The Crisis of Intellect

in Richard Hofstadter

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780226076409
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226076379 | DOI:
The Crisis of Intellect

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This chapter presents an overview of Hofstadter's book Anti-Intellectualism. In Anti-Intellectualism Hofstadter charted the progress of the American mind in a nation hostile to expertise. Speculative insights and critical commentary clashed with a consensus-seeking public drawn to pragmatic solutions and eager to make icons of the farmers, cowboys, and frontiersmen whom they believed reflected the simple and action-oriented roots of the republic. Because it so precisely exposed the majority's prejudice against intellect, Anti-Intellectualism is one of the most troubling criticisms of American democracy ever written. Its accusations resonate in a nation where public pressure has the power to shape college curriculums, fire controversial instructors, and force loyalty oaths upon faculty. Hofstadter made a persuasive case that the nation's uniquely democratic institutions—reinforced by the frontier, capitalism, and evangelical Protestantism—rendered it particularly vulnerable to the masses. In the contest between modernity and its opponents, Anti-Intellectualism defended the political and cultural preferences of its author and thus pushed the edge of partisanship.

Keywords: anti-intellectualism; curriculums; capitalism; protestantism; democracy; insights

Chapter.  8606 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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