An intellectual is a person who primarily uses intelligence in either a professional or an individual capacity. As a substantive or adjective, it refers to the work product of such persons, to the so-called "life of the mind" generally, or to an aspect of something where learning, erudition, and informed and critical thinking are the focus, as in "the intellectual level of the discourse on the matter was not high".
The intellectual is a specific variety of the intelligent, which unlike the general property, is strictly associated with reason and thinking. Many everyday roles require the application of intelligence to skills that may have a psychomotor component, for example, in the fields of medicine, sport or the arts, but these do not necessarily involve the practitioner in the "world of ideas". The distinctive quality of the intellectual person is that the mental skills, which he or she demonstrates, are not simply intelligent, but even more, they focus on thinking about the abstract, philosophical and esoteric aspects of human inquiry and the value of their thinking.
Traditionally, the scholarly and the intellectual classes were closely identified; however, while intellectuals need not necessarily be actively involved in scholarship, they often have an academic background and will typically have an association with a profession.
More broadly, any work of the mind may be termed intellectual property, whether or not its content is "intellectual" in the sense covered in this article. Intellectuals include not only philosophers, interested in epistemology, but also others in the arts and sciences, plus the humanities, with no boundaries as to fields of study.
Famous quotes containing the word intellectual:
“Can a woman become a genius of the first class? Nobody can know unless women in general shall have equal opportunity with men in education, in vocational choice, and in social welcome of their best intellectual work for a number of generations.”
—Anna Garlin Spencer (18511931)
“Decisive inventions and discoveries always are initiated by an intellectual or moral stimulus as their actual motivating force, but, usually, the final impetus to human action is given by material impulses ... merchants stood as a driving force behind the heroes of the age of discovery; this first heroic impulse to conquer the world emanated from very mortal forcesin the beginning, there was spice.”
—Stefan Zweig (18811942)
“The most intellectual of men are moved quite as much by the circumstances which they are used to as by their own will. The active voluntary part of a man is very small, and if it were not economised by a sleepy kind of habit, its results would be null.”
—Walter Bagehot (18261877)