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Intellectual vs. Pseudointellectual

Hadoblado

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#1
I see these terms being thrown around a fair bit, but I don't really see how they're useful to honest discourse. I see them either as an appeal to authority, or an ad hominem.

The definitions for 'intellectual' are diverse, and seem to conform to the needs of the speaker. Likewise, 'pseudointellectual' tends to serve as grounds for dismissal (to the extent that, humorously, the wiki article got taken down as it was deemed to be a continuation of some dispute rather than informative).

Why should these words be preserved in our language? Why would you not instead refer directly to possessing expert knowledge or lack thereof?
 

Rook

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#2
Yeah iffy terms, scientific and pseudo-scientific valid ones. Contending spheres of intellectual discoursce seeking a catch-all quick dismissal of the opposition.
 

Animekitty

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#3
I am not saying the world is over abused but there are levels of BS that must be taken into account when judging the appropriateness of the term. Being intellectual means being capable of sound argumentation by critical thinking. The clear signs of pseudo-intellectuality are arguing for cases you do not believe in and doing so in a way that the arguments supporting the conclusion were made up to simply to support them when otherwise an honest evaluation would say doesn't hold water. Without honesty, a pseudointellectual will make any argument for any BS thing he knows has no real support under critical evaluation. The pseudointellectual is a propagandist.
 

Hadoblado

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#4
So you think it's the equivalent of calling someone a shill?

Interesting.
 
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#5
I remember there was a night where I was hyped up on the term and felt like throwing it around. I read some article with a mention of Tom Wolfe. That's not very glamorous of me, but I do try being honest.

I totally agree with this original post.
 

Niclmaki

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#6
My understanding was that an intellectual knows things that are generally agreed on by the scientific community.

Whereas a “pseudointellectual” is treading on flaky stuff or a system purely of their own creation. It could actually be true things, but is “psuedo (fake)” because there is no way of knowing how true their claims are.

My understanding kind of makes the word “pseudointellectual” a misnomer though. Popular use is (like you said) more like high-class name calling.
 
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#7
Depends?

Sometimes it seems there's a bit of precedence for passivity (not just on intpf, but in some cultures as well) when one doesn't want to get into a debate (guilty as charged), there's also a passivity in terms of not wanting to outright call someone a moron (guilty as charged). You always need to be very "matter of factly", and often times the person who is more so is considered more mature and wise, even when he's (or she's <: ) spouting nonsense and is being "pseudo intellectual". Sometimes the short tempered guy is more on point and consistent, but the guy who is detached and matter of factly is considered the better, smarter person for not "falling prey to his own emotions". Being consistent in reasoning becomes less important.

Obviously there are benefits to a collective perspective that values detachment and matter of factedness, but it also comes with a tendency to be biased toward thinking the patient, calm guy is the more wise or perceptive.

So I guess my point is that maybe sometimes calling someone a pseudo intellectual breaks through the tendency to passivity when you just feel like calling BS and just want others to know there are some people who disagree. Because if most people are silent when they can't be bothered, the idea most people agree with the pseudo intellectual (labeled for simplicity) might become prominent. And I think there are benefits for people to know there are disagreements in some cases. Like if someone were being pesudo intellectual about why homosexuals were inferior and unwanted, someone stating that, even though they couldn't be assfucked about getting into a "deeper" debate, could have positive effects on other people.

Ofc, you can't always know if the guy labeled pseudo intellectual is in fact that, so it's still a pretty muddy topic. At the very least resistance to an idea in itself, though voiced crudely, might in some cases give ground for reflection, debate or feelings of support from other people.
 

Animekitty

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#8
If the word "pseudo-intellectual" has semantic meaning as a reference to a real phenomenon in the world. Then regardless of its misuse, we shouldn't be dismissive of the original epistemological basis for the world coming into existence. Any word can by definition be questioned as to semantic meaning but if we were to deconstruct any world we find bothersome we fall into the trap of post-modern thought that says words have no meaning that can dismiss the common use and general acceptance of word semantics. Words do evolve but this can be evaluated by etymology. We don't have to accept the abuse of words even as they evolve. But words can keep there meaning evening an unsupportive environment where the semantic abused/ignorance devoids worlds of meaning.
 
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#9
From what I know a genuine pseudo-intellectual appears to be an intellectual. They probably know some tricky terms, and can format sentences in a way that it appears smart. They may use some sophistry and stuff. But their claims may be unfounded and based on misconceived notions, which may not be noticed by a complete layman.
I guess, pseudo-intellectual can intentionally bullshit about things, or may inadvertently bullshit while believing what they are saying has any actual value.

If we are to abandon the term 'pseudo-intellectual', what other term is there to refer to such person, or such a behavior? Or is there a reason to not call anyone as 'pseudo-intellectual' at all? May be just point out where they are wrong?

Pseudo-intellectual-ness should be, to some extent, a more or less verifiable matter.
If someone calls someone else as a 'pseudo-intellectual', the name-caller can be rightfully asked to explain oneself i.e explain the what characteristics of the individual makes him or her a pseudo-intellectual. If it's found someone is using the term 'pseudo-intellectual' casually, without having any real reason, it can be dismissed as ad hominem.
 

higs

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#10
It's really very simple.

Intellectual = deep, researched, thought out, rigorous and complex.

pseudo intellectual = pretends to be the above but is actually just trivial or total bullshit.
 
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#11
It's really very simple.

Intellectual = deep, researched, thought out, rigorous and complex.

pseudo intellectual = pretends to be the above but is actually just trivial or total bullshit.
I apologize, but that didn't sit well with me. I think it's because pseudo-intellectuals really do believe they are deep, researched, rigorous and complex. And there's many things that can be stated which are true and not trivial but also simple and not well researched.

Oh, I just used the term. Now I don't know what I believe.
 
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#12
If I could modify hig's defintions:

Pseudointellectuals: The end goal is to appear smart to their peers.

Genuine Intellectuals: The end goal is to hold a refined truth.

Maybe too simplistic, I'm not sure right now.
 

Shibui

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#13
Why should these words be preserved in our language? Why would you not instead refer directly to possessing expert knowledge or lack thereof?
Define expert.

Honestly, arguments like this always sort of eventually digress into the realm of "all language is imperfect" which usually results in something like "then we should just use math" or squeal at each other like modems, maybe.

If the use of the terms is the main issue, instead of inaccurate definition -- well I think you're forced to work it out on a case by case basis in the heat of battle. Sometimes someone's intent is pretty straightforward and obvious, sometimes not.
 

Hadoblado

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#14
Expert: Someone who gone studied it and has contributed to the literature in some meaningful way.

Or the equivalent. I think any definition I give could be pecked to bits, but most topics worth talking about have a far higher ceiling to understanding than the non-expert can fathom.

Functionally, an expert is someone that you can defer to as an authority to improve the likelihood of you being correct. So expertise could be continuous, and would change depending on who's asking.
 

redbaron

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#15
Intellectual - Hadoblado

Pseudointellectual - redbaron

hado just says the stuff i wish i had the vernacular to say, but that doesn't stop me pretending i could say it if i wanted to, i just like, don't really want to...maaaaan
 

Serac

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#16
I view a pseudo-intellectual as someone who doesn't analyze his/her own method of analysis, i.e. someone not capable of second-order reasoning. One example is Jordan Peterson. Although I agree with about 60% of his ideas, the way he arrived at those ideas seems quite shaky, with the consequence that he also arrives at a lot of stupid ideas.

Someone who simply pretends to reason but really isn't is something different to me – that's just a charlatan. For example Deepak Chopra.
 

higs

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#17
If I could modify hig's defintions:

Pseudointellectuals: The end goal is to appear smart to their peers.

Genuine Intellectuals: The end goal is to hold a refined truth.

Maybe too simplistic, I'm not sure right now.
Yeah sure I agree.
 

Shibui

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#19
Functionally, an expert is someone that you can defer to as an authority to improve the likelihood of you being correct. So expertise could be continuous, and would change depending on who's asking.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Although I think Serac is onto something, too.
 

Animekitty

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#20
I view a pseudo-intellectual as someone who doesn't analyze his/her own method of analysis, i.e. someone not capable of second-order reasoning. One example is Jordan Peterson. Although I agree with about 60% of his ideas, the way he arrived at those ideas seems quite shaky, with the consequence that he also arrives at a lot of stupid ideas.
He doesn't believe in universal truth.
Truth is only true if it passes on your genes.
If a belief helps you reproduce it is true.
When you die truths such as 2 + 2 = 4 are no longer relevant thus not true.
 

Serac

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#21
He doesn't believe in universal truth.
Truth is only true if it passes on your genes.
If a belief helps you reproduce it is true.
When you die truths such as 2 + 2 = 4 are no longer relevant thus not true.
Well, I guess that's the quintessential post-modernist stance – ironically the weapon of choice of the progressives who constitute his main opponents.
 

Hadoblado

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#23
See I guess I'm troubled by JP in that he's certainly expert and an intellectual, but he's also pseudo af like Serac says. I think AK's point about being a propagandist gains ground from this example.
 

Pyropyro

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#24
See I guess I'm troubled by JP in that he's certainly expert and an intellectual, but he's also pseudo af like Serac says. I think AK's point about being a propagandist gains ground from this example.
Perhaps a person can be a pseudointellectual and an intellectual at the same time? Just different fields?
 

Animekitty

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#25
JP stance that only passing on your genes and survival defines truth is exactly what I hear some Christians complain about as being the consequences of evolution replacing God. No God means no standard for truth and morality. And also that reasoning, rational and logical thought all derive from God. Any communication between humans is God derived. JP sees Christianity as true so far as it continues the religion undermining the notion of truth it is founded on, An Absolute God. JP doesn't see God that way but claims it is true evolutionarily.
 
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