Intellectuals and the Public Good: Creativity and Civil by Barbara A. Misztal

By Barbara A. Misztal

Creativity and civil braveness are significant dimensions of an intellectual's authority and give a contribution in the direction of the enrichment of democracy. This e-book develops a sociological account of civil braveness and artistic behaviour in an effort to improve our figuring out of the character of intellectuals' involvement in society. Barbara A. Misztal employs either theoretical-analytic and empirical parts to strengthen a typology of intellectuals who've proven civil braveness and examines the biographies of twelve Nobel Peace Prize laureates, together with Elie Wiesel, Andrei Sakharov and Linus C. Pauling, to demonstrate acts of braveness that have embodied the values of civil society. She advances our figuring out of the character of intellectuals' public involvement and their contribution to social future health. within the present weather of worry and lack of confidence, as governments are pressured to house problems with expanding complexity, it is a pioneering sociological e-book with a hugely unique procedure.

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Furthermore, it seems that Benda, himself Dreyfusard, overlooks the fact that the heroic defenders of Dreyfus were also – in the light of his own definition – guilty of treason, as they deployed the intellectual’s autonomy and authority in the name of France, a country that they ‘unashamedly identified with reason, liberty and justice’ (Jennings 2000b: 834). Mannheim (1949: 160–1) also sees the intellectual as the main force in the shaping of the modern social order, the possessor of independent judgement and as the ‘watchman in what otherwise would be a pitch-black night’ (emphasis in original).

According to Bourdieu (1993), intellectuals, in order to constitute themselves as an autonomous collective force, need to draw on their intellectual capital. This specific capital enables them to claim autonomy vis-a`-vis the political authorities. Such a request by intellectuals for a privileged status within a society is justified, writes Bourdieu (1989: 103), because by ‘defending themselves as a whole they defend the universal’. As intellectuals’ entry into politics is rooted in the authority of their autonomous disciplines, this means that public intellectuals are, paradoxically, ‘bi-dimensional beings’ who – despite the antipathy between autonomy and engagement – are capable of extending both simultaneously.

To sum up, the term ‘public intellectual’ denotes authors, academics, scientists and artists who communicate to the general public outside their professional role on the basis of their knowledge and authority gained in their specific disciplines. Viewing the public intellectual as combining ‘the role of specialist in one or other field of intellectual work (writer, scientist, professor) and the role of one who for some reason feels the call to active participation, or even leadership , in some supraprofessional community’, Jerzy Szacki (1990: 232) points to the complexity of the relationship and tensions between the public intellectual’s various functions.

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