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Isn't it pretty?

Friday, January 16, 2004

On Intellectualism and Humility

I have been having trouble with the idea of being intellectual lately. Or I guess to be more exact, I have been trouble with the idea of actually being what is considered "an intellectual" but balancing that with not being elitist or a snob. My experience growing up was that those who considered themselves "intellectuals" also considered themselves better than those around them who were not intellectuals. They were well-read, wise, snotty and not the kind of people I enjoyed being around. Could I match wits with them? If I felt like it, but I didn't really want to be around those people very often so I didn't usually bother trying. Since returning to school, I have been exposed to a new vision of the intellectual world. I have been exposed to incredible literature and thought that I never considered before. The fact that I really enjoy learning about these things de facto puts me in the category of being intellectual and the truth is, I really do enjoy intellectual discourse, I love discussing philosophical ideas, and I really enjoy the mental stimulation and challenge of being a part of that world. But I have a problem with associating myself with a group of "intellectuals" because of my past experiences with the air of superiority that people who are intellectual often put on. There is a lot more to it, but I don't feel like expanding upon it here. The solution suggested by someone I talked to about this problem, is in humility. When we know first of all that there is an awful lot that we don't know, then we won't be arrogant or elitist about being intellectual. I know that there is a ton of stuff out there that I have never even ventured to think about. And there is stuff that I am not even capable of understanding. I have also been taught that humility is acknowledging that everything I have, my intelligence, my wealth, my health, is a gift from Hashem. I can't take credit for it, and therefore, what right do I have to be haughty and arrogant about it?

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