Sep 4, 2017


Over the years, as we all do, I began to note human nature, behaviour, character, ethical and moral standards in social and public lives -  especially in relation to their education and social position, professional success and political accomplishments at large. I have been also observing their understanding of family life and relationships with their parents, spouse, children, and siblings in addition to their understanding of faith, culture, belief, language, and etiquette. Also, their doctrine and understanding of altruism and idealism in relation to living as a nice human being.

It always amused me that some people who are apparently well-educated, and are socially, and financially successful in his or her career or profession are unable to understand the fundamentals of life such as differences and variability of human nature. Ignorance of the basic concepts of behavioral psychology that contribute to the differences that exist between different people and correlates to the lack of perspective many of us have and how to maintain a harmonious balance between each other. I always thought that higher education must be cultivating some intelligence to critically analyze the purpose of our existence, and must be empowering abilities to dive deep into our consciousness leading to the understanding of the fundamentals of life. I also believed that knowledge must result in enhancement of intellect and it should make a person humble, understanding, and accepting of people as they are.

I also thought that higher education or professional degrees from established universities should have induced the power of developing mental skills to understand that humans are different, not because of their family backgrounds, environments they grew up, and education, but something else which influences a variety of behaviours in them. And if people are forced to think and act differently because of that influence, and which is beyond their conscious control, then should we not be sympathetic towards them instead of becoming angry or upset?

In the absence of positive intellect, spiritual knowledge and fundamental understanding of life, many of the so-called highly educated people from prestigious universities, gold medalists and award winners, have become egoistic, selfish, self-centered, conceited, vain, arrogant, greedy, lustful and dishonest. Their personal happiness or sorrow, success or failure, pleasure or pain, comfort or discomfort matters more to them than others. In some cases, despite achieving high positions in personal and social lives, they are willing to compromise their values at the cost of honesty, ethics, and morality. I believe that, if positive intellect, enlightenment or understanding of life comes from getting higher education or professional degrees, then people in general should have been free from all malice, malevolence and meanness, as education may be having the power to encourage positive attitudes and shedding light on negative ones. But this is not the case with majority of the people around the world.

The purpose of this article is to bring up and highlight the misnomers between education, and intellect or so-called academicians and self proclaimed intellectual people around us. My premise is based on the several examples of public figures as well as my own personal encounters with those who are considered educated and have become socially and politically successful, but their thinking and behaviour does not match the expectation that comes with it. As such, I am forced to think about the importance and effect of education in a person’s life.

Some of the so-called highly educated people have also become myopic and are rampantly indulged in wrong-doings and engaged in the corruptions of society. I have also seen some “highly qualified” and so-called degree holders from prestigious universities and award winners, thriving on bigotry, flattery, and sycophancy. In the process, divine humanly qualities are lost and demonic qualities of greed and lust have overtaken them. Despite having university degrees, their misunderstanding of life in general breeds confusion, misinterpretation, bitterness, mistrust, suspicion, and in turn gives rise to anger, frustration, disrespect, and hatefulness. Hence, I am forced to think, are they really educated or just a bunch of degree holders around us?

Therefore, it seems the higher or professional education makes people subject matter experts and degree holders only, so that they can earn their livelihood based on the established system for filtration and selection to the publicised job. The college or university degree or specialization is good enough to shortlist them from the rest of the lot in the understanding of that vocation or specialization. It also shows that the sole purpose of obtaining higher degrees or professional qualifications in the world is to get a job, gain power or position and become a part of the blue or white colored work force for material successes.

Education provides the springboard to get a job or profession and achieve social or financial success. But it has its limitations and the moment its purpose is served for which a person has gone to school or university, the use of education takes a back seat. Therefore, intelligence is not directly proportional to the education.

With the expectation of the educated being enlightened in a myriad of ways, commoners are star struck and put them on a high pedestal. They fail to understand that research or degrees in IT, engineering, law, business, education, medicine or other professional and vocational degrees, makes people a subject matter expert and not an intellectual.

As per the dictionary’s meaning- “An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research and reflection about society and proposes solutions for its normative problems”. Another definition is - “It is the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regards to abstract matter”.
Therefore, intellectualism is the capacity to critically think, and it should be rational, logical, cognitive, analytical and should be able to analyse abstract matters. As mentioned earlier, whatever knowledge we gain through systematic education, provides a body of knowledge and tools to learn or profess a vocation for earning livelihood and becoming materially successful, but understanding abstract matters solely depends upon a person’s cognitive ability and it has no correlation with college or university degrees. Sometimes an illiterate can understand the meaning of life much better than degree holders from prestigious universities.

The word enlightenment has a very complex meaning. First and foremost, enlightenment must bring the capacity to analyze the mysteries of the human mind, a person’s nature, behaviour, and complexities of the world. It should also bring the knowledge of self, soul, and its relationship with the unknown or in other words divinity. Knowing the self makes a person kind and calm in nature, respectful, gracious, magnanimous, loving, caring, giving, trusting and overall a pleasant human being. When intellect searches for the truth, it leads to the enlightenment.

Therefore, if a person calls himself or herself educated in a cognitive sense then it must lead to intellect to understand life, otherwise they have obtained degrees only for the power, position and earn money. And if intellect comes with its purity then it should be able to reduce common human ills such as anger, greed, ego, jealousy, selfishness etc. University education provides the knowledge of prescribed books, whereas the true intellect brings enlightenment that has the capacity to stir the ocean of consciousness and allows our mind to dive deep to get the answers of the unknown. It also provides an answer to on how to co-exist with the nature, its heterogeneity, and tackle adversity.

After posting this article, the topic was also raised at the discussion group meeting, a private group consisting of intellectuals - engineers, nuclear engineer, doctor, professor, teacher, philosopher and psychologist. Majority of them are in late seventies and eighties and are socially recognized people. One of them is also a recipient of the highest award of Canada – “Order of Canada” for excellence in merit and professional excellence. All of them endorsed my thoughts on the topic, therefore it is pertinent to post their view points as well for your reading.

According to one of them the capacity of abstract thinking is a particular skill and for that people need not to be intelligent. Another analysis was that intelligence has the multiplicity of intellect. There is no one type of intelligence but cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence etc. and one can be excellent in one type of intelligence and failure in other aspect of intelligence. Despite being cognitive intelligent, impulse control, anger management and egotism is a big problem for majority of the people. Yet another analysis was that the present higher education should not be called higher education but it is a training for a job. Even in Phd, people choose an easy way out and they are not able to think cognitively.

In past higher education was meant for rising above the learning basic facts and concepts and using that as platform to be able to think beyond it. That’s how one develops the trait of intellect which is further developed through analysis and synthesis.  There have been lot of non-educated people in past but highly intelligent such as Rahim, Kabir, Tulsidas, Firak Gorakhpuri etc and their poems were direct products of their intellect. It was further elaborated that intellect and intelligence are totally different things and there is no relationship between them. Intelligence is the ability to understand what is around you based on the subtlety of the situation. Scientists coming up with the unique inventions are the direct result of intellectual exercises. Whereas, all the engineers, physicians, lawyers, doctors, professors etc. have the education and training to profess and are practitioners of their traits or trade they have learnt, and cannot be considered as intellectuals.

Therefore, higher education provides a platform to become an intellectual but one can become an intellectual without higher education as well.  An intellectual can be very unethical also. Intellectually a person can determine what is in their best interest and how to manipulate a situation or maneuver people around them to suit their interest if the ethical background and value system is absent. In this case the impact of intellectualism will be modulated by the lack of ethics, integrity and honesty.

I hope my views and views of others on the topic will stir the readers mind to ponder about the modern education system, drum beating of the so-called intellectuals from renowned universities and its relation to pseudo-intellectualism.

Suman Saran Sinha
A pursuer of logical quest.

Disclaimer: The above view points is the result of original thinking of the author and no research has been made on the print or the electronic media except pictures and the quotes. 

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