Thursday, September 22, 2005
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Define first -- then vote
Glancing at the list, I kept thinking that some of these names did not belong with others. Foreign Policy's explication of the criteria doesn't make me feel any more sanguine:
Is it my imagination, or do the underlined portions fail to completely agree with each other? Doesn't the first underlined section imply public influence and intrinsic achievement?
To be fair, this can be like arguing about the Most Valuable Player award in baseball. But, using both influence and achievement as my criteria -- and picking those closer to my intellectual predilections in case of a tie -- here are my five:
Commenters are encouraged to report back on their choices.posted by Dan on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM
Huntington is nowhere on your list? Or is he not media-friendly enough?
Also, thanks for NOT mentioning Friedman...posted by: Josh on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
wow, some of the people on that list are not intellectuals at all, but just loudmouths.
but Jeffrey Sachs should be on your list. He was important enough for you to review his book and he has seriously changed the way the rich world looks at the poor world.posted by: umm on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
I would nominate General Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan. After listening to the primitive clicks and grunts of American "intellectuals", hearing this guy talk is a real eye-opener. Sharp and articulate, certainly an influential intellectual.posted by: monkyboy on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
I don't quite recall how I voted, but do observe that none of my favorites were on your list. Mine included Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond, Richard Dawking, E.O. Wilson and one more. Which shows that this list is more about area of interest than anything else.
And i did miss David Landes, whose "Wealth and Powerty of Nations" has changed people's thinking about the topic as much as Jeffrey Sachs, methinks.posted by: Espen Andersen on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
Come to think of it, I wonder if Posner wasn't the last one. Oh well.posted by: Espen Andersen on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
Zheng Bijian is a good one. Jared Diamond, too. Possibly Huntington. Also: Henry Kisssinger, if one considers him an intellectual as opposed to "only" a statesman.posted by: Brian on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
Funny thing: a "public intellectual" was how Kissinger started out. He was one for longer than he was in government.
I agree with comments upthread on Sachs, and would probably add Thomas Barnett of the Naval War College.
How about Bono? He's certainly "someone who has shown distinction in his own field along with the ability to communicate ideas and influence debate outside of it." Since his field is music (didn't he sing "I Got You Babe"?), this is cheating. But it would liven up Dan's list.
What about Buckley? Is he still alive? Haven't seen hids not hair of him on the media for while.
For my money he had some of the best cerebral apparatus known to mankind.posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
What about Buckley? Is he still alive? If he is, he must be pretty elderly.
Have'nt seen him on the media in some time.
For my money he has some of the best cerebral equipment around.
Bucky #1posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
Sorry, no conservatives (pretty much show my bias)
Oops, can apparently only add one outside the list. Well, swap Giddens for Geertz then. Actually, I think Geertz is the far better scholar, but more influential? Not if you ask New Labour.posted by: Dan K on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
Interesting. My votes from yesterday were the same as yours, modulo the inclusion of Dawkins instead of Habermas.posted by: Mark Nau on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
Interesting. I voted for:
I think it is an intriguing poll. My list is:
Paul Krugman - Political commentary aside, he deserves a Nobel prize for work on economies of scale, which underpins how urbanism drives economics
Anthony Giddens - Third way man
Jean Baudrillard - That simulacrum stuff kind of rings true to me...
Jeffrey Sachs - I think world poverty is a pretty powerful question, and he is the leader
Too hard to decide on a fifth from that list...but my missing person is Dr. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School. I think the dominating force in the world today it is globalization, driven by corporations' need to compete. And Porter is the leading thinker on competition. I don't think I can overstate how strongly I believe that you need more than just Ohmae as a thinker on this topic. Even if you don't know who Porter is, I can guarantee that just about every single Fortune 500 CEO does.posted by: Rich on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
James Q. Wilson
Kisssinger? Why him?
I've always thought of Thomas Sowell as one of our foremost intellectuals, but I don't know how wide his influence is.
Maybe there should be lists for "good intellectuals" and "bad intellectuals." If we include the recently deceased, Edward Said would be a shoe-in for the latter.posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
It's been a few days but I think I went with:
after trying and failing to find a way to squeeze Vargas Llosa in.posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
"Someone who has shown distinction in their own field along with the ability to communicate ideas and influence debate outside of it."
Sounds like a definition of a horizontal thinker who is also an adept communicator.
So no, not everyone on that list really fits with everyone else. Some are merely famous because of their field accomplishments ( vertical thinking) and aren't really making waves in the wider culture by strongly influencing unrelated disciplines.
Most of the names above are good, and I can't really see any good way to narrow my list down to five, so I won't add to the above.
Except to say WTF? How about Bono? [...] (didn't he sing "I Got You Babe"?), this is cheating.
I hope this was a joke, Zathras.posted by: David Nieporent on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
Sen and Havel I'd definitely put on the list, and probably Habermas. As to the last two spots ... I've have trouble choosing between Sachs, Kepel, Zakaria and Krugman (for the reason listed in an earlier comment).posted by: Armand Knight on 09.22.05 at 05:00 PM [permalink]
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