Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Definition of an Intellectual

Eric Hoffer
In his article, “The Definition of an Intellectual,” (February 16, 1969), Eric Hoffer gives a definition of the kind of intellectuals that he despised:
I have been wiping the floor with the intellectuals these many years, blaming them for everything under the sun. Though I have spelled out many times who these intellectuals are, I am still being asked quite often for a definition of the intellectual. Here it is:  
My intellectual is a person who feels himself a member of the educated elite with a God-given right to direct and shape events. He need not be well educated or very intelligent. What counts is the feeling of the being a member of the educated elite. 
What the intellectual wants above all is to be listened to—with deference. He will forgive you everything if you take him seriously, and allow him to instruct you. It is more important to him to be important than to be free, and he would rather be persecuted than ignored. 
He ends his article with these lines: “The intellectual knows with every fiber of his being that men are not equal, and there are a few things he cares for less than a classless society. He is convinced that government is too weighty and complex to be left to common people. He cannot see how anything originating in an uninformed, unprincipled and uncommitted populace could be of any value. There is nothing he loathes more than government by and for the people.”

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