I spent the past two days reading Edward Said's Representations of the Intellectual (well, actually the Finnish translation). There was a certain point that caught me more or less by surprise. Mainly, the notion that these days people get into more and more specialised fields, and the knowledge we actually possess is all the more fragmented. Said claims, that a true intellectual should be interested in a wide variety of fields.
In a sense, I agree with this notion. After all, being an intellectual is in my mind caring about ethical issues. Trying to be open, as objective as possible and basing ethical choices on facts and universal principles, rather than going with the masses.
To be able to have opinions about ethical issues, naturally the first requirement is that you have to be interested in those ethical problems. And, unfortunately, that is something that a lot of people lack. I've had various discussions with people in Helsinki University of Technology, and to my horror found out that there are a lot of people who aren't interested in ethics in even the most superficial sense! "Why would I want to bother myself with that?", "What a waste of time!" and "What a lot of social science bullshit" are examples of opinions I've come across over the years.
To me, ethics is something I cannot - and don't want to - avoid. I'll rather live a happy life, comfortable with my decisions, than have all the fame, money and power in the world. I know, I know, easy to say that now as I don't have a mortgage stress-factor and wife, 2 kids and a dog waiting for me to bring food to the table. To be honest, I'll still rather skip those and try to live according to my morals! All you rreally need is an open mind, a group of good friends and a little touch of beautiful Mother Nature :)
Finally, here's something that I think sums it up pretty nicely. At least, if you think of liking as facing ethical dilemmas and emerging as an intelligent subject (an opinion I'm sure not everybody shares)
“You might as well learn to like yourself, you have an awful lot of time to spend with you.”