Friday, November 04, 2005

Reason on Eggheads

Reason magazine has an article entitled, "When Eggheads Gather" questioning whether the role of public intellectuals has diminished. Since I'm too tired to do a cogent analysis, let me just point out that in this paragraph ...

As intellectuals oscillate, they are just one cog in a complex series of media interactions influencing people's general attitudes: that between bloggers, between blogs and mainstream media outlets, between network stations, between network and cable stations, between tabloids and mainstream papers, and so on. The chafing is endless; the rivalries intense. Prospect's effort to focus on the top 100 intellectuals seems a tad anachronistic. Sometimes useful, sometimes irksome, the world's leading public intellectuals are not always that necessary.

... Michael Young seems to be folding public intellectuals into the general class of pundits. While that is not necessarily wrong, I think it reveals less than it intends, since in the above quote you replaced the word "intellectuals" with "bloggers," "blogs," "media outlets," "network stations," "cable stations," "tabloids," or "mainstream papers," the sentence still makes sense in exactly the same way. If we are going to be critiquing the role of public intellectuals at all, a more fruitful examination would treat them distinct from other forms of punditry. All he really ends up saying is that the influence of pundits waxes and wanes, and as a segment of the punditry so also does the influence of various public intellectuals.

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