The Intellectual’s Responsibility: the legacy of C Wright Mills

In March 2012 it will be the 50th anniversary of the death of C Wright Mills. In this special series, Sociological Imagination will be considering the life, legacy and ideas of this unique man and what they mean for Sociology in an age of austerity.

“As a type of social man, the intellectual does not have any one political direction, but the work of any man of knowledge, if he is the genuine article, does have a distinct kind of political relevance: his politics, in the first instance, are the politics of truth, for his job is the maintenance of an adequate definition of reality. In so far as he is politically adroit, the main tenet of this politics is to find out as much of the truth as he can, and to tell it to the right people, at the right time, and in the right way. Or, stated negatively: to deny publicly what he knows to be false, whenever it appears in the assertions of no matter whom … The intellectual ought to be the moral conscience of his society at least with reference to the value of truth, for in the defining instance, that is his politics. And he ought also to be a man absorbed in the attempt to know what is real and unreal.”

C. Wright Mills in On Knowledge and Power


Categories: C. Wright Mills

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