Mon, 21 Jun 2021 Today's Paper

Enlightened Intellectuals A Vanishing Breed

22 March 2013 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A

Surrounded as we are by quantity and not quality, the loss of enlightened intellectuality is both dangerous and saddening.  When it has taken its toll on the highest seats of learning, it is to be taken note of very seriously. A university’s main task of producing a country’s intelligentsia becomes impracticable when the universities themselves suffer a dearth of enlightened intellectuals. Training in education and skills alone will not bring out the ‘total person.’  The capacity to reason out coupled with aligning one’s self with lofty ideals is the way out in molding a professional. Exams and skills are no guarantee  in producing a flamboyant and vibrant personality devoid of a warped mind, restricted in narrow  thinking. Transcending ideological boundaries and reaching out to a state of wholesomeness and integrity is the goal of education. Politicisation has contributed in no small measure in not arriving at this goal.

This brings to the writer’s mind Dr Sunil Hewavitharane,  one of Sri Lanka’s finest university academics - a mass communication specialist who in the course of his lecture, with hands outstretched towards the heavens said. ‘Whatever you may learn, remember to align yourself with a higher purpose.’’  Finding such enlightened intellectuals in contemporary surroundings is akin to hunting the proverbial pot of gold.    Reason based arguments devoid of practicalities are also common occurrences in universities. A highly charged emotional state is the end result though ironically, the base is reason.

I remember my father, explaining the meaning of education said, ‘’Education comes from the Latin words ‘Ex duco’’ or to draw out.  As a result, education  enables a cultured man to become  a refined person and a  crook, a refined crook.’’

 In the absence of enlightened intellectuality among much of the academia the chances of drawing out the best that enter these once hallowed grounds is remote.
Today we have politicians and not statesmen, lawyers ignorant of the law’s spirit, many professionals without accountability, as Noam Chomsky said, ‘’ privileged persons sans responsibility,’’  and now to add to that list-  many academics devoid of enlightenment. One begins to even ‘wonder over’ a world of humans and not human beings.

As the  ideal/real divide widens  and humanity is now at cross roads not knowing which way to turn seemingly with little or no hope at all, there comes a silver lining stripping off the impending gloom. Two glaring examples attempting a narrowing of this divide  are the newly installed Pope Francis and Uruguay’s state head Jose Musica - both having given up their official entitlements of vehicle and mansion. The Pope believably even  uses public transport while Musica lives in a shack and gíves his salary to the poor , witholds only a few dollars, tills his land and gets about in his modest VW Beetle.

This brings to the writer’s mind senior Journalist and scholar Dr. Ranjith Abeywickrema who in a moment of finesse made a clear distinction between  intellectuality and enlightenment . Consolidating my belief that all intellectuals are not enlightened he said, ‘’Intellectuality is of book learning, training in education and skills while enlightenment is about life’s experiences coming off the environment.’’

 A higher purpose is an essential element for intellectual enlightenment to mould undergrads’ young minds. The higher the purpose, the lesser the grosser self. Historical evidence into enlightened intellectuals is in the 17th and 18th centuries. Outstanding among them are Isaac Newton known for his natural philosophy, Voltaire of satire fame, Montesquieu and his spirit of the law, Jean Jacques Rousseau who impacted romanticism, Condorcet - Jean Antoine Nicolas - scientist and mathematician noted for education  and redemption of slavery,

David Hume - mixing economics, history and philosophy yet unfailingly wrote, ‘The treatise of human nature,’ not to forget Holback Paul Henri a very successful financier most distasteful of organised religion and  John Locke blending  economics and metaphysics.

 Not falling short of lofty ideals despite secular knowledge, these intellectual giants leapt forward into foot printing what was theirs into common good.
  Ever mindful of a higher plane considering their good mix of the ephemeral and metaphysical realms, they extracted the best in them towards humanity’s well-being, - all part of intellectual enlightenment so essential to educational goals which otherwise would be akin to an oyster minus the pearl, or man minus his spirit.

Excelling in one’s own discipline hinders the extraction of the total person. A restricted objective is the end result. A scientist cum mathematician fighting to eradicate slavery perhaps would bring contemporary society to a jaw-dropping state. Yet Condorcet came off in all his brilliance and combined the ephemeral with metaphysics - maths and physics being two highly polarised entities.

Learning must culminate in a higher objective where the best in human elegance outshines all other in order to arrive at intellectual enlightenment - not something  Sri Lanka’s universities could boast of any longer.
See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

  Comments - 1

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

 
  • R.Sunthar Saturday, 23 March 2013 01:07 AM

    It is simple living that goes with high thinking in the ultimate analysis.


Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment


Statistical blunders expose administrative weaknesses

Information helps save lives and during a pandemic a free-flow of vital, accu

Vavuniya tusker’s demise DID TOO MANY ‘COOKS’ SPOIL JUMBO’S RECOVERY?

On June 11 Sri Lanka lost another one of its magnificent tuskers that succumb

Life and Times of Dynamic “Thamby” Arumugan Thondaman

Thamby”in Tamil means younger brother. It is also used widely as a pet name



See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.