Intellectuals should make public use of the professional knowledge that they possess - for example, as a writer or a physicist, a social scientist or a philosopher - and should do so of their own initiative, in other words without being commissioned to do so by anyone else.
They need not be neutral and eschew partisanship, but they should make a statement only in full awareness of their own fallibility; they should limit themselves to relevant issues, contributing information and good arguments; in other words, they should endeavor to improve the deplorable discursive level of public debates.
Intellectuals must tread a difficult tightrope in other regards as well.
For they betray their own authority if they do not carefully separate their professional from their public roles.
They should not use the influence they have by dint of words as a means to acquire power, thus confusing "influence" with "political power", that is with authority tied to positions in a party organization or a government.
Intellectuals cease to be intellectuals when they are in public office.
SEBELUMNYA, tokoh ini mengulas tentang peranan wacana, pelaku (actor) dan ruang. Ruang awam, atau public sphere, mengutamakan wacana rasional atas isu-isu awam berbeza dengan dunia kegemerlapan bintang (dan selebriti) yang hanya menonojolkan diri dan mencampur-adukkan dua dunia, awam dan peribadi (private sphere).
In today’s media society, the public sphere serves those who have gained prominence as a stage for self-presentation. Visibility is the real purpose of public appearance. The price that stars pay for this kind of presence in the mass media is to accept the conflation of their private and their public lives.
By contrast, the intention behind participation in political, literary or scholarly debates, or any other contribution to public discourse, is quite different: reaching agreement on a particular subject or clarifying reasonable dissent takes priority over the self-presentation of the author.
Here, the public is not a domain made up of viewers or listeners, but instead a space for the contributions of speakers and addressees, who confront one another with questions and answers. Rather than everyone else’s gaze being focused on the actor, there is an exchange of reasons and opinions.
In discourses that focus on a shared subject, participants turn their backs on their private lives. They do not need to talk about themselves. The line between public and private spheres does not become blurred; the two complement each other instead.
(Jürgen Habermas, "Public space and political public sphere – the biographical roots of two motifs in my thought", Commemorative Lecture, Kyoto November 11, 2004)