[FoRK] Anti-intellectualism

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Sat Jan 24 12:03:08 PST 2015


Good points.  Embrace your anti-intellectual brethren as a necessary counterbalance?

"Intellectuals dwell in the realm of ideas and values, where almost nothing is ever right without qualification. So if 
anti-intellectualism is a natural aspect of a democratic society, humility ought to be a natural aspect of intellectual life."

Are you an expert, an intellectual, or both?

Interesting definition of bohemian.  Maybe more properly "intellectual bohemian".

I would accept these as the more general type:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bohemian
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemianism
Interesting, in 1860's America: /Bohemian/ became synonymous with /newspaper 
writer/.^<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemianism#cite_note-Twain-8>

The opposite is Philistinism.  Philistine is a term I always avoided.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philistinism

The problem with a philistine is that, lacking intellectual self-defense, they can be coopted easily by someone with the right 
degree of guile and cultural insight.  The combination of conservative intellectual concepts and neoconservative populism seems to 
have done that well recently, causing many to vote against their own best interests.  Getting people to publicly shout " Keep your 
government hands off my Medicare." has got to the the ultimate.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/get-your-goddamn-governme_b_252326.html

http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all

> The Tea Party is timeless (In print: The American way)
>
> Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism In American Life reviewed
>
> ...
> In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
> ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
> associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
> or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
> intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between 
> intellectualism and democracy:
>
> "Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The 
> intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of 
> thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible 
> efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the 
> vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly the 
> unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations."
> ...
> Another way in which Hofstadter’s framing of the issue is useful is on the question of intellectuals and power. Two categories 
> related to “intellectual” that he discusses are “bohemians” and “experts.” One could think of the first as being made up of people 
> who have chosen to preserve their intellectual integrity by living entirely outside what Hofstadter calls “accredited 
> institutions”; the second is made up of people with specialized knowledge that they have chosen to put at the service of people in 
> power. Each side thinks of the location it has chosen as the only defensible one, but Hofstadter, typically, prefers to think of 
> what will inevitably be an uncomfortable balance between the two as ideal: “We are opposed almost by instinct to the divorce of 
> knowledge from power, but we are also opposed, out of our modern convictions, to their union.” Though proximity to power can 
> corrupt intellectuals’ integrity, Hofstadter insists that too much distance from power can be corrupting, too, because one’s ideas 
> don’t get tested. So, once again, equipoise, compromise, and nuance are required. - See more at:
>
> Just as it’s tempting, if you don’t know the history, to fall into the view that anti-intellectualism is a threatening new 
> development, it can also be tempting to believe the opposite: that intellectuals have now assumed their rightful place of power 
> and respect in American society. (A related idea is that the United States has become a “meritocracy.”) Hofstadter’s book is 
> valuable as a guard against the second temptation as well as the first. Anti-intellectualism has always been with us, and always 
> will be; that isn’t shameful, because it’s an aspect of our being a democracy. Conversely, intellectualism should be inherently 
> uncomfortable, not triumphant. Experts, Hofstadter reminds us, have been important since early in the 20th century, but to point 
> out that our complex society increasingly needs people who are intelligent and have formal technical education to staff government 
> and business is not the same thing as saying that the United States has a rich intellectual life. Experts try to dwell in the 
> realm of rigorously derived knowledge and facts. Intellectuals dwell in the much more difficult realm of ideas and values, where 
> almost nothing is ever right without qualification, and where contention, contradiction, and uncertainty are inescapable. So if 
> anti-intellectualism is a natural aspect of a democratic society, humility ought to be a natural aspect of intellectual life. If 
> you ever begin to think of American life as a struggle between the superior, enlightened few and the mass of yobs, pick up 
> Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. It ought to cure you.
>

Potentially interesting reading, although it will take a visit to the library apparently:

http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/24570851/historical-development-anti-intellectualism-american-society-implications-schooling-african-americans
The Historical Development of Anti-Intellectualism in American Society: Implications for the Schooling of African Americans
(The name of the journal, in 1990, is kind of shocking now.)

http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/8688471/consequences-democratizing-knowledge-reconsidering-richard-hofstadter-history-education
The Consequences of Democratizing Knowledge: Reconsidering Richard Hofstadter and the History of Education

sdw


In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between intellectualism 
and democracy:

    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.

- See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf

In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between intellectualism 
and democracy:

    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.

- See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf

In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between intellectualism 
and democracy:

    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.

- See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf

In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between intellectualism 
and democracy:

    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.

- See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf
In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between intellectualism 
and democracy: - See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf

In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between intellectualism 
and democracy:

    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.

- See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf

In other words, to Hofstadter, intellectualism is not at all the same thing as intelligence or devotion to a particular set of 
ideas. It is a distinctive habit of mind and thought that actually forbids the kind of complete self-assurance that we often 
associate with very smart or committed people. You can see how the all-out quality of fundamentalist religion, or of salesmanship, 
or of ideologically driven politics, would have been anathema to Hofstadter. Being himself an exemplar of his conception of the 
intellectual, he saw the essential problem that is the subject of the book as being an unresolvable tension between intellectualism 
and democracy:

    Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The
    intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of
    thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible
    efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the
    vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly
    the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.

- See more at: http://www.cjr.org/second_read/richard_hofstadter_tea_party.php?page=all#sthash.dFVsHsXy.dpuf


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