Often, in discussions, people give me examples of people whom they think are intellectuals, and then they focus all their arguments on that person’s (or persons’) research, thoughts, or opinions. And, yet, what these people fail to realize is that what they deem as an “intellectual” may not necessarily coincide with my definition or view of an intellectual (and vice-versa); and I am sure as well as many others who are also participating in the discussion.
While I realize differences in opinions, and keep an open mind about differing viewpoints, no matter how much I disagree with them. An intellectual, to me, is someone who creates evidence, and by that I mean come up with new discoveries/truths and then use that discovery to prove why certain dogmas or beliefs are flawed, asinine, and illogical; rather than cherry-picking evidence to derive their own (often selfish) conclusions from them.
True intellectuals reject fallacies of all kinds, and focus their attention on the concept of ‘pure research,’ which is new evidence that they’ve discovered, in order to search for truth that may or may not lead to an enhancement of the bottom line.
However, those who use the ‘applied research’ method in which they cherry-pick evidence (that is readily available to them), are only (desperately) looking for a good way to build a mouse trap that they can use to reach a bottom line. In other words, if evidence doesn’t suit them, they cherry-pick it, dumb it down, and spin it around in order to make it suitable. This trap is further emphasized through the red herring fallacy, by convincing people of their “good” intentions, when in veracity they are only trying to ensnare people through the sway of their blatant shrewdness.
Just because an individual is curious or inquisitive about the universe and society – and then contradict themselves by being an “accomodationist,” an “apologist,” or an advocate of a creed or political program, without realizing their unconscious fallacies– does not, will not, and never will make them an intellectual in my books! As a matter of fact they are, bluntly put, obtusely delusional.
To me, an intellectual is someone who is truly aware of her/his mind.
Thus, the goal of an intellectual life can be perfectly summed up in the following quote:
“The intellectual advancement of man depends on how often he can exchange an old superstition for a new truth.” – The Gods (1872)