Chomsky is voted world's top public intellectual

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Chomsky is voted world's top public intellectual

Postby JP » Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:56 am

Any comments? personally i find the result of this public poll thrilling (apart from the obvious criticism of demographics): two very cool people in the top 5, Chomsky and Richard Dawkins! ... 54,00.html

Chomsky is voted world's top public intellectual

· Missing from list: young, women, and the French
· Honour leaves linguistics professor underwhelmed

Duncan Campbell
Tuesday October 18, 2005
The Guardian

He is in his 70s and first became known for his theory of transformational grammar - and now he is top of the thinkers' hit parade. Noam Chomsky, the linguistics professor who has become one of the most outspoken critics of US foreign policy, has won a poll that names him as the world's top public intellectual.

Chomsky, who was underwhelmed by the honour, beat off challenges from Umberto Eco, Richard Dawkins, Vaclav Havel and Christopher Hitchens to win the Prospect/Foreign Policy poll.

Article continues

More than 20,000 voters from around the world took part in selecting the winners from a list of 100. The most striking aspect of the list is the shortage of the young, the female and the French. Only two of the top 10, Hitchens and Salman Rushdie, were born after the war, and Naomi Klein is the highest placed woman, at 11. France provides one name in the top 40, fewer than Peru and Iran.

Since the poll was for the world's leading intellectuals, it should come as no surprise that websites manned by supporters of Chomsky, Hitchens and Abdolkarim Soroush were used to draw attention to the poll. Chomsky's supporters are clearly the most energetic: he took 4,800 votes to Eco's 2,500. Voters came mainly from Britain and the US. "I don't pay a lot of attention to them," said Chomsky of the poll last night. "It was probably padded by some friends of mine."

Pondering the absence of younger intellectuals from the list, David Herman asks in the new issue of Prospect: "Who are the younger equivalents to [Jürgen] Habermas, Chomsky and Havel? Great names are formed by great events. But there has been no shortage of terrible events in the last 10 years." Only two of the top 20 have yet to reach the age of 50.

The choice of Chomsky will be welcomed and contested by many of the same names who responded delightedly or furiously to the award of the Nobel prize for literature to Harold Pinter last week.

In recognition of this, Prospect offers alternative perspectives, with Robin Blackburn arguing for Chomsky's right to head the list as both a brilliant expositor of linguistics and a vital critic of the US abroad, while Oliver Kamm dismisses him as a kneejerk anti-American who is cavalier about his sources.

Top five

1 Noam Chomsky linguistics expert and critic of US foreign policy

2 Umberto Eco writer and academic

3 Richard Dawkins Oxford professor of public understanding of science

4 Vaclav Havel playwright and leader of Czech velvet revolution

5 Christopher Hitchens journalist, author, pro-Iraq war polemicist
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Postby veganmike » Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:18 am

I voted for Dawkins and Eco. Awesome! I also voted for Peter Singer, Daniel C. Dennett and Jared Diamond. When choosing I followed my political line (secular and liberal) and interests (animal rights, evolutionary biology, secularism/atheism). I'm very happy for the results!

[Edit] I also noticed many other authors that I really like: Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker (I was at his lecture on human nature here in Poland a couple of days ago) and entomologist Edward O. Wilson (author of "Sociobiology").

Here's the entire list:

Is Prospect a left wing magazine?
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Postby littlegirlbunny » Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:14 pm

Very surprised to see germaine greer in at 49.
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Postby JO » Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:28 pm

Terrific thread and link! I admit: I only recognize about 15 names .....
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Postby veganmike » Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:42 pm

[quote="JO"]I admit: I only recognize about 15 names.....

JO, me too. But you know what? I think it's a very good result. I mean, most of my friends would be unable to identify more than 3-4 people from this list.
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Postby JP » Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:44 pm

[quote="veganmike"]Is Prospect a left wing magazine?

no way man. Well it depends on your definition of what left wing means, yeah i guess they are kind of liberal, but very market oriented, anti-worker etc. So definitely not left wing.

Impressive that whole list - there are names there like Naomi Klein - those who were at the veganfitness week and saw the movie The Take, that was her flick. Peter singer got really suprisingly high, respect for him for that. Many quite suprising names.
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Postby Cuguacuarana » Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:38 pm

I think its great that Chomsky got the top rating. I don't like Richard Dawkins at all though. I think the form of evolutionary theory that he advocates will be shown in the coming decades to be less than the whole picture. The emerging science of complexity adds dimensions to evolutionary theory that conflicts with Dawkins story. On top of that he's totally arrogant. I saw him interviewed once and wanted to punch him in the face.

"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane." --Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
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Postby bandofmercy » Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:15 pm

man, gotta love chomsky. the same punk rock album that got me into vegetarianism (and later veganism)--propagandhi's less talk, more rock featured a clip from a chomsky speach. i just got his new spoken word album from the ak press, actually, and one of his latest books sitting right next to me.

i do wish more people who love to hear his critiques of us foreign policy would also listen to his arguments in favor of anarchism...

"I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them. Unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom."

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