Intellectual Patience and Gravitas

Our blog has been dead for almost three years, and it can be argued that I contributed to the “beginning of the end” sometime prior, when I myself stopped writing articles. Perhaps if I “return” to writing articles, it can stimulate a broader “return” of the blog as a whole.

I have a blueprint in my mind for at least four new articles illustrating several of my recent ideas. In this article I will explain the simplest and least controversial of these ideas, concerning two new concepts that I recently came up with: Intellectual Patience and Intellectual Gravitas. These are two traits concerning how a person thinks or takes in information, and they are somewhat at odds with each other, such that it is difficult to find a person who is high in both of these traits.

Intellectual Gravitas is the ability to discern information, text, or thought that is substantive from that which is non-substantive. Thus, a person with high Intellectual Gravitas will produce thoughts that are dense and useful rather than thoughts that are wasteful. He will also be able to read a text or listen to someone speak, being able to discern whether it is substantive and relevant to something, or whether it is “fluff.” Someone with high Intellectual Gravitas will not find much value in a pseudo-intellectual work, or just something that “sounds smart.” Neither will he be easily inspired by a person who may sound intellectual and knowledgeable on the surface but who in reality does not have many original thoughts to offer. Possessing Intellectual Gravitas also should prevent someone from himself producing something that is useless. He will either produce something worthwhile or remain silent, seeing that he has no useful thoughts at the moment.

Intellectual Patience is an equally important but completely different trait. It is the willingness to continue reasoning with someone or about something without becoming unnecessarily judgmental, frustrated, or exhausted. It is not to be confused with the ability to simply grasp difficult concepts without being exhausted by the complexity, a trait closer to plain intelligence or IQ. Rather, it is a kind of humility. To better illustrate this concept, I will explain why I wrote about Intellectual Gravitas first and about Intellectual Patience second. A person with high Intellectual Patience but low Intellectual Gravitas will read the previous paragraph about a good trait that he is not very high in. But he will not immediately conclude that this article is in any way at odds with his way of thinking and will continue reading. On the other hand, if I were to write first about Patience and then about Gravitas, a person high in Gravitas but low in Patience could find this trait irrelevant or a waste of time to talk about and thus stop reading the article. Thus I have to “lure them in” first by describing a trait they relate to more, increasing the chances that they will continue reading the article and perhaps even finish it. Someone with Intellectual Patience does not need to be appealed to this way because he will be more patient before dismissing something.

These two traits are far from opposites. Many people are low in both. For example, the average non-thinker is low in both Intellectual Patience and Intellectual Gravitas. He is low in Intellectual Patience because he usually refuses to have a deep conversation, finding it too boring, preferring instead to speak of more concrete matters such as food, sex, and entertainment. He is also low in Intellectual Gravitas, since he will not be able to tell between something truly relevant and substantive, seeing it as something deep that he cannot grasp, and some intellectual mumbo-jumbo, seeing it as something equally deep that he equally cannot grasp. Therefore, while Intellectual Patience and Intellectual Gravitas are somewhat at odds with each other, they cannot be completely at odds, because it is common to be low in both traits.

On the contrary, it is very rare to be high in both Intellectual Patience and Intellectual Gravitas, thus creating two categories of people with intellectual thoughts: those high in Patience but low in Gravitas and those high in Gravitas but low in Patience. These two groups often speak past each other:

the Grave are often frustrated and dismissive with the Patient, and the Patient are often alienated from the Grave, seeing them as a group that will dismiss their thoughts too quickly. Additionally, the Grave will often dismiss criticisms of their ideas from the Patient, seeing them as irrelevant or lacking substance, making the Patient think of the Grave as unwilling to have their ideas challenged with objective reasoning. For these reasons, it is necessary for those who are moderate or higher in both traits to act as a “bridge” between these two groups. If a school of thought only contains the Patient kind of thinker, it will create a great lack of substance, a great deal of “fluff” and “mumbo-jumbo,” and a great deal of time may be wasted. If a school of thought only contains the Grave kind of thinker, they may find it difficult to communicate their ideas with others and alienate themselves from people who ask questions that they find too irrelevant. A mixture of both will result in many people talking past each other, thus unable to produce coherent thoughts as a group altogether.

If a group of people wishes to produce substantive and robust thoughts, two things are helpful for that purpose. First, the thinkers with high Intellectual Gravitas but low in Intellectual Patience and vice-versa must be aware of each others’ existence and how they complement each other. Second, there need to be some mediators between the two groups of thinkers, who are able to relate to both groups. Discussion about virtually any topic would be more efficient with these things in mind.


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