User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The use or development of the intellect


  • Croatian: intelektualizam
  • German: Intellektualismus

Extensive Definition

Intellectualism is any of a number of views regarding the use or development of the intellect or the practice of being an intellectual. In non-specialized contexts, the term "intellectualism" is often used to describe an attitude of devotion or high regard for intellectual pursuits. The term is sometimes used to name the view in philosophy that is more often called "rationalism", the view that knowledge largely or wholly is derived from reason or reasoning. The term can carry negative connotations of two kinds: (1) single-mindedness or "too much attention to thinking" and/or (2) emotional coldness or the absence of emotion.

Intellectualism in Ancient Moral Philosophy

One philosophical view called "intellectualism" or "Socratic intellectualism", said to originate with Socrates, is the view that "one will do what is right or best just as soon as one truly understands what is right or best." This is because on Socrates' view virtue is a purely intellectual matter, virtue is of a kind with knowledge.
The apparently problematic consequences of this view are called "Socratic paradoxes". Some things often taken to be Socratic paradoxes are the views that that there is no weakness of will, that no one knowingly does or seeks to do evil, and that anyone who does or seeks to do moral wrong does so involuntarily. Also controversial are the views that virtue is knowledge and that there aren't many virtues, but rather, all virtues are one.
Socratic intellectualism was a key doctrine of the Stoics.

Intellectualism in Medieval Metaphysical Philosophy

In medieval philosophy, intellectualism is a doctrine regarding divine and human action, usually described as contrasting with voluntarism, in which the faculty of the intellect is seen to take precedence to or have superiority over the faculty of will. "According to intellectualism, choices of the will result from that which the intellect recognizes as good; the will itself is determined. For voluntarism, by contrast, it is the will which determines which objects are good, and the will itself is indetermined." Averroes, Aquinas, and Meister Eckhart are usually taken to be intellectualists of this sort.


intellectualism in German: Intellektualismus
intellectualism in Swedish: Intellektualism
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