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James Dennis

This is an important issue and I hope you can return to it sometime soon. There are obvious problems with corporate media and I would say an obvious need for the work of public intellectuals, and for the work of critical analysis from a scientific point of view of the problems of the contemporary world, to be funded by the taxpayer and insulated from the influence of power and money. (Public intellectuals should be engaged in critique, not governance. What is most important is analysis and critique.)

I just wanted to throw out a few names of examples of public intellectuals that we have today, since I'm not so pessimistic as some. First some venues: New York Review of Books, London Review of Books and TLS. Some people who seem to be doing what they can: Chomsky, of course; Paul Krugman, Simon Wren-Lewis, Joe Stiglitz, and others -- economics seems to be well represented; Danielle Allen, Cornel West, Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen, David Bromwich, just off the top of my head. I think, as opposed to what are usually called "experts", public intellectuals are expected to have a broader understanding of the human significance of developments in the various spheres, and an ability to express their understanding in a clear and striking way that the public can respond to. Among philosophers, I wish someone like Hilary Putnam had written more for the public: he had the understanding, but did he have the ability to talk to the people? Jason Stanley? He does a pretty good job, but why did he want to leave Michigan and go to Yale? We are I think coming upon a time of transition between ancient world views and new ones more in line with what we have come to understand since, say, the 1930s, especially with regard to ethical understanding vs. social atomism, and we need thinker/ writers who can take a sufficiently panoptic view. I'm satisfied with nothing that I've just written; I'm simply hoping you will return to the question.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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