Intellectuals and philosophers think, write, talk and form ideas about reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, language and society, aspiring to understand human nature, the world that surrounds us, and our relationship to it and to one another. The capacity to create and articulate such ideas is considered to be an essential and defining feature of humankind.
Philosophy’s profound relevance to human self-understanding and conduct charges intellectuals with a special responsibility to make their ideas public and address current affairs. Like other academic disciplines, most philosophy is highly professional, theoretical, and is addressed to other philosophers. Intellectuals are therefore engaged in a constant balancing act between their professional and public responsibilities; between further developing their ideas within their professional field, and a commitment to rendering them more broadly accessible in the public sphere.
While intellectual life has been increasingly specialized and academized, a ‘public intellectual’ is an individual who succeeds in rising above the confines of her or his field of expertise, to speak to a wide audience about a large array of pressing public issues.
The 2013 Dan David Prize for the Present Time Dimension in the field of Ideas: Public Intellectuals and Contemporary Philosophers, will be awarded to an individual who acts as a social critic, who analyzes the historical and social patterns that give rise to public issues and has a powerful impact on public opinion and action.