Bright Light

And now, via Slaves of Academe, we have an interesting article on the differences between academics and intellectuals. It posits three:

1. An academic has and wants an audience disproportionately made up of teachers and students, while an intellectual has and wants teachers and students in his audience only in proportion to their place in the general educated public.

2. An academic is a specialist who has disciplined his curiosity to operate largely within a designated area, while an intellectual is a generalist who deliberately does otherwise.

3. An academic is concerned with substance and suspicious of style, while an intellectual is suspicious of any substance that purports to transcend or defy style.

I am not sure I would rather be a generalist than a specialist – although perhaps I solved that problem at the beginning by being cross-disciplinary. However, the identification of an academic/intellectual split clarifies my malaise and culture shock.

I always thought being an academic was a day job for intellectuals. That is to say, you got paid for being an academic specialist, but in the rest of life you were an intellectual. I did not realize that you could be an academic specialist and not be intellectually oriented otherwise.

Of course, this fact has been staring me in the face for years, but I had not decoded it. The decoding explains a great deal.


5 thoughts on “Bright Light

  1. *smile* I haven’t figured out who or what I am?? That will probably be revealed to me at the same moment that I found out who really killed JFK, MLK, and Tupac.

  2. Graz Nez – and Stephen – if it were about identity, I wouldn’t be worried. I cannot even figure out what my job description is! 😉

  3. Professor,
    I’m back to blackground. Thanks for your input. 🙂

    Although I like all of your templates, and blackground is supposed to be hard to read in the end … I just like the idea of words coming as in a dream, or at the movies. –Z

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