Often, a person who calls himself an intellectual is actually just a pretentious ninny who cares more for his or her own ego gratification than living the so-called "life of the mind".

If they claim to be an expert on a certain topic (art, science fiction, computers, philosophy, high literature, or whatever) but can provide no real insight into the topic other than their own unsubstantiated opinions, they're a snob. Feel free to ignore them.

If they offer high-minded definitions of "intellectual" that boil down to: "All the TV shows/ movies/ authors/ clothing/ operating systems I like are what all intellectuals like," then they're a dork who wants to pretend to have an IQ. Feel free to ignore them.

If they like to talk about how smart they and their friends are and about how stupid and worthless "normal" human beings are, then they're an elitist. Feel free to kick their ass.

Here's a funny and true story which you may enjoy. When I started college many, many years ago, I was able to get into the school's honors English course. On the first day of class, the professor asked everyone to introduce themselves, and tell the class who their favorite authors were. I'd set myself up in my traditional seating place at the back corner of the room, so everyone got to introduce themselves before I did. Every single person in the class -- all of them freshmen, none of them over 20 years old -- started listing off writers like Plato, Aristotle, Dostoevsky, Moliere, Wordsworth, Voltaire -- all great writers, but not the kind of guys you normally read for pleasure and not the kind you read when you're that young unless you're wanting to impress people with how smart you are.

So when it was my turn, I stood up and loudly announced my favorite authors -- Stephen King and Agatha Christie. Ye gods, did they all act stunned. I'd brought sin into their House of Learning! Popular writers? Read by commoners? Everyone acted like I'd peed on a nun. I must admit that I'm proud that none of them spoke to me for the rest of the semester.

But I graduated on time. Which is more than you can say for 90% of the students in that class. Most of them had dropped out or flunked out before their junior years...

The true intellectual strives for original thought, through the casting off of preconceived ideas, belief systems, and institutional control structures, thus enabling a more complete concentration on the characteristics of the problem at hand, rather than a symptom resulting therefrom. The ability to achieve this state of mind, depends less on indications of traditional measures of intelligence than on the willingness to separate basic truth from a maelstrom of fiction.

The term "intellectual" refers to a specific way of relating to the world, particularly to those fields and hobbies which interest one. The term does not specifically refer to level of intelligence, and while a person needs a better-than-average intelligence to be an intellectual, many highly intelligent people are not intellectuals -- and many highly intelligent people are.

The opposite of an intellectual may be someone who lacks creativity (a mundane) or may be someone who relates to the world with pragmatism. The opposite of a "pragmatist" may be someone who lacks any common sense (a naif) or may be an intellectual.

An intellectual is someone with a better-than-average creative intelligence who loves to relate to the world at large and to his/her hobbies predominantly through abstract reasoning, analytic logic, associative logic, the Scientific Perspective, imagination, and a sense of awe and wonder. Intellectuals love theory for itself rather than demanding concrete applications.

Intellectuals are often called geeks both by mundanes and by themselves. Intellectuals tend to love complex studies in literature and/or science and/or philosophy. The most common intellectual recreational interests include computers, SF, fantasy, computer games, RPGs, comic books, anime, and sub-titled foreign films. The interests of intellectuals, idealists, and artists often overlap.

In short, an intellectual is someone who actually cares about meaning, philosophy, symbolism, abstract theory, and other things which may lack any immediate practical or concrete applications. In contrast, a pragmatist considers such things worthless because they don't produce discernible material or concrete results, and a mundane considers such things worthless because they seem "odd" and take too much effort to understand with no obvious financial results.

In`tel*lec"tu*al (?; 135), a. [L. intellectualis: cf. F. intellectuel.]


Belonging to, or performed by, the intellect; mental; as, intellectual powers, activities, etc.

Logic is to teach us the right use of our reason or intellectual powers. I. Watts.


Endowed with intellect; having the power of understanding; having capacity for the higher forms of knowledge or thought; characterized by intelligence or mental capacity; as, an intellectual person.

Who would lose, Though full of pain, this intellectual being, Those thoughts that wander through eternity? Milton.


Suitable for exercising the intellect; formed by, and existing for, the intellect alone; perceived by the intellect; as, intellectual employments.


Relating to the understanding; treating of the mind; as, intellectual philosophy, sometimes called "mental" philosophy.


© Webster 1913.

In`tel*lec"tu*al, n.

The intellect or understanding; mental powers or faculties.

Her husband, for I view far round, not nigh, Whose higher intellectual more I shun. Milton.

I kept her intellectuals in a state of exercise. De Quincey.


© Webster 1913.

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