The common qualities of public intellectuals is inflated ego and sheer arrogance.

The common qualities of public intellectuals are inflated ego and sheer arrogance. Illustration courtesy of Boston Magazine.

Intellectuals. When we hear this word we feel that only very few people in the society deserve to be called as intellectuals. We feel that being called as an intellectual is a privilege, and we the ordinary people can never aspire to become one. We also remain under the impression that the intellectuals are a different breed altogether, and even go to the extent of believing that we can’t even near them and challenge their ideas. So their ideas and opinions are infallible, impeccable, genuine and worthy of adopting and following. But are our ideas and feelings about intellectuals and intellectualism true? Not really.

If we look up the word ‘intellectual’ in a dictionary, different dictionaries define the word by using different expressions, but they all point towards the same idea. That is, an intellectual has the ability to think in an intelligent way and has the capability to understand complicated ideas and subjects. Mind you, there is no mention of academic qualifications in the definition. That implies, one need not necessarily possess formal academic qualifications to gain the status of being an intellectual. Off course, if you possess a PhD from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Yale, you will definitely be able to induce people to look at you with awe and brand you as an intellectual.

If we closely observe the definition of intellectual, there are two words that stand out. One is ‘intelligence’ and the other ‘complex’.  So there are two parameters one has to meet to be considered as an intellectual. One, he must have the capability to think in an intelligent manner. Two, he must possess the ability to comprehend difficult and complex ideas and subjects. Now the moot question is how much intelligence do we need to possess and how complex a thought do we have to comprehend in order to be termed as an intellectual? Can anyone quantify them? Those things can’t be quantified.

thinktanks

Precision thinking is not a public intellectual’s cup of tea.

If we go by this definition all the software engineers who are part of encoding Windows Operating System (OS) and all those aerospace engineers who are part of developing, fabricating and assembling the NASA space shuttles should be considered as intellectuals. Because they are the most sophisticated and complex systems ever made in the history of humankind. So those people who work on these projects must possess the ability think in an intelligent manner because conceiving these complex ideas requires a great deal of intelligence and precision thinking.

But have we ever heard someone calling them as intellectuals? They are only called scientists or technologists and their ideas, to a great extent, are valued only in the field of science and technology, and their views on societal things are not given much prominence. In fact, they don’t prefer to speak much on societal matters. Of course, of late, we heard Google CEO Sunder Pichai, and facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, pitching for Muslims and supporting religious tolerance, in the backdrop of Paris attacks and San Bernardino massacre. So far our analysis of the word is based on the dictionary definition and the word ‘intellectual’ has a different meaning when we apply it in the matters related to society.

[pullquote]Intellectual is a person who engages in critical study, thought, and reflection about the reality of society, and proposes solutions for the normative problems of that society.[/pullquote]

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, defines an intellectual as ‘a person who engages in critical study, thought, and reflection about the reality of society, and proposes solutions for the normative problems of that society, and, by such discourse in the public sphere, he or she gains authority within the public opinion.’ If we take the word in this context an intellectual engages in ‘critical’ study about the ‘reality’ of society and offers solutions for the ‘normative’ problems. In the definition, we find three words that attract our attention – they are critical, reality and normative. Here the questions that we need to ask are, does critical thought have its basis in concrete evidence or is it just abstractly conceived and devoid of any evidence? Are the intellectuals unbiased enough to see the reality of the society? And are they morally competent enough to prescribe solutions to the normative problems faced by the society?

[pullquote]Reform-minded intellectuals found the low-on-facts, high-on-ideas diet well suited to formulating the socially prescriptive systems that came to be called ideologies. [/pullquote]

So when we have a normative problem which intellectual do we have to approach for solutions? Because we not only have too many intellectuals in our society but also too many intellectual schools of thought. Writing in the WIRED Magazine, Timothy Ferriss, a well-known American author, opines that “Being an intellectual had more to do with fashioning fresh ideas than with finding fresh facts.” He further states that “facts used to be scarce on the ground anyway, so it was easy to skirt or ignore them while constructing an argument. So reform-minded intellectuals found that low-in-facts, high-on-ideas diet well suited to formulating the socially prescriptive systems that came to be called ideologies”.

[pullquote]Being an intellectual had more to do with fashioning fresh ideas than with finding fresh facts.[/pullquote]

So it is very clear that the so-called intellectuals have the luxury of depending on low-on-facts and high-on-ideas diet to advocate their fanciful thoughts, which have stealthy and ulterior motives, to advance their own interest, and also the interests of their political patrons.  Now let us take the modus operandi of the intellectuals in India. In our country, the word intellectual means, it is none other than left-liberal intellectual. Any other person, even if he/she has the best of qualifications, cognitive abilities and other credentials, is not at all treated as an intellectual and is branded as regressive and intellectually inferior creature.

The lift-liberal intellectuals don't like anybody challenging their hegemony.

The left-liberal intellectuals don’t like anybody challenging their hegemony.

The biggest irony is these left-liberal intellectuals, who keep preaching about tolerance and don’t lose any opportunity to perceive ‘raising intolerance’ in each and every incident that takes place in the country, are not at all  ready to tolerate any ideas or opinions that challenge their fanciful thoughts. They all gang up at the slightest provocation and with the help of the Main Stream Media (MSM), which is full of their mates, come down hard on those people, who put forth an alternative ideology or narrative. These intellectual mercenaries create manufactured dissent through a well-orchestrated strategy. As part of their evil strategy, they return their ill-gotten awards, and even go to the extent of boycotting those who differ from their ideas and ideologies. (to be continued in Part-II)

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