How do we acquire intelligence?
I like both Torch and OMs response, and resonate with aspects of all other responses.
It seems that there are two types of learning that humans are capable of.
In our early life, we are genetically conditioned to mostly imitate.
For the first about 7 years of life, we mostly imitate what we experience, and accept what we are told, with little or no questioning.
For most of us, as we grow older, the ability and inclination to question grows.
Many people have this ability trained out of them by educational institutions devoted purely to parrot fashion learning, rather than to experiential learning through play and intuition.
So the first type of learning is imitation, store and recall, and it has a certain context sensitivity, and can occur in any domain of knowledge, including actions and habits.
The second type of learning is intuitive.
It seems that we all have an ability to intuit.
It seems that this ability comes from the distributed way in which complex information is stored and retrieved in the human mind, which is much more like holograms than like photographs.
A side effect of this “holographic” storage and retrieval of information is the ability to generate relationships that are present in the information, but have not been previously distinguished.
A lot of our subconscious seems to function in this manner, at several different levels.
A lot of this ‘subconscious “holographic” activity’ seems to be what many interpret as “spiritual”.
Some people get to develop all aspects of their potentials about equally, while others (for all sorts of reasons) tend to prefer using one over another.
Some people like to learn from the lessons of others, across all domains of history, while others prefer to make most of the mistakes themselves.
It seems that we must all begin with an understanding of life that comes in terms of simple binaries.
At the more intellectual level, it seems that most philosophers prior to and including Isaac Newton, believed in some version of perfect order, or absolute truth. The universe was seen as some version of god’s clockwork.
In 1903 Einstein came along and broke it with the concept of relativity.
Russell set a paradox in the fundamentals of mathematics.
Hilbert tried to solve Russell’s paradox and the remove the foundational crisis. He tried to prove mathematics was complete, consistent and decidable.
Godel came along and proved that one cannot prove completeness and consistency, mathematically.
Church & Turing then came along and proved that mathematics is not decidable.
So where does that leave us?
Perfection has gone.
Reality is proven to be fundamentally uncertain.
It seems that all we are left with, is probabilities, some much more tightly defined than others.
It seems that some individuals have higher probabilities than others of using particular ways of thinking, in particular contexts.
It seems that any of us can alter those probability functions by particular actions, be they study, or contemplation, or testing, or experience, or meditation, or whatever.
Life doesn’t seem to be much more complex than that.
And that does in fact seem to be infinitely complex!
So it seems that we acquire intelligence as a combination of the genetically derived abilities of brain, and the experience we have in life, and the choices we make in life, mixed in with a fair degree of random chance.