I talk at length about the Arena of Ideas. Commenters and readers are realizing that it is indeed a brutal place. Some people choose not to participate because it is a rough-and-tumble place.
But here is the very dirty little secret. We are all in the arena of ideas ALL the time. It is ALWAYS a brutal place. We are always combating someone with a better sword, better skill, better preparation. Most people are unarmed and unarmored.
There are four types of people. The Unintentional Feeble Minded Soul. The Unfocused Passive Minded Pseudo Thinker. The Disenfranchised Cynical Intellectual. The Intellectual Visionary.
The Unintentional Feeble Minded Soul is mostly harmless of simple folk. Those people who do not have the requisite awareness to be intentional about their existence in the arena of ideas. As a result they will tend to be irrelevant in the tides of human thought. They will be part of the tide, but they will never shape the tide.
The Unfocused Passive Minded Pseudo thinker are those people who are aware of their ideas… sort of… but they choose a hazy, foggy, indistinct intellectual existence. They don’t like focus because they don’t really want the responsibility of their thoughts. Their intellectual arguments almost always revolve around an appeal to authority. There arguments are stock variations of: “Well, umpty ump master thinker said this … and I agree with them.”
These people tend to be very smart but intellectually passive; unwilling to do the work associated with the ideas they say they hold near and dear. They tend to be offended at a challenge of their ideas. They usually decide they have done enough work to know what they know… and further discussion threatens their entitlement to stagnation. These people unfortunately are profoundly easy to influence with the right social and emotional levers. Because of their implicit passivity and intellectual obstinacy, these people tend to be at the forefront of most tyrannical social, political, and religious movements.
The Disenfranchised Cynical Intellectual are those people who want to focus, want desperately to grasp the cause and effect of their ideas and the outworking of those ideas in human existence. But intellectual pursuits have let them down.
They populate the freshmen and sophomore class in college, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take on the great ideas the world has to offer. By the time they are juniors they have been made so cynical by the disjointed presentation of ideas and have absorbed so much Calvin/Kantian metaphysics and epistemology that they withdraw into their own worlds.
Over their lifetime they are beat about the head and shoulders with things like: “You think too much,” or, “That is what you get for thinking,” or, “You have a spirit of prideful intellectualism,” or a dozen and one other overt criticism of their inclination to UNDERSTAND the world.
For most people it is merely a failure of education. It has never been explained to them why ideas connect… why ideas create the cause and effect of their actions, attitudes, emotions, and outcomes.
This group of people has been sold into slavery by the intellectual leaders of a culture. The intellectual leaders have failed to do their job. Or worse, the intellectual leaders succumb to the social pressures created by wrong, evil, wicked, and destructive ideas. The leaders quit resisting and showing people HOW to resist, leaving this group leaderless and unequipped to retreat to worlds of its own creation to survive.
This group of people is the sleeping giant of every culture. This group of people is the driving force of true Cultural Revolution, (not of the Communist variety) true liberty, and freedom, and blessing, and prosperity. Because this group of people effectively armed and armored are the sentinels, the warriors that carry effective ideas into the farthest reaches of human life, defending those who cannot defend themselves and destroying the indolence of the unfocused, stagnated soul.
It is to this group and this group alone that I care to speak.