Post-Intellectualism and the Decline of Democracy: The Failure of Reason and Responsibility in the Twentieth Century


Our society's institutional infrastructures--our democratic political system, economic structures, legal practices, and educational establishment--were all created as intellectual outgrowths of the Enlightenment. All our cultural institutions are based on the intellectual idea that an enlightened citizenry could govern its affairs with reason and responsibility. In the late 20th century, however, we are witnessing the disintegration of much of our cultural heritage. Wood argues that this is due to our evolution into a post-intellectual society--a society characterized by a loss of critical thinking, the substitution of information for knowledge, mediated reality, increasing illiteracy, loss of privacy, specialization, psychological isolation, hyper-urbanization, moral anarchy, and political debilitation. These post-intellectual realities are all triggered by three underlying determinants: the failure of linear growth and expansion to sustain our economic system; the runaway information overload; and technological determinism. Wood presents a new and innovative social theory, challenging readers to analyze all our post-intellectual cultural malaise in terms of these three fundamental determinants.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • George Will
  • Bruce Babbitt
  • George Leonard
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Westport, CT
Publication year:
  • 1996


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