Edward Shils

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"He helped to found two important publications, Minerva, published in England, which is one of the world's leading journals publishing work about the problems of science and scholarship; and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the influential forum fordiscussion of nuclear deterrence and nuclear war in the 1950s and 1960s...

"After the war he returned to Chicago and climbed the grades of Associate Professor in 1947 and full Professor in 1950. In 1954, in what can be seen in retrospect as an early move away from the traditions of the old Marxist Left, Shils published a devastating critique of the book The Authoritarian Personality, edited by Theodore Adorno and other refugee Marxist intellectuals, which interpreted the American Right in terms of a ``proto-fascist populism. Shils did not agree with that. Then in 1956 he published his analysis of the McCarthy episode, The Torment of Secrecy, in which he analysed the 1950s American concern with ``secrecy and ``subversion in terms of the American populist tradition. And in the late 1950s Shils contributed to the debate about the ``end of ideology, a phrase which turned out to be riddled with ambiguities, but which was the keyword of a famous conference, organised by the anti-Communist liberals of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, held in Milan in 1955.

"Like his friends in the congress and among his fellow-contributors to Encounter, Shils moved from a position on the anti-Communist Left in the 1930s (he argued to Trotskyite friends in the 1930s, for example, that they should overcome their hostility to the US government in order to fight Hitler) to a ``Cold War liberal position in the 1950s and then to a moderate version of the neo-conservative position in the 1970s.

"In 1976 he published Center and Periphery, which he subtitled ``essays in macrosociology, in which he gave an impressive demonstration of the breadth of his knowledge and his speculative power. In the 1980s he wrote a number of studies and collections of essays about the technical as well as the philosophical aspects of sociology in the 1980s, and in 1979 was chosen by the US Nation Council on the Humanities to give the Jefferson Lecture. He chose to call his three lectures ``Render Unto C aesar: Government, Society and their Reciprocal Rights and Duties, and to devote them to arguing that the government was too much involved in the affairs of universities. His last book was a labour of love, he said. Called Remembering the University of Chicago, it contained 47 essays on great teachers there, four of which Shils wrote himself."[1]

He was a contributor to the PWPA’s classic book on Civility and Citizenship, edited by the late Edward C. Banfield . [1]

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  1. independent OBITUARIES: Professor Edward Shils, organizational web page, accessed July 28, 2018.