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Enhancement and Illumination made by the Intellectuals of the 21st century

The history of mankind is a perennial struggle between rational and irrational  forces, between Knowledge and enlightenment on one hand and ignorance, prejudice, lust for power and functionalism on the other. Socrates wanted his statement to be men of true wisdom and insisted that the purpose of life was to grow spiritually and philosophically. He often used the Phrase that  an unexamined life is not worth living.

His ideology mainly urged everyone to examine  one's values and beliefs in order to determine if they were the correct ones. Socrates' way  of examining people was by using his method of Elenchus, in other words, the Socratic method. He believed that his method made people more aware of their ignorance and therefore, leads to humility and modesty.

Sometimes ignorance is better than Knowledge, he argues that the only truly valuable Knowledge is the Knowledge of the good, an authoritative Knowledge that will correctly advise us when to use other goods and Skills in our Possession. In conclusion, Socrates believed that Philosophy was an improvement  of the soul as it reveals our ignorance; therefore it is important to live an  examined life. For Socrates, Knowledge is the most valuable thing in life, however , he believed that it is better to seek knowledge and be conscious of your own ignorance than to claim knowledge that you really do not have.

Ethical And Philosophical Thoughts Of Greek Thinkers:

Plato wanted his statesmen to be men of Supreme intelligence and impeccable integrity because he felt that, only such men could lighten the darker side of  human nature and influence Positive human thought. Plato's Republic has exercised tremendous influence on human thought.

Aristotle was regarded as an infallible guide whose wisdom nobody could question. Both Plato and Aristotle provide Supreme examples of what the intellectuals can do for their own age and for posterity. Intellectuals influence man's thoughts, direct them into the right channels and seek to establish human relations on a national and rural basis. According to Aristotle, the intellectual virtues include: scientific knowledge (episteme), artistic or technical knowledge (techne), intuitive reason (nous), practical wisdom (phronesis), and philosophic wisdom (sophia).

Innovative ideas of the Intellectuals at the Age of Enlightenment:

The intellectuals are known to initiate resolutions. The exhaustive wars undertaken  by the despotic ruler of France, Louis XIV (1638-1715) weakened the country which led to the growth of discontent among the masses. Later, under the rule of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the Plight of the people further aggravated. There was an acute shortage of food. The nobles indulged in extravagance and the royalty had a relative apathy towards the Plight of the masses.

The writings of the French political philosophers like Jean Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu and Voltaire paved the way for the French Revolution. Their views stimulated and inspired people to revolt against the tyrannical rule of the king and their faith in the old institution of the royalty was undermined. The French Revolution with its slogan of liberty ,equality and fraternity ushered in a new era in history. When the intellectuals raised their voices against the wrong policies of the government , the common people felt encouraged to rise against the corrupt king and the nobles.

During the 15th ,16th and 17th century, which is known as the age of sensibility, the famous English philosophers were very well-famous and they had written valuable works. ‘Leviathan' was the valuable contribution made by Thomas Hobbes; Two Treatise on the government was the notable work of  John Locke; Discourse on Inequality was the remarkable work of Jean Jacques Rousseau. These three great philosophers had made immense contribution in the concept of social contract theory during the age of scientific resolution.

The evils of Capitalism ushered in by the Industrial revolution were voiced by Charles Dickens in his works like David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. In 1809, the word ‘Socialism' was coined which was presented as an alternative to capitalism. Great thinkers like Robert Owen, Saint- Simon and Charles Fourier wanted to replace Capitalism with the Socialism of their imagination.

During the 19th century, Karl Marx and his associate Frederick Engels, introduced the concept of Socialism that was not based on sentiments, but on a through scientific study of the history of human society. Their Joint efforts culminated in the communist Manifesto which formed the basis of modern international communism. Its applied form was seen only after the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, when it became the first Communist state in the world under Lenin.

With the passage of time, other countries also adopted the theory of Communism propounded by Marx. The intellectuals have been radical in their approach to the problem faced by the society. They should the rudiments of the social structure to delve into the flaws and limitations. They also studied the efficacy of holding on to the age-old traditions and myths. They were not deceived by false appearances.

In England at the start of the Present century, Victorian complacency was shattered and a new spirit of rationality developed. H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Aldous Huxley provided Enlightenment with fresh ideas, gave them a new insight into the contemporary situation and influenced their thought.

Every society follows an age-old system of customs and traditions which embody the wisdom of ages. However, one should follow the dictum, Wisdom hastening slowly. It is a fact which has been often ignored by the radical intellectuals. A sudden cleavage between tradition and modernity is known to disrupt the social order of the prevalent period.

Revolutions have been accompanied by unprecedented reign of terror as in the care of the French and the Russian revolutions. The revolutions degenerated into violence. A true intellectual, therefore does not recklessly challenge the social norms laid down in the society. Apart from having lofty ideas, an intellectual should take into account ,the extent to which the society is prepared for a change. Violent revolutions generally breed dictators, tyrants and despots.

Indian Intellectuals and their epistemological Ideas:

A Positive contribution to the social good can be made by an intellectual only if he is honest towards his endeavor and has no ulterior motives in framing his philosophy. He should not seek popularity by swimming against the tide and using technical Jargons to create the impression of being Progressive.

He should eschew both dogmatism and skepticism and engage himself in the study of problems which directly affect the society rather than dissipate his energies in sterile speculations:
  1. When an intellectual becomes a pure theorist, imposing his own theories upon history  and rationalizing his own prejudices and pre-conceived notions, he becomes a dangerous thinker. Followers of the Fascism and the Nazism advocated war as an instrument of national policy.
     
  2. They justified the gruesome acts of the extermination of the Jews and the use of brutal methods to crush opposition. They also encourages myths and falsehood as instruments of propaganda.
     
  3. India has followed a path of tolerance towards all religious and faiths. It has always honored intellect rather than pelf and power. The caste system, which was initially propounded in India to promote the division of labor, created a pernicious situation in the country.
     
  4. The Pseudo- intellectuals occupied the apex of the social hierarchy while  the small and marginal farmers formed the base.
Our National leaders felt the need to revitalize the nation on the lines of Socialism, Secularism, Nationalism and Democracy.  It was felt that if these values are imbibed by the masses it would facilitate the industrial and technological revolution required for raising the standards of living of the masses. The colonial rule helped the Indians in exploring the ancient Indian heritage and also imbibing western thoughts and education.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy wanted Indians to gather the wisdom of the East and the West and to modernize their outlook, shedding their old superstitions, caste prejudices and evils in the social system.  The Indian Intellectuals of the past delved into the profound realities of life.They sought answers to lingering questions on life and death and salvation of the soul, Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira asked men to follow the path of righteousness and renunciation for the attainment of salvation.

Conclusion:
Many Intellectuals wrote Sacred texts and texts related to politics, Economics and other subjects. The Contemporary intellectuals are seeking to build new civilization based on western Science and technology and the western ideals of Secularism, Nationalism, Parliamentary democracy and Socialism. The Indian Society is bogged down by various maladies and our politicians are exploiting the vulnerability of the masses by provoking them and arousing their passions.

The intellectuals are faced with the challenge of leading them from darkness to light, from ignorance to Knowledge, irrationality to rationality and from narrow- mindedness to openness. They have to instill the sense of anew outlook in the masses. The intellectuals cannot afford to evade the hue responsibility that lies in front of them. A scholar with a systematic and authoritative expressive ability is an intellectual.

References:
  1. P. Lafargue,  Socialism and Intelligentsia Translation from French ( Saint- Petersburg Molot,1906).
  2. B.N. Bessonov, Vestnick of Moscow State Pedagogical University. The edition: Philosophic Sciences,1(7) (2013)
  3. Robert K. Merton ,Social Theory and Social Structure ( Free press ,New York,1968)
  4. T. Suzuki , Intellectuals in Gramsci 's Prison Notebooks : An active relationship As a key concept.

    Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.A Jonah Elisa Shiny

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