intellectual baggage


Senior Member
Hi everybody!
I started a thread in French-English Forum, and when my question concerning French language has been resolved, there arises another question about an Enlgish phrase that I can't quite grasp its meaning.

Following is what I googled, but I can't find a definition for it.
I had been granted the opportunity study, both a student and as teacher, a nice range of classical European works. Almost all of this is precisely intellectual baggage – at least in the sense that we might give the phrase.
They show how to "unpack" your physical, emotional, and intellectual baggage and "repack" for the journey ahead.

And here is the reply of Ruk in the French-Enlgish Forum.
"How did they reach this point? Two out of every three poor people left the school system with no professional qualifications or much intellectual baggage" or (my preference) "with no qualifications, professional or otherwise".

Could you please give me a clear definition for it?
And why Ruk said "professional or otherwise? Does "intellectual baggage" doesn't belong to professional qualification?

Thanks in advance!
  • I take it you are asking for an explanation of "intellectual baggage".
    To put things into perspective, here is some background material, "baggage" is often used in a disparaging way i.e. "emotional baggage" such things as mistrust or jealousy which are bought to a new personal relationship could be based on memories of unhappy events from a previous relationship.
    As for "intellectual baggage" I would suggest that the writer was trying a slightly different usage, but still based on experience, he or she could simply have written "intellectual teaching" or "retained intellectual knowledge".
    Where she/he has written "with no qualifications, professional or otherwise" it is worth noting that not all qualifications are of a professional nature. You may hold a driving licence for instance; you have qualified, but the licence is not "professional". I hope that this is of some assistance.
    Thank you for your explanation!
    Yes, I'm asking for an explanation of "intellectual baggage", and your explanation is most clarifying!
    YOu also gave me an explanation of "emotional baggage", which really helped me understand the word "baggage" in this kind of usage!
    Thank you!

    What about "intellectual baggage"? Is it "intellectual scar or stigma"?

    No, I take "intellectual baggage" to mean that you have studied a certain subject or subjects and approach your life with that intellectualism firmly planted in your mind. An example might be a plumber with 4 university degrees - he hasn't been able to find a job in his chosen profession so he has become a plumber but he carries this "intellectual baggage" with him. It might cause him to think he's smarter than the other plumbers or he might resent his lot in life. Or someone might not be open to new ideas and theories because what he has learned in his life is "intellectual baggage" that he carries that won't allow him to be open to other things.
    I characterise intellectual baggage as prejudice - as attitudes of mind and ways of thinking that the baggage-carrier continues to apply indiscriminately and without question long after they have ceased to be relevant. It is baggage, something that has to be trailed along as a dead weight, impeding progress.
    The Haitians said in French "plus baggages intellectuel," which the author translated in her mind word for word. Here I have a question: Does the French counterpart have exactly the same meaning as "intellectual baggage" in English? I ask this because the Haitians apparently said it in a positive way (as you've guessed). But according to Dimicl and Hockey13, that English phrase is a rather negative one. Like useless academic records or something. (Is that understanding of mine really correct?)