In gellner on 10/09/2011 at 2:51 pm

When there was a recognized final Authority and intellectual court of appeal, the professional thinker could perform a useful function and he could do so with dignity — especially if the authoritative truths were available in a Holy Writ, and literacy which gave access to it was a specialist accomplishment which he did not share with all and sundry. Surrogate final sources of truth have since been sought — the Inner Light of Reason, Experience, History, Nature – but unfortunately these ladies do not speak with a clear, single or unambiguous voice.” (Ernest Gellner, Words and Things, p. 13)


  1. Words and Things created a huge debate when Mind refused to review the book because it was so rude about Oxford philosophy. There was a spirited exchange of correspondence in The Times with Russell defending Gellner. This aroused the interest of an Indian journalist who wrote a series of profiles of the major protagonists which he published as a book. http://www.vedmehta.com/reviews/fly_observer.html

    • Rafe,

      Thanks for the recommendation. While most people haven’t read Gellner, or at most have heard of him, I’m always happy to learn a bit more about that particular era in philosophy. I’ll definitely have to check it out!

  2. There’s a new biography:

    Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography by John Hall
    Verso, 400 pp, £29.99, July 2010, ISBN 978 1 84467 602 6


  3. Thanks Dave, I have placed an order!

  4. This is an overview of Gellner’s career, from a book by Michael Lessnoff, reproduced on my website with permission of the author.


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