The Role of Intellectuals Today

in Theoria
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In my book, The Rules of Art,2 I demonstrated that the intellectual world is an autonomous world within the social world, a microcosm which constituted itself progressively through a series of struggles. In the history of the West, the first to acquire their autonomy with regard to power were the jurists, who in twelfth century Bologna succeeded in asserting their collective independence in relation to the Prince, and, simultaneously, their rivalry amongst themselves. As soon as a field is constituted and asserts its existence, it asserts itself into the internal struggle. It is one of the properties of “fields” that the question of belongingness to this universe is at stake in the very midst of these universes. Suppose that, like a French historian by the name of Viala, one makes a study of the French writers of the seventeenth century: one uncovers lists of writers, one compiles these lists and one undertakes to describe the social characteristics of the writers. In terms of a good positivist method, it is beyond reproach; in fact, I believe that it is a serious error.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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