The influence of intellectuals is not only greater than in previous eras but also takes a very different form from that envisioned by those like Machiavelli and others who have wanted to directly influence rulers. It has not been by shaping the opinions or directing the actions of the holders of power that modern intellectuals have most influenced the course of events, but by shaping public opinion in ways that affect the actions of power holders in democratic societies, whether or not those power holders accept the general vision or the particular policies favored by intellectuals. Even government leaders with disdain or contempt for intellectuals have had to bend to the climate of opinion shaped by those intellectuals.
Intellectuals and Society not only examines the track record of intellectuals in the things they have advocated but also analyzes the incentives and constraints under which their views and visions have emerged. One of the most surprising aspects of this study is how often intellectuals have been proved not only wrong, but grossly and disastrously wrong in their prescriptions for the ills of society--and how little their views have changed in response to empirical evidence of the disasters entailed by those views.
This much revised and reorganized edition of Intellectuals and Society is more than half again larger than the first edition. Four new chapters have been added on intellectuals and race, including a chapter on race and intelligence.
Fifty years after it first appeared, one of Noam Chomsky’s greatest essays will be published for the first time as a timely stand-alone book, with a new preface by the author
As a nineteen-year-old undergraduate in 1947, Noam Chomsky was deeply affected by articles about the responsibility of intellectuals written by Dwight Macdonald, an editor of Partisan Review and then of Politics. Twenty years later, as the Vietnam War was escalating, Chomsky turned to the question himself, noting that “intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments” and to analyze their “often hidden intentions.”
Originally published in the New York Review of Books, Chomsky’s essay eviscerated the “hypocritical moralism of the past” (such as when Woodrow Wilson set out to teach Latin Americans “the art of good government”) and exposed the shameful policies in Vietnam and the role of intellectuals in justifying it.
Also included in this volume is the brilliant “The Responsibility of Intellectuals Redux,” written on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, which makes the case for using privilege to challenge the state. As relevant now as it was in 1967, The Responsibility of Intellectuals reminds us that “privilege yields opportunity and opportunity confers responsibilities.” All of us have choices, even in desperate times.
In this award-winning classic work of consensus history, Richard Hofstadter, author of The Age of Reform, examines the role of social movements in the perception of intellect in American life.
"As Mr. Hofstadter unfolds the fascinating story, it is no crude battle of eggheads and fatheads. It is a rich, complex, shifting picture of the life of the mind in a society dominated by the ideal of practical success." --Robert Peel in the Christian Science Monitor
The views of individual intellectuals have spanned the spectrum, but the views of intellectuals as a whole have tended to cluster. Indeed, these views have clustered at one end of the spectrum in the early twentieth century and then clustered at the opposite end of the spectrum in the late twentieth century. Moreover, these radically different views of race in these two eras were held by intellectuals whose views on other issues were very similar in both eras.
Intellectuals and Race is not, however, a book about history, even though it has much historical evidence, as well as demographic, geographic, economic and statistical evidence-- all of it directed toward testing the underlying assumptions about race that have prevailed at times among intellectuals in general, and especially intellectuals at the highest levels. Nor is this simply a theoretical exercise. The impact of intellectuals' ideas and crusades on the larger society, both past and present, is the ultimate concern. These ideas and crusades have ranged widely from racial theories of intelligence to eugenics to "social justice" and multiculturalism.
In addition to in-depth examinations of these and other issues, Intellectuals and Race explores the incentives, the visions and the rationales that drive intellectuals at the highest levels to conclusions that have often turned out to be counterproductive and even disastrous, not only for particular racial or ethnic groups, but for societies as a whole.
A riveting, original book about the creation of modern American thought.
The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Well Holmes, Jr., future associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea -- an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea. Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things "out there" waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent -- like knives and forks and microchips -- to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals -- that ideas are social. They do not develop according to some inner logic of their own but are entirely depent -- like germs -- on their human carriers and environment. And they thought that the survival of any idea deps not on its immutability but on its adaptability. The Metaphysical Club is written in the spirit of this idea about ideas. It is not a history of philosophy but an absorbing narrative about personalities and social history, a story about America. It begins with the Civil War and s in 1919 with Justice Holmes's dissenting opinion in the case of U.S. v. Abrams-the basis for the constitutional law of free speech. The first four sections of the book focus on Holmes, James, Peirce, and their intellectual heir, John Dewey. The last section discusses some of the fundamental twentieth-century ideas they are associated with. This is a book about a way of thinking that changed American life.
Popular culture has divorced itself from the life of the mind. Who has time for great books or deep thought when there is Jersey Shore to watch, a txt 2 respond 2, and World of Warcraft to play?
At the same time, those who pursue the life of the mind have insulated themselves from popular culture. Speaking in insider jargon and writing unread books, intellectuals have locked themselves away in a ghetto of their own creation.
It wasn’t always so.
Blue Collar Intellectuals vividly captures a time in the twentieth century when the everyman aspired to high culture and when intellectuals descended from the ivory tower to speak to the everyman. Author Daniel J. Flynn profiles thinkers from working-class backgrounds who played a prominent role in American life by addressing their intellectual work to a mass audience.
Blue Collar Intellectuals shows us how much everyone—intellectual and everyman alike—has suffered from mass culture’s crowding out of higher things and the elite’s failure to engage the masses.