept of the automobile is to turn to all of its parts; if we manage to determine all of its elements, in theory, we should be able to specify the concept referred to the group of its parts.

    Therefore, as standard parts of the automobile, we have the motor, the wheels, the breaks, and the windows. These parts of the car are present in the concept of an automobile. Well, the first three are parts, but the windows are not necessary, some automobiles do not have windows (sometimes I use the words car and vehicle for comfort and variety).

    Although this concept of a group of parts of the automobile is significant, and it helps us understand its characteristics, it does not seem that it would be beneficial for a generic definition and much less so for estimation of goodness, measurement, or evaluation of its capacity.


    The breaks fulfill a crucial technical function in cars but they cannot perform the typical function of a car alone, and they are not exclusive to cars. The wheels and the motor can at least move by themselves.

    Even workshops, garages, parking, streets, and roads would form a part of the relational world of the automobile.

  • Conditional automobile

    We can strengthen the circle of the searched for the concept if we associate a sub-group of the relational parts of an automobile with some specific operating conditions; for example, the group of parts of the car that can allow for the moving of people or things from one place to another that has a means of propulsion.

    We could also associate different operative modes to the same sub-group of parts automobile, and we would have different conditional automobiles.

    Now we start to be able to observe the goodness of a particular automobile. For example, to know how long it will take to go from one city to another, but we have to take into account the number of passengers, the state and preparation of the driver, if it is daytime or night time, if it is raining or not. As we can see, there is a multitude of conditions associated with the concept of a car's goodness or even of the goodness of a group of parts of an automobile.

  • Multiple automobiles

    We can think about the existence of very different cars, parts of cars or groups of parts of cars as the power of the motor, number of spaces, size of the car, of the trunk, all-terrain, four-wheel drive, and chains for snow. There are also various conditions such as curves and highway lanes.

    There will exist automobiles prepared for certain conditions that are very different from one another so that their comparison will be very arduous, even artificial or without real meaning.

    An additional characteristic of automobiles is the incorporation of a high degree of security for the passengers; it would not be considered a vehicle apt for its function if it were not secure.