Friday, June 11, 2010

ambiguities (2) - quasi-intellectualism

The process of thinking is, quite evidently, an ordinary human activity, that occurs in, and usually concerns, reality. The idea that human mental activity, when it concerns itself with general or important issues, ought to be divided up into the properly intellectual and the quasi-intellectual, is a quite unreal mystification. The proper intellectuality proposed by this designation represents nothing other than the coincidence of ordinary human cognition with transcendental orders.

A class of Oxford students dutifully copy down what Sir is saying. But a few have glanced up from their copybooks, and noticing their lecturer hatless, immediately and noisily draw lines through what they've written. The others, hearing the commotion, follow suit. Because the lecturer has a removable paper hat, with a letter "i" on the front, which he wears to distinguish proper intellectualism.

The notion that a real intellectual élite not only exists, but is almost coextensive with the British establishment is patently absurd. One need only consider, for a moment, the establishment's intellectual figures. Christopher Hitchens, for instance, whose only noteable achievement has been his transition from the dumb end of leftism to Cheney apologist, a transition carried out with all the dignity of a pac man ghost. Or schools minister Michael Gove, a farmers' fair exhibit of determined credulity, obediently raising his jug head to be filled with lies he immediately teaches, credulous like Tony Blair, but without Blair's polish and Hearst Heiress glamour, a forty year old boy wizard. Imagine this clown teaching kids to read - teaching kids to read his book Celsius 7/7.

Quasi-intellectualism is a description of human reasoning dreamed up by the deluded, or those who seek to delude others. Nevertheless, it might be worth retaining the concept of quasi-intellectualism, for computer systems and social systems that are more or less deliberately set up to mimic human thought.

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