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Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought, Expanded Edition Paperback – January 23, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Enlarged edition (January 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022614593X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226145938
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for the previous edition

“Fiercely argued. . . . What sets his study apart is his attempt to situate recent developments in a long-range historical perspective and to defend the system of free intellectual inquiry as a socially productive method of channeling prejudice.”
(Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

“Like no other, this book restates the core of our freedom and demonstrates how great, and disregarded, the peril to that freedom has become.”
(Chicago Tribune)

“Stands out as a thoughtful, provocative defense of civil liberties and liberal inquiry. Jonathan Rauch’s unique perspective, derived from personal experience, lends to the poignancy of his thesis.”
(William F. Weld, former governor of Massachusetts)

“To observe that American political and intellectual discourse has become polarized, intolerant of all but the most predictable ideological nostrums, censorial of anything deemed to be remotely ‘politically incorrect,’ and generally lacking in subtlety, a free spirit of inquiry, or honest quest for truth, has perhaps become trite. Twenty years ago it was less so, and it was then that Rauch wrote a book called Kindly Inquisitors. In retrospect, Rauch was extraordinarily prophetic in his assessment of the evolving state of free speech and thought. [This] newly updated version of Kindly Inquisitors provides an opportune moment to reflect on this extraordinarily deep and provocative essay, a true tour de force of logic, integrity and moral passion.”
(Forbes 2013-11-08)

"A modern classic explaining the importance of free speech in society.”
(Greg Lukianoff, Huffington Post 2013-11-08)

“An eloquent attack on the advocates of political correctness.”
(Economist)

About the Author

Jonathan Rauch is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a contributing editor to the Atlantic and National Journal, and the author of six books, including Government’s End and Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on July 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
The author shows how campus speech codes and politicized "science" has rendered leftist intellectuals the McCarthyists of the 21st century. Not content to call unpopular opinions "wrong," instead they attack the speaker as wicked, an unperson. Today's left is the inheritor of the Inquisition, rooting out unpopular opinions and heresies to protect society from hearing critical ideas. By placing those ideas outside the realm of acceptability, the speech enforcers limit the growth of knowledge. Through careful writing, the author is able to conflate people who lose their livelihood because they made a donation to a political cause with the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Very interesting.

Takeaways:

*Liberal science demands discipline as well as license p.19
*Fundamentalism of any sort is the enemy of free thought p.21
*There is nothing whatsoever wrong with hurting people's feelings in pursuit of the truth. p. 22
*Fundamentalism is the inability to consider the possibility that a person may be wrong p. 89

*contrast between Platonic Republic (the promise of rule by the elect, the philosopher-poets, results in control of knowledge and totalitarianism) and radical liberal science (a public grappling with questions to decide who is right)

*liberal science consists of order without authority - it produces a unique format for conflict resolution
*there is no right to "equal speech" p. 142
*criticism does not equal violence p. 158
*fundeamentalists punish the believer as well as the belief p. 151

Knowledge is the ideal. What is the best way in society to raise and settle differences?

What happes when criticism is labeled "hate speech" and new rights are found - the right to not be offended, the right not to hear contrary opinions? What happens when the opposition is not merely wrong, but evil?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steve Jacobs on September 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
Christopher Hitchens said, "“It is not enough to ‘have’ free speech. People must learn to speak freely.” In Kindly Inquisitors, Jonathan Rauch shows you how it's done.

The book is split in two parts. The first half answers: How do we decide who is right? That is to say, how do we create knowledge? It's here Rauch lays down the rules of the knowledge creation game known as liberal science-- No Final Answer, No Personal Authority. (Implicit in these rules is the notion that anyone at anytime can be wrong, therefore every idea must be checked. And the way we check ideas is by holding them up to public criticism.)

The second half of the book discusses the attacks on liberal science (or the attacks on free speech)

The writing is clear and concise and the argument profound.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Glenda D. Cates on June 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Science and politics have always been and should always be an open argument. When one side stifles the other freedom is lost. Poor logic and bad ideas eventually fade away like the many gods of yore.

Shutting down opposition with force is shown to end up badly. Science and politics require democracy of intellect. Autocrats, oligarchs, dictators and religion are enemies of skepticism and free inquiry. Freedom is not free and the battle will be fought as long as mankind exists.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Aaron on May 6, 2014
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As a firm supporter of free speech, free inquiry, and freedom of conscience, I believe the legal arguments for the First Amendment are important, but the broad moral and philosophical justifications are equally crucial if not more vital. That being said, Rauch’s book makes a powerful case within those themes under 200 pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 7, 2014
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A fantastic defense and explanation of the system of liberal science, which allows all inquiry and opinion. Read it, make your kids read it before they graduate from high school, recommend it to your friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John F. Anderson Jr. on July 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
this is not a new book. it is being re-released with an updated, I think, afterword from the author. I am going to have to read it again because I had a little trouble with language in the first few chapters. The points that the author makes are excellent. Having read the book once, I find myself more aware of how partisanship really harms the fabric of our society,
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Booth on December 17, 2013
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An outstanding exposition of the philosophy and underpinnings of the modern free society, and why the hard gained benefits of them may be more at peril than most realise. Definitely on my "Everybody should read..." list.
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