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Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting 21st Century Philistinism Hardcover – 2 Sep 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.; First Edition edition (2 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826467695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826467690
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 14.2 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 374,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'This vitally important book . . . couches an explosive argument in admirably temperate terms.' -- Terry Eagleton, New Statesman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Frank Furedi is reader in Sociology at the University of Kent. His previous books include Culture of Fear (Continuum), Paranoid Parenting (Penguin) and Therapy Culture (Routledge).

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Mr. K. Yuill on 7 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is not only an interesting and provocative book but should be required reading for all those who even pretend to be concerned about the onset of philistinism. Quite appropriately, it is accessible to a broad readership.
Furedi attacks the "dumbing down" of culture much commented upon on both sides of the Atlantic. Many in higher education, like myself, will recognise that the critical polymath has been replaced by the specialist and the bureaucratic manager. Though this is by now a familiar lament, Furedi, who dislikes the term "dumbing down," uniquely points out the reasons why society is dumbing down (for want of a better term) and what we can all do about it. Thus, this book is certainly not another in a long line of empty if heartfelt pleas for a return to a "golden age" by grumpy old men.
Nor does it attack the easy targets of "the corporations" or the sort of people who eat at McDonalds. Instead, Furedi identifies a dominant impetus behind today's problems as the current mania with "inclusion," leading to inclusion for inclusion's sake rather than paying attention to just what people are being included in. A sense of inherent limitations and cultural self-doubt have sent the elite scrambling for legitimacy. Thus, they feel they must lower standards in order to get more people on board, and increasingly they abandon pretensions of universality or the ability of human beings to transform themselves. As Furedi shows, almost no one today will defend knowledge or art for its own sake. Instead, culture is increasingly justified in economic, therapeutic, or even health terms in order to sell it anew.
Furedi is a radical democrat and expresses an all-too-rare optimism about human capabilities, which instantly separates this book from conservative jeremiads.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mr. K. Yuill on 26 Sept. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Furedi's arguments are not simply entertaining or mildly diverting but should be required reading for all those who even pretend to be concerned about the onset of philistinism.
In this succinct and sharply written book, Furedi attacks the "dumbing down" of culture much commented upon on both sides of the Atlantic. Many in higher education, like myself, will have noticed the diappearance of the critical polymath in favour of the "specialist" and bureaucratic manager. There are many other examples here of creeping philistinism throughout institutions that, in the past, prided themselves on high intellectual standards. Pundits and spin doctors have replaced true intellectuals.
Though this is by now a familiar lament, Furedi, who dislikes the term "dumbing down," uniquely points out the reasons why society is dumbing down (for want of a better term) and what we can all do about it. Thus, this book is certainly not another in a long line of empty if heartfelt pleas for a return to a "golden age" by grumpy old men.
Nor does it attack the easy targets of "the corporations" or the sort of people who eat at McDonalds. Instead, Furedi identifies a dominant impetus behind today's problems as the current mania with "inclusion," leading to inclusion for inclusion's sake rather than paying attention to just what people are being included in. A sense of inherent limitations and cultural self-doubt have sent the elite scrambling for legitimacy. Thus, they feel they must lower standards in order to get more people on board, and increasingly they abandon pretensions of universality or the ability of human beings to transform themselves. As Furedi shows, almost no one today will defend knowledge or art for its own sake.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dandelo on 20 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
Great book. Just one point. The title is wrong for the book is much much wider that a discussion of the demise of intellectuals.

It is about also the whole matter of dumbing down the culture. If it only discussed the subject of the title this would be a good and refreshing read. The bigger scope makes it even more interesting.

It is a feelgood read in the way you can sit there quitely nodding and getting quietly steamed up as again and again Frank Furedi nails what is wrong with the way our culture is going.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By GrahamB on 4 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Already this book has caused something of a row, with several of its critics suggesting that the author wants to return to a mythical past or golden age. Nothing could be further from the truth: this is very much a volume concerned with the future and the importance of fighting for ideas and standards in the present. Rather than it being a litany of 'grumpy old men'-style complaints about modern life, Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone? analyses and explains why contemporary trends, rather than democratising public institutions, in fact short-change us all with a mixture of flattery and self-deception. These are strong charges, but unfortunately they are demonstrated time and again by the kind of writers now penning the hostile reviews. An example from this terse text that neatly summarises what's going on: Furedi is surprised that some students at his university are completing their degree courses having never read a book. He mentions this in an article for a national newspaper. The next day a senior administrator from his work is emailing to do some telling off. The problem, however, is not that Furedi has aired the university's dirty laundry in public, but that he is privileging book-based learning and not seeing that there are dozens of other ways to study, apparently. Get with the programme! Here is higher education using an elaborate rationale to avoid pushing its students to read: exactly the kind of problem this book is meant to address.
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