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“Prague's Ironic Modernist”—Ernest Gellner reviewed in the Prague Post

Tamar Shlaim15 March 2011

John A. Hall's Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography is reviewed in the Prague Post, in an article which celebrates Gellner's humour and argues that in contemporary British academia "anyone as brilliant, obnoxious and interdisciplinary as Gellner would be sacked by academic managers."

They don't make intellectuals like Ernest Gellner anymore.

Gellner (1925-95), a ranging public intellectual in the grand Central European tradition, was raised in Prague's Dejvice district, but when the Nazis marched into the city, he and his family left for London, where they lived in a milieu of other Czech Jews. Gellner's life and work are presented by John Hall in Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography, the fruitful result of Hall's meticulous survey of the tomes of published and unpublished materials that Gellner produced. This is more an appreciation than a critical study of a legacy, but it does a fine job of putting Gellner in his historical context ...

... Gellner was a philosopher according to a bygone definition of the term: a public intellectual, a social theorist, a field anthropologist and above all a polemicist. His first book, a fierce attack on the dominant Oxford philosophical establishment and the idea that philosophy is about ordinary language, won him an invitation for tea and an introduction to his book from Bertrand Russell, but also the hostility of his former teachers.

Visit the Prague Post to read the review in full.

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