The Intellectual

31st March 2006 at 01:00
The Intellectual

By Steve Fuller

Icon Books pound;6.99

In France (it is said) you may state your profession on your passport as "intellectual". The British tend to portray themselves as anti-intellectual. Professor Fuller, however, believes the United Kingdom to be the most intellectual nation in the English-speaking world, although he immediately qualifies this opinion: "I write as a US citizen."

His engaging "road map to the intellectual life" warns educators attracted by such a career move that being "an intellectual in academia... increasingly looks like a state of exile". Back in the 19th century, university teachers were free to pursue lines of inquiry and challenge received wisdom.

Nowadays, Fuller argues, "this aspect of academic life is in terminal decline". He cites with special admiration the Victorian schools inspector and poet Matthew Arnold, who wished to save civilisation (and education) from both barbarians and philistine "levellers"; a view which provokes the thought that not only academia but today's inspectorate might be light on intellectuals.

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