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three kinds of Intellectual Life

There are three different kinds of intellectual life: (1) the selfish life that does not study, but lives by desires and opinion. (2) the public life, which studies what is needed for gaining money or influence in society, and (3) the contemplative life, which studies for wisdom, privately.

The first life has no interest in truth or the common good. It is interested only in self-gratification and is content to obtain it by force, at others’ expense. Even when provided a free education, these people will not study because study is not necessary for their way of life.

The second life is common to schools and universities where degrees and licenses are sought for business. Despite spendimg decades of time and great sums of money on schooling, students do not study the works necessary for wisdom and do so only because they will earn more money or influence when they are finished.

The third life is most difficult because one has to provide for his needs first, to obtain the leisure needed for the study of subjects that promise no money. It is also the most honorable, because pne has to have such a desire for wisdom that he is willing to obtain financial independence and then devote his leisure to exhausting studies for wisdom’s sake. God has provided for this life within some religious communities, and provides some men with the opportunity to enjoy this life privately outside of religious life.

Ancient and medieval schools had this third way as their end, but modern schools do not. Students must learn the classical liberal arts and the philosophical and theological sciences, but they must also learn how to provide for themselves to have the freedom to study.

Where can anyone learn these things?

Only in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy.

William C. Michael

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