An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection to advance discussions of academic subjects. This often involves publishing work for consumption by the general public that adds depth to issues that affect society.

Erasmus of Rotterdam was one of the foremost intellectuals of his time.
Foreign Policy magazine named the lawyer Shirin Ebadi a leading intellectual for her work protecting human rights in Iran.[1]

It may also include directly addressing societal issues and proposing solutions for the normative problems of society, making one a public intellectual (see subsection).[2]:433[3]:1 The public intellectual may create or mediate culture by participating in politics, either to defend a concrete proposition or to denounce an injustice, usually by either rejecting or producing or extending an ideology, and by defending a system of values.[4]:10