Bourdieu vs. “The Total Intellectual”

Anthropology & Publicity

Guest Author: Kerim Friedman

The culture that Europe needs, for itself and the world, and particularly the world’s third estate, will not emerge from the negotiations of experts or the discussions of technocrats. The question is to make the rigorous use of reason, and thus of language, a political virtue, indeed the first of all political virtues, and thus to give intellectuals the sole power that they have a right and a duty to claim, that of exercising a ceaseless and effective vigilance against the abusive words – and grand words most of all.

— Bourdieu, PoliticalInterventions. 2008. p. 219

Bourdieu’s  statement is striking for two reasons. The first is that his notion of the power of intellectuals is remarkably circumscribed. Elsewhere in this posthumous volume of political writings he repeatedly attacks the notion of the “total intellectual” as embodied by figures like Sartre whom, Bourdieu felt, seemed…

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About Dandre

Former student of philosophy, maths and literature. Now studying master program in sociology. Some thinkers of central interest include Ludwig Wittgenstein, C. G. Jung and Pierre Bourdieu.
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