Brazilian Culture: An Introduction to the Study of Culture in Brazil

By Fernando de Azevedo; William Rex Crawford | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE-THE LIBERAL PROFESSIONS

Intellectual formation essentially literary in character -- Men of letters and scholars -- The inheritance of scholasticism and of classic culture -- Grammar and rhetoric -- Slavery and the repugnance for crafts and activities based on manual and mechanical work -- Tendency toward bureaucracy and professionalism -- The foundation of courses of law-Juridical culture -- Lawyers and jurists -- The cultural function of law schools -- Foci of ideas and political campaigns -- The Escola Central -- The two faculties of medicine -- Doctors, engineers, and lawyers -- The élite classes, cultural, political, and administrative, recruited from the professions -- A politics of doctors and fazendeiros -- The preponderance of jurisits in politics -- The school of mines in Ouro Preto -- Osvaldo Cruz and Brazilian medicine -- Professional associations -- The prestige of those who hold diplomas-A culture markedly professional in character -- The professions and letters -- The effort to go outside the bounds of one's profession and through culture to dominate the profession -- Book selling -- Bookstores and libraries.

THE FIRST LEADERS of colonial society were recruited among the nobility, sugar-mill lords and priests; and in addition to nobility and ownership of land, what determined access to the social ladder was instruction, which was exclusively in the hands of the clergy and especially of the Jesuits. The possession of great rural properties served in the colony to perpetuate on a large scale the distinction of classes, on the one hand, the aristocracy represented by Portuguese nobility in transition -- more or less unstable -- and that originating in the land, composed of the lords of the sugar mills, and on the other hand the regular clergy who became, especially with the Jesuits, "the great colonial producers" whose authority, social and economic, was gradually fortified with agriculture and the cattle-raising fazendas. But in the center of colonial society, heterogeneous, dispersed and without cultivation, there soon arose a new social category, due to the instruction offered by the Jesuits -- that of the intellectuals who, having completed their studies and become masters in the colleges of the Fathers, went to take their degrees at Coimbra, to acquire with the title of "licenciados" and of doctor, an easy access to the noble class through government office. It was an old custom in well-to-do families whose first born, inheriting the land, followed the career of his father, to send the second son to Europe to study, while the third they reserved to the Church, and he took his vows in one of the convents, generally of his own country. One son a learned man and another a priest or friar were a reason for pride for the old families. Meanwhile, the intellectual formation which they received, essentially literary in character, directed not toward technique and action but toward form, training in eloquence, and exercise in the dialectic functions of the mind, could not make of these masters of arts and licenciados anything but men of letters, imitators and scholars whose main intellectual pleasure consisted in contact with the old Latin authors. A force of conservatism

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