PUBLIC INTELLECTUALS CAN HELP LEAD
IRELAND OUT OF CRISIS
“Anti-Intellectualism a symptom of the blind faith in illusory markets” – Professor Mary Corcoran
2 July 2012 Public intellectuals play a vital leadership role in national life, particularly in times of crisis and space must be made for their contributions if society is to move forward, NUI Maynooth Sociology lecturer, Professor Mary Corcoran said at the launch of her latest book “Reflections on Crisis: the role of the public intellectual”.
Professor Corcoran said the election of President Michael D Higgins presented an ideal opportunity and role model for public intellectuals in Ireland because he lives and speaks as one.
The book, which carries thoughts from a range of contributors, was formally launched by Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman.
“There is an old saying to never waste a good crisis. The position we are currently in has created a space to review and reflect on how we got here and where we might go next. The re-imagining of this country takes bold thinkers and confident articulators to unseat the anti-intellectualism which became pervasive in the mindless following of ‘rational’ markets which were really illusory. President Higgins is leading the way by showing it is credible to be passionate about highly complex subjects. I hope through this volume we might inspire, challenge and help pick through some of the possible next moves for our society”, said Professor Corcoran.
The contributors to the book, individually and collectively:
- Explore the relationship between the academy, the market and the public sphere in an era marked by what Declan Kiberd described as ‘a privatisation of all experiences and the impoverishment of intellectual life’.
- Demonstrate how public intellectuals are in a unique position to build a bridge between the world of academia and the general public, to communicate ideas and analyses that can illuminate and help people to deepen their understanding of the world around them.
- Identify the importance of putting forward moral frameworks and schemes of interpretation which are accessible to the wider public. Their clear-sighted insights offered without fear or favour can guide us as we attempt to come to terms with the present and begin reshaping our collective future.
- Trace the strain of anti-intellectualism in Irish life. Chart how structurally and historically- the Irish national movement, British imperialism and the Catholic Church – limited the influence of public intellectuals in Ireland.
- Question the promotion of technocratic knowledge over knowledge and creativity generated within the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Identify the need to pluralize or democratise ‘academic output.’
- Note the uneasy relationship between academics and journalists who operate to different timelines
- Show how the crisis served to reconnect the economics profession more directly with the economy, as it has done with the entire academic community.
- Argue that public intellectuals should be concerned with creating new agendas and raising issues that those in power seek to avoid.
- Raise concerns about the possibility of maintaining a critical public intellectualism in the context of economization and the dominance of consumerism.
Ends 29th June 2012
For more information, please contact:
Deirdre Watters, NUI Maynooth Communications, + 353 1 708 6735