Tag: intellectuals

Earlier today I visited the Stafford Beer archive at Liverpool John Moores University. I had been curious about it for some time after talking to Mark Johnson who has been exploring the archive for a number of years. For those unfamiliar with him, I should start by pointing out how Beer was a fascinating and […]

Practitioners of social philosophy regard what they do as valuable, imbuing it with a sense of importance which is reflected in the often scholastic way in which readers cite and engage with such work. How seriously should we take this judgement? Does social philosophy have intrinsic worth? Or could it be considered a peculiar form […]

In his wonderful memoir, Adults In The Room, Yanis Varoufakis reflects on the frustrations of politics and how they compare to academia. From loc 5504: Possibly because of my academic background, this was the Brussels experience I least expected and found most frustrating. In academia one gets used to having one’s thesis torn apart, sometimes with little decorum; […]

In his detailed study of Sartre’s rise to prominence as an authoritative public intellectual, Patrick Baert argues that the general intellectualism embodied by Sartre depended upon social conditions which no longer obtain. Such intellectuals “address a wide range of subjects without being experts as such” and speak “at, rather than with, their audience” (pg. 185). […]

In Zygmunt Bauman’s Legislators and Interpreters, he identifies two different contexts in which the role of the ‘intellectual’ is performed and two different strategies which develop in response to them: The legislator makes “authoritative statements” which “arbitrate in controversies of opinions and which selects those opinions which, having been selected, become correct and binding”. The […]

From Pity the Billionaire, by Thomas Frank, loc 1380. This is a summary of the populist right’s understanding of the structure of society: America is made up of two classes, roughly speaking, “ordinary people” and “intellectuals.” According to this way of thinking, as we see again and again, either you’re a productive citizen, or you’re […]

In the preface to his Sociology of Philosophies, Randall Collins argues that intellectual networks hold the key to understanding ideas and their changes: “if one can understand the principles that determine intellectual networks, one has a causal explanation of ideas and their changes”. His point is to understand the way that a focus on networks, as […]