We’re heading into the home stretch of my 18th-C. course; we’ll spend the next two weeks reading Johnson, and finish the term with Boswell’s bio. Today, we talked about The Vanity of Human Wishes and a couple of essays from the Rambler and Idler. The Idler essay was the wonderful piece on Mr. Sober, who fritters his life away by pretending to be busy, but today’s QotD is from the earlier Rambler piece:
It is too common for those who have been bred to scholastic professions, and passed much of their time in academies where nothing but learning confers honours, to disregard every other qualification, and to imagine that they shall find mankind ready to pay homage to their knowledge, and to crowd about them for instruction. They therefore step out from their cells into the open world with all the confidence of authority and dignity of importance; they look round about them at once with ignorance and scorn, on a race of beings to whom they are equally unknown and equally contemptible[.]
I suspect this is why so many intellectuals seem to believe in their fitness to rule (and why they’re so often suckered into supporting changes that may promise them power, but will end in their being discarded — if they’re lucky), and why we see so much of a sense of entitlement at our elite schools, whether in the faculty or the student body.