ANTI-INTELLECT IN TEXAS . Houston At times an academic man in Texas is like the farmer who was beating his mule with a two by four. When asked why he was mistreating the animal, the man indignantly replied, “I’m just trying to get his attention.” To paraphrase J. B. Priestley, we should behave toward the state as women behave toward the men they love. A loving wife will do anything for her husband except stop criticizing and trying to improve him. That is also the right attitude for a professor. Unfortunately, the academic man in Texas who has exercised this role has frequently been the target of legislators, boards of regents, and sundry vigilante groups. The blackballing of two state colleges in Texas by the American Association of University Professors still hangs over academic man in Texas. Rather than being concerned over this state of affairs, we find legislators proposing that some colleges should now be termed universities. As a citizen, I am outraged at the current legislative circus in which education in Texas has been shuffled about, with boards to coordinate boards, with renaming of medi6cre colleges as universities, and with the writing of a bill giving control of course content in all state institutions to a nonacademic board without any hearing for academic men involved. Is no one concerned with quality? Is there to be no esteem for learning in Texas? Must stupidities of political expediency maintain cloying mediocrity in the higher education of Texas for another 125 years? Must academic men in Texas still be regarded as warm bodies which can be presented to a group of students and the resultant assemblage termed a college or university? As an angry middle-aged academician, I ask : Is academic man in Texas to play the fool for another 125 years? Is academic man to be valued as a technician who may serve the ends of industry and the tourist trade, to the exclusion of humane responsibility? Is this his worth? When we try to evaluate the position of the academic man in Texas we are immediately concerned with the environment in which he operates. It can succinctly be described as anti-intellectual. May I hastily add that academic man is a part .of his environment and, in Texas, he has made his own special contributions to anti-intellectualism. Texas has led the nation in the continuous time span of anti-intellectualism and it seems appropriate to briefly consider what we mean by anti-intellec Clark P. Read is a professor of biology at Rice University in Houston. This article is a modified version of a speech he made to the spring meeting of the Texas Association. of Colleges and Universities in Houston. It is also a chapter in a book on Texas’ academic climate that Dr. Read has just finished. Clark P. Read tualism and its peculiar flavor in the Southwest. I am deeply indebted to Professor Richard Hofstadter’ for the enunciation of some of the general definitions surrounding the term intellectual, but I take sole responsibility for the regional applications. THE TERM INTELLECTUAL connection with the Dreyfus case and was used by William James in 1899. It is important to differentiate intellect from intelligence. I shall give a description rather than a definition, although some intelligences may not accept it as adequate. Intelligence is a quality of mental capacity which is useful in an immediate and predictable fashion; it is one of the best recognized and frequently admired of animal qualities. Most humans have some recognition of this quality in the world about us. On the other hand, intellect is that aspect -of mind which is uncommonly critical, creative, and contemplative’. The difference is in reverence forideas. Intelligence seizes upon the meanings of situations and evaluates them, whereas intellect evaluates evaluations and seeks other meaning. Much of science is intelligent but _ not intellectual. Intelligence is generally considered to have intrinsic useful animal value, while intellect is unique to humans and is attacked, as well as praised, by humans. Minds of deep and penetrAting intelligence may be relatively unintellectual, a fact which intellectuals often fail to appreciate. Also, among intellectuals we find a considerable range of intelligence; this is often not appreciated by intellectuals, few of whom would admit the existence of stupid intellectuals. Greater and greater proportions of the work of our society are dependent on intelligence skill, but this is not intellectual. Any lawyer, doctor, engineer, editor, or professor must have command of a considerable stock of frozen ideas. If he is competent he must use these ideas intelligently as instruments. He uses ideas but he may not live for them. He may also be an intellectual because he has certain feelings about ideas, but the exercise of his profession does not require these feelings. His intelligence skills have value in the marketplace, but, unless the intelligence is disinterestedly usedunless generalizing power is exercised, free speculation is indulged, creative capacities freed, and radical criticism freely loosedwe do not regard him as an intellectual at his work. The same man may be an intellectual at home. We may differentiate a professor who is an intellectual from another who is not. Colleges and universities need, both. In intellect there must be dedication to a life of the mind very much like a com mitment to religion. This is perhaps not surprising since intellectualism developed from the clerical classes in Western society. Intellect implies some special value for the human spirit in the very act of comprehension. Socrates recognized the meaning of intellect to the intellectual when he said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Thus, although most people will concede that ideas are important, the intellectual feels that ideas are as important as life itself ; he is committed to the world of the mind. Behind all this is the intellectual’s conviction that sooner or later the world will respond to ideas and to his passion for ideas. From this very conviction springs the intellectual’s necessity to communicate, and his value to humanity is found here. His ability to do mischief is also a product of this conviction. It is appropriate to point out that fanaticism is not intellectual but exists when, as Hofstadter said, “the intellectual function is overwhelmed by an excess of piety in a contracted frame of reference.” An important question asked about intellectuals concerns their practicality. Attitudes about intellect have changed in our time because our sense of the practicality of education has changed; but somewhat less rapidly in the Southwest than in the centers of population on the east and west coasts of the country. Education is only just now coming into its own as an important factor in social mobility in the Southwest. During the late 19th century and up into the present, business criteria, both industrial and pastoral, have dominated Southwestern culture almost without challenge.= In our section of the country these criteria contained a curious mixture of values derived from the petroleum industry, ranching, and Judge Roy Bean. In Houston, for example, we have a public school holiday for the Fat Stock Show but none forWashington’s birthday. It was long assumed that schooling existed for the single purpose of making personal advancement possible. Intellectual and cultural pursuits have been considered unmanly, unworldly, and certainly impractical \(except for the recent graphic art mania among the suits described as “sissy.” However, in recent times the trained intelligence has come to be recognized as a force of some importance. The day of the seat-of-the-pants, do-it-yourself oil prospector is almost done, and this has produced interesting effects. Much of society, including university professors, is not sure of the difference between intellect and intelligence. Although the stereotype of the absent-minded professor has declined in popularity, the intellectual is now feared because he appears to be needed. This is because of the confusion of intellectual and expert. The importance of the expert in government developed in the ’30’s, grew in June 11, 1965 27
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