Self-Examining “Left Intellectual” Winning and Progressing


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar Maribou says:

    I look forward to reading the linked article sometime soon.

    I think that in the context of which you are speaking, I agree with you – but I also think that one failing of intellectuals (self-very-much-included) can be an overabundance of self-examination as well. It is possible to paralyze oneself through too much analysis and second-guessing, even if that self-examination is otherwise very well done. Moderation needs to be part of the package, I guess is what I’m saying, no new thought there :D.

    Do you know the comedy TV show The Good Place? The character of Chidi is a very effective – and actually rather nuanced – portrayal of someone who works so hard on self-examination that he doesn’t actually manage to act for the good, or at least that was his tragic flaw while still alive. (The show takes place in the afterlife.) Quite reminiscent of Kierkegaard in some ways, though we see Chidi’s post-death journey unfold and obviously know nothing of Kierkegaard’s…

    (Aside from that, there’s a lot to be interested in as the show twists and turns for anyone who cares about theology…. plus it’s pretty darn funny.)Report

    • “paralysis by analysis” is definitely a concern. I am guilty of that myself sometimes, as I tend to either be too impulsive or too over thinking without much of a happy medium. In this particular article I think the Author did a nice job of working through his own background to draw a line to how he came to some of his questioning, then moved forward from there. To me the process of such evaluation is important, do you have a purpose and goal in doing it, to stay out of the “paralysis” trap, or worse devolving into self-loathing or self-congratulating. Brings me back to the word I used here, honesty. Being honest with yourself isn’t easy, and should be recognized.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        I don’t see how paralysis by analysis is a concern in this day and age. If everyone was less politically active and perhaps more politically contemplative we would not be in an age of trump and brexit.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to Maribou says:

      I probably engage too much in self-examination, too. I used to think admitting that was a form of humble-bragging. After all, who wouldn’t like to be thought as introspective? But the more I think of it, self-examination can be a real failing, if done excessively. It can degrade to a sort of moral “paralysis” such as Andrew refers to, or it can degrade to a form of solipsism. (To be sure, I hope it’s clear that I’m directing that accusation of solipsism to myself and not anyone here.)

      I’ve heard of “The Good Place,” but haven’t seen it. I might give it a try.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Maribou says:


      I second the recommendation of The Good Place, its both fascinating and hilarious.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James K says:

        Thirded. It also has an interestingly integrated cast: of the five main characters, only two are white (though five are unusually good-looking),Report