Sometimes, to find the answers to the present question, we must investigate the past, not only our personal past, but also the historical past. Time doesn’t change the essence of things, but changes the names and details. There are not many differences between modern man and the man of four thousand years ago. Indeed, the only difference is that now, we are in some way “refined”, and certainly barbaric in other ways. To overcome our boredom, we use internet or a cell phone, rather than a sober and healthy walk.
The ancient Eastern civilizations, for example ancient India, knew very well the difference between philosophers and scholars. Don’t forget that they expounded philosophy at least 2,500 years before Socrates ! The Rishis applied the principles they had investigated practically in their own life, experiencing, undergoing intense practices, and sometimes, teaching students who were eager to gain access to such knowledge. On the other side, there were the pundits who were interested in philosophy and studied it, but without experiencing it in their lives. They were full of knowledge, but without any kind of practical experience. So, the philosophers and scholars!
The same difference was understood also in the ancient Western world, and most of those philosophers who laid the foundations of our thinking, in turn, were ascetics, deep and genuine researchers inquiring about universal laws. They were maybe a little more rough and some centuries younger than their Eastern colleagues, but even here in the West, the difference between those who lived the knowledge acquired, and those who simply studied and talked about this knowledge, was well-marked.
Even today, after millennia, things are almost the same, with the slight difference that today’s society gives more value to the scholars than to the philosophers. They are not a special type: they don’t produce income or new points of view. Those scholars wave a title, are labeled as “expert” on their matters, sometimes elected by the masses as stars of the media. But the genuine people who live free of preconceptions and patterns are almost ignored and sometimes viewed with suspicion and scorn.
Scholars have taken control: talk without having experienced, to “know” without knowing, pontificating superstructures, meta-knowledge, manipulating effects without having the slightest idea of the causes. Much smoke, no fire.
We can say that scholars have taken control: they talk about everything without having any kind of experience. They say they “know” without knowing, managing the effects without knowing the causes. But this isn’t a new thing. In the last few years, a new category has arisen. This is the field of those who haven’t studied anything, but they speak as if they know every segment of the matter, interpreting and manipulating an illusory knowledge.
We can find this third category in almost all fields of our society: journalists, commentators, spin doctors, drivers, self-styled experts, fanatic New Agers, UFO spans, investigators of various mysteries, compilers of Celestino’s and Da Vinci Code truths – the great overview of our inner weakness. I can’t say if they really believe in what they claim, probably do not know if they believe, but certainly many believe their words.
How to “define” these new kind of people? Don’t underestimate or ignore such individuals: their picturesque and empty theories become real food, truth for many desperate followers, and this is a real risk of our civilization. In our uneducated and ignorant civilization, they have sold and still sell air , making it seem like true knowing.