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Intellectuals and Society

Intellectuals and Society 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 infl

  • Title: Intellectuals and Society
  • Author: Thomas Sowell
  • ISBN: 9780465019489
  • Page: 206
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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, butThe 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.

    • [PDF] Intellectuals and Society | by ¸ Thomas Sowell
      206 Thomas Sowell

    About Author

    1. Thomas Sowell says:
      Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books He often writes from an economically laissez faire perspective He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholarship melding history, economics, and political science.Sowell was born in North Carolina, where, he recounted in his autobiography, A Personal Odyssey, his encounters with Caucasians were so limited he didn t believe that yellow was a hair color He moved to Harlem, New York City with his mother s sister whom he believed was his mother his father had died before he was born Sowell went to Stuyvesant High School, but dropped out at 17 because of financial difficulties and a deteriorating home environment He worked at various jobs to support himself, including in a machine shop and as a delivery man for Western Union He applied to enter the Civil Service and was eventually accepted, moving to Washington DC He was drafted in 1951, during the Korean War, and assigned to the US Marine Corps Due to prior experience in photography, he worked in a photography unit.After his discharge, Sowell passed the GED examination and enrolled at Howard University He transfered to Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics He received a Master of Arts in Economics from Columbia University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics from the University of Chicago Sowell initially chose Columbia University because he wanted to study under George Stigler After arriving at Columbia and learning that Stigler had moved to Chicago, he followed him there.Sowell has taught Economics at Howard University, Cornell University, Brandeis University, and UCLA Since 1980 he has been a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he holds a fellowship named after Rose and Milton Friedman.

    Comment 217 on “Intellectuals and Society

    1. BlackOxford says:
      What Makes You So Smart There has probably never been an era in history when intellectuals have played a larger role in society than the era in which we live True or not, for Sowell this is not a good thing According to him An intellectual s work begins and ends with ideas But since ideas are not facts, intellectuals, particularly public intellectuals, often speak unintelligently and when those to whom they speak have power, the rest of us suffer This widespread lack of intelligence among intell [...]

    2. Adam says:
      Though I ve read a number of excellent new non fiction releases in the past couple years, this one beats them all Not only that, it ll likely be the most fascinating, disturbing, and brilliant thing I read all year.Sowell lays out a beautifully researched case for his theme of elitist intellectuals in the West constantly attempting to subvert democracy in favor of oligarchy Sowell defines intellectuals as professionals who live by ideas, whose end product is abstract and often ideological, and w [...]

    3. Marcus says:
      This is a strange book It s an intellectual speaking out against his profession Sowell defines intellectuals as a people for whom ideas are the beginning and ending of their work Tenured professors are the most ready example, but intellectuals can also be found outside academia For example authors, commentators and public speakers who are paid to continue producing ideas The key is that intellectuals need only continue to attract an audience for their ideas in order to remain relevant.This relia [...]

    4. Gwern says:
      I started this hoping that it would be a bit like Scott s _Seeing Like A State_, which is one of my favorite books, or if not exactly like that, at least like something Charles Murray, who is one of my favorite writers, might have written on the topic.I was quickly disabused of both hopes Sowell is not that great a prose stylist and has a gift for putting things in ways that irritate the hell out of me even when I already agree with him.More importantly, the promise of the flaps and introduction [...]

    5. Jordan says:
      The people who have reviewed this book negatively either A have never read it, or B are uncomfortable with the truths they have discovered The key to understanding what Thomas Sowell means when he talks about intellectuals is that intellectuals are not simply thinking people Intellectuals are people whose end product is simply an idea, and this idea is not subject to traditional real world validation processes, but is subjected to the weaker form of validation known as peer review Why is this im [...]

    6. Brandon Zaffini says:
      The title of this work, and the thrust of its argument, may initially deceive It is not a critique of the mind or of intellectual pursuits It is rather a critique of the god like mentality many intellectuals assume, wreaking social havoc in their arrogant presumption of knowledge By intellectuals, Thomas Sowell means those professional thinkers whose end products are ideas, as distinguised from the end products of other professional thinkers like architects or engineers Intellectuals and Society [...]

    7. Travis Smith says:
      I wish I had a year to comb through this amazing book of selective bias and write a lengthy rebuttal If you read this book, keep in mind that his arguments are constructs of half truths and ironically, represents the perfect example of what he calls, verbal virtuosity I found this review on and I m reposting it here, as I agree with it in its entirety In this unbelievable book, Thomas Sowell has produced what must be the most incomplete discussion of modern U.S History ever written The book cont [...]

    8. Петър Стойков says:
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    9. Linda says:
      Some of the criticism I ve encountered accuse Sowell of being the very thing he is criticizing here I disagree Sowell uses FACTS and history to demonstate his thesis about the destructive role intellectuals have played He quotes intellectuals from a variety of spectrums and times in history to support his ideas This should be required reading for everyone in this media infested country We need to WAKE UP in this country We ve forgotten lessons of history and we are lulled into apathy by our pros [...]

    10. Jeremy Hickerson says:
      This recently published book 2010 makes a very thorough case against government action of most any kind, with the exception of war I spent over an hour looking through Sowell s latest book at Borders The blurb inside the jacket caught my attention because it mentioned how intellectuals influence our democratic process by shaping the thinking of the electorate, rather than directly persuading elected officials I saw this as a significant insight into how our system works I extend the theory to an [...]

    11. Ilia Markov says:
      This book is so poor that it is hard to keep a straight face when discussing it.For the better part it sounds like a rant against smart people who assume too much on the part of the author Mixing wild examples, assumptions and generalizations on the basis of limited experiences, the author vents his frustration.Just to make it worse the author does not make a critique of intellectuals in general, just of those who are liberal , left , etc There are intellectuals, who are bad, and presidents, eco [...]

    12. Freddy says:
      A friend of mine recommanded this book to me during this 2016 Presidential Election Given the result is that Trump won, I think I shall recommand the book to all people I know, especially professors, students, media professionals, etc It s time to rethink something.

    13. Michael Malice says:
      the most comprehensive attack on the evangelical left that I ve read

    14. Gary Foss says:
      This is a fascinating idea a study upon the nature and influence of intellectuals themselves upon society What appropriate group for study than the people dedicated to study Many people have described the nature of academia, or the processes of research and development in American life, but as far as I know, nobody has turned the spotlight on intellectuals as a group That lack means that such an analysis is not only warranted, but even needful.Unfortunately, Sowell fails in this analysis on eve [...]

    15. Bill says:
      In a free society with limited government, individuals make millions of decisions and live with the consequences As our government has grown bigger and intrusive, intellectuals have played a major role telling us what programs will work for our own good However, they are often wrong, but that doesn t stop them They pay no consequences Here is the author quoting Eric Hoffer One of the surprising privileges of intellectuals is that they are free to be scandalously asinine without harming their re [...]

    16. John says:
      An incredibly biased book that attempts to disguise itself as a scholarly work Sowell contemptibly describes those who disagree with his views as intellectuals and portrays them as know nothing elites, while excusing those intellectuals who do agree with him from that labeling The way he manipulates language in the book is ridiculous When he is discussing something he wants the reader to dislike or disagree with, he uses exclusively negative language, while doing the opposite when he wants the r [...]

    17. Nick Huntington-Klein says:
      A terrible and poorly argued book I didn t know who Sowell was when I picked it up but I certainly won t be reading anything else by him.A common approach of his is to define a term, make grandiose and universal claims about it, no true scotsman any obvious exceptions he ll often have one word for the good version of something and another for the bad as if they were fundamentally different things what s the difference Apparently, whether or not they agree with his politics , then make a non sequ [...]

    18. Jason Goetz says:
      I need to preface this by saying that I am a big fan of Sowell s works But at this point I believe he has been over published, and much of his work is now repetitive Intellectuals and Society bears too much similarity to previous works of his such as A Conflict of Visions, and those works are shorter, which means that much of this work will be a waste of time.Most of the content is superb Some of his examples of where intellectuals attempt to make pretentious and dubious claims to the right to i [...]

    19. Kendall says:
      A very disappointing book that claims to analyze the role and influence of intellectuals in the larger society, but sets up intellectuals as having a misguided bent to liberalism, which Sowell restricts to contemporary political progressivism and those conservatives who are not in the neo conservative camp Of the many examples of intellectuals interaction with society he might have chosen from, he prefers those in which the intellectual under scrutiny did not do his or her homework and gets it b [...]

    20. Sally says:
      Didn t get into it as his right leaning slant was extremely obvious Even how he defined intellectuals seemed designed to exclude all but humanities professors When he wrote that financiers paid for their mistakes, that was the deal breaker Yeah right And how many Wall St financiers do you know who are arguing for change so that their decimation of our economy doesn t happen again Or how many CEOs of failed companies are hired by other companies after they get their golden parachute Are professor [...]

    21. David says:
      This is perhaps the finest literary societal critique I have ever read In a masterful display of powerful analytic thought, well researched fact, and effectively no bias towards any particular group, Sowell tears into the intellectual foundations of our society and reveals just how cancerous they have become This book was by no means a simple and quick read It is incredibly thorough in its background research and it is beautifully written This is an absolute must read if you are interested in in [...]

    22. Roslyn Ross says:
      Lies My Teacher Told me blows away kids in high school This book does the same but for college graduates Holy crap I feel lied to What an incredible read I don t want to pretend like this book is perfect though Sowell has a much better grasp of how politics, economics, and history are spun than he does art or fiction or stories in general Sowell would greatly benefit from reading Hero With a Thousand Faces, Deschooling Society, and The Romantic Manifesto, among other things.

    23. Derek says:
      It is always difficult, if not impossible, to foretell what books will still be read generations from now If I had to bet, I would bet that this book will be among them I am not sure if I enjoyed it quite as much as the Vision series, but it is close Dr Sowell believes it is his most important work A reader is always a little wiser after having read the works from this great scholar.

    24. Micah Scelsi says:
      I guess people either love or hate this book It may be because it come down pretty hard on Left Intellectuals The book doesn t start this way In fact the author does a nice job of constructing his arguments and definitions so that there is no confusion what he means when he references something like an intellectual or knowledge Some of the reading can be difficult, but in general the author tries to make this accessible to a larger audience He himself points out the difficulty of communicating i [...]

    25. Ben Batchelder says:
      In a devastating critique of intellectuals academics, writers, journalists, etc , Sowell demonstrates how monstrously wrong they have been, again and again for over a century now, and their deleterious impact on society, principally in the U.S but also in Great Britain and France.He persuasively argues, and marshals evidence, that beyond the dangers of group think, intellectuals respond to perverse incentives For one, their work is mostly peer reviewed and applauded by like minded intellectuals, [...]

    26. Skylar Burris says:
      I ve read a lot of Thomas Sowell Sometimes he can be accessible, and sometimes he can be very difficult to plow through This one tends toward the latter While I admire his reason, wealth of knowledge, and logical support for his arguments, this book seems to repeat a lot of what I have already read in his other books, including Basic Economics, A Conflict of Visions, The Vision of the Anointed, and Race and Culture It s not only redundant with other works he has written, but it s rather redundan [...]

    27. Phillip Elliott says:
      I have to confess that I find Thomas Sowell fascinating I read his book Economic Facts and Fallacies and I have read many I enjoy watching him on Youtube The man has a fantastic mind, he is able to tie real problems and solutions to real outcomes He does not need to invent, slander or use pejoratives to attack those that disagree His logic, history, facts and reality prove him right over and over again I love this book I enjoyed every bit of it, and I love how Dr Sowell ties every bit of the in [...]

    28. Blake says:
      This book builds on the framework provided by A Conflict of Visions and other books to present a stark picture of what some intellectual movements have left in their wake An intellectual is defined in this book to be an individual whose work begins and ends with ideas There is also an important group around them propagating the ideas of the intellectuals The bulk of the book discussing intellectual effects on knowledge, economics, social visions, law, war and society Problems come because of the [...]

    29. Arsen Zahray says:
      Actually, the mark is 4 rather than 4 The author makes several excellent and interesting points, including a anti pacifist one However I feel that the ideas in the book need further development to make them consistent with each other and to better understand the ramifications This is why I can t say that what he says is truth as I see it, and where I disagree with him I could raise several objections which he has never addressed, especially in the later part of the book Nevertheless, this book i [...]

    30. Jeremy Hatfield says:
      An outstanding book In a nutshell, he explains how the political Left uses the influence of a small intellectual elite to drive policy and affect opinion regardless of the views and knowledge of the rest of the country He explains how this elite positions itself to maintain control of critical information via academia, media, and political organizations and inflate their importance And, he illustrates their rather unflattering legacy unintended consequences of well meant but unrealistic planning [...]

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