chapter  12
9 Pages

The Centrality of the Cognitive

Over and above the features of worthwhile activities in general, intellectual activities are held to possess a number of further attractive characteristics. For some people, at least, they are intensely absorbing if not always pleasurable (Elliott, 1977). They are held to be unending in scope, serious and, though capable of generating intense rivalries, essentially non-competitive in respect of their objects. One may make discoveries in science or originate new arguments in philosophy without depriving others of the opportunity of doing the same. They are challenging and provide opportunities for a variety of excellences in seemingly limitless gradations of perfection. They entail both standards appropriate to the particular disciplines and the exercise of certain general intellectual virtues such as intelligence, persistence, integrity, clarity, respect for evidence, and non-arbitrariness. By contrast with sports and games, which may certainly be intrinsically worthwhile in their way, intellectual pursuits have the additional quality of being 'serious' and of throwing light on other important aspects ofthe individual's life and situation.