Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics

Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics

by Mark Lilla


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Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics by Mark Lilla

European history of the past century is full of examples of philosophers, writers, and jurists who, whether they lived in democratic, communist, or fascist societies, supported and defended totalitarian principles and horrific regimes. But how can intellectuals, who should be alert to the evils of tyranny, betray the ideals of freedom and independent inquiry? How can they take positions that, implicitly or not, endorse oppression and human suffering on a vast scale?

In profiles of Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Alexandre Kojeve, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida, Mark Lilla demonstrates how these thinkers were so deluded by the ideologies and convulsions of their times that they closed their eyes to authoritarianism, brutality, and state terror. He shows how intellectuals who fail to master their passions can be driven into a political sphere they scarcely understand, with momentous results for our intellectual and political lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590170717
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 09/28/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 236
Product dimensions: 5.24(w) x 8.69(h) x 0.54(d)

About the Author

Mark Lilla is Professor of Humanities at Columbia. With New York Review Books he has published The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction (2016), The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics (2nd. ed., 2016), and, with Robert Silvers and Ronald Dworkin, The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin (2001).  His other books include G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern (1994), The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (2007), and, most recently, The Once and Future Liberal: On Political Reaction (2017).  He was the 2015 Overseas Press Club of America winner of the Best Commentary on international News in Any Medium for his New York Review series “On France.”  Visit

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