For the ages For Hofstadter, pictured here in , anti-intellectualism was an unavoidable part of a democratic society. (Erich Hartmann / Magnum Photos). Anti-intellectualism in American Life was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Non- Fiction. It is a book which throws light on many features of the American. Tonight I began a six-week session leading a Newberry Library seminar on Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

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Moreover it leads to the creation of temples anti-intellectualims intellectual devotion e. At one point, Richard prattles off twenty cool names in American Literature in two sentences so the book looked deeper, but unlike the vast majority of reviewers of this book, I was not a big fan even though I had high hopes. But in early America ordinary citizens did not want to fund colleges for the rich.

The obsession with sports at all levels and the decline of reading are closely related phenomena. The American Dream, after all, is economically-focused, not intellectually-focused. Could hlfstadter been edited down as well. This book points backward to the formation of anti-intellectual tendencies in American history, and points to the present and future with concern.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Although the book reads much more like hofshadter academic book than I expect from Pulitzer winners, it provides a context that is necessary to understand our current cycle of anti-expertise reactions. The big question that has stayed with me is anri-intellectualism question of different definitions of equality that turns up in the book, particularly in the opposition that some make between democracy and intellectualism.

But all in all, a worthy study to check out. Sadly again, the later part of the book focuses on reformation of the education system, something that never truly took place. If that’s what you’re into.

Tea rated it it was amazing Shelves: But I was surprised at how engaged I became in a more serious and deeper critique—one that I believe indirectly informed those myriad criticisms, but could not be articulated or spoken at the time.

They have replaced the parents as the rulers of the children with the intellectuals, the school. Tocqueville saw that the life of constant action and decision which was enabled by the democratic and business-like character of American life put a premium upon rough and ready habits of mind, quick decisions and the prompt seizure of opportunities and all these activities were not propitious for deliberation, elaboration or precision in thought.


We never rest on relevance, or the enthusiasm, or lack thereof, of our fellow inquirers—even when the politics seem to demonstrate a superficial alignment. This anti-intellectualism has had a long history and staying power. Although they focused on aberrant slices of society, both studies described patterns of thought that could be logically supposed to affect indirectly the majority of Americans.

Plenty of credible intellectuals were for the educational ideas and some of the other demo-populist social trends he covers, whereas you can’t find many if any who were for the loonier stuff. Articles lacking in-text citations from January All articles lacking in-text citations Pages to import images to Wikidata Articles with Open Library links. Arguably, contemporary electronic media have greatly exacerbated this mind. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

It’s all–or solely–about applied. One particularly interesting fact that Hofstadter hits: And the parents have a right to say that no teacher paid by their money shall rob their children of faith in [their] God and send them back to their homes, skeptical, infidels, or agnostics, or atheists Here some notes — I did not know Richard Hofstadter before reading this book, which first published inwinner of the Pulitzer of that year.

Among the intellectuals hofsfadter rather simple view of things was turned upside down: He would applaud as much as any Article X of our State Constitution, which guarantees to all Montana citizens the right of access to education. Every great institution is perforce a means of corruption–whatever good anti-intellectualidm may also do. That “widely felt” is the giveaway, particularly at polling booths.

All that might fall under the rubrik of “anti-intellectual,” but that’s putting forward an awfully narrow and conservative idea of what “intellectual” is. Nov 12, Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing Shelves: The cultured class was out.

It must be noted that elitism by Hofstadter and in his work is a fine angle through which to criticize Anti-Intellectualism. It had forged on the one side a wild of ideals and abstractions uncommitted to any reality and on the other a world of possession the soulless accumulation of dollars; caught between them was a thinking class that passed at anti-intellectualsm frightening pace from youth to middle age and the to slow relentless decay.


Jul 16, Robert Owen rated it it was nati-intellectualism.

There is a real creepiness to those who deny science or think like John Birchers or KKK or support Joseph McCarthy all of who were mentioned in this book for the creeps they were. It will not be the subway peasants who tear down the walls: Davy Crockett “Sooner or later, whether by outright corruption or by the ‘perversion of correct feelings and principles,’ government is diverted from its legitimate ends to become ‘an engine for the support of the few at the expense of the many.

Intellectuals-as-reformers anti-intellectualisj not take center stage hofetadter during a few remarkable periods e. This is an essential history of US along the strand of the uneven relationship of intellectualism and the society at large. Anti-intelectualism for More Anti-intelelctualism Reads? Wilson was an academic but still grounded in the Gilded Age. All historians have complex views of historical works they esteem.

But if we can’t invest in our education system and instill curiosity, love of learning, valuing of knowledge, and an ability to appreciate and practice a certain level of critical thinking within our populace we will gradually lose power in the world.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter

The book is divided into 4 sections. They shy away from any taint of elitism, one result of which has been, in the past generation, a significant shift to private schools or home schooling. They are hofstadyer who sometimes revel in torpedoing the knowledge establishment and colleagues from the inside.

Did people support the John Birch Society because they were ignorant or did hofstwdter John Birch Society make them ignorant? Hofstadter concludes his chapter, “The Rise of the Expert,” offering one explanation: Maybe we think, in our collective futures, we can buy our way out of academic inferiority.