Anti Intellectualism Quotes

Quotes tagged as "anti-intellectualism" (showing 1-30 of 37)
Isaac Asimov
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
Isaac Asimov

Walter M. Miller Jr.
“Ignorance is king. Many would not profit by his abdication. Many enrich themselves by means of his dark monarchy. They are his Court, and in his name they defraud and govern, enrich themselves and perpetuate their power. Even literacy they fear, for the written word is another channel of communication that might cause their enemies to become united. Their weapons are keen-honed, and they use them with skill. They will press the battle upon the world when their interests are threatened, and the violence which follows will last until the structure of society as it now exists is leveled to rubble, and a new society emerges. I am sorry. But that is how I see it.”
Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

Christopher Hitchens
“He's a man [George W. Bush] who is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is a man who is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”
Christopher Hitchens

Susan Jacoby
“This mindless tolerance, which places observable scientific facts, subject to proof, on the same level as unprovable supernatural fantasy, has played a major role in the resurgence of both anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism.”
Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason

Gene Edward Veith Jr.
“There is a great superficiality in today's evangelical world. Many Bible-believing Christians share the contemporary case for self-gratification, emotionalism, and anti-intellectualism. Many people who believe in the Bible have never read it.”
Gene Edward Veith Jr., Loving God with All Your Mind: Thinking as a Christian in a Postmodern World

Richard Hofstadter
“To those who suspect that intellect is a subversive force in society, it will not do to reply that intellect is really a safe, bland, and emollient thing. In a certain sense, the suspicious Tories and militant philistines are right: intellect is dangerous. Left free, there is nothing it will not reconsider, analyze, throw into question. "Let us admit the case of the conservative," John Dewey once wrote. "If we once start thinking no one can guarantee what will be the outcome, except that many objects, ends and institutions will be surely doomed. Every thinker puts some portion of an apparently stable world in peril, and no one can wholly predict what will emerge in its place." Further, there is no way of guaranteeing that an intellectual class will be discreet and restrained in the use of its influence; the only assurance that can be given to any community is that it will be far worse off if it denies the free uses of the power of intellect than if it permits them. To be sure, intellectuals, contrary to the fantasies of cultural vigilantes, are hardly ever subversive of a society as a whole. But intellect is always on the move against something: some oppression, fraud, illusion, dogma, or interest is constantly falling under the scrutiny of the intellectual class and becoming the object of exposure, indignation, or ridicule.”
Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Naomi Klein
“Drilling without thinking has of course been Republican party policy since May 2008. With gas prices soaring to unprecedented heights, that's when the conservative leader Newt Gingrich unveiled the slogan 'Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less'—with an emphasis on the now. The wildly popular campaign was a cry against caution, against study, against measured action. In Gingrich's telling, drilling at home wherever the oil and gas might be—locked in Rocky Mountain shale, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and deep offshore—was a surefire way to lower the price at the pump, create jobs, and kick Arab ass all at once. In the face of this triple win, caring about the environment was for sissies: as senator Mitch McConnell put it, 'in Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana and Texas, they think oil rigs are pretty'. By the time the infamous 'Drill Baby Drill' Republican national convention rolled around, the party base was in such a frenzy for US-made fossil fuels, they would have bored under the convention floor if someone had brought a big enough drill.”
Naomi Klein

Susan Jacoby
“The specific use of folks as an exclusionary and inclusionary signal, designed to make the speaker sound like one of the boys or girls, is symptomatic of a debasement of public speech inseparable from a more general erosion of American cultural standards. Casual, colloquial language also conveys an implicit denial of the seriousness of whatever issue is being debated: talking about folks going off to war is the equivalent of describing rape victims as girls (unless the victims are, in fact, little girls and not grown women). Look up any important presidential speech in the history of the United States before 1980, and you will find not one patronizing appeal to folks. Imagine: 'We here highly resolve that these folks shall not have died in vain; and that government of the folks, by the folks, for the folks, shall not perish from the earth.”
Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason

Susan Jacoby
“High culture can never be obliterated as long as the species continues to produce individuals with the inclination and fortitude to pursue their interests and talents against the grain of the mass culture surrounding them.”
Susan Jacoby

David Niose
“When libertarian sentiments take a populist form, it looks like this: a mix of anger, fear, anti-intellectualism, and fierce government hostility. Welcome to the Tea Party movement.”
David Niose, Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason

Richard Hofstadter
“If mind is seen not as a threat but as a guide to emotion, if intellect is seen neither as a guarantee of character nor as an inevitable danger to it, if theory is conceived as something serviceable but not necessarily subordinate or inferior to practice, and if our democratic aspirations are defined in such realistic and defensible terms as to admit of excellence, all these supposed antagonisms lose their force.”
Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Richard Hofstadter
“A large segment of the public willingly resigns itself to political passivity in a world in which it cannot expect to make well-founded judgments.”
Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

“By the time I finally finished writing The End of Science , I'd concluded that people don't give a shit about science.... They don't give a shit about quantum mechanics or the Big Bang. As a mass society, our interest in those subjects is trivial. People are much more interested in making money, finding love, and attaining status and prestige. So I'm not really sure if a post-science world would be any different than the world of today.”
John Horgan, But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past

“The problem arises when a society respects its scholars lesser and lesser and replaces intellectualism with anti-intellectualism. Such society forces the most intellectual members of its, toward alienation and instead develops populism and irrationalism and then calls it anti-elitism. On the other hand, scholars, due to being undermined by the society, find any effort hopeless and isolate themselves into their work. For a scholar, personally, nothing changes because the scholar always is a scholar no matter having someone to share the knowledge with or not, but the true problem forms in the most ordinary sections of the society, which eventually creates an opportunity for propaganda, conspiracy theories, rhetoric, and bogus.”
Kambiz Shabankare

Richard Hofstadter
“All this is the more maddening, as Edward Shils has pointed out, in a populistic culture which has always set a premium on government by the common man and through the common judgement and which believes deeply in the sacred character of publicity. Here the politician expresses what a large part of the public feels. The citizen cannot cease to need or to be at the mercy of experts, but he can achieve a kind of revenge by ridiculing the wild-eyed professor, the irresponsible brain truster, or the mad scientist, and by applauding the politicians as the pursue the subversive teacher, the suspect scientist, or the allegedly treacherous foreign-policy adviser. There has always been in our national experience a type of mind which elevates hatred to a kind of creed; for this mind, group hatreds take a place in politics similar to the class struggle in some other modern societies. Filled with obscure and ill-directed grievances and frustrations, with elaborate hallucinations about secrets and conspiracies, groups of malcontents have found scapegoats at various times in Masons or abolitionists, Catholics, Mormons, or Jews, Negroes, or immigrants, the liquor interests or the international bankers. In the succession of scapegoats chosen by the followers of this tradition of Know-Nothingism, the intelligentsia have at last in our time found a place.”
Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Richard Hofstadter
“The American mind was shaped in the mold of early modern Protestantism. Religion was the first arena for American intellectual life, and thus the first arena for an anti-intellectual impulse. Anything that seriously diminished the role of rationality and learning in early American religion would later diminish its role in secular culture. The feeling that ideas should above all be made to work, the disdain for doctrine and for refinements in ideas, the subordination of men of ideas to men of emotional power or manipulative skill are hardly innovations of the twentieth century; they are inheritances from American Protestantism.”
Richard Hofstadter

Christopher Hitchens
“And I wonder, therefore, how James Atlas can have been so indulgent in his recent essay ‘The Changing World of New York Intellectuals.’ This rather shallow piece appeared in the New York Times magazine, and took us over the usual jumps. Gone are the days of Partisan Review, Delmore Schwartz, Dwight MacDonald etc etc. No longer the tempest of debate over Trotsky, The Waste Land, Orwell, blah, blah. Today the assimilation of the Jewish American, the rise of rents in midtown Manhattan, the erosion of Village life, yawn, yawn. The drift to the right, the rediscovery of patriotism, the gruesome maturity of the once iconoclastic Norman Podhoretz, okay, okay! I have one question which Atlas in his much-ballyhooed article did not even discuss. The old gang may have had regrettable flirtations. Their political compromises, endlessly reviewed, may have exhibited naivety or self-regard. But much of that record is still educative, and the argument did take place under real pressure from anti-semitic and authoritarian enemies. Today, the alleged ‘neo-conservative’ movement around Jeane Kirkpatrick, Commentary and the New Criterion can be found in unforced alliance with openly obscurantist, fundamentalist and above all anti-intellectual forces. In the old days, there would at least have been a debate on the proprieties of such a united front, with many fine distinctions made and brave attitudes struck. As I write, nearness to power seems the only excuse, and the subject is changed as soon it is raised. I wait for the agonised, self-justifying neo-conservative essay about necessary and contingent alliances. Do I linger in vain?”
Christopher Hitchens, Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports

Richard Hofstadter
“The older America, until the 1890s and in some respects until 1914, was wrapped in the security of continental isolation, village society, the Protestant denominations, and a flourishing industrial capitalism. But reluctantly, year by year, over several decades, it has been drawn into the twentieth century and forced to cope with its unpleasant realities: first the incursions of cosmopolitanism and skepticism, then the disappearance of American isolation and easy military security, the collapse of traditional capitalism and its supplementation by a centralized welfare state, finally the unrelenting costs and stringencies of the Second World War, the Korean War, and the cold war. As a consequence, the heartland of America, filled with people who are often fundamentalist in religion, nativist in prejudice, isolationist in foreign policy, and conservative in economics, has constantly rumbled with an underground revolt against all these tormenting manifestations of our modern predicament.”
Richard Hofstadter

A.O. Scott
“Anti-intellectualism is virtually our civic religion. "Critical thinking" may be a ubiquitous educational slogan—a vaguely defined skill we hope our children pick up on the way to adulthood—but the rewards for not using your intelligence are immediate and abundant.”
A.O. Scott, Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth

A.S. Byatt
“Therefore,' said Loki the mockery, to the snake his daughter, 'we need to know everything, or at least as much as we can. The gods have secret runes to help in the hunt, or give victory in battle. They hammer, they slash. They do not study. I study. I know.”
A.S. Byatt, Ragnarok

Mark A. Noll
“To put it most simply, the evangelical ethos is activistic, populist, pragmatic, and utilitarian. It allows little space for broader or deeper intellectual effort because it is dominated by the urgencies of the moment.”
Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

Richard Hofstadter
“Finally, the work of the minister tended to be judged by his success in a single area - the saving of souls in measurable numbers. The local minister was judged either by his charismatic powers or by his ability to prepare his congregation for the preaching of some itinerant ministerial charmer who would really awaken its members. The 'star' system prevailed in religion before it reached the theater. As the evangelical impulse became more widespread and more dominant, the selection and training of ministers was increasingly shaped by the revivalist criterion of ministerial merit. The Puritan ideal of the minister as an intellectual and educational leader was steadily weakened in the face of the evangelical ideal of the minister as a popular crusader and exhorter. Theological education itself became more instrumental. Simple dogmatic formulations were considered sufficient. In considerable measure the churches withdrew from intellectual encounters with the secular world, gave up the idea that religion is a part of the whole life of intellectual experience, and often abandoned the field of rational studies on the assumption that they were the natural province of science alone. By 1853 an outstanding clergyman complained that there was 'an impression, somewhat general, that an intellectual clergyman is deficient in piety, and that an eminently pious minister is deficient in intellect.”
Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

“It is a new Declaration of Independence: No longer do we hold these truths to be self-evident, we hold all truths to be self-evident, even the ones that aren’t true. All things are knowable and every opinion on any subject is as good as any other.”
Tom Nichols, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

Aldous Huxley
“Compania lui Rampion mă cam indispune, căci mă face să înţeleg marea prăpastie care desparte conştiinţa lucrurilor evidente de trăirea lor efectivă. Şi vai, câte greutăţi ai de întâmpinat când vrei să treci acea prăpastie! Înţeleg acum de ce marele farmec al vieţii intelectuale – viaţa devotată erudiţiei, cercetărilor ştiinţifice, filosofiei, esteticii, criticii – constă în uşurinţa ei. E o substituire de simple scheme intelectuale în locul complexităţilor realităţii... E incomparabil mai uşor să ştii multe, să spunem, în domeniul istoriei artei şi să ai cele mai adânci idei asupra metafizicii şi sociologiei, decât să cunoşti personal şi intuitiv amănunte despre cei din jurul tău, să ai legături mulţumitoare cu iubitele şi prietenii tăi, cu nevasta şi copiii tăi. Viaţa e mult mai grea decât limba sanscrită, chimia sau ştiinţele economice. Viaţa intelectualului e un joc de copii; iată de ce intelectualii tind să devină puerili, apoi imbecili şi, în sfârşit, aşa cum demonstrează limpede istoria politicii şi industriei din ultimele secole, ţicniţi, cu idei criminale sau fiare. ... e mult mai uşor să fii un intelectual pueril, un ţicnit sau o fiară decât să fii un om matur, echilibrat, iată de ce (printre alte motive) se simte şi o atât de mare nevoie de educaţie superioară. Goana după cărţi şi universităţi e ca o goană după băutură. Oamenii vor să înece în alcool înţelegerea greutăţilor de a trăi decent în această lume contemporană grotescă, şi vor să uite propria lor incapacitate deplorabilă de a reuşi ca artişti în viaţă. Unii îşi îneacă grijile în alcool, alţii, mai numeroşi, citind cărţi şi practicând diletantismul artistic.(Philip Quarles)”
Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point

Philip K. Dick
“Listen, I’m not an intellectual—Fascism has no need of that. What is wanted is the deed. Theory derives from action. What our corporate state demands from us is comprehension of the social forces—of history.”
Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

Aldous Huxley
“Aţi admis fornicaţia promiscuă, atât. Dar nu dragostea, nu contactul firesc, nu aţi renunţat la orgoliul din mintea voastră şi nici la abandonarea instinctelor. Deloc. Vă agăţaţi de voinţa voastră conştientă. Orice lucru trebuie să fie tot timpul expressément voulu. Iar legăturile exclusiv mintale. Viaţa trebuie trăită, nu ca în mijlocul unei lumi de oameni vii, ci ca şi cum ar fi o amintire solitară, o fantezie şi o meditaţie. O masturbare fără sfârşit, ca şi lunga şi oribila carte a lui Proust. Asta-i viaţa superioară. Sau, cu alte cuvinte, un termen eufemic pentru începutul morţii.(Mark Rampion)”
Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point

Steven Pinker
“Enlightenment humanism, then, is far from being a crowd-pleaser. The idea that the ultimate good is to use knowledge to enhance human welfare leaves people cold. Deep explanations of the universe, the planet, life, the brain? Unless they use magic, we don't want to believe them! Saving the lives of billions, eradicating disease, feeding the hungry? Bo-ring. People extending their compassion to all of humankind? Not good enough—we want the laws of physics to care about us! Longevity, health, understanding, beauty, freedom, love? There's got to be more to life than that!”
Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

“the bigger problem is that we’re proud of not knowing things. Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue. To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything”
Thomas M. Nichols, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

Hannah Arendt
“The temporary alliance between the elite and the mob rested largely on this genuine delight with which the former watched the latter destroy respectability. This could be achieved when the German steel barons were forced to deal with and to receive socially Hitler's the housepainter and self-admitted former derelict, as it could be with the crude and vulgar forgeries perpetrated by the totalitarian movements in all fields of intellectual life, insofar as they gathered all the subterranean, nonrespectable elements of European history into one consistent picture. From this viewpoint it was rather gratifying to see that Bolshevism and Nazism began even to eliminate those sources of their own ideologies which had already won some recognition in academic or other official quarters. Not Marx's dialectical materialism, but the conspiracy of 300 families; not the pompous scientificality of Gobineau and Chamberlain, but the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"; not the traceable influence of the Catholic Church and the role played by anti-clericalism in Latin countries, but the backstairs literature about the Jesuits and the Freemasons became the inspiration for the rewriters of history. The object of the most varied and variable constructions was always to reveal history as a joke, to demonstrate a sphere of secret influences of which the visible, traceable, and known historical reality was only the outward façade erected explicitly to fool the people.

To this aversion of the intellectual elite for official historiography, to its conviction that history, which was a forgery anyway, might as well be the playground of crackpots, must be added the terrible, demoralizing fascination in the possibility that gigantic lies and monstrous falsehoods can eventually be established as unquestioned facts, that man may be free to change his own past at will, and that the difference between truth and falsehood may cease to be objective and become a mere matter of power and cleverness, of pressure and infinite repetition. Not Stalin’s and Hitler's skill in the art of lying but the fact that they were able to organize the masses into a collective unit to back up their lies with impressive magnificence, exerted the fascination. Simple forgeries from the viewpoint of scholarship appeared to receive the sanction of history itself when the whole marching reality of the movements stood behind them and pretended to draw from them the necessary inspiration for action.”
Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
“§10 . . . Such minds, when they give themselves up to the uncontrolled ferment of [the divine] substance, imagine that, by drawing a veil over self-consciousness and surrendering understanding they become the beloved of God to whom He gives wisdom in sleep; and hence what they in fact receive, and bring to birth in their sleep, is nothing but dreams.”
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit

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