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The Demise Of The Intellectual?

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By Sohini Chattopadhyay:

Life is a very strict regimental walk on tight ropes where one slip is going to take you deep down into an abyss of oblivion. It’s not as pessimistic as it sounds if we make peace with the chasm. But then, it is indeed the proverbial rat race and that too in a critically acclaimed circus.

So what makes a 21 year old philosophize (albeit with vague results)? Well, school days were those glorious moments when competition was restricted to classrooms, till Board Examinations happened. And then admissions, university examinations and all those strings of successively tiring phenomena. There are the text books for examinations, the guide books that cater to superhuman marks that include a 99 in English though I always thought it is impossible to perfect a language because of its inherent flexibilities. Science is what the reality of the earth is, arts is how we perceive it. But of course, to build a career, to get good marks, it is essential that we stifle individual imaginations in the exam paper, forget our individual perception of the world. Once we learn to do that, we can effectively stifle independent thinking in other spheres as well, because our education is determined by marks and similar parameters.

Of course, marks are not the only criterion on which a person is judged, he has to be a Jack of most trades, if not all. The curriculum vitae should boast of a winning streak since kindergarten sack-race and egg-and-spoon days, a benevolent social activist in the making, a Shakespeare with words, an argumentative debater, good internship records, singer, dancer, smart, good oratory skills, impressive personality, etc. of course all of us wanting to live a successful life tries to indulge in such a personality development. From this emerges a polished package, and attractive marketable product of the human mind that is intelligent no doubt, but successfully trained to adjust itself to the demanding situations of the world, street smart enough to not question it with bluntness. Even our intellectual questions are often trained to fashion itself in some pre-determined way. Of course, a philosopher not well versed in Aristotelian logic is a madman, they’ll say.

And so we shall all rush to our glories, adjusting and readjusting ourselves with the demands of the world. That’s okay I suppose, as life is short and we must make most of it. The pessimistic me would argue that this must be at the cost of killing the independent unfettered intellectual that resides in everyone’s minds and that is so essential in our nation that I believe requires a silent constructive revolution in the sphere of thought. The optimistic self would argue that the intellectual is not dead. It will come up from this flexible class of rat-racers who have faced many challenges of the world. And the realist will just hope that whatever happens, lets just hope that we shall be open to new ideas for all times to come, in spite of straight-jacketing our lives into streams of pre-determined thoughts in military proportions.

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  1. praveen

    Aptly summed up the 21 yr philosopher thought on life….nice piece of work 🙂

  2. Anshul

    To supress independent thought for the sake of higher marks is becoming the damning reality of our education system. It represents a vast assembly line, which is churning out same mark-based products at a rapid speed to quench the demands of an ever rationally degrading society. In this rat race to amass more and more wealth so as to exercise power, careers are given much more importance and education has taken a backseat thus truly leading to the demise of the intellectual.

  3. Anshul

    The rat race to become materially successful in life has meant that making a career is given much more importance than gaining education. The education system of our country has been reduced to an assembly line which produces the products of same kind day be day in larger quantities. This has truly led to the demise of the intellectual.

  4. sohini

    Thank you. 🙂 This is exactly my point. The education system provides a thin line between education and literacy. It’s the latter which is predominant in the name of education, but unfortunately education and independent thinking isn’t receiving the due respect it should.

  5. aishvarya

    “Of course, a philosopher not well versed in Aristotelian logic is a madman, they’ll say.”
    very aptly stated!!!.And i must say nobody till now could put the entire pulse of a generation in 4 paras as you did

  6. Abhilash Dwarakanath

    Finally a good piece of writing on this website. Kudos.

  7. Priyanka Mehta

    That is a very well-written article Sohini.
    It voices most of my or rather most of 20-somethings philosophical concerns.
    We forever are loggerheads with what we got to do and what we want to do.

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