Commonplace Book #36

Specialization makes it difficult for an intellectual to write for a general audience. His orientation is toward writing for his fellow specialists on narrow topics in an esoteric jargon. For jargon is the natural tendency of language when people communicate primarily with members of an in-group—and so we witness the increasing mathematization of economics and the obscurity of word and syntax of much of the current writing in the humanities. The modern academic intellectual usually cannot, as earlier generations of intellectuals could and did, pitch his writing at a level that is accessible to a general audience yet does not strike the author’s peers as lacking in rigor—he needs two styles of writing, one for the public and one for his peers.

Richard Posner, Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, 52

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