This is a study of how intellectuals as a class affect modern societies by shaping the climate of opinion in which official policies develop, on issues ranging from economics to law to war and peace.
The thesis of Intellectuals and Society is 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 those intellectuals.
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 proved 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.
©2009 Thomas Sowell; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Author of Out of the Black
yes, easier to digest while doing other things. (drive, yardwork, etc.)
Sowell's plain, focused wisdom. His ability to communicate fairly complex ideas without the need to clutter the experience with jargon. His ability to distill simple truths from storms of confusion and irrelevancy, then write only those distilled truths.
Too many to list. Best summary of the important issues relating to WWII I've ever read. Best dissection of the forces/incentives that drive public intellectuals.
No leftist intellectual's belief system will survive an honest, curious reading of this book.
On par to past social media junkets of mainstream, profound and right on point!
I'll need to listen again for clarity.
The scales have been removed from my eyes. I have never read anything from Thomas Sowell. I knew who he was and respected his views. Also enjoyed his articles, but this book is outstanding.
Does an excellent job of exposing how intellectuals function on plane they imagine to be higher to that on which ordinary people function. Author exposes how intellectuals employ verbal virtuosity to win arguments that nonetheless lack grounding in evidence or even common sense.
My favorite philosopher: always an expanding experience.
I have to ask myself if the people who left extremely critical reviews, actually read / listen to the whole book? Doubt it. I found this book packed with ideas that had never dawned on me before. This book made it clear to me why so many "so called" intellectuals of today are so far out of touch with the normal and often times lacking all common sense. Thomas Sowell is a consumate intellectual and he wrote one heck of a fine book. The ONLY reason that I did not give this book a five is due to the naration. There's so much information that you want to capture and digest, however (in my opinion) the narrator spoke far too fast at times. I think that I would have enjoyed this book a lot more with a different narrator. Highly recommended.
One of the best political books I have read from the 100's I have read. I learned more from this book about why our self annointed rulers do what they do than anywhere else. Read it twice.
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