The Intellectual Life
Publication Date: 1992
Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
In his book, The Intellectual Life, A.G. Sertillanges synthesizes an instruction manual for future Dominicans on how to dedicate themselves to their studies as intellectuals and lovers of truth. By writing this book, Sertillanges makes a compelling account iterating what a vocation to the intellectual life should look like. Written shortly after the end of the Great War, Sertillanges fills his book with concrete examples of what a routine day of the life of an intellectual should look like and what the spirit, conditions, and method of the rule of life should mimic. Ranging tips for memory retention to how dedicate your studies in light of God and your local community, The Intellectual Life is a compelling case on how to fall in love with truth that any serious Catholic bookworm or writer ought consider reading.
Read this is college and it caused many three hour conversations. Nerdy people who want to plan out their rule of life should seriously consider reading this book.
This book is a great encouragement to people who wish to live a life in the pursuit of truth. It reminds one that living a life with much reading and writing is a struggle. There are countless temptations to quit. The the same time, it is a noble way to live, which brings us many joys and ultimately brings us closer to God.
Sertillanges offers some excellent advice. The only one I feel disinclined to take is his one on concentrating on only a small number of books. (His earlier advice to gain a broad understanding of various fields seems to contradict this, but he leaves finding the right balance to the reader.) This seems to make more sense if one is a Thomistic philosopher than, say, an intellectual worker in English Literature. Though, I suppose that one can specialized in a particular author's works while having a broad understanding of other writers' works.
Perhaps his best advice is to remember that an intellectual is supposed to be a complete man, so he cannot neglect proper human things in his pursuit of wisdom. That would imply wanting knowledge without applying it! He takes inspiration from St. Thomas Aquinas' advice over how to lead an intellectual life and expands on them. His style is simple, forceful, and profound. This book felt as much a page turner as certain thriller novels. One cannot recommend this book more highly for those who want to engage in the pursuit of Truth.