Intellectual

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The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power, and if I didn't betray it I'd be ashamed of myself. ~ Noam Chomsky
The intellectual forces of the workers and peasants are growing and getting stronger in their fight to overthrow the bourgeoisie and their accomplices, the educated classes, the lackeys of capital, who consider themselves the brains of the nation. ~ Vladimir Lenin
The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, with loads of learned lumber in his head. ~ Alexander Pope
There he lives, I thought, and carries on his labors year by year, reads and annotated texts, seeks for analogies between western Asiatic and Indian mythologies, and it satisfies him, because he believes in the value of it all. He believes in the studies whose servant he is; he believes in the value of mere knowledge and its acquisition, because he believes in progress. … He is a good, unthinking, happy child, who takes himself seriously; and, in fact, he is much to be envied. ~ Herman Hesse

An Intellectual is a person who engages in intelligent study, thought, and reflection, or to qualities related to such activities. Related concepts of Intelligentsia refer to a social class of intellectuals actively engaged in disseminating culture, such as artists or teachers of various types.

A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · See also · External links

A[edit]

  • Like every 'intellectual', a philosophy teacher is a petty bourgeois. When he opens his mouth, it is petty-bourgeois ideology that speaks: its resources and ruses are infinite.
  • Intellectuals are judged not by their morals, but by the quality of their ideas, which are rarely reducible to simple verdicts of truth or falsity, if only because banalities are by definition accurate
    • Perry Anderson, Spectrum: From Right to Left in the World of Ideas (2007) p. 76
  • There are, indeed, few things that are more frightening than the steadily increasing prestige of scientifically minded brain trusters in the councils of government during the last decades. The trouble is not that they are cold-blooded enough to “think the unthinkable,” but that they do not think.

B[edit]

  • Intellectuals … advertise their superiority to political practice but are absolutely in its thrall. … It is no accident that Marxist theory and practice use the intellectuals as tools and keep them in brutal subservience.
  • Even intellectuals should have learned by now that objective rationality is not the default position of the human mind, much less the bedrock of human affairs.
  • An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way.

C[edit]

  • “An intellectual? Yes. And never deny it. An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself. I like this, because I am happy to be both halves, the watcher and the watched. "Can they be brought together?" This is a practical question. We must get down to it. "I despise intelligence" really means: "I cannot bear my doubts.”
  • A large section of the intelligentsia seems wholly devoid of intelligence.
  • With respect to the responsibility of intellectuals, there are still other, equally disturbing questions. Intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions. In the Western world, at least, they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom of expression. For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us. The responsibilities of intellectuals, then, are much deeper than what Macdonald calls the "responsibility of people," given the unique privileges that intellectuals enjoy.
  • The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power, and if I didn't betray it I'd be ashamed of myself.
    • Noam Chomsky, Interview on BBC's "The Late Show," November 25, 1992, in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993), p. 465

D[edit]

  • Every thinker puts some portion of an apparently stable world in peril and no one can wholly predict what will emerge in its place.
    • John Dewey Experience and Nature (1925), Ch. VI: Nature, Mind and the Subject.

E[edit]

  • Experience proves that it is rather the so called 'Intelligentsia' that is most apt to yield to these disastrous suggestions, since he intellectual has no direct contact with life in the raw, but encounters it in its easiest synthetic form-upon the printed page.
  • Ask a wise man to dinner and he'll upset everyone by his gloomy silence or tiresome questions. Invite him to a dance and you'll have a camel prancing about. Haul him off to a public entertainment and his face will be enough to spoil the people's entertainment.

F[edit]

  • I am speaking like an intellectual, but the intellectual, to my mind, is more in touch with humanity than is the confident scientist, who patronizes the past, oversimplifies the present, and envisages a future where his leadership will be accepted...We want him to plan for our bodies. We do not want him to plan for our minds, and we cannot accept, so far, his assurance that he will not do this.
    • E. M. Forster, "The Challenge of Our Time", in Two Cheers for Democracy. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1951.
  • Even in the most favourable periods for cultural development , Intellectuals tend to have uneasy relationship with the status quo.
    • Frank Furedi, Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting 21st Century Philistinism.
  • Intellectuals are not defined according to the jobs they do, but [by] the manner in which they act, the way they see themselves, and the values that they uphold.
    • Frank Furedi, Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting 21st Century Philistinism.
  • The creative role of an intellectual requires detachment from any particular idea or interest. Since the beginning of modernity, the authority of the intellectual has rested on the claim to be acting and speaking on behalf of society as a whole.
    • Frank Furedi, Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting 21st Century Philistinism.

H[edit]

  • There's always something suspect about an intellectual on the winning side.
  • Love without courage and wisdom is sentimentality, as with the ordinary church member. Courage without love and wisdom is foolhardiness, as with the ordinary soldier. Wisdom without love and courage is cowardice, as with the ordinary intellectual.
  • There he lives, I thought, and carries on his labors year by year, reads and annotated texts, seeks for analogies between western Asiatic and Indian mythologies, and it satisfies him, because he believes in the value of it all. He believes in the studies whose servant he is; he believes in the value of mere knowledge and its acquisition, because he believes in progress. … He is a good, unthinking, happy child, who takes himself seriously; and, in fact, he is much to be envied.
    • Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf, B. Creighton, trans., (New York: 1990), p. 78
  • Since men of words usually play a crucial role in the rise of mass movements, it is obvious that the presence of an educated and articulate minority is probably indispensable for the continued vigor of a social body. It is necessary, of course, that the men of words should not be in intimate alliance with the established government. The long stagnation of the Orient has many causes, but there is no doubt that one of the most important is the fact that for centuries the educated were not only few but almost always part of the government—either as officials or priests.
    • Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (1951) Ch.18 Good and Bad Mass Movements, §125
  • A free society is as much a threat to the intellectual's sense of worth as an automated economy is to the workingman's sense of worth. Any social order that can function with a minimum of leadership will be anathema to the intellectual.
  • The intellectual craves a social order in which uncommon people perform uncommon tasks every day. He wants a society throbbing with dedication, reverence, and worship. He sees it as scandalous that the discoveries of science and the feats of heroes should have as their denouement the comfort and affluence of common folk. A social order run by and for the people is to him a mindless organism motivated by sheer physiologism.
  • A ruling intelligentsia, whether in Europe, Asia or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed, and wasted at will.
  • The man of action has the present, but the thinker controls the future.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., The Essential Holmes: Selections from the Letters, Speeches, Judicial Opinions, and Other Writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • The course of every intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough, ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred.
  • An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.
    • Aldous Huxley, as quoted in Discovering Evolutionary Ecology: Bringing Together Ecology And Evolution (2006) by Peter J. Mayhew, p. 24.
  • Unlike the masses, intellectuals have a taste for rationality and an interest in facts.

K[edit]

  • Intellectuals are cynical and cynics have never built a cathedral.
    • Henry Kissinger, As quoted in Sketchbook 1966-1971 (1971) by Max Frisch, p. 230.

L[edit]

  • The intellectual forces of the workers and peasants are growing and getting stronger in their fight to overthrow the bourgeoisie and their accomplices, the educated classes, the lackeys of capital, who consider themselves the brains of the nation. In fact they are not its brains but its shit.
  • Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."

M[edit]

  • Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact.
    • H. L. Mencken, Minority Report : H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956).
  • First Doctor:
Most learned bachelor
Whom I esteem and honor,
I would like to ask you the cause and reason why
Opium makes one sleep.
Argan:
The reason is that in opium resides
A dormitive virtue,
Of which it is the nature
To stupefy the senses.
Chorus:
Well, well, well, well has he answered!
Worthy, worthy is he to enter
Into our learned body.
  • Molière, Le Malade Imaginaire (1673), Act III

N[edit]

  • He's not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world.
    • Peggy Noonan, "Broken Glass Democrats" in The Wall Street Journal (19 February 2004)

P[edit]

  • Certain authors, speaking of their works, say, “My book,” “My commentary,” “My history,” etc. They resemble middle-class people who have a house of their own, and always have “My house” on their tongue. They would do better to say, “Our book,” “Our commentary,” “Our history,” etc., because there is in them usually more of other people’s than their own.
    • Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #43, W. F. Trotter, trans. (New York: 1958)
  • Knowledge is the food of the soul; and we must take care, my friend, that the Sophist does not deceive us when he praises what he sells, like the dealers wholesale or retail who sell the food of the body; for they praise indiscriminately all their goods, without knowing what are really beneficial or hurtful.
    • Plato, Protagoras, 313c, B. Jowett, trans.
  • Each of these private teachers who work for pay … inculcates nothing else than these opinions of the multitude which they opine when they are assembled and calls this knowledge wisdom.
    • Plato, The Republic, 493a
  • And I think of the duty of every intellectual to help others to free their minds and to understand the critical approach - a duty which most intellectuals have forgotten since the time of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. For unfortunately, it is all too common among intellectuals to want to want to impress others, and as Schopenhauer put it, not to teach but to captivate. They appear as leaders or prophets - partly because it is expected of them to appear as prophets, as proclaimers of the dark secrets of life and the world, of man, history, and existence. Here, as so often, ceaseless demand produces a supply. Leaders and prophets are looked for, so it is hardly surprising that leaders and prophets are found. But 'grown men do not need leaders', as H.G. Wells once said. And grown men ought to know that they do not need leaders. As for prophets, I believe in the duty of every intellectual to keep them at arm's length.
    • Karl Popper, All Life is Problem Solving (As translated by Patrick Camiller)
  • The true Enlightenment thinker, the true rationalist, never wants to talk anyone into anything. No, he does not even want to convince; all the time he is aware that he may be wrong. Above all, he values the intellectual independence of others too highly to want to convince them in important matters. He would much rather invite contradiction, preferably in the form of rational and disciplined criticism. He seeks not to convince but to arouse — to challenge others to form free opinions.
    • Karl Popper, All Life is Problem Solving (As translated by Patrick Camiller)
  • Why do I think that we, the intellectuals, are able to help? Simply because we, the intellectuals, have done the most terrible harm for thousands of years. Mass murder in the name of an idea, a doctrine, a theory, a religion — that is all our doing, our invention: the invention of the intellectuals. If only we would stop setting man against man — often with the best intentions — much would be gained. Nobody can say that it is impossible for us to stop doing this.
  • Today there are academic dogmas as well, such as those of the cultural Left, the Austrian school of economics, and the followers of Leo Strauss. Intellectuals, moreover, often flock together; in fact very few of them are truly untamable individualists in the tradition of Socrates, Thoreau, Nietzsche, Camus, and Orwell.
    • Richard A. Posner, Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline (2001), Chapter 1. Setting the Stage.

R[edit]

  • The most profound breach in this country is not between the rich and the poor, but between the people and the intellectuals. In their view of life, the American people are predominantly Apollonian. The mainstream intellectuals are Dionysian. This means the people are reality-oriented, common sense-oriented, technology-oriented. The intellectuals call this "materialistic," and "middle-class." The intellectuals are emotion-oriented, and seek in panic an escape from a reality they are unable to deal with, and from a technological civilization that ignores their feelings.
  • Most intellectual people do not believe in God, but they fear him just the same.
    • Wilhelm Reich, in James Lee Christian Philosophy : An Introduction to the Art of Wondering, (2005), p. 556.
  • Complaints about the social irresponsibility of the intellectual typically concern the intellectual’s tendency to marginalize herself, to move out from one community by interior identification of herself with some other community—for example, another country or historical period. … It is not clear that those who thus marginalize themselves can be criticized for social irresponsibility. One cannot be irresponsible toward a community of which one does not think of oneself as a member. Otherwise runaway slaves and tunnelers under the Berlin Wall would be irresponsible.
    • Richard Rorty, “Postmodernist bourgeois liberalism,” Objectivity, Relativism and Truth (Cambridge: 1991), p. 197

S[edit]

  • A learned coxcomb dyeth his mistakes in so much a deeper colour: a wrong kind of learning serveth only to embroider his errors.
  • He is of the intelligentsia (which means he has been educated beyond his intelligence).
    • Fulton J. Sheen, Peace of Soul (New York: Whittlesey House, 1949), p. 105.
  • Two polar groups: at one pole we have the literary intellectuals, at the other scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension.
    • C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959).
  • There are three intellectual pursuits, and, so far as I am aware, only three, in which human beings have performed major feats before the age of puberty. They are music, mathematics, and chess.

W[edit]

  • To be an intellectual really means to speak a truth that allows suffering to speak.
    • Cornel West, "Chekhov, Coltrane, and Democracy: Interview by David Lionel Smith." in The Cornel West Reader (1998)
  • One gets flashes here and there, which help. I am not a philosopher or an intellectual. Practically anything I have done of any worth I feel I have done through my intuition, not my mind - which the intellectuals disapprove of. And that is why I am anathema to certain kinds of Australian intellectual.
  • No people has ever despised and distrusted the intellect and intellectuals more than the British.
    • Leonard Woolf, "G.E. Moore", Encounter magazine, January 1959, quoted in Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, New York : Knopf, 1963. (p. 20).

X[edit]

  • When we see a woman bartering beauty for gold, we look upon such a one as no other than a common prostitute. ... It is the very same with philosophy: he who sets it forth for public sale, to be disposed of to the highest bidder, is a sophist, a public prostitute.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]