Scientia Salon: a manifesto for 21st century intellectualism

by bjornabengtsson

Scientia Salon

Arcimboldo's Librarian by Massimo Pigliucci

During the Enlightenment, the Marquis de Condorcet defined a public intellectual as someone devoted to “the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them.” A number of years later, on 13 January 1898 to be precise, the writer Emile Zola showed the world — and in particular the French government — what public intellectualism could do. He penned his famous “J’accuse” letter to the President of France, concerning the abysmal behavior of the French authorities in the infamous Dreyfus affair.

Intellectualism, of course, has its detractors, particularly in the United States. Richard Hofstadter’s classic “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life” [1] traces several strands of the phenomenon all throughout American history, and we can very much see it today in the form of religious-based opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schools, or…

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