The Public Interest

Who are the elite intellectuals?

Charles Kadushin

Fall 1972

THERE are almost as many works about intellectuals as there are intellectuals, and most of these works follow a standard formula. Almost half the piece is devoted to a definition of what an intellectual is. Once this is settled, the social characteristics of intellectuals are then debated: Are intellectuals today old or young? Are American intellectuals all to be found in New York City or has the growth of the university dispersed them across the country? Is there an inner clique or family of intellectuals who rule the roost? Is it true that most intellectuals are Jews? Is there a system of two or three cultures, in which scientists and perhaps social scientists are exiled to a world separate from that of the literary elite? After these questions comes the denouement—an attack on, or defense of, the role of intellectuals in modem society. 

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