Gramsci makes a distinction between intellect and intelligence. Intelligence is what has been operating throughout human evolution and the development of culture broadly understood. Intellect is referred to as an ‘arid and pedantic intellectualism’ contrasted with the engaged vitality and products of intelligence. He also equates intellect with a certain misunderstanding and distortion of knowledge. Gramsic is concerned with how the masses can become intellectually autonomous and not dependent on what he calls ‘career intellectuals’. His starting point is that everyone is already an intellectual.
How does this fit in with a critique of knowledge? It seems to imply the distinction between wisdom (applied and developed intelligence) and knowledge (fragmented codified facts and models) that is often made from other perspectives, i.e. Buddhism. It also fits in with ideas on mass intellectuality and social knowledge. However, the implication is that mass intellectuality is mired in its colonisation by elements of career intellectuality and also by its pragmatic development in localised day to day living and survival. It needs to become more autonomous with respect to both of these limitations – building on the authentic experience of life but developed in the context of a broadening awareness of the conditions of life and connections with others (loosely the conditions and relations of the production of surplus value). Gramci’s writings on education might usefully be explored on these points.
After thought: Margaret Archer (a critical realist) claims everyone is inherently reflexive and is capable of distancing themselves to some degree from their circumstances and exercising their intelligence. In practice this may be limited to dealing with immediate living and problems but the most routine tasks and the most unthinking automatic behaviour is routinely confronted with instances of ‘having to make sense’ and acting to some degree autonomously.