Commonplace Book #38

The example of Orwell suggests that to be a really effective public intellectual is a charismatic calling. It isn’t primarily a matter of being intelligent and well-informed and writing clearly, but of being able through force of rhetoric or the example of one’s life (related points—an exemplary life being a particularly effective form of the ethical appeal) to make fresh, arresting, or heterodox ideas credible to the general, or at least the educated, public. The charismatic public intellectual is disappearing as a consequence of the absorption of intellectuals into university faculties in an era of specialization and professionalization.” 

Richard Posner, Public Intellectuals: A Study in Decline, 85.

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