Prospect asked readers to select their favourites from a list of the world’s leading thinkers. The results are in.by Serena Kutchinsky / April 23, 2014 / Leave a comment
Left to right: Pope Francis, Arundhati Roy, Amartya Sen, Raghuram Rajan, Mao Yushi. © Mike Theiler/Reuters/Corbis, © Danish Siddiqui/Reuters/Corbis, © David Pearson/Rex, © AGF s.r.l./Rex
With nearly 7,000 votes cast, the results of Prospect’s world thinkers 2014 poll are in. Voters came to the Prospect website in large numbers through Twitter and Facebook, and from many countries around the world.
Running a poll like this is not a science, of course; one should be wary of drawing conclusions from the data especially given that intense media interest in India clearly had some influence on the outcome. Nevertheless, the presence in the top 10 of five thinkers—Amartya Sen, Raghuram Rajan, Arundhati Roy, Mao Yushi and Kaushik Basu—whose work focuses in different ways on the challenges of economic development is surely significant. The future of China’s distinctive combination of political authoritarianism and breakneck economic expansion, for example, or the struggles of India to share its newly acquired wealth as widely as possible are issues that should concern those of us who live in the developed world—as well as the billions who are experiencing the growing pains of development at first hand.
The after-effects of the financial crisis on what used to be called the “first world” is felt in the thinking of two of the new entrants in the top 10: Pope Francis, who has regularly criticised the capitalist system, and Ha-Joon Chang, the Cambridge economist who chastises his colleagues for their obsession with abstract mathematical models and has tried instead to revive the older tradition of political economy.
Chang has an ally in the shape of Thomas Piketty, the French economist whose book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been an unlikely bestseller. Piketty’s rise up our rankings to 27th—he came near the bottom of last year’s poll—is also a reminder of how quickly intellectual fashion can change.
One other notable change this year is the presence of two women—Arundhati Roy and Mary Beard—in the top 10. Last year there were none.
Many thanks to all those who voted. Do let us know what you make of the results in the comments or on Twitter at @Prospect_UK.
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1 Amartya Sen
The Indian economist and philosopher turned 80 last year, but…