Chapter

On European and Other Intellectuals

Michael Freeden

in European Stories

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199594627
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595738 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594627.003.0004
On European and Other Intellectuals

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Michael Freeden begins by elaborating Mannheim's hermeneutic definition of the intellectual, a figure entrusted with the role of “helping a society to understand itself”. From this analytical standpoint, Freeden raises some doubts about emphasizing the narrative function of intellectuals, as this book does. He reminds us that telling stories is more an act of imagination and interpretation than of rational critique. Freeden also sheds a new light on the overused concept of “democratic deficit”, pointing out that we would be hard pressed to imagine a democratic arrangement that would not produce such a deficit of one kind or another. Consequently, intellectuals need to ask which necessarily inadequate combination of political features has the most chances of durable implementation, given the main cultural features of European countries. Freeden concludes that pleas for diversity and pluralism must take care not to look past the basic need for a common legal and political framework that is occasioned by any form of transnational integration.

Keywords: Mannheim; democratic deficit; pluralism; rational critique; narrative

Chapter.  3887 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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