This title offers a withering and clear-eyed critique about—but not for—intellectuals that explores their impact on public opinion, policy, and society at large.
The thesis of Intellectuals and Society states that 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 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 them.
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 proven 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.
A Blackstone Audio production.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Thought-provoking, well laid out.
Solid read that is well researched and references reliable sources. May not be the right read for people with an overwhelming sense of hubris (such as politicians who think the laws they pass don't apply to them) but insightful observations for the rest of us.
Should receive Nobel Prize
Amazing analysis as usual - reading his books have always given me great insight between economics, politics, culture and society - as an economic instructor and author myself, I find myself using his works as a major resource to my teachings - after seeing some of the latest Economics Nobel prizes, I can see the argument concerning the lack of accountability of the intellectuals, as they do not have to find themselves responsible for their actions (and are even rewarded for these misguided notions, i.e. Krugman, et al) - hopefully, books like this will shine a new light on the abuses of those who consider themselves the intelligentsia of society - excellent work, Dr. Sowell, as usual!!!
A fantastic book! A must read for anyone interested in a well thought out, logical theory on why people see the world, it's "problems", and it's solutions differently. If you like logic backed up with empirical evidence, you will love it. If you find that you are one of the "annointed" ones he refers to in the book, you may not love it, but maybe you need to read it most of all.