YTread Logo
YTread Logo

The Open Mind: Here Comes The Judge, Part 2

May 30, 2024
The continued production of Open Mind has been made possible by grants from the Rosalind P Walter Foundation, the Blue Styne Family Foundation, the Thomas and Teresa Milwaukee Foundation, the Garfinkel Menard Foundation, the Teachers Educational Innovation and Outreach Center College, Columbia University, the Commonwealth Fund and the United States Corporate Community I'm Richard Heffner, your host at the

open

mind

and you know, in the half century since I started talking to guests

here

at air, t

here

have been a lot of fascinating men and women that I look forward to. to meeting Eleanor Roosevelt Martin Luther King Norman Cousins ​​Fred Allen Mario Cuomo Milton Friedman Margaret Mead Norman Mailer Eric Frome and the list really goes on and on, but I don't think I've ever wanted so much to engage another person's

mind

to analyze their o your wit and wisdom in uncovering what informs your sense of human nature, like today, when my

open

-minded guests quote an extravagantly candid judicial activist, as Larissa Mcfaul Core called him in what I will simply identify as a delightfully challenging profile in The New Yorker magazine a few months ago, although Judge Richard a Posner of Chicago's Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is, by all accounts, one of the most powerful jurists in the country, my guest told The New Yorker. completely socialized into the legal profession I am like an imperfectly domesticated pet.
the open mind here comes the judge part 2
I still have a hard time understanding it and this is something that most people get over in their first two weeks when law school lawyers say things they don't believe if someone is obviously guilty. Why do you have to have all this gibberish? Well, Judge Posner writes well, he certainly writes quite frequently, although it is not true that he publishes a book every half hour, but he often feels that way and, as The New Yorker quotes Milton Friedman, he is a very brilliant man. friend and has written about everything under God's green sun, what more do you want?
the open mind here comes the judge part 2

More Interesting Facts About,

the open mind here comes the judge part 2...

Well, what I want today begins not with my guests, recent and controversial volumes on the affair and the impeachment of Bill Clinton or on the Supreme Court's election of Bush as president of the United States because of blood. but rather with Judge Posner's provocative public intellectuals, a study of decline published by Harvard University Press and reviewed in the Los Angeles Times as cornering the market with hutzpah and somewhat mocked in the New York Times for creating another list of the top 100 only this time they are intellectuals published the stories, now there are some comments from Judge Posner's public intellectuals, which he dismisses as little more than a kibbutz and for some of them he borrows the characterization of French sociologists as the who talks fast, so no slow talker I think it's best for me to ask the

judge

to illuminate his own thesis on public intellectuals a study of decline who these public intellectuals are and why they are declining I think it's a fair question

judge

, Don't you understand what I mean by public intellectual, isn't that the definition of everyone? an intellectual: the sense of someone who uses general ideas from philosophy, history, or cultural tradition to address issues of immediate public interest, but also who attempts to reach the public directly through popular media rather than being content with the type of indirect influence. that an academic thinker might have Richard Posner, for example.
the open mind here comes the judge part 2
Oh no, really, this is an academic book, but most of what I've written is academic, but I'm thinking more about people who are trying really hard to get on radio and television. talk shows writes op-eds for newspapers signs petitions and full-page ads on topics of interest I don't do that kind of thing, though why decline? why do you call it decline? Because if you think about the great public intellectuals of the past who started with Socrates, Seneca, Cicero and Jeremiah, if you will, other prophets of doom, and then as you get to the 18th and 19th centuries, people like Voltaire, John Stuart Mill, They don't enter the 20th century without any songs by Edmund Wilson, George Orwell, Arthur Karen, most of these people were non-academic and what they brought to the table was intellectual tea, but also life experiences and breadth of interests and that allowed them address a wide range of issues that were important to people, but address them and then address them. in a very intelligent way, but now most of the brilliant people, the people who have the type of ability that those I have named, almost all of their teachers had and that life and the type of vocation that a modern teacher has I think is enemy of Being a wide-ranging intellectual who deals with current issues intelligently, does that mean that your study is really a study of the decline of academics, not the decline of this

part

icular type of intellectual who addresses current issues in a way that the public can't understand?
the open mind here comes the judge part 2
I can understand, I don't understand, it's quite the opposite, the rise of the Academy, the expansion of universities, the elimination of barriers based on race and sex, etc., until becoming a professor, which in a way It has absorbed the brilliant people. to the Academy and brings them and gives them tenure and gives them, you know, a satisfying job and gives them decent salaries, but in exchange they leave this cloistered life, you know, they never leave school. I'm going from graduate school to teaching in general. life is in the university and the condition for the success of modern academics is specialization and spinization be

comes

more and more narrow as there are more and more academics, more publications, so we have these people who lead lives quite cloistered in the University and whose work is just extremely specialized, for example, when I was on the faculty board, a University of Chicago Press manuscript was submitted by a historian that was about the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels and this manuscript was sent to be reviewed, he was evaluated by other historians who had written. about the world's fairs and these historians reported that this guy's manuscript about the 1958 World's Fair was a significant contribution to the history of the World's Fair, so I realize that the history of the World's Fair had become a field within history and when you have such specialized people and then the press

comes

and says: what do you think about the impeachment of President Clinton or what do you think about the 2000 elections, what do you think about how we should fight the terrorism?
These people only have academic credentials. They are intelligent and articulate people, which makes them attractive to the media. They don't have the kind of breadth or the kind of intellectual breadth of life experiences that would allow them to address topics outside their specialty. Where are the Socrates? where are the Voltaires? where are those others? Well, I think people like Socrates Voltaire, George Orwell and John Stuart Mill Mill are the clearest. I think today they would be academics and they would have very limited fields of expertise and as a result you wouldn't consult them on general issues, whether it be religion. and the case of Voltaire or the education of young people or the political system in the case of Socrates or you know, freedom and the democratic electoral process in the case of Mills and totalitarianism in the case of normals, so yeah, They say the most intellectually capable people or should I say yes, sir.
I mean, you know they're brilliant engineers and brilliant businessmen, but people have some kind of intellectual, a teenager who's very smart, most of them are being absorbed into the Academy, they convene two think tanks, but the times of thought are very similar to universities, so they are not having, as I say, the type of life experiences or the breadth of readings, the breadth of contacts and intellectual interests that characterize the lives of these first republicans. Now you point out that statistics can be applied to the question you posed: Did you do it and what are the results?
Yes, I was interested in whether there were patterns in public intellectual activity and what I did. I compiled a list, mainly catches, catches, now there was a book published around 1970 by a professor called Kaduche. and I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing it correctly, I never met him and if we had, he had created a list of 70 public intellectuals, actually a lot of them, most of them still alive, many of them still active, so that I used their So, I put the public intellectuals that I talked about in my book and finally came up with about 546 public intellectuals.
I realized that the list was getting unwieldy, but it was also radical and comprehensive. It could be climbed easily. For a thousand, isn't that just twenty people active in the 20th century? But what I wanted to see were characteristics such as how many were academics, how many were distinguished scholars, how it broke down by race, sex, ethnicity, field of study in a field of their vocation, how many were foreigners, how many Americans, how many dead, how many alive and for these? / I was concerned about the clearly non-random and non-representative nature of my 500+ list, so I looked simply.
So, most of my statistical analysis was based on the hundred that received the most media mentions. I did a computer search using a program that will count the number of times a person is mentioned in newspapers, magazines, and radio and television talk shows, and that's how I searched. just the hundred most cited by these popular media and these are the type of public intellectuals most celebrated by the media and I was interested in these various characteristics of them because you believe that in terms of what we as a people think, these are the people who They helped us think, would we think? these are the people who come to us with their ideas oh yes, these are the people who have the most access to the public through popular media, they are not necessarily the most influential people because you can be influential by writing for a small intellectual circle, but it spreads and journalists pick it up and communicate it to the public, but these are people who directly address the game of pool and reach out directly to them and as a result, they are mentioned a lot in the popular media, they are kind of famous public intellectuals .
I mean, not necessarily the most influential ones and I don't know how much they really influence public opinion because my impression is that mainly the public, those relatively small ones. Much of the public that pays attention to these public intellectuals listens primarily to people who have the same views as them. I think a lot of this public intellectual activity is a kind of solidarity building. Remember that the public may have very defined points of view. Conservative liberal. What do you have, religious atheist, no matter what? And if this person finds out that there are brilliant, articulate, authoritative people who have the same views, that's very reassuring, so I don't think it's an accident that intellectual magazines like The New Yorker and then and New Republic and National Review American Prospect, as they tend to have, tend to be pretty uniform editorially, there aren't many magazines that have liberal and conservative articles, sometimes like the New York Times opinion page, there is a token conservative. or a conservative magazine like the Wall Streeter or the conservative news for the Wall Street Journal has its liberal symbol, but in general these various bodies are monolithic and I think that is because their readers are people who want to be sure that their position on the political spectrum it is also. occupied by articulate, credentialed, brilliant people, you can read them, you can be calm, and you can get arguments that you can use with your friends, but Judge Posner, if you are talking to the convinced, if you are talking to those who share your views What difference there are?
What is the meaning of this decline of the public intellectual? Well, I don't think it's some kind of national crisis. I don't think it's very serious because, as you say, yes. I think a big

part

of it is preaching every day and that has an effect on me; tends to polarize opinion, i.e. it means that fewer people hold their views tentatively because they have received reassurance from what appear to be experts, so it would be nice, I would think that a lot of people would take the view that about many Topics have no point of view because they are too difficult and complicated, but instead they can point to someone in a magazine or on a television show. he seems to be an expert, he's taken his position emphatically and so I think that's a problem and I think I also think that universities are harmed to some extent by the antics of some of his OD mene antics and the fact that people Those in full-time academic positions will often engage in public intellectual activityextremely irresponsible in which they will be identified with the university that will be the first thing that is said about them and yet they are saying things that should really bring the university enterprise into discredit you want to hold them accountable, don't you like them?
Yes, I think accountability is important, you know it's like these accounting problems, business problems, if no one keeps score, no one monitors one's activities, then. The temptation to be lazy and stubborn is considerable. I was fascinated that you pointed out that many economists fall into that group that frequently makes irresponsible statements, yes, and oh, I wish there was some kind of publication that universities maintain. showed what they had predicted, what they had proclaimed and then what actually happened and reading that, then I prepared the Paul Krugman column and You speak well of Paul Krugman, who on February twenty-second wrote personally about whether the recession was over or not.
Personally, I find pessimists to be more convincing than optimists, although any economist who honestly keeps track of his own forecasting history learns quickly. to be humble and in a sense he was saying yes, you were saying oh do you want to do this? no, yes, yes and, of course, Krugman is speaking generally, he is not saying that his predictions have been wrong for a long time, but you are saying something, yes, yes. but it amazes me how these people, economists and many other members of other disciplines, have been making erroneous predictions for many years, but continue to be considered experts, interviewed and discussed, taken seriously and their books read. and so on, you know, when you raised that point and made it very well, I wondered if we would take if you accepted or some other scholar took the pronouncements of that group of older, not-yet-declined intellectuals who were not associated with the Academy to see how prophetic they were.
I wonder what we discovered. We would discover a mix of things. I mean, clearly they would find it. Of course, the problem is that it is very difficult. It's one of the reasons I tried to do some statistics. In analysis it is very difficult to be systematic because we are dealing with a wide range of writings that no one has really attempted to know exhaustively, but it certainly can be done. I mean, you can read people like John Stuart Mill with benefit today because you learn that his case goes back to the mid-19th century, but his discussion of freedom in public, the tyranny of public opinion, and the conditions for a effective democracy are extremely modern.
Another example would be Oakville, where you can read his book Democracy in America, written around the year 30 in the 1830s. 40s and is quite contemporary in many ways and, coming into the 20th century, people like John Maynard Keynes wrote with certainly prophetic knowledge about the Treaty of Versailles, on the other hand, even among great public intellectuals of that year such as George Orwell. he will find a series of erroneous predictions. I mean, for example, he predicted that World War II would result in a socialist revolution in England. Now it did result in a socialist government coming to power, but not the kind of thing he envisioned and I probably exaggerated the effectiveness of brainwashing by the communist countries, but you know this tremendous perception and occasional errors, but the public intellectuals that I focus on in my book, modern American academic public intellectuals tend to be people who have made a lot of mistakes, but I don't see the great ideas and, of course, their exception.
You mentioned Milton Friedman. That would be a dramatic exception. I think you know Henry Kissinger. I think he's a very distinguished public intellectual, but some of the people I'm talking about. Lester Thoreau and Edward look crazy. No, I'm Chomsky and Paul Krugman, it seems to me that most of his public intellectual writings are deeply flawed because the percentage of erroneous evaluations and erroneous predictions seems too high. I guess I feel like a lot of those or a large proportion of those predictions are not prophecies. because they are used in decline in nature because they talk about me, Amy and woe is me, yes, this is, this is a pattern, yes, this is someone else's, I am not us, I have not emphasized this until now nor have I still well discussed.
Yes, one of the things that struck me is that this public intellectual activity has a little more structure than had been assumed in the sense that they are different genres of public activity from a public intellectual expression and in some ways they seem have their own rules, so if you decide to do a political satire, it will have a particular character and if you decide to do environmental predictions, you will have a certain character and one of the most distinctive genres is this, it really starts with Jeremiah. This ISM decline is the notion that your culture, this case would be the United States at the end of the 20th century, culture is in decline across the board, that this kind of unit of culture and therefore what an example says , Mr.
Lo made it a bit comical as a book, a very recent book by Jean-Jacques Bars, owned by Bars, in which he talks about decadence and describes our society as decadent. One of the examples he gives is the movement toward casual dress on Wall Street. Law firms, men's restaurants no longer wear ties and Jack's and he considers this to be really a significant symptom of national decline and this, you know, bothers Gertrud's entry a little bit, he from Favre's book, a nation, two cultures, I think that style. It's another example, you know, you get upset with the little things that bother you, well, those vulgarities, the vulgarity of the vault, the vulgarity in popular culture, then you think it's symptomatic of a really alarming national decline, well, of course , Jacques Veneno, who was my teacher 60 years ago. was saying the same things he had written about more recently and faced them as intensely as he does now, which doesn't necessarily mean he's wrong or that Emma Fog is wrong or any of the others you mentioned, but you're certainly right, there is This tradition declines well if one predicts escalation.
I suppose if you started predicting the decline of the Roman Empire and year one you did so much in 50 years, you will be vindicated, yes, and your own prophecy and the half minute. we're gone now I don't do I don't you don't make prophecies what you want disturbed by this trend in American writing and you see it as a decline you see it as I do but I don't I don't think there's a way you asked if I thought that It was significant and no, I don't think it is, I don't think it poses a danger to society, that's good because this is the end of our program. and I'm glad we're not in danger Judge Posner, thank you for joining me today and thank you at the hearing.
I hope you'll join us again next time, and if you'd like a transcript of today's show, send four dollars. check or money order to open mind p.o box 7 977 FDR station new york new york 10 150 Meanwhile, as an old friend used to say, good night and good luck, the continued production of open mind has been made possible by grants from Rosalynn p Walter Foundation The Blue Styne Family Foundation The Thomas and Theresa Milwaukee Foundation The Garfinkel Menard Foundation The Center for Educational Extension and Innovation at Teachers College Columbia University The Commonwealth Fund and the Mutual Corporate Community of America You

If you have any copyright issue, please Contact