4 Characteristics of a Scholar # 3– Am I an originalist? 學者的四個特質之三:我是否能追本溯源?

At some point, an academic writer should ask a fundamental question: Am I a scholar? Pursuit of an academic career will be in vain if a person is ill-suited for academia. Even students who are just passing through the realm are wise to examine if they are a good fit for academic scholarship. If not, the academic writing will forever be fitful and the writer frustrated. Hereafter are ways to examine thyself.

Characteristic # 3: Am I an originalist?

This term was coined in respect to belief about the original intent of the framers of the U.S. constitution, but it can be applied to examination of the scholarly life. It is a way of saying, "The primacy of core source material is my research standard." The closer a researcher can come to the beginning expression of a theory or movement, the more valid is the conclusion reached in a paper. Therefore, being committed to finding original sources is a sure sign that a scholar is serious about his research and his career.

Ironically, the term “originalist” also suggests that, while a person wants indisputably original material, he nevertheless is an original thinker. There is no tension between honoring fact and seeking truth. A scholarly search is grounded in what is known and empowered by what is unknown. A plodding, unimaginative researcher might dig up the facts, but only an imaginative, original thinker knows what to do with them. Ideally, foundational fact-finding will spur new lines of inquiry and revelatory conclusions.

Realizing you are an originalist is a heady discovery in itself. Many scholars never enjoy the satisfaction that comes from wedding diligent research with genuine insight. Some are satisfied to dig out the facts and present them without amplifying them. Others have valuable ideas but lack the aptitude to illuminate them through skilled research. A scholar who is both a fresh thinker and a painstaking researcher can produce material that is the envy of colleagues. Such people are rare, but you might well be among them.


Posted at 2014-09-15 21:33:10

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