If you’re university-educated in an abstract subject (like me) then it’s very easy to think that you are successfully seeing through the foolishness of the rest of society; everyone’s lives are meaningless, based on foolish pretences etc. We all know this is bad, because it’s usually untrue: casual analysis is almost always wrong.

Nor do you want to go to the opposite extreme, as I tend to do at the moment, thinking that philosophical discussions had with friends aren’t worthwhile because we’re not being careful enough and anyway if a tutor came along they’d show us all up. You can still get insight casually.

This isn’t the intellectualism I want to talk about here. My target is the cynical enjoyment of one’s identity as an Academy-style intellectual. Sitting around in a bar, with people who completely agree with your point of view or who are too intellectually intimidated by you to challenge you, really enjoying “showing up” the ponits of view of others. Indulging in the idea that your ideas are super-solid and right in a way that makes you better than those who you are against. I have known plenty of people like this during my time in Oxford (including of course myself on many past occasions) and I think that even though they would not assent to claims that they aren’t properly respecting their opposition etc. and would agree with all the platitudes I may give about the right way to go about philosophy, their behaviour does not accord with such claims.

So one ought to take one’s academic endeavours seriously. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for academic shop-jokes, nor that you shouldn’t be having fun in life. Have lots of fun, but don’t do it with the same stuff you do your work with; listen to loud music, watch TV etc.. The intellectualism I have described distorts your thinking and isn’t healthy.