Cover: Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, With a New Preface and Epilogue, from Harvard University PressCover: Public Intellectuals in PAPERBACK

Public Intellectuals

A Study of Decline, With a New Preface and Epilogue

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$31.00 • £24.95 • €28.00

ISBN 9780674012462

Publication Date: 10/30/2003

Academic Trade

464 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

2 line illustrations, 14 tables

World

In this timely book, the first comprehensive study of the modern American public intellectual—that individual who speaks to the public on issues of political or ideological moment—Richard Posner charts the decline of a venerable institution that included worthies from Socrates to John Dewey.

With the rapid growth of the media in recent years, highly visible forums for discussion have multiplied, while greater academic specialization has yielded a growing number of narrowly trained scholars. Posner tracks these two trends to their inevitable intersection: a proliferation of modern academics commenting on topics outside their ken. The resulting scene—one of off-the-cuff pronouncements, erroneous predictions, and ignorant policy proposals—compares poorly with the performance of earlier public intellectuals, largely nonacademics whose erudition and breadth of knowledge were well suited to public discourse.

Leveling a balanced attack on liberal and conservative pundits alike, Posner describes the styles and genres, constraints and incentives, of the activity of public intellectuals. He identifies a market for this activity—one with recognizable patterns and conventions but an absence of quality controls. And he offers modest proposals for improving the performance of this market—and the quality of public discussion in America today.

This paperback edition contains a new preface and and a new epilogue.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Strategy of Conflict, by Thomas C. Schelling, from Harvard University Press

Schelling the Trailblazer

Books influence us in untold ways, and the ones that influence us the most are often read in childhood. Harvard University Press Senior Editor Julia Kirby is reminded of this on the anniversary of the birth of one of this country’s most celebrated economists. This month would have brought Thomas Schelling’s one-hundredth birthday—and he got closer to seeing it than many mortals. The Nobel laureate economist died just five years ago, after a brilliant career as both a scholar and an advisor to US foreign policy strategists. What better day to dip into his classic work