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Are Public Intellectuals Important?

Does the "public intellectual" have a distinctive role to play in modern society? Or is it a case of "If you can, do"?

Does the “public intellectual” have a distinctive role to play in modern society? Or is it a case of “If you can, do”? Do we no longer need the likes of Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre? Did we ever need them anyway? Is it even possible to be a public intellectual in the modern, media-saturated world in which grabbing attention sometimes seems more important than what you say when you’ve got it? Or do we, now as much as ever, need careful and principled thought reflected in public debate alongside the shock-columnists, stand-up comedians and pressure groups?

Big Ideas obviously has a view on the value of public discussion of intellectual topics, and on the importance of academic work being made more accessible to those of us who live outside the university walls. But what we don’t know is whether it actually does any good. Our guide will be Jeremy Jennings, Professor of Political Theory at Queen Mary University and the author of many books and papers on the history of political thought who has a specific interest in the history of the idea of the public intellectual and its validity today.


Professor Jeremy Jennings | talks


Date and Time:

29 November 2011 at 8:00 pm


3 hours



The Wheatsheaf
25 Rathbone Place

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Organised by:

Big Ideas
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For more information, visit www.bigi.org.uk

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