How to Create an Intellectual?

Because of the commodification of education, it has become expensive to educate an intellectual.  Because of the decline in basic public education, fewer people are equipped to pursue the education of an intellectual. 

This is utter bonk. This is one of the things money can’t buy, and it’s neoliberal thinking that makes people wonder why they can’t throw a coin into a vending machine and have intellectuals plop out of it. 

For some reason I have never been able to figure out, some people awaken intellectually and become interested in knowledge for its own sake and some don’t. None of the intellectuals I have known come from riches. Some come from outlandish poverty in the literal sense of being from the lands of extreme scarcity. 

Intellectuals aren’t educated, they educate themselves. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever in the education system of this country to prevent anybody who truly wants to learn from doing so. There is no censorship, there is no persecution based on what you read. According to the logic of the linked piece, intellectualism can’t arise anywhere where money isn’t plentiful, and that’s ridiculous.


10 thoughts on “How to Create an Intellectual?”

  1. “There is no censorship, there is no persecution based on what you read.”

    This is hard to believe. Censorship is common everywhere.


  2. Having read the article, it seems being a public figure is part of her semi-explicit definition of what an intellectual is. Most of her concerns seem to be less about funding and more about affording signs of respect.

    And I guess there’s something there. You can be interested in knowledge for its own sake and fail to ever bother with broader social or moral concerns; you can be interested in knowledge for its own sake and be interested in contemporary societal issues and opportunities, but fail to be afforded attention by anyone else. In so far as ‘intellectuals’ are relevant as a ‘class’, it takes more than personal curiosity.

    (And, as an aside – to my great and wonderful surprise, it’s apparently possible to have a deep curiosity and thirst for knowledge for its own sake, and still be dumber than a floorboard.)


    1. She talks about the intelligentsia in the Russian speaking world. These are people who haven’t had any respect or public prominence in the past 100 years. And it hasn’t eradicated them.


      1. Could you define the central difference between the intelligentsia in the Russian speaking world and the Western intellectuals? I suppose, the Russian ones have less money and influence, but except that?


  3. Censorship can be overt of implicit, but it’s uniformly imperfect. The Soviets had gulags in part because people spoke out on topics the censors wanted suppressed.

    Arguably, people at a subsistence level have neither time nor energy to pursue knowledge for its own sake. However, most people in industrialized countries aren’t in that situation. They have the capability to seek knowledge, just not the desire — intellectual pursuits losing out to TV and video games.


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