On Intellectual Responsibility

“Intellectuals should make public use of the professional knowledge that they possess, on their own initiative and without being commissioned by anyone to do so. They need not be neutral and eschew partisanship, but they should be aware of their own fallibility. They should limit themselves to relevant issues; in other words, they should endeavor to improve the deplorable discursive level of public debates. Intellectuals must walk a difficult tightrope in other respects as well. they should not use the influence they acquire through their words as a means to gain power, thus confusing influence with authority tied to positions in party organization or government. Intellectuals cease to be intellectuals once they assume public office [one ceases to reflect and critique in freedom once tethered to the expected adherence to some prevailing ideology]. If there is one thing intellectuals- a species that has so often attacked its own kind and pronounced its demise- cannot allow themselves, then it is to become cynical.” (paraphrased from Between Naturalism and Religion x Habermas, pp. 22-23)

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