cerebral ascent

Discussion in 'English Only' started by AKielts, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. AKielts Member

    Hi friends,

    could you please help me with this sentence. I can't get the meaning of the " cerebral ascent" in:

    Tolerance is not really a lived virtue; it's more of a cerebral ascent.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    Hello. It would really help us to answer if you were to supply the source of the quote (who said it and where it was said), as well as the context in which it was said. In this case you could quote us up to four lines of text that surround your quote.
    If the book is available online, you could even post a link now. :)
  3. AKielts Member

    Thanks Beryl.
    I am watching a video about Compassion. It's actually a talk from TED.com made by Krista Tippett (Reconnecting with compassion).
    Here is some lines of the video from the transcription:

    " Compassion is a worthy successor. It is organic, across our religious, spiritual and ethical traditions, and yet it transcends them.
    Compassion is a piece of vocabulary that could change us if we truly let it sink into the standards to which we hold ourselves and
    others, both in our private and in our civic spaces." (from TED.com)

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2012
  4. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    I've listened to a bit of it and seen the transcript; Tippett appears to be a native speaker of US English. Her sentence construction and word usage, however, seem to me a little off and the content is—well, what many would call New Age babble.

    Nor can I. Or, as we say colloquially: Me neither! :confused: (And the same with "Compassion is a piece of vocabulary . . . "; does she mean word?)
  5. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    The Wordreference dictionary gives the following (I have emphasised the relevant text)

    cerebral /ˈsɛrɪbr(ə)l, səˈriːbr(ə)l/

    We learn some things by experience - by living. For instance young children learn that biting their friends causes them pain. Therefore 'not biting people' can be considered a lived virtue.

    On the other hand some good aspects of our character can be learned through thought and study - intellectually. The metaphor of rising to higher levels of responsibility and benevolence is common.

    So "cerebral ascent" simply refers to self-improvement by way of thought and considered action rather than by simple experience.

    I hope this makes sense :)
  6. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    In the context of the transcript 'cerebral ascent' means 'intellectually challenging concept': a height that has to be scaled in thought.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  7. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    That link doesn't work for me wandle but I think that 'a height that has to be scaled in thought' is very similar to what I said. So I agree :thumbsup:
  8. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    The transcript can be accessed via this page.

    The context of the transcript does show that the speaker is making a contrast between what is emotional and engages our deep feelings on the one hand, and what is purely intellectual and non-motivating on the other.

    However, 'self-improvement by way of thought and considered action rather than by simple experience' seems to me to be combining the emotional and behavioural on the one hand with the intellectual on the other: therefore it is rather challenging the validity of Krista Tippett's distinction.

    So I would disagree to that extent with Biffo's interpretation of Tippett: but I agree with Biffo that the sharp distinction she makes is not really valid.
  9. AKielts Member

    Thanks dear senior members, great help.
    By the way, I'm studying English and listening and transcribing is one of the exercises that I use to improve my listening skill. I also passed the intermediate level course.
    Do you think this talk is suitable for an English learner as a study material?
  10. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    No, I don't. You need to study people who use language more precisely.
  11. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    Yes, indeed.

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