Intellectual - Public Intellectual Life - Relationship With Academia

Relationship With Academia

In some contexts, especially in journalism, ‘intellectual’ generally denotes academics of the humanities — especially philosophy — who speak about important social and political matters; by definition, the public intellectuals who communicate the theoretic base for resolving public problems; generally, academics remain in their areas of expertise, whereas intellectuals apply academic knowledge and abstraction to public problems.

The sociologist Frank Furedi said that ‘Intellectuals are not defined according to the jobs they do, but the manner in which they act, the way they see themselves, and the values that they uphold’; they usually arise from the educated élite, although the North American usage of ‘intellectual’ includes them to the ‘academics’. Convergence with, and participation in, open, contemporary public debate separates intellectuals from academics; by venturing from academic specialism to address the public, the academic becomes a public intellectual. Generally, ‘intellectual’ is a label more often applied to public debate-participants from the fields of culture, the arts, and the social sciences, including the law, than to the men and women working in the natural sciences, the applied sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

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