Broadly speaking all humans are intellectuals since all of them are conscious so, at least sometimes, they ponder upon things before deciding one way or another.

Nowadays, since we live in the era of the ‘peer reviews’, the concept is defined a lot stricter: one is an intellectual only if at least one ‘certified gatekeeper’ affixes him with an approval stamp…

OK, let me get serious.

Some people use their brains a lot more than others. Does this simple fact turn them into intellectuals?
Not so long ago, when books were not yet written directly on laptops, publishers used to hire people to do this job. Practically to copy a ‘manuscript’, usually typed (?!?), on a computer. Now, is that kind of a person an intellectual or not? After all he is working mostly with his brain, right? And in general people who work as clerks, or in a call center, are they intellectuals just because of their daytime jobs also?

No? Because their honest and respectable work, otherwise very useful, doesn’t result in anything new or original?
I concur.

So we might say that an intellectual is a person that uses his brain in such a manner that the end result of his activity is a new idea or concept, one that either fixes a problem that has become apparent, broadens the human knowledge or contributes to the artistic treasure of the mankind.
If we take this definition to be true then the limitation described when talking about peer reviewing looks rather stupid. Asking highly original people to evaluate the work of other highly original people would seem to be both a waste of their time and a subtle form of pressuring those whose work is being evaluated to conform to the established norms and customs of the ‘discipline’.
And this would be at loggerheads with the need for originality, wouldn’t it?
On the other hand in the modern days of very specialized science and technology it would be preposterous to accept every new ‘contribution’ as valid without previously checking it in some way or another…

And here we get to the really interesting part. The professionalism of the intellectuals.


It’s simple actually. A professional is by definition a person who not only has the command of whatever skills he needs to perform his job but also such a high degree of self esteem that he always strives to do his best. In short a professional is a person who sees/describes himself as somebody who is able to perform a certain job above a certain level.

And exactly as we have doctors who save lives and quacks, writers and pen-pushers, cooks and people who waste good food, we also have people who love to think in searching for a solution or for the next new thing and people who think mainly about how to advance their ‘intellectual’ careers…

I’m not trying to convince any of you that bona-fide ‘intellectuals’ should volunteer their life and energy,  live on stale bread and dress miserably. I’m only suggesting that when a passionate one meets a ‘career’ man things will probably not work smoothly between them and if the career guy gets the upper hand it is the rest of us who are the real losers. The same thing happens if the society at large is not wise enough to make sure that the ‘professional’ ones have ‘enough to eat’ but this is a rather different problem.