An intellectual is a person who primarily uses intelligence in either a professional or an individual capacity. As a substantive or adjective, it refers to the work product of such persons, to the so-called "Life of the Mind" generally, or to an aspect of something where learning, erudition, and informed and critical Thinking are the focus, as in "the intellectual level of the discourse on the matter was not high".
The intellectual is a specific variety of the intelligent, which unlike the general property, is strictly associated with reason and Thinking. Many everyday roles require the application of intelligence to skills that may have a psychomotor component, for example, in the fields of medicine, sport or the arts, but these do not necessarily involve the practitioner in the "World of ideas". The distinctive quality of the intellectual person is that the Mental skills, which he or she demonstrates, are not simply intelligent, but even more, they focus on Thinking about the abstract, philosophical and esoteric aspects of human inquiry and the value of their Thinking.
Traditionally, the scholarly and the intellectual classes were closely identified; however, while intellectuals need not necessarily be actively involved in scholarship, they often have an academic background and will typically have an association with a profession.
More broadly, any work of the Mind may be termed intellectual property, whether or not its content is "intellectual" in the sense covered in this article. Intellectuals include not only philosophers, interested in epistemology, but also others in the arts and sciences, plus the humanities, with no boundaries as to fields of study.
Terminology and endeavours
The term "intellectual" can denote three types of people. An intellectual is a person who uses Thought and reason, intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning, in either a professional or a personal capacity and is:
- a person involved in, and with, abstract, erudite ideas and theories;
- a person whose profession (e.g. philosophy, literary Criticism, sociology, law, political analysis, theoretical science, etc.) solely involves the production and dissemination of ideas; or
- a person of notable cultural and artistic expertise whose Knowledge grants him or her intellectual authority in public discourse.