Portraits: A Gallery of Intellectuals

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University of Chicago Press, May 15, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 255 pages
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In these vivid portraits of prominent twentieth-century intellectuals, Edward Shils couples the sensitivity of a biographer with the profound knowledge of a highly respected scholar. Ranging as widely across various disciplines as Shils himself did, the essays gathered here share a distaste for faddists who "run with the intellectual mob" and a deep respect for intellectuals who maintain their integrity under great pressure.

Highlights include an affectionate treatment of Leo Szilard, the physicist whose involvement with the development of the atomic bomb led him to work ceaselessly to address its social consequences; a discussion of the educational philosophy of Robert Maynard Hutchins, the University of Chicago's fifth and most controversial president; an appreciative account of the Polish emigré Leopold Labedz's well-informed and outspoken resistance to Communism; and an essay about the extraordinary Indian writer Nirad Chaudhuri.

Many of these essays have appeared in The American Scholar, edited by Joseph Epstein, who introduces this volume with his own portrait of Edward Shils.

"Though professionally a sociologist, Edward Shils was a man of wide cosmopolitan culture and experience, greatly concerned with the public problems of his time: in particular with those created by the rise of new and dangerous ideologies, the frightening possibilities of science, and the apparent abrogation of public responsibility by many Western intellectuals."—Hugh Trevor-Roper

The late Edward Shils was a member of the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought for forty-five years and a fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge University. His many books include The Calling of Sociology and The Intellectuals and the Powers, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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PORTRAITS: A Gallery of Intellectuals

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

With gravity and wit, the late University of Chicago sociologist honors ten prominent 20th-century intellectuals and evokes for posterity their continental scholarly world. Introducing the collection ... Read full review


My Friend Edward by Joseph Epstein
Raymond Aron
j Nirad C Chaudhuri
Sidney Hook
Robert Maynard Hutchins
Leopold Labedz
Harold Laski
Karl Mannheim
Arnaldo Dante Momigliano
JohnU Nef
u Leo Szilard

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About the author (1997)

Edward Shils, an American sociologist, is a professor at both the University of Chicago and King's College, Cambridge. The editors of a Festschrift prepared in his honor note that he has been a pioneer in clearing up the logical confusion over the concept of ideology and in exploring the role of intellectuals in contemporary life. Shils's work on the institutionalization of sociology as an academic discipline has been fundamental to all discussions of this question. His interest in sociological concepts has been valuable in analyzing political and cultural leadership and societal cohesion. These concepts include his interpretation of "charisma," his own concepts of "center" and "periphery," and his revision of the term "mass society." Shils also introduced into sociology the concept of "scientific community," now central to the sociology of science. He is the founding editor of Minerva, a major journal in the field of higher education and the sociology of knowledge generally.

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