Intellectualism and Pseudo-Intellectualism

I looked up the definition of ‘intellectual’ after I was labelled by some co-bloggers as indulging in ‘false intellectualism.’ I didn’t know what that phrase meant, neither did I think anyone could successfully pretended to be intelligent or clever without ultimately making a fool out of himself. Intelligence is inborn – arising from the genes, so it’s either one knows something based one’s experience or one simply does not know. Moreover, I don’t blog to prove anything to anyone, truth is self evident. I just blog because I love to share my thoughts and ideas.

The dictionary came up with the following definitions:

Intellectual: Of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind. 

Intellectual: Possessing or showing intellect or mental capacity, especially to a high degree.

Intellectual: Appealing to or using the intellect or a person who uses the mind creatively.

Intellectualism (philosophy): The doctrine that knowledge is acquired by reason alone without resort to experience

Of the last definition which could easily pass for truth, I nonetheless disagree with that philosophical doctrine. I believe all knowledge is derived from sensory perception and therefore from experience. But it is the intellect that discloses the true meaning of an experience and sends the message to the individual. Without the experience or stimuli, there will be no message. Even with much experience, the message could be weak.

If someone writes a good essay or a poem or an article, is he not using his or her  mind creatively? Is that not an intellectual activity. So what at all do they mean by pseudo-intellectualism? Do we need to acquire PhDs in order to confer intellectualism on ourselves, because I know people who have acquired doctorates but apart from their dissertation, they have not written even a pamphlet. They simply sit in lousy offices and enforce unexplainable rules. Being an intellectual is not something that is inherited through degrees. One is born with it and it’s exhibited from childhood and probably only validated through high academic qualifications. Even then the biggest problems of this world were solved and are continuously being solved by people who did not even have any definitive education. That’s probably why the Academia is now, more than ever, admittable of people who can demonstrate practical knowledge of a field but without necessary certification. Misdirected education is a waste of time but it also doesn’t mean dropping out of college and putting the cart before the horse. That is regrettable.

Maybe my critics will label me differently once I complete my masters degree and inform them to that effect. But…wait a minute! maybe it’s not about my education. People who call me pseud-intellectual may actually be doing so because I am a black African living in the jungles of Africa – I am not supposed to discern much or speak with an intellectual or rational voice. Is that right? Well, here is the good thing: I am quite impervious to criticisms – in fact I welcome them.

On Stoicism

This philosophy that proposes indifference to pain and pleasure has been of immense help to many people. Indifference, as I understood it is not rejection or numbness to pain or pleasure but rather a prevention of the outward manifestations of such conditions of life. A good philosophy restricts or redirects one’s particular instincts or emotions to its proper course, meaning those who are overly sensitive and emotional may consider subscribing to stoicism which helps curtail their reactions. On the other hand people who take life too seriously and as a result do not even get the time to enjoy life may subscribe to Epicureanism or any philosophy that proposes such things as hedonism.

In real life we are all hedonists. There are no true stoics because we can only curtail our emotions at a superficial level, we cannot uproot them. Every individual has a peculiar emotional setup, even if born of the same parents, lived in the same family home or attended the same school with others, co-joined twins not excluded. The indifference to pain and pleasure is nothing but an outward indifference since almost everyone we meet are likely to judge us by what we do and say. But at home, in our private lives, who will know whether we ate hot spicy chicken or drunk beer or enjoyed with our love ones or went through pain at the loss of our loved ones. No one will know unless we confess these things with own mouths. So stoicism goes a long way to reduce our troubles in life and bring us peace of mind.

Revealing emotions is generally not helpful in business dealings. If one works in an organisation where colleagues insult or poke fun at the boss behind his or her back, stoicism says simply be indifferent and mind your own business. The reader will agree with me that by this stoic attitude one is likely to avoid 90% of his of her problems not only in that organisation but also in life. But keeping too many painful experiences to oneself can also cause mental or emotional instability. The key then is to share your thoughts with those you trust and those who are like-minded. Perhaps the only area that stoicism doesn’t help much is when one is in love. In love the emotions carry more messages or meanings than words so one shouldn’t hide them. And also in family life, stoicism may be misconstrued as hardheartedness.

The Relation of The Mind To The Body

Confusion arises whenever something exists but the source cannot be traced or is completely unknown. The mind, without which we cannot be conscious and for that matter we will not exist can be likened to a luminant object. It guides the body, communicates with the body and maintains the body in this physical world. In fact the body is simply a peripheral of the mind just as keyboards and monitors are simply peripherals of the system unit of a computer. The mind is the main proof of our existence and it is the organism within the larger organism.

It is important that whatever ideas, thoughts or emotions are produced in the mind be consistent with the organisms basic biological constitution and function. In other words a deer who behaves like a dog will experience problems since it has a ruminating stomach whereas a dog does not have one. But in actuality, such cases of mismatch of mind and matter are extremely rare. The matter in the organism almost always matches the function of its mind as a unit of the whole, right from the moment of cell division.

The mind is also a tool for negotiation and survival. We probably negotiate a hundred times a day on the average with friends, family, spouses, co-workers etc. Here I am not speaking of negotiating a contract but rather negotiating emotional needs. You have to give up something in order to gain something usually of a pressing importance – that’s negotiation. Through memes and sometimes personal experiences, one may be a better negotiator than another. But the mind is capable of learning just about anything.

Followers of Scientology, many of whom believe they are aliens trapped inside a human body through a process called ‘assumption’ are simply experiencing mind – body incongruousness. In other words, they believe their body does not fit or is not compatible with their thoughts and desires and since the mind is the true self they therefore reject their physical body, so to speak. Similarly, someone who desires to be a model or a basketball player but who is markedly short/unattractive may also end up rejecting his or her body.

Bottomline is this: one ought to accept oneself before one can accept others and ultimately the world. Whoever does not love him or herself will always fail at loving others. It begins with you.



Problem of Evil Solved

Hume’s answer, that, by coping with a smaller evil humanity could avert greater evil did not answer the question of the problem of evil. The question was not about how to avert a greater evil but rather “from where comes evil?”

What we call “God” and what we call “the Devil” refers to the same entity. That’s obviously a mad logic of our existence. But He says right here:

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”  — Isaiah 45:7

So next time we go through some pain and suffering, let us look to the Lord. Perhaps he creates evil and causes suffering to fortify our souls. So yes! God can be benevolent or malevolent depending on who he is dealing with.