The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics

The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics


By (author) Mark Lilla

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  • Publisher: NYRB Collections
  • Format: Paperback | 236 pages
  • Dimensions: 124mm x 208mm x 18mm | 249g
  • Publication date: 12 February 2004
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1590170717
  • ISBN 13: 9781590170717
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Sales rank: 456,465

Product description

European history of the past century is full of examples of philosophers, writers, and jurists who, whether they lived in democratic, communist, or fascist societies, supported and defended totalitarian principles and horrific regimes. But how can intellectuals, who should be alert to the evils of tyranny, betray the ideals of freedom and independent inquiry? How can they take positions that, implicitly or not, endorse oppression and human suffering on a vast scale? In profiles of Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Alexandre Kojeve, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida, Mark Lilla demonstrates how these thinkers were so deluded by the ideologies and convulsions of their times that they closed their eyes to authoritarianism, brutality, and state terror. He shows how intellectuals who fail to master their passions can be driven into a political sphere they scarcely understand, with momentous results for our intellectual and political lives.

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Author information

Mark Lilla is Professor at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is the author of G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern(1993) and the editor of New French Thought: Political Philosophy (1991). His latest book is The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West.

Review quote

""An accessible summary look at eight 20-th century thinkers."