Top 100 public intellectuals

Foreign Policy is having a contest to find the top 20. You can see the top 100 and cast your vote here. Remember, it’s top public intellectuals; not top “people with gravitas and compelling ideas.” Seems like a good list. Oliver Sacks should be on it, I think.


8 thoughts on “Top 100 public intellectuals

  1. Doug

    Wow, this is a really interesting list. I would agree with many of the candidates on here but I must ask why David Petraues and Christopher Hitchens is on here? I am not sure that David Petraues has shown any reason as to why he would belong on the top 100 public intellectuals.

    Christopher Hitchens is incredibly funny and entertaining, and he is most certainly intelligent, but top 100 in the world? Really? I have enjoyed Hitchen’s books, and wonderful performances on Real Time with Bill Maher; however, something just seems wrong or dirty about him holding a place among the top 100 public intellectuals. Maybe its just me!!


  2. Huenemann Post author

    Yes, some of the nominations are odd. I am not sure either why Petraeus is on the list. Hitchens has made a splash; I’m not sure how much that counts. I’m surprised Brian Greene isn’t on the list; science seems under-represented. And what about Seymour Hirsch?


  3. Blood_and_ashes

    I can understand Hitchens, for despite his incredibly controversial publishings he’s a very solid thinker, and his dry humor during interviews is always fun.
    As for General Patraeus, his officer ranking automatically proves his educational status, though of what caliber I don’t know. He seems to be a smart tactical leader, and so long as he doesn’t make some moronic statements like my old Division Commander when we attended his Change of Command ceremony, he should fit in.
    I don’t know much of the other nominees aside from Chomsky, but I would like to know how on earth Al Gore came within a mile of this list. He isn’t an intellectual, he’s a politician, worse still, a democratic politician (I mean democratic, in that he works in a democratic system, not his party affiliation) which means he doesn’t think for the right or the good but the popular and catchy. It takes some brains to market to the majority, but far more so to lead them into the correct light, which no one in decades has been able to do. We elect people like the losers on American Idol, which doesn’t bode well for the respectability of the office, except when I’m in uniform and must salute.
    Also, Gore is a fraud to environmentalism. He turned a great many complex environmental issues into some LCD alarmist catch phrase for his own glory, and while he suggested commercial industry was the cause of it all, his solution was simply more commercial industry. It’s also worth noting that during a decade of being second in command he did nothing to improve matters, and in some cases made things worse.
    This kind of thing is why the founder of Greenpeace left, he felt the organization had gone out of control and sold out, and that modern environmentalism was less concerned with reason and stewardship than it was with funding and attention. As a pretty devout environmentalist, I have to agree with him. The modern groups have split into crowdist picket sign holders who make a bunch of noise, and militant activists that bomb car lots.
    Penn and Teller’s Bullshit series KO’ed the former group pretty well at one of their gatherings. The show had a girl go around to the people with a petition to ban a commonly used substance, dihydromonoxide, and got tons of signatures, even from the organization leader.
    Dihydromonoxide is water.


  4. Huenemann Post author

    On the basis of interviews I’ve read, I think Gore is the most intellectual of people in the vicinity of the White House for quite some time. (For others you’d have to go back to Kissinger, William Bennett, JFK, Schlesinger. Maybe Clinton, too, I guess, though that might just reflect the fact that he’s actually read and written books, in contrast to Bush I, Bush II, and Reagan). Remember, it’s who’s contributed more to public dialogue, not who’s mind is in the right place.


  5. Blood_and_ashes

    Ah, you are right.
    Sorry if I came off too angrily. It has been a bad semester and I’m grouchy from it all. I’m also worried Kleiner might break my black metal cd >:) My dad’s last wife was a Catholic, so I know how they can be. :) ;)
    In jest I assure you

    I do think it’s a bit odd they put him down as a “Climate Change Activist.” It just seems to set up for the old joke, “fire fighters fight fires, crime fighters fight crime, what do freedom fighters fight?” in a new way.

    I agree that science seems underrepresented on the list. It seems dominated by politics, perhaps due to the time, but it seems a bit shaky. If the foundation is public discourse, why include military strategists, or for that matter, architects, entrepreneurs, or chess grandmasters? I’m not saying that these are invalid but it seems to put the cohesiveness of the list into question.

    I would say though, if Patraeus can be there, why not Paul Rieckhoff? He is an Iraq veteran who founded the IAVA, a support organization for veterans, and has been very vocal and critical about veteran care and troop readiness concerning the current war.


  6. Kleiner

    Blood and Ashes – I have not subjected myself to your black metal cd yet (turned in along with his aesthetics paper). But if I may judge a book by its cover (or a cd that is), it appears to be satanic cult death metal. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that this is the kind of art that Plato would have banished from the Republic.


  7. Blood_and_ashes

    Too funny.
    I almost considered putting more satanic music in the report (Deicide, Gorgoroth, Mayhem, Necrophobic etc) but I decided against it, as it didn’t quite fit what I felt about the two albums I wrote about, and the one I was able to submit.(my cd burner has decided it doesn’t exist)
    I agree the cover is a bit misguiding. Depending on how you define satanic, there’s no mention of Satan anywhere in there, at least not that I can decipher, but their older albums are filled with tales of angels battling in the heavens, of the corruption of The Throne, and lots of family fun stuff like that.
    I find their sound, despite the sometimes poor production, very heroic. When I read Plato’s view on music for the warrior class, filled with the harmonies that define determination and bravery through great strife, I think of this band and others like them (early Immortal, Sacramentum, Summoning, Therion, Celtic Frost, Bathory).

    Speaking of Musicians, I think if any musician should be put on that list first it ought to be Robert Fripp, who changed the rules from what music should be to what it could be. I only leave out Zappa because I am not sure of the format regarding living or dead choices.



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