Bringing Intellect to the Soapbox: An Exchange
Simon Critchley. I think the idea of a public intellectual is a pleonasm in the sense in which, intellectual, by definition, means someone who intervenes in the public realm. The Dreyfus Affair which ran for an awful long time in the early twentieth century in France, and obviously Émile Zola’s intervention letter “J’accuse,”— that’s where we get the modern category of intellectual. I’ve never really understood what is gained by adding public to it, so intellectual, by definition to me, is public.
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