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Thread: Intellectuals?

  1. #31
    Senior Member matmos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    How right you are.

    And the good Burghers (businessmen) of Athens are right behind you.

    The good Burghers of Athens knew just how to treat our first intellectual, Socrates.

    And just as you recognise intellectuals are a cancer today, so the good Burghers recognised Socrates was a cancer two and a half thousand years ago. And so naturally they cut him from the body of Athens.

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
    If we take the idiom, putting one's nose to the grindstone (meaning to work hard), we discover that the meaning of idiom has the same great root as (unsurprisingly) idea; more surprisingly the word idiot also has the same derivation. The term was used to distinguish the slave classes from the slice of society that had no trade or profession and were not aristocrats.

    In Latin, approximately, it's meaning as a layman is retained - but when it reached English it came to mean a dullard and eventually took on a medical twist (anyone with an IQ under 30).

    The -idi part refers to a "private" or "singular" "alone" (note, the lowest rank in the military is a private soldier). And so the idiom is simply a private exchange, an exchange that can only be understood when the parties involved are in on the joke. When the Pilgrims first used the term "nose to the grindstone", they were in fact refering to working hard to produce corn flour.

    Is it any wonder that foreigners have such difficulty with idiomatic English when most native speakers haven't a clue about the original meaning - and perhaps care no further than acknowledge a collection of words, jumbled together with an agreed meaning?

    And so to the downfall of the idiot. The original term was not considered an insult by the Greeks, merely a factual statement about class. It really took off as a insult when it reached northern Europe, and flowered alongside the growth of industrialisation. Of course the process of industrialisation requires workers; and the workers required specialisation for industry or agriculture.

    Perhaps like the word "nice", idiot has come full circle and come to mean it's opposite. Post-industrial countries no longer need the tradesman-for-life; general skills are in order, as you might find that job you invested all that time and money training for being contracted out to India.

    So Mr Fox has finally figured out Mr Hedgehog's one big trick. And you wouldn't call Mr Fox an idiot, would you?

    All the best, Victor.

    Your chum,

    banana


  2. #32
    What is, is. Arthur Schopenhauer's Avatar
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    Ignorance makes the intellect both inglorious and great.
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    This will not end well...
    But it will at least be poetic, I suppose...

    Hmm... But what if it does end well?
    Then I suppose it will be a different sort of poetry, a preferable sort...
    A sort I could become accustomed to...



  3. #33
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHBowden View Post
    Intellectuals: they're pretty much what holy priests in the Church hierarchy were in the Dark Ages -- haters of wealth and power, champions of all causes otherworldly.

    The difference is that modern priests, ahem, intellectuals, see businessmen making all of today's world-changing decisions, and are thus alienated from their own society, since it is horizontal, rather than vertical. A medieval priest, in contrast, loved his Dark Age society. As a result, intellectuals are almost always revolutionary, seeking to change their society into a regulated, unchanging penal camp, with the benighted serfs controlled by intellectuals-- for the mystical Common Good, of course.

    This is also why intellectuals routinely praise tyranny, from the USSR to Venezuela under Chavez. Actors, journalists, academics, aren't blind to what they saw or see in these societies, oh no. They see their own kind in power, from propaganda to planning to marshalling resources, and they like it.

    So yeah, intellectuals are a cancer. Don't take Brainy Smurf seriously; it is better to chuck him out of the commune than attempt to implement anything he recommends.
    Pretty good statement of the right wing conservative perspective on intellectuals, despite some of the irony involved in that.

    I'm always intrigued by myopic opinions like that, do you have to retune yourself when you go off line or are you really like that?

  4. #34
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHBowden View Post
    Intellectuals: they're pretty much what holy priests in the Church hierarchy were in the Dark Ages -- haters of wealth and power, champions of all causes otherworldly.

    The difference is that modern priests, ahem, intellectuals, see businessmen making all of today's world-changing decisions, and are thus alienated from their own society, since it is horizontal, rather than vertical. A medieval priest, in contrast, loved his Dark Age society. As a result, intellectuals are almost always revolutionary, seeking to change their society into a regulated, unchanging penal camp, with the benighted serfs controlled by intellectuals-- for the mystical Common Good, of course.

    This is also why intellectuals routinely praise tyranny, from the USSR to Venezuela under Chavez. Actors, journalists, academics, aren't blind to what they saw or see in these societies, oh no. They see their own kind in power, from propaganda to planning to marshalling resources, and they like it.

    So yeah, intellectuals are a cancer. Don't take Brainy Smurf seriously; it is better to chuck him out of the commune than attempt to implement anything he recommends.
    Intellectuals tend to lean more liberal than conservative. But that's a terrible reason for conservatives to be anti-intellectual.

    The Right used to have Buckley, Friedman, Hayek.... they helped the movement, and now the movement is brain dead.

  5. #35
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    I have conflicting feelings about intellectuals.

    On the one hand, a lot of them have made great contributions to society. To use Victor's example, were it not for Socrates, we wouldn't have the Socratic Method, which, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to teach in the classroom.

    On the other hand, for every intellectual who has made a contribution, there are at least five who have made no difference. I judge people based on their actions and/or actions they caused, and if people spend their lives doing absolutely nothing, I don't have much respect for them. I have respect for intellectuals only when their ideas make a difference, and/or if they actively try to convince those in power to enact their ideas. It's a sub-section of a much larger pet peeve of mine - i.e. "People who bitch about things and don't do anything about them".

    An example of what I would rather see: the works of Greg Mortensen. Not only did he write an excellent manifesto/travelogue - "Three Cups of Tea" - but he actually raised a huge amount of money, built schools for girls in Afghanistan, had meetings with insurgents, and finally ended up consulting the U.S. Armed Forces. He had a great idea, and he worked to get his idea enacted. Even people who had bad ideas and worked to get them enacted - I have a measure of respect for them. They're dedicated, you know?

    Of course, everything I just wrote is about intellectuals, and not philosophers. That's something else entirely.
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  6. #36
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    Intellectuals tend to lean more liberal than conservative. But that's a terrible reason for conservatives to be anti-intellectual.

    The Right used to have Buckley, Friedman, Hayek.... they helped the movement, and now the movement is brain dead.
    Are you sure?

    Personally I would say that the conservatives, libertarians and free marketeers have the intellectual monopoly at present, they have the money, the agencies and firms and think tanks, they control most of the opinion forming megaphones like the press, publishing etc.

    They even do a much greater line in pop-cultural images and iconography if you do a google search on pics on most political topics.

    I'd say there's been no socialist intellectuals for a hell of a long time, Chomsky's a rare, rare exception, most of the lefts arguments are regurgitation of ancient sources by kids, so far as unintellectual, unoriginal and conservative in the form of perserved unchanged ideas goes the left is totally the winner.

  7. #37
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    Of course, everything I just wrote is about intellectuals, and not philosophers. That's something else entirely.
    I'd be interested to know what the distinction is there, I dont know for sure, sometimes I think the problem with conservative attacks on intellectualism is that they are talking about it becoming a mass activity rather than an elect or elite one.

    The conservative idea of an intellectual as a grievance peddler, particularly as JHB articulated it as a money orientated one, I think dates to Burke's attack on the theorists of the French Revolution and to be honest they've always been around, they've never been as popular and its never been as open to anyone since that time.

    Schumpeter seems to hate them because he thought they where anti-capitalist but only able to be so because they had been made prosperous enough by capitalism to have the free time to criticise in the first place.

    All of this I think ironic since I think there are more conservative intellectuals than other varieties, I also think this has perhaps always been the case, I mean what are Burke and Schumpeter themselves?

  8. #38
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Are you sure?

    Personally I would say that the conservatives, libertarians and free marketeers have the intellectual monopoly at present, they have the money, the agencies and firms and think tanks, they control most of the opinion forming megaphones like the press, publishing etc.
    There's Fox and talk radio, but is that intellectualism? It's true that those outlets are fed by think tanks like Heritage and Cato though. But journalists still lean left-of-center on average. Then there's academics where the Right is largely absent.

    Who are the big name public intellectuals on the Right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I'd say there's been no socialist intellectuals for a hell of a long time, Chomsky's a rare, rare exception, most of the lefts arguments are regurgitation of ancient sources by kids, so far as unintellectual, unoriginal and conservative in the form of perserved unchanged ideas goes the left is totally the winner.
    What's your opinion on Krugman?

  9. #39
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I'd be interested to know what the distinction is there, I dont know for sure, sometimes I think the problem with conservative attacks on intellectualism is that they are talking about it becoming a mass activity rather than an elect or elite one.
    I don't know anything about the latter part of your sentence, but to answer your question, I'd always associated philosophers with thought and writing and not with action. (Except, of course, with Socrates, but he was just called an intellectual by Victor earlier, so...) It could just be my limited understanding of the history of philosophy and of intellectualism, but I figured that intellectuals were more likely to actually do something about what they were writing about. Many intellectuals are also professors, and volunteer and do other such things. It's for a similar reason that I believe that the phrase "Those who can't do, teach" is complete bull - after all, most teachers I know also "do" on the side, e.g. music teachers who also perform and tour the country.

    This could be completely baseless, though.
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  10. #40
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    I don't know anything about the latter part of your sentence, but to answer your question, I'd always associated philosophers with thought and writing and not with action. (Except, of course, with Socrates, but he was just called an intellectual by Victor earlier, so...) It could just be my limited understanding of the history of philosophy and of intellectualism, but I figured that intellectuals were more likely to actually do something about what they were writing about. Many intellectuals are also professors, and volunteer and do other such things. It's for a similar reason that I believe that the phrase "Those who can't do, teach" is complete bull - after all, most teachers I know also "do" on the side, e.g. music teachers who also perform and tour the country.

    This could be completely baseless, though.
    I was thinking of why conservatives would hate intellectuals but not necessarily hate philosophers, well Burke hated the French "Philosophees" of the enlightenment and revolution but Nisbet has said they where the archetypical intellectuals.

    The philosopher if they engage in social critique and its an elite thing and not likely to change anything I think conservatives, who dont want or like change (in theory at least), could live with, although intellectuals, especially if their thinking or grievances are widespread, they couldnt.

    In some senses I think if you cant do teach is true, its like practice what you preach, I've known plenty of people who would prefer telling others how a thing should be done than doing it themselves simply because its difficult to do.

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