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Thinking globally

Prospect and Foreign Policy's list of the world's top 100 public intellectuals is, of course, hugely dominated by the west and above all America. Thirty years ago Europe would still have been in contention and Marxists and Freudians would have been far more visible. Could this list in fact mark the end of the age of the great public intellectual?

By David Herman   October 2005

Lists often say more about those who draw them up than they do about the real world. If this list had been drawn up by the women’s pages of the Guardian, there would have been many more women. The London Review of Books would have looked more favourably on the smouldering embers of the theory revolution and the new left. Le Monde would have included more French thinkers and so on.

This list is, in part, a reflection of the preoccupations of the Anglo-American centre at a particular moment. Some might argue that the compilers have bent over backwards to…

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