E-mail Newsletter Edition
INTELLECTUAL DIGEST© Volume 1, Issue 1
31 July 2010
Up from the Ashes... Special points of interest:
Intellectual Digest website will be live soon. First online edition of the magazine slated to be available on August 31, 2010. First print edition of the magazine to be published on September 15, 2010. Stay Tuned … .
Inside this issue:
Shadows on the Wall
The Philosopher’s Stone
About the Editor
The phoenix metaphor is overworked, but it seems particularly apt in this circumstance of the re-launch of a magazine that went out of print in the mid-70s. Each edition of the defunct magazine had a series of compact, captioned paragraphs (digests,) each summarizing some new development in knowledge, accomplishment in science, breakthrough in medicine, or a new and elegant mathematical solution. The digests were well informed, well written, and very often done with a wit that was easy
to appreciate. In each edition there was at least one feature article by or about, or interview with, a significant thinker of the times. These articles were often fascinating and good enough to be cited in footnoted work of a scholarly nature. I was recently contacted by a scholar asking my permission to use one of the articles appearing in an old issue of Intellectual Digest in a scholarly article she was writing. And I have received other contacts through the intellectual digest website. For reasons I
shall go into in the online and print editions of the magazine, I think the timing is particularly ripe to bring this project forward.
A Note on Categories It seems so simple: identify categories to be used to organize content on the intellectual digest website and in the print version. But categories are not sim-
ple. For an overview of the issues you may go to: http://plato.stanford.edu/ entries/categories (accessed 418-2010.)
I have settled on three: nature (physics); metaphysics; and, aesthetics. I am fpr
the most part an Aristotelian. Turns out, my categories are Platonic. Aren’t all categories artificial? (Cf. Kant)
Volume 1, Issue 1
The Intellectual Assuming that intellectualism is not dead, the question becomes what is the nature of this beast in contemporary times? A good working definition of an intellectual is contained in an online article by Christopher Hitchens. “One might ... say that an intellectual is someone who does not attempt to soar on the thermals of public opinion. There ought to be a word for those men and women who do their own thinking; who are willing to stand the accusation of “elitism” (or at least to prefer it to the idea of populism); who care for language above all and guess its subtle relationship to truth; and who are
willing and able to nail a lie. If such a person should also have a sense of irony and a feeling for history, then, as the French say, tant mieux [italics added.] An intellectual need not be one who, in a well-known but essentially meaningless phrase, “speaks truth to power.” (Chomsky has dryly reminded us that power often knows the truth well enough.) However, the attitude towards authority should probably be sceptical [sic], as should the attitude towards utopia, let alone to heaven or hell. Other aims should include the ability to survey the present through the optic of a historian, the past with the perspec-
tive of the living, and the culture and language of others with the equipment of an internationalist. In other words, the higher one comes in any “approval” rating of this calling, the more uneasily one must doubt one’s claim to the title in the first place.” http:// www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2008/05/ howtobeapublicintellectual/ (accessed 7/10/2010)
The Medium A thinking person may reasonably question whether anything intellectual can be successfully presented, or should I say received, on the internet. A recent article in the New York Times by David Brooks amply addresses this issue. http:// www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/ opinion/09brooks.html?th&emc=th
Brooks sets up is all about. But, maybe the digethe argument as one rati are the “It could be that the real between the book culnew Intellecdebate will not be books ture, the literati ,and tuals? In any versus the Internet but how the internet culture, the event, let the to build an Internet digerati. Brooks’ conbuilding becounterculture that will better attract people to serious clusion, set forth in the gin. I will learning.” call-out, is precisely have more what Intellectual Digest on this issue. (accessed 7/10/2010)
Shadows on the Wall The New York Times reports that Dr. Erik Verlinde contends that gravity is just an illusion. According to Dr. Verlinde, gravity is a result of the laws of thermodynamics and the notion of entropy. It isn’t evidently a question of
agreeing with Dr. Verlinde but rather understanding him. One many scientists agree on is that Dr. Verlinde’s work is inspiring a fresh new look on the nature of gravity. This is important since gravity is now considered by
many scientists to be the one last impediment to a unified theory of everything. http:// www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/ science/13gravity.html? pagewanted=1&_r=1&th&emc=th (accessed 7/13/2010)
Volume 1, Issue 1
Dilemma As a matter of principle, I am rial publications seem to be cainclined to eschew the current pitulating to popular public habits modes of digital social interaction by utilizing these devices to build in connection with readership or folthe publication lowing (power), and promotion of direct traffic to Intellectual Ditheir websites gest. I am, of (advertising dolcourse, speaking lars,) and to sell of Facebook, subscriptions to Twitter, and their publications “blogs,” to name (operating revea few to illustrate nues.) I have the point. Many struggled with the periodic and sequestion whether A door that ought not be opened.
Intellectual Digest should also have a Facebook page, a Twitter account to tweet, a blog. In a sense, and in light of the two articles on the previous page, it may be inconsistent with intellectualism to engage in these populist modes of faux friendship and community. On the other hand, and there always is one, the growth and success of ID is an important objective. So, principle versus gain. The jury is still out. Expect an article or an entire issue of ID on the points raised.
The Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone The New York Times is publishing online under its Opinionator rubric a series of articles for comment called “The Stone.” According to the editors, “The Stone features the writing of contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.” http:// opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/thestone/ (accessed 7/10/2010)
category/the-stone/page/2/ (accessed I have been following the se7/10/2010) I have nothing but ries, and in at least one instance, praise for the editors responsible one of the philosophers in resifor producing the dence called out series though I my comment to “I find the quality of the find the quality of personally respond featured postings the featured postto. The article can variable and dumbed ings variable and be read here: http:// down.” dumbed down. opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/
Future Editions In the coming months and years, it is my intent to address some of the following themes: Intellectualism; Categories; Authority; Logic; Nations/ boundaries and the City/State; NGO’s (are they a good thing?); Stories;
Disclosure (herein of honesty); Economics of Healthcare; and, cloud computing, semantics and hermeneutics. Organizing around themes has the same problems as thinking in categories. My preference is to have the magazine
be unthematic. But then, that would pretty much mimic the experience of surfing the internet. Interesting paradox. Bringing order to chaos while espousing the freedom of chaos. Add a theme for a future issue.
intellectual digest magazine is a bi-monthly publication
intellectual digest magazine
intended to inform its readership of new developments in
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knowledge and present feature articles probing the minds of the global community’s most active and interesting public and private intellectuals. The online edition is intended by the editor to sift through the “Niagara of words,” as Ha-
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yakawa put it, that we are all daily inundated with, now more than ever, to find those few gems of true knowledge
that are worth thinking and caring about. The print edition is intended to make the record on important thoughts that need to be remembered, processed, and carried forward in text. The print and online edition (in part) is offered on a subscription and pay for use basis. The newsletter is free.
About the Editor This magazine, the newsletter, and all other current manifestations of the concept of intellectual digest is offered as an independent publication originated and produced by the editor, Tracy Shier. Mr. Shier is a graduate of the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound Law School; since acquired by Seattle University. Mr. Shier attended graduate schools at Seattle University and the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, California.
The idea for this publication has been germinating in Mr. Shier’s brain for more than nine years. Growing antiintellectualism has made the need for embarking on this venture of re-launching intellectual digest ever more pressing. Now, with second thoughts about the energy and enthusiasm required of such an undertaking, Mr. Shier offers all a look into an intellectual world view. It should not be assumed by the reader that Mr. Shier considers himself to be an intellectual. In that regard, however, see “The Intellectual” on page 2. But what
he does consider himself to be is a good editor. Time will tell.