Thursday, October 21, 2010

Considering Intellectual Integrity

My favorite part in being involved with blogging has been meeting and engaging with people whom I would never had met otherwise.  In fact, the favorite part of my own blog is reading all the thought provoking things you guys write.  I bring this up because with this post, I want to connect with a writer I've gotten to know from 13.7 who calls himself PJ here.  PJ is degreed in aeronautical engineering, business, medicine and psychology; he cites the gravitational center in all this as Mind.  It was his sense of Mind that drew me to him, and it was something he recently wrote which serves as the diving board into my thinking here.

So I'm gonna try something new  and link to his essay on intellectual integrity for you to read. And then I'm gonna write through the ideas I encountered as I worked with his thinking.  And if any of you get inspired to write a piece beyond commentary on your own blog, we'll link that into the pile and see where all our commenting with each other goes!

(Oh- and I think this discussion will get me closer to actually discussing J.R. Saul's ideas...) here's the link:

When I first read PJ's piece, I read it I think with the intentions he meant.  However, something else for me opened up in my encounter: I saw how this thing we call intellectual is the means, or the basis, or the environment, of our being human.  I know we customarily use the word intellectual to denote something like cognitive activity in contrast to emotional activity, but in this moment, I saw the concept intellectual stand for the whole place where we encounter our ability to consider in all its forms- whether they originate from feeling or thinking.  In either case, we ultimately encounter reality through our ideas, and ideas whether simple or complex, red neck or elitist, are things which formulate in something that can't be reduced to brain;  In that moment I saw that domain as our intellect.

Seeing this led me into two other thoughts.  First, being intellectual is not the same as being a brainiac.  I'm saying that any person who has the experience of conversation within themselves--whether that conversation bounces around the ideas of beer preferences, or the ideas of possible sources of gravity--such a being is an intellectual being.

Second, I saw new meaning when my different way of seeing intellectual was coupled with integrity:  Biologically speaking, when our bodies encounter a challenge to their integrity, they communicate through a means we've learned to call symptoms.  What if we learned to see this domain of our existence--which here I'm calling intellectual--with the same force of reality we attribute our biology?  What would the symptoms look like when the integrity of our intellectual domain was challenged?

So there's my diving board.  I don't mean to make this into an argument about definitions;  I'm interested in considering the real human dynamics beneath the language we use to explore them with-- which of course  involves words; we're intellectual being after all.  I'm just saying that I'm not necessarily married to any of them.

Some of my questions include

Can Mind or its subset(?) "intellectual domain" be considered as real as biological bodies?

What would this look like if we did?

What if truth or intellectual integrity was something more than moral? what if it was something structural or ontological to the human life?

Finally, let me add that between our two posts on Intellectual Integrity, the questions and threads might run different courses, which I think would be a great thing.  The point in this is to see where the exploration leads us.  I'm really excited to see where everyone's thinking goes!


  1. Mike, 8.1 and 10.2.1 below - Art, advertising, style, and intellectual integrity. Also, McLuhan: "advertising advertises advertising".

    the individuals are waking up. 10.1 - the collective is waking up as well.

    I don't know if I get/agree with 12.2, but I agree with 13 and 13.2, of course lands us smack in the middle of intellectual integrity/style/advertising/distraction.

    "i see dead people"


  2. another random connection... listening to alan watts... after 8 minute mark. we are SYMPTOMS of the universe as a whole. we come OUT of this world (as trees or fruit), we don't come INTO this world.

  3. Alex, thanks for reprising the Homo Modernus piece again- I love it! When I watched it this time, and got to the segments that dealt with one person using another as a projection screen for the pleasure of seeing their own image,(the 11's?) I thought of PJ's piece and what he's addressing with the idea of intellectual integrity.

    Have you read it yet? I'm wondering what you think in this context which you make by linking us to this you tube piece. In fact, I'm gonna paste the link over there as well.

  4. Alex, your note that links symptoms to reality being something squeezed out is interesting. I'll have to see if we can get Peter Morgan to comment on this- he's a theoretical physicist who models field theories (I hope I'm saying that right Peter).

  5. A correction: the connection I'm referring to with Alex is at point 10.0 and following in the video.

  6. Mike, I commented at the base of yours on my blog