One thing Chuckles does relentlessly is send thought provoking articles, ones requiring comment.
This is good but sometimes it’s necessary to define terms. For example, this one on intellectuals gets itself a bit confused about the term intellectual. It sees anything remotely intellectual/academic in pejorative terms, by definition, whereas I define it differently.
As someone who has been in universities, I’ve seen the range. I’d hope that I’m practical enough to be able to design and build things and still have a brain. By the definition of this article, in being practical enough to use saw and hammer, I disqualify myself from being intellectual and this was borne out when a former material feeder here Xxxl or Xml or whatever was the designation, who for quite some time provided some really great material of interest, in his final insult said I was non-intellectual.
In other words, I did not drop into the jargon of either the intellectual elite or the radical. Which is not to say I don’t have a brain and I’ll leave that one up to you. What we’re getting at here is the type which the article and Chuckles himself rails against also being the type I rail against. I’ve done many posts on them, e.g. on Eric Foner, on Piaget, on Bloom.
Recently, there was an article mentioned here [also via Chuckles] giving the difference between intellectual v academic, with intellectual being seen as good in that article.
What we’re all skirting around is who this type is, what we should call it. It’s the theorist with no practical experience who, from his university ivory tower, invents new ways to landscape gardens. It’s those who thought windfarms were a good idea. It’s every brightspark in a govt dept who comes out with a new scheme he’s never thought through.
The schemes of this type always go pear-shaped.
It’s the parachutee woman given a top job in the railways, laying down all sorts of new conditions on line managers and stationmasters, then, when it all goes pear-shaped, asks for help.
My local stationmaster offered to give her a crash course on the railways at 11 p.m. after the last trains ran. She declined.
She had no grounding in the railways, she was brought in sideways, having touted herself as a “Manager”. But this is getting slightly away from the topic.
At university in Russia, a student came up with a book I can’t recall but lets call it Bloom’s Taxonomy. She’d been told she had to read and digest about 30 pages before next day’s lessons. She showed me one page and asked what it meant. I struggled through that page and it was unmitigated crap. Anything he could have written simply, in point form, was in an elongated form, with multiple subordinate clauses, all brought together at the end of the paragraph length sentence.
That p***ed me off mightily because I can do that too if I want. But why should he wish to bamboozle with gobbledegook? Answer is very simple – he had a reputation as an intellectual to maintain, he had a chair at a university and had to speak in this esoteric double and triplespeak, in order to impress, be granted new qualifications and up his grants.
So here was a bizarre situation where I was translating a so-called English tome into real English for a Russian. She asked why he wrote that way.
Sigh. What was I to tell the lass? And what it came down to were quite simple principles, easily expressed in about five sentences. I didn’t agree with Bloom but at least the girl was now able to understand. I told her not to worry – if I couldn’t read the thing, no one should have any expectation of her doing so.
Her teacher did though, because this leftist pseudo-intellectual game they all play is that thing men do sometimes whilst watching porn. And the last thing these bozos are going to do is claim me as one of their own. I started a campaign for plainspeak and you know how far that got.
What the writer of that article is really referring to is the theorist, the air-headed “ideas man” of no practical experience in a field, with qualifications dripping off him but put him in the real world and he folds.
I don’t think you can put the Teslas and Einsteins in that category. They were certainly intellectuals but there was something practical about them. Many physicists are practical people. There used to be a programme on TV with Professor Julius Sumner Miller – he made his own experimental apparatus.
The ones this article refers to as intellectual are not so, in my terms. They’re pseudos, on a stipend and a sinecure, having to come up with something to justify their places. And the moment they get political, which every leftist professor is – then in my view they relinquish their claim to being intellectual.
Interestingly, “intellectual” in Russia is an honourable term – people think of Lobachevsky, for example. The greatest engineers are seen in the same light – people above. In my eyes, when I took my car for repair and it was worked on by apprentices and journeymen, they struck a problem and had to call in the Mastera.
He came in, took a look, barked a few orders and went on to his next consultation. The car worked. In my eyes, maybe intellectual was not the word but he was as high in his field as any one else was in his or hers. An expert in other words.
So maybe we should, instead, be referring to experts v highly qualified theorists.