In this paper I wish to explore the historical and sociological contexts that allowed the flourishing of philosophy and identify the modern intellectual’s relevance in a society that outside the realm of academia has appeared to regress in an appreciation or acknowledgement for the usefulness of philosophy. I will begin by examining the influence of socio-political and economic factors on the success of intellectuals primarily in the enlightenment period and the later 20th century French thought. I will include references to the motive of committed writing, ethical purity, investment in the academic community, autonomy of the discipline, and institutional roles. I wish to focus on the ontological identity of the public intellectual by examining the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Jean Paul Sartre on this topic, as well as their own public presence as applied philosophers. This exploration requires the secondary interpretations of Nathan Crick as well as Carl-Goran Heidegren and Henrik Lundberg. My aim is to illustrate the ontology of the modern intellectual through the understanding of (1) external identity–how outsiders perceive philosophy, (2) community identity–how members within the network perceive philosophy, and (3) personal identity–how the intellectuals themselves perceive philosophy.

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