The critique of intellectuals in a time of pragmatist captivity
UNSPECIFIED. (2003) The critique of intellectuals in a time of pragmatist captivity. HISTORY OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES, 16 (4). pp. 19-38. ISSN 0952-6951Full text not available from this repository.
The 'critique of intellectuals' refers to a genre of normative discourse that holds intellectuals accountable for the consequences of their ideas. A curious feature of the contemporary, especially American, variant of this genre is its focus on intellectuals who were aligned with such world-historic losers as Hitler and Stalin. Why are Cold War US intellectuals not held to a similar standard of scrutiny, even though they turn out to have been aligned with the world-historic winners? In addressing this general question, some self-serving tendencies of intellectual history are observed, in particular the asymmetry between the ease with which intellectuals are credited with the good consequences of their ideas and the difficulty with which they are blamed for the bad consequences. This asymmetry is particularly noted in Richard Rorty, whose pragmatism treats past ideas as a legacy intended for the (American) reader's benefit. As a corrective, I advocate, in Paul Ricoeur's terms, a 'hermeneutic of suspicion' that treats intellectual life as fraught with danger, as our adoption of ideas always amounts to passing judgement over those who have borne them in the past.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
H Social Sciences
|Journal or Publication Title:||HISTORY OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES|
|Publisher:||SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD|
|Number of Pages:||20|
|Page Range:||pp. 19-38|
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