Intellectuals and Intellectualism

On September 4th, 2011, Posted by author

Last modified: October 26, 2015

Georges Clemenceau called Emile Zola’s famous open letter “J’accuse” as ‘a protest of intellectuals’ and gave prominence to the word intellectual (Collini, 2006). Intellectuals are those who make use of their intellect or intelligence and reasoning powers,

and are not governed by their feelings. They could practise these powers to analyse personal, professional or public issues. Intellectuals are seen everywhere including academic, literary, scientific, political and public domains.

Early Western intellectual were more of the literary type producing essays, critiques, journalism and so on. However, modern intellectuals are recognised only when they utilize their powers for the greater good of the people and act as the moral conscience of the society (Jean Paul Sartre) and they should be concerned about: “the international world order, the political and economic organisation of contemporary society, the institutional and legal frameworks that regulate the lives of ordinary citizens, the educational system, and the media networks that control and disseminate information. Sartre systematically refused to keep quiet about what he saw as inequalities and injustices in the world” (Scriven, 1993). Some argue that scientists, engineers and such cannot be considered categorically as intellectuals in contrast to sociologists and writers who work for society at large, not restricting themselves to their specialist areas (Thomas Sowell, 2009).

While intellectuals like Karl Marx, Balzac, Zola, Dickens, Ibsen and Hauptmann reflected the social problems of their times through their writings. (Fleck, Hess, & Lyon, 2009), intellectuals such as Rousseau and Robespierre with their pseudo-moralistic fanaticism almost annihilated the Western civilization followed by such men as Lenin, Hitler and Stalin (Ryn, 1982). In the Third World countries, intellectuals who have become prominent mostly belonged to the leftist and/or extreme socialist cadre: Mao Zedong, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and other neo-Marxists attracted the young people with their ideology-driven movements (Fleck, Hess, & Lyon, 2009).

Intellectualism and idealism are subject for study in most universities. For writing a term paper on similar subjects, you could use our custom writing service and order an essay online. If you would like to order an essay on a similar topic, visit us at to order a custom essay or visit our home page at

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