Goodness and Intellect

A person doesn’t need to be smart to be good.

There are many saints who had no notable intellectual endowments.

But goodness and intelligence also are not incompatible. Perhaps that seems too obvious to say, or perhaps indeed to some it might seem obviously wrong.

If a person strives to be good, and has the capacity for intellectual excellence, then developing that intellectual capacity is to some degree going to be a part of the journey toward virtue.

That’s not to say everyone who is able to become a university professor ought to do so — by no means. I’m also not saying that we have an inborn duty to develop our intellectual powers as far as we can; if such a duty exists, there are many other duties that are more important demanding our attention first.

Still, our intellectual capacity is part of who we are, and it cannot be banished forever. If it is not a part of our movement toward virtue, then it will probably be an anchor slowing us down, or even an enemy working against us. It is a gift, one among many, to be enjoyed and put to good use.

I have a suspicion that intellect is limited by lack of virtue, but I haven’t fully thought through yet the best way to express how I’d argue for that conclusion.

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